One awesome thing during distance teaching has been working with student teachers. I know that supporting student teachers while also teaching 100% online comes with a whole set of challenges (the topic of a future blog post), but it has been a great experience for all of us.
My amazing student teacher, Ms. Cortez, and I noticed many of our 8th grade students were hesitant to share or participate out loud and in the chat, but actively participated in the Pear Deck questions. We wanted to figure out a way for students to volunteer to share their work, without adding additional stress or complications. We created a system where kids would draw a green 🙂 or a red 😦 on the top right corner of their Pear Deck response based on their willingness to have their answer shared with the class (see image below).
Students took to this system quickly! When we use Pear Deck in class, we review the responses in the teacher dashboard (we are lucky to have the premium version at school), then star the responses with a smiley face to only show those responses. Students have the option to unmute to share their response, elaborate or claim the response in chat, or allow us to anonymously review their response with the class.
We only do this for some responses, mostly drawing questions. For text questions, we do this same system by asking students to start their response with a green or red emoji. Other times, we do not give students an option and show all of the responses.
Here is a template (or see this example on Slides and Pear Deck) to help you get started! We hope it helps encourage your students to share their work with the class.
What are some ways you get your students to actively participate on Pear Deck?
One of my favorite tech tools in the last year has to be Pear Deck! I had heard about this tool at a bunch of EdTechTeam summits and participated in the Demo Slams–finally I bugged Nick about it and got a personal demo between sessions. I quickly went from “oh this is cool” to “hold on, I gotta update my Monday lesson to include Pear Deck!”
Pear Deck is an “AND” not an “OR” for me. It seamlessly integrates into what I’m already doing in my classroom, rather than something extra to implement. We are 1:1 iPad, and my kids had no problem joining into a session. After using Pear Deck a couple times, I asked my students what they thought. Overwhelmingly, they liked it!
For my students in the back, they were able to see what I had projected. And, it made it easier for them to take Cornell Notes. Assignment instructions were right in front of them, eliminating excuses for not knowing what to do.
And Then the Add-on was Released…
The Google Slides Add-on was a total game changer. My only initial frustration with Pear Deck was editing my slides after I had imported them into Pear Deck–I always make mistakes (sorry 1st period). This was 100% fixed with the new add-on!
Bigger bonus: our IT department pushed out the add-on to all teachers this week! That’s huge! I’m hoping it’ll up the usage district-wide, and provide more opportunities for engagement. Some of our high school teachers are huge Pear Deck fans, and my fingers are crossed that (1) more will get on board, which means (2) more effective & engaging use of 1:1 laptops in high school. For a teacher looking for a way to begin to integrate technology, Pear Deck is an excellent starting point.
A Few Reasons Why I Love Pear Deck:
I project from a laptop, but can have the presenter dashboard on my iPad. This frees me up to walk around the room, while checking in on student responses. It’s easier to interact when I’m not tied to the front of the room. Teaching feels more conversational when it can happen anywhere in our room.
Seeing student responses in real time on the presenter dashboard (premium version — 100% worth it!) makes it’s easy to address misconceptions or student questions. I can also check for understanding by adding in questions on the fly.
It gives every student a voice, especially the introverts. Reading their responses followed by simple eye contact makes them feel valued and heard, without them saying a word! I get so many returned smiles when I read a response and give a silent thumbs up from across the room.
The premade interactive Slide templates make it ridiculously easy to up student engagement!
Student-paced mode is a life saver when I unexpectedly have to be out. I got called in for Jury Duty last week, and had to quickly adapt my Wednesday plans to work for a sub on Thursday (block schedule). With student-paced mode, my kids were able to login and complete the lesson. I went in later to check their responses.
The Biggest Reason I Love Pear Deck
The people. The people who work for Pear Deck are the kindest individuals, both those I’ve hung out with in person and those I’ve met on the Twitters. Knowing they’re approachable, willing to answer questions, receive feedback, and hear how I’m using Pear Deck in my classroom makes me want to use it and spread the word. The personal touch is the huge difference!
Thank you, Pear Deck, for being awesome humans who care about our students and teachers!
What are your favorite tips and tricks with Pear Deck?