Tag Archives: Peardeck

Getting Peachy with Pear Deck

Pear Deck seems to be calling me this fall. In an online workshop on Hybrid teaching with Emma Pass @emmabpass she raved about Pear Deck being one of her favorite edtech tools. Additionally, the technology specialists at my school offered two workshops on Pear Deck integration into our hybrid model. My science teacher now says it has changed her teacher life for the better. Due to the universe pointing me in the Pear Deck direction, I decided to update a few activities with Pear Deck and see for myself the benefits of using this digital platform.

Pear Deck is awesome because of the ability to directly add interactive questions (multiple choice, short answer, drawing, matching) into Google Slides (or Power Point). This capability makes it easy to collect formative assessment data when delivering a lesson synchronously remote or in person. There is also an option to make the lesson “self-paced” so students can move through the lesson independently and interact with materials, follow links, and answer questions. Here is a video that provides a little overview:

Here are some additional benefits to using Pear Deck:

  • The “Classroom Climate” when turned on allows students to reflect on their mood pre-lesson, post lesson, and students can reflect on how they thought the lesson went.
  • Utilize and turn on “Immersive Reader” for slides in your Pear Deck Sessions.
  • Using the Templates from the “Templates Library,” “Orchard” and “Weekly Wonders” provides innovative ways to have students engage with the content they are studying. The Orchard has ready-made templates that are edible and adaptable. You can drop them into any of your lessons. Weekly wonders are curated content from educational and inspirational sources on the web — think Wonderopolis. Each week three decks are released and each includes a video or article paired with 2-3 discussion prompts and short activity.
  • The Teacher Dashboard allows you to see work in real time and provide meaningful and timely feedback.
  • “Takeaways” allows you to publish personalized review Doc for teach student that contains every Pear Deck slide and that student’s response. This allows for feedback for students and material review.
  • Pear Deck has teamed up with Newsela to create free, ready to teach activities. Every Monday, five decks are released featuring an adaptive news article and interactive prompts to help explore current events. They are designed to help improve literacy, enhance critical thinking skills, and build classroom community

I am currently teaching in a Hybrid learning model with half of my students remote and the other half in person. Taking a teaching idea I found on Teachers Pay Teachers of “Figurative Language Truth or Dare” I adapted the questions onto Google Slides with Pear Deck for a live game of Truth or Dare. Students were given options to respond to a truth or a dare question/activity. Most students told me they enjoyed the choice and were able to review figurative language in an engaging way.

Need more reasons to use Pear Deck with your students? Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook created this video on teaching lessons remotely with Pear Deck and he offers a dozen or more ideas how to use Pear Deck with your students on his blog:

Pros – Students will appreciate the interactivity of the slideshows, which get them drawing, writing, and responding to teacher-created prompts and polls. Slideshows peppered with interactive assessments can support students’ understanding and retention. 

Cons – Some students might use the slides to write what ever they wanted. For example, one of my students during Figurative Language Truth or Dare decided to draw a ladybug instead of matching the similes and metaphors – it was clear that he wasn’t engaged in the lesson.

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Hybrid Teaching Hacks

I took a class with Emma Pass @Emmabpass, author of The Hybrid Teacher Survival Guide and walked away with a handful of hybrid teaching hacks for Synchronous Learning, Asynchronous Learning, and Coordinating learning. Emma is an educational consultant and 7th & 8th grade
language arts at PSD Global Academy (PGA) in Colorado, a public hybrid school in which students spend half of their time learning in-person and half of their time learning from home.

When it comes to synchronous lessons, teaching and learning that occurs together, simultaneously in-person or online, Pass recommends the following structure:

  1. Begin with check-ins and community questions
  2. Movement and or mindful moment
  3. Review of norms and expectations
  4. Direct Instruction
  5. Practice and or application
  6. Wrap Up and Good bye.

There are many debates whether the students need to have cameras on while in a Zoom or Google Meet. Personally, it is not important to me that students have their camera’s on. Some of my students blur their backgrounds, while others are active in the chat or participate in discussions so I know they are still participating in the lesson. My school does not allow recording Google Meets so setting norms and expectations about engagement and participation is so important. Emma Pass recommends, “Start the year with a tour of the virtual environment,
teach your students how to use the different functions of the video conferencing platform, and be sure to clearly establish norms and expectations.” Her three expectations include: (1) Be present and actively engaged in the lesson; (2) Keep mics muted unless otherwise instructed; and (3) Stay on topic in the Chat Box during the lesson.

The idea of “Check Ins” are like a smile when students walk in the classroom door. Students feel acknowledged. This might be as simple as saying hello to every student online as well as in the class or posing a community question in the chat box and then sharing out the responses. Teachers can even have students respond on Answer Garden or consolidate student responses into Word Art or word cloud generator.

Emma’s idea of doing a mindful movement activity or challenge is great and one that I am going to incorporate more often. It can be as simple as having students copy the moves in a giphy, Supermovers, or Go Noodle. Our students are spending lots of time online and the opportunity to get up and move is important within the day.

For direct instruction, Emma talked about Peardeck to create her interactive lessons. Pear Deck allows you to add interactive questions, such as short-answer responses, multiple choice, drag and drop, drawing, and more, right into your Google Slides.

Closure is important to any lesson. Emma states, “I try to reserve the last bit of class for all the students to come back to the whole-class Google Meet to wrap-up, share, reflect, and say goodbye. If my students have been working on a project, I’ll have the “screen sharer” from each group share their screen and briefly present and share what their group worked on. If we
played a game, I’ll typically review questions that were commonly being missed, or sections with which I noticed students struggling. If they worked independently, I’ll ask for volunteers to share their work. Really, these are the same types of review most teachers do at the end of any class period.
If there is an exit ticket, it is most common just to type a response or reflection into the chat box. I look at those responses as quickly as possible and narrate out loud which students are allowed to sign off because their exit ticket is sufficient.” Additional exit ticket strategies include Padlet, Poll Everywhere, or a comment in a Google Meet or on Google Classroom.

One of the last standout ideas that Emma presented was how her middle school team decided to organize our Google Classrooms on my blog, but essentially we all post work labeled by day, and under a “Week #” header.

Google Classroom organized by week and daily assignment. Students can easily see what they are working on which days.

I highly recommend you follow Emma Pass on Twitter or visit her website to get a copy of her ebook The Hybrid Teacher – Survival Guide (2020). She provides great ideas for synchronous and asynchronous learning. More than I have provided here.

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5 Resources & Lesson Ideas to Introduce Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s & Her Legacy in Your Classroom

Image from The Atlantic by BIJOU KARMAN

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she was just trying to make the world a little better and a little freer. But along the way, the feminist pioneer’s searing dissents and steely strength have inspired millions. A lifelong pioneer for gender equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Here are five lessons and activities to inspire others. 

  1. PBS NewsHour Extra & Peardeck have teamed up to create  free, ready-to-teach lessons on the events affecting our world today. Each week, you’ll find a Deck made for middle school and high school learners on a current-events topic, complete with thought-provoking interactive questions and embedded videos from reliable sources. Check out these lessons on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy on the Supreme Court
  2. The New York Times Lesson of the Day from September 20th is on Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In this lesson, you will learn about the life, legal philosophy and legacy of Justice Ginsburg and ways she not only changed the law, but also transformed the roles of men and women in society. Discussion questions and activities are included. 
  3. Take a virtual tour of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Based on the New York Times bestselling book and Tumblr page of the same name, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever museum exhibition focused solely on this judicial icon, whose image graces mugs, t-shirts, posters, and bobbleheads. The exhibit is a vibrant exploration of Justice Ginsburg’s life and her numerous, often simultaneous roles as a student, wife, mother, lawyer, judge, women’s rights pioneer, and Internet phenomenon.  You can register for a Public “drop-in” virtual tours of Notorious RBG throughout October and November on their website. 
  4. Looking for books to celebrate the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, check out this book list from The New York Public Library. There are books for all ages on this list. 
  5. If you are into games and public speaking, check out the game I Dissent. I have adapted the game into a station rotation activity in my middle school classroom. Check out the station directions below:

Have more resources or lesson ideas, add to the conversation by posting a comment below.

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12 Tech Resources for Teaching English

Matt Miller (@JMattMiller), author of the Ditch that . . . series wrote in his book Don’t Ditch That Tech (Burgess, 2020), “Technology can super charge learning.” Technology provides active learning, student centered, differentiated opportunities for students to showcase learning and understanding. Before you integrate any technology, consider the goals for the unit, lesson, and individual students. Then think about how technology might integrate to support those goals and provide opportunities to transcend learning.

As we get closer to the start of another school year and many of us do not know what that will look like in the midst of COVID-19 – in person teaching, hybrid models, blended learning, or 100% remote learning. Here are twelve tech resources for teaching English (and other content areas) to super-charge learning whether we are in the classroom or working from a distance.


Reading Platforms:

Actively Learn – My favorite reading platform by far because of its customizable aspects. Students are able to read digital, print and videos within the platform and answer reading comprehension questions. Standards aligned and tons of free content or you can upload and design your own. Many differentiated aspects to support ENLs. struggling readers and high fliers. Syncs with Google Classroom.

Newsela – Similar to Actively Learn but now is a paid platform with tons of nonfiction articles. Differentiates by changing the lexile scores of reading passages to make information accessible to everyone.

Insert Learning – This Chrome Extension allows you to insert instructional content to any page! Create your own differentiated assignments that are customized to individual students. It’s free!

Edpuzzle – Yes, this is a video platform that allows a teacher to insert a video and include comprehension questions throughout the video to check for understanding. We live in a visually saturated culture and students need to be able to “read close” visual texts.

Creative Communicators:

TeleStory is an App that allows students to create and broadcast your own TV show! Record a music video, teleport to an alien planet, film a high-speed-chase, or perform on a reality TV show. This is a great way for students to get creative in how they showcase their ideas, learning, and knowledge.

Flipgrid is a free platform that Syncs with Google Classroom for students to amplify their voice by sharing and showcasing ideas, reflections, and information verbally.

Storybird is a creative writing platform for students and provides a writing curriculum for teachers.  This paid platform supports Google Classroom and has more than 600 writing challenges and art from around the world to inspire and support students authors.

Buncee is a great tool to create, present, and share multimedia. Teachers can use it for lessons to share content and students can create their own engaging presentations or portfolios.  Nearpod and Peardeck are similar to Buncee for sharing information for classroom presentations or a flipped lessons.

Showcase Learning & Assessment:

I have already mentioned Flipgrid and Buncee which students can utilize to document, communicate, and visualize their learning. Here are a few others that allow students to be creative and show learning and understanding.

Powtoons is a comic creation tool where students can create their own storyboard, comic book, or graphic novel.

Padlet collects responses from students in text or visual format. I have also utilized padlets for book reviews, sharing poetry and reading responses.

StoryMap.KnightLab.com is like Google Lit Trips  where a map is utilized to tell a story. You can tell stories with photographs, works of art, historic maps, or a narrative.

I work in a Google School and I use Google Suite daily. GSuite offers lots of different tools that can help students showcase their learning from Google Jamboards for collaboration and brainstorms, longer writing on Google Docs, presentations in Google Slides or think outside of the box with Google Drawings to create infographics, graphic organizers or illustrations.


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