Monday, February 15, 2016

My Tech Tools [Pear Deck]

Pear Deck
• Capture
Because each student must log in with a Google account, the teacher can use the teacher dashboard to know which students have shared their thinking on a specific question in REAL TIME. There are numerous ways to capture the mathematical thinking of students: draggables, text response, number response, multiple choice, agree/disagree, free-hand drawing tool, and more. Below is an example of draggables.

- I wish there was a way for students to type in mathematical notation at times.

• Sort
The screens inside a Pear Deck session are controlled by the teacher. The teacher-paced sessions make it easier to sort through the student responses. The teacher dashboard allows the teacher to sort ALL student responses:
- as a Grid (thumbnails)
- as a Table (list)
- by a proximity sensor (draggables)

• Assess
Because Pear Deck captures every student response and allows the teacher to sort student thinking efficiently, the teacher can assess it many ways. For example, the teacher can use the Table view to quickly see text responses, number responses, or multiple choice answers. The Grid view (thumbnails) can be used to assess draggables or student writing. The teacher can also click on any student's name and immediately get their thinking.
- I wish less lag would occur when a teacher runs the dashboard on their iPad.

• Discuss
In addition to seeing answers from every student, the teacher can get the climate of the class when looking at the teacher dashboard. When I say climate, the teacher can get the general (majority, average, etc.) thinking of the class. The teacher can also anonymously project student answers on their classroom wall so everyone can see how the class is thinking. This allows the class and teacher to discuss both their thinking and the mathematics. Furthermore, the teacher can choose to project specific student responses (that are still anonymous).
Additionally, Pear Deck has a lock feature that allows the teacher to lock student screens. The strength of this feature (in my opinion) is for students to come up for air from their devices and pay attention to the projector view and discuss the mathematics.

Pear Deck Conclusion:
Yes, certain features of Pear Deck cost money. However, I'd gladly pay this money (out of pocket if I had to) in order to be more informed as a teacher. I think students take more risks because their answers are anonymous to the class. Pear Deck can be used to launch a lesson, check for understanding throughout a lesson, or as an exit slip. It's extremely versatile, anonymous to students, informative to the teacher, interactive, and integrates smoothly with Google.

Learn more about Pear Deck here.

More from the My Tech Tools Series:
Pear Deck,


  1. Andrew,
    Thanks for the overview of Pear Deck. I had actually planned to use Pear Deck for the first time tomorrow, and then your blog post showed up!

    1. Right on Mark. I hope to hear what your thoughts are.
      What's your criteria?

  2. I tried it for the first time today and there was definitely a wow factor. However, I didn't leave at the end of the day certain that I would use it again. There is a huge time factor takes time to make a presentation, it takes time for students to log in and you could have technical issues which slow down the lesson (when my students tried drawing on their iPads, everything slowed down).

    My other concern is figuring out how to integrate this into a lesson and not make it THE lesson. I think that was an easy trap for me to fall into right off the bat. I found myself constantly collecting students' thoughts/answers on each slide but I didn't have enough time to really consider what everyone was saying.

    I also had issues with maintaining sanity as I was trying to balance my attention between what my students were doing, what they saw on their iPads/computers, what was on the interactive whiteboard, what I could see on my dashboard, and what I was writing on the (non-interactive) whiteboard. I am not a multi-tasker nor do I have several hands to work all of these different things. My brain became more focused on these technical aspects rather than student thinking.

    In the end, I realized that creating and presenting a Pear Deck presentation is a fine art, and that generally, less is more. At the end of the day, I found myself telling other teachers that it has great potential, but I warned them that its use is not intuitive. I'm going to keep experimenting with it to find the right balance.

    1. Yes, it takes time to make a presentation. It gets faster.
      Yes, it takes a minute for students to log in. They get faster.
      Yes, technical issues will always be a possibility. It's technology. And yes, drawing slows down the teacher dashboard, as I mentioned.

      I agree, I would not use Pear Deck to be THE lesson. I'm curious what questions you asked and what type of questions you asked. I'll email you about that.

      There are a lot of moving parts with Pear Deck. It is overwhelming. That's an awesome part of my job. I support teachers by being in the room with them on the first or second use of Pear Deck to help support the multi-tasking and multiple parts.

      Yes, it is a fine art and you said it best "less is more". I am finding that if I pick one or two key visuals (slides) and ask student to either interact in a meaningful way or ask solid questions, it's a powerful tool. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help you work toward that balance.

    2. Ok, so I've had a few more chances to do this, and I have to say, it does get much easier the more you do it. I'm happy to say that I'll keep using it!

    3. Mr. Kraft.

      One of the joys of the internet (for me) is the ease with which we share. How many great ideas and teaching tools have you found and used? Lots. Me, too. We take advantage of each others' skills, time, interests. It's great.

      I saw the natural integration of PearDeck with Andrew's Estimation 180. Estimation 180 was already built and easy to access. I used Estimation 180 as the content and PearDeck as the tool for delivery. It was a lot of fun, and we had lots of good conversation and learning (at least I think we did).

      I'm not in a regular classroom this year so I haven't used these "Decks" recently. You'll have to judge the quality for yourself. But if you find them useful, go ahead and use them.

      Also, I'm not totally sure how sharing in Google Docs work so if I haven't given the correct permissions to copy and modify this stuff, let me know.

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    1. Andrew,

      Have you heard of Nearpod? It sounds similar to Pear Deck but I'd love to see your critique and how they would stack up against each other!


    2. Hi LeeAnn,

      Yes, I've heard of Nearpod. I've never used it with students. I have briefly looked over it. I might revisit it to see how it stacks up against my criteria. Don't hold your breath though. Ha! I'm pretty content. Would you be willing to offer a review using my criteria (or your own criteria)?
      Check out Cathy Yenca because I know she enjoys Nearpod.

    3. Hey LeeAnn and Andrew,

      Reading this Pear Deck review, it sounds like Pear Deck and Nearpod can be used similarly in the math classroom. While some features may differ, the common thread of being able to capture and anonymously share student work is very valuable! I've never used Pear Deck, so it's tough for me to compare the tools. LeeAnn, please let me know if I can help clarify anything specific for you. I've shared a lot of classroom experiences using Nearpod at as well.

  4. Pear Deck looks really interesting and I really liked your review; however, as a HS math teacher I need a tool that will allow me to input exponents. Have you found any way to integrate the google equation editor?

    1. Pear Deck now has a built in equation editor for both the teacher (builder of activities) and student (input).
      Say you want to type in x cubed, you and students would type in ##x^3##

      Hope that helps. If you're familiar with LaTex, then it will be a smoother transition.

  5. Good blog post here do you access the equation editor? Can't seem to find that. Anything else you've found in Pear Deck that you didn't cover last year?

    It would be nice to get one long Takeaway with all of the kids responses in my opinion, to cruise through all of their work a bit more quickly...maybe using the .CSV file would be better.

    1. AS of last school year, the equation editor was built into the interface for both the teacher and student.
      Begin typing your math expression/equation by entering ##.
      Follow it with your LaTeX type notation.
      End your math expression/equation with ##.
      For example, x-squared would look like this ##x^2##.

      Hope that helps.