Teachers Use Nearpod App To Enhance Student Learning

Persell Middle School eighth graders, Ryan Anderson and Damon Senear, work together on their iPads with the Nearpod app.

Jefferson Middle School Social Studies students are experiencing the battlegrounds of Gettysburg and a Mayan Temple, not by traveling there, but through a cool app teacher, Darren Bonafede, is using in his classes called Nearpod. As one feature in the app, students can take a virtual reality field trip looking at a picture of an actual historical location using a 360-degree view (that they can control). Bonafede has been using Nearpod for three years and last year, he became a National Certified Nearpod Educator. He helped JPS Technology Instructional Coach, Jason Kathman, roll out the Nearpod app in Jamestown classrooms with a summer workshop. Nearpod is one of the newest ways Jamestown Public Schools is integrating technology to enhance classroom instruction.

“We believe that our focus should be solely on student learning,” said Kathman. “With that in mind, technology can provide our students with a number of things. It can provide access to the world’s knowledge, to experts in any field, and to art from any museum. Additionally, when we place the tools like Nearpod in the hands of students, they can create and publish incredible work. So, the right technology can not only enhance instruction and student learning but transform them.”

Bonafede uses Nearpod to present new Social Studies material and to assess what his students are learning. In a typical lesson, students log into the website and follow along on their iPads with the teacher’s presentation on the front screen. In “teacher-led” mode when the teacher advances the slide, it also advances on the individual students’ iPads. In “student” mode, students can advance through the slides at their own pace. You can add 10 different forms of content to your presentation like Nearpod 3D, which are different objects students can look at from a 360-degree perspective.

Another benefit of Nearpod is that after a presentation, a teacher can have students complete an assessment. There are nine different forms of teacher-created assessments such as: multiple choice quizzes, open-ended questions, term-definition matching games and interactive fill-in-the-blank sentences. One of Bonafede’s favorites is “Collaborate” in which a question is posed and each student types in an answer, which appears as post-it notes on the screen. Students can read each other’s answers and then repost additional responses.

“Because Nearpod has built-in, easy-to-create interactive activities, it is immensely more engaging than using a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation,” said Bonafede. “There are enough activities included in Nearpod to make daily lessons unpredictable and fresh. Also, the built-in assessments allow teachers to use only one application instead of traditional assessments on paper or having students open and log in to a different app.”

Bonafede has at least one Nearpod lesson for each unit, which is organized in folders on his Nearpod desktop. Nearpod recently added a “share” folder in which he can also share Nearpod presentations with other teachers in the district. Students like having the presentation right on their desks, in front of them, on their iPads allowing them to focus a little easier with the information easily accessible.

“There are many other engaging activities that I use outside of Nearpod, however, Nearpod presentations have become the backbone of the units I instruct,” said Bonafede. “The easy-to-use and automatic-corrected assessments give immediate feedback on how well students are learning what is being taught.”

Persell Middle School Social Studies teacher Alyssa Raimondo is just starting to use Nearpod with her lessons on Reconstruction with her eighth graders.

“Nearpod has a lot of the same features as PowerPoint, but with interactive learning activities and checks for understanding built-in, which is great to keep students engaged and using the new information they are learning quickly,” said Raimondo. “I think students often like sharing their ideas with each other, like interacting with their learning, and not just being asked to sit and absorb for long periods of time before they get to do anything with what they are learning.”

Raimondo said Nearpod has other advantages. Traditional PowerPoint has stopping points to do the same activities with students on their own, which causes teachers to lose transition time in switching from one activity/app to another. It is “nice” to have all the information in one presentation that also saves all student work for later review if needed.