A tool similar to Symbaloo Lesson Plans is TES Blendspace, which was, as the name implies, originally created for blended learning environments, but is totally applicable to any classroom with access to web-enabled devices. I recently took a PowerPoint that contained all of the content for a 3 ½ hour session of a grad course I teach and moved it into Blendspace. Essentially, I chunked the PowerPoint.
As students progressed through the Blendspace, they would see a few slides from the PowerPoint in the first box, then a video in another box, some more slides, then a weblink, then a document, then a Padlet to collaboratively respond, and so on. Essentially all I did was chunk the presentation. I could have done this with a hyperdoc, but the Blendspace platform, like the Symbaloo Lesson plans, is a lot more engaging. With Blendspace, students are not locked into a linear progression, so it is ideal for a digital Tic-Tac-Toe assignment. You can even insert pre-assessment, and a chart that shows which items students should go to if they missed a certain question (as well as what they can skip if they’ve shown they already know that content.) Blendspace is particularly UDL- and DI-friendly, because you can present the same content in multiple ways and let students choose which blocks to go to. Here’s a sample that shows choices for format (written directions or video tutorial) for a number of topics. This one is longer than I would ever use in a classroom, but it shows how to use the pre-assessment idea as well as how comprehensive these lessons can be.
There are two other tools I’d like to showcase that I’ve also used to take an existing Powerpoint and move it into a more engaging format. The first is Nearpod. Peardeck is a very similar tool, so I won’t cover it separately. Both are freemium sites- they have a free version and a premium version, and both their free and premium versions are comparable to their counterpart’s. Our district pays for the premium version of Nearpod, hence I will cover that one here. Actually, I’ll just let Nearpod cover Nearpod here. One of the things I love about Nearpod is their Help resources. Everything help topic is answered in a brief (1 to 3 minutes) video tutorial. Brief, concise, gets right to the point. This video, essentially an ad for Nearpod, captures that concise but informative spirit. So, Nearpod is a great choice for moving an existing Powerpoint to another platform and then adding all sorts of interactive tools, that you can run as a whole group, or assign to students to go through at their own pace, and it has pretty decent reporting of student performance as well.
So far we’ve looked at Hyperdocs, Symbaloo and Symbaloo Lesson Plans, Blendpsace and Nearpod as formats to deliver entire lessons to students. Tune in next time for SMART Notebook software and some new tolls in PowerPoint that really reinvent its use in the classroom.