Common Core literacy standards, the Kansas state social studies standards, and the new C3 social studies standards from the NCSS are all saying basically the same thing. We need to have kids ask questions, collect and evaluate data, and communicate solutions. And a big part of all it is finding ways for teachers and students to collaborate with each other.
Finding ways to collaborate is not always that simple. But technology is making it easier. One of my new favorite tools perfect for collaboration is a free web-based tool called Padlet.
Padlet used to be called Wallwisher. I wasn’t a fan. Wallwisher seemed clunky and lacked some features – such as the ability to moderate posts – that I thought were important. But Padlet . . . pretty sweet.
So what’s Padlet? Think of a bulletin board in your classroom. Post a writing prompt on the board and add a folder that contains a class set of primary source documents. Ask kids to grab a copy of the handout, read it, and then respond to the prompt. Collect all of the papers. Assess the responses. Hand the papers back to the kids.
Not a bad activity. But not very collaborative. And it’s time consuming and wastes paper. Enter Padlet.
Padlet lets you create an online version of the same activity. Your virtual bulletin board is now accessible anywhere / anytime. Students grab a virtual copy of your document and respond to the prompt right on the virtual wall. Both you and the students can see the responses of the other students, encouraging new lines of thinking and easing the assessment process.
You and your students can add images, links, videos, and more. Settings allow you to make your wall private, private with a password, moderated (you get to approve all posts before they appear), or open to the public. You can create your own URL for each wall, add your own background, set up a notification system that updates you of new posts, control whether students can view, write, or edit the wall, and change the layout from a free form look to an inline version. You can share your wall to all sorts of social media, print it, email it, and export it in PDF, Excel or CSV formats. You can even get a QR code specific to your wall.
Padlet is cross-platform and is designed to work on mobile devices. And your students don’t need to create Padlet accounts to access your walls. Plus it’s free.
But start thinking of ways you and your kids could use this. For small group brainstorming. Final projects. Class discussions. Writing prompts. Vocabulary word walls. It could act as a simple web site to communicate with parents and students. Sports teams.
Pretty sweet stuff.