Poetry and Padlet

Hello, hello!

We were able to score some very impressive flights ($69 USD roundtrip) to Chicago last weekend and we had a blast. We visited the National Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute, and more! It was bitterly cold but totally worth it.

I mentioned in a previous post that I would discuss padlet, which is an online collaboration tool for work, school, hobbies, and more. I stumbled across this free program in the excellent book, The Google Infused Classroom by Holly Clark and Tonya Avrith. I love this book because of its simple layout and "real talk" about practical application of their strategies in various grade levels.

Since I am a visual person, I turned to YouTube for help. I found a great, clear tutorial on Teacher'sTech (it's about 13 minutes), and I was ready to start. I would recommend watching a padlet/YouTube video to get a handle on the Modify tab and the variety of formatting styles available.

It's easy and free to create an account. I wanted to use this tool to create a Facebook-like stream for various poetry content. I asked the girls to use the "stream" format and walked them through setting up a basic padlet. We began with a text box focused on Six Words Memoirs, which is a great site for students (and non-students) to create a sentence with no more than 6 words that addresses a particular topic, such as "life," "happiness," or "food." To start our unit, I asked my students to write a six-word sentence on what they knew about poetry. Our first entry looked like this:

The following day, I asked the girls to find an image that connected with a poem that they chose for a program called Poetry Out Loud (more about this in a subsequent post). After they selected their photo, I gave them a prompt for a quick write. The prompt included the following questions:

1. What is the name and author of your poem?
2. When was the poem written? (This question was later tied to discussing language and social/historic context).
3. What is the tone of the poem? What words in the poem suggest this tone? (I linked to a list of positive, neutral, and negative tone words that we used last semester to encourage more complex vocabulary).
4. Why did you choose the poem?
5. How does your image relate to your poem?

After they wrote, I asked one student to airplay her work and we discussed it as a class. The padlet updates itself automatically (like a Google Doc--the exception is the Modify menu, where you must click save). Our most recent entry is shown at the top:

Student response, teacher reflection, and possible application

The students seem to really like this program. Surprisingly, none of them had used it before (we are in a 2:1 school--each student has both a MacBook and an iPad included in her tuition) and they like being able to change their background and scroll through their work. I am going to use this throughout our poetry unit, and occasionally have them share their work with me (like a Google Doc) and then grade it as a whole at the end of January. 

The students requested more visual work in their semester surveys in December, and I think this is a wonderful way to combine text, audio, video, and image. It also encourages autonomy, because once they understand how it works, they no longer need a walk-through of posting each time. Interestingly, I have had two students make up the padlet assignment they missed in class with no reminders! This is great. They proactively went on the agenda and completed it without my help and without a single request. 

I think padlet would work well with nearly any aspect of English class, but especially with challenging units (such as poetry), novels, Shakespeare, or sustained silent reading. 

I could also see this program working very well in design fields, and for college-related individual portfolios or group work (as previously mentioned, you can share and enable editing, just like Google Docs). 


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