Karen Brocker’s third-grade students at Pine Ridge Elementary have a routine every Monday. It starts by gathering on the carpet to learn about what they will be studying from their Reading Wonders Curriculum and an introduction to the “Essential Question” of the week. This week’s question was “How can people help animals survive?”
After their time on the carpet has concluded, the students return to their desks and write down the essential question in Popplet on their iPad. Popplet is a story mapping tool that is available to all Bend-La Pine elementary students
Each morning the students leave the carpet and revisit their Popplet. They talk with partners and groups to consider possible answers to the essential question. This happens all week long until Friday morning when it is finally time to share. I could tell the students were proud of the work they had created. Each had crafted their sentences and linked them to the essential question at the center of the Popplet. Nearly all the kids found ways to make their Popplet unique to their character either through design or in some cases, graphics.
As the year progresses the Popplet app adds each new essential question to the front page of the app. The student can clearly see all of their work and revisit each essential questions with the click of a button. Hailey, a student I talked with today, was quick to point out how she can see her writing improve since she first started third grade.
I have seen Popplet commonly used in intermediate grades for brainstorming, introducing paragraphs, and organizing writing. Getting third graders into Popplet with the Essential Question activity gets young writers writing quickly and thoughtfully.