Today’s Contributor: Lisa Wenske
Lisa teaches 1st Grade in Austin, Texas. She enjoys running and movies. 😃
Padlet.com is a website that allows users to create online discussion boards. While I’d heard about and used Padlet as part of professional development experiences (formerly WallWisher) for years, I began using Padlet with my First Graders 3 years ago. Through this time, Padlet has become a great tool for our classroom that helps students feel empowered, take appropriately helpful learning risks, and share their learning and thinking with others in our class and beyond our classroom. While creating a Padlet account is free, as with most sites, you can opt-in for a subscribed service. I continue to use my free account and have not yet reached any type of limit on boards, which has been truly awesome.
I create Padlet boards and link them on my teacher website, making them easily accessible by students. To ensure privacy and safety online, students in my class use their chosen aliases (or “fake names,” as they like to call them) for posting on Padlet, and we discuss the many developmentally appropriate and sensitive reasons for keeping our real names and personal information private online. Padlet links are easily shared via email, and boards embed nicely on most sites including AISD’s LMS, BLEND.
I have created Padlet online discussion boards for my 1st graders to post:
-number sentences/equations and word or story problems they create to accompany their number sentences for our designated Number of the Day;
-strategic reading comprehension skill comments, such as predictions, connections and inferences made to texts we’ve read or shared; and
-personal reading log notes, which students link to on their own individual wiki pages (comments about books read and book interests).
Padlet has been enormously fun and hugely motivating to use for my first graders each year. Students seem to love seeing their comments accessible online via computers and iDevices and in large screen format (which I project as students post on some days during Literacy and Math Centers). But, Padlet also provides other benefits to our class. Padlet allows me to view everyone’s responses at once, instead of requiring me to review student responses one by one. This helps me assess the class progress as a whole and make decisions in real time about how to assist and guide. Padlet allows anytime access so students can comment in a whole group setting, small groups and/or individually with internet connected devices. This provides me freedom to schedule learning and required tasks in unique and helpful ways and allows me to work with other students during such posting time. Padlet also allows me to easily share students’ work with the whole class quickly and with other colleagues when helpful. Padlets aren’t erased or quick to end; they can be revisited, accessed, edited and collaborated on repeatedly, which is great for students and helps me view learning over extended periods of time (allowing me to see growth from one Padlet to the next, etc.).
Posting on Padlet is accommodating and extending in nature, as students who need help with fine motor skills may prefer typing over handwriting, and the auto-suggest feature on iPads for spelling is sometimes hugely welcomed by kids needing assistance. For students who have been identified as G/T, Padlet gives them ever-expanding space to write as much as they’d like and provides a unique and creative way to share their work (i.e., it’s very open-ended). Since posts are editable, I can give input while monitoring posts on our large screen or my own device; and students can revise before Padlets are shared more substantially with the whole group, which is also considerate of individual emotional and personality needs.
Students have learned that tools like these are creative, powerful and connecting. And through their participation, students feel individually valued and that they are important, contributing parts of our group, which affects our classroom climate and helps us feel and function more cohesively as a class and learning community unit.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!!!
Editor’s Note: Padlet recently changed their model and users can no longer make unlimited padlets for free. Here is a link to another blog post that discusses those changes.