How Pear Deck Transformed One Teacher's Approach to Student Engagement
One of the toughest hurdles teachers face today is finding ways to engage every student in an increasingly digitally distractible world. Sandra Naranjo, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Helen Keller Elementary in Lynwood, California, has tackled this challenge head-on with the help of Pear Deck. This innovative tool has transformed her classroom into a dynamic, inclusive space where technology serves to enhance learning, not distract from it.
In the post-COVID classroom landscape, marked by a rise in shy students, Sandra's adoption of Pear Deck proved to be a game-changer. Its diverse response formats and the ability to overview the entire class's progress allowed her to address the unique needs of each student. This approach not only kept students engaged but also created a supportive environment where every student felt valued and empowered to actively participate in their learning journey.
Encouraging participation for both the outgoing and introverted
Returning to the classroom post-COVID, Sandra was immediately struck by the increase in shy students, a change that posed a significant challenge in assessing their grasp of the material.
Amidst this new dynamic, Pear Deck surfaced as a powerful tool to help with engagement, revolutionizing the way Sandra interacted with her class. Pear Deck’s formative assessment capabilities were a game changer, offering Sandra the chance to quickly and effectively understand where each student was in their learning journey, and tailor her approach accordingly.
The features of Pear Deck were particularly instrumental. The timer and diverse response formats, including text and drawing options, played a crucial role in maintaining student focus and ensuring structured progression during lessons.
Sandra reflected on this impact, "I get to see that everyone is participating and inputting answers,” she remarked, her voice tinged with a sense of achievement.
Furthermore, Pear Deck empowered her with the ability to oversee all student responses in one glance. This panoramic view of her class's progress was invaluable, especially for identifying those who needed a bit more support.
"If I feel a student is having trouble, I can see that with Pear Deck as well on the teacher dashboard. I can go and check in or maybe ask a follow-up question in a way that doesn’t single them out,” she explained, highlighting how the tool enabled her to provide discreet and targeted assistance, a crucial aspect in nurturing a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
Sandra also highlighted the versatility of Pear Deck's Student-Paced Mode, emphasizing its potential for personalized learning. The Reflect and Review feature, allowing students to revisit their answers and use them for self-review, was another element she found invaluable.
"This school year I hope to use Student Paced Mode a little more with students. That way I can start it with them and then let them try it on their own when they do their stations,” she stated.
Pear Deck: The best substitute teacher
It’s not unusual for teachers to have situations pop up where they have to be away from the classroom due to a family emergency or planned vacation. With Pear Deck, Sandra didn’t have to worry about a substitute teacher being able to cover what her students needed to learn.
"One time I had to be out due to an emergency, so the night before I created a student-paced mode lesson on incomplete and complete sentences. I was so grateful for the ability to add an audio file in my own voice to guide the students and fully explain the lesson to them.”
More than just an engagement and assessment tool
Sandra's use of Pear Deck extends beyond traditional assessments. She shared a heartwarming story of a Thanksgiving activity where students expressed gratitude for adults on campus using Pear Deck. The ability to export responses to a Google Sheet allowed her to then easily share the students' sentiments with those they had written to.
This exercise not only provided a unique and interactive way for students to express their appreciation but also strengthened the bond between students and teachers. It allowed educators to see the impact they had on their students' lives, creating a positive feedback loop within the school community.
Sandra's journey with Pear Deck illuminates its remarkable ability to revolutionize classroom dynamics, making learning not only interactive and engaging but also personalized and adaptable.
From empowering introverted students to seamlessly stepping in as a substitute teacher, Pear Deck has become an indispensable ally in her teaching toolkit. Her story stands as a testament to Pear Deck's transformative potential, leaving an indelible mark on both teaching practices and student experiences.