I am a big fan of Padlet and similar web-based noticeboards. Basically these digital noticeboards allow users to place text, images, upload and embed videos or audio recordings and do team work on a given noticeboard. There are many tutorials on the Internet on how to use Padlet. I have my own but I’d rather not share here as you can find more updated ones on Youtube. I will, however, be sharing a video I recorded with other practical uses of Padlet for the English classroom besides the one that I am writing about here (you will find it at the end of the post).
Today I want to share an activity that gets the students to listen to authentic listening material at their own pace and try to identify useful language to be analysed at a future lesson with the aid of their teacher.
Create a Padlet and allow users with the link to collaborate on it. Place a recording in it. In the example below, I used a short interview with the language assistant in our school. He shared with the class an experience that took place when he was working as a lifeguard on a beach.
Give the students the link for the Padlet and ask them to -outside class hours- listen to the recording as many times as they wish (the recording time for the one below is 1 minute 46 seconds), and pause and rewind as needed. Their task is to understand the extract as a whole but also to identify useful language which could be relevant for the story itself but also in a broader perspective of things.
So whenever they identify a useful word or language chunck, they can place a comment on the board. They can make several contributions if they want. It’s not absolutely essential that every student participates. You may also want to place some yourself.
Basically, this task can be set as homework. In this instance, I used a personal interview but you may also decide to choose material from the Internet, whether it’s authentic and at real speed such as a video from Youtube or some adapted material for learners. I find it important that the students focus on a short time span, for instance one to three minutes at the most.
In your next lesson you can open the Padlet from the board and have a look at it with your students and explore this language a bit in terms of grammar that is usually associated with, pronunciation at connected speech level, common collocations, other possible speaking situations where it is used and so on.
Take absolutely as an amplifier, meaning “I couldn’t agree with you more”. Give the students a short opportunity to use it in conversations by providing a scenario such as in “you need help from your partner about… (make up your own case)” and your partner won’t mind helping you at all. “Then swich roles and give your strong opinion about something and your partner couldn’t agree more with you”. “You will have to use absolutely in your short dialogues”.
“I placed buyoes on the board, which is plural for buoy. Notice the American pronunciation. What is it? Does anyone know? How is it used?”
“Juancar placed pretty far. Interesting contribution. Thanks, Juancar. Pretty is a very common adjective meaning quite. I guess you know this. So we could say quite far or pretty far, as a lot of people say. So pretty is pretty common.
“The water got rough”. What other uses of rough do you know? A rough… what? A rough guess, a rough estimate… anything else?
There are ample opportunities for attention and repetition, which are fundamental in language acquisition and competence. This may not be the main focus of your lesson and you may not want to spend too much time on it but it will be time well spent. In addition, if you fall into the habit of setting up this kind of work for your students, you will be saving a lot of energy and time in terms of class preparation. It only requires seconds to set a Padlet and embed or upload a recording. You may decide to keep it and open a new one for a future task or edit the one you have to upload new content, in which case you and the students will just have one working space you can refer to without having the need to share a new link each time. This type of work and routine will get your students listen to and analyse short listening extracts and do serious listening work at a connected speech level at home and will bring you excellent opportunities to give them feedback and always teach something on the side.
Of course, you could do this without technology by making a recording available to them and have them write in their notebooks relevant vocabulary and expressions and then have them tell you to annotate on the board. However, I think technology here brings two clear advantages: you can access the content right away without having to spend time writing down on the board. The teaching material (both the listening and the text) is ready. Plus the students are already familiar with the useful vocabulary, as they will have seen everyone’s contributions before they come to class. This is particulary interesting for the weaker students, you will have had some support from peers, and they will be in a better position to understand more clearly when the Padlet is explored in class.
And here are some more practical ideas coming from my book From Whiteboards to Web 2.0.