App Spotlight: Padlet

padlet logo

Overview

Padlet is a digital canvas where you can create, create, and collaborate. It’s one of the most popular tools with my colleagues, and I’ve used it for years, since its previous incarnation as Wallwisher. It’s a freemium product, with a version for schools called Padlet Backpack.

Using Padlet

To use Padlet, it’s best to create an account. You can sign up with a username/password combo, or by connecting your Facebook or Google account. This gives you a personal profile, which includes a public feed of your padlets, as well as any biographical information that you’ve added to your account. If you don’t create an account, make sure you save the links for any padlets that you create, and to finish editing their settings within 24 hours.

When you create a new template, you can select one of five formats, or convert between formats:

  • Wall which uses a “brick-like layout”, when order doesn’t matter
  • Canvas which lets you arrange content and create connectors within them, for trees, mind-maps, flowcharts, brainstorming, etc.
  • Steam for a vertical organization of content, to make lists, reports, blog posts, etc.
  • Grid for rows of content, useful for storyboards, noticeboards, etc.
  • Shelf for columns of content, each independently scrollable, e.g. compass point activity, introductory padlet.

You can create a padlet from scratch, using a template, or by modifying an existing padlet which allows copy, and you can decided whether or not others can remake your work as a template. There are a variety of wallpapers to choose from. Themes are also available in the premium version. For each padlet, you can set a custom link address.

template choices

Template choices

 

There are options for visibility: Public, Secret, Password-Protected, Private or Organization Wide (premium feature). You also decide permissions for users: read-only, write, moderate, admin. Posts can show up instantly, or you can turn on moderation. You can manage posts by other users, and edit, transfer, copy, or delete them. Also, at any point, anyone can export a Padlet as a pdf, csv, image or Excel file. They can also share it on social media, or embed it elsewhere on the web.

post to padletPadlet lets you add posts to the board, using links, photos, video, documents, music, voice recordings, and other file types. You may also be able to comment on other posts, depending on the settings of the padlet.

Padlet has integrated search, which lets you find your own padlets, or to search for padlets on specific topics.

Padlet Backpack

I haven’t used the premium product, but according to the Padlet website, it offers the following features:

  • user management and access control
  • more privacy
  • extra security
  • branding
  • school-wide activity monitoring
  • bigger file uploads
  • controlled environment
  • support

Great Features

  • Support for multiple languages
  • Easy to collaborate in the space
  • No signup required to post
  • Upload files from your computer, or embed from the web
  • Attached links and files have previews right in Padlet
  • Links are automatically recognized and hyperlinked
  • Real time updates of the padlet, or focus mode which lets you decide when to refresh the content
  • Copy posts within one padlet or from one padlet to another
  • Automatically create a QR code for your padlet

Tips

  • Use an organizational tool like a Venn Diagram or T Chart as a background to help you organize posts
  • Install Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to quickly add web content to your padlets, or install the Chrome App for easy access
  • If students are posting without an account, have them put their name in the title of the post

10 Ideas to use Padlet in the Classroom

  1. Make a list of resources for your students, color coded by topic, or reading level.
  2. Have students create a wall as a presentation on a topic
  3. Create a padlet for collaborative brainstorming
  4. Collaboratively create a question and answer board with students
  5. Create a video playlist for a course
  6. Create a booksmarks board for a class
  7. Have students post reviews of books that they are reading
  8. Post a daily message/question to students that they can respond to
  9. Create a weekly “newsletter” for parents, curated by students
  10. Have students create showcases/portfolios of their work

Devices Supported

Padlet works on iOS, Android, Kindle, and on the web.

Padlet with Kids

Padlet allows use by children under 13, provided that schools take the steps needed to comply with their local laws. In the US, this means respecting COPPA and FERPA, and either consenting on behalf of parents, or getting parental consent before sharing any personal information about children.

Resources

Safety and Security on Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social network for teens. My (unscientific) research done by talking to teens about their use of Facebook reveals that they still use Facebook in addition to apps like Snapchat, but they generally use social media differently than their parents do, using it more for personal communication than to share things with the whole world.

Facebook still officially requires users to be at least 13 years old, and users can report children who are under 13 years old. If your and/or your child is new to Facebook, make sure that you take a look at the Parents Portal. The site includes a number of parenting tips of parents in the digital age, a section on using Facebook and staying safe, parenting tips, and expert advice from groups around the world.

Instructions for those new to Facebook

List of resources in the security center

The broader safety center also includes safety tools and resources, bullying prevention information for teens, parents and educators, and a help center, in addition to the Parents Portal.

I recommend that you take the time to explore this resource to learn how to use Facebook, and how to keep yourself and your family safe online. Even if you’re not new to Facebook, it’s a good idea to regularly complete the security and privacy checkups to make sure that your settings and online habits are as you wish them to be.

Link Highlight – Ask Dr Universe

Washington State University has a great site called Ask Dr. Universe. The website invites students to submit a question, or look though questions asked by other children. Questions are categorized so that children can explore topics based on their curiosity.

You can use this website to spark children’s curiosity or to create and ask a question of an expert. This questions may derive from an individual student investigation or a whole class discussion. When children submit a question to an expert, they have to type in an email address. With younger students, e-mail replies are best filtered through the teacher’s email account. A feature that I really like about this website is that, instead of typing a question, students can upload their question with a video.

Here’s a short, official, video highlighting the tool:

Newsela Adds New Library Feature

Newsela is an old favorite. Many of my colleagues use it with their students, so that the students can access news stories at their reading level. Now Newsela has added a great new feature called Library.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 20.13.58

Newsela library

Library contains primary sources and other articles that students can use for research. Users can filter the articles in the library by grade level, reading standard, and language (English or Spanish).

Once a user accesses an articles, she can select from the available reading levels.

Choose reading level

Choose reading level

If you use Newsela already, check out the Library. If you are new to Newsela, create an account, and check out the features for classrooms. Here is a list of the more useful features:

  • import a class from Google Classroom
  • assign articles to students
  • add annotations to articles

If you teach elementary school, you can access articles suitable for students in elementary school at Newsela Elementary. Newsela Elementary only contains articles and topics suitable for elementary students; the main Newsela sites contains all the articles fromĀ  Newsela Elementary, as well as articles appropriate for older students. Newsela works on all devices with Internet access.

IT Integration Walls

An IT Integration wall is a great way to support student use of technology for learning in the classroom. There are many different approaches that you can take. One approach is to create a poster of Just Right resources for your grade/students. Here’s an example from a grade 2 classroom.

Example of an IT Integration Wall

Example of an IT Integration Wall

The teachers included instructions of how to use Dropbox, as well as QR codes to resources appropriate for this unit. This space can be aa big, or as small as you want it to be, and you can involve student “experts” in creating it, especially at older grades. I’m also creating tutorials for some classes/grades, and those types of resources can be incorporated into the space.

If you’re looking for resources to create QR codes, here are some resources.