Empower Students through Publishing

Think about the power of sharing ideas. Isn’t that at the core of education? Exposing students to new ways of thinking, challenging them to come up with their own ideas, letting those ideas spark new thoughts in others? Within your classroom, you have the ability to question, discuss, bounce ideas off each other, etc., and all of that promotes deeper thinking, right?

Teachers have been sharing student work on walls forever. So, why not develop infrastructure to provide a place for these ideas to be cultivated further? Publishing student work is key to this endeavor.

Some use social media for this. I’ve heard of classrooms that set up a Twitter account and allow for the world to see what work is being accomplished in class. This may work beautifully for some. Though I’m a big fan of social media, I prefer a different platform for publishing most classroom tasks.

A tool I’ve used is Padlet. Think of it as a virtual corkboard; somewhere to pin ideas –whether they be questions, pictures, or even videos. I love it when students can use their creative side to teach others, but the presentations for those tasks can be lengthy. Instead, I have students post their projects to a padlet I’ve created and then give them the task of evaluating the work of others. If you’ve done gallery walks in your classroom or even Socratic seminars, this can be a great technological enhancement to those activities as well!

The Basics

Teachers can begin by going to padlet.com and setting up an account. You then create your first padlet. They walk you through a step-by-step guide where you choose a title, add a description (I use this for directions), choose from a variety of backgrounds and layouts, decide if you want attribution (display author name above each post) and comments (allow viewers to comment on posts). Finally, it gives you the web address to share the link with students.

instructions2

On the next screen, it offers you what I would consider the best part for using this in the classroom – control! You have four choices: private, password protected, secret or public.

  • Private: Use the padlet amongst a small group. You individually add contributors through email or username.
  • Password Protected: Visitors need a password to access the padlet. This is something you can assign and share at will.
  • Secret: Anyone with the link or QR code can access the padlet. It is not visible in a Google search.
  • Public: Anyone can access the padlet. It appears in Google searches and may be featured by Padlet on community pages.

Under these same settings, you have the ability to limit access by granting permissions to read, write, moderate or administer.

  • Read: can view posts only
  • Write: can view and add posts
  • Moderate: can view and add posts, edit and approve others’ posts
  • Administer: can view and add posts, edit and approve others’ posts, modify and delete padlet, invite collaborators.

For students, access is as easy as going through a browser to the website (with link you have given then) or using padlet (available through the app store). They can use it as a guest (if you allow) or create their own username so that each post includes their name (I prefer this). Even if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of having students set up accounts, you can require their post to begin with their name.

Students simply double-click anywhere on the padlet or use the “add post” button found in the bottom right (pink circle with a + sign). Each post gives the option for a title, place to write something, and the ability to add a variety of attachments from the web, your device, or the camera. If students utilize a Google Drive account, they can add the link to their video, project or whatever they are sharing easily through the web portal.

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Ideas for using Padlet

Projects

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I’ve used Padlet as a place to post a host of projects. Freshmen complete a summer reading novel that we then circle back to later in the year as we study advertising techniques. Students come up with print ads and commercials that employ the various techniques they studied and then must evaluate the products others put together to find the same. Padlet offers the perfect place to post these pictures, videos and even add comments as part of the evaluation process. I’ve also had students work on poetry analysis or find current events that correlate to what we are reading. Any of these can easily be shared here, no matter if the end result is a pdf, video or simple comment they leave when responding to a thought-prompting picture I’ve posted.

Socratic Seminars

socratic-seminar

I love Socratic seminars. They offer a great place for an exchange of ideas. We generally wrap up a novel unit with one. Though there are many ways to do a seminar, I love the opportunity to share questions/comments beyond just one class. I also like the depth of responses that come with extra time to process what the question is asking. Talk about a great place to review since students can access the padlet at any time to go over questions and answers. For our latest seminar, I asked that students post three separate questions so that others could scroll through and add comments (as answers) to three questions posed by other students. I opened up the padlet to all my classes though you could easily set up a separate padlet per class. To ensure students were coming up with questions on their own, they worked on their questions, got them approved and then were given access to the padlet.

Feedback

Want to know if students liked or disliked a unit? Create a platform where they can post what they liked or didn’t. It is up to you if you allow them to stay anonymous or log in as users (identifying who leaves a post).

Regardless of the platform you choose, giving students a voice is crucial to learning and growing. Providing a place to publish their work not only improves the quality of work done since they know others will see it, it provides critical feedback from people other than just the teacher or the same kids they have heard from in class all year. They become empowered as authors of their own education, thus transforming the way your classroom plays a critical role in the way they interact with others.

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