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Many Uses for Pear Deck

Pear Deck is a tool I have been using in my classroom for over 5 years now. It is consistently the #1 tool my students say helps their learning in our classroom. So, I'd just like to give a brief overview of the different ways we deploy Pear Deck for Google Slides in our classroom. Instructor Paced Notes This is probably the most traditional use of Pear Deck. Essentially having a lecture session built in Google Slides with Pear Deck interactions built in. This has been wonderful this year when I have a mix of students who are in person and virtual. All learners get a chance to interact and be heard by the teacher and their voice can be shared with the class.  While this might seem straight forward, there are some best practices to keep in mind. Start out with a question to preview content or tap into prior knowledge.This can be a good check to see what the class and individual students already know about a topic. It is also provides an opportunity use their words to help guide def

Many Uses for Pear Deck


Pear Deck is a tool I have been using in my classroom for over 5 years now. It is consistently the #1 tool my students say helps their learning in our classroom. So, I'd just like to give a brief overview of the different ways we deploy Pear Deck for Google Slides in our classroom.

Instructor Paced Notes

This is probably the most traditional use of Pear Deck. Essentially having a lecture session built in Google Slides with Pear Deck interactions built in. This has been wonderful this year when I have a mix of students who are in person and virtual. All learners get a chance to interact and be heard by the teacher and their voice can be shared with the class. 

While this might seem straight forward, there are some best practices to keep in mind. Start out with a question to preview content or tap into prior knowledge.This can be a good check to see what the class and individual students already know about a topic. It is also provides an opportunity use their words to help guide definitions or explanations of terms and concepts. There are some great slides in the template library that can be edited to suit your needs and start any lesson putting student voice first.

While you are using slides to deliver content, don't forget that the only way to hear the voice of all learners is to add interactions. In most of the lessons I build, at least 50% of the slides require some form of interaction. It's great to use interactions to help build and deepen understanding. I challenge you to make interactions more than just and add-on to your lessons. Use the interactions to create an intentional learning journey in your lesson.

Mix up the type of interactions you give your students. The ability to add a variety of modes of interaction should not be taken for granted. While text explanations may provide the richest information, sometimes a multiple choice question can give that quick snapshot of what the class is thinking. A numerical slide can communicate if students got the right answer, but a drawing slide allows you to see the student work behind the answer. 

The timer feature in Pear Deck is great. I love that it can be used to build in the wait time that students need when responding. Or it can also be a good way to set limits on a discussion that students may be having.

While you can't edit a slide presentation while presenting, you can add a new prompt. This is a great way to ask a new question on the fly. This is good to do when students may not seem to be understanding a concept and you want to give them another opportunity after some more explanation. It can also be an opportunity to ask students to explain their thinking. For example, you may ask a multiple choice or number question and follow it up with a text response to have students explain their thought process.

When in doubt make it a drawing slide. The drawing slide it the most powerful in allowing students to express their thinking. Many times, though, you may just have a slide with content and no interaction. In these cases, I like to make the slide a drawing slide. One reason for this is that it allows students to highlight key terms or add information to the slide. These extra annotations will be included in the student takeaway doc sent to the learner when the lesson is closed. Many people like to doodle while listening to a lecture and it could benefit learning. The drawing feature allows for this to be done in a digital sense on any given slide. 

Student Paced Notes

This spring my school went virtual with asynchronous instruction. Pear Deck student paced mode allowed me to deliver on-demand lessons for my learners with all the active learning tools in a synchronous Pear Deck session. Even though we weren't live, I was still able to monitor student progress and understanding. This is also great if you ever have a sub but still want to introduce new content. It is also an option I am providing all of my learners who would rather go thought the notes at their own pace. I provide this option once we are deeper into a unit. I will build the deck for live session. Then build the self paced lesson from a copy of the live slide deck. There are a few key pieces that I like to add to my self-paced lessons.

Add audio is a fantastic new feature to add your voice to any slide. It is great to add extra explanations to a content slide. I also like to use it on interactive slides to give students a hint to guide their thinking.

For any objective question I ask in a student paced lesson, I like to make the next slide the answer to the question. This can be done by typing in the workflow and adding and audio explanation. Another way I used to do it before the Add Audio feature was to record a short screencast of the solution and then add the link to the video as a Web Site Slide. 

I also like to make the last slide of the presentation a text response for students to express what concepts or slides they would like more of an explanation of. During asynchronous instruction, this help me know what I needed to build more practice for or remediate before trying to move on to more complex levels of understanding. 

Guided Practice

Every time I finish a set of notes on new content, I like to build a menu of practice options for learners to deepen their understanding. But many learners are not ready to practice on their own after the Pear Deck session. So, one of the options I provide is guided practice using Pear Deck. Essentially this is a set of practice problems that I can go through with students to help gain a deeper understanding of the concept by my side. I build a series of 8 - 10 question slides with increasing complexity. 

We go through each slide one at a time. I give students time to work on the slide with a little guidance. By monitoring their progress in the Teacher Dashboard, I can immediate provide positive feedback or help correct misconceptions and allow learners to correct their own errors. I can then project specific student responses as exemplars. 

I really love this because it allows me to create whole class lessons that have "just enough" information for all learners. Those who need extra guidance know that there will be guided practice. Those who are good to go after that whole class lesson won't become disengaged by the potential redundancy of more of the same questioning in the live session. 

Quizzes

I hold the firm belief that quizzes are meant to be a formative learning opportunity. The are a chance for the teacher and the student to learn where they are on the journey to mastery. In this spirit, I use Pear Deck to conduct quizzes. I put together a series of ~15 question slides and start a student paced lesson. I give students about 25 minutes to complete the slide deck. But, I allow them to use their notes if they need to or ask a peer for assistance if they need to. 

I don't see this as cheating. It is an opportunity for learning. For those that need the assistance or can provide the assistance, I ask them to communicate this fact to me. One the last few slides of the quiz, I ask students to reflect on their performance. I ask them to discuss the type of assistance they needed or provided. 

I then pull them out of student paced mode and we correct the quiz together. I enjoy projecting examples of correct student responses as I explain the correct responses. I encourage students to correct their answers. This way when the lesson is closed they will get their Student Takeaway with all the questions and the correct answers to review later.


These are the 4 primary ways I use Pear Deck in my class. I am always iterating based on my student feedback. (Pear Deck is a great tool to collect this feedback.) I can imagine that teachers are using Pear Deck in so many different ways and have tips and tricks we could all learn from. I would love to hear how others are using Pear Deck in their classroom. 

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