There are many Websites out there which allow you to have friends or students post thoughts, ideas and questions on one page; however, it is often the case the site runs slow or has issues. PiratePad seems to have overcome these difficulties and it is also a free resource.
When you get to the site, you will be greeted by a frog wearing an eye patch. This page provides you with a quick hint on how to get the site to work better if you are having trouble viewing the page. Click on the frog to continue. As soon as you do, you are taken to a page with a Web address you can use. You are able to immediately start typing onto the pad.
You can give your page a name or change the colors of the text. Don’t worry if you want different colors or other features on different lines. As you type, each line is designated with a line number to make it easier for you to make changes. There is a simple “pad options” icon to help you decide how you want your page to look like.
What is great about Pirate Pad is that you can share what you created right away. So if you gave your students a homework assignment to perform on Pirate Pad, you can literally create the page when the school day ends and the students will be able to interact with it the moment they get home. You are given choices on how to share the URL. You can copy the link and create your own e-mail or text to send to people you want to invite to work on the pad. There is also a ready made welcome letter you can e-mail out to those who you want to participate.
This site makes it easy to distinguish who shared what thought. As each person signs in and contributes to the page, they are assigned a different color. Their comments as well as their name in the chat window share that color. This makes it easy for you to scan and see which students have posted and/or participated in the chat discussion. There is also a timeline you can utilize. For example, If you require the students to participate three times a week, you are able to verify their number of times logging in with this feature very quickly.
Pirate Pad is a great tool to have your students brainstorm about ideas, discuss issues for debate, work on group projects, review the day’s lesson, etc. If you have a large class, you might find it easier to assign 4-5 students to a group and have 6 or 7 groups to ensure you don’t run out of colors.
While Pirate Pad may not offer as many bells and whistles as other sites, it does offer many features to make it a valuable resource. This can be a plus if you have students (or you yourself) are familiar with basic set ups similar to a Word document, but have difficulty with information intense sites.
So whether you are using the site for a lesson or gathering ideas for a friend’s surprise party, Pirate Pad may be just the tool you are looking for.