Hooked On Pear Deck

Beth Hanlon, OFLA Executive Recorder and Editor of The Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School

I want to first state that I realize how unbelievably late to the Pear Deck scene I am.  As a Xennial, I grew up as the internet did, so I am not afraid to throw myself into new tech to figure it out.  However, I had this block with Pear Deck.  Various presenters have used it and I was always intrigued.  Each time a presenter would utilize it, I was again motivated to look into it.  Multiple times I would open a new Google Slide presentation and start the Pear Deck add-on. But when I started adding to the presentation, I thought about how much work it seemed to be and I would close it up.

Recently, I was talking to a social studies colleague.  She has used Pear Deck but prefers Mentimeter.  I expressed my frustration with the time I perceived it entailed to create a Pear Deck.  She shook her head and said “Beth, just make a Google Slide and add the Pear Deck stuff at the end.”  Skeptical, I headed home and opened the umpteenth Google Slides presentation and it FINALLY clicked…I successfully made a Pear Deck!  And it wasn’t that much work…I actually enjoyed creating it!

The purpose of this article is to share what I have done with Pear Deck in my classroom since my epiphany!  Let me start with a brief explanation of what Pear Deck is.  It is an add-on in Google Slides.  You add it to your Google Slides in order to create an interactive presentation with students, and it gives you the ability to gain immediate formative assessment of the presentation’s material.  The add-on allows you to add a variety of questions to your presentation slides so that you can pause at any time to have students answer a multiple choice question, type a response, etc.  Answers appear on the teacher’s board and can be a point of discussion for the class.  Student responses appear anonymous on the screen but you can view a report at the end for more specific student data.  The presentation shows up on students’ computers just as it shows on my screen and I control what slides they are viewing.

Here is what I have done with it!

1) My curriculum is centered around Fluency Matters readers.  I wanted to spice up the last chapter of the book we were reading in Spanish 1.  I created a presentation to accompany chapter 14 of El Capibara con Botas.  I was able to ask them review questions at the start of the presentation to check for prior knowledge and comprehension, have them give predictions about this upcoming chapter, do comprehension check questions frequently during the presentation, and at the end, have students show understanding related to the “I can” statement.  The inclusion of the Pear Deck presentation gave students an opportunity to participate in reading, writing, listening, and speaking!  

2) Every few chapters of a reader, I can not come up with an exciting extension activity, so students might be simply answering some comprehension questions.  Usually, we would go over these questions together in class.  Now, I can copy and paste the questions from the worksheet (in Google Docs) into a Google Slide presentation.  In class, I have students enter their responses in Pear Deck to make more conversation happen and to give me immediate formative assessment.  I can address any incorrect answers submitted on the spot and it’s anonymous so this doesn’t inhibit students from submitting answers.

3) Have you ever played the Lucky Reading Game?  I decided that instead of white boards I would use computers and Pear Deck!  Instead of students coming up to answer questions with a white board, they have a computer.  I realized however, that I won’t know what answer went to what group.  So I told each group to type their number before their answer.  For example, group 1 responded with “ 1 + their answer.”  It worked out perfectly.

I am excited to find new ways of using Pear Deck to support my teaching, especially in terms of serving as an incredible tool for in-the-moment formative assessment.  My biggest Pear Deck regret is not using it during online teaching.  This would have been game changing.  I encourage you to try something new, no matter how daunting, because you never know how amazing it will turn out to be!

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