Twitter is the New Help Desk

The other day, I had a revelation about Twitter.

I was getting a nearpod presentation ready for my class.  The presentation was all set and ready to go from the week before, I just had to publish it.  About two hours before my class, I pressed “Publish” and waited… and waited… and waited…

It seemed like something was wrong.  After troubleshooting on my own for a bit and ruling out a problem with my computer and connection, I realized I was going to have to reach out for help.

I pressed the dreaded “Contact Us” button on the nearpod homepage and wrote a message to their help desk about my issue.  Then, I had a brainstorm.  I’d heard of companies who monitor their image on Twitter and thought that I would check to see if nearpod had a presence.  It turns out they have a handle @nearpodhelp so I tweeted at them to see if I would get a response.  All of the following exchange took place within an hour.

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During this time, I was still monitoring students as they finished assessments while at the same time solving the problem that would have derailed my afternoon class.  I didn’t have to wait until my 20 minute lunch period right before class to wait on a customer service line.  The response was almost instantaneous, and they were able to solve the problem immediately.

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I get why companies do this – twitter is public, so their customer service is visible and transparent.  It’s a very clear win for them in the arena of public opinion.  And, clearly, was a win for me!  I probably would have had to scrap my lesson and throw something together last minute if they hadn’t been able to step in and help.  Thanks @nearpodhelp and thanks Twitter!  I’m a convert.

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Nearpod for Dummies

In December, SPICYSCIENCETEACHER convinced you of the wonders of Nearpod.  I know that after reading that post, I wanted to use it in my classroom to deliver seamless instruction and whole group CFUs.  And I did –  but only after hitting some snags.  Read on to find out the easiest ways to get started and how to avoid some of the time-sucking pitfalls that I ran into along my journey to 100% engagement.

Creating a Presentation:

Before you can create a presentation, you have to sign in.  You can choose to create a username and password or you can log in with your google sign in.  That’s easy.

Next, Nearpod asks you what you would like to do.  If you’re trying to make a new presentation for class tomorrow, click on “Create.”

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Here’s where these tips come in handy.  I find that creating slides within Nearpod is clunky and awkward.  It requires a lot of maneuvering for not a lot of payoff.  To get around this, I create my presentations in Google Slides first and then add in the CFUs later.

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To upload to Nearpod, you need to download your presentation as a PDF.

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Then, drag your file to Nearpod.

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All of your slides should be added!

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Adding in CFUs:

Now to the fun part, adding your CFU questions!

To add in a question, click on the space in between the slides you want to insert a question.  Click on Add Slide –> Add Activity –> and click on the type of activity you want.

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Multiple choice questions are “Quiz” questions.  I often use “Open End Question” for answers that require typing a sentence.  In science class, we sometimes use “Draw It” and you can draw on a diagram of your choosing.  Many of the other types of questions are reserved for paying subscribers.  In my experience, I’ve found I usually don’t need any more than these three types of CFUs.

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Tips for Presentation:

I teach 3rd and 4th graders so I’ve found that structuring INM a certain way can make my life and their lives a lot easier.  First, I make sure to type the website nearpod.com on their classwork.  I also include a line that they can write the class code on in case they accidentally click out of the tab.

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Elementary students work at all different paces, so I usually keep a completed set of notes on the ELMO and reveal answers as we go along in the presentation.  That way, students are practicing getting information from the computer presentation but can also check to see if their paper is missing anything even if we’ve moved on.

Because the results can be published to the whole class, I also find that answering questions can be time consuming because students REALLY want to get the right answer.  I structure that by having a countdown to when answers need to be submitted.

 

Hope this helps get you started with powerful and engaging INM!  Feel free to leave any other tips and tricks in the comments.

 

Using exitticket.org For Review

Everyone knows that exitticket.org is a great tech tool for assessment at the end of class.  You can input a variety of questions – multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blank, true/false – and student answers are graded and given back immediately, closing the all-important feedback loop.

This week, I tried using exitticket.org as a review tool to help students self monitor how they would do on an end of quarter assessment.  Here’s what I did.

  1. First, I figured out what topics would be on the benchmark test.  I divided them into small enough topics that each “review quiz” would only be 5 questions (to get easy to use percentages and achievement levels for tracking).
  2. Second, I created a practice and tracking document.  Each page had a separate review topic and practice questions to complete before getting permission to take the “review quiz” on exitticket.org.  I also included a place for students to track their data on each quiz.IMG_2665
  3. Then, I created the quizzes.  This part seemed daunting at first because I had about 10 topics for both grades I teach.  But I realized I could use the “Item Bank” feature to easily choose questions that I had already used for previous exit tickets months ago.  Sure, I added in some of my own just for variety, but what I thought would take hours actually only took 10-15 minutes.  Screenshot 2015-12-11 at 7.11.49 AM
  4. Execution Time!  In class, I explained to the kids that the benchmark would cover the topics in their packet.  I set expectations for completing practice using their partners and notes, checking in with me for an okay to get on the computer, and then completing and tracking their exit ticket.  IMG_2666

Pros:

  • Students felt total ownership over their review.  They could work how they felt comfortable, and at their own pace.
  • Students were getting CONSTANT feedback – either from me or from the computer.
  • I was able to address and reteach any misunderstandings as students were working.
  • De-mystifying the testing process and giving kids confidence through practice in multiple modes.

Cons:

  • The exitticket.org website was down and not working for one of the days we were doing the review, which was frustrating for both kids and myself.  We modified by completing the practice the first day and then completing the exit tickets the second day.  Still, always annoying when technology gaps foil your plans!

Overall, I would definitely do this again.  I might even include something like this during regular lessons to have students check in with me after their practice to get permission to take their exit ticket.  It would be a powerful tool in increasing investment and feedback for students on the daily.