This is the 8th post in a series about using iPads in the French classroom. Click here to view an index of previous articles.
I first got the idea to use Nearpod from a post on Sra Spanglish's blog. Nearpod is an interactive presentation app. Instead of standing at the front of the room, pointing to your presentation on the SMART Board or whatever other piece of technology you are using, students now see the presentation on their device (in addition to seeing it at the front of the room). This is helpful because many students focus better when the focus point is nearer to them, and for students in the back of the room, they can see much better. The students can't advance the presentation; only the teacher can. This is helpful for keeping students with you.
Aside from simply viewing the teacher's presentation on a device, you can embed several different types of interactive comprehension activities. When students participate in the activities, their names show up on the SMART Board for the whole class to see. In light of this, I allow students to use nicknames if they prefer to keep their responses anonymous. The activities you can choose from are open-ended questions, multiple choice questions, polls, and draw-its. They take longer than simply asking the class to answer out loud or calling on students, but they are more effective because more students are engaged.
I found the open-ended questions to take too much time the first time I used the app. I gave students a picture prompt and they were supposed to type the vocabulary word. Students were overly concerned with spelling (which I guess isn't a bad thing!). Multiple choice proved to be much more efficient in this type of situation. Open ended questions would probably be more useful for situations where full sentences are required. You can then click on a student response to display it for the class.
Multiple choice questions are useful, but it quickly shows students what the right answer is when they look up at the board (see below), so I mute the board during each question. As you can see, the pie chart gives you a quick glimpse of how students are doing (they had a picture prompt for the question in the below example).
Polls are great for questions that don't have a right or wrong answer. For the example shown at top, I showed students a picture and they had to react to how they felt their mood would be (such as a snow day, or no homework).
Draw-it is good for when you want students to, well, draw. So far I have only used it to have students draw vocabulary words and it took waaaaay too long. I'd like to try this feature again when I teach weather and have the students draw scenes as I describe them to them.
If you're using Nearpod with your students, I recommend getting the free app. It's much less buggy on devices than the web-based version is. You can also import images and PowerPoints into your presentations, so there's no need to start from scratch! There appears to be a "homework" version of the presentation, where students complete it at their own pace, but this requires an upgrade.
Have you used Nearpod? Do you like it? What is your favorite interactive presentation app?