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.



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.


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.


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?


A Technology-Infused Socratic Seminar

I spent most of my time yesterday with a team of 6th grade English teachers. These students were beginning their first Socratic seminar sessions in the library. Two classes come together. In the past, these classes have followed the traditional format for Socratic seminar where groups come together to discuss a text in a round table discussion setting. Some students were also along the sides taking notes as the discussion progressed, and others were observing the current session to provide feedback to classmates. The teachers were observing in the background as well, only stepping in to redirect if necessary.

This semester, the two teachers, Dawn Baber and Melanie Kennedy, wanted to change a few things with their seminars, and they wanted to add in some technology. They wanted to be able to assess student work after the task, and document student thought processes in terms of understanding the text. This would allow them to design further learning experiences for the students, as well as take notes for future instances where the text is used.

The first step was changing how the students took notes on the seminars that they were observing. Instead of taking pencil and paper notes, these teachers wanted to try using Padlet instead. Padlet would allow the students to see each other’s notes, and would also allow them to comment on each other’s replies to add to student notes. After the session, teachers can have students look back to these notes and add additional comments to keep the discussions flowing. It also becomes a way to review for any content quizzes or exams.

The second step was adding a backchannel chat option to the seminar. Originally, students in this section were observing and taking turns switching in to ask questions during seminars. The teachers had found an option for this called Backchannel Chat. They really liked the setup of this site, especially since students logging into a chatroom could have that login tied to their Google accounts. Students would be unable to create goofy names, or be anonymous with comments. Teachers could also remove comments or set the chat to moderated, even with a free account.

Originally, it was decided that Backchannel Chat would be used for students to post questions as they listened to the seminar in the center. However, when we implemented this, it did not work as well as we wanted. Students were so busy asking questions that they weren’t really focusing on the seminar in progress. Instead, this became an online discussion where students could ask questions and answer back and forth. I typically started the discussions with a question, and the students would take over after a few minutes.

We ran sessions every period, implementing these tools, and learned a lot along the way. There was definitely a lot of risk involved, and some failure along the way, but that’s how trying something new works. Things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes it takes seeing the lesson in action to see the failure.

Based on both sessions, we realized that every class period needs a separate Padlet. The students were putting on short notes, which in turn added to the amount that had to load on the page. While Padlet can have unlimited users, it struggles to load massive boards, and our students encountered traffic jam error messages. I would also like to look at having students take notes in just one post on Padlet, versus every time they hear something new. It might make things a little easier. We also may look at removing it from Socratic seminar sessions, as it may not be the best tool for the job, and we don’t want to use it just to be using it.

Backchannel chat went over pretty well. We had issues with one of the groups in the last block of the day not being able to handle it, but otherwise students picked it up very quickly. It was nice to have a chat room that students cannot log into without their G Suite account. I could also mute students who were having trouble responding, and students were also able to “like” comments in chat.

Often, I started the chat with a question, and students began by answering that question. From there, they would discuss and ask more questions about the text. If I felt that things were a little quiet, I would through out another question based on the text, and that would help things pick up. We did have some students who did not respond, but they were engaged and following along with the chat. I think that with a few more sessions, these students will do much better.

The one group I mentioned above did have issues with chat. They were not ready to handle it in a group that size (about 10 students), and would often spam chat with ridiculous hashtags or unneeded information. The good thing was that I could remove comments and warn them first, then switch them to read only if they continued. With this group, I would try again with a smaller amount of students.

The best positive from using Backchannel Chat as the session the groups would attend before doing a Socratic seminar in the center of the room was that they were able to prepare better. They could pull from questions they had asked in chat, and continue discussions from chat. We noticed an improvement in the conversations that took place once we were using Backchannel as an online discussion tool instead.

The other great positive with Backchannel was that we set a Chromebook by the seminar leader at the center table. When they couldn’t think of a question, they could pull one in from chat and use it. Of course, students with me were pleased when they heard their question used in the discussion.

Overall, a lot of positives occurred, but so did a lot of failures. We are using these failures to redesign and rethink the next session so that we see more successes. Who knows what Socratic seminar will look like next time?

Minecraft & the Ideal School, Day 2

When you let your imagination run free, you’re sure to come up with some amazing ideas. That’s exactly what some of my students are doing with the Ideal School project.

Day 2 began with students picking up where they left off. Many of them had completed half of the work with the 3 different Padlets. They spent some time today working on their School Design questions, which many enjoyed, and of course, some got distracted with all of their ideas. There was definitely some great discussion between students about the facilities they would offer, and how they would design their schools.

Once work was completed on all 3 Padlets, students were able to begin Task 4- Sketching their School Design. Prior to the class meeting, I had modified this section of my original lesson plan. I wanted students to be able to messy sketch and just get an idea of what would be in their schools and where it would be located. I didn’t want them to have to worry about carefully plotting the design layout just yet. I had made my own samples of a messy sketch and a good sketch to share with them in Google Classroom. My samples only show a small section of a school building.

This is where many students ended class. They were laying out the messy sketch designs. Some will have a school with multiple floors, and others will have a single level school. I even had some students want to come down during dismissal time to continue working on their sketches. This is perfectly fine by me, and I love that they are eager to keep working outside of class time. Students will be able to move on to the second sketch when they show me their completed messy sketch and I make sure that the requirements for the school are met. They will not get to the end of the project, only to be told they are missing something.

Overall, day 2 went well, but I think that was mostly because I spent time before the class tweaking the lesson plan again so that it was more specific, and really got students to put some thought into their work. Originally I just had them graphing their sketch with all measurements and such, but I realized that this was not a good idea because they would have had no idea how the overall sketch of the school should look. I felt that this could lead to mistakes and frustration. I also added into the lesson that the messy sketch needed my approval before the good sketch so that I could make sure that all required pieces were included.

This revision led to me creating my own examples of both the good sketch and the messy sketch. I wanted students to see a model so that it would be clearer to them, and many did appreciate it. I am really hoping that the graph version turns out well, because I have so many students who struggle with this when it comes to Minecraft. They have trouble creating their design on graph paper so that it transfers easily into Minecraft.

I am certain that my changes to Day 2’s part of the lesson made the difference in how the activity proceeded. Day 3 is meant to be a continuation of Day 2, and I expect most students to finish the messy sketch and be working on their good graph copy. Below, you can see the work from Day 2 from some of the students:

Very much looking forward to Day 3 next week. I am looking forward to seeing what the students come up with for their ideal schools!

Reflection: Minecraft & the Ideal School

I was recently tasked by one of the FMS administrators to design an enrichment activity for students involving Minecraft. This activity would be worked on once a week during the Genius Hour slot. I would end up with students 30 minutes each week, and the students would be selected as candidates by administration. Students would have final say in an interest meeting- if they didn’t wish to participate, they didn’t have to do so.

I love Minecraft (which you’ve seen from reading this blog if you are a repeat visitor), but I didn’t want to just sit the kids down to play. I wanted them to be challenged by a problem, so I set out to research. I ended up finding various projects on the Ideal School, so I decided to give the project a Minecraft twist.

The final version ended up with a few parts:

  • Part 1- Discuss issues in today’s schools and brainstorm ideas for structure of the school day, learning and lessons, and ideas for school facility.
  • Part 2- Draft a design of the school on graph paper
  • Part 3- Use Minecraft to create a model of the ideal school
  • Part 4- Complete a series of questions to provide information about the Ideal School
  • Part 5- Present results to administration

Today was the first day for our group to meet thanks to unfortunate timing of snow days. Students logged into their computers and joined the Google Classroom. I had displayed the class code on the projector. Once students were in the classroom, I gave them an overview of the project and all the steps that would be completed.

We first began by discussing the issues that they felt kids today faced in schools. I got some really good answers, and wrote them on the board as the kids took turns speaking. I had answers like:

  • lack of educational tools (calculators, books, etc)
  • not all schools have enrichment programs
  • lack of engaging learning


Students were then directed to view the Google Classroom. I had created 3 tasks to begin with that focused on Part 1 of the project. Each task was designed to be completed in Padlet, which I have used in the past and loved. Students were able to each answer the question in one location. They could also see what their classmates were writing. I gave a quick overview of how to create a post on the Padlet. Students were asked to use their first name for the title, and then use the space to answer the questions on each Padlet.


While they worked, I observed and asked questions about their plans, sometimes playing devil’s advocate, but mostly just to hear their ideas and thoughts. For example, through discussion one student realized that the way he set up his school year would give students a break in January and February, avoiding some of the potential snow days.

As students finished each Padlet, they marked the assignment as done in Google Classroom. Because we are limited on time, not all work was finished today. Students were told that they would finish this work the next time we met. However, they also have the option to work on the remaining pieces outside of class on their own time. Some students said they would do it, others said no to that idea.


I am looking forward to seeing what the next class meeting will bring, and what kind of designs will develop when these students begin working with graph paper. Eventually, I will share the lesson plan here as a resource. It will need to be tweaked as the project is completed.

Fluco Toolbox: Padlet

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 wanted a way to gather student input on a question or idea as part of a lesson, as though it were a digital board to collaborate on? Did you want students to not only be able to give a text response, but be able to add images, video, audio, and more?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Padlet

First, the basics:

Name: Padlet (Formally Wallwisher)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Gives users a digital bulletin board where classrooms can collaborate on discussion topics or create personal bulletin boards.

Padlet is a handy little digital bulletin board tool. It’s a great way for teachers to gather answers to discussion questions, or to use to let groups collaborate and brainstorm ideas. If you already use other tools in the classroom, such as hyperdocs, then you may have already heard of this tool. If not, take a closer look below!

First, create an account on the site. If you’re part of a Google district, good news! You can quickly join the site, as it connects to your Google account. Once logged in, you are taken to your home dashboard. If you’re a new user, it will be blank. If not, you’ll see any created Padlets:


On the home page, you’ll want to click “Make a Padlet”. The next screen will ask you to choose a layout or template. There are some very basic layouts, and some templates to choose from as well. Not sure what you want? Click the preview link beside each option.


Once you’ve made your choice, your Padlet will be displayed on the next screen. A random wallpaper will have been applied, but don’t worry because you can change that, along with a few other things. A random title and description will have also been applied.


Now, you should change the title and description to suit your needs. Typically, the description might give directions for the activity, or pose a question. Choose a wallpaper (there are many), and even an icon to go with your Padlet.


On the next page, security options for your Padlet are presented. If you don’t want anyone but your class to find the Padlet, the “Secret” option would be best. No one can access it unless they have the link. Choose what those who access the Padlet can do, add any contributors, and even choose whether or not new posts need to be moderated first.


That’s it! Your new Padlet is ready to go and be used with students.

Need ideas for how to use Padlet with students? Here are some ideas:

  • Bell ringer- Create a discussion question for students to ponder and have them provide an answer.
  • Prediction board- Have students predict the outcome of an event or story, then later return and explain what really happened
  • Brainstorm board- Have students brainstorm ideas for a project or activity.
  • Resources board- Have students share resources they find on a topic with all of their classmates.
  • Exit ticket – Create a board that poses a question or two and use to access students’ learning at the end of class

The ideas are endless. What will you create with your Padlet?


#IMMOOC: 8 Things to Look for in Today’s PD

In his book, the Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros takes the “8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom” and tweaks it to align with professional development instead.


Words by George Couros, illustrations by Sylvia Duckworth

I’m sure we can think of classrooms that are working toward infusing these ideas, and classrooms where these ideas are the furthest thoughts away from the teachers. Professional development is the same way, and there needs to be a shift in how it is given to staff members.

In my own district, I am of the minority when it comes to learning and expanding my knowledge as needed, especially when I start using Twitter. In fact, I recently received notifications from my administration alerting me to the professional development they would like to have provided to staff members for the upcoming beginning days sessions. I will work with another ITRT to present on these topics. The change in how PD was being provided at the beginning of the year was decided on by administration after we ITRTs had left for summer obligations, so we had no say.

What is wrong with this kind of PD? Easy. It is often a one time thing. The beginning of the year professional development is required so the staff must attend. Even if we offer follow up sessions throughout the year (which we do), they are not well attended. The staff that like the initial PD will use it, the rest will ignore it, especially if it’s not watched for by administration. Since the PD is mandatory, it’s made to be a one-size-fits-all session. This whole setup is a setup for failure, and one I don’t like because it wastes my time, and it wastes the staff time.

So how might this type of PD change in my district in the future? That’s where the 8 things comes into play. See a problem, find a solution to the problem, right? Here’s how I see the 8 things being used to change professional development in Fluvanna County:

  1. Voice- Educators want students to own their learning. The same should be expected of them at PD sessions. Just because the presenter is at the front of the room does not mean that they are the only expert in the room. Share thoughts and ideas. Use tools that can get others involved throughout the sessions.If you’ve ever been to an edcamp, you know that sessions are led by everyone in the room. If someone has something to share, they speak up and share. It’s a gathering of ideas, resources, and stories. There is no one leader. There is no one expert. Everyone has a voice and everyone has a say. Lecture has its place in the world, but it shouldn’t be at every PD session ever held.
  2. Choice- When is the last time that you had a say in your professional development? Never? Typically, there are two reasons why- You only let your district provide your PD options OR your district doesn’t count your own learning methods as PD.If you are the first reason, then it’s time for you to take control of your learning. Not every district is ready for choice just yet, though this is not a conversation we should be having in this day and age. If you want something, ask! From my own viewpoint, I love when teachers ask me for professional development. I am willing and able to make it fit their needs and wants. I believe I need to make that even clearer this year though. Last year was my learning year…this year there’s not an excuse.

    If you find yourself falling into reason number 2, it’s time to reevaluate your feelings on professional development. Are you only doing it to earn recertification points, or are you doing it to better yourself and your students? If you want the points, it’s time to turn that extrinsic motivation into intrinsic motivation. Yes, we cannot be motivated by every PD session we attend, but do we need someone dangling a reward in our faces? If that’s the case, then why do we act baffled when students do the same? “Is this a grade?” is to students on an assignment what “How many points will I get?” is to educators on professional development. We don’t like our students doing this, so why is it okay for us as educators to do the same?

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  3. Time for Reflection-  This ties in heavily with self-assessment later, but how many times does a professional development session allow for reflection on knowledge learned? Do you find this is often on an evaluation sheet about the session itself? “Gee, let me just BS this answer here so I can be done and out the door.” We’ve all been there before. This kind of reflection helps no one.Instead, PD can and should provide times throughout the session to reflect and connect with others, and not just through written word. Use pictures and video to shake things up a bit. Give attendees time to think and then let them respond. A good video tool for this process would be Flipgrid. Twitter can be used, and so can Padlet. Want to have a back channel chat running? Then TodaysMeet might be more your style. Each tool lets users reflect beyond traditional responses.
  4. Opportunities for Innovation- Teachers cannot learn everything there is to know about a product, tool, or method in one PD session. It doesn’t matter how long the session is, or how many interesting tips are shared, we are not sponges that automatically absorb everything. These beginning sessions only help us scratch the surface of what we can do with the tool.Instead, teachers need time to come together and create. They need time to work with the information given to them to see how it can be adapted to their own classrooms and needs. This time should not be provided during the initial session itself. Teachers are just starting to absorb the information. They have not had time to reflect and think about the learning that took place. However, time given in a few weeks to create and come together would be more beneficial. During this time, educators can create and share their work with their colleagues so that more ideas and creativity can be sparked.
  5. Critical Thinkers- Time and time again, we tell our students to critically think and evaluate information. They have 24 hour access (for many) and must be able to evaluate on the fly. Educators must be able to do the same. They need to feel that they have a space to push the boundaries of thinking, and to suggest new ideas. They need a space to question and challenge others, and where others can do the same to them.Educators should be able to challenge the way things “have always been done”. It doesn’t have to be that way, and it doesn’t have to be only administration who tries to change the status quo. Of course, to be able to do this requires a good relationship between administration and staff, and the willingness to look beyond titles and rank for the good of the school community.
  6. Problem Solvers/Finders- One of the marks of an innovator is the ability to find problems and find solutions to them. Ever been in the teacher’s lounge during lunch? It’s a nightmare to those who are above the negativity. I have dealt with this because my office at the high school is tied to the teacher lunch area. The negativity is overwhelming, and so I often escape to the library to get away from it. Those folks can certainly FIND problems, but they have no interest in solving them. Thus, the cycle continues daily.Instead of simply complaining, recognize there is a problem and then begin working on ways to solve it. This can be done through PD, though it may not be traditional to many. Research. Find literature and books that can help with new methods. We can create a better environment for our students, if we are willing to try to solve the issues that arise in front of us. Ask questions, learn new knowledge, try new solutions, reflection, and keep trying. You can improve the opportunities for students if only you are willing to try.
  7. Self-Assessment- Do you only rely evaluations from your superior or administration to tell you how you’re doing? Stop that! I get one evaluation per year. Just 1! Truly that could make or break me (thankfully I do well typically).Relying on only that one or few times a year evaluation doesn’t provide a full snap-shot of who one is as an educator. Think about the year state exams we put students through. We don’t let that define our students, so why define ourselves that way.

    Professional development should allow time for attendees to reflect. This reflection doesn’t have to occur right away, but it should occur shortly after the presentation. An easy way to do this is by keeping a digital portfolio. There are many ways to do this. One can use a Twitter account to share snippets or short videos. Over time, these snippets build up, and give a better look at any educator than an evaluation could. Another way is through blogging. A blog could host longer videos, resources, ideas, etc. The posts don’t have to be long, but they showcase the sharing and reflection process the educator goes through while learning.

  8. Connected Learning- Learning alone is fun, but learning together with others can have an even bigger impact. Twitter is an amazing way to connect with other educators on the topics and ideas one is most passionate about. Resources are shared, ideas gathered and discussed, and learning reflected upon. It may be hard to get into the habit at first, but in time, it pays off. Teachers can share ideas they’ve learned at PD sessions and get feedback from others who may not have been there at all. Discussions can be prompted by the simplest of ideas on Twitter.Got a question to ask Google? Ask it on your Twitter feed as well, and use tags to get input from certain groups of people. Share snapshots of things you are doing. Use it to take notes at a conference that get shared with the world (These are great to refer back to later on). It may seem like you are small and have very few connections at first, but if you work hard to give and share ideas, your network slowly grows. I’ve been dedicated to growing mine for about 3 years now, and it has paid off.

How would your district stack up? What are some of the things you would change about PD where you are?

Hyperdoc Resource: Minecraft Makershop Unit


Holy llama riding in a minecart! It’s finally done!

If you’ve followed me for some time, you’ll recall that last summer I ran a workshop for middle school students called Minecraft Makershop. This is a workshop that I designed and developed after applying for a grant to help fund the process. I had a small crew of students join me for a 5 day workshop, but we learned a lot. Now that I know about hyperdocs, I’ve taken the workshop and redesigned it. All of the original workshop projects are included, with the addition of more discussion, more critical thinking, and more problem solving. Hyperdocs made this all possible. Plus, using the hyperdoc format allowed me to really organize the entire workshop so much better. I’m happy to finally be able to release my workshop nearly a year later. I will be using my new hyperdoc unit version this summer when I teach during Kids College.

Name: Minecraft Makershop (6 hyperdocs unit!)
Description: Would you like to give a workshop on Minecraft? How about add some activities to an afterschool club? Or integrate Minecraft in other ways? Minecraft Makershop is a hyperdoc unit that focuses on building and design theory in MInecraft. Students learn about the basics of building, giving feedback, and using redstone. The final project of the unit is a collaborative group build that implements each learned objective.

This Minecraft Makershop unit includes 6 hyperdocs, enough work for a 5 day workshop (if hosting a 4-5 hour session). Teachers are free to redesign the time restraints to feed the needs of their students. In addition to the 6 hyperdocs, there is also a Resources folder, and a guide to help you set up the unit. Because this is a unit, and not just a hyperdoc, the link to the file below is a .ZIP file. Download and unzip to access all of the folders and files, then upload to your Drive.

If you would like to see a preview of one of the hyperdocs of this unit before downloading the entire thing, please click this link to view the 2nd hyperdoc in this unit: Minecraft Makershop Activity 2 Hyperdoc

Download the entire .ZIP file here.

Feedback is appreciated. @tisinaction on Twitter or comment here!