Nearpod is one of the best websites/apps I've come across in my teaching career. Through the use of a browser (if you're having your students use a laptop or desktop computer) or an app (if you have Google Tablets / iPads available), you can "push out" your own presentations to every device in the room - and make them ENGAGING in a whole new way! This redirects the attention of the student to the screen on their desk rater than the front of the room.
In activities which encourage group or partner-centered content, this is ideal. Not to mention, students can sit anywhere in the room and do not have to "face" any particular direction. I've found this to be a particularly attractive feature for primary teachers that have rug or bean bag areas they would like to use for their lesson!
What makes Nearpod "engaging" though?
As I stated before, you can push out content to your students (easy import of PowerPoints/PDF's/image files etc.) or you can browse teacher-created content already on the site. Now comes the fun part: adding interactive content like polls, quizzes, web pages and, my personal favorite, "Draw It!"'s. The teacher console (your view of Nearpod.com) aggregates student answers and drawings in real time, so you can move throughout the room and help trigger happy students who respond too quickly, answer incorrectly without disrupting other student groups. You can also "push out" student answers to the class (text or drawings) anonymously to discuss them.
Lauren Massie's 4th graders in Cedar Mountain Primary School were using this tech tool in a recent math lesson where we sent them empty base ten block models and gave them decimals (ex: 0.43) and asked them to "draw" the visual model using their mouse. They discussed it with their partners and used their mouse (awesome mouse skill practice, by the way) to submit their drawings. Following this, we pushed out a few incorrect drawings first to talk about them before unveiling a correct one. The students loved it. They learned about comparing decimals all while practicing their typing and mouse skills. Not to mention, this facilitated partner discussions, peer learning and allowed Ms. Massie to differentiate her instruction and give one-on-one time where needed.
Today I had the pleasure of "teaming up" with a Glen Meadow social studies teacher, Greg Jablonski, to introduce a unit on Asian civilizations. A traditional colored-pencil and paper activity was replaced with a collaborative digital mapping effort through Google Drawing. A blank map of China was "shared" out to the class and students were given a list of geographical items to locate and map.
Pairs of students used the features of Google Drive to work together synchronously on a single map, while Google Drawing provided graphical editing tools such as shapes and text boxes.
Students polished their shared maps with self-made symbolic legends. The products of the activity were unique, cloud-stored and collaborative. The students are looking forward to continuing this effort as they explore the same regions in Google Earth and embed screenshots into their maps.
Assisting students learn the features of Audacity in their foreign language class:
Here, a Vernon Township High School Spanish class records and edits an oral assessment. Students are submitting their sounds clips through MyBigCampus.
This was a great method of oral assessment. Students were able to listen to themselves speak and make corrections while they focused on pronunciation, tone and expression. This eliminated the anxiety of presenting that would keep some students from otherwise performing to the best of their ability.
Here, a middle school Spanish teacher uses Skype to connect with students in Argentina. These students conversed with their digital "pen-pals" about culture, classes, music, food and more. Both groups enthusiastically practiced speaking their respective second languages and had a fun while doing it!