Digital Learning and Poetry

This post is written by guest blogger Madeline Anderson, English I & III educator at Cedar Hill Collegiate High School in Cedar Hill, Texas.  Mrs. Anderson was asked to share how she formatively assesses her students with Nearpod and why she has chosen to implement this specific digital resource.

With expanding emphasis on STEM skills, I must admit that sometimes as an English teacher, I feel a little doubtful that my creative-but-often-low-tech strategies are sufficiently challenging students to improve their 21st century skills.   I wonder if I’ll be left behind or my students will suffer if I don’t have enough projects that include creating their own podcasts, web pages, YouTube videos, or communication with students on faraway continents using WebEx or other online-meeting programs.

While some lessons call for traditional learning tools — books, paper, pencil, scissors, glue, or even newspapers (shown in the photos below), I am more and more often turning to Nearpod as my new favorite classroom strategy.

The fact that this program is a digital learning tool is just a bonus. Nearpod seems to me to be a combination of the best aspects of the online Kahoot and PowerPoint. What I like best is the simplicity… all it takes to create a presentation is dragging and dropping a PowerPoint presentation that I already have into Nearpod and adding activity slides –open-ended questions, polls, multiple-choice, or even drawing a picture. Students LOVE seeing their answers pop up on the screen next to their names. Instant engagement!

Admittedly, I’m not the campus technologist, nor the most tech-savvy teacher on my hallway, but the simplicity and quickness of modifying a PPT into an interactive Nearpod presentation makes it my favorite digital learning tool. In fact, after our CHISD district math coordinator Nicole Rose asked me to try Nearpod¸ I was so impressed, I agreed to share with other teachers.  These pictures show how even on January 5, the first day back after the holiday break, teachers get enthused about this program.

With our district BYOD policy, my students usually use their cell phones, but we could go to the computer lab to use Nearpod. Today’s lesson was to use introduce TPCASTT for analyzing poetry. Once students log in on their phones, the presentation from the projector also shows on their devices. As I advance the slides, they advance automatically on the devices – so students are with me all through the lesson. The first activity was for students to draw how they feel about writing poetry. I loved that students could use different ways of drawing and it only took a few seconds to respond – quick assessment device! (I see tons of potential for science and math teachers here!)

We were soon digging into the main part of the lesson, but students could follow on their devices to read the poem and see the notes. Parts they wanted to save they just used a screen shot to keep. Students were excited about the possibilities of using this for their own presentations.

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Students decide which nonfiction text feature is most helpful and share their reasons with the class.

With our school BYOD policy, students log-in to the interactive games and compete with each other to see who can most quickly and accurately answer questions about literary elements, punctuation, or writing skills.  It’s exciting to me to see students so enthusiastically engaged.

In these photos (above) students read a poem together and respond on their devices – answers are projected on the screen to share and discuss.

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Nearpod‘s report feature allows me to check the students’ success at the multiple choice responses and gather data.  The reports, like pretty much every other part of Nearpod are user friendly.

After 21 years of teaching, I’m still learning new ways of connecting with students. Perhaps this is why teaching is the perfect career – I like learning – so even though it’s not always easy to change my strategies, I’m happy to try programs that are as user-friendly and easy to incorporate. I’ll keep using foldables and newspapers and cut-and-paste to engage the kinesthetic learning need in so many, but perhaps l can also address the digital learning needs more often too!


Mrs. Anderson recognizes the importance of gathering feedback from her students to inform her design of learning experiences.   This intentional formative assessment embodies what is described within the supporting premeses of Assessment for Learning as a part of Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.

III.c Assessment should be used primarily for obtaining student feedback and informing the student and the teacher about the level of student conceptual understanding or skill development so that the teacher has accurate information to consider for designing additional or different learning experiences.

To keep up with the events happening in her classroom, follow Mrs. Anderson on Twitter: @CHCHSAnderson or visit her class website:


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