Thursday, 7 March 2013

Introducing Popplet to Grade 1

I was introduced to a wonderful app called Popplet (follow @poppletny). It has an online version and an app for our iPads. I'm told if you start online you cannot transfer to iPad and vice versa. Right now, we are using the lite app until our administrator is prepared to purchase it (after March Break, I'm told) #fingerscrossed! We began using it in my Grade 1 and 1/2 Science classes in our Energy unit. We have been learning about the most important source of energy for the earth, our sun.

I adapted an excellent organizer I saw Mrs. Wideen using when I visited her school. She was using an ARE CAN HAS chart for her student's nonfiction books about animals.

She modeled everything using the SmartBoard for one animal with her students and they created each part of the nonfiction book together first. After creating the organizer together, they wrote onto their own sheet, selecting three items from each column. After that, they transferred their learning into a popplet. I thought this was a brilliant idea.

After all of THIS, students also selected their OWN animals and went through the process again on paper for that animal. Culminating task will be to take their paper book and use it to create a digital book using the Book Creator app (another one I hope we will be able to buy soon!).

I know great teaching when I see it, so of course I began making plans about how I could incorporate these ideas into my classes right away! ;) We introduced the organizer about the sun using the verbs IS CAN MAKES and generated a lot of discussion about it, creating a class chart. This became the springboard to introducing them to the popplet app. It's a work in progress, taking quite awhile, as it should because we first have to create and review iPad Norms and teach the basic working of an iPad. After that we can introduce Popplet, but without an Apple TV or VGA solution there are challenges at keeping attention around a small screen on the carpet.

Nevertheless the children were excited to be able to use the technology. Some of them were confused and asked if they would get to touch it when they were in an older grade and were so pleased to discover that we were trusting them to learn with and care for them RIGHT NOW. They even seemed enthusiastic about the organizer. One student came to school today with a paper chart where she had recreated her own IS CAN MAKES organizer from memory with what she knew about the sun! When student's are choosing to do homework all on their own, I must have found something right! ;)

Doing homework just for fun!
PS - It's Hawaiian vacation day in Social Studies,
that explains the grass skirts and lays.

After a couple Science classes (plus a usurped Library period) here's what I've learned about Popplet Lite so far:

  1. There doesn't appear to be a way to open works in progress to edit, therefore children must complete the popplet within one sitting.
  2. Popplets can be exported in three formats - pdf, emailed jpeg, or saved jpeg. jpegs save to camera roll so they can be shared or annotated with available apps.
  3. Because of the time limits and the newness of the app I am tweaking the following things:
  • Students only need to create one sentence finisher for IS CAN and MAKES instead of three for each.
  • To help the students understand about breaking the sentence into its parts (The Sun) (verb) (sentence finisher), change the colour of the frames to highlight the different parts needed. Then I can say, "Ok, I see you have your orange sun, but I only see two red verb popples, what do you still need? This red popple is missing a yellow finish, can you use the chart to find something to type?")
  • Modeling how to navigate Popplet itself needs more time for some. Perhaps I will have students show me in a quick conference how they know how to do things and those that are good to go can begin independent work while I work with some Guided Tech groups to be ready to show their learning independently.
  • Some students need to refer directly to the class chart to help them type the proper letters into their popples.
  • They love being able to sit anywhere in the Learning Commons to do this and I have never seen them more engaged!

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