Illustration by Kate Moore.

How to Ruin a Snow Day with Pear Deck

by Pear Deck Teacher Advocate Risa Fadenrecht

I’m going to say something controversial: I hate snow.

If snow was really just the fluffy prop of a Christmas-inspired rom-com, I’d be perfectly pleased to tell you I love snow — but it’s not and so I don’t. The stuff is cold and wet (two more things I can do without unless we’re talking lemonade in August), it’s a nightmare to drive in, and it’s back-breaking to clear from cars/driveways/sidewalks. If there must be snow (and I live in the midwest so there will inevitably be snow) I’d prefer to experience it inside, under a blanket with a good book and no reason to leave the house until it’s melted — basically, like a child on a snow day.

If, at this point, you’re thinking “What a grinch, this Risa!” you are assuredly not alone. Pear Deck co-founder and Chief Educator, Michal Eynon-Lynch, and I have an ongoing battle about the merits (uh, read: pitfalls) of snow and cold and winter and what does it really even mean to be festive anyway can we just agree to disagree and be friends forever k thanks bye!

As a teacher I had a love-hate relationship with snow days. Admittedly, it’s hard to speak ill of a day off of work; but on the other hand, every missed day of class throws a wrench into the plans of a carefully scheduled semester. We know those state assessments and AP exams won’t prepare for themselves! I even remember a year or two in Kansas where we had so many snow days there were threats of extending the school year in order to meet the mandatory minimum number of seat minutes. School after Memorial Day? THE HORRORS!

If you’re like me, and the latter pressures outweigh the delight of an extra day off, I’m here to tell you that Pear Deck can save the day. You don’t have to lose precious instructional time when you can use Student-Paced Mode and Student Takeaways™ anytime, anywhere. It’s almost 2018! Who needs a classroom to have class? The world (wide web) is our classroom!

Here are three easy ways to beat a blizzard with Pear Deck:

Quick Conversion
If the presentation you had ready for class is straightforward — that is, if students don’t need extra lecture notes or instructions in order to follow the content of the deck — simply turn on Student-Paced Mode and share the join code to your Google Classroom or LMS. Later, you can export responses to a Google Sheets for a quick completion scan or comment on each student’s Student Takeaway™ to give students feedback on their work.

Reflection Exercises
Maybe you’ve covered a lot of material the last few days and you want students to keep the information top of mind. Give students a reflection or metacognition assignment using Student Takeaways™ from previous Pear Deck sessions.

For example, you might ask them to write 1–2 sentences on each slide about what they found difficult or interesting about that particular piece of information. For multiple choice or number slides, you might ask students to describe why they chose the answer they did, or have them explain why they would or would not give the same answer this time.

Remind students that all of their Takeaways can be found in their “Shared with me” folder in Google Drive. They can write their answers in the provided notes areas of the Takeaways document.

Enrichment and Prep Activities
Snow days are great days for reading, right? So why not use a student-paced deck to direct students to some edifying reading material — you can even drop a little formative assessment in there for good measure!

Use web slides to link students to an article, online text, or YouTube video that supplements the current unit, then add in any slide type you like to check for comprehension or prompt reflection. This is also great opportunity to boost your next class period by introducing the topic you’ll be covering when students are back in the building. Connect your snow day reading to the next lesson by beginning class with a warm-up slide pertaining to the student-paced content.

So if this winter starts looking like Boston in 2015, don’t panic — and don’t let snow days ruin your semester OR your summer!

Disclaimer: At Pear Deck we understand that there are potential and very real limitations to snow day learning, including students’ limited access to wifi or devices at home. This article is intended to be slightly humorous and totally inspirational.

(We also understand that snow is delightful and should be enjoyed at all costs — xo, Michal)

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Pear Deck was founded by educators to engage every student every day. #ChromebookEDU #peardeck

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