Four years ago, Arlington ISD made Pear Deck available to all teachers – a technology tool that serves to increase student engagement throughout all phases of instruction from bellringer to exit ticket. In addition, it’s a fantastic tool for formative assessment that empowers teachers to check for understanding on the fly, clarify misconceptions immediately and determine the next steps of instruction. During the 2020-2021 school year, our district had over 330 million moments of student engagement – that’s the equivalent of 330 million times a single student would’ve raised his/her hand and answered a teacher’s question. Many of our teachers have continued to leverage this powerful tool during face-to-face instruction this school year.
Mike Dunbar, social studies teacher at Ousley Junior High, described Pear Deck as “the opposite of ‘death-by-Powerpoint’. (Students) all love seeing each other’s responses and not fearing being incorrect in front of their peers due to the anonymity of each interactive slide.” He explained further that his 24,000-plus moments of student engagement this year have been tremendously beneficial in the post-Covid classroom: “It gives students the ability to process their thoughts to be prepared to speak academically with each other… Teaching the students how to be classmates again has been helped by Pear Deck.”
With 102 distinct presentations (and growing) in Pear Deck this year, Melody Alvarado, sixth-grade teacher at Hale Elementary, uses many of Pear Deck’s features. But having students make their own drawings is particularly helpful. “I begin our lessons with icebreakers, and the drawing tool is a way that students tune in and get hooked in the lesson. I mean, who wouldn’t want their silly drawing displayed anonymously for all to wonder!”
No one has more interactions with Pear Deck than Tara York’s fifth-grade students at Moore Elementary. “Pear Deck has changed the way I teach,” she said. “I am able to get instant feedback, and then, in turn, address any misconceptions, misunderstandings or gaps in learning. The best part about Pear Deck: it is easy to use things you have already been using (like Google Slides) and turn them into engaging lessons! Oh, and it is fun, too!”
Even high school students are engaged by the various interactive question types like the anonymous multiple choice and text entry questions. Sandra Geil of Lamar High School, with over 235 distinct presentations, has been using Pear Deck for years. She said that her history and geography students “like the variation” that Pear Deck offers and that the “draggable elements are their favorite.”
Keeping students engaged is always a challenge – perhaps more this year than in any prior year. Pear Deck is just one of the many tech tools endorsed and supported by the Technology Integration & Innovation (TI²) department. For more information about Pear Deck or other endorsed apps, navigate to www.aisd.net/endorsedapps.