Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Facilitator, not Teacher


     Taking a backseat in the classroom didn’t come easy for me at first. As teachers, we like to have control over every aspect of all activities in our classroom. What I’ve learned over the past few months is that students are ready to take charge when it comes to iPad use in my classroom. So, what that said, I started looking for apps that would be appropriate for specific learning objectives. As I stumbled on to apps, I would learn the basics…just enough to explain how to use the app to my classes and how to use it with a specific learning objective in mind. From that point forward, my students became the teachers. They taught me, each other, and themselves.

     One example of this is using an app called Popplet Lite. This version is free and has some simple, but creative components that allow students to complete assignments while adding their own twist to their work. We have used Popplet Lite several times. Each time students have been able to dig deeper and add more components to their assignments.

     Several weeks ago, students were learning about cause and effect. We read a short story; there were questions targeted at assessing student understanding. Instead of using a paper and pencil, I asked students to build a Popplet and find as many cause and effect examples in the story as they could. I stepped back and watched them work. They found examples, learned how to type in their square, and how to add color to their squares.

     Next, students read the book “Boom.” Because we had used Popplet before, I asked them to create a Popplet showing examples of cause and effect found in this book about volcanoes.

     They learned how to add lines connecting ideas. Students did a gallery walk to look at the different examples from the one book. Compliments were being made, ideas were exchanged, and again, I was the facilitator. They were the teachers. As a teacher, I didn’t get caught up on spelling and punctuation. I wanted them to “show me” what they knew. The more they work with the app, the better writers they will become.

     Last week, students used Popplet Lite to create a timeline about Wylie, specifically noting how it has changed over the years.  Students started by researching the History of Wylie on the Wylie website. Via the web, I found an example of a timeline created using Popplet and shared it with my students to refer to as they worked. I challenged them to take what they had learned about Wylie and create a timeline using Popplet Lite, including at least five relevant facts. I mentioned that they could add pictures, if they wanted to. Within minutes, they discovered how to get a picture from the website and into their Popplet timeline. By they time they were finished, most students had found more than five facts, and the pictures they added were perfect!

     I can honestly say my students have learned and taught me how to use Popplet Lite. This is an easy-to-use app that has allowed me to take the role of facilitator in my classroom. I found that it's not so scary to reverse roles in my classroom!


  1. I LOVE those ideas! Your comment about letting go a little and letting students sometimes take the lead is what I've experienced, too. It's not easy, but I think it's so worth it!

  2. I love how you share how to use one app across different content areas. Great job!