Popplet mind mapping made simple

Popplet is a not only an application that can be used to create mind maps, but it is also a very simple and easy to use graphic organising tool that can help you to create discussions about certain topics, storyboards, timelines and everything that you or your students could imagine. It is quite similar to Padlet, but there are some differences that are really useful to make your classes more collaborative and engaging.

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To start working with Popplet you need to create an account which requires you to write a username, password and email. The free web version allows you to create only 5 popplets but you have all the features available. There is also a paid iOS application available for iPhone and iPad, and a monthly or yearly subscription fee on the web.

Teachers might use popplet to provide stimulus materials to their students and challenge them to post their answers, comments and collaborate to create new popples, which can increase the richness of the activity developed in the classroom and also outside of it.   Feedback can be provided in each popple box via the comments function, so the students can improve and edit their work later. To make this possible you need to share your popplet publicly or add previously registered collaborators.

Once you are ready with your project you can use the presentation mode to make slideshows, embed it to your blog or website or share it via social networks. Another alternative is to export it as a picture (jpeg and png) or PDF.

The drawbacks.

Working online can be sometimes very difficult if you don’t have a reliable internet connection and there are also concerns related to privacy issues, copyright and lack of moderation. In relation to the privacy issues Popplet sets the default privacy settings as private, leaving the responsibility to the content creator to change this parameters later. The limitation to create only 5 popplets is another problem, but you use always recycle and reuse some that are already made public. The recommendation is to always check them and be sure that the content is the right for your activity and group of students. The rest of the issues can be solved by the teacher and his/her students in a previous class in which the rules can be established.

An idea to be used in the ELT classroom.

As I mentioned before you can use Popplet in many different ways. Now I am going to give you an idea to work with the Conditionals (adapted from Stanley, G. (2013). Language learning with technology: ideas for integrating technology in the language classroom. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press)

  • Title: “What would have happend if …”
  • Learning focus: Use of the conditionals.
  1. Create a story with your students using the title “The date that never was”.

Example: The date that never was

  • Roberto and Natalia met at a party and got really well.
  • They arranged to meet at the movies the next day.
  • Natalia took Roberto’s WhatsApp number.
  • Roberto didn’t get Natalia’s number.
  • Natalia lost Roberto’s number.
  • Roberto thought they had arranged to meet at 17:30.
  • Natalia remember they had arranged to meet at 19:30.
  • Roberto waited at the movies for an hour.
  • Natalia arrived 15 minutes after Roberto had left.
  • Roberto and Natalia were upset thinking that one of them had forgot about the date.
  • Put each sentence in a different popple.
  1. Ask your students to brainstorm the things that might have been different for each of the sentences.

Example: If they hadn’t gone to the party, they wouldn’t have arranged to meet later or If only Roberto had remembered the exact time of the date …

  1. In groups or pairs the students create a branching and hypothetical storyline using the question “What would have happend if …”
  2. Finally, the teacher checks and provides feedback using the comment option in the popples.

Popplet link: http://popplet.com/app/#/2368113

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Padlet: more than just a digital cork wall!

Great ideas are produced when you work collaboratively as a group or team. However, depending of the number of people involved in each activity, to organize them could be a nightmare. Brainstorms, post-it notes, pictures, quotes, etc. are just a few examples of how to put ideas together in a cork wall or bulletin board in your classroom.If you want to expand this activity, it is a good idea to flip your classroom, one of the benefits of doing this is the possibility to reach all your students. A great tool to do this is Padlet.

Group work. Source: Flickr using Creative Commons License

Padlet is a free, simple and very easy to use digital cork wall. It can be used by the teacher and students to keep all the ideas, notes, brainstorms and everything they can imagine in one place. They can access to it from everywhere with just one link. Moreover, the notes can contain videos from youtube or a similar service, pictures, links and documents that you can upload from your computer or embed from your favorite cloud service (Dropbox, Onedrive, Google Drive, etc).

A few ideas to integrate Padlet in the classroom or outside of it can be:

  • Make noticeboards.
  • Teach.
  • Bookmark favorite sites.
  • Discuss.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Make greeting cards.
  • Plan events.
  • Keep notes.
  • Make lists.
  • Watch, share and discuss videos.
  • Learn.
  • Collect and provide feedback.

And even more using your creativity.

Padlet also includes a media viewer, that means that anyone with the permission to see the wall can scroll through all of the images, links, videos, and document files that have been posted in the notes on a wall. You can use it anonymously or create an account with a valid email, and there is an option to use your Google or Facebook accounts to log in. A paid version is also available but it is not really necessary, the free account works great.

If you are worried about privacy issues, you have to know that each of your walls can be set to private or public view, more options are also available in the settings page and you can modify them according to your preferences at any time. The teacher also has the possibility to moderate responses.

 

A basic tutorial of how to use Padlet.

 

01_Padlet

02_Sign in

  • Step 2: Create a new Padlet from your Dashboard. You can also see other options here.

03_Dashboard

 

  • Step 3: This is your first Padlet. Now you can modify your wall using the tools from the right dock.

04_wall

  • Step 4: Adjust the privacy.

09_Privacy

  • Step 5: Select a new layout.

08_Layout

  • Step 6: Write and edit your first post.

10_Example

11_edit or delete

12_Writing tools

  • Step 7: Share it and continue working on it.

06_Share options

An example picture:

13_ Final version

One idea to practice.

In one of our classes at university Natalia and I decided to use Padlet to complement one class in which the topic was a Gap Year.

A text from the British Council web page was adapted to use in classes (http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/uk-now/read-uk/gap-year).

Background.

  • Hypothetical target group of students

Our students are doing their last high-school year in either Chile or Uruguay. Some will attend university next year and others will join the workforce. Those who attend university may need to find a part-time job to be able to finance their studies.

  • Topic area that may motivate this group.

Our students are likely to be motivated by the topic area work, as they will see a clear connection between the topic and their lives in a year’s time. Anything related to this topic from specific vocabulary to CV and application letter writing will be useful to these learners. Alternatively, our students may want to do something different, something that is common in Europe but not so popular in South America: take a year off: a gap year.

  • Task:

Using Padlet the students add their ideas of what they will do when they leave school. They are expected to use Conditionals (If Clauses Type 1) starting with the sentence When I leave school …

You can check the result or even add new ideas visiting our Padlet.

Difficulties of working with Padlet.

One of the most important difficulties of working with Padlet is that you need to be always connected to internet to modify it and its performance can decrease if you do not have a good connection.

Another trouble is that requires the teacher to be alert of the content that can be shared, you have to protect your students from copyright issues such as videos, pictures and music. This can be easily done establishing a code of conduct, discussing and reviewing the digital literacy available online in a previous class.

Last but not least, always remember the pedagogy behind the use of this tool. It is not all about the technology itself but how to complement the content, engage, motivate and make your student learn with it.

Tricider – Online voting and decision making

Tricider is a great tool to engage your students in the decision-making of the class, this online survey system allows you to write an idea and then let your students collaborate adding new ones, giving instant feedback, adding pros and cons and finally make them part of the class. For example I can make a simple question like: “How can we use WhatsApp to teach Speaking?”

Tricider

As you can see new ideas can appear, students can provide pros and cons and vote for the best ones. You can invite your students to participate in this survey using Twitter, Facebook, Email or just adding the URL of the survey, like the one in the example: http://www.tricider.com/brainstorming/35eX1nhsdK7

Advantages for this kind of application are tons, but for me the most important is that you can empower your students making them part of the process of their own learner which can motivate them to want to learn more and also provides you with the feedback necessary to pay attention to the needs of your class. Although on the bad side of the story this is only a web application and can only work using a computer and an internet connection, there is no smart phone application yet.

If you want to see Tricider in action here is a short video:

And if you want to experiment and learn even more please go to Russell’s Teacher Training Videos, which guides you step by step. You will see that it is very simple. Don’t be afraid! You can do it!

Link: Tricider