I had a chance to speak at the Wacom Experience Center last night. As a flipped classroom teacher, I rely on my Wacom’s inking capabilities to create the math screencasts I make. But the creation capabilities on the teacher end was not what my presentation was about. Instead, I focused on how a class set of Wacom tablets, combined with Pear Deck, have enabled me to see how students are working through and thinking through problems in the classroom.
I have a class set of small tablets like these Intuos ones. My school is a BYOD school and students all have their laptops in class on a daily basis. But as all teachers know, the devices themselves won’t transform your classroom. For me, it was when I paired my classroom set of Wacom tablets with Pear Deck that I was able to unleash the magic of these devices.
When I first flipped my math instruction, I was immediately struck by the power of giving students the time and space to talk things out with their peers. Instead of me driving class discussion, I was suddenly joining in on their conversations. I was able to see them solve problems, hear what material was sinking in and what was still shaky, and provide a classroom environment centered on collaborative problem-solving. Though I was getting great information about how students were understanding the video pre-lessons they completed for homework through embedded learning checks in Edpuzzle, I was still looking for a better way to get a temperature check at the beginning of class to see how students were working through problems.
Using Pear Deck, I can ask a question and see students working in real-time. Whether I ask a drawing or a text-based question, I can see what students are saying in real-time as they write. There is no “submit” button that needs to be pressed so I can get an immediate sense of who is getting started and who might need my help at a glance through Pear Deck’s teacher dashboard. Paired with a Wacom tablet, students are free to handwrite their responses directly on the question I’ve presented, just as they would write on a piece of paper.
The real-time feedback provided through the Pear Deck teacher dashboard is particularly powerful; it enables me to get a glimpse into how students are approaching and working through problems. As a math teacher, it is far more important for me to see a student’s process than their final answer.
After students have had a chance to respond, I can project student work (names are not attached to the responses in this projector view) so that we bring the conversation to the board as a whole class. For students who are more vocal, their best work might be in that moment we start verbally digging into the various answers submitted. But Pear Deck levels the playing field by also providing an outlet for students who need time to process and type out their thoughts, or who are naturally quieter.
It’s important to understand that this activity is not about having students simply hide behind their laptops, typing their thoughts. Pear Deck is a platform that has allowed me to create a safe space for all students to contribute. And, as we look at the responses of the class, it’s not just about highlighting the correct answers. In fact, sometimes it is more important to break down the incorrect ones and target where, in the solution process, the error occurred.
In this way, we are no longer just discussing one student’s answer. We’re discussing the whole class’s results.
Shifting my warmup to Pear Deck has allowed me to give each student control and provide an opportunity for all of us to see what the whole class has to say. Combined with a Wacom tablet for students to easily handwrite their solution process, I can get powerful insight into how students are working through problems, where some students might be getting stuck, and get an instant snapshot of what we should concentrate on as a class versus where I should be focusing individualized attention. That level of engagement and personalization is what has taken my classroom to a whole new level.
As I say on the closing page of Tech with Heart:
I hope that this blog post helps empower you—as a teacher, coach, or administrator—with ideas and resources to take a tool like a Wacom tablet and truly unleash its superpower.