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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds One of the online tools that we use a lot on our FutureLearn courses you might actually find to be very useful for working with primary pupils too. Even if this means that pupils themselves are not uploading or sharing the outputs of their activities, it can be something where parents can be involved. Padlet is a virtual pin board and it’s a very quick way for pupils or their parents to share outputs such as photos or even very short videos, word documents, powerpoints, digital posters, within a specific space for your class. Obviously please refer to the guidance for the use of third-party tools that would have been provided by your school.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Now there are two types of Padlet which I think will be particularly useful for you as a primary educator. Within Padlet I’m going to go to make a Padlet and first of all I’m going to look at the wall layout, and this is just a way that we order Padlets. Here’s an example and you can see here how the examples are evenly laid out and it’s a good way of getting lots of different examples on a particular topic together. It could be a good way of collecting pictures that pupils have taken in their home or garden for example.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds Now I have a title so I can put in my class name put in the title there and then a short description what I want them to upload, and I can change the background if I wanted to. We could allow comments but that would require an element of moderation perhaps so it might not be something you want to offer on this particular Padlet, but certainly reactions could be a good way of allowing pupils to vote on each other’s work, so I’m going to turn this on. Using a simple up and down vote.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 seconds If I wanted to again add a layer of moderation, so before something is made available to the rest of the class anyone else who’s got linked to this Padlet, I can turn on requiring approval and then I’d have to revisit this Padlet regularly as an educator to allow those posts to come through for the rest of the class, but as an educator I could see them all, and certainly filter profanity. Then next, now I’ve got my title and description I need to go to the sharing settings, just having a look to see what access we’ve got.

Skip to 2 minutes and 45 seconds So I’m going to change the privacy, I want to make this Padlet secret so only those who know the web link can access it and anyone can write on this Padlet so I’m happy with those settings. Pupils and the parents don’t need a Padlet account to be able to post to this virtual pin board. I can then copy that link to the clipboard and then send that out to my pupils. When they post all they need to do is double click somewhere on the Padlet and then they can upload a file, they can share a web link, or they can upload a picture.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 seconds Alternatively they just click the large plus icon and that’ll again set up a new post for them to add to. Now the other type of Padlet is the shelf, so I’m just going to click shelf Padlet there, and again give it a title and a description and this here is going to be a sorting activity. So I’ve got my description in there, again my wallpaper is a bit messy this one so I’m going to simplify that a little bit, and again I’m going to allow the voting, and filtering off any profanity. Now I need to create my columns, these are the shelves that the posts will be put within.

Skip to 4 minutes and 6 seconds So I’m going to create three columns here, first one’s going to be ‘man-made’ second one is going to be ‘natural’ so we’re looking at sorting different objects and ‘I don’t know’. Then when posts are added they’re added to one of those columns, so as the pupils or parents if you’ve got younger pupils are adding posts they click on the plus icon in the column that they want to put their object that they found in. Again they would upload or take a photo using their mobile device if they so wished. So there’s two different varieties of Padlet there. There are a whole host of other options.

Skip to 4 minutes and 42 seconds One thing to watch out for though is that you can only have three Padlets active at a time on a free Padlet account. However you can archive old Padlets, including exporting the Padlet as a PDF and then archiving it freeing up those three free spaces.

Sharing work back

School parent apps and learning platforms may allow work to be sent back from pupils or parents to the teacher. With remote learning, being able to see the outputs of your pupils’ work will give you a sense of their progress and can be very rewarding. However, receiving work does not mean that you need to provide detailed feedback, and expectations on what feedback should be expected will need to be included in your activity instructions.

One approach could be to select one or two examples of submitted work back to the rest of the class, to demonstrate how success criteria have been met. Particularly where pupils are working remotely, they will be missing the interactions with other children, and seeing that they are working on the same tasks by sharing work may motivate them.

You will want to avoid handling emails, so use features built into platforms and apps for parents to upload photos of work or activities showing learning at home. If you don’t have the tools within your learning platforms, one option is Padlet, which is like a virtual pin-board. It is worth noting that the terms of service require parental supervision for those under 13 years old. We also recommend clearly stating that personal data is not shared on the Padlet.


You can use a free version of Padlet, which allows you to create three Padlet activities. You can archive old Padlets to free up space. Once you have finished using one of your designs with your class, you can click on ‘REMAKE’ in the top right hand corner of the screen, and simply change it into a different one for a new activity.

Features of Padlet include:

  • The option to have a students’ name next to their post-it
  • Allow comments on posts
  • Allow students to ‘like’ a post
  • Filter profanity
  • You could also put students into groups and give each group a different padlet on a different aspect of a topic.
  • Privacy settings (you can choose ‘secret’ which means only those with the link can access it)

The ‘Shelf’ template gives you a column layout with headings. This is used for posts to be made under specific categories, or headings. For example, you could create a KWL grid or use the columns for different topics.

The video above shows the Wall and Shelf layouts.

Always refer to your school or college third-party tool policy and do not require students to submit personal data.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science

National STEM Learning Centre