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A Shared Vocabulary

For those of you who are unaware, I am a huge proponent and user of Pear Deck in my classroom.  If you’re unfamiliar with Pear Deck as a presentation tool that increases student interaction, please check out some of my previous posts.  My continued use is fueled by my students overwhelmingly positive response to the platform. It continues to be the #1 thing my students site that helps them learn in our classroom. So when Pear Deck announced a new tool, I was super excited to try it out.

But, you don't have to have any familiarity with Pear Deck to use their new app.

The new app is called Pear Deck Vocabulary or Flashcard Factory.  It is a collaborative vocabulary tool that features integrations with Google, Quizlet, and Merriam-Webster.

Why is this a beneficial app? It allows learners to collaborate in going beyond simple definitions for terms or concepts. It asks students to collaborate to generate multiple representations for terms and concepts.  Then, it allows learners to evaluate these representations. Finally, these can be exported to Quizlet in order for learners to access them at a later date to revisit and review.  

Pear Deck is rolling out access to users in phases.  You can sign up for access here. But, I’d like to give you an overview of the power and fun the app has in store for your classroom.

Creating a Vocabulary List

Once you’ve been granted access to Vocabulary, you can use your Google login from to get to your home screen. You’ll see a new creation button at the top right of your screen to “Create a Vocabulary List”.  This is where you will generate a list of terms and definitions for your students to work with.

Once you’ve launched into the Vocabulary List, the first thing you’ll want to do is give it a name. All vocabulary lists are stored in your Google Drive and adding a name will make sure it doesn’t remain an “Unnamed List”.

Now, you’ll add your terms and definitions to the Vocabulary List.  There are several different ways to add new terms.

1) You can add new term by typing it in and then use a suggested definition from Merriam-Webster.

2) You can add a new term and add one of the suggested definitions.  But then, you can edit the definition to meet your specific requirements.

3) You can type in your term and add your own definition if the suggestions are not a good fit.

4) At the end of your list of terms, you’ll see suggested terms to add to your list in blue. You can click on one of these and it will automatically add the term and definition to the list. Note that you can always delete a card by clicking on the “x” in the upper right hand corner of a card.

Start Flashcard Factory

When you’re ready to present to a class, you can launch from the term list screen and selecting “Start Flashcard Factory”.
Start Flashcard Factory.png

Or from the home screen (or Google Drive) by selecting the Vocabulary List you’d like and selecting “Start Flashcard Factory”.

Once you start the Factory Mode, a URL and code will be displayed for students to log into.  This app is designed with the idea that the teacher view would be projected for the whole class to view. This is similar to presentation sessions in Pear Deck. Once students have logged in, the teacher can “Clock in” to the Factory.

Once students have logged in and are waiting for the session to begin, the following screen will display instructions. The great thing about Peak Deck is that students can access the app on any browser enabled device including phones, tablets, Chomebooks, and laptops.

Team Formation

Pear Deck Vocabulary is designed as a collaborative tool for groups of students.  In this demo, I was logged into 2 separate devices as a student via 2 different Google accounts. Once the session starts, students are divided into two teams. Teams can be reshuffled if the teacher will like. The following image is from the teacher display:

When the teacher hits the “Let’s Play” button, it will take them to the Production Phase

During Team Formation, the student display lets students know what team they are specifically on and what group they are in. In addition, within teams, students will be broken up into pairs to work together on a set of terms.

Production Phase

Production Phase is where the students take over. Imagine your class divided into the two teams. Depending on how many students you have, they will be subdivide into smaller working group pairs.  During this phase, teams will be taking the basic term and definition cards and adding more information to them in the form of drawings and text example.
Teams will work to complete vocabulary cards (text and image) for the terms list. This will result in two sets of cards. Here’s the teacher view during Production:

Students have 3 specific steps to Card Production
1) Drawing: During this step students use the Pear Deck drawing tool to add a drawing they believe to be representative of the term (or the teacher can give alternative criteria for the drawing).  

2) Text Example: During this step students will add text to give an example related to the term.  I think teachers will find very interesting ways to task students with what to add here. I can imagine this as possibly including synonyms or even formulas when appropriate (just my physics mind working here).  I can even imagine giving specific examples from class to draw on prior experiences.

3) Final Check: Once the drawing and text have been added, students have the opportunity to check over their work and make edits before submitting it. I imagine students at this point would reflect on if their work meets the criteria outlined before production began.

Once submitted, cards appear on the on the production belt from the teacher (projected) view. As you can see, the completed cards are color coded as to the team that created them.

As a cards are completed by the group, they will get the next card to be completed. Teams with multiple groups have the possibility to create multiple cards for each term. On a team, groups are assigned the next card based on the lowest number of examples completed.  When groups finish, will be informed. If the teacher doesn't need every group on a team to finish all the terms, the teacher screen can be advanced directly to Quality Control.

Quality Control

As cards are added to the conveyer belt, they are available for quality control to check.  This can be done by the teacher or as a teacher-led activity. I could even imagine an independent group of students being in charge of quality control.

During Quality Control, the teacher device is shown each completed card.  It can be approved or rejected based on meeting the requirements set forth.   

I can imagine this being a great activity to check against a specific standard of requirements.  So, this is where it’s important to define the components required for each card. As more are card sets are completed over the course of the year, the class will have a better idea of what components are more beneficial to them. So it’s no longer the teacher defining what a “good card” is composed of, but the students who define what a “good card” contains.

When Quality Control is complete, the final phase is Shipping.

Shipping Phase

In the Shipping Phase, the cards are ready to be exported to Quizlet where they will live for students to be able to access and review. The teacher can also choose to “Leave the Factory” and export later.  This will take the teacher screen back to the Pear Deck Home page.

From any screen in the process, the teacher can navigate back to any step in the process by clicking on the 3 dots in the bottom left hand corner.

Revisit Steps

When exporting to Quizlet the card set can be made public or private and only accessible by password.

When finished, the link (and password if made private) will be displayed on the teacher and student displays.  The teacher display also has the option to share directly to Google Classroom.

To be honest, I haven’t worked much with Quizlet. So, I’ll be interested in hearing from educators and students how they use it in class.

If you’d like to get a sense of what the Quizlet would look like, please go to the following link (please note that one of the cards from the deck was not completed so that you can get a sense of what an incomplete card would look like)

Reopening a Vocabulary List

Teachers can always access Vocabulary List from The Pear Deck Homepage (or in Google Drive)

Once you select the specific list you want, you’ll see a list of all the sessions you’ve run. From here, you can rename specific sessions, reopen a previously run list by clicking on the projector screen icon, edit the vocabulary list, or start a new factory session.

The great thing about getting access to this in summer is that I can play with it and brainstorm ways of using this tool when I have the time to do so.  The downside is that I won’t get the full experience until I have a group of students actually in the trenches.

If you are looking to get access to Pear Deck Vocabulary, go to this link to sign up.  I hope you do so that you can add to the conversation of what ideas you have for using it with your students, what is working well, and pitfalls to avoid. Hopefully this will help us get away from simply defining terminology in our words and give learners the opportunity to create their own representations and understandings.

Here's a short video that will give you an idea of what Pear Deck Vocabulary looks like in action.

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