How to Use Popplet to Plan Lessons

Master of Arts in Teaching 2014 graduate Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast works in STEM as director of education for the USC Young Scientist Program, USC NAI High School science education coordinator and Wonderkids STEM program manager. You can read more about how she started with the Young Scientist Program at YSP in a recent post. Here she shares how she uses Popplet for lesson planning.

Popplet is an online tool that lets you capture and organize your ideas. It is essentially an online concept map that demonstrates relationships between different ideas. It is meant to be collaborative and can be shared between users. When individuals add a bubble or thought to an existing concept map, the bubble has their name on it, demonstrating who has contributed. Colors, shapes, directions and order are dependent on the user.

I started using Popplet during my undergraduate career but it wasn’t until my USC Rossier course “New Media Literacy” that we began to use it more for academic purposes. It is a free online tool that could be used to collaborate with other educators, but can also be used as an assessment tool for projects for students. You can also add videos and photos to Popplet allowing not only for more of a multimedia angle within a project or activity, but a more visual demonstration of a concept that was incorporated into the concept map.

Above is an example of a summer science lesson plan created using Popplet. My first thought was to brainstorm various themes that are incorporated into summer, which included weather, travel, water (swimming) and the Fourth of July. All of these had interesting lesson plans, but I wanted to focus on the science behind the themes of July Fourth. I chose fireworks, and the chemistry behind it. I Googled firework lesson plans, and the black Popplets are the ones that arose first — colored smoke, fire crackers, glow worms and sparklers. Once the ideas arose, I began to look at the ease of execution in a classroom or even at a school. A lot of them require chemicals or lab space, which are more likely found in high school classrooms. I chose sparklers because of safety and the availability of chemicals at a classroom site.

Have you ever used Popplet to create a lesson plan? Share your examples in the comments below!