We have a class set of iPads in our science department. They’re fantastic. They enable the kids to find out anything via the internet in a minute, rather than an hour long laptop marathon. We can instantly capture images and video of what we’re up to, and have it up on YouTube seconds later. We can use an ever-growing number of creativity apps to demonstrate our progress in ways that we wouldn’t even have imagined 12 months ago. I love them. Problem is, so do the other members of my department, and bookings for the trolley have now long surpassed saturation point. Although this in itself is annoying when you’ve got something new and cool to try, a big problem I often have is forgetting something really cool I’ve done because I don’t use it again for a while. This is the case with my favourite re-discovery of the last few weeks – Padlet.
I first used padlet at a physics teachers’ event at Exeter Uni last summer. One of the workshops I opted for was “Apps in Science”. Run by Alessio Bernadelli (@asober), it was nice to chat about apps I was already using. The big find of the session for me however was padlet.com. Basically a big blank sheet of online paper, Alessio had us using the site to post ideas and comment throughout the session, but I was already thinking about using it in class. Over the next week I bust it out a couple of times to great effect. Then completely forgot about it… Until now!
So what’s it all about? Your first job is to sign yourself up on the padlet site – just sign in with your google or fb id. Then create your first wall. Doesn’t look very exciting yet, but it will. Take a few seconds now to modify your wall – it’ll make it easier for students find and it means it’ll do exactly what you want – give it a custom URL, add a password and description – whatever you need.
Now your wall is ready to go. Simply double tap anywhere on your wall to add some text, a link or an image (which can be grabbed straight from your iPad camera roll or your PC folder). So far so good, but now it gets better. Just share your custom wall URL with the kids and they too can see what you’ve posted and also post their own content. You still remain in charge of your wall as it’s creator and can move and delete their posts. Good stuff.
How am I using it?
Firstly to share images. There are plenty of ways to push images out to the kids’ iPads (chirp, edmodo, Dropbox), but I really like the way you can throw an image up on the wall and it’s there waiting for them. Simple and visual. Add a title and a quick instruction, and it suddenly starts getting useful.
In the example above I posted an image of the structure of the heart. This was just a quick 5 min starter to refresh before we moved on. The kids were asked to save the image back to their iPad and use an app (e.g. Explain everything) to label up the main features before posting their work back to the wall. Within 5 mins, we had everyone’s work on the wall where we could compare what had been included/missed off and who’d done the best job. We then went on to repeat the process for other body systems – everybody shared their ideas to fill in the gaps in knowledge. Best of all, telling kids to just “post it back on the wall” is like second nature to them, so no explanation needed.
Use number 2 – Peer review and evaluation. Much the same as above, I posted an image on the wall and asked the kids to add their ideas – this time ray diagrams forming an image in a mirror. Again, we labelled up our images and posted them up. This time I displayed the images on the whiteboard – by clicking on one you open a slide show of all images that can be scrolled through. We looked at each image in turn and evaluated the diagrams, reinforcing our understanding and addressed any misunderstandings. Because it was their own work, the kids were more interested/invested in the discussion and best of all we’d gathered everyone’s work together in one place without anyone leaving their seats! (Thanks to the two year 8 girls for lying on the floor below the balcony for the image!).
Check out the wall below here
Final use – Takeaway homework. I’m a recent convert to the Takeaway homework craze which seems to be all over twitter at the mo. Kids get a choice of home works during a topic that must all be completed by the end of the unit. A number of the tasks I set don’t involve straight forward written tasks – they be might asked to produce a short video, draw out a big mind-map or find some relevant websites for revision. All these artefacts can be a bit difficult to collate, and gathering photos in via edmodo or the like loses some visual impact – enter Padlet! Now for each topic, I’m simply going to create a padlet wall where kids can throw up photos and links in order that we can spend some review time looking through and benefiting from each other’s work. I can easily comment on the work produced and it’s all in one place when I need it. Everyone’s a winner.
I really do urge you to give padlet a go. I’ve just mentioned a few uses here, but as with everything, no matter what it’s intended purpose, teachers will find a way to use it for a million different jobs. And of course, there are staff CPD sessions, department meetings, evening revision groups, corridor display screens………
Let me know what you think!