AP Jeopardy Review – Using @PearDeck & @Wacom Tablets to Engage, Gamify & Reflect #edtech #mathchat

Note: I am editing/revising an old post to reflect some updates in the process of how I run AP Jeopardy Review in my AP Calculus Class!

Have you ever been super excited about “gamifying” a review session (ie: Jeopardy review) only to realize that the competitive feel in the room becomes overwhelming? Each year, around this time, I play a game of AP Calculus Jeopardy with my class. We have just finished learning “new material” and are ready to hit review mode. The game is a way to begin synthesizing material from the beginning of the course through to the end. The timing of this activity usually falls right before spring break, so the Jeopardy game seems particularly appropriate.

Problem 1: Awarding points based on speed —

The one problem that I’ve often run into — Jeopardy is a speed race. And honestly, the last thing that I want is to award points based on speed. I was never the quickest one in the class to respond to answers and I know a lot of times it made me feel like my peers were smarter… which we all know is not the case. But it took me a while to discover this. And so, in my teaching, I really look for ways to allow students to work at their own pace. It’s definitely a huge inspiration behind my flipped classroom.

Problem 2: Students don’t take ‘notes’ during a typical game —

Another issue that I’ve run into in playing games is that students don’t take as careful notes as they typically do during instruction or classwork. Obviously, if they are feeling pressed for time, they are going to just scribble their work anywhere to get to the proper answer. And in a Jeopardy-type game, it’s really hard for students to take “notes” since we are shuffling through categories.

Traditional AP Calculus Jeopardy setup —

So back to the activity at hand — AP Calculus Jeopardy review. Traditionally, l simply split the class into teams, displayed my jeopardy PowerPoint on the projector, and students “buzzed in” when they thought they had the correct answer jotted down on their piece paper. I even tried giving a time minimum (ie: you cannot buzz in before one minute) but then it became pretty arbitrary when choosing who to call on. And that resulted in me losing some of the enthusiasm behind the game. And maybe the worst part of all, students really didn’t have any notes to study from. And the purpose of this activity was to kickstart our review.

Solution 1: New and improved AP Calculus Setup —

Tool 1: PearDeck —

I use Pear Deck to push out the Jeopardy questions to each student’s computer screen. Briefly, the way PearDeck works is that the teacher creates an interactive presentation within the platform and then students’ log into that presentation from their own computers. The teacher controls the pace of the presentation and students engage with the interactive slides. The teacher receives student responses in real-time.

Tool 2: Wacom Tablets —

I also have a class set of Wacom tablets so that students can handwrite on their screens. Using PearDeck’s drawing question type, I can ask students to use their Wacom tablets + pen to handwrite. One of the features of Pear Deck I love is that the teacher can see what students are writing as they are writing! Meaning, as students are beginning their handwritten work, I can see exactly what they’re doing (versus other platforms which require a student hit the submit button when work is complete). In playing AP Jeopardy, I can see which students are coming up with the most detailed, thorough response as they are solving each problem.

The most important part about using Pear Deck, to me, is that each student now actively engages in the activity. Particularly because I require them to do a reflective exercise after-the-fact (I’ll talk more about this later), students must all be paying attention to each and every question. Because of the teacher dashboard, I can see – in real time – which students are struggling. If they were doing this on paper, I wouldn’t be able to assess this until after class. Of course, I circulate the room constantly and look at what students are doing, saying, and writing. But, when they are working such complex equations, there’s really a limit to how much I can see when I’m trying to get around the entire classroom.

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Overlaid Student Responses in Pear Deck


Finally, because I can project the results of the entire class, we can talk about not only the correct answer, but also about incorrect answers. (See more on highlighting misconceptions to deepen learning here.) In the multiple choice questions we are doing, the class is often divided between two answers. Using Pear Deck and showing how the class is split in their thinking is a powerful way to discuss common misconceptions and what we can do to avoid such errors in the future.

Tool 3: Pear Deck —

Yep, I’m back to Pear Deck again. But this time, I’m talking about how Pear Deck Takeaways provide students a resource to study from later. We play this Jeopardy game early on in our AP studying, so it’s a huge deal for me to be able to share the game with students to look back at later. With Pear Deck’s Takeaways, once I close the activity, students all receive a copy of the slides, as well as answers they’ve entered.

Solution 2: Revising answers and reflecting on takeaways —

Finally, I wanted students to think about our game. Again, the purpose of this activity was to help them begin to synthesize all of the material from the beginning of the year and also to call attention to areas where they needed review. So I assigned the following:

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I value this part of the activity as much as playing the game itself. To me, it’s a way to force students to look back over their work in a calmer environment and to ask them to recall what we had discussed on the board when talking about that particular question. Second, I want students to correct any mistakes and think about why they made those mistakes originally. Perhaps them knowing that this reflection piece is required helps them stay engaged and focused when we were talking about the question as a class on the board, also.


Now, for a detailed walk-through of the activity (with pictures and sample student work):

Before class:

STEP 1: Put AP Jeopardy in PearDeck

I uploaded my AP Jeopardy PPT to Pear Deck. I made each slide a “free drawing” type so that students would be able to write anywhere on the slide.


A blank PearDeck slide that students can mark up to respond to question

During class:

STEP 1: Hand out Wacom Tablets to Students

I have a class set of Wacom tablets. My students plug the tablets into their laptops via USB, so that they are able to ink with the pen.
Pear Deck.jpg

STEP 2: I Begin Presenting my Pear Deck “AP Jeopardy”

STEP 3: Students Log into Pear Deck

STEP 4: Game Begins!

Students: students use their tablet to ink their work to the problem they see on their screen. All questions in this game are multiple choice. Students write out all work and then circle their answer.


A Sample Student Response

Projector Dashboard in Pear Deck: I toggle between the overlaid view (to see if we have consensus on a multiple choice answer or if the class is divided in choosing the correct response) and the list view (so I can see each student’s detailed, handwritten work)


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Projector View in Pear Deck, Updated in Real-Time – Toggle Between List, Grid, & Overlaid Layout

Again, one benefit to playing the Jeopardy game this way is that I am able to tell students: “this is not a speed game!” In playing Jeopardy in the past, in a more traditional format, students raised their hands or “buzzed in” when they had figured out their answer. I ended up awarding points based on who answered first, which is not my preference. Using Pear Deck and seeing the student responses as they come in, I am able to see how students are processing the questions. Just because some students are slower than others doesn’t mean that they do not understand the material as well. Pear Deck gives me the opportunity to actually see this.


STEP 5: I Lock Responses in PearDeck

When I’m ready to discuss the problem, I “lock” all students’ responses in PearDeck so that attention comes back to the board.

STEP 6: Class Discussion of Problem

As a class, we discuss not only the correct answer, but also he incorrect ones. Particularly on questions for which the class is divided on what the correct solutions is, we talk about what misconceptions we might have and why we have them. We also talk about any test-taking strategies relevant to the problem and brush up on topics from earlier in the year.

After class:

STEP 1: Corrections and Reflections

On their Pear Deck Takeaways, I ask students to do the following:

  • For each question that you got incorrect, make the appropriate correction.
  • For each question that you struggled with or guessed on, make a note to help you better able to solve a similar question in the future.
  • For each question you got correct, write a mental note highlighting a formula that you need to be sure to review, a key point that you need to remember, or a test-taking hint pertaining to the problem


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Student Revision in Pear Deck Takeaways


My Personal Reflections:

This is my third year running AP Review Jeopardy in Pear Deck. Each year I tweak it slightly and get a bit happier with the results. My favorite part of this whole activity is just how engaged each student has to be in the game. This couldn’t happen without Pear Deck. I am super lucky to have a class set of Wacom Tablets to allow students to write out all of their calculus work on their laptop. In Pear Deck, I appreciate being able to “lock” the screen when I want students to turn their attention back to the board for a discussion of a problem. I definitely enjoy being able to see students’ answers as they are coming in to see how students are processing the material. And finally, by using Pear Deck instead of having students “buzz in” when they have an answer, I can remind everyone that this is not a speed race and that faster ≠ better.

The out-of-class portion is such a powerful part of this review. Requiring students to make corrections and write brief reflections forces them to look back at the questions we had solved together. This part of the assignment brings some closure to the activity and allows students to create a resource they will all be studying from in the future.


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