Technology Pursuit

Blending Technology Into the Language Arts Classroom

Category: Pear Deck

Interactive Tools that Rock My Classroom!

For my multimedia class this week, we had to compile an annotated list of interactive web tools to use with students.  Of course, Google rules the roost with their suite of apps–enough to write thousands of blog posts on.  But for this assignment, I decided to focus on some others out there:


Pear Deck:

Free for up to 5 uploads (unlimited decks made ON SITE), $100 for unlimited PDF uploads)

Grades 2-12

Any subject

I started using Pear Deck, an interactive presentation app, in August, and it’s been amazing.  I’m a huge supporter, proponent, advocate, and everything else for this site.  You can create a slideshow deck right on site or upload a Google presentation or PowerPoint.  Then you can add multiple choice questions, open ended questions, drawing, or draggables.  Also you can embed YouTube videos and link to websites.  I love presenting a mini lesson, then using it for formative assessments.  It’s great for quick reviews or to go over problematic questions from tests or worksheets.  I had a Google Hangout with one of the Pear Deck gurus this Friday, and they’re wanting to start a Pear Deck library for slide decks created by teachers.  There’s not a lot of bells and whistles with fonts, colors, transitions, etc., but it makes the deck creation very simple, quick, while still looking sharp and attractive.  In teacher view, you can see every student’s screen and how they’re doing for instant monitoring.  What I love most about it is it saves right in your Google Drive, so if you are in a GAFE school, there’s no limit to the storage.  I’ve blogged quite a bit about Pear Deck here:


Grades 2-12

Any subject


Students LOVE this app.  An easy quiz/poll app that also creates leaderboards for each “game”.  Fantastic for reviewing information.  I’ve also had students create their own quizzes to review for tests Create your own quizzes or search the huge library for already made quizzes.

Curriculet Mac Stick spot

Grades 2-12

Any subject


I LOVE this app.  You can use texts already in the Curriculet library (some newer ones must be purchased for a minimal price) or upload your own PDFs or link to websites.  Any news article online could be used in this app!  Then you add questions, annotations, and links to the Curriculet.  Best of all, the app will track your students and automatically grade the multiple choice questions, as well as record how long students spent on the assignment.  This is SO great for flipped classrooms–I can give credit for students reading the material, see what they’re struggling with, know by the time if they tried or just clicked through quickly.  I blog more about it here:



Grades 6-12

Any subject!

Free for 2 weeks; $70/quarter or $120/year

Earlier this month I started experimenting with gamification with the use of this LMS-type site.  If you’re interested in using game mechanics–quests, badges, awards–in your classroom, this is an excellent tool.  Some students loved it, some hated it.  The ones who loved it were either gamers or ones who enjoyed working at their own pace.  The ones who hated it either 1) were gamers who just wanted to play Halo or GTA all day, 2) had senioritis and didn’t want to learn a new piece of technology, or 3) were students who would rather just be working outside with their hands and not stuck in school.  (Maybe that’s the same as the #2 students)  I’m not sure if I’ll continue to use this next year, but I’m definitely planning on using quest-based learning with these same principles.   More blogs about this site here:


GlassLab Games

Grades 2-10

Multiple subjects


An up and coming site partly funded by Bill and Melinda Gates as part of the game-based learning movement.  There isn’t much for high school here (yet), but lots for upper-elementary and middle school.  A great middle-school game I downloaded to my ipad is Argubots, used for teaching argumentation to grades 6-8.  I plan to have my 5th grade daughter start playing this soon.



Grades 2-8 (customizable for high school)

Multiple subjects

Free (Can purchase games with already made questions)

Still a startup,  but keep an eye out on this.  The app’s mission is to gamify tests.  Students get to personalize their avatar, and as they complete questions, they move along in the race.  Right now it’s only one running race/game available.  A few sample tests are available, but teachers can also customize their own tests.  I love the idea of this site and having students be able to see their success, but I’d like to see more games, particularly games that aren’t encouraging a fast pace.  Currently the running game would work well for basic memorization facts–multiplication tables, periodic table elements, vocabulary, etc.–but I wouldn’t suggest it for questions that you want students to take their time, such as critical reading or multi-step math questions.  I may play around with this more this summer and use it next year with my vocabulary quizzes.

Garden   Memrise


Grades 3-12

Any subject

FREE (Can pay for premium, but I don’t see much bonus to it)

My students LOVE this site for vocabulary usage.  Teachers type in the words and definitions, and when students log in, they are presented with two flashcards, then rapid-fire questions about those words.  By starting with just two words and then building after students show mastery of those, the kids very quickly get used to the definitions.  Their vocab quiz scores SKYROCKETED  on this last test.  The students also love the leaderboards that come with this system.  Sure, students who are naturally quick learners will garner points quickly, but even students who struggle can work their way up the leaderboard if they wish to spend more time on the site.  It’s very non-threatening and does not take away points for incorrect answers.  This created a very heavy competition between two of my students, who apparently both stayed up most of one night competing with each other over VOCABULARY words!  (It goes without saying that they both ACED the quiz!)  But as more proof:  my students have started using it for other classes, such as Spanish and anatomy!  They put in the words from those classes themselves and set up their own “flashcards” and quizzes.


Any others that you’d all recommend?  List them in the comments below!  I’m always on the lookout for cool web tools and apps!

Anticipation Guides on Pear Deck

Ant Guide Macbeth


Anticipation guides at the beginning of a unit are now a staple in the teacher’s tool kit.  However, I “techified” my Macbeth anticipation guide with the help of Pear Deck.

To be honest, I started with paper.  I used Jim Burke’s Macbeth anticipation guide as a starting point for my own.  I made copies and students circled their answers.  Then they broke into discussion groups of 4-5 classmates, where they had to come to a consensus for each question.

Afterward, each group logged onto Pear Deck, and a member from each group, using the “draggable” tool, dragged the red line to their group’s response.  I then called on random groups to explain and defend their responses.

This activity could easily be done individually, too, rather than in groups, especially if you have classes who are very open and enjoy discussing.  For classes that are more reticent, however, the groups work well as a springboard into the overall class discussion.  I hear stronger comments in the small groups, and I also find more members of small groups are willing to share with the whole class because they’ve already “rehearsed” their responses in small groups.

Pear Deck provides a great visual aid for anticipation guides and emphasizes how beliefs can range throughout a class.


Use Pear Deck’s Draggable Tool to Teach Vocabulary

Vocabulary is, by its nature, a left-brained language-intensive study.  Because not all our students are left-brained, I try to throw in a more visual vocabulary review.

One technique is to use the Draggable Tool in Pear Deck.  First I create a slide with a question about a vocabulary word.  Then I choose two images from the internet–these serve as the two “choices” for students to drag their circle to.  Since Pear Deck only has the option of inserting one image (at least right now), I set up the images side-by-side in a Google Doc and then use Awesome Screenshot to capture the two images together.  Then I upload that screenshot to Pear Deck.

Here’s an example below for the word “prudent.”

prudent home


If you have a teacher view on another device (see below), you can see which students are still struggling by their answers.

croc dolphin


A few hints I’ve found:

1.  Make sure to “lock” student answers before showing the results.  Otherwise all the students’ dots erupt in a game of tag, and the students are too busy chasing each other’s dots than paying attention to the content.  (Even college-credit seniors don’t have enough will power to resist the urge to watch their dots move across the board.)

2.  Don’t use full-body photos of Beyonce (or any human for that matter) to avoid the issue of dots being placed “strategically” on the bodies.  (Yes, I’ve witnessed this first-hand when I foolishly used a Beyonce slide with a predominantly 18-year-old male class.)


Distance Learning via Pear Deck


I was so inspired by these posts at and

In short, two teachers share teach together in two different classrooms 150 miles apart.  The collaborative duo pull off this feat with the use of Google Hangouts and PearDeck.  They each use two projectors in their respective classrooms; one projects the Pear Deck presentation, while the other projects the students from the other classroom 150 miles away.

Utterly inspiring!

While I don’t plan to use this technique in my immediate future, it does open up more possibilities for distance learning.  Since anyone globally can enter an open Pear Deck presentation if he has the PIN code, a teacher could instruct countless students at one time.  Pear Deck and hangouts provide a platform to merge the worlds of traditional classroom instruction and pure online instruction together.  You get the benefit of face-to-face human interaction through Skype and Hangouts while being able to continue education from hundreds–or thousands–of miles away.


Pear Deck Introduces the “Duplicate” Function

Occasionally while I’m making Pear Decks, I find myself wishing I could copy/paste a slide rather than creating a new one.  Unfortunately, that’s never been an option.

Until now.

Pear Deck has been hard at work on this function, and now it’s here!

PD Duplicate


To get it done, just hover over a slide in the left side margin, and a new remove/duplicate window appears.  One quick click and mission accomplished!

I’d love to be able to copy/paste slides into different Pear Decks, but hopefully that time will come.


Creating Matching Activities in Pear Deck

matching pear deck


One of the first types of review activities I like to do with students after we talk about a set of vocabulary words is matching. Using Pear Deck and Google Docs, it takes only a few minutes to put together a matching activity that students can complete right in front of your eyes.

Step One:  Open a Google Doc and create your matching activity.

Step Two:  Using Awesome Screenshot, crop the screen and save it to Google Drive.

sample matching


Step Three:  In Pear Deck, set the slide to “Drawing” and then upload the image from your Google Drive.   Students can then draw lines on their computers or handheld devices.

The best part about this is in a single glance, I can see the students complete the assignment via the left hand side of the Pear Deck teacher screen.  I can see which words the students struggle with and which ones they’re comfortable with.

matching sample


When everyone is finished, I select one of the student responses at random on the right hand side (that side does not contain student names) and review the answers.  It’s a quick and easy way to review vocabulary and make sure that all students are accountable.

Teaching Grammar with Pear Deck

Teaching Grammar with Pear

Back in my elementary years, I remember writing sentence after sentence out of our grammar textbooks, selecting the correct verb from the parenthesis.  Hours upon hours spent doing this.

Thanks to Pear Deck, I can teach a grammar concept and check student understanding in a fraction of the time.

This week we started on advanced subject-verb agreement.  First, I reviewed the concept–today was subject-verb agreement with multiple subjects–with a “Normal Slide.”

Presentation Session Example 2

Note that this is the teacher view.  Students only see the right portion of the screen on their computers and on the projector screen.  On the left I can see all the students who are logged in.

After a short lecture, we do some practice problems.  This is where the magic of Pear Deck comes in with its drawing component.  These are the steps I follow to set up my practice grammar slides.

1.  I type the practice sentences into Google Drive.

2.  Using Awesome Screenshot, I take an image of the sentences and save it to my Google Drive.  (You can save it to your desktop or elsewhere, too.  Google Drive works great because Pear Deck is quite integrated with Drive.)

3.  Go to your Pear Deck deck and on the chosen slide, upload the screenshot.

4.  Last, I double check that I’ve clicked on the “Drawing” option on that slide.  This allows students to draw or type on the slide on their laptops or iPads.

Here is a teacher view of a “drawing” slide.  On the right hand slide is what the students see and can “draw” on.

Presentation Session 1


And now, a finished look of student work:

Examples of corrections


On the left hand side, I can see a thumbnail of each student’s screen.  On my iPad, I can see how each student is doing at a glance.  Although I do a lot of walking around as students complete the problems, this also allows me to see when students are nearly done.  Then I click the “eye” button, which switches the master slide to a scrolling window of all the student screens.  I choose one at random (or the one that has a really cool rendition of the Tardis, as seen above) and we go through the answers.  No embarrassment if one is wrong since no names are visible.

This method is great for formative assessment, and it allows students to make mistakes without embarrassment.  The drawing slide is a fantastic tool in any content area.  Since any image can be uploaded for students to draw or write on, the possibilities are countless.


I’m Lovin’ It: The New PearDeck Home Page

Home   Pear Deck


Pear Deck gave me a belated Christmas gift:  A new home page!

I love the new window that displays decks that have been recently used.  I’ll usually create a deck to cover several days–sometimes an entire unit–and so I’ll open it a dozen times before I put it away for the year.

Until now, I’ve saved a session and then reopened the deck each time to forego searching my Google Drive and staying within the PearDeck site.  Now, it’s a simple click on my presentation in the recent events.

Today I used a Pear Deck to teach grammar.  The app has become my favorite way to address grammar because students can practice for 5-10 minutes each day.  I can give a traditional lecture on a topic–today’s was subject verb agreement with multiple subjects–and then give them practice problems to complete right on the slides on their computers.  On my iPad I can watch all of them complete the task and see who’s struggling.  When we’re ready to check the answers, I can choose a random student slide to project on the projector screen to use as a visual aid while I’m explaining.

Then we’re done.  No papers to look over.  If I want to, however, I can save the session and look over their work later on.

Want to take a look?  Here it is:  Subject-Verb Agreement Pear Deck

I’m an unabashed supporter, promoter, and user of Pear Deck.  It’s simple interface and amazing student interaction make my lectures much more dynamic.  Plus, I can do quick formative assessments and vastly reduce the paper load.

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