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).
- “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!
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.