Tech Tuesdays: Engaging Students in Vocabulary with Pear Deck

When Pear Deck was first introduced to educators, it was an interactive way for students to participate in class lectures. It went from the students being silent observers during a slideshow to actually contributing to the lesson. Pear Deck’s latest feature continues its mission of student engagement. The Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory offers a new way for teachers to help students practice and build their vocabulary skills in the classroom. Its easy-to-use interface makes the program easy for teachers of any grade level to integrate into the classroom.

The first step toward using the Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory is creating a teacher Pear Deck account. Once logged in, the dashboard will immediately prompt the user to choose between creating a Pear Deck presentation or a vocabulary set. Choose “Start a Vocab List.”

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Users will be transported to a new page, which allows a list of vocabulary terms and definitions to be created. One of the nice built-in features from Pear Deck is the integration of the Google Dictionary. When a user types a term on a flashcard, they can select the “Find Definitions” button. Google Dictionary will automatically populate options for definitions for the word. In most cases, the word will have one definition that can be inserted, but some vocabulary terms will have multiple options that a user can choose.

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As users begin to make their list, Pear Deck begins to generate related terms. These words are usually similar in topic to the words that are already included on the vocabulary list. For example, adding a Tier 3 vocabulary word, such as “thermodynamics”, to the list caused the program to brainstorm other words that fall under the same scientific topic. Users can select these related terms to help build their vocabulary list for students.

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Transferring Lists from Other Places

Users are not limited to simply typing in all their vocabulary words, though. Pear Deck offers another option to avoid retyping lists over and over again. Lists can be copy and pasted from other websites and documents. For example, Quizlet was previously a popular tool for students practicing their vocabulary and terms independently. If a teacher already has a list of vocabulary created on Quizlet, they can easily transfer it over to use in Pear Deck.

Users should open a Quizlet set. Then they need to find the three horizontal dots button located underneath the title of the set. They should select “Export” and a pop-up window will appear on the website. It provides a text-only version of the flashcards from the set. Users should select “Copy Text” to have all of those terms and definitions immediately copied.

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Once copied, users should return to their Pear Deck vocabulary list. They simply need to click on the new flashcard as if they are creating one card. The cursor should be in the “Term” text area. Then, to import all of the terms and definitions, users should hit Ctrl + V on their keyboard. All of the terms will immediately become their own flashcard with the corresponding definitions below it.

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A similar process can be repeated with vocabulary lists in Google Docs or Word documents. Users just need to make sure the term is written first and the definition is beside it, with one Tab in between the two.

Once the list is completed, users should scroll back to the top of the list and select “Play Flashcard Factory” in the top right corner of the website. Users will need to make sure they are connected to a projector in their classroom or that the students can see the screen in some way. Pear Deck will generate a code for students to use to enter the game. Students will access the game via joinpd.com. They will have to select their school email account to provide the game with their name and will then be prompted to insert the unique game code.

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While students are waiting for all of their classmates to sign in, they can review the directions of the assignment. “Clock in!” should be selected by the teacher once all students have joined the game. The game will automatically set up partners and split the class into two teams: Day Shift and Night Shift. The partner aspect adds teamwork and collaboration to the experience while the two teams ignite friendly competition and increase motivation. When ready, the teacher will select “Let’s Play.”

On the student end, they will receive their terms with their partner. One partner will be responsible for drawing an image to reflect the term and the other will write a sentence for the term. These responsibilities shift between terms, so partners get an equal chance to both draw and write. A variety of colors are available to make the images more impactful. In the collaborative spirit, the partners can review each other’s work and provide feedback prior to submitting it to the teacher.

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The completed cards move across the conveyor belt on the screen. All the teams can see these cards as long as the teacher has connected their laptop to their board. Students continue the process until all of the terms on the vocabulary list have been completed.

Then the teacher moves to the next phase, “Quality Control.” This step can be completed with the class or by the teacher independently. All of the flashcards will be reviewed and either given a seal of approval or a stamp of rejection. Approval means the sentence and image accurately reflect the vocabulary term and definition, while rejection means they did not. To add a game element to the activity, Pear Deck keeps track of how many approvals each team gets. If a card is approved, a point is awarded to the team that created it.

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While it is recommended that the teacher has the final say in which terms get approved, it can be interactive to allow the class to contribute to this discussion. The members of the class can discuss whether the sentence and image appropriately represent the term and would be beneficial in helping the students actually understand the term.

Once the approval and denial process is complete, the final phase is “Shipping.” Teachers have the option to export their list to Quizlet so students can continue to use the cards they made. Clicking “Export to Quizlet” will bring up a directions screen for the teacher. The set of flashcards must be named and a password-protection option for the set is optional, so only students in the class with the password can access the resource. Once the directions are completed, the teacher received the URL for the flashcards and has the option to immediately share the link with students in Google Classroom. If teachers do not use Google Classroom, they can simply share the link to the Quizlet with their students. Each of the Quizlet terms includes the vocabulary word, the teacher-added definition from the Pear Deck list, and the approved example and image from the students.

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Pear Deck’s Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory is an engaging, collaborative activity for all grade levels that can both inspire students to practice and apply their knowledge of vocabulary terms and give them a self-created resource to use to practice.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

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Tech Tuesdays: Engaging Students in Vocabulary with Pear Deck

2 thoughts on “Tech Tuesdays: Engaging Students in Vocabulary with Pear Deck

  1. This tool could enliven vocabulary learning, though I do have some concerns about the lack of opportunities to see the way meaning is shaped by the context in which a word appears. Thanks for sharing this. It seems easy to use and would grab kids’ attention and help them develop individualized vocabulary lists.

    Like

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