When I was in the Kindergarten classroom 5 years ago, I remember reading an article about the new Nearpod app. I was instantly amazed at its capabilities to control a classroom of iPads, even though I only had 5 of my own at the time. Since I was a campus instructional technologist for my school, I shared the app with my Technology Director and he shared it with a high school science teacher who had 1:1 iPads in his school. This was the beginning of Nearpod in my district.
Since then, I have shared the app many times at various trainings and the "ooohs" and "ahhhs" from teachers speak of the draw that the program has. Over the years, the app has morphed from a separate teacher and student app to a common app. Plus, the iOS only capability has expanded to include all web based devices plus App Store, Google Play, and Chrome Web Store apps. This makes Nearpod even better for a BYOD or mixed-device classroom.
The premise behind Nearpod is easy. The teacher can either create or download a Nearpod presentation that is then shared to the student device and controlled by the teacher. While the teacher is flipping through the screens of the presentation, the student's screen automatically advances as well. Most teachers love the "control" that this application provides. What makes it even better is that you can embed formative assessment question screens into the presentation! You have multiple choice, drag and drop in the blank, text, and draw features placed seamlessly within your lesson to check understanding. While the students are completing the work, you can view the progress of the student on your teacher device. How cool is that? Videos even work in the slides and play on each individual device. Make sure you have student headphones though! The videos are often just a few seconds off of each other and can make a hectic noise when they are all playing.
Did I mention that all of this is FREE?!
In my district, I finally decided to try my hand at Lunch & Learn sessions...again. This was something that I tried in my first year as an Instructional Technologist, but quickly dropped it when my first session was met with dismal attendance. However, I LOVE getting out on the campuses with the teachers and students...so I brought back the Lunch & Learn format. I chose Nearpod as the first one because it is an app that even the most tech reluctant teacher will try. Usually I push "creation" applications for the iPad since I believe that student use of any device in the classroom should be more about creation than consumption. In this case, I wanted teachers to come and learn a tool that they can learn and use the next day with ease. Baby steps...
I believe that student use of any device in the classroom should be more about creation than consumption.
To help draw teachers and "plus" the session, I provided dessert with the adorable Nutter Butter packages above. Thanks Mindi at Anna ISD for the awesome idea! Without good instructional technologist friends like her, I wouldn't know half of the tools or tricks that I do today!
The attendance at the Nearpod session was much stronger than my first Lunch & Learn. And after these two Tweets came through my feed today, I am calling this a success! Thank you Mrs. Sonya Mathews and Mrs. Patricia Nelle for not only using the tools that I share, but for sharing your classroom with the world!
What's next? I'm not sure. With STAAR testing, T-TESS training, and BrightBytes data collection, this might be my one and only Lunch and Learn for this year, but it energizes me to start strong next year with a new series. Any ideas? What Lunch & Learn sessions have you shared with your teachers?
Keeping it Techy,
Instructional Technology Coordinator by title but really just a teacher looking for a classroom to make a difference! Not only sharing EdTech tools, but sharing my thoughts, feelings and the great things happening in public education.
The opinions expressed in the posts on the Getting Techy with Kilgore Blog are solely those of Heather Kilgore and do not reflect the opinions of her employers.