Saturday, November 5, 2016

Get Collaborative with Nearpod!

Last week I did one of my favorite things: I taught a chemistry lesson for fifth graders in honor of the American Chemical Society's National Chemistry Week. This year's theme was Solving Mysteries with Chemistry, so the students solved a mystery of a robbery at a hypothetical bakery. Because they completed many experiments to analyze a mystery powder, I needed a way to keep everyone organized. I decided to use another of my favorite things - NearpodNearpod had rolled out a new feature called Collaborative and I was anxious to try it out with students. This was the perfect opportunity.

Collaborative is an activity that can be added to Nearpod presentations. Like polls and quizzes and drawing slides, a click of a couple of buttons creates a message board that reminded me a little of Padlet. There are a couple of options for backgrounds and post-its. When students participate in the presentation, they can post messages (of 150 characters or less) to the collaborative board. Posts can also include images. After the messages are posted, students can "like" other posts by clicking on the heart icons.

I asked students to guess at how scientists might solve a mystery or catch a criminal. You can see some of the answers in the picture above. The best part of using it was the student reactions! Some were initially stymied about what to write. Once they saw a few other answers, kids were inspired to make some unique guesses. The students really loved the "likes." Maybe older students would be more jaded about the social media quality of this feature, but the fifth graders were cheering as their classmates liked their posts.

Collaborative is not yet available to everyone, but it is coming soon. I hope as it evolves, teachers might have the ability to hide responses on the board until they have been previewed or until all students have participated. Perhaps it would also be nice to allow for anonymous posting. Some of my fellow PioNears have also asked for the ability to "throw away" a response if it is inappropriate or off-task. Maybe we can look forward to some of these features once Collaborative is fully incorporated into Nearpod. Stay tuned.

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