Celebrating Students with Pear Deck
Teaching a classroom full of people is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, there’s safety in numbers; being part of a group can make students feel less scrutinized, less like the Eye of Sauron is watching them. On the other hand, it can also make them feel insignificant or unseen. When our goal is to teach every individual student, it’s important to find ways to celebrate the things that make them special.
Praise from teachers means a lot to students, and shouldn’t be overlooked. But praise from other students — now that’s a powerful thing. School can often bring out competition between kids, leaving little room for them to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and individualities. By providing opportunities for them to boost and compliment each other, we can create space for positive feedback that students really take to heart.
Fortunately, Pear Deck was designed to do exactly that — to give students a chance to discuss their ideas, opinions, and feelings in a safe and interactive way. The same methods we use for educating our students can be used to celebrate our students, with a little creativity. We’ve put together a Deck of templates to help you get started — read on for ideas!
At the Pear Deck office, we have a shadowy and secretive organization called the Bureau of Birthdays. Its job is to make each employee’s birthday a special occasion, and one of the ways this happens is with a drawing slide. Every time someone has a birthday, a personalized slide is presented to their fellow employees, with a prompt for them to write the things they like about the birthday person. Those responses are then shared with the recipient, so they know how loved they are by their coworkers.
That same approach works in the classroom. Create a slide with a student’s name (or edit the template we’ve made for you!), then present it to the class and allow them to draw or write their favorite things about their classmate. Then, you can either present these responses to the class (reviewing them first on the Teacher Dashboard to make sure everyone was kind) or take screenshots to send the student later.
This doesn’t have to be just for birthdays, either — you can celebrate someone who’s achieved something, or even a student who’s going through a rough time and could use some words of encouragement.
Star Learners & Class Heroes
One of the benefits of teaching with Pear Deck is that students learn from each other, not just their teacher. At the end of a lesson or unit, consider adding a slide for kids to name someone who gave an especially insightful answer or was otherwise helpful. Or, have students name someone who helped or was kind to them that week. Sharing these answers with the class is a great way to give students recognition for going the extra mile for their peers.
Getting to Know You
Everyone likes to have their unique experiences and qualities recognized; it’s part of what makes a student feel like an individual, rather than just a name on a seating chart. Interactive slides are a great way to build ice-breakers with your class, and let your students get to know one another. You can build a Deck of these to use at the beginning of the semester, or sprinkle them in as bell-ringers at the beginning or end of lessons as a treat for your students.
To really get to know your students, try using insightful questions. “What’s your favorite animal” tells you less about a child than “If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?” Similarly, it’s good information to know where students are from, but “Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled?” reveals much more about their lives.
For an interesting group activity, have students respond to a prompt, such as “What’s something unique about you?” Collect their responses and add them to a Deck as text-answer slides. Then, let students guess which of their classmates submitted each one. (You can even do this as a Student-Paced Deck outside of class, then reveal who guessed correctly in your lesson the next day.)
As important as student-to-student feedback is, it’s still important for students to feel heard by their teachers. But approaching them, or knowing what questions to ask, can be intimidating. Using Student-Paced Mode and Takeaways, you can interact with each individual student, letting them know you hear and value them.
Try building a Student-Paced Deck with meaningful prompts that will give you insight into how a student is feeling. What’s something you’ve done this year that you’re proud of? What was your favorite day in our class? Is there anything you want to know that you didn’t ask during class? Send this Deck home with students, so they can answer questions on their own time. Then, publish Takeaways, and add your own responses to the things your students have shared.
Valentine’s Day is a time set aside for making people feel loved and celebrated, and it’s a great idea to carry that into the classroom, too. But as any Valentine’s detractor will tell you, it’s just as important to keep that feeling alive year-round. By giving your students opportunities to applaud each other and recognize their unique perspectives, you’ll make your classroom a happy, healthy, and supportive place — and not just on February 14th.
This week’s blog post was written by Pear Deck Graphic Designer Kate Moore.