Archive for the ‘Essay planning’ Category

Mentormob is a nice site which enables you to create playlists for your pupils. With it, you can set up a playlist composed of internet links, uploaded files, multiple choice or true/false quizzes and written articles that will guide your pupils along towards some piece of work. I discovered this a year ago I think, and I can’t remember who from, and filed it away into the ‘must explore fully another day’ category. I remembered it when having a meeting with some pupils for whom I am supervising their IB Extended Essay, and when I was promising to set them up with various links to help them begin their study, and Mentormob seemed to be a great option to help them get started.

Mentormob homepage

The URL is and you will see the homepage as above. To join, click ‘Sign up’ in the top right hand corner and fill in your various details. You can link your Facebook or Google accounts to it, but if you have a Facebook account, I would be tempted to keep it ‘away’ from school pupils and set up an ‘independent’ account. Once you have signed up, you will be directed to your dashboard, from where you can browse previously created playlists, create your own, and eventually see and edit playlists that you have already created. It will look something like this below:

Mentormob dashboard

When you are ready to start, click ‘Create’ at the top of the screen, and the follow screen will be viewed:

Mentormob create new


Give your playlist a name, write a short description, decide on Recreational or Academic, choose a category and then add tags to help it be searchable should you want it to be. Crucially, are the privacy settings on the right hand side. For school purposes, unless you are going to subscribe to the Mentormob University option (there are various price plans for this), it is probably worth clicking the ‘Unlisted’ option for privacy so only those you send the link to can view your playlist and then click the option that only you can edit your playlist, so that it can’t be changed. Then click ‘Save and Add Content’.

Here is a short 5 minute Jing video showing this starting process.

Mentormob demo

The process is very simple. Click the + button to add content, choose from the 4 options, either a link to an internet site, upload a file of a variety of types, write an assignment or create a pop quiz, involving true or false or multiple choice activities. Challenges can be created for various steps to ensure that pupils are thinking about what they are seeing.

Once you have created your playlist, click ‘Done Editing’ and that will save your playlist as it is. You can go back to it from your home page to edit, add and remove content at a later date. To do this, once you have clicked on the playlist, click on the pencil icon on the top green bar.

In order to share your playlist with your pupils, you simply copy the URL of your playlist and email it to your pupils. Your pupils will be able to do any pop quizzes that you have set from them, and click the arrows at the top of the page to go from stage to stage of the playlist.

There are plenty of ways that Mentormob can be used. Here are some quick ideas:

1) Coursework preparation: you can set mini tests on crucial elements such as verb endings, spellings, common mistakes, upload specific word documents that pupils could refer to, upload powerpoints and tagxedo / wordle clouds of useful vocabulary, perhaps podcasts or videos, and maybe use the assignments section to show sample courseworks.

2) Create a research list for projects such as Extended Essays, courseworks and projects, that start pupils off for their bibliography.

3) Create a practice pathway for the progression of a topic, grammar point or unit, involving different skills.

4) Get pupils to create playlists for each other on certain topics

5) Use it as a presentation tool

6) Pupils could create their own revision playlists under your supervision, bringing together key resources for holiday work or independent learning

Here are a few other links to help you get to grips with Mentormob – a series of 4 videos on Mentormob by the wonderful Emilia Carrillo, who deals with Browsing and creating

iPad users: Be aware that currently (this is March 2013), you can’t create Mentormob presentations on your iPad or do pop quizzes, but having spoken to some of the guys behind Mentormob, this is on their roadmap as they develop the tool. Who knows, maybe an iPad app is also in their plans.

All in all, I really like Mentormob as a way of helping to organise your pupils for projects with a defined outcome, helping to structure their process and bringing together resources that they can respond to constructively. It is something I will be using a great deal with my Spanish IB extended essays and written assignments, and probably interactive orals as well. I’ll also be using it with the A level speaking exams as pupils prepare their presentation topics and discussion answers, and also towards coursework. I hope you find it useful as well.


Wallwisher is described as an ‘online’ notice board maker on its homepage, and this is an accurate description. Basically, what it allows is you to create a noticeboard on a particular topic, and then you and pupils can add sticky notes to it, creating a collaborative board full of ideas.

To begin you register for the grand fee of £0 or $0. When you have logged on, simply click ‘Build a Wall’ and then you will get some preferences including what you want the URL to be, the background colour of the wall and who can post onto it. You also have the option about if you want to approve the stickies first or not which will be an important decision. If you leave this unticked, there is the risk of wall ‘abuse’ potentially, with outsiders leaving inappropriate messages, although this is unlikely. It is maybe safer to vet the messages first however. (For some strange reason, when I build a new wall, my ‘Open File’ opens as well, indicating some glitch which is a little worrying perhaps). You also have to give the wall a title, a description and choose a picture for it (including the option to upload your own)

When you have created your wall, all you have to do is to double click to add a sticky note. The just type your message into the note and click ok. You can also upload images, audio and video to the sticky leading to a few more options. And that is basically it. Just send the URL of your created wall to pupils and they can go to the site and add their own sticky. Once pupils have put on their notes, you need to approve them so they can be viewed by others in the class.

The premise is very simple and effective and there are a variety of ways that this tool could be employed with classes. It could be used as an essay planning tool for example – you could set a question with a central stickie, and pupils could put their ideas about the points they could mention around it. It could be a way of setting quick written preps to encourage extra participation, for example asking basic questions with pupils writing their own answers. It could be a vocabulary revision tool with pupils adding 2 or three new words to a topic. It could even be a little story. Maybe you start off a story, the first person to log on adds a sentence, then the next pupils adds another line and so on.

In order to practise this, I have started a Wallwisher notice board for people to add their own ideas about how wallwisher could be employed. Click on the following URL to leave your ideas!

Popplet is a nice little mindmapping tool that I have been using recently with my Upper 6th to help them revise for their WJEC A2 exams, and in particular the cultural studies essay option. It is a really good little tool to make essay structures, to link ideas for paragraphs and also to collaborate and share ideas. I like the idea of my pupils working together for the parts of the course requiring giving opinions and arguing ideas and regularly photocopy their essays to share as they can all benefit from each others’ ideas. Popplet allows them to give access to their mindmaps to others and add their own thoughts to the mindmap. It is also very useful to do in class rather than writing on the board, projecting your popplet onto a screen, giving a more appealing, neat and professional appearance.

It is another free tool to use to start with although you only are allowed to create 5 popplets to start. Being a natural hoarder, this is a shame as I like to keep ones I have already made and have them easily available for updating. As it is, you have to delete old ones to create new ones but you can of course take screenshots of the completed popplet, print them out or save them as pdf files to be emailed to others.

My pupils and I find it really easy to use. To create a new ‘popple’ (idea bubble) just double click anywhere on the board and then type into it. You can easily change the colour of the popplet, the size of the font and the size of the popple with the buttons provided. You can then link to new popples by drawing lines off existing ones which will have the same colour as the ‘source’ popple – this is great for paragraph structuring in particular. The board effectively is endless, and you can easily move around it to look at different parts of the mind map.

To collaborate you just have to invite others to join – for this they will need to be logged on and you will need to know either their name or their email address.

There are lots of other potential uses for popplet. It could be used as a role play introduction, as maybe a game to add vocabulary to different topics as well as ways of showing how different phrases and tenses could be used in GCSE essays for instance. Also it could be used to help when doing a presentation in class.

Here is a link to a popplet preview on Youtube which shows how it all works.

Again if you do any popplets for Spanish, or want to share them or collaborate together, please let me know.