This is a sponsored post, however, I fully endorse and support everything in this post and gladly use ActivelyLearn every day.
Do you wish you had a fully stocked digital library for your student?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have multiple texts that EVERY student in your classroom wants to read?
What if you could add videos, pictures, questions, and more to those texts?
You can do all that and more with ActivelyLearn.
What is ActivelyLearn?
ActivelyLearn is a web based tool for teachers to store nonfiction articles, pdfs, books, and other digital files.
How Do I Sign Up?
Signing up for ActivelyLearn is quick and simple.
To sign up for ActivelyLearn you first go to ActivelyLearn.com.
How teachers sign up
You should sign up first as a teacher before you direct your students to do so.
In the center of ActivelyLearn.com’s home page you will click on “Create Free Educator Account” as mentioned above and shown below.
In the final step you will complete your sign up from scratch or with one of the connected services, including Google.
Next you will enter your school and teaching information as below.
Once signed up and logged in you will be asked to view the student mode and given a brief tutorial.
I encourage you to go through this tutorial!
It is brief but very helpful.
Where to get texts
I would strongly encourage you to put some articles and other types of text into ActivelyLearn before you guide your students in.
This way, when your faster students are in they can begin looking around instead of being bored, waiting, and potentially acting up.
As mentioned in the teacher tutorial there is a library of texts inside ActivelyLearn and you can add these to your classroom.
To do this you will go to catalog on the left side of the screen. Browse until you find a story. Select “Add to Workspace.”
Once you have a text in your “Workspace” you can add it to your class. You click on “Assign” and then the text you want assigned to your class. Next, you will check the box for the class you want the article assigned to.
I put all of my students into one big class but if you wanted to keep student data separated by period creating different classes is a good idea.
The internal catalog
As shown above the catalog has a number of texts, including some books. You can sort these in a variety of ways inside the catalog. Some are paid but many are free.
Above is a picture of the Workspace. Side note – the left side of your screen will always display if you are in Workspace, Class, Catalog, etc.
In the picture above is the Workspace there is a blue “Add Content” box. To add an internet article open that drop down menu and insert the link. You can also add an ActivelyLearn tool to Google Chrome to add articles that you find online directly to your Workspace in one click.
You can also upload Google Documents from that drop down menu or pdfs you might have on your computer.
Students in my class who volunteered have some of their essays as part of the class library in ActivelyLearn. I am sure they feel great seeing their names next to famous authors and stories.
I’ve also had a number of students who have been in the newspaper for academic and athletic events. I put those articles in and students seem to really appreciate seeing themselves inside the software as well as read about their peers and their community.
How students sign up
Now that you have signed up, set up a class, and added text you are ready for your students to join.
Your students will follow a very similar sign up process.
As above they will sign up with their email. Our school provides every student with a school gmail.
If your students do not have a school email you will need to adjust.
Once through the email signup they will prompted to enter the class code.
Have them enter the code that you received when you created your class. Don’t worry, if you lost it you can go back to the class and get it.
Once you complete all of this setup once you and your students will quickly hop right into your class library and get reading.
How to Put ActivelyLearn into Action
Once you and your students are both in your ActivelyLearn class you have a number of options. You can read together with your students. You can put homework into ActivelyLearn. You can have students read in groups. You can use it for independent reading.
One of the first times you have your students read in ActivelyLearn you should use to have them set up some of the basics.
I am fortunate enough to have an Apple TV and can Airplay and show my students on a whiteboard display how to set up some basic functions. If you don’t have access to this you can either turn your screen towards your student or verbally explain some of these steps.
Choose an article with your class.
Once all of your students are in direct them to look at the top of the screen at the two t’s.
In the image above you can see the small t and the big T in the upper left. Click there and a menu pops up.
When the menu pops up you can have students change the font size, the font, the color, line spacing, etc.
You want to make sure your students turn paragraph number to on. When you turn on paragraph numbering on every student’s device you can quickly and easily get students back on track who don’t know where you are reading as class. You simply say, “We are on paragraph 8.” There is also a push feature when you are reading through the class tab. When you do this the student screen will refresh and push them directly to where yo want them to be.
Independent and Small Group Reading
In addition to read alouds, you can send your students to read in groups or alone. This can be done with your day to day texts or texts that students select.
Formally or Informally Assess Their Reading
Of course you want some feedback on how your students are doing with their reading. They will also want some feedback.
To do this you can add polls and questions (short essay or multiple choice) to your texts to assess your students.
You can add these before students read. You could also add these WHILE students are reading and it will refresh their screen and add the question.
You can add a question, a link, or a note anywhere yo’d like inside the text. A nice feature about inserting questions is that students cannot read ahead until they answer the question.
Note: you must do this from inside your Workspace.
As in the image above you simply select a section of text and a drop down menu appears. Choose to enter your question, note, or link. The whiteout feature will literally whiteout a word if there is profanity in a story.
When you choose to insert a note it will show up on the right side of the text as above. You can include images and videos in your notes.
Just as you probably appreciate this post having pictures and videos students appreciate them. Plain text is…boring.
Another fun feature is student interaction. You can set questions and notes so that students can view each other’s answers. There are pro’s and con’s to this. In my experience the pro’s outweighs the con’s and students have benefitted from seeing their peers answers. They can’t see question answers until they have submitted theirs.
Another really useful feature is having the students guide their own interactive experience in the text.
Students just highlight a section of text and can share a connection, inference, etc. They can choose to make that note viewable by just the teacher or the entire class.
To do this they highlight a section of text and select “Highlight and Take Note.”
They can also add a pictures, videos, and questions from this menu. Going one step further they can leave questions in a story that their peers can answer. The pictures and videos can enhance the reading experience for their peers in the story.
Access to Loads of Data
ActivelyLearn offers teachers a load of data. Teachers gain immediate access to data on their students based on questions they created and even time spent reading.
Teachers can even have reports emailed directly to them each day.
Students can search by pushing “Control F” on a Chromebook. I do not know what keys would need to used on another device. I would encourage adding a search box in the library section as well as inside each individual text.
I’d also consider linking an internal Google Image or Video search inside the console. I have no idea how to do it but I have seen it in other products.
I do see constant improvements from ActivelyLearn and believe these issues will be addressed.
Overall, ActivelyLearn is a great product!
I use and recommend the monthly plan. With the monthly plan I get a number of upgrade. My favorite one is that I can add unlimited texts each month. With the free plan you are limited to two.
The monthly plan does have a free 1-month trial.
Go to the upper right hand corner of the screen in your Workspace, click the icon next to your name. Then choose Subscription plan.
When you start using ActivelyLearn in your class you will find that kids who “hate” reading will enjoy it again.
They will appreciate reading about topics they chose. They will appreciate seeing more pictures in stories and answering questions about stories they like. They will feel included in school in a new way when they are interacting with their peers in a topic (basketball, video games) they are knowledgeable about. They will even feel connected to reading and writing about topics they are interested in.
ActivelyLearn puts all of this in one spot. It’s easy to set up and it will be fun for you and for your students.