Also before discussing the application, just to touch on pricing, pivotEd is meant to be used primarily at a school or district level and in general, it’s best to contact them for a quote.
To begin, pivotEd is produced by Capstone, who you may already be familiar with as they offer tons of great educational content and children’s books. Each pivotEd lesson is paired with a Capstone book but designed to make the experience more engaging and interactive than just reading through an eBook.
When you first sign into the app you’ll be taken to your home dashboard, which I really love the simplicity of. You can see the “Experiences” that you have assigned, and you can see the Experiences that have ended, and that’s all you need. From the hamburger menu at the top left you can check out your different classes and you can add in new classes. Finally, you can hit the big purple + button to assign a new Experience to your students.
From there, you can explore the content library to determine what grade level, subject area, and specific topic you want to assign to your students. You also have the option of previewing any content here before assigning it out, which is nice in case you aren’t necessarily familiar with it.
The preview section is also handy because it includes teacher notes/scaffolding which offer some background information and overviews for teachers, as well as a chance to view all the different activities students will be engaging in.
Once you’ve found the Experience you want to use, you can assign it out to your students. You’ll have to enter in some details (Name, notes, start and end date, and description - all of which are already prefilled for you, but customizable), and then choose which students you want to send it to, which makes it easy to differentiate if you want to use different Experiences with different student groups.
You can also choose how you want to group your students at this point. Since a major focus of pivotEd is on collaboration, the bulk of these Experiences ask students to work in small groups, so that’s a step you’ll likely need to take most of the time.
After you’ve sent out the Experience, here’s where things get really fun. In practice, you would want to make sure you’ve moved your students into the groups you’ve assigned them to, so they can begin working together.
While the students are working through the Experience, the teacher can get a breakdown of their progress, and can also control what steps of the Experience are locked and unlocked. In other words, if you want all your students to stop and check in before moving onto a new part, you can control that! This was definitely one of my favorite parts because it allows students to go at their own pace, while also giving teachers control of major check points.
As students work through the Experience together in their groups, the teacher will also be able to see exactly what they’re doing.
There are so many awesome components here, group discussions, interactive word clouds and concept maps, collaborative charts and drawings, and a whole lot more. This video does a really nice job of walking you through what it looks like on both the teacher and student side as a class works through an Experience.
The overall idea here is that during an Experience, the teacher would be walking around the room, interacting with small groups of students as they work collaboratively, and also pausing at times to talk about what students have done, created, written, or posted up to this point. But in general, pivotEd is meant to be centered around blended learning and not direct instruction.
Within pivotEd Experiences, you’ve got 13 different lesson types. Some of these are shown in the video above, but here’s the complete list of what they offer:
- KWL Charts
- Word Meaning Matrix
- Text Features
- Cause and Effect
- Compare and Contrast
- Character Development
- Prediction and Inference
- Primary Source Material
- Connecting to Content (Using metacognitive strategies to gain comprehension)
- Connecting to Literacy (Responding to text in a variety of ways)
While all of these lesson components are great, the Connecting to Content and Connecting to Literacy are the most robust, and offer students all sorts of strategies and opportunities for digging deep into the text and engaging in thoughtful discussions.
Another thing I love is how much scaffolding is provided for the teachers, should they need it. pivotEd offers a ton of built in support, and suggestions for how to structure Experiences and move through them, while helping students address higher order thinking skills as well.
Once students have completed an Experience you’ll be able to see their individual and group submissions for grading and providing feedback. Everything students do will be saved in the system as well, so their work can always be revisited at a later time as well.
In terms of professional development, Capstone offers pivotEd training and professional development opportunities for teachers to use pivotEd in their 1:1 classrooms. The goal of these PD sessions is for participants to walk away with practical, best practice strategies that can be applied throughout their instructional day, not just while using pivotEd
Finally, pivotEd has some exciting developments coming later this fall. First, teachers and curriculum coordinators will be able to customize all the content, so not only will you have access to everything that pivotEd has created for you, but you’ll be able to add in your own materials, activities, and assessments as well. Additionally, teachers will also be able to share their custom created Experiences out with the world, so anyone who wants to will be able to use those resources.
However, even without those up and coming features, pivotEd is an excellent resource for the elementary classroom. If your school or district has the resources to afford a subscription, pivotEd is absolutely worth considering.
The application is truly designed with collaboration in mind and does an excellent job of getting students to work together while exploring texts and other content. The diverse collection of lessons are wonderful, and the ability to work in real-time with students makes pivotEd perfect for class time. pivotEd is a great mix of digital learning within an actual classroom, where students are not just staring at screens, but interacting with each other and engaging in the experience together.
If you think pivotEd might be a good fit for your school or district, I absolutely recommend visiting www.pivoted.com for more information and to request a demo.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I was not compensated for writing this review.