Padlet in a Second Grade Classroom

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to Padlet, a social network that allows for many people to post at the same time. This allows for collaboration and students instantly see their responses on the main screen. We used padlet at a staff professional development to engage our audience with the essential question for the training. I was then intrigued to use this social network in my classroom.

Here is an overview of the use with my second grade students:

Personal Narrative Brainstorming

  • Background: We are learning about good citizens in our communities and how to be a good citizen. We are also writing personal narrative stories and some students are having a hard time coming up with a real life example
  • Padlet Activity:
    • I posed the question – What makes a good citizen?
    • The students worked in groups of 3-4 to give examples of good citizens.
    • We then sorted the ideas by common theme.
    • Students used the brainstorming ideas to plan a good citizen personal narrative.
  • Pros / Cons:
    • Pro: ALL students could participate.
    • Pro: Students were actively engaged in the brainstorming.
    • Con: There were a lot of similar ideas, even when students saw the same idea they still wanted to brainstorm their idea.
  • Overall: I was impressed with the student’s use of the social network as well as the groups of 3-4 working together.

Morning Work Question

  • Background: I want to morning work activities that can be used for morning meeting.
  • Padlet Activity:
    • Students individually responded to a morning work prompt.
  • Pros / Cons:
    • Pro: Students discussed response at morning meeting.
    • Pro: Students had an audience for the question.
    • Con: Not all students participated (late arrivals, breakfast eaters).
    • Con: I only had 4 available pieces of technology at the time.
    • Con: Some students typed for over 20 minutes. We only have 20 minutes for the whole class to respond.
  • Overall: The students wanted to share their responses, but I need to find a way to enhance/focus the morning work question.

Addition and Subtraction Strategies 

  • Background: I needed to find an activity to review the addition and subtraction strategies that we had learned in the classroom. I wanted the students to be able to practice the strategy that they felt most comfortable with and then share that strategy with the class.
  • Padlet Activity:
    • Students were randomly placed in groups of 2-3.
    • The student choose a teen total addition equation.
    • They brainstormed a strategy to use to solve the problem.
    • They decided how to present the problem (video, photograph, whiteboard, modeling).
  • Pros / Cons:
    • Pro: ALL students could participate.
    • Pro: Students had a choice in their delivery method.
    • Pro: Students worked with each other to create the product.
    • Pro: The students were actively engaged in the activity.
    • Con: Some students could not get the program to load their videos and became frustrated when they lost the video.
  • Overall:
    • My students were very excited to share their strategies and wanted to learn more from the other examples.

Daily 5 Comprehension Questions

  • Background: I want my students to be engaged in authentic comprehension tasks. We were reviewing asking and answering questions
  • Padlet Activity:
    • I read aloud a grade level guided reading text.
    • The students were randomly grouped in pairs.
    • Each pair had a copy of the text and an ipad.
    • The students had to create 3 questions based on the text – they could pose the question any way.
  • Pros / Cons:
    • Pro: All students could participate and had read/heard the text.
    • Pro: Students could pose the question in their own way as well as give clues to the answer.
    • Con: Most students were not engaged in the activity.
    • Con: In most pairs, 1 student took the lead and the other student sat and watched as the assignment was completed.
  • Overall: I felt that my students spent more time working with the technology then creating questions about the text. I think more time needs to be spent discussing what group work looks like when writing comprehension questions.

My students enjoyed the use of padlet and I was very impressed with their use of the social network in such a short time. I am looking forward to integrating this into my centers and even ask for my students input for activities to use with padlets.

*Have you used padlet in your classroom?

*How do your students work together in groups?

*What activity did you enjoy the most when using padlet?

Digital Overload

This past week I attended a Discovery Education Professional Development (PD). Wake County has partnered with Discovery Education to provide PD to four staff from each school over 3 years. This will be my third year attending and our focus for the year is “Leading the Transition”. After we attend the PD we return to school and present to our staff.

This past session was centered around the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM). The TIM provides teachers a framework for integrating technology. TIM is not used to evaluate teachers but rather gives videos and classroom examples for each part of the matrix. I enjoyed the direct examples from a variety of grade levels and the ideas that were presented in each part of the TIM.

Here is a screenshot of the TIM:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.48.02 AM

The columns of the TIM define the levels of technology integration (entry, adoption, adaption, infusion, transformation) and the rows define the characteristics (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, goal-directed). Each section has videos for Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. Here is an example of a Social Studies video in the Constructive Learning – Infusion Level, the students are creating a new country on an existing continent.

We were given time to explore the videos and resources on the TIM, and this is when the digital overload began. There are so many resources on the internet for our students to use in the classroom. We are moving away from asking students to put away their cellphones and schools are encouraging BYOD (bring your own device). All of the technology out there can change a classroom and enhance the students learning, but as a teacher I have a hard time deciding where to start. I can/do spend hours looking through technology options for my classroom and thinking about ways to integrate the technology. With limited resources at my school, I then have to tailor the lesson to the technology in my classroom and decide which activities will be best for my students.

After reviewing the TIM, I was excited to start planning. The TIM gave me a new perspective on the use of technology. The matrix took into account that at times teachers have to use technology in the entry level to teach students. We have to use videos to provide background knowledge. I then started to think about the background knowledge that we provide our students. Do all students have to sit through introduction lessons? Students come to school with a range of background knowledge and classroom behaviors can spike when students become bored.

At the training i took interest in the social bookmarking service symbaloo. I started to think about ways to use this website as a student hub of information. Give my students the ownership to learn the information for the topic and then have a central place to keep the information. Our social studies unit focuses on Historical Figures, I found a symbaloo in the gallery that was created with videos and informational on many different historical figures. I could give this to my students and they could pick and choose who they wanted to research. Giving the ownership and choice to my students could create more opportunities for individualized learning in the classroom.

All of these resources and ideas for technology integration lead me to my digital overload. I am continuously asking myself

  • Can my students use the technology?
  • How long will it take to teach them?
  • What makes sense to use?
  • How much time will the technology units take?

I could continue to ask the questions, but at some point I need to answer the questions by putting these technology practices into my classroom and observe my students. Do you ever feel the digital overload?

What is meaningful?

At the start of every year, I log into a new blog website and create a classroom blog. I upload my supply list, class information, change the format and find a theme picture for the year. I write my “All About” page and then stop.

This activity has happened for the last 3 years and to this day I have not followed through with an idea for the blog and/or shared my blog with students and families. This year is going to be different! Unfortunately at this time I have too many ideas for my classroom blog. The problem I am facing is the numerous options of students blogs. I have researched some options and come up with a list of ideas.

Blog options as of 09/10/2015

  • Edublogs – I can create my own classroom blog, add students and approve all activity before posted.
  • Kidblog – I can create my student’s individual accounts and then approve all posts and activities.
  • Google Sites – Each student has an individual account, they can create a blog but I will not be able to approve blog posts or monitor activity.
  • WordPress – I can create a classroom blog and students can interact through the comments and guest post options.

Since classroom blogging is my Explore Project focus for this semester I have conducted some research and found a classroom blog that I find very inspiring. This teacher (Mrs. Yollis) created her classroom blog in 2008 and has used the same site for her following classes. The model of her classroom blog is created by the documentation of her student’s learning. The teacher and students post information (pictures, work samples, audio files, videos) to showcase learning in the classroom. These posts are commented on by fellow students in the classroom, family members, school staff and the online community. I posted a comment on the website and noticed that Mrs. Yollis does approve all her comments. Mrs. Yollis has also created a wikispace with directions, information and examples to get started blogging in your classroom.

When reading through the blog, I was surprised by the community that was showcased through the online network. I was interested in the Cluster Map that shows the visitors to the website in the past month. When reading through the posts I noticed that Mrs. Yollis has created partnerships with schools in other countries and a relationship has been formed between the classrooms. I find that to be such a valuable experience for students and much easier with the use of technology.

I am still trying to answer my million dollar question “What is meaningful?” when it comes to creating a classroom blog. I want this to be a place that my students feel safe, feel the desire to share information, connect with new people, give each other praise and most importantly see the purpose to our classroom blog. I have narrowed down my focus to literacy, but still am asking myself what that looks like. Do we write about the same book? Do we study an author and then compare and contrast the books? Do we blog with partners, groups, individually? There are many more questions and I keep reminding myself that the days are going by very quickly and I need to start this journey in the next couple weeks.

What are your experiences with blogs? Have you had success with one website over another? What recommendations do you have when thinking about student blogging?

I leave you with an image that reminds me of the importance of blogging and keeps this topic in the front of my mind.

What do you think?