Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nearpod- A great tech find

I was recently at a training for all the AP Human Geography teachers in my district.  We discuss a lot of things during our meeting relating to Human Geography.  I am one of the facilitators.  One of the best parts of the day is when we have teachers share with everyone great lessons or strategies they use in their classroom.  It was here that I heard about Nearpod.  It was blown away with this app and knew I had to use it right away.

If you are unfamiliar with Nearpod, it is a great tool to help engage a classroom in a variety of ways.  The website says, "we strive to empower educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world."  It allows teachers to engage the students in a presentation, but then allows a teacher to engage the students in a variety of methods so they can continuously monitor the students understanding about the content.

Nearpod gives teachers a variety of strategies to engage the students.  You take your PowerPoint and upload it to Nearpod.  You then add a variety of activities to gauge the students understanding.  The students can answer a quiz question, take a poll, create an extended response, an draw or annotate anything (seriously, my favorite!).  After the students have answered, you can share out to all of the students in graphs, pie charts, or have them read the answers other students submitted.

This is a very teacher-directed lesson, but there are topics in my course that need some direct instruction at the beginning to give the students the necessary basics so they can move on to deepening the knowledge through engaging learning experiences.  I love how I can monitor their progress and understanding.  

For a more exciting and deeper experience, teachers can insert a 360 degree view of places around the world.  This is exciting because it allows me to take concepts in geography, and have them apply them to the world around them.  We can take virtual field trips to the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas, view the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, or visit the Great Wall of China.  For my class, this was a great find for the students.  When I think they've had enough time to look around, I simply progress the presentation to give them a chance to process it.

If a student is absent, and you want them to experience the entire lesson, you can assign it for homework as well (if you're a Gold Member).  Click here is an example of that.

This has proven to be an amazing tool to use during my stream teaching.  This allows me to control the devices on both campuses.  This has enhanced our learning on both sides of the webcam.  I'm exited about using this tool to its fullest for the rest of the year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Transitioning to a 1:1 Campus

My district is transitioning all high schools to 1:1 next year.  I'm currently on the Digital Instruction Transition team.  We are attending PD now to help with the transition next school year.  I'm planning on blogging about our transition process.

Some things we've discussed already as we start this amazing process:

1.  It is scary!

Going from traditional print classrooms to digital is a HUGE transition.  For many teachers, it is going to force them to look at their lessons and experiences to see how they can adapt them to fit the growing digital expectations.  Our goal as the digital transition team is to try and ease the fears of the teachers.

2.  The students will not be as prepared as we think they will be.

I've said this before, just because they may be called digital natives doesn't mean they have a complete understanding about how to use the technology in a meaningful way.  They can tweet and snap all day and night, but if I ask them to create a meaningful presentation using digital tools, many of them are at a loss as to what that exactly means.  Just like the teachers will need training, we are planning ways to effectively teach the students to use the devices meaningfully.

3.  We must find ways to help those teachers that might be resistant.

This is where I know we will have to work our hardest.  There are a number of teachers that are resistant to this change.  It goes beyond the fear factor from #1.  This is about the contrarians in a school that see this as a fad, and they will continue to do just the bare minimum.  How are we going to reach them?  What can we do to help them with the transition that will benefit both them and their students? I know we need to get these teachers on board quickly so they're vocal opposition to this can be minimized.  This is the scariest part for our team because we know the success of this is dependent on teacher buy-in, and we need to get the right teachers to buy in from the beginning.

4.  This is an exciting time to be in education!

Every training we go to, I leave overly excited about the significance of this transition.  We will begin to instruct the students in a way that is going to radically transform their lives!  I can't wait to start adding so much more to my lessons because of the technology.  There are so many apps and programs that can help make my classroom an even better place.

I can't wait to see where this journey leads us!  I'm looking forward to blogging about and sharing our experiences.