Concept maps have long been used by students to structure their thoughts, understand relationships between information and formulate new ideas. Popplet uses the design of a concept map and modernizes it by bringing it into the educational app space. This visual organization and mind-mapping tool can be used online or through an iPad and iPhone-compatible app, giving teachers and students multiple ways to access its creative mapping tools.
How Popplet works is by giving a platform to create concept maps called ‘popplets’. Onto each popplet, users add boxes (or popples) containing text, images, videos or links. You can draw freehand images within the popplet, add YouTube or Vimeo videos, add an image from Picasa or from your own computer, or include GoogleMaps content. The interface is very simple to use, and it can be customized with different font size, background color and popple width. Users can then draw lines to connect one popple to another.
While individual users create popplets, they have the ability to invite other users to collaborate on a popplet. Each popple on a popplet is labeled with the user’s name. In the classroom, teachers can use this feature as students complete group work. A popplet could be created to help students keep track of who is responsible for each task within the group, or to conduct group brainstorming sessions.
Popplet may also be a way for teachers to hold online discussions. A topic or question could be placed in the middle of a popplet and student users could be invited to answer the question and respond to one another. Since each popple is labeled with the user’s name, it is easy to see who contributed to the discussion.
For students working solo, Popplet is a tool they can use to organize information. Students can create a popplet at the beginning of a research project or to help outline a research paper. For English grammar classes, for example, students can use Popplet to create word maps, showing how different vocabulary words, definitions, word roots and affixes are connected. The Popplet blog has some great ideas like these for English teachers. In fact, they found that 56% of teachers using Popplet were doing so in English class.
Teachers may also find that Popplet is a useful tool to help them stay organized. Instead of a lengthy curriculum map, a teacher can create a popplet to outline what she plans to teach for a quarter, a semester or even the entire school year. It can also be used as a place to store images, links and other information teachers may want to incorporate in a lesson plan on a particular subject. If teachers do not have time to incorporate all of the resources contained in a popplet into their lesson plans, they can simply share the popplets with students.
Teachers can create popplets to help the visual learners in their classroom. By illustrating key concepts or skill sets with a popplet, teachers can help students see the information in a new way. For example, a Social Studies teacher could create a popplet to compare the traits of ancient civilizations, or a Science teacher could create a popplet to help students learn about the Periodic Table.
Public popplets are another feature recently launched by Popplet where popplets can be shared publicly and reused by other educators. While there is no easy way to search through the public popplets yet, teachers and students can still find high-quality popplets on topics related to science, social studies and even professional development. However, the real benefit of Popplet comes from creating and sharing popplets teachers and students have created themselves. Sign up to Popplet, and explore how this simple tool for mind mapping could awaken creativity in your students and help organize your own workload.
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.