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Apps That Serve Limited Device Classrooms

My Favorite Limited Device Apps:

In my last blog post, I described how limited device teachers have to be proactive problem-expecters focused on access, ease, & efficiency. With those principles in mind, this next post is on the two two apps I’d recommend for almost every  (or 1:1 for that matter) device classroom: Classtime and HyperDocs/HyperSlides. 

If you haven’t heard of Classtime, it’s an absolute lifesaver in terms of gearing up students for an engaging lesson or for gathering assessment data. As its creators describe it, “Classtime is a solution for classrooms that complements in-class teaching with immediate feedback on students’ level of understanding. 

Classtime features many prefabricated classroom challenges and spaces for teachers to import their own, unique questions. And what’s handy for the lab or cart-based arrangement(s) is that no logins are ever needed. Simply put your Classtime session code at students’ fingertips and have them start. Combined with the power of a Hyperdoc or Hyperslide, you can craft a really engaging lesson and let Classtime measure your students’ learning mastery for you. 

HyperDocs/HyperSlides:

What’s the difference between HyperDocs and HyperSlides? Not much. They both feature a student-paced workflow and are based on great learning theory and instructional design. HyperDocs are created in a document; HyperSlides are created in slide presentation apps like Google Slides or PowerPoint.

When deciding between Documents and Slides:

  • Choose whatever format best fits your activity or your style.
  • Documents are more linear in nature, i.e., you type text in a line, and the text flows straight down the page.
  • Slides allow for more design freedom.
  • With documents, you can organize content by breaking sections with page breaks and lines. In Slides, you can organize content by slide.

Quality HyperDocs or HyperSlides have many important parts, but getting started isn’t too difficult.  Check out these few examples that you could adapt for use in your own classroom:

Grouping Strategies: Since I’ve mentioned Hyperdocs/Hyperslides & Classtime as my go-to app for limited device scenarios, I’ve put together five different grouping strategies that I’ve utilized with both of them complimenting each other.  Think of this as a starting guide: the activities, apps, and strategies you can create are infinitely customizable with a bit of creativity and intentional planning. Again, don’t forget that grouping doesn’t drive your instruction; let the grouping make your lesson objectives possible.

STRATEGY 1: A Device Per Group

Purposes:

  • All students could participate in the same Hyperdoc/Hyperslide or Classtime session; or, you could differentiate the groups with different levels of difficulty.

Likely Activities:

  • Warmups, Exit Tickets, Whole-Group Lessons, Group Projects, Escape Rooms.

Recommendations:

  • Differentiated groups can be done by student selected content, learning process, interest area, or readiness.

STRATEGY 2: A Device Per Rotating Group

Purpose:

  • Students rotate between activities and complete a Hyperdoc/Hyperslide linked activity & Classtime assessment after each one. 

Likely Activities:

  • Activity Stations, Problem Trails, Gallery Walks, Escape Rooms.

Recommendations:

  • Balance groups heterogeneously.
  • Keep a timer running to keep groups moving along.
  • Make sure that your stations aren’t linear–students should be able to start & end anywhere.

STRATEGY 3: Clustered Devices

Purpose:

  • Collect one particular group’s assessment data. All students might take the same assessment, but one group will use Classtime.

Likely Activities:

  • Warmups, Exit Tickets, Small Groups.

Recommendations:

  • The particular students who will use Classtime could be self-selected by the students or chosen by the instructor.

STRATEGY 4: Classtime Station

Purposes:

  • Use Classtime as an assessment check after a particular Hyperdoc/Hyperslide-linked activity.

Likely Activities:

  • Stations; not advised for linear-based activities (warmups & exit tickets).

Recommendations:

  • Not an advised setup for linear activities (warmups & exit tickets).
  • This gives the instructor an incremental “slow drip” of data that can be used to adjust instruction on the fly.

STRATEGY 5: “Hot Potato” Competition

Purposes:

  • An assessment & gamification grouping strategy.

Likely Activities:

  • Warmups, Exit Tickets, Review Activities, Attention-Grabbers

Recommendations:

  • Having students “pass” the device (hence, “hot potato”) adds the ability for classrooms with limited devices to take advantage of the gamification elements of Classtime more cooperatively, as well as adds a dose of competition.

Just remember, utilizing limited devices takes time and patience to implement. Our motto in Don’t Ditch That Tech is poco a poco, “little by little.” Build students’ capacity and comfort around using limited tech as you build your own. The first time you try it, test it out as part of one class for fifteen minutes, then grow from there. You really CAN do it – just take it step-by-step.


Nate is a tech-loving history teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana and a co-author of Don’t Ditch That Tech: Differentiation in a Digital World. He specializes in lesson design and also is licensed in Special Education Mild Interventions. He’s taught in both middle school and high school settings, but currently is enjoying teaching World History & Dual Credit U.S. History. He is currently finishing a Masters degree in History at the University of Indianapolis.

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Nate Ridgway

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