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Using Nearpod in elementary

guided reading groups


by Stacy Delacruz, Kennesaw State University

Abstract digital natives (Prensky, 2001). Digital natives


continue to gain access to the latest technology.
A student teacher placed at a school with a According to a Nielson survey of adults with
high English Language Learner population used children under 12, in households that own
mini iPads, and an application called Nearpod, tablets, seven out of ten children used the tablet
during guided reading instruction. Groups (Nielson, 2012). Fifty-seven percent of parents
of students in a fourth grade classroom used surveyed mention that their children use tablets
this application. The students and the teacher to access educational apps (Nielson, 2012).
were interviewed to determine the benefits and Not only are tablets used at home, but they are
challenges of this approach. An analysis of data increasingly being used in schools.
revealed that all of the students found this type of Using iPads or other tablets in elementary
guided reading to be beneficial and motivating classrooms as tools for reading has yielded
in learning the content presented through the positive results. Studies have indicated that
application. Students also explained how they students who use digital tablets for reading
could transfer the knowledge gained into their make reading gains, focus more attention, and
independent work. The teacher discussed how show an increased motivation to read (Larson,
it improved organization in a guided reading 2010; McClanahan, Williams, Kennedy, & Tate,
group, but how careful consideration and 2012; Siegle, 2012). Additional research reveals
planning must be done to ensure the technology that digital tablets assist struggling readers. The
will work properly during guided reading. It is tablets support comprehension by allowing
recommended that the Nearpod application be students to manipulate the text size, use text-to-
used in guided reading lessons because of its speech options, and access a dictionary (Larson,
user-friendliness, ability to engage students, and 2010). Being able to physically manipulate these
monitor their progress. features may help young learners understand
Keywords: educational technology, English more of what they read.
Language Learners, guided reading, iPads, Painful budget cuts in nationwide schools
Nearpod, tablet computers have made it difficult to fund a classroom set
of tablets (Chadband, 2012; Hill, 2011). The

L
iteracy in elementary classrooms is evolving National Education Association reports that
and changing to reflect the knowledge of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs have
digital natives. Students who were born into been piloted in Ohio, Georgia, Minnesota, and
the digital world, and who are used to receiving Texas (Chadband, 2012). Students are already
information at a fast pace, are referred to as bringing their own device (Smartphone, iPad,

Volume 58, Number 5 TechTrends September/October 2014 63


laptop) to classes. Planning, implementation, besides presenting only slides, is changing the
and professional development are key in making way lessons are delivered.
BYOD programs successful (Chadband, 2012). Nearpod was launched in summer 2012. It
Equipping teachers and students with knowledge has registered 95,000 teachers, with over 500,000
about useful educational tools and apps prepares students downloading the mobile apps across
them for learning opportunities. Teachers can 100 countries (Emerson, 2013). Despite its new
take advantage of these instructional devices popularity, little research has been conducted on
by encouraging students to download the free this mode of learning for K-5 learners. Although
Nearpod app to use in conjunction with course there have been reports on how teachers have
instruction. Teachers who have access to iPad responded to using the Nearpod app in the
carts can download it onto all of the iPads for classroom, little to no research has been done
convenient classroom use. Additionally, if devices regarding how elementary students respond to
are limited in a school, teachers can apply for using the app within their studies. This study
classroom grants that support these purchases. aims to add to the literature base on how this
platform could be used within guided reading
Nearpod Utilization in Classrooms groups in elementary classrooms.
Nearpod (www.nearpod.com) is a free app
available for the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.
Guided Reading Framework
Educators could use it to create interactive Balanced literacy is a framework that
presentations. These could be embedded with poll incorporates all modalities of reading and
questions, videos, slides, and quizzes. The system writing in the classroom. Guided reading is
works in iOS, Android, and in most web-enabled an instructional part of a balanced literacy
settings. Its platform allows a secure sharing program in the elementary classroom. Fawson
environment. This app is used for synchronized and Reutzel (2000) hailed guided reading
learning among a group of iPads in a classroom. as a best practice and discussed how it has
Teachers could assess student learning in real become one of the most significant and popular
time. Students launch the Nearpod presentation contemporary reading instructional practices in
through their device, but the teacher remains the the United States (p. 84). Fountas and Pinnell
controller of the slides and presentation (Schwab, (1996) described guided reading as instruction
2013). The SilverFree edition allows teachers to involving small groups of four to six children
create and store 10 self-created presentations for who have similar reading strengths and needs.
free, while the Gold and School editions can be Groups in primary grades (K-2) typically meet
purchased to give unlimited presentation storage three to five times a week for 15-30 minute
and more access. sessions. Intermediate grades (3-6) usually last
Before using Nearpod in the classroom, about 30-40 minutes because the texts are longer
it is important for the teacher to visit www. and more complex.
nearpod.com for an instructional overview of The teacher facilitates guided reading
the app. The overview and tutorial videos are groups by scaffolding instruction through the
also available once the app is downloaded on the use of a set of leveled texts based on students
device. The teacher must first create an account needs and interests. Leveled texts have language
with a username and password which is used that developmentally match the syntax and
to store future presentations. Once the teacher organization of emergent, beginning, and fluent
creates a presentation, a student code will appear readers speech (Avalos, Plasencia, Chavez, &
at the top. Teachers give students that code to Rascon, 2007). Teachers use running records to
enter once they launch the app, and that code assess students reading levels in the classroom.
will log students into the presentation. Based on the results of the running records, the
As students login, they are asked to list their students are grouped according to reading level.
name. This information is needed to monitor This group is their guided reading group.
students progress as they answer poll questions, A key component of guided reading is
draw, or take quizzes. After the student enters matching the text to the reader. Vygotsky
his or her name, the teacher controls each (1978) coined the term, the zone of proximal
slide by hitting a share button on the teachers development, to refer to the distance between
main device. Synchronous learning occurs as the current developmental level of the student,
each students device moves along when the and the potential development level (which is
teacher shares the next slide. The Nearpod app possible with the assistance of a teacher or more
has been dubbed the powerpoint on steroids capable peer). Within guided reading, the text
(Emerson, 2013). The additional features, is just difficult enough to offer opportunities

64 TechTrends September/October 2014 Volume 58, Number 5