After hearing about one of our teacher’s experience and witnessing the excitement of the students, I knew I wanted to give PrimaryPad a try with my own classes. It went really well, for the most part. The second class I tried it with went much better than the first class though. I think that my being pretty sick with bronchitis when I first tried PrimaryPad with my students, probably wasn’t the best decision because I still wasn’t thinking as clearly as I should have been.
Let me tell you a little about PrimaryPad first and then tell you a few things to keep in mind if you decide to use this tool with our classes.
PrimaryPad can have many users typing all at once (I had 9 groups of three students typing together). Each group of students could type their name and choose their colour. If done correctly, each group/student would have a different colour. This makes it easier to identify who is saying what. I typed in 4 questions. The students read the questions and wrote their group’s answers to each of the questions.
PrimaryPad has a backchannel that the students can use to chat as well. This is a great option for when the students finish an assignment they are working on, they can go to the chat feature (on the bottom right). My students LOVED this feature!
A few things to consider and/or remember when using PrimaryPad…
- When having your students give their group a name (that will show up when they type), have them use each of their names as their group name – instead of them coming up with a “group name”, like I did with my first class. That was a mistake. I spent the first 10 minutes trying to figure out who was saying what and who was erasing whose work and so on…. Once I stopped them and had them write their own names in to the box, things became much more manageable and less anonymous (aka more focused and accountable).
- You can set the pages up as private or public and with or without a password. I set them up as public with a password. This was very easy to do. PrimaryPad is great because the website name you type in isn’t difficult to remember and isn’t some strange code that is inevitably typed in incorrectly over and over again. You can have many Pads on your account at one time as well – there doesn’t seem to be a limit.
- If you want to save the Pad, or Print it out, do so before people start signing out. Also, if you want to be able to tell who wrote which comment, print the entire pad out before students sign out. Once students have signed out, their names are gone and you are only left with the comments they wrote, but no names associated with these comments (except for in the chat section – all their names remain there, but not in the main pad).
- Perhaps, if you are going to type a specific question for your students to answer, put the text of the question(s) in bold AND underline the question(s) so that they are easily read and noticed as their next question.
- Encourage your students to use the main work Pad to focus on the task at hand. Give them time to chat in the chat section though – the students love this.
- Be prepared. Have everything organized in advance, with directions given prior to computers being available to the students. This will help to ensure students are actually listening to your directions.
- Remind the students to be careful when they are typing. When you have numerous students working on one Pad, it is easy for them to start typing over each other and accidentally erasing each other’s work.
- Have fun with your students! Near the end of our lesson, most of the student were on the chat feature. One of my students asked me, “Are you going to chat with us, Mrs. Henriksen?” I did and it was a lot of fun!
One of my students made me giggle out loud when he wrote, “HACE is epic and raad!” What more can you ask for from Grade 6 boys? They are collaborating, completing the work assigned, engaged, enjoying themselves and learning in the process! Even more importantly, they can’t wait for our next class!
By the way, in case you are wondering, “HACE” is Health and Career Education.
So, if you are looking for a tool your students can use to collaborate together, PrimaryPad is great!