How I Use It
As a technology integrator, I often look for tools that are versatile across grade level and allow students to do more than a ‘paper version’ would allow. Popplet fits this bill. Popplet is a web-based visual idea organizer. It allows the user to make popples, or individual boxes, to organize thoughts and ideas. I have used Popplet with a second grade class. These students were brainstorming and organizing ideas for a simple ‘about me’ paragraph. Using Popplet, students were able to type their thoughts into boxes and they could also draw their thoughts in cases where the words were a bit too difficult to come by. Popplet offered them the flexibility to shift and move items around into a different order as a visual of each piece of their paragraph. We used the ‘Try it Out’ mode of Popplet, where the students could create the same as if they had a paid account. The ‘Try it Out’ mode is great in that students don’t have to log into yet another account to use it. The only downfall of the free version that I see is that students are unable to save and come back to their Popplet at a later time. They need to finish it or lose it in the free version. However, students were able to save their Popplets as a .pdf or .jpg, to refer to later or print out. I also used Popplet with a group of fifth graders that were working on some group research projects. Students were able to use all of the features mentioned above, but went further by also including images in their popples to show artifacts and architectural representations of their topics. Adding this additional layer to their organizers made their efforts come to life in a much more relevant way then just writing words in a paper organizer.
Although Popplet is not a tool that helps teach content, it is a fabulous tool to help students use their creativity to visually share their learning and create multi-media organizers. Popplet can be used cross-curricular, which I believe is always a bonus to have a versatile web-based tool in one’s toolbox! The free version, using the Try It Out mode is plenty for students to be able to create, organize, and re-organize ideas, thoughts, and data. The only negative is that students cannot save a draft and return to work at a later time in the Try It Out mode and the free version limits users to 10 Popplets (but these are savable in draft form). Though, for a minimal yearly fee, Popplet is a tool I would consider purchasing an account for. Finally, Popplets can be saved as .pdf, .jpeg, and .png files, which makes them easily shareable in blogs, websites, newsletters, etc. This feature can really be helpful in generating communication around an organizer a student created, both peer-to-peer and teacher-to-peer.