Friday, February 14, 2014

Passion for Padlet

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to tell you about a Web 2.0 tool my students and I absolutely love.  It is called Padlet.  To explain what it is in simple terms, I will use a quote from Padlet’s home page, “We give you a blank wall. You put anything you want on it, anywhere. Simple, yet powerful.”  Padlet has given my class a place to post our ideas digitally for a variety of purposes for all subject areas.  

I first started using Padlet as an exit slip.  I would have my students post their thoughts at the end of the lesson or for homework so I could assess understanding, encourage collaboration, and allow students to access other resources for more information to respond to my question.  We were having such success and my students wanted a new question daily.  I decided to post inquiry questions as a way to pretest for understanding before science labs or mini-lessons in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop.  We are also a 4C’s (collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking) centered classroom, so I encouraged students to come up with their own content-related questions to post to a Padlet for our class to answer.  They would submit them via a Google Form. We also used our Padlets to collaborate with our buddy classrooms in our district and across the country. We asked for advice about poetry writing from Mrs. Barnes 7th Graders in Virginia and they posted their ideas on a Padlet for us.  Recently, my class jigsawed online nonfiction resources and explored the text structure of the websites.  They recorded their findings on Padlet

Padlet is a great professional development presentation tool for educators.  I use it to get to know my workshop participants, check for understanding, and encourage feedback.  It also gives educators attending my workshop a chance to try one of the tools I use with my students, and feel the power of this collaborative learning opportunity.  It always opens up a great discussion, and I love the buzz I hear between educators discussing the possibilities for their own professional world.

There are many features in Padlet that make it unique and exciting.  The program is very easy to use since you only have to set up a few options in order for a Padlet to be ready to use.  These are: portrait, wallpaper, title, description and privacy settings.  Padlet gives you many options for the portraits and wallpaper, but I usually use my own photo for the portrait to remind my students that the question is coming from me.  I have done this as a way to remind them that classroom rules for digital citizenship apply 24/7 and our connection with our global community comes with great responsibility.  I am happy to say that they have taken this learning opportunity very seriously and have not abused the freedom.  Here are a few more examples of Padlets my students and I have created over the last two years.   

How do you use Padlet with your students? Share your ideas and lessons.