Te{a}ch Talk

Tips, Tricks, and Thoughts on Transformation

Volume 1, Number 16, May 7, 2015

Engaged and Interactive Learning

Engaging students is one of our ongoing goals in teaching. Sometimes it is easier than others, but we are always looking for means of making learning active, planting seeds of intrinsic motivation, and generating high levels of student participation in learning. We have many tools in our toolboxes for doing this. We use responsive classroom techniques, quick check-in assessments, movement, various activities for multiple learning styles or multiple intelligences, etc. Teachers are experts at adapting on the fly to meet the needs of our students.

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When students are engaged in learning, they interact with the teacher and instruction, the content, and each other. In teaching, we strive to make connections with our students through designing and/or facilitating authentic and relevant learning experiences. We all have lessons that tend to grab students' interest and easily involve them in their learning. Then, there are more difficult lessons that require more work and determination both from the teacher and our students. When we are able to incorporate real-time feedback and inquiry from our students that guide instruction, learning typically improves.

Introducing Pear Deck

While there is no silver bullet tool to automatically engage students, we can incorporate multiple instructional tools that encourage student involvement and interaction during instruction. Pear Deck is a web-based tool (actually a Google app) that allows teachers to gather quick assessment feedback, pose questions and generate student responses to start discussions, and gather data that can inform instruction. It is an adaptable tool that allows teachers to create a deck of interactive slides. It integrates with the touch screen, allowing student responses to teachers' prompts to incorporate drawing and handwriting or typing. Teachers can begin with an image or graph that students can label, or they can choose one of the pre-set question types. It is adaptable enough to allow a teacher to quickly add a prompt during a presentation or conversation and collect student responses. During a lesson, the teacher can see all student responses and choose to project them to the class anonymously. Furthermore, student response data can be exported for further analysis if desired.

In response to feedback indicating a desire for common instructional tools, the district has purchased a subscription to Pear Deck for the next three years, which is already up and running with access to premium features. For those interested, there will be sessions on using Pear Deck during the Summer Learning Series. You can feel free to check out an overview of the tool on their website (https://www.peardeck.com), explore on your own, or be in touch if you'd like more info on this tool.

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