Pear Deck in Math Class; a Student-Response System

I’ve tried other student-response systems in the past, like Poll Everywhere, but they are clunky in that you have to exit your current slideshow / lesson material & go over to a different site to use them. With Poll Everywhere my students were always confused about what to text & to which number.
I’ve heard rumours that my school owns a set of clickers also, but I’ve never seen them.

Enter: Pear Deck!

I was introduced to Pear Deck at a session at the Google Apps for Education Conference in Ottawa earlier this month. I was immediately sold on the potential for Pear Deck in my classroom. So far I’ve used it in my Math class and Leadership class; neither of which is a 1:1 tech classroom. My students use their own smartphones and if I’m lucky enough to be able to book some extra iPads then I loan those out too.

A quick primer on how Pear Deck works if you’re interested:

Creating a New Deck:

Presenting a Deck: 

How I’ve used it in my Math class:

Here was my most powerful experience so far:
In Grade 10 applied Math, students will need to be able to formulate their own questions about a video or photo in the summative task at the end of the course (à la act 1 of Dan Meyer’s 3-act math). That day I wanted to look at substituting values into formulas or equations and solving for the remaining unknown (this is the 1st overall expectation of Linear Relations for MFM2P). I could have simply prepared the questions in advance I wanted them to solve, but I decided to have them create the questions.

After having them log in to the Pear Deck presentation and a warm up problem I won’t show here, I presented this slide:


Students recognized the formula as the area of a circle. The prompt was to “create a question that could be solved using this formula”. This particular slide was a “text response” slide. Student responses started to come in:slide2

You can see that “F” started calculating something with the formula – so I was able to re-explain what I wanted to F. Some of the students are referring to area for 3D solids, so this allows me to prompt a class discussion about the difference between area & surface area. And whether or not a scoop of ice cream relates to the circle formula (student Y).

I wanted a simple problem for them to try to start. So I chose M’s question. I was able to select it & show it alone to the class using the “show student responses” feature. slide3

Notice M’s name is not displayed which is great for privacy. But of course M was very proud that their question was chosen & they promptly let the class know it was theirs. My students were then instructed to go to their blackboard station (vertical non-permanent surfaces) with their group (visibly random groups) in order to solve the problem.
They did so quickly, we discussed each team’s solution & returned to our desks & devices w/ Pear Deck.

Next I wanted to have them substitute a value for Area & solve for the radius. So this time I chose A’s question:

And again I sent them to the blackboards in their groups.

The students whose questions were selected were so proud. And they weren’t the students who would have been first to raise a hand or offer a question if I’d just asked the question orally in class. Something about the thinking time, and the ability to quietly type in their response means more engagement from ALL students, not just my keeners. It means I HEAR the quiet/shy students’ responses more often because I’m not relying on hands up & loud voices for the response; I can see everybody’s response at once.

I plan to post more on how I’ve used Pear Deck in the classroom in the coming weeks; to show you the different slide types available. I will also be giving a demonstration to the entire staff of my school at our next staff meeting because I really believe this is a powerful tool.

A few caveats:

  • Some slide types are not available in the free version (drawing & draggable). But there is a free 30-day trail of the full version.
    And plenty is still available in the free version: multiple choice questions, text-based response & numeric response. Many teachers would be fine with only the free version.
  • The fee is $100 per year for the full version for teachers.
  • You’ll need a Gmail address; this product works with Google (no problem for OCDSB teachers as our emails are all Google now).
  • There is no way to create a public link to your slides as of yet. This is a problem for me as I like to link to the day’s activities on our class website. In chatting with one of the co-founders of Pear Deck, they say they are working on an option to save the slides as a PDF file which one could then upload to a class website. I look forward to this feature very much!

How have you use Pear Deck in your classroom? Leave a comment below!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s