The ABCs of Providing CI Through Remote Learning: P is for Pear Deck

Pear Deck is a super cool tech tool that I just learned about recently. It is a Chrome Extension that allows you to create interactive slide presentations. Teachers can create new presentations directly on Pear Deck or can import presentations from PowerPoint or Google Slides. Then they can make those presentations interactive by embedding activities directly in the Pear Deck slides that students need to stop and complete during the presentation.

Disclosure: I have no affiliations with Pear Deck. I just like sharing tools that help World Language teachers provide more CI to their students. 

At first, I was skeptical about using Pear Deck in a comprehensible input (CI) class, because when I searched for examples of how language teachers use Pear Deck, the videos I saw were of teachers doing explicit grammar instruction or output activities (I had a similar reaction when I first learned about Flipgrid, which you can read about here and here). As I have said many times before, explicit grammar instruction, forced output, and heavy correction of errors are not components of a CI language classroom, so I initially decided that Pear Deck was not for me.

Then I watched the amazing Elicia Cárdenas present about Pear Deck in a Fluency Fast webinar, in which she demonstrated some of the interactive, input-based activities she used when presenting with Pear Deck. Based on what Elicia shared and what I’ve seen in video tutorials, I’ve compiled a list of some of the ways world language teachers can provide CI using Pear deck:

1. Drag and Drop: Post descriptions of characters in the TL from a well-known class reading and have students drag the name of each character to the correct description. Alternatively, you can use the drag and drop function to take sentences from a well-known story and ask students to put the sentences in chronological order.

2. Draw: Post sentences in the TL and have students use Pear Deck to draw pictures to illustrate them.

3. Fill in the blank: Write an incomplete sentence from a well-known reading and have students fill in the blank using the text feature to complete the sentence.

4. Write a response: Show a picture and talk about it in the TL. Then ask the students questions about the picture in the TL for them to answer.

Alternatively, you can request details during storyasking and have students type in their suggestions.

5. Multiple Choice: Post a question in the TL about something you’ve been talking or reading about and have students choose a correct answer.

6. Listen and write/draw: The premium version of Pear Deck lets you add audio to your slides, which students can listen to and then respond by writing or drawing.

I always notice that when I give presentations in class, there are certain students who disengage, even if they know that they are going to have to complete an assessment afterwards about information from the presentation. That’s just the nature of middle school students. Pear Deck obligates them to engage and interact throughout the presentation, which I hope will help them retain information and further their proficiency in the TL.

So far I have only talked about using Pear Deck in physical classes, but many of the features I have spoken about will transfer to a synchronous, virtual class taught via video conferencing software like Zoom or Google Hangouts. I am not conducting synchronous classes, but I can still use Pear Deck in student mode, which allows students to interact with a presentation independently at their own pace.

If you are interested in learning more about Pear Deck, you’ll find more information on their blog and a TON of video tutorials on the Pear Deck YouTube channel. Pear Deck does have a free version, but unfortunately many of the features I’ve spoken about here are only available in the paid version. But if school districts continue distance learning in the fall, it may be work the expense.

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