20 ways to use Pear Deck to engage students

Instead of doing the traditional lecture, engage students actively with Pear Deck. Ask questions. Students answer. Everyone wins.

The standard lecture has plenty of detractors, and rightfully so. Done poorly, it can be an uninspired stream of facts, delivered in sit-and-get style that get forgotten quickly.

However, we can turn the standard lecture — and its tool of choice, the presentation slide! — on its head.

The result can be students actively working with new ideas. Hands-on. Right away.

Presentation slides can be a drag.

But when students (and teachers!) have something interactive to do with them, it changes the game.

That’s what I love about Pear Deck. And, of course, the best news: much of what I show you in this post can be done with the free plan!

BONUS: Want to get Pear Deck Premium for FREE?

Pear Deck is giving you three months for free … no obligation, no “you’ll be charged after it’s over.” FREE. Click the link at the end of this post to claim it! There’s a limited number of times this offer can be claimed, and once they’re gone, they’re gone … so act fast!

(Note: I have no official relationship with Pear Deck, and I’m not being paid for writing this post. I’m just a Pear Deck user who loves the potential for it and wants to share it with others! I was given a Pear Deck premium account for review.)

What is Pear Deck?

It’s a way to turn your presentation slides into interactive activities for your students. (It also works wonderfully with teachers in professional development!)

You can upload PowerPoint slides to the Pear Deck website to make them interactive.

My favorite way to use Pear Deck, though, is through Google Slides. Pear Deck has created a Google Slides add-on. This makes it SUPER easy to make your slides interactive right from Google Slides.

  1. Open a Google Slides presentation.
  2. Click on the “Add-ons” menu and “Get add-ons …”.
  3. Search for “Pear Deck” and click the blue “+ FREE” button.
  4. Load up the Pear Deck sidebar menu. (It’ll look like the image above/right.)

Here’s a video that shows how Pear Deck works with Google Slides:

How do I build slides with Pear Deck?

That’s pretty easy, too. If you’re using Google Slides, just create the slides that you want to display to your students. Then, use the sidebar menu to add interactive elements to each slide.

(You can do all of this at peardeck.com with PowerPoint slides, too.)

The bonus with Pear Deck: You can turn any of those slides into interactive slides. Some of the options include having students …

  • enter text
  • enter a number
  • choose from multiple choices
  • draw a response (premium only)
  • interact with a live web page
  • drag an icon to a specific part of the slide (premium only)

Pear Deck has a slide library where you can choose pre-created activities …

  • for the beginning of a lesson (check prior knowledge, ask what students are curious about)
  • during the lesson (summarize, assess learning, gauge understanding)
  • at the end of the lesson (retell what they learned, share feelings)

Set up your slide deck the way you want. The next step — let’s get students connected to it so they can interact!

How do I run a Pear Deck slide presentation?

Once all of your slides are designed and ready to go (including interactive slides), it’s as easy as clicking “Present with Pear Deck” in your sidebar menu.

It will create a screen you can display to students on your projector, interactive display or flat panel. It will prompt students go to joinpd.com (think “join Pear Deck”) and enter the join code.

When you’re ready to start, your slides will be displayed on the students’ devices. From the teacher device, you can …

  • Go to the previous or next slide
  • See all slides with the slide navigator
  • Project student responses
  • Lock or unlock a slide
  • Add a new question
  • Make a slide full screen (under “more”)
  • Open the teacher dashboard in a new tab (under “more”)
  • Open the teacher dashboard on another device (under “more”)
  • End the session (under “more”)

From there, you display the slides. Students interact. You do what you want with student responses.

Give me some ninja Pear Deck tricks …

Absolutely!

1. Customize the slide library. Use the pre-designed slides by Pear Deck, but add your own customizations. For instance, instead of a simple happy/sad face to ask students how they feel, add emojis or memes!

2. Do vocabulary the Pear Deck way. Check out “Pear Deck Vocabulary” for an interactive way to do flashcards with your students. (It’s part of the free plan!) It integrates with Quizlet and Merriam-Webster to create lists in a snap. Students can even help you illustrate flashcards with the “Flashcard Factory.”

3. Get up to speed quick with a webinar. Pear Deck offers teachers free webinars on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. (lunch break!) and 4 p.m. (school’s out!) Eastern time. Learn the features and best practices from the Pear Deck pros.

4. Insert a new question on the fly. Classroom discussions are organic things, aren’t they? If you think of a question off the top of your head — or if your students do — you can add it to your Pear Deck presentation. Just use the “Add new question” button. (It looks like a speech bubble with a plus sign.) You can change your current question to a different type of question, re-ask the same question, or start a brand new question. See below (or here’s a quick YouTube video to show you how).

How can I use Pear Deck?

Here are a bunch of ideas, from the basic to the geeky. On most of these, I’ll default to the free question types (and will note which ones require a premium account).

1. Ask students what they already know about the topic with a text question. (You might be surprised what they already know … or what they don’t know!)

  • Use the text slide in the “Beginning of class” slide library.

2. Ask students if they’re ready to move on with a multiple choice question. (This sure beats raising hands, where you don’t always get honest answers.

  • You can reword the draggable agree/disagree slide in the “During lesson” slide library.

3. Draw out a mind map to diagram what you’ve been studying.

  • Use the mind map slide in the “During lesson” slide library.

4. Retell what you’ve learned that day in your own words. This is another digital version of the ultra brain-friendly “brain dump” I described in this post.

  • Use the text slide in the “End of lesson” slide library.

5. Ask students to create a new ending/outcome for something you’ve studied that day.

  • Create a new text slide.

6. Ask students to describe their thinking process instead of providing the answer. (A focus on the process can illuminate student understanding better than an answer many times.)

  • Create a new text slide or a drawing slide (premium).

7. Have students put items in order (chronological, sequential, etc.). List the items on the slide and have students write them out in the correct order.

  • Create a new text slide.

8. Predict what happens next in a video or a story. Show a short video clip or an image … or stop in the middle of a story in class.

  • Create a new text slide.

9. Label a diagram. Add an image of the diagram (without labels) on the slide. Have students add the labels.

  • Create a new drawing slide (premium) to draw labels … or, put numbers on your image where you want students to label and have them label with a text slide.

10. Create an advertisement. You add an image or two to a slide. Have students add text to the slide to create a compelling ad based on what you’ve learned.

  • Create a new drawing slide (premium) to add text … or, use a text slide to have students write what they would put on the ad.

Pear Deck has some great users doing very cool things, too! Here are some from Pear Deck’s great library of examples from the classroom

11. Teach parabolas / quadratics using Super Mario Bros. (via MrOrrIsAGeek.com blog).

12. Helping students understand Anglo Saxon poetry with thought-provoking guided questions (via Melissa Pilakowski).

13. Get students interacting with literature, art and music from the Romantic Era (via Pear Deck).

14. Teach coordinate graphs with draggable dots (premium) and a coordinate plane. See how in this How Math Teachers Use Pear Deck document.

15. Teach grammar with draggable icons (premium) by displaying a paragraph and having students identify different parts of it. See how in this How ELA Teachers Use Pear Deck document.

16. Display a short passage of text with a drawing slide (premium). Ask students to use the highlighter to highlight an example and the text box to explain why they picked that example.

17. Count the number of forces on the object in a diagram like the one below. Ask students to enter the number in a number slide. (via Pear Deck) See more in this How Science Teachers Use Pear Deck document.

18. Have students in a world language class translate a sentence with a text slide. Then, see how the same idea can be translated differently in a variety of ways. See more in this How World Language Teachers Use Pear Deck document.

19. Add a map to a draggable (premium) slide — or add a map the draggable slide in the “During lesson” slide library. Have students identify locations on the map. See more in this How Social Studies Teachers Use Pear Deck document.

20. Use a map like in the example above … but use a drawing slide (premium) and have students circle / draw an outline around certain regions you’ve been studying.

Get three months of premium Pear Deck for FREE!

Click this link to claim the “three months free” offer. There’s a limited number of times the offer can be claimed, so don’t hesitate!

How do you use Pear Deck? How could you see yourself using some of these features? Let us know in a comment below!

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