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Pearl Trees and Promethean Boards #diffimooc

March 26, 2013

This week our essential question was: How can we use pealtrees in the classroom? I had to think about this a while as I have first graders. I came up with the idea of creating a pearltree with links to many different websites. I found that I was able to add pearls with links to specific games. This could be handy during workshop time. I could quickly select the particular game I wanted a student to play based on their needs. A handy way of differentiating instruction. I could allow the students to choose a game by clicking on a pearl themselves. Sometimes it is good to offer student choice and sometimes I want to offer limited choices so I know they are practicing the skills they have not yet mastered. Pearl tree allows me to do just that.  Here is a photo of a pearltree  I created for first grade games:


I used pearltrees this week to curate resources for our group project, which was about interactive white boards. It is a fun tool because you can add text, photos, sideshows, or links to websites. You can move the pearls around to create an interactive concept map.  This works great with a Promethean Board.

I chose Promethean Board for my project because I have one in my classroom that I use every day. I have been using it now for several years, yet I am always learning more about it. It is a very powerful learning tool. Integrating the Promethean ActivClassroom into lessons can increase student achievement an average of 17% (Marzano & Haystead, 2009). They also found that student achievement was more likely to increase if the teacher was experienced and used the board between 75% and 85% of the time.

I also found some criticisms of the Promethean Board on the Wikipedia site. There was a concern that the white boards would lock teachers into a lecture style of teaching, that teachers spend more time focusing on the technology than on what students should be learning, that the pace of instruction is actually slowed by the use of white board as students take turns at the board.

As for the first concern, I think teachers have the power to teach in the style that fits the needs of their students, white board or not. As for focusing more on the technology, well, there probably is some truth to that. As with any new technology it takes time to become proficient at it. It can be frustrating if the teacher has to spend too much class time figuring out how to work the equipment. On the up side, I know that when I first got a Promethean Board in my classroom, my students were very excited about it and we learned together. Yes, sometimes the pace can be slowed by students taking turns. This is where you have to use management skills and teacher discretion about how much time to give each student and how many students to allow a turn. If interest starts to wane, it might be best to let some students have a turn in a different lesson.

As for myself, I love being able to share things from the web with my first graders. Parent e-mail me photos and students tell about them for show and tell. We send and receive emails when students go on vacation. The fact that I can make charts with different pages allows me to scaffold lessons from easy to hard. Once the flip charts are made, I can use them for review. There are also so many websites that I can connect to which students can practice their skills in fun and motivating ways. When students are working at the Promethean Board, they are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.

I created a short slide show so you can see the Promethean Board in action. Here is the link:

I also created a little tutorial just to give you a sample of I use this resource.

I worked with several other people to create a webpage about interactive white boards called Differentiating the Process. Thank you Lindsey for setting this up!


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  1. Lori, I love your idea about using Peartrees for games for your first graders! I am going to set up something similar for my 3rd graders. Thanks!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I am going to use Peartrees for all my classes since I teach so many different subjects in high school.

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