Popplet People: Sheeba Ajmal, Technology For A Cause

"technology has the power to transform the lives of individuals"How to fund the digital revolution that has taken place in all sectors of education over the last twenty years has been the pressing, constant question for many administrators. Quality technology costs as does its implementation and training. Even with Education Technology suppliers such as Popplet offering substantial discounts to institutions there exists huge financial disparities at a local and global level. Ensuring that learners are provided with equal learning opportunities seems like an impossible task – unless you’re Sheeba Ajmal that is.

“I firmly believe technology has the power to transform the lives of individuals.”

Sheeba founded the Pakistan based organization Technology For A Cause – Enhancing Skills Empowering Kids, which works with children in the most challenging economic conditions harnessing the power of the global nature of new technologies to level the playing field when it comes to equal opportunity learning. Her work first came to our attention when she shared some of her student’s Poppplet creations on Facebook. We got in touch with Sheeba to learn more about her work.

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Popplet Christmas Activities 2: Storytelling, Writing, Reading, and Christmas Greetings

Traditionally, Christmas, the most well-known event in the Christian religious calendar, is all about giving. It’s the time of year when people pause and reflect on what they can do for others. Friends and family get together and exchange gifts and cards. We think of others all year round of course, but Christmas, like the festivals of other religions, is a special time.

Now, if you’ve read our first Popplet Christmas article, which was more about getting more than giving, you’ll appreciate this second set of Popplet Yuletide activities, where we focus on what is for many, the true spirit of Christmas, and how it can be of value inside and outside the classroom.

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Popplet Christmas Activities: Santa Claus, Presents, Letters and Lists

Do you believe in Santa Claus? You remember: a rotund distinguished gentleman with white hair and a big white beard who favors red suits with white fur trimmings? One of the world’s largest employer of elves, who is known to ride a sleigh driven by celebrity reindeer. He also goes by multiple pseudonyms: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Papá Noel, or just plain old Santa for short. No? Best you take a close look at this Santa Claus popplet.

Jingle any bells? Well, if doubt has pushed tender childhood memories of Dear Old Father Christmas from your mind and you have forgotten him, he hasn’t forgotten you! Dear Old Father Christmas. So fear not! To participate in these traditional festive Popplet activities all you really need is Christmas Spirit, Good Cheer if you will, and presents – let’s not forget the presents, they’re important. You’ll also need Popplet. So let’s make that the first thing on our list shall we?

Get Popplet, It’s a Gift
Making a Christmas popplet is just like making any other type of popplet. First, you’ll need a Popplet web account, which you can easily get by signing up on the Popplet homepage. You will discover that Christmas has come early at Popplet and Santa has left you a gift of ten Popplet boards. Alternatively, download Popplet Lite or the Popplet app and create Christmas popplets using an iPhone or iPad. If you don’t have one of those, you could ask you know who!

Now, we know what you’re thinking: Does Santa even own a computer or a tablet? Does he use Popplet? Well, don’t worry about any of that stuff because even if you don’t have Santa’s email address you can print off your Popplet Christmas List when you’ve finished it, and mail it to Lapland in the traditional way.

Christmas is coming soon, that means Santa is getting ready, so let’s get started.

Brainstorming Christmas Present Ideas
Before we begin writing to Santa with our lists of presents, it’s best to give some thought to the whole matter: What is it that I really want for Christmas? Almost certainly your students have something special in mind. But even so, it never hurts to speak to classmates and share ideas. Teachers could begin a Christmas list activity by brainstorming  Christmas present ideas. Have the students work in groups, alternatively project one big Christmas present popplet for all to see and prepare to be overwhelmed by expectation. Students could even all collaborate on the same Popplet. Be warned, this activity will generate much excitement!

Now, teachers don’t worry if you feel a little out of your depth at this point, you don’t need to know what any of these things actually are. The toy world is not what it was when you were writing to Santa. It’s now a complex maze of things understood only by children and those who work in marketing. Rest assured your students will understand it all perfectly well, and if they don’t immediately recognize their partner’s choices they’ll soon find out all there is to know. Trust your students! Talking seriously about toys in class, how cool is that? Very soon the whole class will be aware of what’s on offer and some may even begin revising or increasing the length of their lists before this part of the lesson is over.

A Letter to Father Christmas: A Letter Writing Activity
From what we’ve heard, Father Christmas, like most other distinguished gentlemen, is a lover of tradition and appreciates the protocols which govern written communication. As such, a lesson in formal/informal language and letter writing could make the difference between a gleeful, fulfilled 25th of December and one which is, well, not so gleeful. Best to err on the side of caution we say and demonstrate to students the ancient art of letter writing. There are a number of ways to do this, depending on the level of your class. Below is a popplet template you could use followed by some classroom ideas:

  • The teacher could supply examples of formal/informal language and ask students to choose which statements or phrases are more appropriate.
  • Or teachers might elicit the correct language from the class for a formal letter.
  • Popplet can also be used to show how a letter should be structured. Again the teacher can supply a structure (above), or ask students to create their own, then correct their work.
  • Another possibility is to turn the activity into a popplet puzzle by asking students to organize the different sections of a formal letter.
  • Be sure to have students include everything that they have done right this year, and why they deserve to have their wants fulfilled. Let’s avoid any negativity, Father Christmas already knows everything!

Creating Popplet Christmas Lists For Santa
Now we’re prepared for the main event: The Christmas List for Santa. Of course, students could just set to work with pen and paper, but even if that is how Santa is to receive the student’s lists, you can still use Popplet to help you out. Popplet can help you create cracking Christmas lists, guaranteed to grab Mr. Claus’s attention. Here’s how:

  • Create a Popplet with your name: “Petra’s Christmas List” in this example
  • Next, create a popple for each item on your list (most wanted things first of course). Using the text feature, enter exactly what it is that you want
  • Then, add an image of the present. This will help the elves locate your gift (after Santa’s approval of course). Santa’s helpers are pretty busy at this time of year and will be grateful for anything that reduces their workload. For this to work, you will need to have the image stored in your computer or camera roll beforehand
  • To add an image click on the square with the two triangles which will say upload things when you hover over it with the cursor:
  • Select the image that you want to add:
  • Now, if you really want to help out the elves, you can add a link to the list entry:
  • When that’s done, repeat this for every item on the list. You’ll end up with an astonishingly attractive, informative Christmas list sure to catch the eye of everyone in Lapland.
  • Finally, students might add a photo of themselves and use Popplet Linker to include the letter that they wrote in the previous activity.

What more could you ask for? What are you waiting for? The sooner Santa gets those lists, the happier the world will be!

If you have created any Christmas lists or done any Popplet Christmas activities in your classroom we would really love to see them. Share your ideas with the Popplet community on Twitter, and on our Facebook page.

Check out our second festive article: Popplet Christmas Activities 2: Storytelling, Writing, Reading, and Christmas Greetings

Dr. Popplet: Health, Happiness and Well-being

A good education is not restricted to achieving competence in literacy, math, and science; there is another set of equally essential life skills related to health, happiness, and well-being that we need to learn and respect if we are to become shiny happy citizens of the world. Having a healthy body and a sound mind is about as good as it gets these days, and those who are fortunate enough to maintain both are surely some of the planet’s happiest people.

Like other good things, there’s a great deal of common sense involved in healthy living. Lessons about diet, exercise and taking care of body and mind, are as essential as learning to read and write. Popplet itself is no stranger to the doctor’s surgery: when Popplet was very young, it had no conception of how just how popular it would become. This caused some “health” problems such as overstretched servers, sign-in issues, and general stress. Now, we’re happy to report that Popplet is following doctor’s orders, and is in pretty good shape.

We are glad to report that the Popplet community is also healthy and doing well! We frequently see popplets about how to keep up health, happiness, and well-being, and what happens if you don’t. Popplet is used in schools, colleges and by and medical professionals all over the world. Here is a small sample of some of their work.

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Working With Numbers

The Popplet social media message boards are positively crackling with numerical creativity at this time of year. School’s back and teachers and students alike are getting to grips with new projects, tasks, and technologies. Popplets about just about anything you can think of from pretty much everywhere are streaming hourly from the minds of popplet users onto our message boards providing valuable ideas and inspiration for others.

Math is a core subject, and even with a number of excellent dedicated math apps, Popplet finds its place in the math class. A versatile graphic organizer, that adds new dimensions to math work: visual, intuitive, and fun. Here are some of the ways math and technology educators are making Popplet count in the math classroom.

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Popplet People: Monica Evon, Fourth-Grade Teacher

For some educators, the digital technologies now standard in our classrooms are not new; they were a part of their primary or higher education. There are many others, however, who have benefitted from the rich experience of the transition to the digital paradigm; working through and shaping the changes that technologies such as Popplet have been making on teaching methods and on the development of learners. Monica Evon is one of those educators who embraced the change and is rewarded daily with the growth she sees in her students.

Monica caught our eye recently when she shared some impressive images of her class hard at work with Popplet. She has kindly agreed to share her experience with us.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am a fourth-grade teacher from Nebraska. I teach at Bellevue Elementary. My district is Bellevue Public Schools and I am part of Bellevue Public Schools iPadAcademy.  This is my thirty-second year in the education profession. I have taught special education, first, second, third, and fourth grade and I was an elementary counselor for six years. I am passionate about my students, teaching, and learning! I love using technology to enhance learning opportunities. I am a 1:1 iPad classroom.

Growing up my dad was in the military, so we traveled the world. I attended five different elementary schools. My husband Steve and I have two grown boys. We love to travel and two of our passions are snorkeling and hiking in the mountains. My favorite quote:

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” John Dewey

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Popplet Group Subscriptions for Schools and Classes

Summer break in the United States, Europe, and a whole lot of other places is drawing to a close. Students, teachers, and parents are turning their thoughts towards the fresh academic year and its challenges. And for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to be shaking off the summer holidays, this is still a good opportunity to learn about Popplet Group Subscriptions, which were originally created for schools for the sole purpose of putting Popplet into the hands of as many learners and teachers as possible. 

For more information on Popplet Group Subscriptions for your school, select Popplet for Schools? in the Popplet Plan window that opens when you sign up for a free Popplet account on the Popplet homepage:

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Popplet Group subscriptions are open to everyone: schools, colleges, businesses…and make purchasing Popplet much more affordable
  • The minimum group/class size is 15
  • Subscriptions offer each individual student unlimited popplets for one year
  • There is a sliding price scale: the more you buy, the less it costs

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Outer Space: 1. Moon Popplets

Is there life on Mars? Do aliens exist? Where did we come from? How big is the Universe?… an infinite number of questions. The questions which scientists, philosophers, theologians, writers and possibly every sentient earthbound creature that ever looked upwards has been seeking answers to since the beginning of time. Popplet doesn’t have any answers, but it can help knowledge hungry learners to solve some of these Universal mysteries.

With futuristic hi-tech features, Popplet boldly goes where no app has gone before, allowing its users to create star maps, document planetary facts, and study stellar phenomena. All the while encouraging them to think big – Universe big!

There’s a lot of light years to cover, so let’s get started by setting our sights close to home on our planet’s nearest celestial neighbor: The Moon. We know it well, we’ve even visited, although admittedly not for a while; moon travel doesn’t come cheap!

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11 Ideas For Using Popplet In The History Classroom

Mapping the events of the past is an investigative process linking people, places, and other significant information to moments and periods in time. In an ideal climate, historians seek the truth by shining a light back across the years and show us what they see. It is a constant, continuous process that helps us understand who we are. History, like the sciences and the arts, is an indispensable and natural part of anyone’s education. It’s where children learn about traditions and cultural differences and gain an understanding of why our world is how it is, what their place in it is, and where they want to go.

Popplet has features that make it especially helpful in the History classroom. The addition of text, images, and video; connections and color coding; collaboration and presentation features; all combine to make Popplet a first rate tool for recording and presenting historical facts. We have put together a few examples from History educators and students that demonstrate how they are finding Popplet useful in their classrooms.

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10 Ways To Use Popplet In The Math Class

We have had a number of requests recently from the Popplet community for more math work. It was even suggested that our most current blog posts displayed a literary/language bias. We did the math, and the results spoke for themselves – time to balance this content equation we think.

So, using a string of examples, we will now set out to prove that Popplet is a popular and effective tool in the math class. We will even show our working!

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