PQA with Pear Deck – iFLT 2021 with Kara Jacobs

Blog Post by: Andrea Schweitzer

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One of the CI-based strategies that has always felt a little awkward for me is “PQA” (personalized questions & answers).  I feel like I don’t always facilitate it as effectively as I probably could and should.  So when I saw the session by Kara Jacobs titled, “PQA with Pear Deck,” I wanted to learn more.  Kara is a high school Spanish teacher from New Hampshire who blogs and creates amazing resources for “Comprehensifying and Extending Authentic Resources” (www.ceauthres.com).  I have learned so much from using her materials. I walked away from today’s session feeling confident that this year will be the year that I take PQA to the next level.

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PQA is essentially creating an interpersonal dialogue with students using a set of targeted questions based on whatever is coming next in the lesson/unit.  It’s a terrific way to activate brains in order to get them thinking about the the topics and hearing/using the key structures that will be incorporated in the story or resource material(s) being used in the lesson.  However, PQA is NOT asking them questions about those materials.  It is asking students questions that are about them, their opinions, preferences and interests… questions that utilize those key structures.

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But why pair up PQA with Pear Deck?  Well, after this past year of school-like-never-before, many of us became more familiar with student-response systems like Pear Deck, NearPod, GoFormative, Desmos, etc.  They’re ideal to use with PQA because they allow you to present a series of questions on slides with visual support.  As students follow along on their devices, they can ALL respond individually (typing, drawing, etc.). The teacher can then go through and share all responses or individual responses with the class in order to extend the conversation.  In doing so, the teacher is providing more CI while eliciting even more information from the student(s) for yet again, more CI!  And because it is classmate-created and allows for everyone to be contributing about themselves at the same time to all questions, this is compelling stuff with all students fully engaged.

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Kara had participants log in to Pear Deck and led us through a presentation so we could feel how engaging it was from the student perspective.  I loved that after the series of PQA questions, she provided a slide with all of the key structures that had been used.  She then asked us, “Based on these structures, what do you think the story is going to be about?”  How great for students to see those key structures all over again and get their prediction wheels turning in their brains too.

When doing PQA without Pear Deck, questions might only be answered by a few quick-to-volunteer students.  The shy ones who don’t want to speak rarely share.  With Pear Deck, everyone has a “safe” way to contribute.  Because of this, even once Kara was back to in-person learning with her students, she continued to use Pear Deck for this more powerful PQA formula.  I can’t wait to try it out!

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