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.
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.
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.
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?