I’m not really a tech junkie. I am more like a tech snacker. Our school, while still better equiped than some, requires a little bit of effort to get students to use technology rather than just watch me use it. However, since we are doing a double unit on research, and I’ll be in the computer lab anyway, I though I would try out a few sites to see how they worked with students.
Today I used WallWisher, a site that allows users to create a virtual wall and allow guests (invited or otherwise) to post sticky notes to it. I came across this site on Twitter, I think thanks to @TeachAKidd. If it wasn’t her, feel free to correct me. She created a board and asked users to post how they would use it. Admittedly, what I posted had nothing to do with how I used it and the link to that board has been lost in time (or at least to new Twitter posts).
For my lesson, I posted a discussion question at the top. Since I wanted kids to actually look at websites, I didn’t want too much discussion time, but wanted everyone to participate in answering the question. Students posted their answers and we reviewed them as a class. Here is an example of one the one I posted to Twitter for practice.
What I liked: The site was easy to set up. Once I did the first one, the other walls (one for each period) took about two or three minutes to create. Students didn’t need to give any personal information other than what I asked of them. Nor did I for that matter. Just go to the site and post. The site was also easy to teach. Just double click where you want the note and type. No extra prep and teaching time needed just to use the tool.
As a tool for classroom use, it was perfect for today’s purpose. Every student responded to the discussion question, and I could pull out the answers I wanted to explore further. Since it was one of the rare instances when “I don’t know” was an acceptable answer, many students were comforted when they weren’t the only one who put it. I like things that get the quiet students “talking” and those who tune out to tune in.
The kids really liked it too.
What I didn’t like: When you refresh after letting students post, the notes are all over the place. Many are on top of other ones. Not too big a deal since you just click and move, but for my class of 26 it was a little annoying. The time stamp at the bottom of each sticky was also incorrect. In every class, there was one student whose stamp said “January 1, 1970.” Not an issue for my activity, but if it were used as a discussion board with a deadline for posting, that would be an issue.
Conclusion: This isn’t a site for everyday use or for anything that would be considered “important” in the sense of grading or assessment. But as a discussion tool, or a motivation tool for that matter, it was certainly useful. Definitely one I’ll use again.