Map: Irish Ponder Pilot Schools

Announcing Ponder for Irish (Gaeilge) – a COGG-funded Pilot Program


We are proud to announce that Ponder is the recipient of a generous grant from An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) to adapt Ponder for Gaeilge, the Irish language. The grant covers the costs of the language work and a professional development workshop to kick-off a pilot in schools across Ireland in preparation for broad availability in Irish-language classrooms and reading groups.

More than ten schools have registered their interest so far, and we will be running a day-long workshop in early December. Interested Gaelscoileanna and English-medium schools should contact us by selecting Webinar Request in this ticket form. We began running online webinars to provide additional background and answer questions and will be running more in the coming weeks.


Map: Irish Ponder Pilot Schools

Irish Ponder Pilot Schools

More about Ponder

Ponder is a higher-order literacy tool, designed to support students in their critiquing and evaluating of texts and videos. It does this through a flexible and fun social media platform intertwined with the learning experience. There is an introductory video on our site, and a series of interviews with current Ponder teachers discussing teaching challenges and the ways they have implemented Ponder.

Ponder is already used across the US, and this year together with Anna Davitt (Hibernia College) and Fiona Nic Fhionnlaoich (NUIM-Froebel), we will be collaborating with teachers from Irish schools to develop a version of Ponder for Gaeilge.

Language teachers are familiar with the challenge of fully immersing students in a language. Reading casually in the language and chatting with friends are important parts of building and maintaining fluency. Outside of assigned homework, Ponder supports these activities by creating a pedagogically-sound social media environment for students to practice Gaeilge.

Adapting Ponder for a new language is both a linguistic and a cultural translation process and is always fascinating.

Pilot Details

Beyond the opportunity to shape Ponder for Gaeilge, participating schools will receive:

  • A free year-long site license of Ponder for all of their teachers and students
  • A travel stipend for one teacher to attend a day-long workshop on using Ponder
  • ICT Implementation support

The Ponder workshop will include:

  • An overview of Ponder and common implementation strategies.
  • Small group brainstorming of lesson ideas by subject area.
  • 1:1 hands-on setup of classes, using materials teachers bring with them to the session.
  • Small group live Ponder lesson amongst attendees.
  • Growing and evolving the draft set of Gaeilge sentiments as a group.

Buail an iarann te” and Contact us for more information!

Ponder for your favorite language

Ponder Gaeilge

“Tá mé ag smaoineamh faoi seo.” Ponder Irish sentiments.

Behind the scenes here at Ponder, we have been slowly expanding our language coverage in collaboration with enthusiastic Ponder educators! Beyond the work on Gaeilge, we now support Español and عربي, and have a sentiment set in progress for Rwandan.

Adapting Ponder for a new language is both a linguistic and cultural translation process – you can’t create a slang-infused critical thinking scaffold without a lot of head-scratching and word play. One component is identifying and incorporating relevant idioms and proverbs to provide a more fluent and poetic discussion experience. It’s a collaboration with native-speaking educators, and requires classroom time to get the gather the feedback necessary to get the tone of individual sentiments correct as well as getting the distance between different sentiments correct.

If you’d like to work with us to create a sentiment set in another language, let us know!


Ponder School Feed

Ponder Reading Groups Pilot: Inquiry is finally cool!?

Ponder School Feed

A Ponder feed for the learning community

We are excited to announce a new pilot: Ponder Reading Groups, our first major move outside the boundaries of specific classes! Over the coming school year we will be working closely with a number of pilot schools to iterate on the experience, but we are looking for a few more.

Therefore, I am happy to further announce that in our search for a diverse spread of schools with a basic level of infrastructure and a passion for discussion, we will be giving away a full-year Ponder site license for up to 10 schools selected for the pilot! If you’re interested, read on and then fill out the pilot request form.

That’s right, a free site license for up to 10 selected schools!

Reading Groups were inspired by repeated anecdotes from our Ponder classes about student usage exceeding all expectations, and then students asking their teachers if they could continue using it after the end of the semester. ‘How often do students ask to keep using educational software?’ we thought. With the further encouragement of the preliminary results from the Ponder efficacy study at San Francisco State University, we began bouncing ideas around about other roles Ponder could play while still boosting student engagement, perseverance and educational outcomes.

How do we make research, reading and thinking a fun, social activity for the entire school community?

Or in the words of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, how can Ponder make building “a foundation for college and career readiness” by reading “widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts” and acquiring “the habits of reading independently and closely” fun?

We grew even more excited when the Robin Hood College Success Prize was announced early this Spring, with a goal in the same spirit: Allowable solutions for the prize cannot be dependent on instructors or the classroom, but must instead be “student focused.” (See rules Section 5.2.) If you are not already familiar, the goal of the College Success Prize is to create a technology-only tool to dramatically increase the percentage of remedial students across the country who complete their community college degree within a “timely fashion”. So it’s understandable why they structured the rules this way – they don’t want solutions to get blocked on instructor adoption, or institution-specific implementation details which might slow them down – they want something that will help students independent of those variables. For us it was further confirmation that there is a need for what we are working on, and even better that it dovetailed nicely with the efforts already underway here. We just had to wrap up the idea in a two-minute video to enter the competition:



The Robin Hood testing process for solutions is as simple as it is imposing: to run a three-year evaluation of the selected proposals, and simply measure the change in graduation rate between those students randomly assigned to each solution, and the control group of students who are not assigned a solution. This month the judges will be announcing which technologies move to the next phase of the program. Of course, regardless of how the judging cookie crumbles, Ponder will be proceeding with reading groups!

Of course, regardless of how the cookie crumbles, Ponder will proceed with Reading Groups.

So how will they work? As demonstrated by our new interview series, Ponder is used in different ways by almost every instructor who picks it up. There are common themes, of course, but the broad spread of applications is born of the simple fact that students love Ponder. What would you do differently if you knew your students would be debating last night’s reading on the way to class?

Ponder --> Articulate --> Share --> ListenThe goal of Ponder Reading Groups is to support students in their personal reading and research independent of their classes or direct instruction, building the habits they will then employ in class. Here’s how it works:

  1. Deploy Ponder to teachers and students across your school
  2. Students pick reading groups that match their interest areas
  3. Students read, watch and share with micro-responses within the school’s Ponder community
  4. Schools can build upon the online momentum by creating in-person study and discussion periods

Of course, adding students to classes continues to work as it always has – a click creates a private shared space for any class, club, group project, etc that needs one.

Your school may be looking for a similar solution: How do we make research and reading a fun, social activity for the entire school community? How do we better understand student interests to bridge them to the curriculum? How do we expand usage of Ponder beyond the early adopters without gating participation on over-taxed teachers and curricula? How do we let the students run with it?

Over the coming school year we will be working closely with a number of pilot schools to iterate on the experience, but we are looking for a few more. If you’re interested, please tell us a bit more about your school. If you have any questions, contact our support team via chat or ticket.



Realizing Flip: Ponder for Video and eBooks

Pondering Video and/or eBooks for your class? Sign up for a pilot to alpha test.

Pondering Video?

If you’re flipping your classroom or simply have a lot of video content you’d like your students to watch outside of class, Ponder will soon be a way for you to engage and track student activity around video.

Just like Ponder for reading, Ponder for Video doesn’t require you to upload anything. Ponder for video will work on Youtube or Vimeo or Dropbox or Google Drive. Just like Ponder for reading, you will be able review visualizations of your students’ responses to the video along the video timeline. Even better than Ponder for reading, you will be able to manage a question queue and see where students are getting stuck watching and re-watching the same segment.

Pondering the Ring of Gyges

Pondering the Ring of Gyges

Pondering eBooks?

Ponder already works on any text that renders in a browser (including pdfs!), but we’ve been hankering after a way to organize Ponder activity around chapters and sub-sections for longer documents like books. So we were excited to discover an EPUB-lishing service called Thuze that integrates nicely with the Ponder browser add-on. Ponder + Thuze means you will be able to read eBooks in the Thuze web reader and organize Ponder activity around chapters and sections of long texts. (Continue reading)

Federalist Papers as an ePub

With Thuze, Ponder works on ePubs just as you would expect

Sign up!

We are looking for teachers and professors interested in trying out Ponder in these new contexts and providing us with feedback on the myriad ways it works and doesn’t work with your class.

For more information, fill out this short Google Doc form.

Learnings from the pilots will (of course!) be incorporated into the product and released for everyone.

Calling all Teachers: Ponder eBooks with Thuze and EPUB

Until now, Ponder worked on any text that rendered in the browser (including PDFs), but for longer texts we have been hankering after a way to organize Ponder activity around chapters and sub-sections of documents. EPUB is a widely used open standard for publishing structured documents which suits our needs well.

At the OpenEd 2013 conference, I met Victoria Kinzig from Bridgepoint Education who introduced me to Bridgepoint’s versatile new EPUB reader and textbook library, Thuze.

Thuze offers over 100 peer-reviewed e-textbooks across 23 disciplines from Health Care Administration to Ethics to Criminal Justice to various History texts, all of which you can read on the device of your choosing (Android, iPhone, iPad, and browser) for $35/textbook.

Signing up for a Ponder + Thuze pilot means you will get free access to a Thuze account (no textbook purchase necessary).

Federalist Papers as an ePub

With Thuze, Ponder works on ePubs just as you would expect

DIY Textbooks

But wait, there’s more. In addition to being a reader for Thuze texts, Thuze built a platform to allow instructors to publish their own compilations of text (e.g. EPUBS of any works in the public domain available on Project Gutenburg, feedbooks or mobileread; OR simply author documents through their editing interface.)

Ponder works on Thuze in the web browser as you would expect, with the same in-context aggregations of student reactions to the text.

The big new feature in Ponder + Thuze is we can now roll up student activity by chapter and section. The nicely paginated reading experience on Thuze doesn’t hurt either.

Sign up to try it out!

If you’re interested, tell us a bit about your class Ponder and some examples of EPUB texts you will be using.

Learnings from the pilots will (of course!) be incorporated into the product and released for everyone.