My last post was about TodaysMeet, a great backchannel tool for eliciting student responses and engaging kids in discussion.  Well, I couldn’t stop myself from immediately writing about another of my FAVORITE backchannel tools – PADLET!   Teachers, if you haven’t seen this in action, you’re about to get real, real excited!

In Padlet, you set up a virtual ‘wall’ and kids can add virtual ‘sticky notes’ to it.  Your question or topic appears at the top, and students do all the reflecting & ruminating & stuff!  Oooooh, but there’s fancy, decorat-y, bling-bling-ness to be found at Padlet!  First of all, you can choose a little avatar icon for yourself.  I use the smiley face a lot.  You can choose your wallpaper background, and let’s face it…that’s just plain fun!  You can have the students’ posts appear anywhere they double-click on the screen, or for you type-A folks, you can have it stream down the page or present as a grid in a neat & orderly fashion!

But get this…are you sitting down?  In Padlet, the students’ posts also have the ability to add links to websites, upload a file or image from their computer, or even take a web-cam shot of themselves to add to the post!  These make for some really pretty walls that can be veritable FONTS of information!  Students love using these features to go above & beyond to find even MORE information than you were asking for to add to your post or question!  We teachers LOVE above & beyond!

Padlet is free to use, and has even more cool features that I’ll just quick-share by bulleting for you:

  • EXPORTING: share to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites, embed in a blog or webpage, share as an email, print it out, create a PDF of it, even create a QR code to it right from the Padlet site!
  • NOTIFICATIONS; You can sign up to get a notification each time a new post is made
  • PRIVACY:  You can restrict viewers, writers, and levels of permission in a lot of ways.  You can opt to moderate posts before they go up on the wall…great option for teachers to turn on if the wall will be open AFTER school hours!

Educationally, there are probably INFINITY uses for Padlet!  I’m sharing two of mine as part of this post.  For the first, I asked all of my elementary computer students (grades 2-5) what they’d like to learn in my class this year.  I set this up in a grid-type fashion to maximize space and make viewing easier.  After I created the wall, I just had a quick hyperlink to it on my teacher webpage so that the kids could just click & start posting!  My second example was shown during a class video about Jamestown.  We were starting a Social Studies unit on the Jamestown settlement, and I wanted students to share their thoughts during the video.  Before I started the video, students all had netbooks on their desks and a link to the Padlet wall.  However, after the video, we kept contributing to this wall for several weeks as students gathered information for group projects they were doing.  They used it as a board to share resources with each other and even comment on each others’ findings.  We had some pretty lively discussions about the enriching things they were finding…again, it was that ‘above & beyond’ thing!  Click on the links below to check out those Padlet walls!

Padlet: What do you want to learn in computer class this year?

Padlet: Jamestown Video

I honestly can’t think of any subject area, teacher, or staff member who couldn’t use Padlet to enrich their lessons!  Here are just a few random thoughts about uses……

  • Formative Assessment – I’m lucky enough to teach in a lab, so all kids are already on computers.  I use Padlet as a “ticket out the door” or “exit ticket” to assess learning and feedback on the day’s objective.
  • Character Ed – guidance counselor or teacher pose, “What would you do?” questions,  students respond to bullying video by sharing thoughts, brainstorm random acts of kindness…
  • Math – ways to show a number (expanded notation, tally marks, Roman numerals, etc.), make a Math museum of ways Math is used in everyday life, post photos of careers that use Math, link to video tutorials that explain Math concepts, play “Name that Number” and let students create complex number sentences for a designated number…
  • Science – hypothesize & then go back after the experiment to evaluate and reflect, link to online research,
  • Reading – describe characters, share inferences, write new story endings, list favorite quotes, cite textual evidence, create book trailers & link to the Padlet, post a homework question that students have to read & find the answer to and then post it from home, have students create book reports on a Padlet (give a rubric with specifications) and present them on the SmartBoard…
  • Language Arts – brainstorm synonyms, write sentences using vocabulary words, find vivid verbs, post grammar or punctuation rules…
  • Got a student who is moving?  Make a Padlet about him/her and let students post comments!  A great take-away gift!
  • Foreign language – practice vocabulary in full sentences, hold mock conversations (stream down page) where students take turns responding to each previous post, post photos that match vocab words…
  • Social Studies – keep a Padlet open for the duration of a unit as a place for students to share thoughts, research, findings, ideas, videos, etc. about a given topic

You get the ideas…SOOOO many uses, and SOOOO much fun!  Padlet is a tool you will want to use frequently and share with all of your teacher friends.  As a matter of fact, why not share this post with them right now?