Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pear Deck: Classroom Engagement for the 21st Century

But First, the Basics:
If you aren't already familiar with it, Pear Deck is an online interactive presentation platform that allows you as the teacher to push out a slide presentation to each student's device. You simply create the slide presentation on the Pear Deck site and click the green "Start Presenting" button in the top right corner of the screen. 

You will then be directed to a welcome screen for students with explicit instructions:

At this point, you will simply click the arrow at the bottom left of the screen to move through the presentation. Depending on which types of responses you chose, the slides for students may look like any of these:

Every slide presentation, or "Deck", you create is automatically saved to your Google Drive. Finally, someone is doing that for you! 

And now that we've got the basics out of the way, here are the biggest reasons to join me in using Pear Deck! 

Reason 1: Optimal Student Engagement 
In a world where one-to-one devices are becoming more and more prevalent, this is a great option to optimize student engagement. By creating a presentation using Pear Deck rather than Powerpoint, you instantly have higher student engagement for the exact same content simply because students get to answer questions on different slides. When every student has posted their answers, you as the teacher cal simply lock the answers on the slide (by clicking the padlock in the bottom right corner) so students won't be distracted by continuing to type.

Reason 2: Formative Assessment
Pear Deck is a simply formative assessment tool to use in the classroom because all student responses can be easily exported into an excel spreadsheet after the presentation ends. Hallelujah! 

Reason 3: Anonymity (Among Peers)
If you choose to show student responses (after you lock them, of course), they all come up together on the screen without attaching student names. This way, all those students you have who hate sharing their work for fear of being wrong no longer have anything to fear! 

Reason 4: Typing Practice, Seriously.
As a third grade teacher, I am well aware that my students will be taking standardized state testing in the spring and, in our case, will be doing so on the computer. While this makes for a great paperless sort of paperless system, it is a bit nerve racking to assess student knowledge while simultaneously assessing their typing skills. By using Pear Deck on a regular basis, students get their typing practice in, but in a much lower-stakes environment. 

Reason 4: You can start using it for FREE!
While there is a premium subscription of Pear Deck, there is also a free version! I know what you're thinking -- "Is it a free TRIAL?" No. It's a fully free version for as long as you would like to use it. Fair warning, there are (of course) not quite as many features available as with the premium subscription, but it's a great place to start.

Below is a table that explicitly identifies the differences:

Here is a breakdown of pricing between the different types of plans that Pear Deck offers. I know $100 sounds like $1,000,000 in classroom spending, but Pear Deck is actually slightly cheaper than the other popular option on the market, Nearpod, which is about $10 a month (and yes, I realize this is only cheaper by about $1.77 a month).

Just consider it. Your students will thank you! 

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