A Series on Active Learning Using Interactive Slides: An Introduction to Nearpod & Pear Deck

By: Matt Rhoads, Ed.D

Dr. Matt Rhoads is a Tech and Instructional Leader and Innovator with hands in Adult Ed, K-12, and Higher Education. He is the author of several books and is the host of Navigating Education – The Podcast.

In the past, I have written on interactive slides. However, for this specific series of posts, I wanted to review some of their major instructional strengths as well as reintroduce them. You will see a number of posts relating interactive slides in a four part series, which will take you from the basics to integrating instructional strategies with these tools to amplify student learning.

Active Learning Interactive Slide Blog Series

  1. Building Connection and Relationships with Students Using Interactive Slides
  2. Formative Assessment (Quizzes, Checks for Understanding, Quickwrites, Exit Slips, etc.). 
  3. Collaborative Student Activities
  4. Student Reflection & Metacognition

What are Interactive Slides? 

What are interactive slides? They are traditional Google Slides that have a special add-on that makes them interactive for students to write and draw on them while you are presenting them in your live online or in-person classrooms. A great adaptation to interactive slides is your ability to provide students with feedback as well as see their progress as you move through your lesson. This allows you to provide active learning opportunities and feedback simultaneously, which will create a fun and engaging lesson for your students. Also, in terms of prep, it does not take long to prep your lessons as you can take your current slideshows and transform them into interactive slides!

Access to Interactive Slides

Currently, Poway has a district license for Nearpod and Vista and Escondido have a district license for Pear Deck. There are some aspects of each you can utilize for free. However, when it comes down to it, you can integrate the same strategies using the same tools. 

Strategies/Activities for Interactive Slides

You can do a wide range of strategies and activities ranging from social-emotional learning, quickwrites, drag and drop, flashcards, bulletin boards, exit slips for formative assessment, and student reflection. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Both Pear Deck and Nearpod can be used for all of these strategies and activities. 

Getting Started with Nearpod and Pear Deck

The goal here is to show how you can get started using Nearpod and Pear Deck. You will see step-by-step instructions to add both tools to your Google Slides to then be incorporated into your slideshows. 

Step 1: Open up Google Slides and create a slide. Then, click โ€œAdd-ons.โ€

Step 2: Click on โ€œGet Add-onsโ€ and add โ€œPear Deckโ€ and โ€œNearpod.โ€

Step 3: Open up Pear Deck or Nearpod by clicking on Add-ons.

Part 2: Opening Nearpod and Pear Deck on Google Slides

Now, we will open up Nearpod and Pear Deck. First, we will begin with Nearpod.


Step 1: Log on through your Gmail or Office 365 account. You will have to create an account for either Nearpod or Pear Deck in order to use the add-on. 

Step 2: Now, click on the slide and turn it interactive by clicking on one of the various options provided to make it interactive. The free version of Nearpod includes Drag and Drop, Draw, Open-Ended Questions, and Poll (Multiple Choice).

Accessing Pear Deck 

Step 1: Click on the Add-on tab on Google Slides. 

Step 2: Open up Pear Deck and determine what you would like your slide to be in terms of what interactive feature you would like. Free Pear Deck includes text and multiple choice features to be added to slides. 

Hopefully after reviewing these steps, you will now be able to begin using Pear Deck or Nearpod in your classroom. Comment below to let us know how it has been going using these two tools.

Published by Matthew Rhoads, Ed.D.

Innovator, EdTech Trainer and Leader, University Lecturer & Teacher Candidate Supervisor, Consultant, Author, and Podcaster

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