Finnish teachers John Hart and Mika Nurmi share how they are using it in their classrooms and schools.

Finland’s education system has received much attention by educators and policy makers for being a top-performing country on the PISA. I was curious how teachers in Finland are using Nearpod with their students and asked Finnish teachers and Nearpod users John Hart and Mika Nurma to share their story with me.

 

John Hart, Apple Distinguished Educator and Nearpod user at an international school in Helsinki

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John Hart teaches 1st and 2nd grade at a European School in Finland’s capital, Helsinki. His school provides a multilingual education program where children begin learning a second language as soon as they enter school at age 6, and study up to 4 languages by the time they graduate. John keeps 10 iPads in his classroom and there are another 15 iPads that are are available and shared between the other primary teachers at his school. He also allows and encourages his students to bring their own devices to class, and says that 4 of his 12 students this year do so regularly.

John heard about Nearpod from a colleague at Ajman Academy in the United Arab Emirates, where he taught for a year. He says,

“The school was only in its second year of operation and had been equipped with 1:1 iPads and a suite of iMac computers. On the website there was footage of a future colleague using Nearpod, so I set about discovering it for myself. At Ajman Academy, I used Nearpod often: I always searched the library to find lessons that fit with forthcoming units of work. One example was using the TED-ed ‘Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion’ Nearpod lesson to introduce the three laws of motion to the kids, which features an animation of a cyclist to demonstrate and illustrate Newton’s 3 Laws. The lesson provided formative assessment, and was also very useful as a catalyst for further work when the children used Animation Creator HD to create their own animations explaining the 3 Laws of Motion.”

After returning to Helsinki from his year at Ajman Academy, John shared what he had learned with his colleagues:

“It turned out that Nearpod was the one technology that the majority of teachers wanted to learn more about. Many teachers already had Powerpoints that they were using and had been using for years–Nearpod was something that they could use with their ‘old’ material and make it more interactive. I held training sessions focused on Nearpod where I asked teachers to bring along an existing Powerpoint. We used those slides in Nearpod, and inserted questions and activities to assess the children’s understanding of the content.”

John is currently leading a Community Engagement Project where students are creating an audio-visual tour of attractions in Helsinki’s historical center in eleven different languages. They will ultimately publish their work in iBooks that will be hosted on the iTunes Store and on iBeacon transmitters at each of the tour locations. “The aim is not only to provide consumers with the content, but also to provide educators with a template for how such a project can be replicated,” John says. He’s using Nearpod to evaluate the project’s educational effectiveness by implementing pre- and post-project assessments of student knowledge about the historical locations.

John became an Apple Distinguished Educator this year. In addition to teaching, he supports educators at his school in adopting classroom technology by co-teaching courses and leading trainings. Follow him on Twitter at @jonnyADE.

 

Mika Nurmi, Nearpod user in a small school in southeast Finland

Mika Nurmi teaches in a comprehensive school in the city of Savonlinna. The school has five teachers, and serves fifty-six students in first through ninth grade.

Mika and her colleagues share 30 computers and 16 iPads. She discovered Nearpod when the video projector in her classroom broke last year. “When I learned that I can distribute my Powerpoints to pupil’s iPads I felt relieved indeed,” she says. Since then, Mika has expanded her use of Nearpod beyond just sharing slides:

“Nowadays I use Nearpod’s other features. The Draw It and Matching Pairs are fun for the pupils and are especially useful when starting a lesson in order to get students’ attention for a new subject. I can use them to ask some questions about their background knowledge. When I ask these questions verbally, many times the same few pupils will answer, whereas with the iPad and Nearpod, all students participate. I’ve asked the pupils about their experience using Nearpod and they say it is much more fun than the usual way with video projector. With Nearpod the pupils are active and do not get bored.”

The Finnish government is investing in technology and internet connectivity within its schools. “I think that any good tool for educating the pupils should be welcomed,” says Mika. “The most important thing is that the pupils will learn and at the same time that learning is fun.” You can contact Mika at mikaenurmi@gmail.com to share ideas or find out more.

Where are you teaching and learning with Nearpod? Contact us @Nearpod to share your Nearpod story.

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