Teacher Review for Popplet

Simple, useful, but is it any better than working on paper?

Jonathan F.
Technology coordinator
St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School
Washington, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Creation
Further application
Small group
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
We used the app as a pre-writing tool. Students were searching for topics about which to write. When students had a sense of a possible topic, we had them use Popplet to brainstorm what they knew about the topic. They could then organize their knowledge. Students enjoyed the ease with which they could move and resize the bubbles. They also enjoyed adding images. The app didn't revolutionize the way we taught writing, though. Teachers pointed out that if students didn't mind doing a bit of physical cutting and pasting, they could move their bubbles around easily enough with paper. Working with big 12 inch by 18 inch paper and giving students the option to tape on more paper could also give students a workspace more generous than the iPad's screen. Digital tools like Google Docs, which introduce the potential for collaborative writing, web publishing, and reflecting on one's revision history, can really transform the way we teach writing. Popplet might get there one day, but we found that its current features didn't yet offer anything significantly better than working on paper. In another unit, when we explored the structure of non-fiction writing, we used the rival Inspiration app because we liked how it let students see how a mind map could become an outline. (Unlike Popplet, Inspiration lets you toggle between mind map and outline with one tap.)
My Take
This is a perfectly good mind-mapping app. Students enjoyed it, and it served its purpose well, but overall the app was nifty rather than revolutionary.