Padlet: The Virtual Bulletin Board For Your Classroom

As a future teacher, I am always looking for new tools to bring into my own classroom, once I have one. Throughout the last two years of my B.Ed. program, I have had the pleasure of attending multiple PD workshops covering a wide range of topics. Through these PD workshops, presenters have used various engaging ways to promote an interactive learning experience for the attendees. One of the PD sessions I attended, introduced me to Padlet for the first time. I was so excited about this new tool that I downloaded the app onto my phone immediately and have been using this tool ever since.

Padlet is an online bulletin board where you and your students can post ideas, thoughts, research, or answers. This is one example of what a Padlet can look like:

Padlet example.jpg

Creating an account with Padlet is FREE. Teachers can access Padlet through any device that has Internet access by going to Padlet’s website or downloading their free app. Anyone can create a free account, even students.

For more information on how to get started with Padlet, you can watch my #2minPD video:

Padlet makes fostering interactive learning and creating opportunities for collaboration within the classroom so much easier. By using Padlet in your lessons, another dimension is added to the collaborative nature of the learning experience. Students can work as a whole class, in small groups, or individually to add to the Padlet.

After creating your Padlet and sharing the link with your students, they will be able to add their notes to the board. The board is updated in real time, so students can watch their peers add notes. This can spark amazing, rich, deep conversation about the topic being presented. Suddenly, your students are taking charge of their own learning by taking a task such as adding notes to a Padlet board and turning it into a class discussion. Students usually end up discussing interesting facts that catch their attention while adding to the Padlet. They even go off and do their own research based on an interesting facts they read. It even allows for an opportunity to discuss the validity of the information being added to the board through discussions about reliable sources that students can depend on.

Padlet gives students a voice in the classroom. Your most shy and quiet students that don’t usually participate in class can now join in the conversations and collaborate with their peers without the intimidation of having to speak in front of the class.

By using Padlet to share ideas, you can provide students with “think time” to collect their thoughts before providing an answer. Padlet is a great way to differentiate for students who need extra think time. Students can add notes at their own pace. Students can go back and add to the Padlet at any time. This means that if they don’t manage to make their contribution in class, they can add something at home or the next day.

A Padlet can be used for various reasons and in all subjects. It could be to gather diagnostic information as to what students already know when starting a unit. It can be used to brainstorm ideas. It can be used as a review tool to gather everything the class has learned so far into one place. It can be used as a check-in at any time during a unit to see what information has been learned and what needs to be revisited. Padlet can also be used to gather information for creating a list of strategies students might use linked to Growth Mindset or SEL. The possibilities are endless!

Your Padlets, once created, are automatically saved. They can be accessed through your dashboard. These Padlets can be printed and posted around the room as co-created anchor charts for students to refer to.

If you track which students are writing which posts, Padlet can be used as a form of assessment. You can track the students posts by asking them to each create an account and signing in with their account when making a post. This allows for their name to appear on their post.

If you are looking for ways to keep parents in the loop about what you are covering in class, the Padlet link can be shared with parents so they can browse through what their child has been learning about in class.

A specific example of how it was used at the PD workshop where I was introduced to this tool was to collect information about what we already knew about the topic being presented. The instructor was able to talk about the information briefly as it was being posted. The direct and immediate response to the question gave the instructor the feedback they needed to continue on with the material. I thought that was a very engaging and practical way to collect information from the group.

Some people were unprepared for this use of technology. When using technology with your students, you should always make sure that they are aware of the upcoming use so they can bring their own device, if they have one (unless you are providing them with the school’s technology). That way they can participate in class and contribute to the conversation.

I think Padlet was used well in this setting. As a classroom teacher, I would give more context before presenting a questions to the class. I would also ensure that the class understands my expectations when using the tool and that we have a respectful and supportive sense of community within our classroom. This will help ensure that students are respectful to one another and respect each other’s contributions to the Padlet.

Overall, I think Padlet is a very useful tool to use in the classroom and is an engaging way to get students to participate in collaborative data collection and note-taking. I absolutely love how easy it is to get started and how quickly you can make a Padlet! Teachers already have a lot on their plate, so a time saving tool like this is definitely worthwhile!

*Header image retrieved from https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/padlet_logo_with_name1.jpg.

Using Google Docs for Story Writing

­­­­­­­­­In my second practicum, I was in a 6/7 MFI class in the morning and a 7/8 Specialized Gifted class in the afternoon. I taught both classes English and math. I planned and taught a language unit on creative writing for both classes. The culminating task of the unit was to write a fictional narrative. Through Google Classroom, each student was assigned a Google Doc that was formatted and ready for them to type into. When each student received a copy of the assigned Doc, the title appeared at the top, including their name. This is indicated by the red arrow in the image below.

1 edit

Student would then type their narratives into the Doc. Once complete, they would find someone who was also done and “swap” stories for peer editing. They would do this by sharing their story with their partner. Sharing is possible by clicking the blue “Share” button on the top right hand corner of the screen. When they click on the “Share” button, a window pops up. They would then type their partner’s email address into the box indicated by the red arrow below.

2 edit

Before clicking done, the students were to click on the pencil image on the right hand side of where they typed in their partners email address. By clicking on this pencil, a small menu bar appears and the students were to choose “Can comment”, indicated below.

3 edit

After “Can comment” had been selected, the students would click the blue “Done” button and their work would be shared for peer editing. This would only allow their partner to add comments to their work, as opposed to being able to make changes. This allowed for the author to choose which comments they saw beneficial to their work and which did not apply.

Students would add comments to the stories they were editing by clicking on the “Add comment” button found on the right side of the page. This button is found by hovering your mouse over the right side of the page. It is indicated below.

4 edit

Before clicking the button, the students would highlight the text they wanted to comment on. Once clicked, a comment box appears at the side of the page and the selected text would highlight in yellow. Here the student can add their comments by typing into the comment box, where indicated below.

5 edit

Once they are satisfied with their comment, the student would click on the blue “comment” button and the comment would become visible to the author.

Using this technology for this task augmented the students learning by allowing for more interaction between the students during the editing phase of the writing process. It also allowed me, as the teacher, to check-in on students’ progress without disrupting their thought process. I was able to track students’ work both on their own stories as well as the editing they had done on other students stories. Aside from this, using the technology  allowed students to look up words online (for spelling, grammar, or definitions) and, for some, to check the accuracy of an idea they wanted to incorporate into their story. Students who had difficulty getting their ideas down on paper or difficulties writing found it helpful to use the technology to write their stories. Overall, the students were more engaged in their work.

The only disadvantage we experienced was the occasional disconnect of the Internet. Because Google Docs is online, we were dependent on having a good Internet connection.

Next time I use this activity with my class, I would like to provide feedback directly on each student’s Doc before they submit the final version of their story. This is very easily done through Google Classroom because, since the teacher assigned the assignment to the entire class, each student received their own copy of the Google Doc. The teacher has access to each student’s work and providing formal feedback before the final version is submitted for grading is beneficial to all students’ learning. I want all of my students to be the best that they can be and reach their full potential.

Google Docs is a fantastic tool to use in the classroom. It’s free! If your school has a Google for Education package (G Suite for Education), then each teacher and each student already has a Gmail email address. This means that you all have free access to Google Docs as part of your Google Apps. To purchase a Google for Education package, click here.

You can find more information about Google Docs and how to use it by clicking here.

*Photo credit for header image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.hellosign.com/1.36.4/build/3de25a8c0e4e8983ce62433bb4336ad6.svg.

Google Classroom: A time saving tool for teachers!

Being a teacher candidate, I have experienced the constant crunch for time that teachers constantly feel. Teachers have a lot on their plate and their work day is not limited to typical school day hours. Although a teacher starts and ends their “work day” to the sound of the school bell, the time a teacher puts into planning and marking outside of that time is remarkable. The devotion of a teacher to their students is one that only comes from a genuine love for the profession and a drive to help their students become the best they can be.

As I get closer to starting my career in teaching, I have gained a new appreciation for time. Finding time for myself has become more difficult and I find myself spending hours preparing units and lessons for my students, to ensure they will learn something new while having fun. Finding any tools that help me save time in organization, provides me with more time to design and prepare activities that will enhance the learning experience of my students.

Do such tools exist? Well, I have finally found one! Google Classroom does exactly that; it helps me organize my virtual classroom, which saves me time over the long run. I came across this tool during one of my Practicum experiences. My Associate Teacher had started using this tool with the class and showed me how to use it. I was able to give it a try during my Practicum! Here’s what I learned about it:

Google Classroom is just like your real classroom, but online. Since teacher and student school email addresses are Gmail accounts (depending on the board), they all have Google Classroom built into the Google apps. As the teacher, you can create a “class” and invite your students to join. Once you have your class up and running, you can post announcements for your students. These announcements are visible to everyone and can be scheduled in advance to be released at a later time. Links and attachments can be added to these announcements.

Google Classroom can be used to assign assignments to your students. It is very easy to link to any other G Suite apps such as Google docs. The teacher only has to attach an original doc and select the option to make a copy for each student. Each student will then receive a copy with their name in the document title. A due date can be set to the assignment and students would have to submit their work before the deadline. The teacher can then mark the assignment and give feedback. This saves time (and paper! No printing necessary so it’s also good for the environment!) so you can hand back assignment quicker, since it’s all in one convenient location!

Parents/guardians can be added to the class as well, but they do not have editing abilities on assignment, they are simply able to view. This allows them to be more involved in their child’s learning and gives them an idea of what their child is doing at school.  Parents/guardians receive a weekly update summarizing the classes activity that week.

For a short video about Google Classroom, click here.

Google Classroom helps students with their organization. Everything is found in one location and they don’t need to worry about forgetting due dates or losing papers. It can also be accessed anywhere as long as they have access to the Internet. This means they can work on assignments at school, home, or anywhere.

An example of an assignment I did with my class in Practicum was the culminating task for their creative writing unit. The students were to write a narrative. I announced the assignment on Google Classroom. Attached, each student found their copy of the Google doc they were to type their stories into. It contained the success criteria and a formatted page to type directly into. The due date was set for the assignment and students were aware of the time frame they had to complete it so they could plan their time accordingly. I liked that I could assign the doc to the students as one announcement for the entire class and even set the due date on it. My students really liked being able to ask their questions directly on the post. This helped a lot of students since sometimes they were able to help each other and sometimes many students had the same question and would benefit from being able to see the answer. The only thing I would change about the experience is being more clear as to the material they should be commenting on the post itself. It’s always very important to outline your expectations to your students! A great way to do this is by co-creating a set of rules as a class, allowing them to outline what is important to them, allowing them to take ownership of their learning.

How much does it cost? It’s free! That’s right! FREE! It’s a part of the Google for Education package. It can be purchased here. If you are already a teacher, it is a part of your G Suite account (that comes with your school email address, if your board uses it).

My advice? If you are a teacher looking to save a little time, Google Classroom is a great tool to help you organize your virtual classroom.

More information about Google Classroom can be found here.

If you want to give Google Classroom a try, the instruction to sign in can be found here.

*Photo credit: https://www.edulastic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Google-Classroom.jpg