Having a student see a visual representation of relationships among ideas can aid in the comprehension of vocabulary and other concepts. Using a graphic organizer is one way to do this. Some teachers use these tools for organizing idea generation when doing pre-reading or writing activities, while others find it can be useful to use as a creative way to bring together ideas after a reading or even an oral presentation.
Sometimes it isn’t worth the bother to use technology when you can just use the white/black board. But Popplet is so easy and neat that I really encourage you to try it! It’s a great tool for semantic mapping or webbing. You can make 5 for free. Here is a quick demo (no audio):
** To learn more, if you are at COABE, come to my session on Project Based Learning 2.0 on Monday afternoon, March 17th. **
Here is a lesson idea to show you a way I’d use Popplet in a simple project-based learning activity. Since it is close to St. Patrick’s Day, my sample activity will be a green one on Climate Change!
- Use a projector to display popplet.com. You don’t even have to sign up if you just want to use the demo page. Demonstrate how to make a popple (bubble) by double clicking in the center of the screen. Type “Climate Change” and explain to the class your idea about doing a project on the topic. (If you want to you can even insert an image or YouTube clip to engage your learners). To ease into the topic, ask the class what they think of when they hear the words “Climate Change”. (If you want, you can focus the activity more by asking them to type in evidence of climate change.) Ask each learner to come up to the computer to add their thoughts in a new popple. Show students how to branch from the central popple and how to link related concepts.
- Explain to the class the problem or driving question at hand. “What can we do as a class to help fight climate change?”
- Tell the students that before working on a solution, they need to research the causes of climate change. Break the class into groups and ask them to do an Internet search. (Depending on your students’ level of experience on the web, you might review how to evaluate web resources or direct them to specific websites.) Have each group sign up for Popplet, unless you have created a group account. Each group should create a Popplet and use it to add key evidence to explain the causes of climate change. Encourage groups to add media to popples. Then ask them to present their whole Popplet and findings to the class.
- Solution stage: Brainstorm and discuss a list of solutions your class could undertake.
More Technology Integration:
Teachers can also use Popplet to create a mind map, save it as a pdf or jpeg and print it out, but below are some ideas for moving to deeper integration of the tool. Implementing these of course depends on access to technology and tech skills of students.
- Each student signs up and gets their own Popplet account (see group rates). Students can use theirs for regular classroom work, such as pre-writing activities, to visually tease out and organize the main idea and supporting details, for example of a persuasive paragraph of why their school should go green. See this YouTube to get more related ideas on how to use Popplet in teaching.
- Teachers, and better yet students, can collaborate on a Popplets. Perhaps collaborating with other classes on a project or topic, such as working on how their school can become “greener.” Read this post to learn how your students can connect with others.
- Use the image and video feature to illustrate how your school implemented changes and share it with the world via social media or the school’s website. See ways of sharing a Popplet below.
Steve Quann was a proud staff member at World Education for many years. He was the past Director of the EdTech Center and now consults as an instructional designer on e-learning and mobile learning projects.