Children are so very excited to see what has been left for them on Christmas morning or they wait impatiently to unwrap that item they have asked for and been oh so good for at least Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve in order to receive. Imagine a young child seeing a bright, shiny new bicycle with a big red bow and their name on it under the tree. Even though they have never ridden before, they are eager to try. How do you get them to be a proficient bike rider? How do you get that child to get the most out of their gift?
Two years ago when my district introduced 1:1 iPads for all students in grades 6 – 8, I was overjoyed. A technology tool in the hands of our students to make each lesson more engaging, allow for digital creations, and provide a means of communication and sharing. The iPads were quickly passed out to middle school teachers with a quick description of the apps that had been preloaded to each one. I left a little overwhelmed, as were many of the teachers. This was also my first year as an instructional coach and I knew that a large part of my support to teachers would be in implementing the iPad during instruction.
I began to teach myself, collect research, watch google videos, anything I could get my hands on about the apps that were pre-loaded for me. Of those, Nearpod, quickly became my favorite, but I did not see it being used in classrooms. In observations of class as a coach, I noticed that teachers love their PowerPoints. Love them because they are a quick and visual way to present information to students, however, there lacked a formative check, and frankly, student engagement in the death by PowerPoint approach.
So, why not use the iPad, why not make those loved PowerPoints into Nearpods? They didn’t know how. I observed a serious problem in giving teachers an iPad, showing them an app, and saying good luck. It was not the best strategy for getting technology into the classroom. If we want to teach a child how to ride a bike, we don’t just hand them a new shiny bike with a bow. We must show them how to ride, place training wheels if necessary, hold to the back until they are ready to peddle all on their own. iPads are much the same way. My district gave each teacher the shiny bike with the bow, but neglected to provide the support needed to learn to ride that bike.
Enter an Instructional Coach and Nearpod
I took every chance I had to show teachers how to use the magic that is an interactive presentation. Nearpod changes the humdrum sit and get of PowerPoints into interactive, formatively assessing, student engaging tech tools. I held training sessions in groups, team, and 1:1 with teachers and also followed up with in class support by c0-teaching. co-creating, and just being present while they used the Nearpod. Some teachers needed training wheels, some needed me to hold the back longer then others, and some were ready to ride alone in very little time. Although the level of support differed for each teacher, they all needed some support.
Fast forward to year two and many of the teachers are not only using Nearpod but teaching their new teammates to do so also. I receive emails sharing Nearpods with me or of testimonials from teachers and students after using Nearpod. Students look forward to the lesson and inquire, “Are we using Nearpod today?” Love to hear of students excitement to learning.
I have recently become a Nearpod Pionear and am thrilled at the prospect of sharing Nearpod with even more teachers and students. Everyone needs someone there to hold the back of the bike until they are ready to ride freely. If you need more support with Nearpod or have any questions, please contact me by replying. Or feel free to comment how Nearpod is used in your class.