May 24, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
How would you like to know what every single one of your pupils have learned and understood as the class is going on, enabling you to reteach a concept that is causing a problem, improving the quality of independent or homework you set in addition to being far less likely to leave a pupil behind.
How would you like to make sure all of your pupils are engaged, with all of them contributing to your lessons? Imagine a classroom where you are receiving the opinions of all of your pupils whenever you ask an open question and in the case of economics or other sciences, see whether all of them can draw diagrams or annotate them correctly.
And how would you like to have a recording of what happened in your classroom that you can review at your leisure after the lesson has finished, so you can read and re-read your pupils’ contributions to fully assess the quality of their learning and thinking? In addition, you would have something for example that you can use at meetings with parents to show them areas which their child can improve on, or prove beyond doubt the quality of their child’s engagement.
I am lucky enough to teach at a school where pupils can have Ipads in class, and to find an app that allows me to do something impossible without technology with the educational benefits that it entails has been, for me, the “wow” factor in terms of me believing in digital technology in education. More importantly, it has solved some problems I was having in the classroom, namely finding ways to understand the extent to which my pupils were learning in class and to engage the quieter pupils into offering contributions during class time.
It works as in the picture above. I take a powerpoint presentation I have already made – which could be two slides or up to as many as I want. I add interactive content – including multiple choice quizzes, or open questions, or drawing tasks, or calculation tasks, I include links to websites or upload images and videos if I want, and I publish the result. I can do this
When I launch the nearpod presentation on my teacher version of nearpod in class it generates a code. The pupils enter this code on their ipads (also on their iphones if you don’t have ipads, and I think it is available on Android too) and the presentation is downloaded to them on their device. They enter their names – and you have all the class signed in. You can tell if they then sign out or have left the app because their name goes red on your nearpod “dashboard”.
I tend to introduce the topic for the day by asking a few open questions to gauge their understanding of the topic before the lesson so I can pitch it right. Above is the format of what I would get on my screen – they write their answers, submit to me, and as they come in I scan them for anything interesting. Once all answers are in (I will sometimes have to chivvy them along) I will share (click on the answer and it ‘broadcasts’ to them any particularly good answers or answers that would add to the discussion. I never share any answers that are miles away unless I know it is a pupil with the self-esteem to be OK with that. This allows all the pupils to learn from each other but makes sure everyone contributes too in a safe environment because only I will know if they are ‘wrong’. Sometimes, I can broadcast an answer to an open question THEN throw open to the class for a verbal discussion too. I use open questions throughout to test their understanding, or make them think, or empathise, or just find out their opinion. I can thus see the depth of their learning as they go along, plus it can be the stimulus for some excellent discussions.
I can also ask students to attempt diagrams or calculations – particularly useful of course in economics. They will draw it – hopefully label it properly, then submit it to me, and like with the open questions I look at them on my teacher view whilst the others are finishing and then broadcast useful ones to the others – normally with diagrams I will first broadcast diagrams with small errors for people to spot before broadcasting the best one too. Again I don’t broadcast a diagram that is completely wrong as that would discourage the pupil from having a go when they are not sure. I also use this sometimes to upload a diagram or image they can annotate or label. Again, I can see what they have learned or not and reteach aspects if need be during the lesson.
Particularly powerful for me is the “quiz” tool. I set multiple choice questions – which can have one answer or ‘one or more’ and they complete the quiz – which could be one question or even 20 or 30 if I wanted. I tend to do one quiz in the middle of the lesson to check their understanding of the concepts as I am teaching and one at the end of the lesson as a plenary (although I may use an open question if it is more appropriate). The great thing about nearpod is that it does all the calculations for me, marking their answers, telling me what they put for each question and what they got overall, and also how the class did overall. This tells me what each pupil can do and, for instance if the class has all got something wrong (see picture above), what I have taught well and badly. For someone who was once told at the end of an Ofsted inspected lesson that there was no way I had an idea what my pupils had learned in the lesson this has come as a revelation to me. I know what they have learned in the middle of it, and that I feel really helps my teaching.
The first time I used nearpod the pupils asked for some paper to take notes. Some have also asked for the slides in a handout so they can annotate them. I have ended up giving them this as it means that they have something to ‘take’ away from the lesson, even if they only use it as a crutch.
As I said earlier – Nearpod makes a report at the end of the session which you can look at which records everything the students have written, drawn or answered – meaning you can see in your own time what they learned, or where they are with their thinking. I have found this useful in many ways.
It isn’t the solution to every problem. But if you have some tablets in school you should try it (www.nearpod.com) – feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. If you don’t work in a school, and have ever wondered how we are incorporating technology into the classroom, this is a very good example.