If you've read my post on the "Paperless Classroom," you know my transition wasn't driven by any high and mighty ideals, but rather out of necessity. That and the fact that I can think of no fate worse than spending time at the half-busted copier while teachers frantically run in to print off 40 page packets. But I digress.
One thing I struggled with as a classroom teacher was distributing readings for my students. I hate, hate, hate PDF annotation and find it to be cruel and unusual punishment no matter the platform. So I used Google Docs for my students to annotate their readings and show their thinking. The problem with this was at the end I'd have somewhere around 150 separate docs to look at. If I wanted students to see each others thinking, they'd have to share the Doc with each classmate.
Then one day I asked a friend and fellow technology integration specialist @MagistraMarien if she had any ideas. She suggested Actively Learn and my mind was blown.
Actively Learn is a digital platform where teachers engage their students in reading. Scaffolding, peer learning, and assessment come together inside a text, exactly when students want help and need motivation.
In a nutshell, you pick or create a reading for your students. You then can embed questions and notes, including multimedia files. Teachers create assignments using one of thousands of texts available to them, or by pulling in your own PDFs, Google Docs, and web articles you can teach exactly the content you want. Students answer the questions presented to them and receive feedback in real time.
I really love the fact that you can find a web article at night and push it out to your students for the next day with ease. The best part is it even strips away all the "noise," such as links to other content and, even better, ads!
One of the coolest features is that students can read socially. If you choose, you can allow students to see the notes and thoughts of fellow classmates. Students can decide if their notes are private or shared with the class. Students think more, write more, and collaborate when reading, which to me is a total game changer.
Actively Learn integrates with your favorite Google tools, allowing you to import content directly from Drive, Import rosters from Classroom, and Sign in with Google Apps for Education accounts.
This is absolutely one you need to have in your toolkit, kiddos. Check out the video below and then visit ActivelyLearn.com to get started.
Jeremy is a Google for Education Certified Trainer with eight years of experience integrating technology into the classroom. He enjoys helping students from all backgrounds learn the 21st Century skills to make them successful in school and beyond. Jeremy currently works as a Technology Coach helping teachers utilize the Otus Student Performance Platform to understand and improve student performance and engagement. He has previous experience working with teachers to utilize Google Apps for Education and 1:1 programs using both iPads and Chromebooks.