Although I have been using Pear Deck since 2016, I have never written a full guide as to how and why I use Pear Deck with some examples in Spanish. I noticed that many teachers had posted questions about it. I wanted this guide to help teachers maximize the potential of Pear Deck and see the benefits of using it both to promote proficiency and to incorporate comprehensible input into your classes. My students grade 5-12 LOVE Pear Deck.
What is Pear Deck?
Pear Deck is a Google slides add-on that allows you to make your slides interactive. Students can respond to the questions posed and then you as the teacher can project their answers anonymously. It is a freemium resource that includes multiple choice questions and open-ended questions (free) as well as drawing questions and draggable questions (paid).
Pear Deck can be used in class (especially with larger or quiet classes- everyone can put their answer down!), in a virtual setting both synchronously and asynchronously (student paced mode). Students can log in with a code or their Google account. However, you can also change the settings to be anonymous which helps with younger learners.
How to set up Pear Deck?
First, you create a slideshow on Google slides as you normally would. (Already have a slideshow? You are halfway there! You can just add in slides with questions or space for drawing.) Then, you go to add-on in the menu and select “get add-ons.” You then find the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on and add that to your menu. You go back up to that menu to start the actual add-on. Once you have the slide that you want to make interactive, you have these choices.
- Text= open-ended responses
- Choice= multiple choice questions
- Number= number response only (answers appear on a number line)
- Website= embeds a website onto their device
- Draw= allows students to draw onto the slide (also allows them to type and move the type)
- Draggable= allows students to move a symbol to a different spot to indicate their answer
You also have the option to include template library as well. My favorite templates are the critical thinking templates. With these, when you click on one, it inserts the whole slide into the presentation:
Once you have made any of the slides that you want interactive, interactive, then the prep part is complete. To start, you click on “start lesson.” Then, you choose your “lesson mode.”
I used student-paced activity for asynchronous instruction. I used instructor-paced for in-class instruction and synchronous classes. My middle school students were able to manage Zoom and Pear Deck at the same time. You don’t need to start the instructor-paced activity until you are actually ready to start the class.
If you are starting with a student-paced lesson, you can share that link that Pear Deck produces and BAM! Your students can go through the presentation and answer the questions.
If you are doing instructor-paced activity, there is an introduction screen that explains to students how to sign in. I project that and allow students to sign in. (If students miss the code from the screen, it is always displayed in the upper right hand corner.) Then, “teacher dashboard” at the bottom of the introduction screen allows you to see what each student wrote throughout the presentation (and who hasn’t responded). I typically have presentation mode on for my students. If I am worried about students, I will open Pear Deck in a different device. In presentation mode once you start the slideshow, you see these symbols:
- You can use the arrows to move the slides.
- No responses shows you how many students have started answering. (Students do not have to hit enter once they start writing or typing. It will appear immediately if you are showing messages.)
- Show responses allows you to display the responses without the students’ names.
- Lock screens means that students cannot continue to answer the questions through Pear Deck. (I recommend this especially for multiple choice and draggable. My students LOVE to keep switching their answers and watch the symbols fly around on the screen. Also- with drawing, some students keep drawing.)
- New prompt allows you to reask any question OR ask a new question. This is a great addition! I love it!
- The three dots mostly allow you to switch around between the different settings. If we are doing a longer reading section, and I ask a question, many of my students like for me to turn on student-paced. This allows them to go back and see previous slides. I also like this for critical thinking questions or summary questions at the end.
- End allows you to end the presentation. Also if you have the paid version and students have logged in with Google, it will send students the slideshow with all of their answers if you click on “publish student takeaways.”
How do use this in the world language classroom?
I first started using Pear Deck with telling stories. I would write a few sentences then ask comprehension questions. This was perfect when I started incorporating comprehensible input in the classroom because it helped support me circling. I would ask some questions aloud then allow students to respond to questions on their own. I could add the yes/no questions, either/or or open-ended questions. Then, I would also sprinkle in some drawing slides to break it up.
I love doing pre-listening or pre-reading activities with this slideshow. For example, I would take some screenshots of a video and have students write a list of words that they see. Then, they could also predict words that they thought they would hear or write a title. For pre-reading activities, they could do the same activities with pictures from the article or a section of the infographic.
I have also embedded a reading into Pear Deck or answer questions while reading. You can have students:
- Define key words, draw a picture to demonstrate understanding, answer personalized questions or comprehension questions.
- Use the drawing slide to draw a timeline of events.
- Actually any sort of chart that you could have students write on (character chart, cause and effect chart, semantic map etc.) You can pop one into a drawing slide which allows students to type them move the typed part around.
- Summarize the top events.
- Compare two people or chapters using the drawing slide.
- Highlight different parts of the paragraph using the drawing tool. (For example, words that they understand, the main idea, cognates etc.
Also, you can use this to practice presentational writing. Have students answer a prompt and then share what you love about different answers. The nice part about Pear Deck is that it allows students to see other’s answers anonymously. Then you can give the students the same prompt and have students elaborate on their original answer. You could also give a story starter and have students continue the story.
In addition, you can embed various websites. After a Pear Deck activity, you can embed a game to play like a Quizlet list or a Quizizz game. You could also include a video for students to watch. As they watch the video, they could answer questions about it. I also will sometimes favor Pear Deck to use over various tools like EdPuzzle if I have a video and other activities for students to complete. I like how I am able to put it all together in one place (which is helpful for everyone!)
Here are some of my sample Pear Decks. This one is an introduction to Ecuador for my fourth graders. I created this Pear Deck as a reading activity to discuss the trash in the sea.
Also- if you are looking for an extension activity to do for vocabulary- my kids (5th-12th graders) also LOVE Pear Deck Vocabulary! We have done this both in class and virtually synchronously. (I don’t think it works asynchronously.)
I hope that I helped you and gave you enough tricks and tips! Let me know if you have other questions that I can answer!