Research with Padlet

When working with young (elementary) students on developing research skills, I’ve found it useful to narrow the process down to three steps:

Read and think

Write what you’ve learned

Show what you know

Going Digital

The proliferation of digital tools in today’s world allows for the integration of technology at every step in this process.  Naturally, students are going to access  web-based resources for the “read and think” stage, and creating a digital product such as a podcast or a video or even a digital poster to “show what you know” is engaging and becoming easier to accomplish.  But what about the “write what you’ve learned” stage?

Padlet for Collaborative Note-Taking

Padlet is a free web 2.0 tool that allows users to post text, links, files, and images on a “wall” that resides on the web.  It is a tool that students could use in the research process to record resources they’ve discovered and their thinking around the information.  Students working in collaborative research groups can share resources and ideas on the same Padlet wall creating a digital, collaborative research “notebook”.

View the Padlet tutorial video below to see what a shared student research “wall” could look like, and to learn how to set up your own collaborative Padlet wall.

Padlet Tutorial Video

Objectives

A research project in an elementary classroom achieves many different academic objectives such as locating information (digital and print), evaluating text for relevance to the project, reading/thinking critically, summarizing informational passages, differentiating between main ideas and details, writing (note-taking as well as all steps of the writing process), synthesizing information into a new product, and refining communication/collaboration skills.  Students will be covering standards in multiple academic content areas within the context of a research assignment (i.e. Science,  Social Studies, ELAR, Technology Applications, etc.).

Steps

A group research assignment that incorporates Padlet as a collaborative notebook could include these steps:

  1. Introduce the topic to be researched.  This could be a topic from your standards or curriculum, or it could be a brainstorm session of student self-selected topics.
  2. Assign student groups, or allow students to choose their own groups based on common interests.
  3. Begin the “read and think” stage.  Have students explore a variety of resources related to their research topic.  This is a great point to involve your campus librarian if possible.
  4. Create Padlet walls (see screencast tutorial above for help) for each student group.  Give students the links to their group wall, and show them how to add posts.  This is the  “write what you learned” stage.
  5. Monitor Padlet wall content to determine if students need guidance or redirection.  Give groups feedback on their progress.
  6. After students have had enough time to research and record, have student groups use the information from their Padlet wall to “show what you know”.  They can create a product of their choice (written report, blog post, podcast, video, book, poster, etc.) to showcase their learning.
  7. You could have a research showcase event where student groups present their products to an audience (parents, another class, administrators, etc.)!

Give Padlet a try.  Your students will love it, and so will you!

Happy learning!

Podcast Exploration

headphone-152401_640I love listening to podcasts.  Podcasts are audio broadcasts that are recorded and either downloadable to a mobile device or streamable from a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. They are one of the most effective tools in my learning toolbox.  Although lately I only listen to education related podcasts, there are thousands of podcasts out there to enhance learning on almost any topic.

Podcasts for Students?

What if we opened up this world of audio learning for our students?  The increase of technology availability in (and out of) our classrooms creates an opportunity to expand students’ learning platforms.  Consider including podcasts as a resource for students to explore for content information.  Benefits include:

  • exposure to a different medium for content delivery
  • appeals to auditory (and kinesthetic) learners
  • helps build listening and visualization skills
  • pausable, rewindable, replayable content; students have control over delivery elements
  • supports development of technology operation and concept skills
  • fun, different and engaging way to expose students to content information
  • extends learning beyond the school day
  • allowing students to create their own podcasts opens a whole new set of possibilities for process and technology skill development

Create a Podcast Exploration

While I am no longer in the classroom, I approach most technology tools by considering how they would help achieve 3rd grade learning objectives.  This was the last grade level I taught, and it is still very fresh in my mind.  For podcasts, I would create a podcast exploration activity.  This could be done with any upper elementary grades (3-5), and could be modified to meet the needs of younger or older learners.

The activity objectives would include:

  • introduce students to the concept of podcasts
  • listen to reading with fluency, prosody, expression
  • identify fiction/non-fiction
  • think critically about information delivered
  • consider author’s purpose; possible bias; reliability of information
  • evaluate quality including elements of effectiveness/non-effectiveness of delivery
  • reflect on impact of medium on personal learning

Activity Steps

Here are the steps I would take in a podcast exploration experience.

  1. Have a class discussion about what a podcast is, and listen to a  podcast together as a class.
  2. Have students reflect on what they learned from the podcast.
  3. Guide students to identify elements of the podcast that made it informative/enjoyable.
  4. Provide students with a menu of pre-selected (by me) podcasts for them to explore independently or as a group.  (Refer to the podcast embedded in this blog post for some recommended podcasts from the iTunes Store that you could use.)
  5. Options for making podcasts available:
    • preload the podcasts on class mobile devices
    • provide the list to parents and have students listen at home
    • have students listen from the computer either in the classroom or your school library (coordinate with your campus librarian–what a fantastic collaboration opportunity!)
  6. Require students to listen to a minimum number of the podcasts from the menu.  3-5 is a good starting point depending on your students’ ages and ability levels.  Allow students to choose from the menu.
  7. The podcast exploration timeframe can vary depending on availability of technology.  If each student has a device this could be done in one day.   Most likely students are having to share limited devices, so you might give them a week to listen to their podcast minimum.
  8. Require students to fill out a reflection form for each podcast.  This could be in a journal or on a Google Form or on their classroom blog.  It would include questions such as
    • What is the podcast title; who is the “author”?
    • Was it fiction or non-fiction?  How did you know?
    • What did you like about it?  Or not?  Or both?
    • Would you change anything about it if you were able to?
    • How did listening to this podcast affect your learning?
  9. Allow students to work independently or collaboratively as they choose and as fits the style of your classroom.
  10. After the exploration, have a class discussion about the podcast adventure and how they felt it impacted their learning.

Resources

Listen to this podcast to get ideas for podcasts you might want to include in a podcast exploration menu.  The list of podcast names is included below.

Brains On!

Age of the Dinosaur from Fun Kids Radio

Five Minute Astronomy

Everyday Einstein

Grammar Girl

Math Dude

Let Me Tell You a Tale

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

Chatting About Books

Brain Burps About Books

School Run French

Coffee Break German (Spanish/French)

Extensions

If the podcast exploration goes well, you may decide to make more podcast resources available to students on a regular basis.

Involve parents, and encourage them to work with their kids at home to find and download interesting, kid-friendly podcasts to extend learning beyond the school day.

Your students may want to create their own podcasts to showcase their learning or creativity.  Awesome!  Give them some tools and time to make that happen.  This post contains some helpful information if your class decides to go this route.

Happy Learning!