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Thursday, January 22, 2015

TUIT: Brandon Gabbard and Ben Carter, WMS

As I near the end of my last full week at West Middle, I'm excited to see so many teachers trying out my edtech tool suggestions.  Interestingly here at WMS, several teachers have taken a partnership attitude toward first attempts.  This is actually a brilliant idea that I will suggest at future embedded visits: by finding a partner to take the leap with you (whether in your department or grade level or even across town), you can learn together and not feel alone.

On that note, I have a few WMS Warrior pairs to give a #ShelbyTUITshoutout.   Our first shoutout goes to social studies teachers Ben Carter and Brandon Gabbard, and their use of Nearpod!

For those unfamiliar with Nearpod, it's a great bridge between what you already have and taking your edtech integration to the next level.  If you have already made a fantastic PowerPoint for content delivery, you can import it into Nearpod and be 90% finished.

Nearpod is basically an interactive presentation, or as some call it, "PowerPoint on steroids."  You create slides of content inside the site, or import PowerPoints, PDFs, and JPEGs to make as slides.  (Quick tip: I recommend "writing" the bulk of your presentation in PowerPoint, then import into Nearpod; the editing, writing, and template choices  inside of NearPod is rudimentary and not as robust.   Also, you can't easily edit slides once imported, so be sure your PowerPoint is a final draft.)   Next, add any interactives. In the free version, your interactives include quizzes, polls, open response questions, and even a drawing function.   Save and publish your pod when finished.  When it has finished processing, you can run a Nearpod by making it a "Live Session." Students can either go to the Nearpod website with the  browser of any device (or download and use their free app) and join the session with the PIN number that you give the students; Nearpod generates a new PIN every time you fire up a session.   As you push out the interactives, you can see their answers in real time, and even share an individual response (without their name displayed!) to the whole class.  At the end of the session, you can run a report showing all the individual student submissions for each interactive.

One of the great things about Nearpod is that you don't even need a projector, since all the content is pushed to the screen of the student devices.  A teacher can start a live session from their mobile device (say, their iPad or laptop).  While walking the classroom floor, she can "steer" and push the interactives and slides at will, looking at her live dashboard as students answer and interact.

Note that for the free account, you can only run "live" sessions.  For the Gold level (approximately $120 a year), you can run a session as homework and use Nearpod as another way of flipping your classroom.  (Gold level also gets you more space for more Nearpods, as well as additional interactive options.)

Another thing about Nearpod is the ability to get already made Pods from their "store" (some free, some for a charge) or from other users.  The steps on how to share Pods with colleagues are unfortunately not as intuitive as it could be, so I'm providing the instructions below.
To share presentations between users you must:
  • Go to your Home Screen (“What would you like to do?”) and go to the Create tab.  (I know, this seems counterintuitive, but trust me.)
  • Select the presentation you want to share.  There should be options at the top of the page.  Find “More” (with the three dots and the down arrow) on the far right, then choose “Share."
  • An email dialogue will pop up with a default message.  Put the email address of the person you want to share the link with.  (It may help if you use the same email address that they use to log into Nearpod.)
  • Once the user receives this message, they can click on the link (which will ask them to log into Nearpod) so they can import the Pod into their own library.  Once they have it, it is their copy to use and edit. You can send to multiple people at the same time.

Note:  if you are in “My Library” and choose a Nearpod, the “Share” button doesn’t work in the way detailed above; it only gives you an embed code. The embed code is for a website and not for a live session or homework. 

Purchased presentations cannot be shared.

When Mr. Gabbard and Mr. Carter heard about Nearpod, they began collaborating on one the next day.  As social studies teachers, they of course already had PowerPoints of content, so it was just a matter of importing one into a Nearpod and adding interactives.   Were the kids engaged? See this example from Mr. Gabbard's class:

Congratulations to Mr. Carter and Mr. Gabbard for their #ShelbyTUITshoutout!

Do you use Nearpod in your content and grade level?  What do you think?  Reply in Comments below.

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