7 MORE ways Nearpod Will Improve Your Teaching: Activity Slides

 In my previous two posts, I raved about Nearpod as a presentation platform.  The awesomeness of Nearpod doesn’t stop with the content slides.  Honestly, I haven’t even gotten to the best part!  Not only does Nearpod engage students through its amazing presentation tools, but it also allows them to interact directly with the teacher and their classmates during the presentation!  The Activity slides are the GAME CHANGING tools that you are going to love!

If you’ve taught longer than five years, you’ve been there – lecturing away with a presentation on the screen behind you as students stare blankly ahead. Then you think, I need to engage these kids – oooh, I’ll ask a question!  I’m even going to use my popsicle sticks to pick a random student!  I’m such a clever educator. Nothing against the popcicle sticks – I love a good random selector, but the moment you call on Johnny, the other students tune you out.  Once they realize they don’t have to be accountable for the answer to your question, so many of them just shut off their brains. Yes, even when you wait until after the question is asked to call on the student. Nearpod takes the tendency toward student complacency out of the equation.

The Activity slides allow all students to respond to questions, comments, or suggestions posed by the presenter.  You read that right – every single student responds. When we use Nearpod in my class, students know that I expect every one of them to actively participate in the lesson – right then and there within the presentation. The presenter can not only see the responses as they are given during the presentation, they can also view the compiled data after the presentation to analyze and use to guide future instruction.

So, without further ado, here are SEVEN MORE ways Nearpod can engage every student, in every lesson.

  1. Open-Ended Questions

    The Open-Ended Question is definitely my go-to for English class.  I use these primarily for anticipation guides and formative assessments.  Anticipation guides are a staple for introducing new concepts in my classroom.  I often ask a series of questions to get a discussion going that is related to our next unit of study.  For example, when introducing Animal Farm by George Orwell, I give a series of statements to which students respond. 

    *Life in the USA would be perfect if everyone were equal.
    *Do you believe that total equality is possible?
    *What freedoms to we take for granted in the USA?
    *What freedoms would you be willing to give up for the sake of the greater good?

    These questions obviously encourage students to begin to consider the issues found in the novella, but the best part is that I get to see the answer of every single student –  
    Not just the outspoken ones or the extroverts or whoever it is that answers first every time a question is asked – everyone!  In the same vein, it is invaluable to my teaching to be able to do quick learning checks to see where every student stands at any point in a lesson.  One of the newer features in Nearpod allows the presenter to insert any slide on the fly, so an impromptu formative assessment that shows the level of understanding for every student is a click away. And don’t forget: you will have the data in the reports that are viewable after the presentation is complete.
  2. Sharing Answers

    One of the cool features of the activity slide is that the teacher can Share the answers given by students to the class (with or without the name attached).  Even the most reluctant students sit up a bit taller when I share their good answers. Sometimes they even announce, “Hey!! That’s mine!”  A boost of confidence for a student is always welcome, and you get to reap the benefits of that boost.  Win-win!
  3. Polls

    The Poll is another activity that works well for anticipation guides.  Students, however, have a kind of love/hate relationship with the poll questions.  They get two options – yes/no, true/false, agree/disagree – and they often agonize about the gray area.  Fortunately, because the Poll is so…polarized, significant discussions about the gray area can emerge when students see the results.
  4. Quizzes

    Quizzes are perfect for exit tickets and formative or summative assessments.  Asking a few pointed multiple-choice questions at the end of a lesson can not only show the teacher the levels of understanding in the class, but it also shows each student where they stand in regards to the objective of the the lesson.  Inserting one of these quick quizzes in the middle of a presentation will also enable the teacher to revisit any concepts that are unclear before continuing with the lesson.  We all know that formative assessment in teaching is key, and this little activity gives teachers the data they need to feed their lesson planning and aids them in adjusting the lesson as needed in the moment.
  5. Draw

    Everyone likes to have a little fun even when faced with the rigorous curriculum of the common core standards.  For Nearpod, there is no activity students find more fun than Draw.  Of course, there are some questions and answers that lend themselves perfectly to this option, but anytime a teacher uses Draw, it’s a good time.  Students love drawing, and they love seeing other students’ drawings.   Draw is especially entertaining when the students use Chromebooks or laptops because drawing with a mouse is much more difficult than drawing on a tablet.  The results are often pretty ridiculous, but they still show the teacher the students’ understanding. Draw is a crowd-pleaser every time – trust me on this one.
  6. Collaborate

    One of the newer activities in Nearpod is Collaborate.  If you’ve used Padlet, Collaborate works much the same way in regards to brainstorming and sharing ideas.  In Collaborate, teachers post a question or comment, and students can post answers much like a post-it note on a wall.  Students can respond with text or pictures, or both.  I really love this option when we need to throw out a bunch of ideas at once – brainstorming, showing previous knowledge before a lesson, or showing what they’ve learned after a lesson.
  7. Fill in the Blank and Memory

    These two activities are perfect for recall questions.  The Fill in the Blank works more like matching, so it works well for a review of vocabulary introduced in the lesson.  I’m sure you know the concept of Memory, and it works in the way you would expect.  I haven’t used this option, but I can imagine how it could be useful in much the same way as Fill in the Blank.

Nearpod is a staple in my classroom.  In my opinion, the student engagement paired with the instant data collection makes for an invaluable teaching tool. Honestly, the possibilities are endless, this will certainly not be my last post on the subject – Nearpod is still growing and improving its platform.  I’m excited to see the next update! 

7 Ways Nearpod Tops Other Presentation Platforms

In my last post, you may recall that I am firm in my belief that Nearpod is the number one student engagement tool that you may not be using.  Or maybe you are using it, but you know there you haven’t discovered its full potential.  This second part of the three-part Nearpod series details the amazing and wonderful ways that Nearpod excels above other presentation platforms.

If you remember the days that Microsoft PowerPoint was the pinnacle of technology in the classroom, you will also remember the blank stares, the drool, the sea of glazed eyes that were the result of those PowerPoint lectures.  I tried everything to make those presentations more interesting, or more engaging at least.  The best strategy in my toolbox was to have two versions of the presentation: teacher and student.  

I felt so clever leaving out keywords in the student version, thinking that if they paid enough attention to write down those keywords, they would have to pick up the rest of the information, right?  Wrong. So, very, very wrong.  A lecture is a lecture even when there is a pretty picture on the projector screen behind you as you speak.

Enter Nearpod. This tool is a GAME-CHANGER for student engagement in the world of presentation platforms.  Here are SEVEN ways that Nearpod will improve your teaching, your student engagement, and maybe even your professional learning network (PLN).

  1. Nearpodize” your Google Slides presentations.
    One of the biggest problems with trying something new is that you’ve already done the thing in one form, and there is no way in h-e-double-hockeysticks you are doing it again.  I understand, I really do.  We all have presentations or lessons that we’ve spent an exhaustive amount of time to get just right.
    Luckily, Google Slides and Nearpod paired up and made a quick and easy Chrome extension called “Nearpodize” that will make you and your perfect presentation happy.  “Nearpodize” turns your beautiful slides into a Nearpod by simply clicking the  extension in your toolbar.  Done. You now have a Nearpod presentation that was once a Slides presentation.  Don’t worry, your Slides are still there, safe and sound in your Google Drive.  That’s about as quick and easy as it gets, friends.  No more excuses! 
  2. Create slides in Nearpod, too.
    Nearpod also offers its own slide creator.  In its simplest form, users can insert text, pictures, gifs, and videos.  I like to use this option to insert stand-alone pictures or gifs to illustrate a point made verbally or on the previous or subsequent slide.
  3. Slideshow
    In addition to transforming your slides from Google or PowerPoint, Nearpod also allows you to insert a separate slideshow into the Nearpod presentation itself.  This could be used as a way to either show a quick, but relevant, tangent to the lesson or to provide a more descriptive explanation of a particularly difficult concept.
  4. 3D
    The next three tools are what take Nearpod above and beyond any other presentation platform.  Within the Nearpod library are over 90 3D models.  All of the models are interactive and allow students to move and manipulate them in any way they want.  At a glance, there are cells, black holes, body systems, architecture, animals, and more. In the example here, I have zoomed into the chest cavity of a human – those are bones and stuff!  So cool.  These 3D renderings are the perfect hands-on experience when literal “hands-on” isn’t an option.
  5. PhET
    My husband (Mr. Pearsall), who happens to teach math and physics (and is not easily impressed), found the PhET tool remarkably accurate and useful for experiments and illustration of physics stuff.  He actually said, “Hey, that’s pretty good,” which, in Mr. Pearsall terms, means that this sim tool is freaking AMAZING! If I knew anything about physics or math, I could probably describe the extent of the amazing-ness, but we’re just going to have to defer to Mr. Pearsall’s whole-hearted praise on this one. 
  6. Virtual Field Trips
    The third tool that has been added relatively recently is the “Virtual Field Trip.”  Think Google StreetView, but times 100.  My teammates and I have personally used these to help our students tour colleges as they search for the perfect place to spend the next four (or five) years of their life.  Our foreign language teachers also rave about the locations around the world that are available for students to explore.
  7. Twitter
     Finally, one of the most interesting feature when creating slides in Nearpod is the feature that allows you to insert a stream directly from Twitter using a hashtag or Twitter handle.  Teaching an astronomy lesson? Link up @NASA or #astronomy.  Shakespeare? #iambicpentameter or @The_Globe.  Talk about real-world connections!!

Still not convinced that Nearpod is the tool you’ve been missing your whole life?  Next time, I’ll dive into the another way Nearpod engages students.  Yes, you read that correctly – there are even more reasons that this tool is my number one pick for student engagement.