Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2017

Pear Deck

Go beyond the basics with interactive slide shows to assess and engage

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (6 Reviews)

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Pros: This appealing, engaging presentation platform collects on-the-spot data about student understanding.

Cons: Lack of built-in follow-ups to student answers. Key features like the session dashboard require a premium subscription.

Bottom Line: While it has some limits, this engaging, useful presentation platform is a great option for formative assessment in one-to-one or BYOD classrooms.

The best place to start would be converting one of your existing presentations into a Pear Deck presentation, or starting from one of the decks in the Pear Deck Orchard. If you plan on uploading a PowerPoint presentation, be aware that each slide will be converted into an image, meaning you won't be able to edit your slides any further once they're uploaded. Keep this in mind as you plan your preparation time. But know that the payoff in your students' engagement will most likely be worth it. As you create your presentations, keep your lesson's purpose in mind. As you teach new concepts, be sure to balance the ratio of questions to informational slides, and have students take notes throughout, either digitally or on paper. For review lessons, it's fine to lean more heavily on questions. Regardless of purpose, mix up the question types you're using to keep things lively and fresh. Your students' responses should help you differentiate future lessons to target areas for growth.

Teachers may want to set up the Classroom Climate add-on to get insight on student moods and feedback on how they felt about the lesson. The data can be used to check in on individual students or to get an overall sense of how the lesson was received. Also, consider using the Flashcard Factory game to have students create a set of classroom flash cards as a team. 

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Pear Deck is an interactive presentation and lesson delivery tool designed to enhance student learning during a slide show. Ideally, each student in the class should have their own device, and the fact that Pear Deck works on all platforms makes it a great fit for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) setting. If you're a Google classroom, Pear Deck is integrated and can easily import your roster. Students use their devices to follow along with the teacher's slide show on a classroom screen. Throughout, teachers can pause at points where they've added questions. There are five interactive question types: drawing, "Draggable™" (for matching quizzes), text, number, and multiple choice. Teachers can view students' responses to these questions immediately, as well as post the results anonymously on-screen for all students to see.

On the setup side of things, teachers will need to take some time preparing presentations and adding the interactive elements that make the platform engaging. Pear Deck has made this process somewhat easier for teachers: There's a built-in Google search tool to use when adding images and videos into slides. What's more, Pear Deck will helpfully cite any images inserted using this tool. You'll want to check out two additional features that distinguish Pear Deck from the other slide show tools -- Takeaways and Classroom Climate -- which help extend and individualize instruction as well as assess students' mindset. 

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Pear Deck's simple, clean interface makes it very easy to use, which is a big plus. Of course, this comes with a downside: There are very few formatting options. This can feel restrictive to teachers who are used to PowerPoint, or those who might simply want to add two images on one slide. To get the most out of Pear Deck, teachers need to take time in setting up the interactive elements. This interactivity is a huge factor in the tool's ability to increase students' engagement and understanding.

Students will especially love answering the drawing questions. The ability to doodle out their answers can benefit students with a variety of learning backgrounds, particularly ELL and special needs students. However, keep in mind that this feature is bound to work best when students are using tablets (vs. Chromebooks). Also, for all questions, teachers select the format as they create each slide; it would be even better if the tool allowed students to somehow choose an answer format to best support their own learning. Also, once students respond, they're likely to look to the teacher for immediate feedback, which could present challenges depending on the question type. While Pear Deck's feedback for teachers is great, keep in mind that there isn't any automatic feedback for students. Nevertheless, this can be a great opportunity for teachers to better explain answers to the class, and to discuss related topics in more depth. Teachers can also share Takeaways, a Google Doc that includes all of the slides and student answers, to further extend the learning. Teachers have editing rights, which allow them to leave comments for individual students. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will appreciate the added interactivity of the slide shows, which get them drawing and manipulating dots. However, these activities are likely to be the most engaging when using tablets.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Slide shows peppered with interactive assessments can support students' understanding and retention. A feature to give students choice in how they respond could help differentiate and give teachers a better look at student performance.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Help articles and tutorial videos provide guided support. The Pear Deck Orchard features training decks to get new users started. Students don't automatically get explanations after submitting answers.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 6 reviews) (6 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Amy P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ceres High School
Ceres, CA
Pear Deck is a game changer! Student engagement, scores, and understanding was MUCH higher than last year. Easy for me and my students.

Pear Deck has been amazing for just-in-time teaching. It allows my classroom to feel more like a big tutoring session rather than a lecture. More of the heavy lifting is being done by students, and I can see their thinking as it is happening. This allows me to make whole class adjustments, small group adjustments and intervene one-on-one if necessary. I feel like I have a better picture of where the entire class is as we are learning the material, rather than a day or two later when the homework is graded.

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