In my second grade classroom, there are many students who are diagnosed with ADHD. In Academic and Social Impairments of Elementary School Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (2011), McConaughy, Volpe, Antshel, Gordon, and Eiraldi stated that “[m]any group studies have reported poor academic performance for children with ADHD compared to their typically developing classmates” (p. 201). This is a pattern that I have also seen with my students. Specifically, I have noticed a significant difference in writing skills of those with ADHD compared to others. In their study, McConaughy et al. (2011) found that “22% [of children with ADHD] showed skills deficits in written language” (p. 220). Therefore, I have taken a special interest in finding an assistive technology writing tool that can help students with ADHD.
Through observations of student writing, many students with ADHD have a difficult time organizing their thoughts. They are not sure where to start and have a challenging time staying on topic. McConaughy et al. (2011) state that “[children with ADHD] may also benefit from empirically supported interventions to improve productivity and organization, such as study skills programs, peer tutoring, choice options for structured academic activities, and self-monitoring of on-task behavior and organizational skills” (pp. 221-222). Therefore, Popplet is a great online mind map tool to help organize their ideas.
Popplet is a free tool that is very simple to access and keeps their work in a safe place. It is online and therefore can be accessed from anywhere. Students can make an account for free where all of their work will be saved. This is useful because many students with ADHD have a difficult time staying organized, so having the graphic organizer online will ensure that they will never lose it. They just log into their account from the Popplet website to access any of their mind maps. The free version allows students to make up to 10 mind maps.
Popplet is a very user-friendly tool. With simple clicks and drags of the mouse or track pad, students can map their ideas in bubbles and connect them to other ideas in an organized way. The bubbles can be moved around with ease to organize them in a way that makes sense to the student. For example, if the student is writing a ‘how-to’, they can move the bubbles so that they start at the top and descend down. If they are writing an opinion paragraph, they can start with the topic in the middle and have main ideas surrounding the topic with supporting details surrounding the main ideas. There is even a tool within Popplet that will automatically organize your bubbles for you. Being able to move the bubbles will help students with ADHD organize their thoughts according to the type of writing.
Users are able to color code each bubble so that each subtopic can have its own color. For example, when students go to write their paragraph, they will know that all of the ideas in the blue bubbles need to be written together.
There is also an option to draw and add images to your bubbles. Students with ADHD have difficulty staying focused, so drawing and adding images to their ideas can help retain focus for the student by giving them a short break from writing. Adding visuals to their mind map can also make the graphic organizer visually appealing to the student and aid them in comprehending their thoughts.
While working, the graphic organizer that you are working on will automatically save. Many students forget to save their work before closing out of their computer or sometimes the computer will run out of battery in the middle of working. With Popplet, the mind map automatically saves so that the student will not lose any of their work that they have done so far.
Overall, Popplet is a wonderful writing tool for students with ADHD. It is free and can be accessed from any computer. It is also very user-friendly and something that even my second graders would be able to use without difficulty. Students can organize their ideas by moving the bubbles around and color-coding them in a way that makes sense to them and the type of writing that they are working on. Including drawings and images will give students brain breaks while still staying focused on their work and make it visually appealing. Having it online ensures that it cannot be lost and their work will always be saved automatically.
McConaughy, S. H., Volpe, R. J., Antshel, K. M., Gordon, M., & Eiraldi, R. B. (2011). Academic and social impairments of elementary school children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review, 40(2), 200-225. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/docview/878153408?accountid=12598