Flashcard Factory- A POG Hero: 12/15/19

So many programs claim to promote 21st century thinking or what my district calls Portrait of a Graduate Skills, but this unsung hero is quickly becoming one of my favorite programs because of how seamlessly it helps students reach these goals. I have to be honest I had never even heard of this component of this program until this summer when I attended a Pear Deck training by Robert Yoo.

So you might be wondering what Pear Deck has to do with Portrait of a Graduate skills (aka 21st century skills). In my district, we have 5 Portrait of a Graduate skills:

  1. Communicator

  2. Collaborator

  3. Ethical and Global Citizen

  4. Creative and Critical Thinker

  5. Goal Directed and Resilent Individual

So when I was initially introduced to Flashcard Factory, a part of Pear Deck, I wasn't really sure how to use it or why others at the training liked it so much. But I took the words of others at the training and decided to try it.

My first experience with this program was in a fourth grade class at my school. They were studying Caesar's English and their teacher and I had decided this was a good way to have them practice their words. As we began the activity, I wasn't sure exactly how this would work- sure, I had done it as a training, but I was totally unprepared for the experience I was about to have.

It was a huge success. I loved watching my fourth graders as they engaged with the content. They were not only using their knowledge of the words, but were collaborating as they create their cards. Moreover, as we reached quality control, the discussions we had about each of their proposed cards was engaging for all students.

After this, I used this program several times with my grade 4 and 5 students. Each time, the students loved the activity and were not only engaged, but also immersed in the activity. During a region School Based Technology Specialist meeting, I shared how much students loved this and @MsMeshover shared how one of her teachers, @Barrys_class decided to use this program in an open ended manner where students came up with story problems and illustrations for math problems.

As December began, I tried this with one of my sixth grade classes. I was amazed at the results. All of my sixth grade students were completely engaged. Their discussions were fascinating as they used their critical thinking skills to analyze if their stories matched the expressions given. As we approached the quality control section, as a class, we were able to have some great conversations as we determined if their examples met their criteria set of having expressions match the story problems and illustrations.

Following this initial success, I continued to use this new use of Pear Deck's Flashcard Factory with another group of my sixth graders. This time, my sixth graders wrote story problems to represent subtracting integers. Once again, I was amazed by how my students took what could have been an abstract concept- subtracting integers and came up with real life scenarios for their problems.

Moreover, I loved as they used strategies such as using chips and number lines as their illustrations to show how to solve these problems. Students even discovered that they could use the slider tool to make counters. All of them were engaged as they worked in teams to create math problems.

But more than that, when I shared with teachers how easy this was to set up, my teachers were all on board. This was definitely something they could all do in the future.

So how does this program help students reach the Portrait of a Graduate skills I shared earlier?

  1. Communicator: Students used digital tools to share their ideas as they created word problems and/or sentences with matching illustrations.

  2. Collaborator: Students respectfully listen and ask questions to get their partners to share their ideas. Students also share their ideas with their partner as they work together to create their flashcards.

  3. Creative and Critical Thinker: Students get the opportunity to create unique solutions. Each team has the same problems yet their solutions in their cards are all very different. Students also ask questions to clarify, explore, and assess ideas as they work on their cards.

  4. Goal Directed and Resilent Individual: Students persevere through difficult tasks and situations. It is not always easy to make an abstract concept such as subtracting integers concrete- yet students work together to make this happen during this activity.

So you can see why this program is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It is more than just a "Flashcard Factory." Maybe it should be called the Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Resilent Inspiring Competition. But that is kind of a mouthful. So for now, just don't overlook this tool- plus, did I mention it's free for everyone to use?

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