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May 12, 2022

Same Test, Different Students: Creative Ways to Differentiate Instruction using Multimedia within Pear Assessment

Pear Assessment (formerly Edulastic), a powerhouse assessment creation and data-driven Google Classroom app, is a dream for creatives in the field who love making their own assessments of student learning. Crafting my own classroom and common assessments using Pear Assessment is my go-to strategy that ensures my students have access to learning and additional support while engaging in learning. I have found that embedding multimedia into learning activities as a regular strategy increases accessibility, equity, student engagement, collaboration, and finally student ownership of learning.

Within the Pear Assessment suite of tools (standard’s aligned content, tests, videos, add ons, etc.) teachers can easily add multimedia to their Pear Assessment assessments. Teachers can now include a variety of resources within any given assignment using Pear Assessment.

Using the strategies discussed in this blog, K-12 educators are given the tools to create assessments of the same quality and nature for their own students. Teachers can personalize content, modify content, and tailor assessment questions themselves to meet a wide range of diverse learner needs. Accessibility is heightened with this best practice given the fact that students are able to access this content on their own while going at their own pace. As you will see in the examples below, teachers can choose from various types of multimedia depending on the needs of the assessments and students on an individual basis.

Step 1: Create or curate video content aligned with learning targets and learner needs.

While you are becoming comfortable with the process of creating your own instructional videos, I recommend using digital media, pictures, and videos from reliable sources — do some research and vet the videos before including them in your assessments. Be sure to view them to check the content for relevancy and quality, as well as offensive material or bias etc. Whether it be teacher-created or a video from YouTube aligned with the learning targets, including this type of direct instruction within your digital assignments will help your students master the content as well as become more independent as learners.

When students were sent home for the year practically overnight when the pandemic first broke, like most other educators at the time, I was forced to find even more creative ways to engage my students using tools that they were familiar with but could also access on their own time and within remote learning spaces. It was then that I had my “ah ha!” moment— and discovered the best way for me as a teacher to keep my students engaged was to create assessments that already contain instructional content. This is also convenient for teachers and students because they can access everything they need at once and from the same app. Practicing making short “flipped lesson” videos to front load content was how I started this process. Since then, I have learned how to create a wide-range of instructional videos using various ed tech tools that work within the Pear Assessment system to serve a specific purpose and provide me with some diversity in my video creation processes and designs.

Step 2: Embed videos/images/audio,etc. within the question, etc

Be sure to always provide clear instructions for students, regardless of the learning activity. Especially when using new strategies such as the ones I describe in this blog, one must be sure to include whatever instructions students would need. If they are to take notes or pay attention to certain parts of a video, including this as well. You can lay an audio file on top of you verbally reading the directions for an extra access point for students.

Embedding multimedia into Pear Assessment assignments is an effective strategy to engage diverse learners with the same content and standards through different ways (i.e. audiobooks vs reading or even doing both, etc.). This strategy is a game changer, and is an authentic way to hook students to the content you are teaching just by providing them with some extra resources to help them learn the ways they learn best.

Step 3: Infuse your assessment with dynamic digital content and tailor it to your students’ needs

I’m a firm believer that personalized content is the key to effective teaching and learning.

Remember, assessments of student learning must measure what they are intended to measure, be grounded firmly in learning standards, be equitable, accessible and not driven by offensive material or bias. This can all be done in best practice, and now I’m going to show you how it’s done. We all know that there is no wrong way to create an assessment that is truly “out of the box.” However, it is your job to make sure you are still creating something that will benefit your students because it compliments the curricula you are teaching and also meets the demands of their needs as individual learners.

For context, I created both examples for 9th and 10th grade English Language Arts classes. For each assessment, I chose the content based on the literature students were reading in my class at the time. My examples are only prototypes which will hopefully help inspire the creation of your own personalized assessment and multimedia content for your students to add value and variety to your curriculum. In this blog, I’m going to walk through two assessments that I infused with multimedia to support student learning. You will see examples of video content, how it fits together, and will learn about the undeniable benefits of using Pear Assessment to add depth and extra content/support to your everyday blended learning experience.

Example 1: Multimedia assessment on Pear Assessment with video

Subject Area: English Language Arts

Grade Level(s): 9-10

Standards: Ohio ELA Standards, Common Core State Standards for ELA

Title: ELA Video Lesson + Vocabulary Quiz and Writing Task: The Metamorphosis, Part 1, by Franz Kafka

Example 2: Multimedia Assessment on Pear Assessment with Audio and Images

Subject Area: English Language Arts

Grade Level(s): 9-10

Standards: Ohio ELA Standards, Common Core State Standards for ELA


Embed a teacher-created read-aloud into your “Passage Based” Pear Assessment assessment

Although for the most part, students don’t like to admit it, they love when we read aloud to them. This also keeps them engaged with the reading materials as a lesson paces through. I create my own videos on Vimeo by downloading chapters of text and reading them to my students within their remote lesson for the day. Sometimes I read a few, but sometimes I just read one. It gives it a personal touch.
Within the assessments I show you in this blog, note that students are also assigned chapters to read which are not read aloud by me. BUT, I always make a point to add some type of audiobook for access reasons and to give the students an additional chance to engage with the reading.

Create a read-aloud video to include within a teacher-made Pear Assessment assessment

This read-aloud video of Lois Lowry’s novel Son was simple to create, record, export, share, embed, and use across platforms by following these basic 7 steps. . .

In the example shown in the image below I followed this process:

First, I downloaded a PDF version of the text into an app called Notability which is housed on my iPad.

Second, I chunked my content and questions on to a Google Slides presentation which I uploaded into the Notability app to create the recording.

Then, I used the Notability app as I read the text, stopping to make important notes about plot changes, characterization, or even the impact of diction on a paragraph or page, etc.

Another way to do this would be to use Screencastify to create and edit your videos. You can add the links, download the files and re-upload them to Pear Assessment, or even record using the video camera function within the general question toolbar.

During the recording of the read-aloud in the next example (over a classic Lois Lowry text) I annotated a bit using an Apple pencil (stylus) and the premade Google Slides to create meaningful visual connections and to add quick notes that I forgot to write into the slides.

Now, you are probably thinking —“I created my video. What steps should I follow to include it within this Pear Assessment assessment?”

Choice 1: Copy and paste the URL or embed code linked to your resource within the option on the toolbar within the question or passages themselves so students can interact with everything they need in one space.

Choice 2: Copy and paste the link or URL itself into a question. An external, third-party link will then be available for students to click on and visit like any other website. This is not my personal choice, but is an option.

Choice 3: Upload your multimedia file using the tools within Pear Assessment straight from your computer’s hard-drive. This is the best choice when video links are for some reason unreliable or having temporary glitches.

A few tips to use when creating your assessment. . . .

1. Preview links you create and share to your students prior to publishing any content to their assessments in Pear Assessment. Also, like any other app, students need to have the proper permissions to view the video you are including. Consider these things when collecting your learning materials to embed within your Pear Assessment assessment. This will prevent access issues and confusion when using new tools with your students to help them better connect with their learning online.

2. Take the time to select high quality instructional videos when using this strategy. We want to use multimedia as a way to extend, deepen, and stretch the capability of our learning activities in a way that our assessments contain variety and increase in value to more students. Khan Academy is a great resource for videos. When selecting links for audiobooks, I suggest doing a quick search and viewing the options to ensure you are selecting the best resource for your students according to what the objective of the lesson or activity is etc .

3. Be sure to “stress test” your assessment in student mode. Take the test as a student and make sure it is functioning and the multimedia is properly embedded and accessible. This way, you can catch any mistakes or make any adjustments before the assessment is published to students.

4. Articulate clear expectations and success criteria within your Pear Assessment assessment. On the front-end of planning, when articulating directions for items, always be clear, explicit, and intentional with language and placement of directions within teacher-created multimedia infused assessments. One way to do this is by attaching rubrics to score student constructed responses can add value and provide students with expectations they can refer to as they are engaging with the learning itself.

Lessons learned

I love seeing teacher-created content in the classroom and educators optimizing their teaching strategies in order to meet the needs of all students. While I was in favor of these teaching strategies years ago, flexibility and adaptability are necessary in order to meet the needs of all students in a time when learning is changing. We must adapt our educational strategies to meet the needs of 21st century learners in our classrooms.

Pear Assessment can be a blank canvas for educators who are ready to push the envelope to find new ways to engage students and provide various support and learning opportunities which are accessible, and equitable to all students. Creating multimedia infused assessments with Pear Assessment using the strategies described in this blog, it is possible for students to be given the autonomy to engage with instructional content during times when they are not in front of a teacher or in a seat in a classroom.


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Samantha Shaffner

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