In my class I have had great success in utilizing Google Classroom as our mission control. For this reason everyone of my students come right into class, get out their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), log into their GAFE (Google Apps For Education) account and head right to Google Classroom to see what we have on the mission agenda. In this analogy of Google Classroom being mission control, all of our activities can be considered missions, and in a mission you need a powerful ship to get you there. For me one of the most powerful ships I have many in my dock, is Nearpod. With Nearpod I am a Captain with complete control of the mission, using the ship to help steer my crew (students) though a great expedition of discovery.
Nearpod is a great ship for discovery because of the extensive student interaction capabilities and the malleability of the teacher (captain) to take the lesson in any direction based on student interest. With the included "on the fly" features within the Nearpod console, a teacher can take control of the mission and send the students to a selected website, where students can gather more information on the topic being explored. After a selected amount of time a the teacher can bring all the students back into the mission, leaving no man behind, and discuss what was discovered on the website. This discussion can be completed though a short answer question posed trough the Nearpod platform, through a pair share with group members, or both. The biggest benefit to this "on the fly" capability is that the teacher sends the students to the website and brings them all back with the push of a button. This prevents any student from hanging back on the website and missing out in the class discussion. The ability to prevent leaving anyone behind is a huge benefit to the class, the teacher, and the discussion.
The true power of Nearpod comes when you begin to utilize the "Inception" model of Nearpod. I have labeled this the "Inception" model because of the ability of the teacher to send students on a mission within the mission in the Nearpod console. So what is the "Inception" model and what is its benefit in the classroom. Well, lets go back to analogy of Nearpod being a ship, the lesson is the mission, the teacher is the captain, and the students are the crew. Lets say that in the middle of a mission our captain notices our crew does not have all the necessary information or tools to successfully complete a mission. Does the captain move along anyway and hope all the crew will successfully complete the mission, or will he pause the mission to train the staff in ways that will give them a better chance to complete the mission. This is DIFFERENTIATION at its best! Instantly having a way to enhance the learning opportunities of those students who are falling behind, and enhancing the learning opportunities who learned the information the first time.
The get the most out of the "Inception" model you will have to plan ahead by creating three Nearpods for your students for each lesson. You will need to create the class lesson which everyone participates, a smaller Nearpod with a reteach of important concepts for those students who do not understand the material the first time, and finally another smaller Nearpod with higher level explanation of the material for those student who DO get it the first time. To execute the "Inception" split you just need to include one slide with the following text "If you understand the material so far please input the following code on the next slide: ######. If you DO NOT understand the material so far please input the following code on the next slide: ######"
This split will help to those who do not understand the material the first time, while enhancing the instruction for those who did understand the material the first time. After the students have worked through these Nearpod lessons within the Nearpod lesson, the teacher with a simple click of a button on the Nearpod dashboard, can bring ALL the students back together. The students now have a better chance of understanding the lesson now all to the end. The mission now has a greater chance at succeeding.