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PrimaryWall

Screencap, main page closeup, 8 Nov 2011

PrimaryWall is a tool that allows users to create digital sticky notes and post them on an online wall. Anyone can add to public walls, but walls can also be private. PrimaryWall is useful for recording students' thoughts on specific topics, sharing their predictions before a lesson to return to later, or allowing for collaboration.

Getting Started 

PrimaryWall is a free tool, although it offers additional features with a paid subscription. For free, teachers can create unlimited walls, sort the notes on the walls, search through the notes, and share walls through links. A paid subscription allows for keeping walls up longer and adding photos and clickable links to walls.

It is possible to create a wall without registering. However, by registering with an email address, it is possible to change the background and font on the wall, set security for the wall, and embed the wall elsewhere.

Walls can be embedded into class websites to make them easy to find and accessible as a reminder of learning and thinking.

PrimaryWall is very simple to use. From the main page, click to create a new wall and it is ready to go. At that point it is possible to add a note by clicking directly on the wall or on the special "add a note" button in the top left-hand corner. (The button is helpful when the wall is getting to be full of notes and it can be difficult to click directly on the wall.) Each note has three parts: title, contents, and name of person posting. Not all three sections have to be filled in by students, but all three will be shown when the note is posted. If a section is left empty it will say "no title set" or "no content set" or list the user as anonymous. For all the sections, a limited amount of text will show on each note. As a result, PrimaryWall is more useful with short pieces of text. For the youngest users, it is possible to simply type one word in the title section and post the note. It is also an option to have students use their initials or pseudonyms rather than their full names for security reasons

Two features make walls easier to browse and sift. The sort option lines all the notes up on a grid rather than in the random manner they have been placed on the wall. This allows students to create posts as they wish, quickly, but then, after sorting, to be able to see the notes clearly. The search option will find and highlight any notes with the chosen terms. This allows teachers to show the frequency or lack thereof of certain ideas or thoughts. It also allows students to quickly find their note if they wish to make changes to it.

PrimaryWall is accessible from any computer. Students can add or read walls during class or from home. Walls can also be embedded into class websites to make them easy to find and accessible as a reminder of learning and thinking.

Examples 

The creators of PrimaryWall have created a couple of brief YouTube tutorials. A teacher has created a slightly more detailed YouTube tutorial as well.

With elementary-age students, PrimaryWall is a wonderful way to record their predictions before beginning a study of an individual, event, or period in history.

With elementary-age students, PrimaryWall is a wonderful way to record their predictions before beginning a study of an individual, event, or period in history. Each student can add a note with their word or short phrase at the start and then refer back to it throughout or at the end of the study. Changes can be made or students can simply use their predictions to reflect on what they have learned. For instance, students might predict why a specific person, such as George Washington Carver, was important or how a period in history differed from ones they have already studied. Young children could predict how the past is different from the present. Students could also make predictions about a unit or lesson based on a primary source. I show my first graders a large photograph from a march for voting rights in 1965 before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day each year. I allow them time to explore the photograph and then make predictions about what they think is happening, why it was important, and/or what it has to do with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Young children can also use PrimaryWall to record important information they learn during a unit of study. The wall can be projected onto an interactive whiteboard or be up on a classroom computer and students can add interesting facts as they find them. The wall then becomes an interactive record of collective learning.

PrimaryWall can be used the same way with older students. However, older students are able to use this tool for more complex analytical purposes as well. The first note, posted by the teacher, can include a question or prompt and students can respond to it. Again, keep in mind that the responses need to be short. Students can be asked to list adjectives to describe a person, event, or historical period. Once everyone has responded to the prompt, the teacher can send the contents of the wall to Wordle. This will give back a cloud of all the words used on the wall. The size of the words is determined by how often they were used. The largest words in the cloud were used the most frequently. Analyzing the Wordle offers an opportunity to discuss and debate the students' ideas.

For more information 

For another online posting board tool, read about Wallwisher in Tech for Teachers. Try both tools—which one works best for your needs?

Glogster, although it's not a collaborative service, lets individual students create online "posters."

Jennifer Orr describes more of her techniques for teaching 1st graders using primary sources in our blog.

Wow what a fantastic review!

Wow what a fantastic review! Thank you :)

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