When I got my first set of student response clickers, I admit that I started using them to mock them. It only took a few uses, though, before I was hooked. I especially like the clickers when I am teaching a new type of problem or formula in chemistry because I can quickly see how many students are mastering or struggling with a concept and clear up misconceptions as they happen. This summer I participated in the Beta for Pear Deck, a new presentation and student response platform. It's hard to try out a student response system in the summer . . . without students . . . so I was excited to try it in my classroom this week.
Pear Deck integrates with Google Drive, so I tried it out with our Chromebooks today. You can build presentations from scratch in Pear Deck or import Google presentations. I didn't really want to create presentation slides; I was more interested in using it as a student response system. Still, it is easy enough to create slides with some simple options.
After clicking Create a New Deck, click the New Slide button. The slide has a place for a title and some text, an image, a youtube video, or a bulleted or numbered list. With just a few clicks, you can have a nice looking slide with key content.
You can add prepared student response items too. Instead of a "normal" slide, you can add a draggable slide (very cool slide that asks students to drag a dot to indicate a response), a drawing, a multiple choice question, or a free response question. When you are ready to present, just click "Start Presenting" to get a code that students use to join the presentation.
One thing that sets Pear Deck apart from some other presentation/student response platforms is that it allows for "on the spot" interactive questions too - maybe a follow-up question to something you planned or a need to take the temperature of the group on something recently learned. This is what I wanted - just a quick way to see if my students were solving today's problems correctly. You can see the great variety of "quick question" options in the picture.
I usually use The Answer Pad for what I had in mind for today, but I didn't have time to create new classes and accounts on the 7th day of school. I love how Pear Deck combines the great features of The Answer Pad with the ease of joining with a 5 letter code of Nearpod. Everyone was in the presentation in under two minutes.
I created just one slide to start presenting and then just asked "quick questions" to get instant feedback from my students. I asked for the answers to the problems as text so I could see the answers and their units. It's very easy to see when everyone has answered, so then I scrolled through the answers so the class could see them. The answers are shared anonymously, so no one has to worry about being embarrassed by a mistake.
An option exists to send a blank canvas and ask students to show the whole problem,
but that felt tricky with the trackpad on a Chromebook! The shots of my
SMARTboard show that sometimes everyone completed the problem correctly
and sometimes I could see that we had some algebraic errors. It was
very easy to quickly redirect or ask students to suggest what caused the
This was a very easy way to use technology in the classroom to gain information about my students. The creators of Pear Deck were very receptive to the the teachers in the Beta group this summer, so I think the product will just get better and better with more use. Just this week Pear Deck was named the 2014 Silicon Prairie New Startup of the Year.
The Public Beta for Pear Deck has started; Pear Deck is now available to any Google Apps user. There is a free option and a Premium Educator account for $99/year or $12/month. There is a free trial too for 30 days, so you can try before you buy. If you are looking for an easy way to present and receive student feedback with a platform that integrates with Google Drive, Pear Deck is worth a look.