One of my goals going into the second semester was to start using nearpod now that I have a class set of chromebooks.while we’ve only been back 8 school days, I’ve been doing a lot of playing around with the site and used it a few days in each of my classes so here is what I’ve learned and loved so far!
What is Nearpod?
Nearpod is a tool that allows you to create interactive lessons for your students. You can set the lesson to be student paced and allow them to move through the content or you can use Nearpod like an updated version of a projector to make sure every student has interactive access to what you're talking about as you talk about it.
While I love having things work at a student pace, I have been using Nearpod the last couple of weeks as a projector. My classroom projector doesn't work very well so adding Nearpod allowed me to get back into sharing information more dynamically instead of turning my back to write on the dry erase board. For group discussions (or really most of my assignments....gotta have kids talking about what they're doing!) I have students get out one Chromebook per table and enter the access code for Nearpod. They don't have to have a login but they do enter their name once they join the session.
How much does it cost?
There are multiple options available for Nearpod users but it does have a free version!
How easy is it to use?
Very easy! Nearpod has step by step questions, almost like you're going through a flowchart of options. It keeps it from getting overwhelming and allows you to take a lot of different paths with your content. Beyond your typical powerpoint slide you can offer interactive polls, open ended questions, and more.
What other Nearpod-like options are out there?
Peardeck is very similar to Nearpod. I used to use Peardeck at my old school but now that I have had a chance to play with Nearpod, I definitely prefer it. That being said, I do have the paid version under my school account so some of the features there may be swinging my vote! :) Check out more about Peardeck here!
You can find out more about Nearpod here!
A few weeks ago I wrote about how much I loved attending the Illinois Education and Technology Conference and focused the blog on the first amazing keynote, Joe Sanfellipo. He spoke about leadership and culture in your school which is really important for the building as a whole. The second day of the conference was all about Alice Keeler for me. She was 100% about putting tools into the hands of teachers so we can serve students better.
Who is Alice Keeler?
You can find out a lot about Alice Keeler by going to her website (alicekeeler.com). What she shared with us at the conference was that she is a mom and was teaching math and needed Google apps to do more for her. She started coding within Google apps and sending them to her friend who works at Google. Some of what she codes becomes an extension Google offers. Others she lists on her website for easy access regardless of becoming an official extension or not. These extensions exist to help save time or be more efficient or effective in teaching or organizing information. Also, I think she may like sheets even more than me...I didn't know that was possible!
Alice at IETC
I attended two breakout sessions as well as her keynote lunch. Her first breakout, Google Apps Coding for Noobs, was a great introduction to coding. A lot of people get intimidated when they hear the word "coding" because they picture someone sitting in a dark basement surrounded by computer screens wheeling back and forth between them and speaking words no one ever really uses...or maybe that's just me! I went anyways and I was pleasantly surprised! Alice reiterated that most of coding is looking for patterns and then knowing which things to copy and paste. The link below takes you to the presentation she used for the session and walks you through how to:
- Create a Google sheet that has a separate tab for each student with one click of a button
- Send an email
- Copy a Google Doc
- Do something a lot of times with one click
-And more that we didn't actually get to within the breakout
Google Apps Coding for Noobs Presentation by Alice Keeler
No, I would not need to write a code in order to send an email or copy a Google doc BUT learning the code behind it was helpful in order to complete the other codes.
NO, THAT'S TOO OVERWHELMING! I CAN'T CODE!
THAT'S OK! THE SECOND PART WAS WAAAAAY EASIER!
The second breakout was about the add-ons that she has already created so that all you have to do is copy and paste! At alicekeeler.com/scripts there is a list of add-on codes that Alice has already created, posted for easy access, AND written a blog about how to use.
***Because they are created by her and not an official extension of Google, you will be prompted to give access to your GSuite apps each time you copy Alice's code. Just do it.***
I already thought she was pretty legit but this breakout and exploring her website more just put it over the top! There are so many to choose from. I highly suggest taking an hour or two one day and just playing with these.
This may seem overwhelming but please try one before you decide it's too much! You may decide you really like them!
My Favorite Alice Codes
Not sure which ones to check out first? Here are my favorites!
We have talked about this one before, but I feel like it deserves to be brought up again. This is a great tool to get quick feedback from students on what they are learning. Like its name says, it is all about formative assessment. You can build a variety of questions and now they can be tied to standards which makes data tracking easier. There are functions for math equations and they are very responsive to questions from users. I use this often in my classroom as bell work, exit tickets, and practice quizzes/questions to see how my students are processing our content.
Canva is a great tool for the blogger and social media user, but it could also be great for teachers. I know many teachers that use Canva to make posters and memes for their class. Students could also use it to make posters or infographics to showcase their learning or as a multimedia product for a concept or project. There is a lot of potential in this for classroom use.
Padlet is a great collaboration tool for students. Basically users create a board and then invite others to share that board. Users can add websites, pictures, video, etc to it with text. It can be arranged in a few different formats. This could be great for students to use for collaborating on a project, a way for teachers to share websites and resources for content, or a way for students to organize research. This could also be used as a graphic organizer, because of the different formats the padlet can take.
This is a great tool for schools that are 1:1 iPads. This tool allows you to share a presentation with students and control the pace that students move through the slides. At the same time is also allows you to add in places for the students to interact with the material like polls, questions to respond to, and drawings while the students go through the presentation. This takes lecturing to a new level. This is a great way to keep students engaged in a whole class activity like a lecture or discussion with guided prompts where students respond on their screen and you can see it.
Newsela is a great website to look for nonfiction reading material for your classes. They have a variety of types of articles that you can assign to students. The best thing is that the articles can be adjusted by lexile level. The teacher can adjust them and the students can as well. If you are looking for a way to add current events to you classroom, this is a great way to do it. The articles are well written and factual. They articles for math, science, ELA, and social studies. They allow you to organize information into binders for your students and you have students take reading quizzes after the article as well.
Among vocabulary technology, Quizlet reigns king and chances are you have at least heard of it if you use technology in the classroom. Starting off as a purely electronic flashcard design, Quizlet has made some amazing updates that help to gamify learning and put more ownership in the students hands.
A free website, Quizlet harnesses the power of students and teachers a like creating public sets of vocabulary. Once terms and definitions have been entered, users have options on how to learn them and practice.
All of these features are really great for your students to practice vocabulary. I love the freedom it gives each student in choosing which feature helps them the most.
One of my favorite things about Quizlet is that once you teach your students how to use it, they can make their own vocabulary sets to use! Teaching them how to use Quizlet can become a great tool they use in their future classes.
My FAVORITE thing about Quizlet is their full class game! If you are a Quizlet user but you have not played Quizlet Live, you need to!
Quizlet Live displays a website and code for students to enter the game and is best used hooked up to a projector. You need at least 6 students in order to play Live.
Once your students have signed into the game, Quizlet will divide them into teams of 2-3 by assigning each group an animal. This animal will be displayed on your students laptop or iPad so they can easily identify what group they are in and find their other members. This game works best when students can move to sit next to their teammates.
Once all of the teams are ready, start the game. On the projector you will see a display that looks like a voting poll. It will keep track of how many vocabulary questions each group gets correct as a race to 15. If a team gets 3 questions incorrect, their points disappear and they start back at the beginning. It creates some intensity and motivation for the students. On the student screens, a single term or definition will pop up for each team member. The trick is that each team member has a bank of terms or definitions but none overlap. When they first see the question, they typically scan their own bank then look to their teammates to see if they have the answer. This leads to a lot of discussion and/or debate about making sure they pick the correct term...they don't want to start back at the beginning!
A fast paced game that lasts only a few minutes, Quizlet Live is a great opener for the day or end to the class after some vocabulary work. Try it out if you haven't! It is sure to be the most fun you've had practicing your vocab!
What are badges?
Competition works for a lot of students as a motivator. This is one major reason why Kahoot has seen so much success and why Quizlet has added a full class game feature! They have transformed multiple choice questions and knowing vocabulary terms into a competitive game!
Fitbit introduced competition to exercise in a similar way. When you have a Fitbit you can join weekly/daily challenges built into the app that help motivate the competitive Fitbit user. Though I’m not a fan of exercising, I will walk and move until I’m literally falling asleep from exhaustion if it means I can beat those I’m competing against!
But while competition against others is a huge motivator for some, there is always room for improvement to help motivate more: badges. We have actually been using this concept for a very long time! Think about the last time you gave a student a sticker for their performance. It was probably appreciated and proudly displayed as a badge of honor. I have students in high school who still get pumped about stickers! Badges are like the future version of stickers.
Let’s go back to the Fitbit. The most recent time I felt the joy of earning a sticker as an adult is when I bought a fitbit. I earned a badge for walking 10,000 steps in a day. I earned another badge when I had a 30,000 step day and another when I logged 990 miles. These badges show up on your screen with a huge effect and a special name, very colorful and detailed. You automatically feel a sense of accomplishment because you achieved a goal. You have the ability to look at other badges you and how you can earn them. It is a different motivator that involves only the individual instead of sharing the score with others in a competition.
Basically, a badge is a digital sticker that can be earned by completing a pre-determined task.
How do I use badges in the classroom?
For our first run at badges in the classroom, we added them to our advisory courses. Students had tasks that they had to complete each month based on a theme. Anyone who completed the tasks would then earn the badge. For example, our Goal Setting badge for November required students to answer a survey about creating a SMART goal, submit a SMART goal themselves, and participate on a discussion board with updates about their SMART goal at least once a week during the month. If a student completed these tasks, they earned the Goal Setting Badge which would show up for them on their laptop as soon as it was awarded to them.
Some students noticed them and thought they were kind of cool but the hype wore off quickly when both teachers and students realized eventually all students would need to earn the badge in order to pass the class. There was nothing special about the badge because eventually everyone would get the same badge. All of the assignments were in order and done together in class so not only did everyone get the same badge but they often received it at the same time.
This was a major mistake on my part. If you are going to use badges in your classroom, in order for it to be a motivator, badges need to be special just like stickers have been. If our advisory course was self paced, badges may have worked. We may have heard conversations about which badges were earned by each individual student or how quickly they were able to complete it.
Badges also work better for repeated tasks or as a rubric rather than completion in a standard class. I give timed math table tests throughout my course. Right now I have them graph their result so they can see themselves get better. This would be a great place to also add a badge. When a student can complete at least 70% of the sheet correctly they would earn a badge. They would earn a different better badge at 80%, 90% and 100%!
This is why while it didn’t really work well for our advisory course, I am planning on trying it in my math class. Beyond the repeated assignments, I can add badges to each unit of my self-paced course. Because not all students are working on the same things at the same time, it will still be special. One student may be celebrating a badge from the third unit being completed while another is just happy to be getting the first unit badge. Both are individualized markers of accomplishment!
Where can I get digital badges?
There are programs out there that let your students earn badges as a third party provider. I believe Class Dojo either has a badge system or will be rolling one out soon for those of you looking for behavior based badges.
If you aren’t looking for an outside application, there are badge systems that can work within your Learning Management System. Our LMS is Canvas so we use Canvabadges. This extension allows us to create badges to use within modules on our courses that can be awarded manually or automatically.
Some badge extensions or applications require an added fee but also provide extra features. Look for more on badges from me as I try to add it next year to my content course! In the meantime, here are some more badge providers to look into!
Find what works best for you and your classroom! Let me know if you use these already or end up trying one! I would love to know how you use it!
If you are looking for a way to incorporate current events into your class or just share resources with students or faculty, scoop.it is a great tool to use! Scoop.it is somewhat like a professional Pinterest page.
With scoop.it, you create a profile with topics. In each topic, you collect articles or videos that relate to the topic and you can curate them by adding your own thoughts about the content. Then you publish to your page/topic. Your account is usually connected to a social media account which will post your material as well, but there is an option to create an account not connected to social media.
The website is geared towards businesses with a marketing angle, but if you search users you will find a lot of college professors and teachers that are using the website to collect resources for their classes.
There is a free account option which is great but the downside is you are only allowed to curate one topic on that account and you don’t really have any personalization options. There is also a pro account and a business account. That give you more topics and personalization options.
Once you are signed up, you can set up your topic and begin curating content (basically publishing articles and videos to your topic). It also allows you to add a bookmarklet so when you are browsing the Internet and you find an article or video you want, you can click on the bookmarklet to “scoop it” and curate content on the spot (just like Pinterest). Your topic can be embedded in a website and/or LMS and can be shared as a link.
Uses in the Classroom/School as an Educator:
Uses in the Classroom as a Student:
Are you looking for another fun way to open up class or review material? Kahoot is the way to do it! You will need internet access and at least 1 device for every 4 students. Kahoot is especially easy for schools who are one to one or bring your own device allowing all students to be involved individually but it is still effective if you can rent a school computer lab!
Kahoot is most often used as an interactive and competitive online game offering multiple choice or “put it in the correct order” timed questions though there are options for survey type questions as well. There are thousands of pre-made kahoots you can use! Start by logging in to createkahoot.it. You can search by using general keywords or by just browsing through popular kahoots. Can’t find one you like? Make your own! Kahoot is well organized for new users but you can look for a step by step tutorial coming soon!
Once you have either created or chosen a Kahoot you’d like to play, choose “play kahoot”. The screen will then display a pin number for students to use to enter the game at kahoot.it. You have the option to kick students out if they enter a “bad nickname” before starting the game. When you have everyone in the game, begin the Kahoot!
You’ll see bright colors and hear intense music that your students will learn to know and love. Students will try to answer by choosing the correct answer as quickly as possible in order to earn the most points. After each question there is a 5 person leaderboard on the screen everyone can see while each individual student or competing group can see their placement on their own screens. When the Kahoot is complete, there is a podium with the top three students as well as an option for students to give feedback on whether they liked the Kahoot and/or learned from it.
Something Kahoot added this past year was “Ghost Mode”! You can play the same Kahoot (all the same questions) but you are playing against your previous entries. Throw in some retro arcade music and twice as many users answering and you have a great way to review the material one more time!
Use Kahoot to review with your students, conduct PD, or even as a pre/post assessment. With a competitive setup, editable content, and engaging screen design and music Kahoot is an easy and fun tech tool to implement!
What is a learning management system and why should you use one?
A learning management system is a software application that a teacher or school can use to house and deliver all educational materials. A teacher can give assignments, tests, content, videos, messages, and receive analytics on all of those items to students in the course.
Many schools and teachers are turning to LMS systems to provide organization, consistency, and analytics for themselves and for the students in their school. The big decision teachers and schools have to make is what LMS system to choose.
Our school started our 1:1 program a little haphazardly because of our circumstances, so we did not begin with a specific LMS system. Most of us started with creating websites and using those to deliver content along with Google Drive. It worked but it wasn’t really consistent and had some limitations with free versions of websites. Then teachers began to experiment with different software systems that we could get for ourselves and not pay for it.
Most teachers I know that used this LMS, used for organizing class materials and as an easier way to have students turn in assignments. Our teachers liked that it somewhat resembled Facebook.
This program I actually used as my first website and communication tool for parents. I know that they have expanded their features since I have used it, but I honestly like it more for the parent communication. It was almost like a newsletter for me to let people know what was happening in class.
This was my favorite LMS to use on the free version. I was able to send announcements, collect assignments, give quizzes, have discussions, and receive analytics on the students. I also like to social media look it had which made it easier for students and allowed me to interact with other teachers and groups around the world.
This is popular college LMS system. I have used it a lot as a student in college and my district experimented with using as our LMS as a school. The issues most of us have had with it is that it is not really that user friendly in terms of navigation and in terms of creating and sharing on the teacher end. Students seemed to have a hard time using it as well.
This seems to be becoming more popular. I have not used this, but I like that it seamlessly works with the google suite. Most schools are moving to using a google suite which makes sense. The question I have with it is whether or not it has good analytics, and what kinds of test security it has.
This is the learning management system that we use at my school. I have to say that I really love it! It is very easy to create material in and allows the teacher a lot of options of how to put material together and organize it for your classes. Another great thing about it is the apps and programs that be put into the course. It has great analytics for data use on tests and student engagement. Another function that I really like is the communication abilities to message students in the class and have reminders.
Overall benefits of using a LMS.
Honestly in this post I am really just trying to encourage teachers to explore their options when it comes to LMS options. If you are going to a 1:1 setup in your school, you definitely need to consider using some type of LMS and encourage your school to look at one incorporating one for the entire building.
A back channel is a program/tool that a teacher can use in the background of a lesson. Typically they are chat windows that are used to allow students and the teacher to communicate together while they are working on notes, projects, or any class activity. Many teachers use these to allow students to ask questions without having to speak in a whole class setting. It benefits the students that are quiet and do not like to talk out in class. It also gives students that know the content well to answer student questions and allows them to become leaders.
1. GoSoapBox - GoSoapBox creates events for students to join. There are multiple functions within each event. Students can participate in discussions, polls, and quizzes. For the teacher there is a profanity filter, confusion barometer, and name requirements. You can also download quiz results. Students do not have to sign up for an account. Teachers give students an accent code to enter when it is time use it.
Uses - I have used this when I given my students reading assignments. I love that students can ask questions, let me know if they are confused, and have different modes of interaction. I can give them a quiz to check for understanding and then have students engage in a discussion and poll them on their thoughts about the content.
2. TodaysMeet - This is the basic chat room. Students can use their phone or computer and have no account to sign up for. You can close out rooms whenever you want. This is great for in the background chatroom. Students can ask questions and respond to student questions while the class activity is happening. You can download a transcript of the discussion before you close it. There really isn’t much control for the teacher unless you pay for an upgrade on the free account.
Uses - I have used this as an exit ticket activity or progress check. I like that this is quick. Student can do a quick response about whatever question I ask. I’m not a big fan of the lack of controls in the free version.
3. CoverItLive - They call it a live blog. It is a chat window, but the teacher can act as a moderator in the conversation. A teacher can deny posts that are inappropriate. Another great function is that it can be embedded in a website or LMS page. The chat can also be replayed at any time. It is marketed to corporations, but I emailed them about a teacher account and was given one for free.
Uses - This is my favorite chat window. I love that you can embed it in a website. I love that it has moderator functions to limit students that choose to make irresponsible decisions. I have used this one as a background chat during lecture and days when I am meeting with small groups and cannot immediately answer every question. It allows students to answer each other's questions without disrupting the rest of the class. I have also seen this used at pd conferences so attendees can discuss what is going on as it is happening!