Make any Google Slide Presentation Interactive with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is an online tool that provides formative assessment in real time. It's web-based so it works on any device. Teachers are able to check for understanding in their classroom through a variety of question types. When teachers use Pear Deck they are able to adapt instruction based on student understanding and students can receive feedback in real time.
How Does Pear Deck Work?
Pear Deck is an Add-on that works with Google Slides so it is easy to use! We have automatically added it for you in Google Slides! To utilize Pear Deck, you can create a new Google Slides presentation or add Pear Deck to an existing presentation. Once you've opened the Pear Deck Add-on, you can create your own questions or use the Template Library.
Pear Deck Math Templates
Get Started with Pear Deck
Here are some great ways to start using Pear Deck in your classroom:
Formative Assessment with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is designed so that all students are engaged in the learning. Students answer questions in real time and teachers are able to give quick, immediate feedback to the students. Teachers can see who is answering and able to project student responses that are anonymous. Through the teacher dashboard, teachers can see each student's responses. Teachers can even add a question on the fly to help alleviate misconceptions or get additional information from the class. At the end of the session, teachers are able to publish student takeaways. These takeaways are sent to the students and the teachers.
Present With Pear Deck
After creating your slides or adding your questions, it's time to present. Make sure to use the green present with Pear Deck Button. When you Present with Pear Deck, your students will join your class with a code and your lesson can get underway. Pear Deck is a great tool to get students and staff engaged in their learning. Being a Google Add-on allows anyone to create a Pear Deck slide presentation. Contact your Ed Tech Specialist or your Digital Teach Librarian to get started using Pear Deck.
One of the Eight Core Tools Jeffco EdTech is supporting this year is Soundtrap, a robust yet simple-to-use audio recording and editing app for grades 3-5. This post will explore why podcasting is a great project to pursue with your students, regardless of content area, and how to get started with your first project! We’ll also check in with a couple teachers in Jeffco already using podcasting to great effect in their own classrooms.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Everyone from media conglomerates to best-selling authors to stand up comedians to news outlets have found a new voice through podcasting. Interested in History? There are podcasts for that! True crime? News? Music? Trivia? There are podcasts for all that too! Simply put: a podcast is an audio file covering a given topic. More established podcasts are published on a regular schedule such as weekly, monthly, etc. But often, podcasts are created and published as a stand-alone/one-time event.
“What do I need in order to get started?” - Less than you think! Most podcasts can be made with only a quiet space and a Chromebook. A good-quality microphone and some headphones are nice additions, but not necessary.
“How many people do I need to create a podcast?” - It is absolutely possible to have students create individual podcasts, however, the workflow and format of a podcast lends itself to a small group as well. NPR has a great “Getting Started with Podcasts” page that describes some of the roles students may play in podcasting. Keep in mind you can combine these or assign more than one person to the same role, depending on your assignment or class format.
Helpful hint: Being mindful in how you assign students to roles (perhaps your producer is also your editor on a project) may save you some headaches around classroom management down the line! For instance, some roles might be busier during the beginning of the project. How can the editor be helpful during that point in the workflow? Can they assist in research?
“OK, what do we talk about?” - Anything that is genuine to your content area! In math class, it may revolve around how students solved a difficult problem. In Science, perhaps it’s a debrief of an experiment they recently completed. In English, maybe it’s an opportunity to practice storytelling or creating a skit.
NPR offers a variety of prompts for podcast topics that can work in different content areas…
But how does it connect to content?
ALL of the Jeffco Generations Skills can be grown and practiced with a student-created podcasting project!
Podcasting in action
There are a number of teachers in Jeffco already working with students to create podcasts about the world around them. Here are a couple teachers making podcasts work for their content!
Andrea Pless at Kyffin Elementary has successfully integrated podcasting into a few different standards-aligned projects over the past two years.
Her students practiced reading fluency by creating short podcasts for younger students at Kyffin, reading picture books and creating their own turn-the-page tone. Students in other classrooms can then read along with their own book at a later time. Talk about a 21st Century book buddy system!
A group project she’s used involves students reading short stories (before creating the podcast) and using the podcast to discuss their personal connections to the stories. She houses all these student achievements on her website, The Plessroom. On her website, you’ll also find notecatchers and rubrics she’s used with her students.
In addition, each year, Ms. Pless works with a small group of students to serve as her website and Soundtrap experts. They support other students in their learning and teach their classmates about the features and uses of Soundtrap.
When asked about her biggest piece of advice for teachers who are thinking about diving in, she says “Go for it!” She explains most students are more native to technology in some form or another and besides the Soundtrap Intro video (linked below) and some basics of where to find which capabilities, students are quick to latch on to the workings of Soundtrap, as long as they have a product they are working toward. Don’t worry that you need all the answers!
John Swartz at Moore Middle School regularly publishes a Podcast with his 6th graders. This podcast is entering its second year and discusses upcoming community events and features interviews with teachers, students and other community members from the Pomona articulation area.
Here's a link to the Pomona Area Podcast page! Happy listening!
There are countless resources available for teachers to get their students started. As Soundtrap is the supported audio recording app for Jeffco, here are a couple links to get you going!
Soundtrap Crash Course
Soundtrap Lesson Plans
Other websites and resources...
NPR’s A Guide for Students (Getting Started with Podcasting)
Lesson plan to create a podcast from Rosen Digital
Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Products
When I was asked to write a post for Jeffco Ed Tech blog, I was stymied. Education technology is a huge topic. It’s complicated, demonized, canonized, hotly debated, and full of strife & potential. Finally, after six or seven digital wads of paper, I’ve settled on discussing how I rolled out 1:web Chromebooks for my freshman classes this year. It’s timely, and I hope it proves helpful.
First of all, mad props to Pomona’s administration and our campus IT staff. It all starts there. Without a clear and shared vision of what technology will look like and a commitment to goals we set out to achieve by using it, the results would be confusing to everyone involved. Our tech gurus, Matt Daniels and Judy Sims, have been great at keeping our campus focused and practical about everything from how to track each device to which apps make the most sense for teachers to use. They are absolutely central to the success of the roll-out of over 700 (!) Chromebooks (and chargers and cords and screen protectors and id tags and Velcro strips and screen cleaner cloths and styluses and...et al) for our 9th & 10th grade Panthers. I shudder to think how absolutely chaotic this initiative could have turned out, and I’m so appreciative of their strong leadership from the beginning.
So that’s the Big Picture. As for incorporating this technology into our daily classroom environment, I am still a novice. I still ask the Annoying Question of the Day to Matt and Judy and have impractical requests that are met with “You really don’t want to do that, Clint”. “Why not?” And then he patiently explains the Why Not. I’m moving in the right direction, though, and zealously embracing the feel-good-It’s-OK cliche of our times: failing forward. A LOT. My students laugh at me when my “app-tempts” explode. We all laugh together, though, because I’ve found that true humility and vulnerability sometimes creates powerful community. It’s better than the option of playing the immutable sage on the stage, a role that would last, at most, a few measly seconds, and quickly scuttle any vestige of ethos I do have. They teach me more than I could ever figure out myself, and at 1/10 of the time, and they feel powerful when they teach the teacher. I like that. Empowering kids is fun. It’s a rush. Often, when you give That One Troublemaker a Chromebook and a purpose, they are transformed...just like the task they’re working on.
One last thing. At the end of the year, Nick Steinmetz, who I’m sure you know or, if you don’t, you should, challenged us to write a letter about how it went--the inaugural mass Chromebooking. I did that, then ended up writing an alternate version addressed to this year’s students. The letter is friendly yet informative, and includes memes, hyperlinks, footnotes, and other elements that they will run into on digital platforms. Joining our Google Classroom and reading and responding to that letter was their first assignment of the year. Once they join the Classroom, they also have access to the GDoc that I use everyday in class. Even if they’re absent, they get a good idea of what went on during their absence. Here’s a screenshot of (a portion of) that document:
Regarding technology, it’s going well. The kids are excited and potentially a bit intimidated. They see the potential inherent in the system. Even if they are not used to seeing it that way, they recognize their tech as a catalyst to learning and maybe even prosperity. The responsibility they have with that makes them feel like an adult.
Twenty-six years ago, when I first started teaching, “technology” meant the new-fangled electric pencil sharpener that was bolted to a desk. It’s safe to say a few things have changed since then. Heck, we don’t even really need pencil sharpeners. But I still have one. My students still use it. If you need it, it’s right over there by the door, next to the Chromebook cart and the Cell Hotel phone holder.
Happy teaching, everyone!
Teacher, Pomona High School
This post is brought to us by Abby Smith, a Math teacher at Pomona High School. Abby has been working with her students and technology integration this year to Transform Student Tasks. Abby shares here an incredible example of how she is working to make learning relevant for students as she seeks to provide them expanded opportunities to develop the Jeffco Generations skills through math and technology. We are grateful to Abby for sharing her expertise and learning as she seeks to make learning with digital tools purposeful for her students.
“When are we ever going to use this?” As a high school math teacher, I despise this question. Let me rephrase, I used to despise this question. Now I see it as a challenge. Students are living in a different world than most of us in the education profession experienced as high school students. These kiddos have a powerful device within reach most moments of the day that can answer questions with a quick Google search. Today's students do not see the value in having information readily stored in the back of their brain because it is stored in their phone. As an educator, I have seen it as my role to help students realize how the information we cover in the classroom can help them make decisions instead of answer questions. This is how my accommodated algebra classroom transformed into a medieval war zone during our unit on graphing parabolas.
Let’s rewind to my first few years in the classroom. My students completed worksheets, occasionally used tools like Plickers or Desmos, and then completed a test. We did fine on standardized assessments, yet every year, students are retaught some of the same material from years before and the lower students act like they’ve never seen the stuff before. I began asking a similar question as my kids were asking: Why am I teaching this material? I became unmotivated to continue the fight to convince struggling kids that the material was important when I didn’t believe in it’s value for my students who struggled the most.
To aid in the transition with 1:1 devices as a new pilot program at Pomona High School, I was apart of a cohort lead by EdTech Specialist Nick Steinmetz. Nick challenged the members of the group to take risks and learn with their students. We were charged with Transforming the Task in our classroom in new ways that were not available before the chromebooks were assigned to our students. I decided to transform the unit on graphing parabolas. My goal was to leave the unit with students being able to answer the question: “How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions?”
The idea of recreating medieval warfare came to me while researching parabola PBL’s. The path of an object catapulted follows a parabola. We started to build catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, clothes pins and more. Once we learned the basics of graphing parabolas in various forms, we started our project of bombing enemy ships just as Hannibal did with snake bombs during the Punic War. (Pause now and research it!)
Students filmed the flight of their catapult with their phones (here is a video example), used Webpaint to find exact points the object flew and imported a screenshot of the flight of the object into Desmos. For the majority of my students who didn’t know how to take a screenshot, this was challenging but they began to see how valuable their new devices could be. At this point, they utilized their knowledge of the equations of quadratics and how the parabola is graphed to create the equation that best represents the flight of their catapult.
Now we were ready to put their project to the test. Students were tasked with bombing an enemy ship that was approaching a cliff. The cliff (desk) was a given height (27 inches). The students had to decide how far away the ship (saucepan) needed to be in order to bomb it within 3 attempts by using the graph of their parabola. Once finished, students reflected on the main question: How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions? Best of all, this project was a quiz score which assessed if the students understood how to write the equation of parabolas and determined if students could use the graph to decide the distance a ship needed to be off shore before bombing the ship.
There were parts of this project that made us want to scream. To my one group who had to re-film the flight of their catapult 5 times, I think you can agree with this last statement! There were parts of this project that made us laugh and cheer. My students were flabbergasted when their prediction was accurate when attempting the final bombing. Students who were unsuccessful asked to try again in order to be more accurate. Most importantly, this project sparked energetic mathematical conversations with my students. I have found that students are more likely to give an honest effort if they can see the curriculum come to life beyond a worksheet. While there are aspects of the project that I will change for next year, I can safely say that taking the risk with a group of tough students was a challenge that I will try more often! Here is a link for the student directions to the project.