Supercharge Classroom Participation with Chromebooks
100% lesson participation is achievable through 1:1 Acer Chromebooks.
This blog post is sponsored by Acer Education, a partner of EdTechTeam.
Imagine the scene: you’ve just delivered a stunning teaching soliloquy to your class, full of all the perfect pedagogy known to educators. As the lesson reaches its climax, you pause to give time for reflection…and ask a discussion question deserving of debate. You look across your classroom, hoping for thirty hands raised amongst thirty engaged minds – but you’re instead met with a familiar scene. A handful of usual confident faces burst forth, ready to announce their views. The others turn their heads away from your gaze. Most of the room look back with glazed over eyes, expecting one of their eager friends to break the silence. There is sadness that despite your efforts, many students are unwilling to share or contribute to the lesson.
Because participation and not just attention, is so important for student outcomes, this post will discuss four Chromebook apps, which can help you achieve 100% student involvement in your lessons:
- NearPod – Interactive slides presentations
- PearDeck – Formative assessment and interactive questions in Google Slides and PowerPoint Online
- FlipGrid – Video recording and sharing platform
- Quizlet Live – Collaborative vocabulary game
Educational research shows that by allowing students to choose whether they participate in lessons, the achievement gap becomes exacerbated. This is because students who are ready to share are constantly thinking, questioning, forming connections and ultimately growing their intelligence. While those who choose not to contribute, miss out on this opportunity to further their learning.
Interestingly, it’s not only self-conscious children who can be disadvantaged by the traditional method of teacher asks a question, children who know–or think they know the answer put their hand up. This approach can also restrict and discourage students who want to contribute. I’m sure every teacher has at some point in their career seen the look of disappointment on a student’s face when a peer says the answer they were thinking, or they had their hand up but weren’t chosen and the lesson moves on. So how can teachers create classroom environments where participation is obligatory without being threatening, inconsiderate of different personality traits and where everyone’s voice is heard?
While in the past, this would have been a difficult classroom climate to achieve, now with the ever-increasing accessibility brought about through Chromebook technology, classrooms with 100% participation rates can be a reality and a relatively simple one at that.
So here they are, four amazing Chromebook Apps you need to try out in your classroom for 100% student participation:
NearPod enables teachers to create and share interactive slide presentations with their students. Teachers can choose to receive responses in a range of forms, including polls, short or long answers, post-it note ideas, drawings and more.
Teachers can choose to share student responses with the class and can also select whether student names are visible or hidden.
After a question is shared, the teacher can see the percentage of student responses: who has responded and who are still working on their answer.
Teacher Tip: Shared writing ideation
One thing my students especially love about Nearpod is their ability to ‘like’ other students’ post-it note ideas. When starting a shared write, I ask students to type their idea for an introductory sentence or two. They then go through and (with student names set to hidden) ‘like’ their favourite 3. Together, we then combine the most popular 2 or more sentence ideas to begin the piece of writing.
PearDeck is another great platform to create interactive presentations. Teachers can add multiple choice questions, draggable activities, drawing opportunities and more.
Available through G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 Teams, teachers can turn their regular Google Slide or PowerPoint decks into interactive presentations with questions and answers in real time promoting complete student interaction and instant formative feedback.
Teacher Tip: Lock Screens
When you want your class’s attention, click the ‘Lock screens’ icon in the bottom left-hand corner. When my students’ screens freeze during a PearDeck lesson, they are trained to flip their screen to the front of the room. When using the Tablet Mode Acer Chromebooks, they just bend the hinge straight up in one easy step. This ensures everyone’s attention is on me for the instructions/input rather than their screens.
Flipgrid provides a unique platform for teachers to add stimulus for students to record and share short videos. Children can respond to each other’s videos so it’s a great way to facilitate discussion and peer feedback.
Teacher Tip: Camera shy children?
Not every child feels comfortable recording themselves. Not a problem! By selecting the ‘whiteboard’ option before recording, children can record their screen with their voice over the top. I love using this as a plenary in Maths lessons. The students complete an ‘exit pass’ question by explaining their thought processes and justifying their answers as their screen records their real time calculation (the Acer Active Stylus Pen is perfect for this). This practice provides great insight into students conceptual understanding and is very informative when planning future lessons.
Quizlet Live is an app designed for students to work together matching terms with definitions or explanations. It requires 100% participation and collaboration since no one has all the answers. The teacher can choose the app to randomly generate student teams or can specify the student groups.
Quizlet Live encourages accuracy over speed. If a team chooses an incorrect answer, they must start over from the beginning. The gamification and competitive element of Quizlet Live – even equipped with the option for game show-like background music – means students are revising and learning vocabulary all while having so much fun.
Teacher Tip: Science Vocabulary Game/formative assessment
I love using Quizlet Live at the beginning of a new Science unit as an enjoyable way to determine what vocabulary my class already knows and understands. Then after teaching a new concept, I add a few more relevant scientific terms to the quiz. When each team is complete they receive a personalised evaluation, including advice for, ‘What we Should Study Next’. Using this feature, my students research the terms suggested and add their findings to a collaborative Google Doc.
Each app shown above can elicit participation from every child in your class but they also have even more benefits:
- Students love them! Engagement and enjoyment in the learning process is extremely high when using these interactive platforms.
- Resources can be saved, reused and shared with your team and other educators.
- Each app is super easy for students to log into – even younger students can access these by using the QR code or simple 5-6 letter code!
- Each app is free! And if you love them, there are options to upgrade to ‘premium’.
- Evidence of student progress and lesson outcomes are recorded and easily accessible to teachers for future planning or leadership teams for evidence purposes.
- Teachers can receive instant formative feedback, which can be used to inform lesson direction.
The wonder of technology enables not only collaboration in the classroom but also amongst teachers and educators around the world. If you’ve found Chromebooks or any of the apps discussed helpful, or have any other tips and tricks, why not share your experience in the comments.
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Rachel Dunne – Change Manager: Google for Education, IT Curriculum Coordinator, Google Certified Trainer and Innovator.