As far as Flower Hill Primary School teacher Veronica Quinlan’s class is concerned the future is now. Step inside the classroom and you will quickly notice students eagerly engaging in “blue bin” activities that begin with Lego construction of simple machines and soon develop into mini-robotics. Who knows? This classroom environment could very well serve as the launching point for future careers in engineering.
While all of that might sound pretty impressive, especially since it involves youngsters that are only in third grade, there’s more; much more. These Flower Hill students are becoming well versed in utilizing exciting programs designed to make learning fun. Nearpod is just one such example. Students can say enough good things about the online educational tool.
“Nearpod is an interactive presentation and assessment tool that can be used to amazing effect in the classroom,” according to an overview on the Nearpod website. “The app’s concept is simple. A teacher can create presentations that can contain quizzes, polls, videos, images, drawing boards, web content and so on. The children can access a teacher’s presentation through a code. It is up to the teacher to then move the class through the presentation and let them interact with the media as they go.”
Flower Hill students are sold on the site. “I like the way it gives directions as well as the pictures,” said one third grader. “It’s interactive,” said another youngster. “It teaches you something. Not just one thing. You learn about so much!”
For Mrs. Quinlan’s class, the learning through Nearpod focuses on the study of the sun. One of the boys in the class found it especially interesting to discover how many Earths could fit inside the sun’s dimensions. “I really like the interactive part of it,” he said about the online educational tool. “You can draw and show what you know.”
One additional benefit of this “high interest” activity is the cooperative learning that occurs. “We enjoy working together,” said one of the girls in the class. “Everyone has a job.” The youngster went on to mention each classmate in her group by name and the specific job they have. The cooperative nature of the activity has everyone pulling in the same direction.
“They’ve come to realize that patience is a necessary part of problem solving,” said Mrs. Quinlan about her students. “Sometimes you have to go back and start over again.”
As they achieve more and more success, student motivation has been soaring. “At first, I thought it was complicated, but as I went on, it became easier,” one youngster said.
Mrs. Quinlan grew up on the west coast in the state of Washington. She moved to New York in 1990 and studied elementary education at CW Post before obtaining a master’s degree in special education at Hofstra University. She began teaching in Huntington in 1996.
From simple machines to robotics cars, Mrs. Quinlan’s students are constructing all sorts of things. Nearpod and blue bin Legos are just two of the terrific activities the third graders are enjoying. The curriculum is increasingly springing to life and the interactive nature of the tools and materials is capturing and maintaining the interest of students, who just can’t seem to get enough of any of it.