This is a post written by  Alan Grozelle, Intensive Support Program Teacher with the Toronto Catholic School Board in Ontario, Canada.

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My students don’t learn by the traditional “open your books, let’s read and discuss” method. Typically, once teachers begin to speak, their minds begin to race elsewhere. However, if a lesson is designed with activities, interactive websites, or games that teach a concept, they remain involved and they learn.

It’s important to engage all students with hands-on learning activities, but these strategies are especially important for my classroom. After teaching elementary school special education for eighteen years, I became the Intensive Support Program teacher for students with autism. This new teaching assignment has been a wonderful change, but there is still a huge learning curve for me to figure out how to best support my students in accessing curriculum and navigating the social world around them. Core subjects such as Social Studies and Science are “integrated” subjects for my students (where they join “general ed” classes), but this integration has not been meaningful. My students may be present in the classroom, but they are not always a part of the learning that takes place. It has become apparent that I have to teach these core subjects in a new way, and that is where Nearpod has made a HUGE difference.

After the first few months with my students, I realized that they all love learning with their iPads. In turn, I have relied on programs such as Boardmaker Online to convert text into symbolated books for Social Students lessons. However, for Science, my students did not want textbooks converted; they preferred more hands on simulations, videos, and interactive activities. I began asking my friends if they knew how to link multiple websites and activities in a single platform so I could teach my students both as a flipped class at home and in the classroom as a group exercise. I knew of Prezi and Powerpoint, but they could not embed website as I intended. There are many websites to choose from that provide online learning, but it was not easy to deliver all of the simulations, movies, and activities into one cohesive lesson. Enter Nearpod. It has been a lifesaver!

Nearpod’s ability to create slides and activities makes learning fun for my students. While I’m not a fan of listening to my recorded voice reading my slides aloud, my students laugh when they hear me as they work at home. Over time, I have learned how to link website after website in my Nearpod lessons so that students can access videos, games, simulations, and even Boardmaker Online. My challenges teaching my students has been solved.

With Nearpod’s Gold Account, I can link as many websites as I want and teach concepts over and over again using different methods to help solidify concepts. It is clear that students who do the work and participate in these Nearpod lessons demonstrate their ability to learn, despite any of their learning differences. Parents have also noticed that their children are eager to learn, and they appreciate the time I’ve taken to find resources that accommodate their children’s needs. Nearpod has been the foundation of my students’ success.

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