Engaging Students Using Pear Deck

In my teaching, I often used PowerPoint to guide my instruction.  Looking back this really was not good teaching practice as it encouraged me to be at the front of the classroom lecturing.  Let’s face it, the standard PowerPoint presentation is not the most engaging way for us to teach our students. Many times, presentations focus on delivering knowledge to students.  However, this doesn’t need to be the case anymore with Pear Deck!

What is Pear Deck?

Pear Deck is a freemium tool that is an add-on for Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint that includes interactive slides that will let every student participate in questions or prompts right on their own device. Pear Deck allows teachers to view live time students’ progress within the private Teacher Dashboard.  It features a student-paced mode in which students can work through their presentation on their own.  After the students have completed the presentation, teachers can export the results to Google Sheets.

I have heard about Pear Deck, but didn’t give it much thought as much of the functionality is through Google.  Low-and-behold, they also have Microsoft integration with Microsoft Teams and Powerpoint.  This could be a game-changer as my school division is currently a Microsoft based division.

How does Pear Deck Make Learning Visible?

Pear Deck allows for teachers to enhance their presentations by allowing student involvement within the presentations they create.  Think Kahoot, built into Google Slides/PowerPoint.

This is an example of a draggable template

Teachers can include interactive slides that the students can engage with on their own devices this includes:

  • text-based,
  • multiple-choice,
  • number,
  • engage with a website,
  • draw responses
  • drag icons on the page.

This is an example of a critical thinking template

These questions are great quick, low-level Bloom’s Taxonomy questions that provide formative assessment for students.  However,  Pear Deck encourages teachers to move beyond this.  They also have premade question templates to use in any subject area, specific to Critical Thinking and Social-Emotional Learning.   The teacher can keep the work private and anonymous, or students can login with their school Microsoft or Google account.

I wanted to tap into some of my PLN on Twitter to see how they are using Pear Deck in their classrooms.  I believe getting responses on Twitter, I find that I have more success in asking in small communities, such as #ditchbook, or #codebreaker, and not so much in the big realm of #edchat and #edtech.

Pear Deck allows the educator to be able to circulate the classroom.  Again teachers need to be working with students.  Thus this is extremely handy and we do not need to be tied to the front of the room.

By providing students with the opportunity to work through the presentation themselves, and still being able to engage with the presentation allows teachers to not have to deliver the standard presentation.  We can assign this to a group of students, and students may have to work through this in a small-group instruction setting.  Students can also complete this not in the classroom. If students are away, they could still engage with the classroom and work at their own pace.

Sometimes in teaching, we need to just teach students content and knowledge.  The struggle is to engage our students in the content we are trying to teach.   Pear Deck provides the interaction that allows them to apply their knowledge from the presentation, within the presentation itself.

Matt Miller, author of the book Ditch that Textbook, Ditch that Homework, and Don’t Ditch that Tech responded to my Twitter providing a link to his blog that features excellent tips and tricks on how to apply Pear Deck in many different class settings.   I recommend to check out that site (He also has a link for free Premium Pear Deck for 3 months.)  In his blog post, 20 ways to use Pear Deck to engage students, he provides a rundown of how Pear Deck works, ninja Pear Deck tricks, and 20 ways to apply Pear Deck in many different classroom settings. Within his post, he has linked to many different documents regarding how to apply Pear Deck in all different subject areas.

How Would I use Pear Deck in the Classroom?

I would use Pear Deck in the classroom in a variety of ways:

  1. Providing student voice and engagement in lecture types of lessons.
  2. At the start of a lesson using Pear Deck for retrieval questions, to engage students at the start of the room.  (Shared by Michael Williams on Twitter @willowtuits)
  3. Using Pear Deck as a small-group instruction tool where students can work through a presentation and I can view results in realtime.
  4. Provide an opportunity for all students’ voices to be heard in a safe space.  Students are anonymous.  It shows students that it is okay to make mistakes.
  5. It provides a quick formative assessment for me. That can direct my teaching and whether or not I need to go back to reteach.

To see more amazing ways teachers are using Pear Deck in the classroom check out  Amazing #PearDeck Ideas! on Twitter.

Mindblowing Highlights

I wanted to highlight two things that I thought were mindblowing when I was researching Pear Deck.  The first being Pear Deck’s Flashcard Factory.   This is the most engaging flashcard creation tool that I have ever seen.

Now I know that some learners may not find flashcards beneficial for learning.  But the ability to teach each other, provide visual and textual responses, and then vet the responses as a class is pretty darn neat. This tool is a great review and study tool that will benefit many learners in the classroom.  Be sure to check this out!

The second awesome resource that I stumbled upon was that Pear Deck teamed up with Google to provide interactive lessons for Google’s Be Internet Awesome Curriculum.  This curriculum is excellent and relevant for middle years students in navigating our digital world.  But it has got a whole lot better with the Pear Deck integration.  Check out the Be Internet Awesome interactive presentations, by downloading them to your Google Drive account.

Bottom Line

I believe that this tool will certainly engage students, more so than viewing a normal slide presentation.  However, Pear Deck would be even better if they provided a simple way to provide feedback to students.  However, for a teacher who would use this to further my instruction based on the results, I would use this to enhance my teaching and my gathering of formative assessment.  To view what other teachers think of Pear Deck be sure to check out Common Sense Education’s reviews as well.

Let me know if you have used Pear Deck in your classroom!

 

3 thoughts on “Engaging Students Using Pear Deck

  1. I hadn’t heard of Pear Deck until this semester – thanks for reviewing this! I can definitely see the benefits of using this in class. My only struggle would be having devices for all the students. Do you think this would be a struggle in our rural schools as well?

  2. Yes, definitely a struggle if not all students have access to a device/internet. However, again based on the structure of a class it could be adapted for small group instruction where you may only need 5 devices.

  3. Thanks for your review of Pear Deck Curtis! I hadn’t heard of it before but it definitely sounds like something worth giving a try! I like the flashcard option and you’re right, not all learners learn best from something like a flashcard but it gives visual and textual feedback coupled with the immediate feedback of having the teacher and class assess the work anonymously. Flashcards can be one type of activity to do with a set of vocabulary as long as its not the only exposure. Like you and Kyla, I have the same issue of a limited number of devices to use which means adapting for small groups like you mentioned. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone could have their own device?!

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