Best Practices: Math Decks

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. 
Albert Einstein

So many students scorn math at an early age. They decide “I’m not a math person,” or “I can’t do math.” For our students, math is often a subject with no creativity or imagination. In a math classroom, the correct answer isn’t flexible and there are many ways to be wrong. Students are at risk of quickly giving up. So, how do we encourage the kind of curiosity, risk-taking, and exploration that drove Einstein to stick with the hard problems?

Ask Big Questions That Students Can Answer Without a Formula

For example, instead of starting class by introducing the concept of Circumference, start with an interesting question with no, one answer. In Pear Deck, you can let students answer with a guess on a Number Slide and show the results.

Ask Students What They Need to Know

Rather than explain a new formula, ask students to think about the problem and what they would want to know to solve it. In Pear Deck, you can let students draw on your image to think about what information and measurements they want to gather.

Graphing and Formative Assessment

Use the “Overlay Drawings” option while you display responses to quickly spot which students grasp graphing and which need more review. A student who sees his or her own points plotted against the others can get a better idea of where he or she got confused and why.

Exploring Simulations

One hangup for a lot of students is that they don’t see what math problems have to do with anything. “When will I use this?” It can be difficult for students to see and experience math as an expression of the real world. To help your students make the connection, you can embed fun online simulations right into your Pear Deck presentation.

Students will be able to work out the simulation on their own devices to explore the relationships between math and the real world. When you are ready to move on, you can click to the next slide and student screens will be synced up.

Tips and Tricks

  • Math Symbols
    To type math symbols and expressions in Pear Deck, start by typing “##,” type the equation, then close with “##”. Pear Deck will show you a preview of what the formula will look like when you present.
  • Students can do the same in a Free Response: Text Slide.
  • Notes
    When puzzling out a problem, let students write out their work on a Drawing Slide with a Blank Canvas. This way you’ll be able to see their thinking as it is happening. You can also turn this work into a notes document for students to return to and review later. To do this, click “Publish Student Takeaways” when you are done presenting.
  • We recommend assigning the Takeaways Doc as homework to extend the lesson and encourage metacognition. Ask students to review the slides as well as their answers to the questions. Then ask them to reflect on what they learned, what was interesting, and what was confusing in the spaces provided.