Usage: As a district resource teacher, I would recommend that the English/Language Arts and other humanities teachers in my district use this tool with their students to enhance their understanding of texts. Teachers could assign required texts through Ponder so that students can interact with the text and each other more meaningfully. As students read assigned texts or portions of texts, they can capture their reactions (called sentiments) and identify pre-populated themes. They will also be able to see the sentiments of their peers and add comments, facilitating meaningful discussions and making reading a more social event. Teachers can then view their students' interactions and use them to guide the direction of their lessons in the classroom. Discussions could be encouraged to explore controversial topics and lessons could be designed to address misunderstanding or confusion. I think Ponder is a unique literacy tool that can really improve a teacher's day-to-day practice.
Strengths: 1. The color coding and categorization of sentiments, variable darkness of "extracted" text, and "tick marks" on the side are features that enable effective and efficient assessment of student interactions with the text. These help the teacher quickly determine what topics need to be addressed in class, saving lots of time.
2. The ability for teachers to preset class themes means that the individual educators are in control of what they want to teach in their class, while also continuously exposing students to the overarching essential questions and course objectives.
3. The provided sentiments (as well as the themes) and the limited textual comments field do not overwhelm students or distract them from the purpose of reading. I would imagine that social reading tools that rely primarily on reader comments would not work well in the K-12 environment and might be too open-ended for students to use effectively. Ponder has solved this problem by providing the simple extraction interface of selecting sentiments and themes.
4. I like that the reading list can include electronic documents stored and shared from a Dropbox folder and Google Drive.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. I would like to see more examples of primary grade use... and also an adaptation in the sentiments for younger students (like simpler vocabulary or a more graphical interface). Maybe there should be two different versions of Ponder available for use; one for secondary schools as well as colleges and universities, and one for elementary schools.
2. The activity monitoring is a little concerning for me. I am not completely clear on how it works, but my understanding is that once the Ponder extension/plugin is installed, it will monitor/track all reading activity from the sites and sources that the teacher selects. But I think it would be better if the end user (the student) could turn Ponder on and off so that even if they are on one of the teacher selected sites, it only tracks their reading activity if the student is accessing it for their school-work.
3. If it isn't already able to, could Ponder create an "app" that integrates with Evernote? It would be magnificent if I could share Evernote documents with students to Ponder.
4. I see that integration with EPUB e-books is in the works... that would be another one of my suggestions for improvement.
5. The browser extension should be available for IE and Safari as well as Firefox and Chrome.
Verdict: I would definitely advocate for this tool because I believe that it provides a useful service that is not currently fulfilled by other tools. Many literacy technologies are built on teachers embedding interventions, scaffolds, and assessments inside of texts. But this tool flips the process by asking students to embed their own reactions within the text. On top of that, I think the structured student comment interface lends itself well to data analysis. Lastly, the social aspect of the tool is an authentic way of leveraging the power of social media to enhance students' experiences in learning.
Usage: Ponder is a social reading platform that is intended to quickly and easily provide teachers with the feedback and data from their students reading. Teachers share/assign reading items with their classes. Students then read the text and can attach "sentiments" and identify "themes" to parts of the text. The students and teacher can then view all of the sentiments and themes from others in the class. Teachers can use it analyze the interactions of students with texts and also to inform their lesson plans and discussions. I see it as kind of a "flipped" version of Reading, but without teachers having to ready piles of papers.
Strengths: 1. SO MANY THINGS!
2. It is very well thoughtout. All of my questions were answered and even the things that I thought should be added, had been considered already.
3. I really like the interface with all the sentiments and themes on the right.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. The sentiments need to be adjusted to include options for younger students (like simplified verbiage and possibly pictures).
2. It would be nice to include a read aloud option, even just for the sentiments/themes.
3. I would like to see the ability for classes to see each others annotations if teachers choose to share.
Verdict: I think this is a unique product that we don't currently offer in our district and doesn't seem to be included in the BCPS One system. Students can react in an authentic way to the text and teachers can quickly use the information to inform class instruction.
Usage: As a high school English teacher it would be amazing to have instant understanding of how my students engage with a text. Their responses and questions would allow me to tailor my classroom discussions to their specific interests and needs (as well as allowing me to introduce discussion on things that might have been missed. There is also the ability to see how much reading each student is doing. The circles of reading that allow other students to see how much reading is being done by their peers is also fantastic.
Strengths: 1. Interaction between the students for conversation about texts they are reading.
2. Teachers' ability to see the responses in order to tailor class discussion.
3. The levels of responses built into the student' response selection area.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. Correct the student name capitalization at the bottom of the screen.
2. Correct the student punctuation at the bottom of the screen.
(i.e. Alex says, "Of course.")
Alex is capitalized. What he says is properly punctuated.
3. Allow a blending of this site with others like Alchemy in order to have a more fully interactive tool for teachers.
Verdict: BCPS plans to implement the use of handheld devices in all of its classrooms. When this happens, having a tool like this would make life simpler. I will be able to upload and/or access the specific texts that I want the students to read, and students will be able to interact with each other.
Usage: I would use this product in tandem with curriculet so that students can see feedback from their peers on reading selections. The data will allow me to make instructional decisions and customize passages for students with different reading levels.
Strengths: I love the ability for students to look back on what they have read. The history feature is very useful for students to evaluate their own progress. The fact that this product can be used across multiple platforms makes it perfect for the non-techie teacher. Students can use their own devices.
Suggestions for Improvement: This product should be able to do the following:
Interface with gradebook or allow teacher to grade the assignment
Give the teacher some type of feedback on the amount of time a students spends reading a particular passage.
Include a text to voice feature and vice versa so that students with disabilities do not have to add another layer to the product.
Verdict: This product gives instant feedback for teachers to make instructional decisions. It allows for personalized learning because students can be grouped by reading levels and given a variety of texts. It works within the browser so it is not platform dependent. Also, this product can be used to satisfy literacy standards in all curriculum areas.
Usage: Ponder supplies the forum for making our students 21st century learners. We emphasize communicating with countries around the world but that is an empty act if we have not emphasized awareness of socio -political-economic factors in these countries. The New York Times is my primary source for domestic and foreign news and I cringe when I think of how stagnant our English curriculum guides are. We need to encourage our students to READ for knowledge and for enjoyment in a real world - a magazine, the newspaper- is a lively way to engage our kids everyday. We do a disservice to them when we don't encourage them to be citizens of the world.
I would have 30 minutes twice a week devoted to Ponder. I would say I would dump benchmark exams in their place, but the fact that BCPS has already dumped benchmarks this year after years of pushing them should tell you to go with your gut; focus on teaching, not testing. Since Common Core came to town tedious Performance Based Assessments have replaced those
Strengths: See previous posts
Suggestions for Improvement: Not able to respond
Verdict: High quality journalism is a logical extension of the power of English class.
Usage: This tool looks like a good way for a teacher to generate class discussion around current events and webpages containing content the teacher wants kids to read. it allows users to respond to certain aspects of the text.in 250 char. they act as peers in the experience.gives student choices for how to respond and then elaborate.
Strengths: good way to have student learn how to res pond and think more critically about what they are reading. nice statistics on student reading.and responses.
Suggestions for Improvement: maybe some more assessment tools integrated so that its clearer that the kids are actually doing what you asked. insightful comments are good to see, but worry about kids clicking on sentiment that 'sounds' ok..but maybe once I see it it will be clearer that they are getting it.
Verdict: our school has a limited budget but I think the free version already has good tools to generate discussion. peer based collaboration is good and 21st century. gets put into activity feed across documents.
Usage: I would use it to assist students in research for student/pairs/group presentations on topics ranging from ancient astronomers to all areas of physical and biological science - 9 to 12th grade.
Strengths: I have 11-12th graders who do not have a broad enough vocabulary base to get started in science research with common core. Ponder.co gives in the moment differentiation feedback choices that students can choose to push themselves forward.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1) more room to write in the title and theme indicators for students 2) maybe a way for teachers to give written feedback in a cycle of student writing 3) a bit more scaffolding so that students will know they need to have a certain number of words or a way to determine the range of writing and research that is required in the assignment
Verdict: Students are given valuable word tools from which to form their own ideas, sentences and critical analysis of big ideas in academic disciplines.
Usage: I would use this product to help prepare students for discussion sections in our humanities courses. Student could have "pre-discussions" before coming to a F2F discussion and I'd be able to tell that they were prepared. Also, it has potential as a tool for discussing video with a class.
Strengths: It creates a platform for engaging more students in conversations about text or videos. It helps draw out reluctant students and gives students time to reflect and work at their own pace. It would really be nice in larger classes or in partially flipped or blended scenarios.
Suggestions for Improvement: It would be great if I could embed questions into videos/text before-hand, then it would be nice to track students' responses individually or on the whole. I know that is only two things, but I can't think of a third.
Verdict: It would allow for my faculty to track student reactions to text or videos, and have meaningful conversations outside of class.
Usage: Use it to see how my students are reading, what they are finding interesting, what is fostering conversations and discussions. The functionality for students to highlight and comment with preset reactions is beneficial and really make it easy for students to see others opinions and contribute to the conversation.
Strengths: It gives feedback on what students are thinking about very well. I can easily see where my students and interested or what is confusing them in the article and reading. It provides encouragement for students to strengthen their own depth and breadth by comparing themselves to their classmates.
Suggestions for Improvement: I would change very much, but I would incorporate more data into the application as I would want to gain the most feedback from the app. I would love to see examples of it being used to increase literacy in mathematics!
Verdict: I think the
Is will help all of students interact and engage with reading!
Usage: I would use this tool for reading and doing research. This would be a tool that I could use with the class or school wide. This would work great for all ELA and HIstory classes.
Strengths: This product would allow students to conduct research in an interactive way, prompting them to write more as they go along. The availability of tags allows the students to engage with the content.
Suggestions for Improvement: I would love for this product to allow a whole classroom collaboration. This would allow different students from each classroom to comment on what other students commented and discussed. I would also love to see more teacher tracking and analytical tools.
Verdict: I would recommend it because I believe it would engage the students by providing tags that are interactive and allow the students to get started in their reading. It would also be a tool that could be used on various devices and allow for all types of research.
Usage: I would use it for teachers who are reading articles for professional development.
Strengths: Bridges casual language great for code switching dialects.
Able to zoom based on emotional connections great.
Suggestions for Improvement: Seems designed for middle school and up only. I would like to see it applicable for lower level readers.
What about high school students with low level reading ability? Are there hilow texts available? This appears to be a big step for urban high schools regarding content. Could you have a category called HiLo?
What about ESOL friendly texts?
Verdict: I think it's linked very well to common core skills such as deep reading, annotating, grappling with text.
I'd advise against it because it eliminates any connection with hard copy books. Not all schools can have students reading online all the time.
Usage: Thus product will be great to use with my ELL students as a guided lesson on close reading of a text or close viewing with a video. My gifted students will also benefit from this product as they can use as a way to critically go deep in text it video.
Strengths: I appreciate the fact that Is not a stand sling product but s web feature that can be used either as a web or an iOS tool. Also text and videos from different sources can be used is also a plus.
Suggestions for Improvement: More of a lower grade interface would make it easier for the little ones since common core standards focus on close reading beginning in kindergarten.
Verdict: Ruth the incorporation of the common core standards I see how this product aligned well with the literacy component providing an opportunity for students to listen closely to what they hear and read and be able to reflect.
Usage: I use this product to teach a varies of lessons to my students.
Strengths: The students will be able to get more instantaneous assistance. This way they will not fall behind their peers.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1 - make sure that instructions are written for all levels 2. - make sure that the screen is not too cluttered as to confuse students with visual perception problems. 3. = Definitions at times when using a dictionary can be as confusing as the sentence itself. Check to see if the dictionary definition is clear.
Verdict: It is needed for a diverse population. It is so important for students to be able to do the work on their level without their peers knowing that they have a language impairment or are learning disabled. This helps with confidentiality while still having them be in a general education class.
Usage: With advanced students, I'd assign a text and have them annotate it using Ponder, then use that as the basis of an in-class discussion the next day. For remedial students, I'd assign in class reading & annotating, then discuss.
Strengths: tracks reading & depth of
allows for easy distribution of free reading material
demands interaction with text, a commoncore type thang
Suggestions for Improvement: FIX THE PUNCTUATION ON THE STUDENT COMMENT WINDOW (eg, Alex says, "This is obvious.")
can you get it to integrate with a classroom management system, like Alchemy?
recognize all forms of the same text (like from different sources)
Verdict: It's interactive, high-interest (social for the kids), customizable, and the rep seemed very open to feedback and user community input
Usage: Ponder provides Language Arts teachers a reader that collects/aggregates annotations and understand student viewpoint. Additionally, the students are able use pre-deifined comments to connect with the text.
Strengths: 1.Ponder solves the problem of sourcing and annotating difficult texts. 2. Ponder gives students pre-approved reading lists.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. Ponder needs to develop a few more tools that help with assessing writing. 2. Have a social network where you can explore outside of your own class. 3. Ponder may want to ponder creating a tool that overlays EdModo and Schoology.
Verdict: Ponder elevates the conversation in classes, allowing teachers to better understand Reading Comprehension issues their students may be having.
Usage: I use a lot of non-fiction articles to teach reading skills. I feel that this product would engage my students because it allows them to comment and read others comments and help articulate their thoughts. This would help keep topics current and relevant to my students.
Strengths: Easy to set up.
Engaging for students.
Allows for a simple online discussion for one class or many classes.
Suggestions for Improvement: More teacher tools.
Easier ways for students to make connections to other readings
Verdict: BCPS is undergoing a "digital conversion" which means that all the curriculum will be online. We would need a solid reading program that is easy for teachers to set up and easy for students to engage with.
Usage: Ponder allows my students and I to respond to reading and video content with pre-made, color-coded messages. At a glance I can see what my students are thinking!
Strengths: Ponder is considerate of the types of responses students need or want to give. I love that it allows for response to reading as well as video. I can also specify what I have assigned form them to locate within reading/video.
Suggestions for Improvement: Younger students require fewer choices.
Verdict: Available to elementary in a more simplified form, this is a version of CCSS Close Reading. In secondary it is a way to digitally perform response to literacy.
Usage: I work for an online school that have lesson videos that provide the instruction for my students. One of our biggest struggles is how to incorporate discussion in the asynchronous setting. Ponder may be the answer!
Strengths: Collaboration and discussion in an online setting.
Suggestions for Improvement: Not sure yet as I have not used it! At this point it looks flawless!
Verdict: This is a great place for students to collaborate and get a visual representation of their understanding of an article or story. It is also a great planning tool for teachers.
Usage: From all the products I have seen. This is one of my favorites because now it is in Spanish and I cand o so many things with it.
Strengths: I like how I can see what student is using internet sources without quating them. My students can look up for works themselves and do research.
Suggestions for Improvement: THIS IS PERFECT.
Verdict: I think all my world language department will really like this product because we can now use it in Spanish. I would love to use it and I am going to use it in my class. I think it will be great to have students use it.
Strengths: I really like the idea of ponder where students are free to share their ideas and engage in a meaningful discussion. The idea of being there to support each other is just amazing and giving peer evaluations.
Suggestions for Improvement: I would like to see more tracking system where they can track their assessment and evaluations. It would be nice to see their efforts come online. Parents should also be accessible to this portal so they can help their children.
Verdict: I would recommend it so that teachers can track different progress report for each student and they should be able to conference talk in a discussion.
Usage: As a language arts teacher, I think Ponder could be used to help students with broad research in preparing for research papers, new units, etc. It will be great to see where there interests are, and I love that it pushes students to make deep, relevant comments on their reading.
Strengths: I love that it provides students with structure to encourage deep, well worded comments. There's a good mix of structure and freedom in the way the commenting system is set up.
I also loved that it groups topics and subjects according to their popularity as they're read. Fantastic idea!
Suggestions for Improvement: At the moment, I don't see any improvements that I would make. I'm solidly impressed with the system as it was demonstrated, and I'm excited to see the developments that were mentioned.
Verdict: This product could be relevant across numerous subject areas, which I love. I can easily see applications in a number of subjects, and I think it helps students to see cross-curricular ties as well.
Usage: I would use this in any class working to address on the ELA Common Core Standards across disciplines to help students make meaning of text that they are assigned to read online.
Strengths: STudents can see one another's comments. Teachers have the ability to see student comments and assess where there may be a misconceptions. They can also see which parts of the texts resonated with students.
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. Create some sample lessons in various grade levels and content areas to show the power of the tool. (Maybe you have already done this but I did not get a chance to see it yet!) 2. Require students to add a comment. Need greater accountability 3. Is there a way to color code the words students selects and comments they write on different readings? I am interested in seeing how student thinking evolves and changes over time.
Verdict: I think this tool engages students in higher level thinking. I like that it is open-ended. It helps students engage in text.
Usage: I would use this product to support students in online readings, to interpret and analyze information independently and collaboratively. Both in-class and homework.
Strengths: The UI is clean, and the annotation features are valuable. This would support students in deeper reading and sharing insights with each other during their reading.
Suggestions for Improvement: Support teacher-embedded questions to guide students during their reading. Allow some sort of organization to comments... Tags for different teacher-defined types like "evidence" "counter-evidence" "possible bias" whatever. It would be incredible to pair this with Newsela to allow students to annotate across different reading levels and share insights even among students using different levels.
Verdict: It's a valuable organizational tool, with a clean user-friendly UI and simple ways to annotate and discuss within the text.
Usage: Link a PDF reading or website and get immediate feedback on thoughts to guide my discussions or even to track literary items (similies, idioms, etc.)
Strengths: I can see which sections of reading passages my students still have questions or comments about right away. We do a ton of sharing at table groups but this way students can see who in the WHOLE CLASS has different ideas or concerns.
Suggestions for Improvement: There is a free semester which is wonderful to try it out with this group before summer. However, the $195 per teacher is pricey if I was paying for it myself. I will investigate how much a site or group subscription is.
Verdict: This takes the guesswork out of what your students are thinking and gives that to the teacher immediately. It also allows students to go back and view discussions/thoughts on certain articles. Increases critical thinking.
Usage: A way to not only communicate with students about the ideas being shared in class, but also a productive way for teachers across grade level or curriculum to be able to share ideas and collaborate on strengths an weaknesses in lessons. The idea that is a private forum for sharing would eliminate a lot of the concerns of parents having their childrens' progress shared as opposed to a much more public forum.
Strengths: I believe the main advantage of this program is it's ability to allow teachers to collaborate on a more in depth level that the few hours of team planning allowed for weekly. Thereby, increasing classroom productivity and success.
Suggestions for Improvement: First, I would like to see an audio component included in the product when clicking on particular links.
Verdict: There are so many advantages to the idea sharing capabilities of this program.
Usage: Ponders oiled be a great tool for students to use when we are reading a text as a class. The aspects of close reading could be started with Ponder and then carried forward in small group and whole group discussions.
Strengths: Ponder provides a great overview of what students are thinking and how they are reacting to a text. This will encourage teachers to do more digital reading with students and give students practice with digital reading skills.
Suggestions for Improvement: I'd like to see Ponder provide a direct link to a text rather than (or in addition to) a browser extension. I am looking forward to having a Google login option for students and I'd like to see them help me get the YouTube videos past the filter wall.
Verdict: Ponder is a tool that is easy for teachers to use with students and promotes literacy engagement.
Usage: I would use it with students when reading online articles.
1. It would be great for a jigsaw activity to see what students were thinking.
2. It would also be helpful as a homework aid to see what students were struggling with before they arrive in class.
3. It is a great tool for metacognition. Students can show what they are thinking while reading.
Strengths: 1. Allows students to share their ideas while reading
2. Free addon to a web browser
3. Provides an opportunity for collaboration
Suggestions for Improvement: 1. Accessible on all internet browsers
2. Ability to color code for individidual thoughts and ideas
3. The ability to log in
Verdict: For- it is a great tool that would help with reading comprehension
Against- may not work with our internet browser
Usage: I like that students can see what their classmates are reading and how they may be reacting. When teaching a lesson on a certain world culture topic, I could select certain readings that may appeal to specific students/classes.
Strengths: I Have only read about the product. I Have not used it. However, it seems that the product Facilitates scaffolding. Also, it can be competitive but without undue pressure.
Suggestions for Improvement: I would like for There to be more options for younger students.
Perhaps more support for world language learners.
it Could, maybe include more opportunities for students to design their own reading list as a class/group.
Verdict: Allows freedom for teachers to choose reading
-Promotes competition but--seemingly not overly so
Usage: I would use this with my high school English classes including special Ed classes for class reading and research papers.
Strengths: It allows students to interact with reading electronically while fueling student discussions. This promotes analytical, emotional and inferential response.
Suggestions for Improvement: More capabilities to map out student learning to prevent students from getting off task. For example, if they are reading about Thoreau, it will keep them on approved sites so they do not end up on nba.com
Verdict: It allows teachers to monitor student reading, thinking and interaction with text. This product helps students and teachers fuel discussions, see where confusion lays, and if any information needs to be clarified or re-taught.
Usage: I'm thinking of using it as a sort of silent socratic seminar. Or a prep for that. I often have students look for best evidence and this would help all students participate without stepping on each other
Strengths: I love the upgrading of language for kids. I love the access to what they are sayiNg. I like that It gives everyone a chance to participate
Suggestions for Improvement: I would allow for making the word bank different for different ability levels within the same ckass
I would love for you to develope a next tool that would analyze text for weak or repetitious language and then provide suggestions, to help with student writing
Verdict: It is great support for what we already do, rather than adding more to manage.