So, it’s one thing to say learn student names, but it’s quite another to actually do it quickly and efficiently. What if you’re at a new school and have a good selection of new faces? Well, take your trusty iPad and make yourself a visual seating plan. It’s not something new – my friend Don and I used to recommend this sort of technique when we did our New Teachers’ program. We had, at our hands, a commercial product that was licensed by the school district to do the trick. Its only limitation was that it required that students sit in rows as the seating plans were always in a grid.
But, that may not be your situation. Here’s another alternative for those of you who have clusters of students or just don’t have access to the piece of software to do the trick.
Step 1 – take photos of each of the students in your class. If you’ve got an iPad2, it’s so easy. With an iPad1 and no camera, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way – with a cell phone but grab pictures however you can.
Step 2 – load Popplet. What’s Popplet? Here’s my original review of the program. At the time, I was looking for a good graphic organizer, found Popplet, and really found that it met my expections and more. Now, I use it to organize all kinds of things.
Step 3 – start a new Popplet. If you have the paid version, give it a new name. Double click anywhere to create a new Popple. In the bottom right corner of the Popple, the icon there lets you grab an image from your photo library. Import a student and use the pencil tool to add the student name under their image. Repeat until done. Hopefully, you have a small class!
Now, each of the Popples can be moved around as necessary. In my class, I have a real bunch of animals! But, for our first crack at classroom organization, we’re sitting in groups of five. So, I just move the Popples around until I have the students in place. The coloured borders are just a bonus!
Now, when I forget a name, it’s just a matter of grabbing the iPad and pinch to expand to match the names with the faces. If I have a student who needs to move to another cluster, it’s just a drag away. The principal is coming in and doesn’t know all the names yet either? Just hand off the iPad and she’s got the details in front of her.
Obviously, you’re not limited to just the names under the pictures. A tap and you’re ready to add any kind of appropriate anecdotes. For a supply teacher, you can export your seating plan as a PDF or JPG file suitable for printing so that there’s no question who is who. Or, if you are going to do some regrouping for whatever reason, do it on the iPad, print and post it by the door for everyone to see when they enter the room.
I’m sure that you can find all kinds of ways to use your Popplet for class or activity organization. It starts with the right tool. For this purpose, you’ve got to love Popplet.
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