Tag Archive for 'Assessment'

Padlet for Feedback and Much More in the Classroom

What is Padlet?

Padlet (formerly called Wallwisher) is a versatile free online tool which can be used by teachers in a classroom setting to gather feedback from pupils as part of formative assessment. It also serves as a visually attractive tool for individuals or groups of pupils gathering ideas, and presenting them in a way which can be edited, kept private to a user, or shared with specific individuals, or made public.

Getting started

To start using Padlet just go to the website http://padlet.com and click on “Build a Wall” to get started right away. Then you simply click anywhere on the screen and start typing – it’s that simple! You can add links to online resources (websites, blogs, videos and more), add images (from elsewhere onlien or from your PC or mobile device), even documents (and an appropriate viewer is automatically included when you upload files).

How a teacher can make it classroom-friendly

You can choose to make the Padlet wall you create entirely private for you and anyone else you choose to add by email. Or you can choose to require users to enter a password, you can choose to make it public yet accessible to all with whom you share the direct link (and a short URL and even QR code is provided automatically you create a Padlet), or of course you can make the Padlet wall completely public for all to be able to find. You can even choose to add moderation to any posts so that posts will not appear for others until you approve them. The choice is yours.

Users do not need to sign up in order to use Padlet, though for a teacher using it in a class setting it would be recommended that the teacher does create an account as that then makes possible the later editing of the wall, moderation of posts, and collating of all walls created in one management screen. You can also choose to set a notification to receive an email when anyone adds to your wall.

Device-neutral tool

Padlet works on any internet-enabled device, whether PC or mobile device which means it can work where schools are making use of a mixture of devices (and no software or apps are required to be downloaded or installed). The resulting walls created in Padlet can be exported in several ways including pdf, spreadsheet or embedded elswehere online.

Examples of use in the classroom

Here is a video by Ryan Brown showing some examples of how he used Padlet in the classroom, and then shows the first few steps in getting started in using Padlet as a teacher.

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Sherry Hutchins has created a 5-minute video showing how a teacher can set up and use Padlet for the first time:

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If you are looking to see how others have used Padlet simply click on “Gallery” at the foot of the home page. The gallery provides links to examples of the use of Padlet in several categories so you can easily see how to start using the tool in a wide variety of contexts.

Mark Gleeson has described in detail how he uses Padlet in the primary classroom and provides examples of his Padlet walls on his blogpost.

Padleting Together is a post by Suzy Brooks detailing how she uses Padlet with her class of primary pupils. This post also includes a visual table of ideas in poster form.

Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom is a collection of many ideas shared by teachers collated by Tom Barrett.

105 Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom is a collection of ideas shared by Sean Banville, listed in categories with each example described. There is also a link to example Padlets and explanatory video.

Today’s Meet – for pupil feedback in the classroom

Today’s Meet provides a free online space, private to those with whom you share the link, where feedback, discussion and ideas can be shared.

This is a tool which comes into its own when users, either individually or in small groups, have access to internet-connected devices (whether PCs or mobile devices). It works on any internet-enabled device so requires no software installations or apps downloads.

A teacher using the tool sets it up simply by going to the Today’s Meet website at http://todaysmeet.com/, enters a name for the room unique to that lesson, and specifies how long the room will remain open before being automatically deleted (anything from as little as only 2 hours to as much as a year). When clicking “create” the room then becomes available at a unique address on the Internet which appears on the screen for the teacher to share with their own class. The pupils then go to that address and enter a name and start typing their comments.

It is extremely easy to use, though obviously the fact that it does require no user signup means that a teacher would need to use discretion in using with classes – it could be misused by pupils, which would be a behaviour issue, and comments cannot be deleted, nor rooms deleted manually (they are deleted automatically at the time the teacher specified when setting up the Today’s meet room). Therefore it would be suggested that this would onky be used where clear expectations had been shared with pupils, and a teacher was satisfied pupils would use it responsibly. In addition it would be recommended that the minimum time for the room be chosen (the comments can be copied and pasted elsewhere in a document if required).

For formative assessment, this tool is particularly useful where the ongoing feedback from pupils during a lesson can help shape the lesson as it is ongoing. Learners don’t require any special account to set up – it is private to a unique address which is not discoverable by others, and is time-limited so is deleted after it has served its purpose in the classroom setting.

This tool keeps all messages together for the teacher, and pupils don’t require to learn how to use any complicated tools – they just type what they need to say.

Padlet as alternative classroom friendly tool

Because the tool Today’s Meet could be misused by pupils, teachers may wish to consider using an alternative tool such as Padlet which provides features which address the concerns of teachers in a classroom setting – including moderation of content, sending to individuals by specific emails, deletion of individual comments, management of screens (and with additional features which include facility to include images, video and documents in posts on a wall).

ChatzyChatzy – Online discussions tool -a free online tool which lets users create a virtual room where discussions can take place. These spaces can be set to be only accessible to those with the link, or to specific individuals. There are several choices for those creating the rooms so it’s worth exploring the options and the Frequently Asked Questions page to determine the suitability of the tool for a particular situation.

Screencasting for Providing Pupil Feedback on Writing using a Video and Audio Screen Capture Tool

Often, when pupils undertake a piece of writing, a teacher will provide feedback to the pupil. This can take the form of face to face feedback by way of a conversation between the teacher and pupil concerned. Or it can be written comments added to the piece of work by the teacher.

It may be that for some teachers in some situations a screen capture tool may provide additional benefits. Advantages of using screencast tools include the fact that the teacher can say so much more in a short space of time, compared to what they might write beside the text; the pupil hears the familiar voice of their teacher which (with the benefit of hearing the tone of voice) can also provide more meaning than the same comments simply written by the teacher and read by the pupil.

There are several free tools which can capture a video of what you see on screen where the tool can also capture the spoken comments of the teacher as they highlight the elements of the writing on which they wish to add comments.

Click here for an example screencast showing the use which may be made of a screencasting tool to provide audio and video feedback to a pupil about their written work. This uses screencast-o-matic to record the voice of the teacher highlighting and commenting on elements of a piece of writing produced by a pupil in Microsoft Word (though could be any tool on screen).

Screencast-o-matic (in common with several other similar screencasting tools) lets you highlight the area of the screen to show, press record, start speaking and move the mouse to highlight selected areas of the work on which comments are being made. Once the recording is completed, simply press stop.

Then the video can be played back, downloaded as a video file (for storing offline, for sharing with only the pupil concerned, or to upload later in a network space or private online storage space) or shared via Youtube or just using Screencast-o-matic’s own storage (where the link could be shared only with an individual by email, or as a link on a website or blog if to be used for wider sharing). All for free and completed very quickly.

Click here for a video tutorial (with annotated written notes too) on how to create a screencast audio and video recording using screencast-o-matic.

Screenr is a free online screen recording tool – nothing to install – just press reord and go. Videos produced and hosted in your space on Screenr are playable on mobile devices (including iPhones). 

Interactive whiteboards, such as the Smartboard, also provide a screen-capture tool for creating a video recording, with spoken audio, of movement of what is done on the screen.

Richard Byrne on his Free technology for Teachers blog has also provided descriptions of alternative free online screencasting tools.

Screencasting tools can be used as described above for providing feedback to pupils (on any curricular area) and can be used for explaining how to do a variety of tasks to pupils, and others, where these tasks may be undertaken on screen – these videos can then be shared on class blogs or school websites if a wider audience is desired, or shared with an individual by email if that is what is the requirement.

Classroom Response Tools for Assessment for Learning

ClassroomResponseToolsThere are many tools now available specifically to help gather feedback from all pupils in a class – sometimes called classroom response systems, class voting tools or clickers. These let teachers get a quick response at the beginning, during or end of a teaching session. This way the teacher has a wider overview of the undertsanding at any time of the whole class and not just of a few individual pupils.

Why use response tools?

Used as part of an Assessment for Learning strategy a teacher can change the pace or direction of teaching to take account of responses from pupils. Click here for information about Robert Marzano’s research about the positive measurable effect on pupil learning of an effective teacher combining the use of an interactive whiteboard with a classroom response system. Click here for an article by Karen L Mahon sharing what her research found were the 12 most effective strategies for using classroom response systems to impact on learning.

What tools are available?

In addition to bespoke classroom response systems (such as those designed to integrate with interactive whiteboards like Promethean or Smartboard which also have a wide range of free to download ready-made resources) there is now a wide range of tools which can be used with whatever internet-connected devices may be available in a class, whether computers or mobile devices.


Danny Nicholson on his Whiteboard Blog has provided a useful review and guide to using Socrative classroom response system which works on any Internet-connected device. Socrative is a free web-based system that lets teachers set up questions for responses by pupils on any device with a web browser (smartphones, tablets, laptops).

Bradley Lands has described how he uses Socrative in formative assessment in his classroom (this includes videos of the use of Socrative).

Socrative itself has a blog with regular posts describing how different users are making use of the tool. In addition is has an online space for users to share resources they have created – once a user has uploaded one resource which they have created they then get access to the resources shared by others for free.

The 3-minute video below by James Sanders and Aaron Slutskyprovides a quick overview for teachers about using Socrative in the classroom:


Rob Zdrojewski has produced a 53-minute video of his presentation describing step-by-step how Socrative works (this link here also provides his notes with examples of the use of Socrative), the different features and explaining how he uses it in the classroom:


To use Socrative for the first time go to socrative.com (from there a teacher can log in to the teacher account from the link at the top, and a pupil can log into the pupil shortcut from the student link at the top too).
There is also a teacher shortcut: t.socrative.com
And a pupil shortcut: m.socrative.com – pupils don’t need to create an account in order to use Socrative, as they simply go to this link and enter the teacher room number provided by the teacher.

Gathering Student Feedback with Socrative is a presentation by Meredith Martin providing a step-by-step guide for teachers setting up and starting to use Socrative as a tool to gather feedback from learners.

Back-channeling with Socrative – using Socrative to get free feedback from pupils for use by the teacher during points in lessons or at the end to address questions raised by pupils as the lesson progresses.


Kahoot! –  https://getkahoot.com/A free online game-based classroom response system which works on any Internet-enabled device whether computer, tablet or mobile. The teacher can drag and drop items to build quizzes with embedded images or video, then project the quiz or survey onto a classroom screen, with the pupils then responding on whichever device they have available. There is a gaming element to the tool to help motivate and engage learners.

The teacher can keep track of learning through the responses to teacher-created quizzes. There is easy access to a bank of quizzes already created by others.

As a classroom-friendly tool, this does not require pupils to create accounts in order to respond to questions set by a teacher. In a classroom situation the teacher creates a teacher account, creates their questions and then clicks on “play” beside their question set. This would then show the three steps for pupils to take part, ideally displayed by projector in front of the class:

Step 1 for the pupils – go to an Internet browser on a device
Step 2 – go to kahoot.it
Step 3 – enter the classroom identification number (PIN) displayed by the projector and click enter.

The pupils then respond to the questions set by the teacher. Responses can be reviewed by the teacher at the end of each question and downloaded by the teacher at the end of the quiz. Other features which the teacher can choose to use include having “waiting music” for when pupils in a class are logging in at the start, or to randomise the order of questions, or to dipslay details of how to connect to the local wifi (handy for those situations where you may be presenting in another location to people unfamiliar with access in that location).

Here is is a video introducing Kahoot


Kahoot also provides the means for pupils to create their own quizzes (either individually or collectively) (go to the website address https://getkahoot.com/). With this option for pupils to create accounts to create quizzes of their own note that only if the teacher wishes pupils to create their own questions to demonstrate deeper understanding then the pupils at that point would require to create a pupil account – as this requires email addresses and dates of birth this would obviously require teachers to follow their school guidelines/procedures for any sites which require pupils to provide such information.

If you are a teacher looking to get your teacher Kahoot account then you go to the website address: https://getkahoot.com/

Click here for a demonstration video of a teacher starting Kahoot ready to use with pupils.

Below is a video showing how to use Kahoot created by Dan Gibson (note that this early video was created when Kahoot was in beta form)


Kahoot have a blog which has a host of ideas for using Kahoot in a classroom setting – including a post bringing together resources for teachers looking to introduce Kahoot to colleagues either at a formal training session or an informal meeting of teachers sharing ideas and practice.


formativeFormative https://goformative.com/ is a free online formative assessment tool which lets the teacher assign a task, provide the learners with a code to access the assignment at the site https://goformative.com/  with any device with Internet access, the learners can type, draw or add images for each question, and the teacher can see live responses, and provide feedback to the learners.

There is a step-by-step walkthrough document here: http://bit.ly/goformativeguide, a page of video tutorials here: http://bit.ly/goformative, and a YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTYCAqH67MNhKtOezThRS4w

The Answer Pad

The Answer Pad free browser-based (and app available) pupil response system. The free version permits 1 teacher to use with up to 200 pupils, in up to 8 groups! Includes unlimited answer sheets with 8 question types, 6 response types and draw feature, free draw and 10 free background templates for annotating. Premium features are available at a cost.


Vizaroo – a learner response system which creates graphic visualisations from responses. With simple input of answers to questions the results can be instantly displayed in mind-map form, or as a Venn diagram or as a bar chart.


Tricider lets you create a question and invite others to respond with answers – either developing ideas or suggesting other ideas.  the free version has a limit of 20 participants – this would work well in group discussion with mulitple devices as a way of quickly collating ideas from a class. Questions can be shared with an email or embedded in a blog or website page. And you can incorprate a competition element to the tool with ease – which you can choose to be random, or on basis of certain responses.


GoPollGo lets you set questions and share them either privately or to wider audiences, and add linked video or images.

GoogleDocs Form Tool

Google Docs form tool can be used to create a response system to which pupils can respond via mobile devices, laptops or computers. A step by step video guide to creating such a response tool as part of classroom formative assessment has been created by Matt Dunleavy – view it below:



Click here for a video by Eric Curts and Paul McIntyre about how to make use of pupil mobile devices in place of classroom response systems. This covers using Poll Everywhere, Socrative, and Google Forms.


mQlickermQlicker -a free response system which works with mobile devices or desktop computers, provides a range of question types, feedback either on the device or embedded into Powerpoint and has a wide range of resources on the website from research relating to the use of response systems to examples of how they can be used to support learning and teaching, and an interactive online demo system so users can quickly see how it works.

Only have one device?

Shawn Rubin has compiled a post describing how Assessment for Learning techniques can be applied where the teacher has access to only one device - here the emphasis is on using different tools to record the interactions with pupils in order to inform the teaching thereafter.

Plickers requires only that the teacher has a device (such as smartphone or tablet, or even a webcam attached to computer) which has a camera to scan (from front of class with pupils seated as normal in the classroom) printed cards unique to each child like the one shown here. When the teacher asks pupils a question (with multiple choice responses) the pupils simply hold their allocated card with the letter corresponding to the response of their choice to the top. The teacher then uses their device to scan the room and the plickers then picks up each pupil’s response and feed back to the teacher what each pupil has responded. Richard Byrne has described his use of Plickers in an educational context here. Also here is a post describing in detail one educator’s experience of using plickers: Plickers app: where analogue meets digital.

Watch the video below for a demonstration (this uses a webcam placed at the front of the room):


Primary Games for Learning Gains

Primary Games Arena is a site aimed specifically at pupils in primary schools and comprises free online games for all ages and stages, as well as all areas of the curriculum.

There is a huge selection of high-quality games which have been identified to individually address the needs of the curriculum first and foremost to address the learning required for specific ages and stage and each curricular area, and are also visually very engaging. Elements of games-based learning which are also incorporated include badges (online medals) for rewards for pupils to reward their playing the games. There is a like button on each game, and this feeds back to the home page which displays the top-rated popular games at any time. And users can easily share what they find with a link to a specific game (the link for a specific game appears on that page, as does html embed code for sharing on websites or blogs or VLEs).

Each curricular area and and range of games is linked to external curricular-related material which supports users of these games (either to help pupils in improving their skills when then playing the games or to develop further in any areas) and shows how what they are doing is matched to the requirements of the curriculum.

And if you find a great online game somewhere which would be great to add to this site (and which would then have the gaming reward medals available to users everywhere) there is a simple contact page to send details to Primary Games arena who can check it and add it as appropriate.

There are different ways of pupils or teachers finding a game to support them in any area of the curriculum – you can click on the home page curricular links or the age/stage links. Each provides further lists of games specific to the curriculum for the area or stage. Or you can simply enter into the search box whatever is being taught so the appropriate range of games is then displayed.

The site provides code to easily add Primary Games Arena onto your school website so the games can be even more easily accessed by pupils.

Adding deeper understanding, fun and choice to classroom project tasks with Learning Event Generator

Teachers often look for fresh ways of setting classroom tasks for pupils to demonstrate their learning. That is, to be able to show that they have understood what they have been learning by presenting or applying that information in a different form to the way in which it may have been taught or learned. This gives pupils the chance to show a deeper understanding of information , concepts or processes, while at the same time having some fun. Also teachers have found that learners given freedom to choose or personalise their learning can be more engaged with that learning.

One way of finding imaginative ways for pupils to demonstrate their learning, while also having fun and giving choice to learners, is to use a Learning Event Generator such as created by John Davitt. He has created a series of Learning Event Generators from his original idea based on feedback from many other teachers, some tailored to specific curricular areas but with ones suitable for any curricular area or classroom task.

With a simple click a task is randomly generated, matching the subject of the learning with an activity. So it might be “Do the continents of the world as a dot-to-dot activity” or “do the life cycle of a tadpole as a role play.” And with 400 possible permutations randomly generated in the first Learning Event Generator a teacher or pupils can click a few times to find an activity which provides the stimulus for the activity. Of course the subject can also be set by the teacher and the generator simply used as a means to provide the way of presenting it. The generators are quick and easy to use and to adapt any idea to any learning situation. They don’t have to be used as the hard and fast stated activity but can readily be adapted to other situations or provide the spark for an idea by teachers of learners to use in their own learning situation.

The Magical Maths blog has provided a list of 50 different ways in which pupils could demonstrate their understanding of their learning. Although the title suggests this is for maths lessons the ideas can be applied in many situations.

Alternatives to traditional homework – a post in the form of a chart which provides tasks which might be considered traditional tasks set by teachers to help embed learning in their students, as well as provide a form of assessment, alongside alternative tasks which might instead be set to more fully engage a learner in their own learning.

Kenny O’Donnell provides examples of this in practice with his pupils here
Here also are some examples of the learning event generator used in classrooms

101 Ways to show what you know – a visual infographic poster shared by Greg Miller of different ways for pupils to demonstrate their learning in any context, with suggestions grouped into four categories: visual, written, performance or spoken.

So whether you wish to use the original Learning Event Generator, or one of the others such as the Homework Generator (e.g. “do whatever your teacher told you as a public service announcement at a station”) these tools, with a click of a button, can quickly provide ideas to use in a learning experience across the curriculum. And if the first idea doesn’t seem to work for you or your learners, then a few more clicks and the activity generator will either display an idea which engages you or your learners, or spark an idea to adapt.

Efficient Ways to check for understanding – a post by Todd Finley which provides a list of 53 ways to check for understanding which may also increase engagement with learning by pupils.

Create Your Own Listening Comprehension Quiz with Video

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool where your pupils could view a video you’ve found online, and then answer comprehension questions on what they’ve just seen and heard? It would be great, too,  if that tool could have a transcript of the text. And feedback  to the pupil and to the pupil’s teacher about how well the pupil had done. And where you could add notes or links.

Well,  ESLVideo.com is just such a tool (shared by John Sexton on his blog).

If you have found an online video which you think is just right to support work your class is working on, then simply grab the embed code (the steps for doing this are clearly shown on the ESLVideo site) from the video and sign into ESLVideo to paste the code into the ESLVideo site. There you can then add multiple-choice questions, and add a transcript and notes if you wish.

You can then embed the combined video, questions, notes and transcript onto your own website or blog for ease of finding by your pupils. In addition if you add a teacher code (a username you create for your pupils to see) they can add that along with their name to their completed quiz and send it to you through ESLVideo. The teacher can then log in to see which questions pupils have struggled with to offer support as required.

Pupils also get feedback on completing a quiz (a score, the correct and incorrect answers), and they can rate the quiz.

This tool is easy to use for both the teacher creating a quiz, and for the pupil taking the quiz, and is a tool which has many ways which can make use of online videos in the classroom.

Popplet the Primary Presentation tool

Popplet is a free online tool which lets you create a visual mindmap with ease, combining text, images, links and videos. This could be useful as a tool to use collaboratively with a class to outline planning together for a new topic, perhaps using the interactive whiteboard. Or it could be a way to record learning as pupils research about a topic. The simplicity of adding images, text links and videos is coupled with the ease with which any part can be re-ordered or moved to suit the visual presentation style desired.

Popplet can also be used as an alternative to Powerpoint in delivering presentations, well suited to the needs of a primary school.

Watch the video introduction to Popplet below:

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Mark Bromley has created a video which serves as an introduction and short tutorial to using Popplet in the primary classroom.

Miss Noor has provided several suggestions for the use of Popplet in various curricular areas in the classroom, along with an example Popplet presentation.

So whether as a visual planning tool, for note-taking, for creating a slideshow of images or delivering presentations combining text, weblinks, videos and images in an animated way then Popplet is an easy to use tool useful for the primary classroom.

For other tools which can be used to create mind-maps or to display information in a visual way then look at the mind-mapping tools at webtools4u2use.

For further tools which can be used to as presentation tools have a look at the presentation tools page of webtools4u2use.

Writing Pads – for online collaborative real-time writing

When you want your class to be able to collaborate on writing there are several ways of doing so. One way of doing this is to make use of an online tool which permits real-time collaboration with multiple users all at the same time. Etherpad-type tools or writing pads (of which there are several) provide the facility to have several pupils working on the same document while using different computers and from different locations. More than one person can edit the same document at the same time and everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens. Wikipedia describes etherpads as: “Anyone can create a new collaborative document, known as a “pad”. Each pad has its own web address (URL), and anyone who knows this address can edit the pad. Password-protected pads are also possible. Each participant is identified by a colour and a name. The software auto-saves the document at regular, short intervals, but participants can also save specific versions (checkpoints) at any time. A “time slider” feature allows anyone to explore the history of the pad.”

This can then be used where you have multiple computers available in a class, or ICT suite, or for collaborative writing between classes in different schools. Features of writing pads are:

  • when a user logs on (and adds their name) any writing they add, deletions or writing they make, are indicated on the shared writing space in a colour specific to them.
  • there is the facility to use a time-slider – so users can slide the writing back to any chosen previous version – handy to see the writing as a process of thoughts (and to go back to a previous version if corrections are later desired to be revised.
  • text can be imported or copied and pasted from elsewhere (so a starting document can be used for collaborative real-time editing within the writing pad)
  • the edited writing pad document can be exported as a document (or can simply be copied and pasted elsewhere).
  • they are free to use as public versions (when you generate a new writing pad it generates a new writing pad with a long string of random characters in the web address, this address then to be shared with users perhaps by email with whom you wish to collaborate and which makes it unlikely to be found by uninvited others).

Each writing pad available also has features specific to them. Some restrict the number of users, some the length of time they will be available in public (without paid subscription). For classroom use clearly teachers would wish to consider who can see the document and some paid-for subscription versions can provide locked-down private writing pads. Writing pads are intended for real-time collaboration between people. They are not meant for long-term document storage – so for working on a piece of work at a particular stage of the writing where it would benefit from real-time multiple user collaboration the writing pad provides a tool which can be very useful. Copy and pasting a starter document from elsewhere, and then doing likewise at the end of the collaborative working session means the tool fills a gap for short-life tasks.

Some of the writing pads available are shown below:

http://primarypad.com/ Aimed specifically at schools the basic free features of Primary Pad include: unlimited pad creation,  30 days until your pad is deleted,  up to 15 people collaborating on a pad,  chat functionality,  50 revision saves,  and time slider to see how your pad has evolved. With a paid for professional account users get image import and support, pad management, password security, your own subdomain, facility to create templates, delete pads, embed pads into your website/blog/vle, document import and export, and facility to watch changes in real time across multiple pads.  PrimaryPad was conceived by a teacher and has features specifically for use in classrooms. In addition it has a getting started guide, lesson ideas, lesson plans and a help guide for teachers. There is an option to generate QR codes for sharing with others to access a shared pad, and a colour picker for a wider range of colours to identify individual users. Also there is a collection of ideas shared by other teachers available. And there is support, a user community, wiki and blog where ideas or issues can be shared and resolved.

The video below provides a tutorial to using PrimaryPad:


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http://meetingwords.com/ Up to 32 people can type on the same document at the same time in Meeting Words. You can use it right away without any sign-up, it is free and your text is stored on the web so you can access it from any computer. You can also invite other people to type with you. Pads may be deleted if they haven’t been used in more than seven days.

http://titanpad.com/ – Titan Pad lets you create a private password-protected pad for free. It also has a free public pad option which requires no registration. Public Pads in Titan Pad are accessible by everyone who has access to the URL. So public pads are best used only for shortlived non-sensitive information. The free private pads created with Titan Pad are by default only accessible by users who have an account in the free subdomain you create or who have been provided with a password.  Public Pads are limited to 8 simultaneous users. Private Pads have no limits on users but the Titan Pad help-page suggests that usability degrades with too many users all working simultaneously.

For other alternatives to the above see also http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20004686-248.html

Whichever writing pad best suits your need they provide a tool for pupils or staff to work together on collaborative writing for any purpose, such as story or report writing, or for meeting notes, brainstorming/thought-showering sessions, homework,  and more. Text on a writing pad is synchronized as you type, so that everyone viewing the page sees the same text. This allows you to collaborate seamlessly on documents. Used for short-term tasks which require the immediacy of collaboration in real-time (and where the end results are then copied and pasted for storage elsewhere) they are a useful tool for the classroom.

Breaking News – literacy activities for the classroom on stories making the news

http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/ Breaking News English is a site by Sean Banville aimed at teachers looking for activities for learners of English in the context of stories making the headlines in the media.  This contains Lesson Plans & Podcasts for combining studying Current Events and News while also learning English.

Keep up with the news and learn English – Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking

For each news story there are associated activities provided.  The story is presented as text as well as a downloadable mp3 file for listening to the story. The activities include a series of imaginative guided warm-up discussion activities, as well as a range of activities for pupils to undertake prior to reading the story or listening to it (which provide pupils with the chance to say what they know about the story just from the headline, in addition to looking at some of the language used).  Then there are activities to complete while listening to the story.  This is then followed with a wide range of actvities based on the text – which includes things like multiple choice questions, discussions based on themes raised, and extended writing activities which can be undertaken within a class or as follow-up activities.

There are answer keys provided for all activities.  The combination of activities for supporting teaching English language with news stories keeps the learning in a meaningful context.

The site also has a searchable database of previous stories which can be searched on themes or keywords.

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