10 Uses of Padlet in the History Classroom

Padlet is a virtual bulletin board that allows users to "pin" post-it notes with text, images, and links to webpages.  It has become an integral part of how my students and I share information and ideas with each other and with the larger community outside of our classroom.  Why I love padlet:

1) It is a great collaborative tool.

2) It is a free online application.

3) My students do not need to sign up for an account to be able to post information, links and images. All they need is a link from me.

4) My students can get an account of their own if they want to, but they don't need one to use it.

5) It's so easy to use! Simply double click on the background to open up a text box, then start typing.

6) Padlet looks great! I love that text boxes can be arranged in a free form style, or flow down the page.

7) Most importantly, multiple people can type on the bulletin board at the same time. It makes for great collaboration potential, whether students are in the same room with each other or halfway around the wordl!

My students and I have used Padlet in the classroom in many different ways.  Here I have tried to describe the top 10 ways we have used it. Feel free to add more ways in the comments section:

10 uses of Padlet in the History classroom

1) Taking collective notes. Often I will have students compile notes from their readings. Creating a bulletin board (or Wall) of collective notes is a great way for students to share important facts, questions or commentary that they got out of a reading. I have found that sometimes, the most important part of the "notes" are the questions that students have or ideas for further inquiry.  Those questions often become the jumping off point for class discussions. Even more importantly, these bulletin boards remain available for the entire year so that students can continue to add to them, and use them to review.  http://padlet.com/wall/69ecdueljt

2) Group inquiry, followed by sharing, explanations of findings.  Here is a wall that the class did on habeus corpus issues during the Civil War.  An essential question on this issue was whether or not Lincoln violated the Constitution by suspending habeas corpus.  Interestingly, more students believed that Lincoln did violate the Constitution than those who believed he did not.  http://padlet.com/wall/cgmhuk7wgr

3) Monitoring progress on long-term projects:  The World Historical Leaders Challenge, or AKA "History Madness."  Some projects involve  students posting information for everyone to observe and evaluate. In the History Madness project, students chose world leaders to post information about in preparation for debates. World Leaders were voted for (or against) based on the information posted on the wall, and the performance of each student in their respective debates. This challenge's progress was recorded on the Wall:  http://padlet.com/wall/g4jie2ro4u

4) Investigating, analyzing primary source documents, recording findings. This example demonstrates the work that several groups did while attempting to deal with an essential question, "Did compromise lead to war (The Civil War)?" Groups were assigned several readings  and primary source documents, then had to post their findings, in addition to answers to several questions/issues.  http://padlet.com/wall/cp1guxrjvm

5) Point of View exercise:  The Chinese Exclusion Act.   In learning about what perpetuated the passing of this act, and in understanding who was targeted, I assigned different groups different primary source documents to analyze then post comments about.  Posting comments on each document is valuable for the whole class-students can revisit those documents and sources that they were not responsible for.  Again, posting this information provides the whole class with a record of this information. As an introduction, as you can see, I posted an Animoto video of the Chinese Exclusion Act in general, for students to watch before they got to work.  http://padlet.com/wall/wpfnm6pyfc

6) Persuasive speeches, All-class debates.  Another great way to use the Wall is so that sutdents can have a visual record of where their classmates stand on certain issues. In one exercise in the 6th grade, we were discussing whether the Pharaoh or an American President had a harder job as leader (thus leading to our pharaoh vs president debate).  We originally used the Wall so that each students could list at least 5 of their strongest arguments in favor of their point of view, and so there would be a record of their strongest arguments. Then we decided to use it as a visual record of where the class, as a whole, stood on the issue. This is a great way to be able to "see" where the class stands on issues.  http://padlet.com/wall/2726gxhpay

7) Collecting poetry, especially Haiku.  Although I no longer have the Wall for this exercise, I did create a Haiku wall for a literature elective.  The great thing about Padlet is that images can be uploaded to a post-it to accompany text.  Our Haiku wall was decorated with appropriate images to complement each creative Haiku.

8) Photography elective showcase of photos.  This is a wall that I have yet to create, although I have been thinking about creating one for some time. I am going to try it at my first opportunity.  The wall will be a fantastic place to collect digital images, photographs or electronic art that I would like to do in an elective some day.  It provides a convenient and unique way to showcase the talented artists in my classes.  Furthermore, it's so easy to share with parents, colleagues and other classes so they can see the talented artwork, as well.

9) Display class projects virtually.   I'm thinking of more of #7 and #8 in this one, but I have also used the wall for brainstorming information for research papers.  I offer my students the opportunity to pick their own research topics. They post initial ideas for theses, and some essential facts and bibliographical information, along with links for further research.  The whole class can keep tabs on what everyone else is doing, while at the same time, getting ideas for how to progress in their own work.  I like this exercise since I want all my students to be familiar with what everyone else is working on. That is not possible when the class hears a research project for the first time at the end-stage presentation.

10) Electronic resume or biography.  Sometimes, in order to understand historical figures better, or to understand issues, I will have my students create a resume or biography of certain individuals.  It's great to be able to collect all of them on one wall for further reference throughout the year.

Please add to the list if you have any other great projects.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of how we use Padlet in our class.  I will be posting more as the year begins. 

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