My newest foray using a technology app in my classroom is popplet.com. This is a great app to help students identify key ideas in a topic, organize them in relation to other key concepts, and add pictures to complete their visual learning experience. Not only are you integrating technology with a purpose, but also engaging all of your learning types.This is obviously a great tool for your visual learners, but the manipulation engages the kinesthetic as well. When they are finished, they can present them to the class and explain their popplet, which addresses your auditory learners. When you let the students present you are also effectively flipping the classroom. I’ve also used popplets like an interactie flowchart to present lessons myself.
Popplet is basically prezi on an elementary level. I love prezi, but honestly it can be a bit tricky to use and overwhelming with options. Popplet is a simplified version that still allows students to make connections between concepts but instead of spending the majority of time teaching how to use the app, students can jump right in and start making connections. It is intuitive to use- just double click and a new “popplet” box appears. Options include changing the color surrounding the box, changing the font size, a draw tool, and an option to upload pictures or video. There are just enough tools to allow some creativity and individualism without wasting the majority of their time playing with features (instead of doing what we want them to do, which is learn the content)! The arrow in the bottom corner can be used to resize the box, and if they click and drag the grey circles students can connect the boxes. When presenting, there is a handy feature at the top of the page that allows the presenter to zoom out to view the entire page, and also zoom in on individual boxes. Zooming in helps to narrow the focus if they are taking notes, allows diagrams to be viewed easily, and also watch the videos fullscreen without having to open a new window.
Putting it to work in your classroom:
I would highly suggest making a rubric with exactly what you want included on the popplet. This gives students structure of what they are supposed to be learning and clear expectations so they can earn full credit for the project. If you are having them present to the class, you also want to make sure they are presenting all the information that needs to be learned by the other students. Here’s an example of a rubric I used when we were learning about energy sources (I assigned each student a specific energy source): I’ve found a simple rubric in list form is the easiest for students to follow. They often use it as a checklist as they work on the project, and it’s quick and easy for me to use as a checklist when I grade. I absolutely hate the complicated charts with random values assigned, but I’ll get on that soap box later in another blog perhaps.
Popplet allows 10 free popplets if you want to just try it out first. The only issue my students had with signing up is that our school emails start with the year of their graduation. Popplet would not allow emails that started with numbers. Weird. We had to cheat a bit and leave off the numbers, which meant they couldn’t get a password emailed to them if they forgot it so we had to do a common password. This actually worked great because I could log in and check the students work when I was grading, and also when they were presenting from my computer.
While working, it is possible to add collaborators so students can work with a partner.
When finished, students sent the link to their popplet to my email.
Besides the email option not allowing numbers, there were some connectivity issues while we were using it. It seemed to work better when my computer was directly linked to the internet through a cable rather than through wireless. I honestly don’t know if that had more to do with my school’s wifi or the website, but I would suggest using popplet with computers that are physically connected to the internet if possible to avoid this issue.
Overall, my students and I loved this app. It was low frustration, high engagement, and a very effective way of learning/presenting the content. I am looking forward to using it again in the future!