edtech

Fluco Toolbox: SlidesCarnival

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever gotten bored of the available Google Slides themes or the PowerPoint templates available by default? Used the same template or theme over and over again?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Slides Carnival

First, the basics:

Name: SlidesCarnival
URL: http://www.slidescarnival.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Provides a large variety of free themes and templates that work for both Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Each one includes a variety of slide types, suggestions for the slides, and even some icons, too.

Today’s Fluco Toolbox is simple, yet it can add so much variety to presentations you may make in the future. SlidesCarnival is a nifty website that hosts a variety of free templates and themes for both PowerPoint and Slides. The goal of the site is to help the user create visually memorable presentations for audiences.

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The site is easy to use and navigate. Themes and templates are categorized in the gray bar at the top of the screen. Choose one to begin. Templates/themes can also be searched for as well. Once a category has been selected, scroll down to view the available options.

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Click on the title of the theme to go to its informational page. Scroll down to read a description of the template and what type of slides are included. at the very bottom is a preview of the template, allowing the user to click through the slides and check out the options.

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All the user has to do is select whether or not to download it in Slides or PowerPoint by clicking the corresponding button. Google Slides will open a new Slides presentation. It DOES NOT save the theme to the Themes section. PowerPoint is the same way.

Once the template is loaded, create a brand new presentation, and make sure the audience remembers it! Need help? SlidesCarnival has this nifty FAQ to help answer common questions.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: ClassroomScreen

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed a simple whiteboard? What about a random name picker, or a simple text box, or even a sound checker? What if you could have it all on one page?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is:

First, the basics:

Name: ClassroomScreen
URL: http://www.classroomscreen.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Integrates a lot of small classroom management tools onto one screen, such as an audio monitor, whiteboard, random name picker, stoplight, textbox, clock, timer, and more.

I have to give a big round of thanks to my new buddy Nathan from the Staunton Google Summit, as he did a demo slam on this tool, and it was something that most of us had never seen before, but it’s a great little tool with a lot of mini-tools tucked into it! Many of these tools have separate website or programs where they can be found, but ClassroomScreen integrates all of these onto one screen.

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Load the website, and a random background will appear. All tools for Classroomscreen are at the bottom of the page. These widgets are activated by clicking on them. The background and languages can also be changed. There are widgets for a random name picker/roll the dice, noise monitor, a large whiteboard, a small whiteboard, textbox, a QR reader for quick website navigation, work symbols, a traffic light, a timer/stopwatch, and a clock with the option of displaying the date. To the far right there are small buttons for an exit poll, to minimize the toolbar and a fullscreen option.

  • Language: There are nearly 60 languages available for use with this site
  • Background: Website provides a few different options to customize what appears on the screen
  • Random Name/Dice: Type in a quick list of names, or upload names from a .TXT file. Select choose to pick on. Switch to Dice mode and roll 1, 2, or 3 six-sided dice
  • Noise Monitor: Utilizes the mic on the computer. Sensitivity levels can be adjusted.
  • Large whiteboard: Change the pen size and color. A few background templates are included, such as lined paper and graph paper. Work on board cannot be saved
  • Small whiteboard: Exactly like the large board, except in a smaller window
  • Textbox: Use the rich text editor to type in directions, lists, etc. so that all students can keep track of what to do.
  • QR Reader: Type in a website and use a QR reader on a phone to read the resulting code.
  • Work symbols: Use these images to let students know what type of work should be completed at this time

The best part about classroom screen is the way it can be customized to fit the needs of each teacher’s classroom. Many of these tools are very simple but are things that teachers often find a need for every now and again. Perhaps a teacher just needs a few tools or needs a lot. Tools can be moved around on the screen and rearranged to best suit needs. Tools can be deactivated at any time.

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In the lower right corner are a few more options. One is an ExitPoll feature, one a way to move to full screen, and another to hide the toolbar at the bottom.

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ExitPoll works best if using an interactive board. It would not work well without one. The teacher simply types in the exit question and chooses a set of icons from the left side. As students leave the classroom, they touch the icon that best matches their answer as they walk out of the classroom. It’s very easily to select more than one answer, and a teacher should anticipate that a student may try to press multiple ones and skew data.

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Overall, this is a neat website to use all of these simple widgets in one place. Give it a try!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Bit.ly

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed to share a link with staff or students, but the copied link was far too long and looked horrible when shared or written on the board? Who remembers all of that anyway?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Bit.ly

First, the basics:

Name: Bit.ly
URL: Bit.ly
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Create shortened, easy to share links, that also track data on the links. Know where the link was clicked, when, and how many times total

In my experience, I feel like I tend to find a lot of folks who don’t know about the usefulness that is a link shortener. Bit.ly is just one of a few I have used in the past, but it is the one that I have continued to stick with time and time again. I love that not only can I create a “bitlink”, but also customize and track it over time as well.

To get started, go to bit.ly. Create an account on the website, which will enable the tracking of created bitlinks. Bit.ly does allow accounts to be created with existing Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Follow the steps to finish signing up. The dashboard will then load.

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The dashboard houses a list of created bitlinks, sorting by date created or top clicks, and then the center section shows data on any selected bitlink. In the image above, data is shown on a recent link I created.

To create a new bitlink, click the orange “Create” button in the upper right corner of the screen. A window will slide out from the right side, and ask the user to paste the URL that will be shortened. Immediately upon pasting, Bit.ly will shorten the link. At this time, the link address can be customized. For example, the string of numbers/letters could be changed to “pelink2”. Bit.ly will not allow links to use names that other links already use.

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Once the link has been created and customized if desired, then it can be copied and pasted and is the perfect length to copy onto the board for students. The “http://” part of the link is not necessary.

A bitlink is always saved to the account and can be found later and reused. Data on link clicks and where the clicks occurred are also stored and is great for analyzing.

Bit.ly is one of my favorite, almost daily resources and I love what it can do for my work. Whether I need to share links easily through email, references, or on a plain old white board, bit.ly’s got my back!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Gimkit

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever found your students enjoy using the likes of Kahoot, Quizizz, or Quizlet, but you want to try something different, maybe something with a few more bells and whistles?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Gimkit

First, the basics:

Name: Gimkit
URL: http://www.gimkit.com/
Cost: FREE, with 2 other paid options
Problem this tool solves: Create interactive quizzes for your students and allow them to answer on their own devices. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to upgrade their quiz experience. Teachers can convert Quizlets to work with this site.

Gimkit is a tool that has recently come across my Twitter feed, and I think it’s a great option to use alongside Kahoot, Quizizz, and the like. It brings in some different features and mixes things up. It was also created by a group of high school students, who also work to maintain their project. Teachers are able to create “kits” and have their students compete against each other. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to purchase upgrades to their quiz experience. Obviously, the better a student does, the more money they earn, and the more upgrades they are able to then purchase.

Signing up for Gimkit is pretty easy. First, a teacher must select a payment tier. There are 3 – Basic, Pro, and Go. Basic is the free side of Gimkit. Teachers are limited to only having 5 kits on the site at a time, but can access all of the core features. Pro means unlimited kits and access for 4.99 per month, and the user is billed annually. It also brings in some additional features, such as unlimited classes, the ability to import from Quizlet, copy and mixing of existing kits, stats, and more. Go is the pay per month side, and has the same features as Pro. However, it costs 7.99 a month, and users can cancel whenever.

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Once a plan is selected, simply fill out the required fields for name, email, and password. Currently, there is no integration with Google, but this is a relatively new site, so if this is a feature you’d like to see in the future, contact the creators and let them know.

Once sign up is completed, the dashboard appears, along with a quick introduction to Gimkit. The dashboard is very simple. Create a kit and dive right in, or create a class. Let’s take a look at both of these features.

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First, let’s look at Classes. When creating a class, give it a name, a color, and then enter in roster names. When students join a kit, they will have to select their name from the list, and will not be able to enter a name of their own choosing. Again, there is no Google integration, so all names are entered by hand. I tried to see what kind of limit was available for class creation. I ended up making 8 classes before I stopped trying to make more. It is easy to edit the class information or to delete a class that’s no longer needed. All one has to do is click on the class in the dashboard and select which students to remove, or click the button to delete the entire class.

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Creating a kit is easy! First, choose the type of kit to create. There are three options – From Scratch, importing from Quizlet, or from CSV. Make sure to give the new kit a name, and then click “Next”

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No matter which of the above options were selected in step 1, the next step is to select a cover. A variety of GIFs are randomly displayed. Additionally, the option to search for other GIFs is also available. Select one for the kit and then the next screen will load.

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The screen that follows the “Choose a cover” one varies depending on the type of kit being created. Let’s break it down.

If “From Scratch” was selected, then the first question screen will load. Select the “Add Question” button in the bottom right corner to begin.

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The next screen is very basic. There are two options for question types – multiple choice or text input. This is changed in the upper right corner. It’s very small, so it’s also easily missed. Multiple choice questions require the question and then answer choices. The first box requires the correct answer. An image can also be added to the question. Text input merely requires the question and the correct answer. Do note that the answer is not case sensitive. Click the blue “Add Question” button to save. Questions can be edited or deleted from the next screen. Click the blue “Create Kit” button in the upper right corner to save the kit.

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If “From Quizlet” is selected, first select the GIF cover and then move to the next screen. Anyone can import a Quizlet into Gimkit. However, only Pro and Go subscribers can make any changes once quizlets have been imported to Gimkit. Users can import public sets from Quizlet or use sets they have created. Clicking on either of the options opens a new tab to search Quizlet.

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Once a quizlet has been found, switch back to the Gimkit tab. The next screen will provide instructions on importing quizlets into Gimkit. Oh and make sure to be logged in to Quizlet, otherwise, the “Export” option will not appear.

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Follow the given directions. I was unable to import the images from the Quizlet, so importing only quizlets with text may be the best option for now. I also noticed that even though I was a Basic user, I was able to edit the imported Quizlet, and could add in images if I chose to do so.

Finally, if choosing to import a CSV file, make sure to follow the guidelines in the image below:

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Note that only correct answers can be listed in the file. Once the file is uploaded and converted into a kit, then the wrong answers can be added. As a placeholder, the kit will have answers from other questions listed as wrong options. Don’t forget to change them!

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Once a kit has been created, it’s time to play!

If classes have been set up, kits can be assigned as homework. However, there is no way to securely make sure that students aren’t taking someone else’s kit since students select their names from a list in the class to play. This is where integration with Google would be handy. I don’t recommend this feature just yet unless a class can be trusted.

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Playing live games on Gimkit is the way to go at the moment. Simply click on the kit in the dashboard. Choose Play or Preview.

Choosing Preview loads a sample game on the screen. Play through just as a student would see it. Click the orange shopping bag at the top of the screen to view the market. The market is where students will be able to purchase upgrades for their name, which improves the amount of cash they can potentially earn each game. In order to earn cash to upgrade, they have to answer questions correctly. Wrong answers mean losing cash.

Choosing Play provides a variety of options for the teacher to select. There’s Classic VS Team modes, game goals, and options for the game itself. Students will be asked to enter a join code. If a Class has been selected, students will need to select their name from the roster to play.

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Once the game begins, questions will appear. Students will see the same questions repeatedly, depending on the game goal selected. For example, if the goal is to earn $1,000,000, students play through all of the questions until they earn that amount. They can visit the shop at any point during the game to add upgrades to their play, earning them more money faster. However, spending money on upgrades will set them back, and they must earn back the money to reach their goal. On the teacher side, teachers can see how far along students are toward the goal, and how much money has been earned overall.

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When the game is over, teachers are able to view a report that includes the overall game scores, as well as individual information on each student who played. Reports are also saved for later viewing. All reports are saved as PDF.

This is definitely a tool to look into using! It’s engaging and fun, and though it is lacking some features, it’s off to a great start. Hats off to these high school students, and remember, if you would like to see a feature added, do contact the folks at Gimkit and let them know.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Taking Screenshots on a Chromebook

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed students to capture an image on their screen? Needed students to capture their whole screen? Or have students found that they can’t save an image and need to capture it?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: the keyboard shortcut to do just that!

First, the basics:

Name: Take a screenshot on a Chromebook
URL: N/A
Cost: N/A
Problem this tool solves: Allows you to capture all or part of the screen on a Chromebook

If you’ve ever needed to capture part of a screen on a Chromebook, or even the entire screen, there’s a special keyboard shortcut that accomplishes this. I use this shortcut often, and it’s how I get any training images I take while using my Chromebook. There’s no extra program to open, just 3 keys to press and hold at the same time.

First, you need to press the CTRL + Shift + Switch Windows buttons and hold them all down at the same time. Unsure of what the “Switch Windows” button is? Never fear! Check out this keyboard below. The key is circled, and can be found just above the “6” key.

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When the keys are pressed, the screen will darken. I have tried to capture this in the two images below, but it is still hard to notice. The image on the left is a darkened screen, ready to be highlighted, and the image on the right is the regular view. If you decide that you no longer need to take a screenshot, just press ESC to exit the screenshot process.

To take a screenshot on the now darkened screen, all you need to do is click in the spot where you’d like to begin, and then drag out until you have captured whatever you need. Make sure you hold down on the mouse button the entire time. Here you can see the difference between the darkened part of the screen and the part being selected for a screenshot:

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When finished, simply release the button, and a window will pop up in the lower right stating that the screenshot has been taken. It has been saved to the Chromebook’s storage area.

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Students will need to immediately access the device’s storage and move the image to their Google Drive. Files saved to the school Chromebooks are not permanent, and are deleted whenever the Chromebook is logged out of an account or is shut down.

Resources

Need a visual? Check out this quick YouTube video:

(Do note that this video features a Chromebook that keeps work on it as long as needed. This is not the case with our student Chromebooks!)

 

Fluco Toolbox image created by Stephanie King (Fan) for this series. Please do not use without permission.

Fluco Toolbox: Quizizz

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever found yourself in love with an online quiz program, but wished there was a program out there that didn’t rely on how fast students can answer? What about one that allowed students to take a quiz at home?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Quizizz

First, the basics:

Name: Quizizz
URL: quizizz.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Create quizzes for students where being the fastest to answer is not a factor. Assign quizzes to be taken later at home. Integrates with Google Classroom, Edmodo, and Remind.

Chances are, you already use some kind of online quiz program in your classroom. It is likely that you have used it quite a bit, and you have noticed a few things – unable to take the quiz outside of the classroom, first to answer correctly wins points, etc. If you’re looking for something new, then give Quizizz a try!

Quizizz gives a different spin to the quiz game. Students are not forced to beat the clock to answer correctly and get the most points. Instead, Quizizz takes a self-guided approach. Quizizz also allows teachers to assign quizzes that are taken outside of the school day. Because of this feature, questions and answer choices are shown on every screen, not just the teacher’s. Teachers can gather live data and reports for assessment. There’s even a fun Meme creator for questions.

First, create an account. Google users can sign up with their Google accounts. Everyone else must sign up with email. Once an account has been created, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. The dashboard is where you’ll search for new quizzes, create your own, and locate resources.

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If you’ve used Kahoot! before, the layout and setup of new quizzes are largely the same. You’ll find that Quizizz only offers multiple choice quiz types, whereas Kahoot! offers more. Remix public quizzes on both sites. Create your own memes to support correct/incorrect answers on Quizizz. Quizizz also allows both the question and answer choices to be seen on the student’s screen. Quizizz works with Google Classroom. Quizizz also allows quizzes to be assigned as homework and can be completed on any device. Kahoot! does allow a similar feature, but it’s limited only to the mobile app.

First, let’s create a quiz. This can be done by searching the public database and remixing an existing quiz or starting entirely from scratch. Give the new quiz a name, and include an image if you wish. Then you’ll be taken to the quiz editor.

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Quizizz has a recently released a new quiz editor, which makes creation even easier! Users can now select more than one correct answer, include images in questions, and include a 5th option for answer choices.

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To create a question, fill out the information required. At least 2 answer options are needed for each question. Don’t forget to check out some of the cool options! Make more than one answer correct, add a 5th correct choice, change the time limit, and add an image to the answers. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a preview of the created question as it would appear for students. This updates in real time.

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Save the current question, and then add as many questions as needed. One of my favorite parts of Quizizz is the ability to search other quizzes for questions to use. Teachers never like to reinvent the wheel if they don’t have to! This feature allows you to search other existing quizzes, or limit to only your own for questions to use in a quiz. Once you find a question to use, all you have to do is add it to your quiz. You can then edit the question.

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After all questions have been added or created, simply click “Finish Quiz”. Before doing this, decide if you would like the quiz to be public or private. You’ll see the button just below the name of the question on the page that shows all of the questions for the quiz. You’ll need to provide some details about who the quiz is suitable for, and then it’s considered published.

Once a quiz has been published, it’s visible to everyone, unless you chose to make it private. There are two options to distribute quizzes to students – Play Live and Homework. Playing live means playing the game in real time. Students complete the quiz, but on their own devices. Teachers have a variety of options to customize gameplay, such as shuffling questions, giving points for faster answers, letting students see the leaderboard, etc. When a game is in progress, students see both the question and answer choices on their screens. There’s also the option to give the quiz as homework. Students can take the quiz at home until the quiz deadline. Once the deadline hits, it will no longer available.

Teachers decide between Play Live and Homework based on the goals to be accomplished. Live works well for in-class work and assessments. Homework is awesome for out of class assignments or for students who may be at home sick. One benefit of Homework is that the link to the game can be shared with Google Classroom, Edmodo, or Remind without students needing a join code to play.

When all is said and done, quiz data can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet. The data will show the students for each quiz, the questions correct, incorrect, and not attempted.

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When it comes down to it, Quizizz is a fantastic tool that’s only getting better as time goes on. As with any other quizzing tool, use it when the tool works best for the students and curriculum being taught at the moment.

[Resources]

Using Padlet as a Discussion Board

Back in January, I discussed Padlet on a Fluco Toolbox post. I’ve had some teachers work to integrate it since then, and have received feedback from them. I have also observed some of the integration and thought I’d put together a quick post for teachers who would like to use Padlet for discussion boards. Padlet has many other uses, and this is just one way. It can also be used across the curriculum and isn’t restricted to just one area.

 

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This is a discussion created for a Minecraft-based Ideal School Project.

 

Using Padlet as a discussion board means that the teacher is posting a question that requires in-depth discussion, and requires students to provide text evidence or other evidence of their claims. In theory, teachers would prefer that students provide a quality answer of decent length, and also that students would respond to each other’s answers.

Students can create accounts on Padlet, and this is made easier when they sign up with their Google account. Districts who do not use Google may choose not to have students create accounts. Creating an account lets posts be attributed to a student, and allows comments made to be listed with the student name and not “Anonymous”. Accounts do not have to be created to post or comment, so this is entirely up to the teacher’s discretion.

Using Padlet with students also means incorporating a discussion on how to post to an online discussion forum. This is a great way to bring in digital citizenship. Unless students have had prior teachers who taught this skill, they do not innately know how to respond to an online discussion. “What’s up?” and “Hi homie!” are more likely to be posted than an enlightening answer to that Shakespeare question. Without a discussion on how to post, students will drive their teacher crazy, and perhaps force them to give up using the tool altogether.

Teachers should model how to post in the online forum. If students have created an account, their name will appear as an author. If not, teachers should instruct students to put their first and last name in the Title of their Padlet post. Students should also have a title for their post. In the body of the post, teacher models answering the discussion question, and provides text-based or other evidence to support any claims. Padlet allows the attaching of files or links, and students can use these tools to their advantage to add to their response.

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An example of part of a teacher modeled answer.

Students can then practice answering on the topic that has been provided for the current class. The teacher can observe as students post, and make suggestions. If students have accounts, they will be able to edit their work and make changes.

After students have had a chance to create their responses to the provided question, the teacher can then model how to reply in an online forum. Often, this can be difficult for students. The teacher should model how a reply can add more information to the original post, disagree with an explanation, and encourage more back and forth discussion. If students have accounts, then every reply will show a student’s name, instead of just anonymous.

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A sample teacher response to a student’s posted answer.

After the teacher has modeled how to respond to another student’s post, students should pick one post to respond to. The teacher can see all responses as they are posted, and can make suggestions for students along the way. If the teacher determines that students are doing well with their responses, then they can continue to respond to others, or reply back and forth. The teacher should encourage students to have a conversation about the post, rather than simply saying “Good job”.

As students become more confident in their work with Padlet, teachers will see the depth of responses increase, as well as the discussions. Teachers can then use the completed discussion boards to assess students or to aide in future classroom discussions. Using Padlet as a discussion board is just one way to use this tool. How do you use it in your classroom?