For the final module of our summer EDTC 6104 course, we were focusing on ISTE coaching standard 3. More specifically performance indicators e and g:
E – Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments
G – Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community
As a teacher, a goal I have is to empower my scholars with strategies they can use to solve their problems. Not only does this help things run smoothly in the classroom but it also lets scholars know they are in control of their choices, and learning. Performance indicator G emphasizes using digital communication and collaboration tools to do some of this work. I began thinking in terms of my own experience in the classroom and how digital communication and collaboration tools empower scholars. There are many tools designed to do such things. Some I use are Flipgrid, SeeSaw, and Google Classroom. One tool that I have dabbled in is Padlet. While working with another 3rd-grade teacher in Pennsylvania on a collaboration this upcoming year for Global Read Aloud we were discussing which digital platform to use. She has been doing the GRA for a couple of years and mentioned that Padlet had seemed to work the best for her scholars; stating that is was organized, easy to use and understand by 3rd graders, and had many options for how students could enter the conversation or add to other’s thinking.
Introduction to Padlet
Padlet is an online virtual “bulletin” board, where scholars and teachers can collaborate, reflect, share links, videos, pictures, and ideas in a secure location. Teachers and scholars can use Padlet in a variety of ways. One way I want to explore Padlet is as a curation tool, which can then also lend itself as a collaboration and communication tool to be used within the classroom and with families.
Padlet for Curation
As I began exploring more of the capabilities of Padlet my ideas shifted more from collaboration globally and thinking about it also in terms of our classroom. Specifically, as a way for scholars to access resources or ask for/ share help with others.
As a teacher, you could use Padlet to post pictures of anchor charts from your room, helpful videos, links, documents, and other resources. You could have the Padlet link available for kids or print off a QR code for students to scan and pull up the resources. For example, here is a Padlet you could use if scholars are doing a research project on animals or this resource you could use to send home to families to support multiplication. Another advantage of using Padlet to curate resources is that you can also share these boards with families and keep them as reference for upcoming units or years.
To shift the focus on scholars’ taking ownership of their own learning you could also embed an area on your Padlet for scholars to post their names when they feel they have mastered the learning objective and are willing to help or answer questions from others. Additionally, you could have a Padlet or place on the Padlet for scholars to post questions or think about embedding Classroom Q.
Padlet could solve another problem I have been grappling with which is limited physical space. This past year in class I had a scholar who expressed to me that too much visual stimulation in the room distracted him from his learning. My classroom is pretty well organized and I try to keep only relevant anchor charts up around the room. However, at times I felt like there just wasn’t enough wall space in my classroom for the material we were covering and all the student work. This made me wonder if what I thought was helping my scholars (anchor charts + student work) was instead be having other more negative effects.
Edutopia’s article: Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Decorations cites research suggesting that, “Classroom walls should feel warm and lively but not overcrowded—keep 20 to 50 percent of the wall space clear, and fill the rest with student work, inspiring pictures, and learning aids.” When thinking about the pace of which teaching and learning occur if I were trying to abide by the 20-50% rule this means that anchor charts or other visual stimuli would be constantly changing. For scholars who need review or who may need further assistance, it would be helpful to have a place to go to.
Keeping in mind the research suggesting that classroom stimuli can become distracting, I believe the same can apply on a Padlet board. Michael Hubenthal and Thomas O’Brien in their research Revisiting Your Classroom’s Walls: The Pedagogical Power of Posters found that “the visual complexity caused by an abundance of text and small images can set up an overwhelming visual/verbal competition between text and graphics for which students must gain control in order to give meaning to information.” (2009). Thus, if applying this research when creating your Padlet board, being mindful about what and how you organize/ present the information or resources is important.
Additionally if using Padlet as a tool to bridge independence and facilitate independent learning remembering to balance it with teacher support is important. Clear modeling, guidance, and in-class support will enhance student independent learning (Hocking et al., 2018). Research, also showed that when working on building students autonomous learning scholars preferred, “dependency ‘weening’” meaning that teachers start the year with clear, structured and direct approaches and as the curriculum or year continues the scaffolds and support begin to lessen (Hocking et al., 2018).
Whether or not you are using Padlet to curate resources to share with scholars and families or using it to collaborate with scholars from around the world Padlet has the potential to shape and maximize the learning of our scholars. If you are looking for some ways to try Padlet out in your classroom these blogs are some helpful places to start:
Hockings, C., Thomas, L., Ottaway, J., & Jones, R. (2018). Independent Learning–What We Do When You’re Not There. Teaching in Higher Education, 23(2), 145–161. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1167712&site=ehost-live
Hubenthal, M., O’Brien, T., (2009). Revisiting your Classroom’s Walls: The Pedagogical Power of Posters, 1-8. Retrieved from https://www.iris.edu/hq/files/programs/education_and_outreach/poster_pilot/Poster_Guide_v2a.pdf
Terada, Y. (2018, October 24). Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Decorations. Retrieved August 15, 2019, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/dos-and-donts-classroom-decorations