Guide to Using Ponder in the Classroom: Lesson Planning


Ponder is designed to be easy to integrate into your curriculum.


Ponder can be used... 

  • For critical thinking development

    • Students analyze arguments in what they read, create a micro-reading response with sentiments, and engage classmates’ ideas. Students can have discussions about whatever they read, whenever they read it.
  • For critical reading development

    • Ponder helps students hone their reactions to what they read, identifying problems, highlighting disagreements, and facilitating the celebration of good ideas.
  • For media literacy development

    • Students use Ponder to aggregate a wide range of media online, all scaffolding the development of their understanding of big ideas and the development of critical reading skills.
  • For digital literacy development

    • To use Ponder effectively, students must become fluent with navigating the internet, identifying reliable sources, and using their browser and the Ponder extension effectively.
  • To integrate Open Educational Resources (OER)

    • Ponder makes OER interactive. Students can create micro-reading responses on any OER with their reaction and the class theme to which it relates. As they populate the Class Feed, students aggregate resources that can be studied further in class.
  • To supplement textbooks with online material

    • Integrate primary sources, commentaries, and other materials left out of a textbook.
  • To contextualize content in the real world

    • Using themes that align with class content, students can identify connections between what they learn in class and what they read in the news.
  • To assist students with sensemaking

    • Students can create a micro-reading response on a variety of sources of information as they work to understand a complex theme. Using their classmates’ responses and their own, students can build an understanding of core class concepts.
  • To differentiate instruction  

    • Ponder’s data reporting will help you know which students are avid readers, who is struggling, and who isn’t doing much at all. Students’ sentiments will reveal what students are confused about, what they’ve mastered, and which students require your attention.
  • To support distance and blended learning

    • Whether you teach an online class or want to blend online learning into your in-person class, Ponder allows students to engage material and interact with classmates remotely in a way that is easy to assess and build upon in class.
  • To support self-directed, student-centric learning

    • By contributing resources with micro-reading responses and voicing their opinions through Sentiments, students can take an active role in directing the focus of class.
  • To integrate reading into constructivist classes

    • As students grapple with problems and build an understanding of a complex idea, they can use Ponder to collect their thoughts, learn from their peers, and slowly build an understanding of new concepts through reading and discussing.
  • To unify an integrated curriculum

    • Classes can use Ponder’s Themes and an integrated Ponder class to connect content from a variety of subjects to the themes that unify the integrated curriculum. All classes involved in these studies can refer to the same Class Feed, using it to organize and deepen their interdisciplinary studies.
  • To conduct thematic units

    • Ponder’s Themes help to unify a variety of materials and concepts.
  • To scaffold learning in any subject

    • Teachers can participate with their students, submitting content to the Class Feed which introduces ideas, and students can build upon it by submitting their own Sentiments or creating responses on additional excerpts. In class, teachers can use students’ contributions to help guide students to a deeper understanding.

Consider some of these scenarios: 

  • Know what's going on in free reading!

Use our Reading List and Course Packet features to create a dynamic reader for your class. Send students to the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Paris Review, etc. and ask them to find an article that relates to a major theme of the current unit. Students should create micro-reading responses on parts of the article that relate and also indicate their reaction to the content of the article. At the beginning of class the next day, students can look through the Class Feed, identify one of their classmates' responses that is especially interesting, and go discuss it with them. The most popular micro-reading responses can begin the class's discussion for the day about that theme.

  • Make your class website interactive!

Do you already host readings on a class website or your LMS (Blackboard, Whipple Hill, etc.)? If so, add these sites to your Course Packet. Students' reading data will populate your Instructor Dashboard and their responses will gather on the Class Feed. When other students read the document, they'll see their classmates' micro-reading responses. Ponder will add an interactive layer to otherwise static content.

  • Let students guide the curriculum!

Announce the topic for the upcoming class. Ask students to populate the Class Feed with key ideas they discover in their on-line reading as they try to unpack the complex idea that you will discuss in the upcoming class. You'll know how much time and how many articles they read by looking at your Instructor Dashboard, and they'll have taken ownership over their own learning by going in search of knowledge.

  • Begin the discussion at home!

Pick a short story hosted on-line. Ask students to create micro-reading responses on parts of it that relate to class and parts that they react to strongly. Ask them to also interact with their classmates' responses, which will also appear on the reading. In class the next day, your discussion will have already begun!

  • Make sure everyone participates

Some students are unwilling to contribute in class discussions, even though they are actively engaged in the class and do all the readings. Tell your students that you'll consider their responses to be part of their participation grade, since Ponder will give them a voice without them having to raise their hand in class every day. 

  • Make connections!

Send students into the wild, asking them to create micro-reading responses on one poem, one short story, and one news article in which they find some connection to a "big idea" in class. Create a micro-reading response to something yourself that is especially difficult to tie into the class theme. In class discussion the next day, ask students to unpack the connection you identified, and then use students' responses to help everyone understand the concept from different angles. 



 Want to learn more? See the rest of our Guide to Using Ponder in the Classroom.

Guide to Using Ponder in the Classroom: Overview

Guide to Using Ponder in the Classroom : The Technology

Guide to Using Ponder in the Classroom: Assessment


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