Anyone who knows me as a teacher knows how much I love Nearpod. I use it daily in my preschool special education class during circle time for whole group activities and use some lessons in small groups and one on one as well. I have used it to teach students preschool through grad school in an appropriate and effective way. I have also been known to use it to create family activities for holidays...It is natural, then, that I became a Nearpod Certified Educator. With that hat on, I am excited to share with you the information below that I learned from one of the trainings I recently participated in through Nearpod. I hope you find this information helpful! If you have any questions, go to the new “Contact Me” page on this site and I will be happy to help you out!
As teachers, we are navigating uncharted waters with distance learning. How can we provide the best learning opportunities for our students without spending every waking moment creating these resources? I am hoping that some of the additions and adjustments Nearpod has made will help make your teacher-life a little bit easier. New to Nearpod? I have access to lessons made just for YOU that I am happy to help you through. Send me a message through this site’s “Contact Me” page and I will be in touch!
Below I have compiled information learned in a training to help you learn more about the updates that Nearpod has made to help teachers transition to distances learning and continuity of learning plans:
-Time to Climb can now be used in student paced lessons now in addition to live lessons. You can choose from one of their pre-made Time to Climb activities OR make one of your own.
-Students can now submit answers to open ended questions in audio, text or both. Teachers can replay these responses in real time during a lesson or they can be reviewed later in your reports. Learn how to set this up here.
-You can now imbed Flipgrid in your lessons! Learn how to do that here!
-You can now remove posts from the collaborate boards in student paced activities. You do this by moderating the collaborate board in your report of that activity. Go here to learn more.
-There is now a teacher view for student paced lessons! Will this feature be helpful to you? Learn more here.
Resources for you to up your Nearpod game created by Nearpod for YOU:
- Virtual Learning Resources Hub- A place to request access to Nearpod and Flocabulary. Links to live and recorded webinars
- Nearpod Curated Folder of Lessons - Topic: Staying Healthy and Relieving Stress (COVID-19)
- Premade matching pairs skill builders
- Premade Time to Climb Quizzes
I hope that you find this information helpful! If you haven’t used Nearpod yet, don’t be afraid to explore all that Nearpod has to offer! I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
It has been an interesting 2 weeks. So many emotions. So many prayers. So many thoughts. So many hats!
COVID-19 has turned the world of most people a bit topsy-turvy. I find my brain going in a million different directions all at once; not quite sure where to start. I am a mom, a homemaker, a teacher,... I wear a lot of hats over the course of the day, but I am used to there being some level of definition of when I am supposed to be wearing each hat.
How can I best navigate all of my hats when I need to be wearing them simultaneously? I am still figuring out how to be me/mom/teacher/homemaker/etc when all of those jobs need to be accomplished in a shared space and a shared set of hours.
I have decided that I am going to give myself a little grace. It is okay if I don't have it all figured out yet. And it is okay if my kids are watching a little more TV and playing a little more Minecraft while I do. I am going to think outside the box and figure out what kind of schedule works best for us. If it means that the kids' school work is being done at a different time everyday and I am writing IEPs and planning lessons for my students at 11 pm that will be okay.
I have also decided that I am going to need to set up some boundaries for myself. I have noticed that almost every free moment I have had the past week I have put on my teacher hat. In this twilight zone-esque reality we find ourselves in where there are no noticeable boundaries between work and family time or weekdays and weekends it is easy to fall into addressing all the work emails that come in regardless of the time and what you're doing. I am going to try and find some balance there this week. How are you doing with your hats?
There was something I found magical about leaf rubbings when I was young. It was one of my favorite things to do! This activity takes the main idea behind leaf rubbings and lets your class explore...well, almost anything!
What you need for set up:
I know, I know...but, my drawing skills are lacking! Right? So are mine!! Do your best and see how it turns out. (If you mess up, it is easy to scrape off and try again!) And if you are really struggling, I am sure there is someone in your building you could ask to lend you their artistic hand!
What your students will need:
Other uses for your glue shapes:
I would love to hear and see how you use this in your classroom! Comment below!
I am about to enter my 14th year of teaching (which blows my mind every time I stop to think about it). In those 14 years the way I prepare for the upcoming school year has evolved. This year more, than ever, I find myself looking through edtech-colored glasses. What can I do as I get going this year that can allow me to transform learning for my students? As I set up my classroom and get ready for meet the teacher night, what can I do that will my life easier later on?
There are so many different answers to that question. Nearpod lessons, file folder games, Seesaw Activities, organize my Google Drive, Book Creator Templates, parent surveys...and the list goes on. This year, I've decided to work with my GREEN SCREEN!
If you don't have a fancy green screen kit, green plastic table cloths from the Dollar Tree will do it (Really! They work great!). My plan is to have a green screen set up on meet the teacher night to snag a few pictures of my students as they come in (be sure to have the green screen extend to the floor if you are getting more than head-shots). These pictures along with my favorite green screen app will allow me to transform my school routines by allowing me to incorporate more images of my students into our daily lessons and routines. My hypothesis is that taking the time to create a collection of green screen pictures at the beginning of the school year will open up so many possibilities as I lesson plan later in the year--and save time. For young students (and lets face it, lots of older ones too), seeing your image and images of your peers inserted into the classroom learning material grabs your attention fast!
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination (and any possible media restrictions your students may have). Some ways I might use green screen images this year include:
As you begin planning for your return to school try looking at your classroom and lessons through edtech-colored glasses if you haven't already. You're likely to surprise yourself with simple ideas that can transform a learning experience for your students. Happy Back to School!
So, did you know that today is Global School Play Day? I didn’t either until about a week ago. Other teachers in my building approached our administrators about the day and it was decided that our school was going to participate (you can see more information here.) I wrote it down on my calendar and kept going knowing that I had to process what this would mean for my classroom for the day.
After a little reading on their web page, I learned the basic idea of the day is to provide children with the opportunity to have screen-free, unstructured play. In today’s society children don’t have as much opportunity to participate in child led, unstructured play. Something so simple, but so important to a child’s development.
With not much time to reflect on how this would look across the school, I concentrated on how to best implement it in my classroom and went to work.
And you want to know something? It was an amazing day!
Wait a minute? Why doesn’t this happen everyday? Well that’s simple, right? We can’t come into school everyday and just play! That’s ridiculous! But is it?
There was a lot of learning going on. Maybe not content area learning in all cases, but important life skills like problem solving, social interactions, following rules of games, turn taking, sharing,...and the list goes on. Is there a way for teachers to harness the spirit of the day and apply it to “regular” days of school? Is it possible that the excitement and energy that we felt throughout the building today could be felt more often? Can we make it so students pop up out of bed and tell their parents “We’re going to learn about telling time today!” like my son jumped out of bed this morning and said “We’re going to play all day today!” I think there is.
I found today rejuvenating as a teacher and saw evidence of similar feelings in the faces of other teachers and students in the building. I looked at my classroom from a different perspective and saw possibilities that had never occurred to me when I was looking through my detail oriented tunnel vision. We have a lot of things that we need to get done in a school year, I get it. We can’t have child led, unstructured play all day, every day at school. But I wonder what would happen if we added it to our days and weeks. I wonder what would happen if, as teachers, we move a little further outside our comfort zones to meet our students where they fit more naturally as busy, curious, active children.
If today is any indication, we all might enjoy school a little more, our students will be more engaged and invested in their learning, and we’ll be so tuckered out that we’ll sleep sounder at night.
How can you incorporate the spirit of Global School Play Day into your classroom? I know that is a question I will be asking myself regularly from now on.
A few weeks ago we were hit with an ice storm. The ice storm seemed to catch everyone off guard. Our neighborhood shares roads with a popular vacation spot, so the roads are usually pre-treated whenever there is a threat of weather. This time they were not.
The storm hit early on a Thursday morning and roads got bad quickly. Being so early in the season, most of the trees still had leaves so the added weight from the ice took out a lot of trees...and a lot of power lines. At 6:45 on Thursday evening we lost power and it wasn’t restored until Sunday afternoon. In my adult life, that was the longest I had been without power. We were blessed in so many ways. By midday on Friday the roads were clear enough to travel. Friends and family who had power opened their homes to us and we were able to stay warm and comfortable. To the kids it was an adventure that included long playdates and sleepovers with many of their good friends. As the weekend went on, I noticed something that I hadn’t expected. Even though they were having fun and their needs were being met, my kids were becoming irritable and cranky. By Sunday afternoon their behavior was rapidly declining.
My teacher brain started analyzing the situation. If all behavior is a form of communication, what was my children’s behavior saying? The answer I came up with was quite simple. Our routine had been disturbed. We hadn’t been home for 2 days. We had slept in a different place each night. The length of this adventure was uncertain: until the power came on, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to sleep at home or if we would be spending another night out of the house. Even though they were having fun, were safe, had food in their bellies, a place to sleep, and were with their family and friends the structure, stability, and predictability of the most basic aspects of daily life had vanished. What was worse? They was no concrete end in site.
How many of the students coming into our classrooms experience unpredictability in their everyday lives? How many of our students are going through something that is turning their lives upside-down and we are clueless? I went to work that Monday discombobulated and tired from the events of the long weekend, but I knew that our normal was being reinstated. How many of our students’ parents are carrying heavy burdens that take priority over checking their child’s take home folder and sending back that form?.
I was reminded in a very tangible way that even if we think we know what is going on in the lives of those we see every day, there is so much we are unaware of. It is important to be kind to one another and to give the benefit of the doubt even if we think we shouldn’t. Instead of thinking “what is WRONG with them today?!” we should try “i wonder what is bothering them today.” See if we can convert that frustration into empathy and take the time to check in we might learn the “why” behind actions and behaviors and what we learn may just shift our perspective on the situation.
I've used Nearpod in class with students and I've created activities for families to do together at home to expand on what we're doing in class. This year, I am also going to use Nearpod for Back to School Night.
Back to School Night is a wonderful time to meet our new students, get information from parents, and let them know what to expect this school year. Most parents and students are able to make it, but there are always some that are out of town or unable to come for a variety of other reasons. A Nearpod activity is a great way to reach those parents who
With the beginning of the school year comes a lot of information gathering. There is a lot of information that we want from parents and other teachers as we prepare our classrooms and our brains for the year ahead. This usually means a lot of paperwork and a lot of emails.
As a teacher, I typically get parents to fill out these forms at Meet the Teacher Night or at a home visit. As a parent, I've gone to many Meet the Teacher Nights and have filled out forms for my children's teachers.
This year I am going to try something new; I'm going to use Google Forms. This isn't going to work for everything, but it will work for the information that I am collecting for my own records. Here are some ways that Google Forms could make the beginning of the school year a little easier:
To gather parent contact information.
As a parent, I have filled out multiple copies of this type of form for teachers. They want to know the best way to reach me and how I might be able to volunteer in the classroom. While, as a teacher, I haven't used this type of form I imagine organizing the information for a class of students is even more tedious than filling it out as a parent. Creating a Google Form for this can be faster for parents and help teachers organize the information more quickly, easily accessible in their Google Drive. It also cuts down on paper use.
To gather information about your students.
As teachers, we like to get as much information as we can about our incoming students. As a parent I've been asked about my thoughts on my child's strengths and weaknesses, their favorite subjects, their least favorite subjects, and what I hope for the school year for my child. Using Google Forms to gather this information allows teachers to quickly organize it in their Google Drive. It also takes out the guess work of reading unfamiliar handwriting. Using less paper is a nice benefit too.
Organizing Co-Teaching Schedules, etc
This is the time of year that we are working out schedules. Some teachers schedules include co-teaching with multiple teachers or pulling students for services. I know that the speech pathologist that I work with does her rounds walking to each teacher to find out the best times and then travels around again or sends emails to problem solve the scheduling conflicts. Creating a Google Form for gathering the initial information of best times, etc would allow therapists and teachers whose schedules are intertwined with the schedules of other teachers to get their scheduling done faster (while keeping the information organized nicely in their Google Drive).
All teachers have data collection needs. Many teachers also have other adults in their classrooms helping whether it be assistants, other teachers, student teachers, or parent volunteers. Google Forms can be used to collect data in an organized way. For example: Your student teacher is going to be assessing your students on their knowledge of shapes. Create a google form requesting information you would like for each student (don't forget the student name and the date for data collection purposes!), create a QR code labeled with the activity, and your student teacher can quickly and easily take data that is organized and ready for you in your Google Drive.
The beautiful thing about using Google Forms to help in this way is that no matter where you are, as long as you have access to the internet, you have access to this information. You're at an in-service and need to access information? You have it. You planned on going in to work on progress reports but your little one is sick? Don't worry, your data sheets are on your Google Drive. You also can't misplace it! I'm famous for wandering around the classroom with something and putting it down...and forgetting where I put it. This will definitely help me!
What are some other ways you use Google Forms to help you work smarter and not harder?
This morning I woke up with an idea: I think I can use Nearpod for morning sign in and lunch count.
This would be a great way for me to teach my students some of the basics of Nearpod and to get more comfortable with using it.
This would be a great way for me to have practice accessing my reports and using the results.
I made a beeline for my computer and started to play around. Like most things I do, I over thought it at first. Then, I realized that students are required to sign into a lesson to join it. Attendance, done! Now lunch count. My tinkering brought me to the conclusion that the 2 activities best suited for lunch count were poll and quiz. If I use quiz, then I'm counting how many people chose which answer. Poll has the information organized already meaning less work for me. Students get practice spelling and typing their name (good things to practice in elementary school!) and I will have a quick and easy way to see what my lunch count numbers will be. Win/win!
I'm excited about the possibilities! I hope that you play around a bit and give it a try too! Below is a screencast if you want to see exactly how I created it.
As you can see, I'm the proud owner of a new "badge." I found out today that I have been accepted as a Nearpod Certified Educator. Four months ago I didn't know what Nearpod was and 5 months ago I had never heard of it before, but now I am sold!
Nearpod is a free app that allows teachers to create interactive learning tools for students. There are also lessons that have already been created that teachers can browse through, edit (if needed) and use. With the free version some of these lessons are not free and some of the features are not accessible (like most free apps, there are in app purchase opportunities). With the paid version (check and see if your school or school division has an account!) there are so many features available and all of those lessons that you browse through are FREEEEEEE.
Now, I'm a preschool special education teacher. Most of those lessons are not appropriate for the developmental level of my students. BUT what Nearpod allows me to do is create some pretty awesome educational tools that ARE appropriate for my students. I am fortunate that my school division has purchased Nearpod for all teachers PK-12th grade. I have had so much fun exploring and finding ways to use this to benefit my students. My favorite features so far are the Draw feature, the 360 "field trip" pictures (this is hands down my students' favorite), and the ability to add audio to slides. With the Draw feature, you can upload a picture as the background for them to draw over--so far I've used this for tracing and finding and circling things in a picture. It has worked very well. You can choose to lead your lesson "live" so that you control the pace of the lesson or you can allow it to be student-paced. I like both features. I have used live when working with a large group of students and student paced when working with 1 or 2 students at a time.
There are so many possibilities for what you could use Nearpod for. I have mostly used it for letter, number, and counting practice. But, I had a thought earlier today that I will experiment with to use Nearpod to create social stories. I'll let you know how it turns out. Another amazing thing about this app is it is appropriate for preschool teachers and college professors to use. It could easily be used to get information to groups of adults as well. The possibilities are really endless.
I know you're itching to see what this actually might look like, so here's a link to see a lesson I created and used with my students.
What do you think? Are you using Nearpod? How do you use it? I'd love to hear!
My Teacher Hat
I am a teacher in a preschool special education classroom. My classroom serves students ages 2-5 years old.