By Jennifer Williams
Where have we been? This month we are taking virtual visits to classrooms around the country and discovering ways teachers are putting the new Nearpod Collaborate! feature into action to support learners. Last week, it was great to meet up with Global Studies Teacher, Amber McCormick, to learn how she uses this interactive discussion board with her elementary students. Her top uses: student shared responses with photos and crowdsourced ideas! With two more weeks in our journey, we decided to follow Amber’s lead in crowd sourced ideas and invited teachers in our PLN to help map out our route by sharing their interests:
Where to next? To answer this question, we looked to Twitter to ask teachers their interests in using the new Nearpod Collaborate! feature in their own classrooms. Educators from around the world cast their votes and almost 60% indicated student engagement as the #1 way they wanted to use Collaborate!! So, through a lens of seeking ideas for engagement, we were off to “visit” classrooms. This week, we were able to catch up with three amazing educators using Collaborate! to increase engagement in classrooms, and we found three unique pathways for use! In a true choose-your-own-adventure style of planning, here are three ways you can bring Nearpod Collaborate! to your students:
Path #1: Collaborate! + VR
Teachers looking to engage students in immersive learning experiences are finding ways to combine the virtual discussion board of Collaborate! with Nearpod VR virtual reality lessons. To see this in action, we caught up with Kristen Brooks and her 1st & 2nd grade students at Woodstock Elementary School in Woodstock, Georgia. Kristen, a K-5 iPad Lab Technology Teacher, often uses the Ready-to-Teach Interactive VR Lessons from the Nearpod Content Library. After downloading the Patriotic Landmarks pre-created lesson to her own personal library, she was then able to add in the interactive Collaborate! activity. Next, it was time to put it into practice with her students. Joining into the live lesson on their own devices, each of Kristen's early elementary students "traveled" across the U.S. to locate and take screen captures of favorite national symbols. Love seeing students so engaged in learning in these videos:
To bring her young students back from VR field trips, Kristen shared that she uses a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown with a double clap at the end to get them quickly seated with iPads on laps and hands on floor! Brilliant way to support students to have success with tech tools! Next up, students were guided to add their favorite images to the Collaborate! discussion board. "It was super fun to look at the Collaborate! board as it filled up and it naturally encouraged a group discussion about the locations we visited and why they are important. The students loved it!" For these students, learning was extended past consuming information to creation of knowledge through a process of research, evidencing, and reflection. Students were able to discuss observations and then vote with the heart icons to select a favorite class U.S. symbol. Learning was not only engaging, but was their own.
[Click HERE to view ClassBoard]
Path #2: Collaborate! + WebQuests
Jumping from elementary to middle school, we head to "visit" Ed Finney and his 6th and 7th grade social studies students at Maple Hill Middle School in Schodack, New York. Ed, both a Nearpod PioNear and Nearpod Certified Educator, often custom creates Nearpod lessons to engage his classes in learning of history, geography, and cultural studies. Ed shared several ways he is using the new Collaborate! feature with WebQuests in instruction. Nearpod's weblink feature allows teachers to connect students to sites automatically--so, no need to take time for students to search for sites or type in domain names. Here are three ways Ed engaged his students in learning this week:
[Click HERE and HERE to view ClassBoards]
Path #3: Collaborate! + Discussion
One of the greatest parts of Nearpod is that it is an effective tool for learners at all levels. Michelle Moore, a District Resource Teacher for the Educational Leadership and Professional Development department in Hillsborough County Schools works to always model effective uses of technology in her PD sessions with teachers. This week, Michelle joined a group of high school science teachers in a professional development session on Increasing Student Engagement in Classrooms (wow, what perfect timing for the new Collaborate! feature to be released). Throughout the session, teachers participated in peer discussions to brainstorm ideas to answer the question "What does engagement look and sound like in a science classroom?" Groups and individuals were then able to post ideas forum-style with the Collaborate! discussion boards which, then in turn, inspired further inquiry and conversation. A favorite idea from the group centered on use of the discussion board with students in Socratic seminars: inner circles of students engaging in discussion with outside circles documenting ideas on the Collaborate! board. Looking forward to trying this idea myself!
[Click HERE to view ClassBoard]
Special thanks to Kristen, Ed, Michelle, and their classes for sharing with us this week and for always inspiring engagement in our schools!
Next week we visit more classes to see Collaborate! in action. Excited to share new ways students and teachers are connecting learning!
Introduction Post: How Do You Use Nearpod Collaborate!?
Field Notes Week 1: Nearpod Collaborate! in Action
Field Notes Week 2: Pick-Your-Path to Engagement
Field Notes Week 3: coming 2/28
By Jennifer Williams
Welcome back to our month long blog series visiting incredible schools across our country and highlighting great ways teachers are engaging students and positively impacting learning. Last week, we learned about the newest Nearpod feature Collaborate!. Offering immediate benefits for classrooms, including student engagement, crowdsourced ideas, and formative feedback for teachers, Collaborate! brings an interactive discussion board to Nearpod lessons. Over the next three weeks, we will “travel” across the country to meet some extraordinary teachers and their students to learn new ways they are putting Collaborate! into practice.
Our journey takes us first to Ridgeview Global Studies Academy in Davenport, Florida. Here we meet K-5 Global Studies Teacher, Ms. Amber McCormick. Amber is known by many for her amazing sketchnoting talents and her ability to infuse technology meaningfully into instruction to create fun and interactive lessons for her students. With collaboration being a major focus in her classes, Amber always is seeking out ways to bring her students together through inquiry, exploration, and cooperation. After learning about Nearpod’s new interactive discussion board, Collaborate!, Amber was ready to jump in!
Lesson 1: Identifying and Counting Canadian Currency
Audience: K-5 Students
Nearpod Collaborate! Objective: Student Sharing of Responses/Photos
Studying Canada this year, Amber’s objective this week was to introduce Canadian coins to her students. I caught up with Amber as she was preparing by both creating an interactive Nearpod lesson and cutting out many, many laminated Canadian “coins.” Check out her amazing Nearpod lesson where she not only incorporate Collaborate!, but also explicit vocabulary instruction, real images, related videos, and interactive Nearpod features, like DrawIt and Memory Test.
For Amber and her students, learning is always connected. In this lesson, Amber brought together the interactive Nearpod lesson, direct instruction, group work, and hands-on learning experiences to maximize understanding of concepts. To help her students identify and understand how to add the Canadian coins, Amber started with a guided lesson paired with the Nearpod presentation introducing new concepts. Next, the students worked in small groups to find ways to make 50¢ with the cutout coins. Once they found their solutions, they used their devices to take photos. Returning to their Nearpod lessons and the Collaborate! slide, students added their photos and ideas and submitted their responses. To finish up, Amber engaged them all in a reflection activity where the students evaluated the responses of their peers and indicated with the heart icons ones they felt were correctly solved. According to Amber, "Collaborate! is an amazing way for students to see that there is more than one solution to a problem." In addition, she expressed "they were able to see how others thought or solved a scenario." [Click here to view the Class Board]
Lesson 2: Study of Canadian Sports: Focus on Curling
Audience: K-5 Students
Nearpod Collaborate! Objective: Crowdsourced Responses
For part two of the study of Canada in Amber's classes this past week, she created a lesson focused on the study of Canadian sports. After sharing on popular Canadian sports through a discussion around her Nearpod presentation that was both projected up on the class screen and also out on individual student devices, the students played tabletop-versions of curling (and, Amber brilliantly connected back to previously learned information from the coin lesson by using real coins as the "rocks").
After, they worked together to create the "largest list of Canadian sports" they could come up with using Collaborate!. Amber shared that one of her favorite parts of Collaborate! was the fact that her students were able to work with one another in real-time. She shared "I could see this being a fantastic tool for group projects or classwide brainstorming." More, her students liked how the heart icon offered the feel of social media. For Amber, she noticed that this feature offered validation of answers. As students indicated preference, Amber was able to arrange responses by “likes” and crowdsource ideas to give a visual understanding of order for her students. [Click here to view the Class Board...and, if you look closely you can find a "Ms. McCormick photobomb"]
More ideas Amber has for using Collaborate! in the future:
• Color scavenger hunt, in French
• Writing your name in Inuktitut (Inuit)
• Brainstorming for ideas
• Posing opinion questions about current events
• Creating a gallery of finished projects for classmates to evaluate
Special thanks to Amber and her students! Be sure to connect with Amber on Twitter at @EdtechAmber.
And, to keep the learning going...check out other ideas from the field from more PLN friends!
Join us all month long as we continue our journey! Excited to see where Collaborate! takes us next!
Introduction Post: How Do You Use Nearpod Collaborate!?
Field Notes Week 1: Nearpod Collaborate! in Action
Field Notes Week 2: Nearpod Collaborate! in Action coming 2/21
Field Notes Week 3: Nearpod Collaborate! in Action coming 2/28
By Jennifer Williams
With students. With teachers. In classrooms. And beyond. In education today, educators are constantly seeking out ways to bring collaboration to learning experiences. Seeing the benefits of project-based learning and cooperative lessons that encourage teamwork and shared perspectives, teachers more and more are finding ways to engage students in the discussion of learning at every point of the process. This understanding paired with the seamless integration of new technologies in many classroom environments is sending teachers looking for digital options for bringing voice and choice (Note: you’ll see me say this again soon 😄) into lessons.
Enter Nearpod’s new feature Collaborate!! (Fun fact: Collaborate! has an exclamation point in its name—my guess on why is because it brings that much WOW!). Following a great lineup of newly released features in most recent months, like Nearpod VR, Nearpod 3D, and integration of Microsoft Sway, the new Collaborate! feature brings a wonderful solution for teachers looking to add an interactive discussion board to their Nearpod live lessons.
Easy as 1-2-3
To add Collaborate! to your Nearpod lessons, all you simply need to do is follow these three steps:
Step #1: Add Collaborate! to your Nearpod lesson by selecting Add Slide --> Add Activity --> Collaborate! (so love seeing any feature marked as 🆕! For a teacher, that equals FUN!🎉)
Step #2: Next, select your Style from the five options and enter topic + description. Corkboard, chalkboard, sketchpad! Love them all!
Step #3: Launch your lesson and engage your students in a discussion! The opportunities for interaction are truly endless!
Though it was only just released this month, as a Nearpod PioNear I have been able to test out Collaborate! while it was in beta form. Instantly, I was able to see immediate benefits for the classroom. Offering students an opportunity to share in both voice and choice (there are those great words again), Collaborate! for me was the integrated solution I had been waiting for! Here are some of the immediate benefits I have seen:
Nearpod has always been my go-to tool for engaging all students in learning. With Collaborate!, students now have a safe forum inviting them to share in ways they each learn best. Students can document knowledge through evidencing in the form of shared written responses, images, links, or photos. Everyone is a contributor and all are collaborators.
Crowd Sourced Ideas
Different from other platforms I have used in the past, Collaborate! allows for crowd sourced ideas within the feature. Students are able to indicate their preference for certain responses by simply clicking on the heart icon. Teachers then are able to sort boards based on number of likes—they also have the ability to delete comments (here’s where many teachers say “Oh, phew!”). For activities involving decision making, this practice allows every voice to play a part in selection (i.e. back to that great word “choice”) of task or outcome. Fantastic! 💙💙
With the rise of teachers seeing extraordinary value in formative assessments in instruction, this was one area I found right away that would be of tremendous benefit to teachers. The Teacher Reports within the Nearpod platform have always proven valuable for me as an educator providing the ability to record and review assessment data. Capturing information on engagement, accuracy, and opinion, Nearpod allows me to see analytics both at a class-level and individual student-level. Responses with the Collaborate! tool now extend to allowing for both open-ended and multimodal feedback combined. As an educator, I am able to review this information and use it to guide future instruction or to identify areas of interest or areas for growth.
Beyond all these great benefits, Collaborate! allows ME to collaborate! I can share the boards with customized links, via email, or on social media. Perfect option for teachers looking to share with administrators or as part of Professional Learning Communities within their schools or departments. All so amazing!
Over the next month, I am excited to share examples of ways teachers are using Collaborate! in their classrooms. Watch for Field Notes: Nearpod’s Collaborate! in Action blog series coming up each week in February! And, please share on how you are using Collaborate! in learning by tagging me on Twitter at @JenWilliamsEdu! Happy Collaborating!
By Jennifer Williams
Educational conferences bring great opportunities for learning through keynotes, workshops, sessions, and poster presentations. Beyond the formal learning experiences, the exhibitor hall is always a favorite place for educators to network and explore. Each year at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, Florida, I am always eager to take ideas from the booths and the vendors and to find ways to apply the innovative practices of startup companies to classrooms and instruction. This year’s FETC conference was no exception. And, actually, this year perhaps even more than ideas on innovative uses of space, what I was left with was ideas on purposeful and inventive formats for sharing. Here are my top five lessons I learned from the exhibitor floor and ways to apply to the classroom for students:
#1: Pick-Your-Path to Learning
In the classroom, I always love offering menus of options for students to select their own paths to learning. Similar to a choose-your-own-adventure framework, the Nearpod team brought this concept to the exhibitor hall with a pick-your-path-style of sharing. Educators looking to take a peek and just learn the basics were able to visit and take a #SpinToWin for a chance at winning some great prizes for the classroom and also an opportunity to learn a little about the platform. As a second option, I sat in on one of the small group sessions where educators could join in interactive guided lessons to discover more and have an opportunity to ask questions. Alternatively, educators ready to learn about customized options for their schools could schedule 1:1 sessions with members of the Nearpod team to find out about solutions to meet their specific needs. With at least three pathways to learning, educators were able to personalize experiences based on time, scheduling, interests, and needs. I’d love to see this model carry over to classrooms more often! And, if teachers can get students lining up the way educators were in line at the Nearpod booth, we will know we are on the right “path” to learning!
#2: All Spaces are Spaces for Learning
Learning at FETC is everywhere! Energized conversations in coffee lines, inspired discussions at café tables. People buzzing through exhibitor hall rows filled with ideas ready to take back to schools and classrooms. For me, one of my favorite take-aways from the week came about from learning in an unconventional space. I first learned about Caribu, an innovative literacy app that allows parents/teachers to read and draw remotely with children through video and shared screens, on Twitter several weeks before FETC. After connecting with co-founders online, we decided a meeting at the conference was definitely in order, and as all spaces at FETC are spaces for learning, we figured a designated spot on a hallway floor was an ideal place for us to connect. Knowing I was searching for “Max in red glasses,” I quickly found my new friends, co-founders Alvaro and Maxeme, and with devices in hand we were ready to get to talking! In 30 minutes, I was able to learn all about their journey in creating Caribu and about ways families and schools could use the app to connect in shared literacy experiences. This type of learning and sharing moment truly examples the idea that for learning to be impactful and powerful, schools don’t necessarily need high levels of tech integration or perfectly designed learning spaces. All you really need is an engaged and inspired discussion with maybe a little bit of tech to support. Hopeful in 2017 we start seeing teachers and students taking learning to all spaces. Expected and unexpected. Physical and virtual. Because for me, those hallway conversations sometimes are the most powerful!
#3: Bring FUN to Learning
It isn’t surprising at all to me that Ami with Peekapak brought me a lesson for the classroom from the exhibitor floor. Peekapak, a social emotional learning platform, always brings joy to learning through their beautifully illustrated stories and their adorable characters. FETC attendees were able to become part of the fun as they learned about Peekapak throughout the week and “met” some of the 12 characters through the magic of fun, impromptu photo shoots that were also shared on Twitter. Whether posing with “Leo,” the adorable peace-keeping hedgehog, or the imaginative “Cody,” teachers were all smiles and, of course, quite inventive in their poses. For me, I got to pose with “Saffron”—a sweet little skunk that loves both cooking and chemistry. Perfect combo! Ami, one of the co-founders, also spent time with educators inviting them to share their ideas on ways to design the “world” that is developing within Peekapak. Invitations both to have fun and to share. What a wonderful way to think about teaching.
#4: Interact in Environments
My next lesson learned from the FETC exhibitor hall is one I am always seeking out. As I shared in my piece on startup culture with Edutopia, I see extraordinary benefit in bringing concepts of innovation and design seen in the startup world of edtech into education. The vendor hall is always a favorite place to gather ideas, and at this year’s FETC, three of my favorite booths perfectly demonstrated ways to invite educators to interact with the learning environment. Without even needing spoken words, the Sphero booth did a wonderful job at welcoming attendees passing by to join in play. With a beautifully built structure designated for learning and sharing, the Sphero “room” was always packed! Nearby, the MCSquares booth similarly welcomed educators to creatively “leave their mark” by adding drawings/ideas to the interactive panel board. Another favorite was the Gumdrop booth. The team did such a fantastic job showcasing their device cases in an open environment that seemed to naturally bring in teachers eager for hands-on learning. All these booths and so many others captured the concept that the learning environment is key in education. Prepared environments that are purposeful and practical—without distractions and narrowed specifically to the learning objective. Oh, and I love those casters on the Gumdrop booth tables. Brilliant hack for the classroom!
#5: Selfies. Enough Said!
4 Guiding Principles for Early Learning & Technology Integration: Review of Official DOE Policy Brief
By Jennifer Williams
As Peekapak founder, Ami Shah, and I set out to create an immersive and interactive session for our upcoming FETC presentation “Trending Topics in Early Literacy: Practices and Tools for the Early Childhood Classroom,” we sought ways to share relevant, research-based information that could guide practice and instruction for early childhood educators. In our work in early childhood education, literacy, social-emotional learning, and educational technology, we look to frameworks and guidance based on evidence from the field of education.
In October of 2016, in response to increased use of technology with early learners, the United States Department of Education in partnership with the United States Department of Health and Human Services published the Early Learning and Educational Technology Policy Brief. As teachers are faced with the need to make decisions on growing amounts of emerging technologies available for young students, including educational apps, digital books, interactive software, and games, this brief offers four primary guiding principles for use of technology with early learners are provided.
Guiding Principle #1: Technology---when used appropriately---can be a tool for learning.
According to the DOE, developmentally appropriate use of technology can be beneficial to young children. As technology enables students to extend learning beyond the walls of their classrooms and homes, it can offer experiences that before were nearly impossible. Recommendations for use include:
Guiding Principle #2: Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
Today in education, the topics of access and opportunity for all students are growing concerns for educators and policy makers. Technology also enables access to a world beyond one’s own community and can provide culturally responsive learning experiences for students. The DOE brief indicates multiple activities that can be incorporated into instruction with early learners to help connect different communities and close the digital use divide:
In recent years, technology has brought considerable focus to importance of building the home-school connection, particularly for early learners. As a third guiding principle, the DOE recommends use of technology to help build and strengthen relationships between educators and families. Though it is not recommended for technology to replace meaningful face-to-face communications, the brief specified several areas where use of technology can help bridge physical divides between home and school:
Guiding Principle #4: Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.
With any instructional tool, proper guidance and instruction from an adult or knowledgeable peer is critical for effective use. Interactive discussions with authentic connections to real-world experiences can bring technologies to life for young learners. Within the brief, the DOE recommends that parents and educators use interactions before, during, and after use of technology to personalize learning for the early childhood learner. The following examples were offered:
In efforts to help educators and parents be well-informed on integration of technology to support young learners, the DOE brief further provides an evidence base and call to action for researchers seeking ways to advance current understandings within the field. To review the entire brief, please visit https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/.
We hope you are able to join us at FETC as we further examine the guiding principles offered by the DOE brief in relation to practice and pedagogy in early childhood classrooms:
FETC, Orlando, Florida
Trending Topics in Early Literacy: Practices and Tools for the Early Childhood Classroom
Presenters: Ami Shah & Jennifer Williams
Also, please look to join us at the final FETC #CoffeeEdu on Friday, January 27th at 8-9am as the conversation continues! Click HERE for more info & registration.
United States Department of Education & United States Department of
Health and Human Services. (2016). Early learning and educational
technology brief. Retrieved from: https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/
By Fran Siracusa
A little over a year ago, two close friends of mine encouraged me to contemplate putting into words my “why” and my “one word.” This task was not just another New Year’s resolution, but became an impetus to internally rejuvenate my life journey with passion, energy and focus. What purpose did I seek in my personal, professional, and spiritual life? How could I do better?
It is now January of 2017, and I observe that my context has expanded from last year. In 2016, I was mobilized to pursue engagement of self and others, as expressed in a Cold Play song: “We are diamonds taking shape.” My one word was “reflect,” but not in the passive definition of “pondering” one’s past actions. Instead, I aimed to interpret the word “reflect” to denote signification like “echo,” “mirror,” and “resound” with the illustration of children reflecting their unique personalities and energies upon one another.
Throughout my professional endeavors last year, I developed global projects and activities where human beings could connect with each other in meaningful ways. Opposite of “one size fits all” conference sessions, I involved international classrooms of students in active learning during “presentations” by utilizing the Google Hangout, Kahoot!, Padlet, Buncee, video, and sketching applications, within unique projects that culminated in a live broadcast and participatory activity. I personally introduced a young student entrepreneur from Kenya who is making strides combating water scarcity to six international classrooms. She and I later invited these students to spread global awareness, turning the students into teacher-learners, exponentially educating others through the use of social networks. I facilitated global challenges involving mathematics, science, art, design, and communication. With unfaltering fervor, I focused on connections-based learning and a personal approach where peers could explore and express themselves first individually, but also within a mutually respectful community, leading to global integration of voice. As demonstrated, within professional and personal circles, I have always amplified the importance of active participatory processes and creativity. Similarly, Daniel H. Pink conveys the same message in his book, Drive: “Like young children… we are not destined to be passive and compliant. We’re designed to be active and engaged.”
Along the same vein of emulating energetic and extraordinary experiences, my one word for 2017 is “exemplar.” By modeling superior behaviors, projects, conversations, and goals, perhaps other global citizens, including educators and students, will take risks and serve the greater good. Just like family members who help each other with household chores, so should society members value one another and take responsibility to contribute to the collective unit. Perhaps, these members will grow to embrace challenges, remain empathetic, organically care for the whole community, and participate with amazing approach.
In my role as Educational Technologist for Calliope Global, or volunteer at St. Cecelia School, as a mom to two impressionable teenagers, or a friend to countless international companions, I always aim to live well, be grateful, and model kindness. I create conversations, engage in champion ventures, and stand alongside the vanguard of global cooperatives and colleagues so that students in global classrooms, as well as my own two children, will view the world through a global lens. I model learning tasks where students can be autonomously curious, risk-taking, creative and productive. I encourage my cohorts to strive to create unique advancements; equivalently, my “EduPals,” “EduHeroes,” and students inspire me with their triumphs, and I am blessed to stand alongside as co-learner, coach, and/or guide. Most likely, it was my experience at a Montessori school that strengthened my belief that learners should be autonomous; undoubtedly, it was my multicultural upbringing and religious training that move me to consider community service as the core of humanity, and that all learning has real-world purpose.
I choose to surround myself with extraordinary people, who wish to cultivate our relationships. I choose to empower students and educators to take part in a global conversation about kindness and responsibility; I also choose to conscientiously set up students for success. I choose to volunteer in the collective movement to make the world a better place. I choose to respond to a call to action to accomplish difficult but worthwhile global goals as an exemplary advocate. I choose to do what is best for children, and our planet, and be an exemplar. Follow my lead, and in 2017, let’s mobilize as exemplars to connect, create, inspire!
What’s your #OneWord2017? Please share with me your thoughts because I would love to continue the conversation and further the “ripple effects.” Shout out to Buncee for developing such an engaging creativity tool for students and me! #weheartBuncee
By Jennifer Williams
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