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Second-graders tour Egypt

Tucker Kreemer, a second-grade student in Melanie Stier's class at Osakis Elementary School, takes a virtual tour on his iPad while learning about shapes. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review) 1 / 5
Osakis Elementary School teacher Melanie Stier teaches her students about shapes using a Nearpod lesson on her iPad. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 2 / 5
Students in Melanie Stier's second-grade classroom at Osakis Elementary School watch an educational video about the moon while learning geometry. The students are (left to right) Jaxon DeVita, Chentelle Marcyes and Malile Ahmed. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review) 3 / 5
Osakis teacher Melanie Stier asks questions to her students after they watched an educational video on their iPads using an Nearpod learning lesson. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review) 4 / 5
Osakis second-graders Carter Kramer and Madison Seidel, take a virtual tour on their iPads while trying to identify what shapes they see. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 5 / 5

Students in Melanie Stier's second-grade classroom know that they can find lots of triangles in Egypt because they've seen them, but not in textbooks.

And they know there are squares, rectangles and circles on city streets throughout the world.

They have toured these areas on numerous occasions via their iPads and the virtual tours they take through interactive lessons from "Nearpod."

While at a tech conference a few years ago, Stier, an Osakis Elementary School teacher, learned about the Nearpod technology. And now, most teachers in the district use some capacity of Nearpod, a lesson plan management platform that allows teachers to create interactive lessons with virtual reality field trips, polls, pop quizzes, drawing capabilities and many other engaging tools. Nearpod can be used for math, science, health, reading and writing.

There are pre-made lesson plans or the teachers can create their own, Stier said.

How does it work?

When Stier logs into her iPad, she is given a five-letter code. She then posts that code for her students and then they log onto their iPads with that unique code. Her iPad is then synced with her students' iPads and she can see when each student is logged on. Once all her students are logged on, she then will share whatever the lesson for the day is with them.

For example, when learning geometry, Stier can take students on a virtual tour of a city and the students can then identify different shapes they see and can circle them on the iPad with their finger. As they are doing that, Stier can see what each student is doing on her iPad. She can view students' answers individually or share them as a class as she controls what each student sees on the screen of their iPad. The lessons also generate classroom discussions through questions asked by the teacher or by the students discussing what they see on their screens.

When quizzes are given, students have to complete them individually.

She can also send educational videos to the students to watch on their iPad and then they can be given a quiz immediately afterward. When watching and listening to the videos, the students wear headphones.

In essence, it forces the students to participate — in a good way — and gives them a voice, she said, adding that it enables 100 percent student participation.

If the students are struggling with a certain lesson, Stier can see it in real time and can spend more time on a subject if need be. After each lesson, she can quiz the students immediately and see their progress.

"It's a great enhancement tool to a lesson and gives a hands-on feel," Stier said.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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