Digital Classroom Collaboration with Padlet!

By
Thomasine Mastrantoni and Deborah Goldstein, the Link Ladies

Editor's note: Our much-loved Link Ladies are back with a game-changing nugget of app-style learning wisdom! Here, they explore Padlet, a digital collaborative canvas. As with any Link Ladies-approved app, Padlet is free and simple to use. Plus, it makes reacting to a text super-fun! Try it in your classroom and be sure to let us know how it goes!

Imagine having your whole class of 25 students share what they are thinking simultaneously… sounds like a recipe for classroom chaos, right? Not with Padlet. This app allows every student to do just that. Reading responses, collaboration, and quick assessments at your fingertips. Seeing everyone’s thoughts instantly in one place—a teacher’s dream. And get this… students love it!

The App: Padlet will become one of your all time favorites. A padlet is a digital collaborative canvas. You can post text, pictures, videos, upload documents, share websites or just have a place to keep ongoing lists. Padlets are simple to create, simple for students to use, and having all of your students’ ideas in one place will make it simple for you to use as a check in or an assessment.

Why We Use It: Padlet is a great way to get your students responding to text in an online collaborative space. Since the web address is personalized, students can easily access the padlet anywhere—even at home. With a few clicks and personalizations, your padlet is ready to have students share their thinking. The site is live, so students get to see their peer’s responses in real-time. Another huge part of getting students engaged with their work is this real-time collaboration.

Skill Focus: Collaboration with peers on reading responses; opinion and evidence based thinking

Time: 1 class period (once you teach them how to use the app, you can make it a homework assignment or a center that they can complete independently)

What You'll Need:

  • Storyworks or Storyworks Jr. article (or other text)
  • iPads with Padlet app (FREE in the app store) OR a computer with www.padlet.com
  • A great imagination

First, set up your Padlet: Set up your first padlet before class (it takes 5 mins flat). You do have to set up a padlet account, but it is easy and free. Simply go to padlet.com and sign up. Now you are ready to create your first padlet. Choose Make a Padlet from your Dashboard.

Padlet guides you through the steps to personalize your padlet. At any time, you can click the setting wheel to change or edit your padlet. Start by changing the title and description to reflect what your padlet will be about. We often put our writing prompt or instructions in the description—this makes sure it is visible for students at all times.

Choose how the posts will appear on the screen. There are three layout choices: Freeform (posts will appear wherever you click on the screen—caution, sometimes posts will overlap with others), grid (posts will appear next to each other in a grid format—we find this the easiest to use), and stream (posts will appear in a list). Then, make it engaging! Choose an image that matches your prompt to make the padlet engaging and connected to the learning task/topic.

You can personalize the web address to make it something easy for your students to remember.As you can see, your user name is always the start of the web address.  You can add something simple like “garbage” for your students to make it easy to remember.

Next, choose your privacy settings. You want anyone with the link (your students) to be able to write on the padlet. You can keep it secret, but allow anyone with the link to collaborate OR you can make it public.

Now it is time to have students post. You can share your created padlet in various ways.  You can use a QR code and have them scan and link directly to the page, post the link on your website or in Google Classroom for easy access, or Have them type in the URL on the app.

The Lesson: We use padlet to respond to text all the time. This time we wanted to focus on how to read and extract information from an infographic. Since it’s springtime and we are thinking about being outside, we used the newest infographic "No More Garbage?" from the May/June Storyworks issue.

Discuss how and why an infographic can be used to relay LOTS of information in a succinct and engaging way. We also had a brief discussion about what statistics are and how they can be used to convey information and WOW a reader at the same time.

Give the students a copy of Storyworks Magazine. Talk with them about how to read an infographic. It is not linear. You do not have to read it in order. Information flows in different ways. After students read the infographic, we asked them to choose TWO of the amazing WOW facts and post them to the collaborative padlet. Students were then challenged to come up with ONE solution that they could do to help reduce the amount of garbage.

If this is your first time using padlet, discuss with your students the idea of real-time collaboration. As they are adding their ideas to the page, so are all of their peers—simultaneously.  Some students will need a reminder to focus on their own posts first, then check out what their friends are thinking.

When they access the website, students either double-click or click on the + (bottom right corner of screen) which allows them to start a new post.  They can type their response to the reading prompt (which we have in our description at the top). To differentiate, you can have students who finish quickly search the web and then add an image to their post. This image should support the ideas expressed in their writing.

To view a padlet that our 3rd graders collaborated on, click here.

Padlet can be used in so many different ways. Keep your eyes peeled for our next Ideabook post on how to use Padlet to reflect on your Storyworks school year. THIS idea will make the Storyworks team Jump for Joy!

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