[It might be a problem how funny I think this post’s title is.]
I used Popplet today, not for the first time, but it was one of those times where the idea to use it came to me on the fly, in the midst of an activity. This is the place I want to get to with web 2.0 tools: where I have a massive, Batman-esque tool-belt, filled with items to help enhance any lesson or solve any problem. And there would be so many tools that my students wouldn’t keep seeing the same one twice, but, instead, would be able to be consistently surprised, staying engaged to see how things turn out.
Like Batman, who happened to have shark repellent in that helicopter.
Popplet allows you to very easily make attractively rounded text boxes (which can also easily be photos or other media) and arrange them or connect them. It’s one of those simple systems that has so many applications.
Today I had my frosh in small groups, writing out the subject, main idea, author’s purpose and theme of a story (“Word Problem,” by Bruce Holland Rogers). Each group collaborated to write those four sentences on one sheet of paper. They then handed those in, and while they chatted with their group members for 5 minutes, I quickly typed up the responses into a series of popplets I had arranged earlier (it should have been much earlier, but I did it while they were working, since this is when I had the idea. Also, I could have had something else for them to work on while I did this, but they are still getting to know each other, so I think the chatting was a great activity.).
I then turned on the projector (worked like a charm) and started evaluating each group’s response. I made a chart on the board and graded each one on a 4-point scale. The kids were pretty rapt. I think it felt like a valuable behind-the-scenes moment to figure out how to get full credit on something for me. We’ve only been at this for a couple of weeks. They still don’t know me. I’ve been getting very little homework turned in, and I’m sure that for some kids it’s because they are afraid they aren’t going to get full credit (so they make the brilliant choice to turn in nothing. I kind of get it.)
One student, who was still chatting when I started reviewing the responses, eventually looked at the screen, bewildered. “Hey, that’s what we wrote! How did it get there?”
It’s not quite as bewildered as I was when I saw Batman whip out his shark repellent, but it’s getting there.
I’ve also used Popplet to make character maps: