Creating an Environment of Collaboration and Risk Taking

For my last few blog posts I have been reflecting on ISTE standards for students. As I continue to move through my graduate program, the standards focus has shifted. For the last couple of weeks, I have been pondering ISTE Standards for Educators, specifically standard 4. This standard is about educators collaborating with colleagues and students to discover and share resources. I decided I wanted to dive deeper into indicator 4b which says:

“Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.”

I chose this indicator for a couple of different reasons. My primary reason was that I want to find ways to encourage fellow educators to try new digital resources with their students even if they are not yet masters. I also chose this as my focus due to our current educational model, with COVID-19 guidelines requiring most teachers to finish out the school year using remote or digital learning as the platform to continue student instruction. For some teachers, like myself, while this is challenging it is not overwhelming. For others who have not been as confident or ready to try teaching on a digital platform this is highly stressful. With these reasons guiding my thinking and research I decided I wanted to focus on finding something that is meaningful, yet simplistic, as a successful opportunity educators can take to get more comfortable in the digital education world.

Getting Started

During my research to find a digital tool to help educators dip a toe in the pool of online collaboration I came across an article that shared the story of a social studies teacher who took a chance and changed his instruction model to flipped learning. He had been teaching for many years and wanted to change things up. He is very honest and real about the fears he experienced during his journey. He struggled when first moving to a flipped learning and had to try different approaches to get where he wanted to be. What I really like about his story is how he doesn’t sugar coat the fears that we have when being risk-takers, but he still showed why it is worth it. He also provides suggestions and tips to help other educators who are in a position to be risk takers and try something new with their students. I thought this was a great example that could be shared with colleagues at my school and throughout other schools. It is not an immediate success story, but something real and relatable that teachers who have been in the field for a while can relate to.

Next in my search I looked at some tools that I thought would allow educators to collaborate and be familiar/simple enough for them to be willing to try it out. I came across Common Sense’s list of best student collaboration tools. From this list, I narrowed down the possibilities and found myself settled on Popplet. I have been playing around with it myself and I am happy with what I have found. It is similar to Coggle, but more simplistic. It is something that students and teachers could pick up easily and collaborate together.


This video is a little outdated, but the overall information is good. Now users can have 10 popplets on the free account before having to delete. Retrieved from

Popplet (link) is a digital tool that can be used to map out thinking and present information. Teachers are already having students create maps of their thinking and presenting their learnings, so this is a safe place to start. This tool can be downloaded on iPads, but currently does not have an app for other tablets. It can be used on the web though, so any device that has access to a web browser could run it that way. It is free with all features to make 10 popplets, but does cost if you want to do more. The cost is relatively low compared to other programs. It runs $3 a month or 1 year for $30. In my opinion, the free version should be enough because you can get rid of popplets when you are done with them. You can also download them as an image or print them out if you wanted a copy in your records.

As I was playing around with Popplet I was really impressed with their interface. It has very straight forward commands. It also provides an option to include media from Vimeo so students and teachers don’t necessarily have to go searching for images in other tabs. They are also able to upload their own images if they would like. They can add collaborators and work on the popplet all together. When they finish they can put it in presenter mode to share their learning. This is something that can easily be done remotely and then shared on classroom pages such as google classroom.

Try out Popplet here without signing up or creating an account: link


I believe success breeds success. I don’t want to lead teachers to a place where they feel overwhelmed and stressed out. By giving them tools and opportunities that I know are less challenging I can help build their confidence, which in turn will allow them to build trust with me. When they trust me, they will take more risks with me. This is also what I hope can be modeled in the classroom. There are times when we are learning right along with our students, and failure happens. That should be taught to be celebrated for effort and what was learned from the failure. Amazing things will happen in our schools when we face our fears and take those risks with our students.


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