Guest Blog – BrainPOP Jr. From a Library Media Specialists’ Perspective

I was fortunate to connect with Lisa Remy through her response to a call for presenters we put out in our December newsletter. Lisa shares her expertise in using online resources in conjunction with student response systems (clickers) and interactive whiteboards. We get lots of questions about integrating BrainPOP with these technology tools, so read on to learn from Lisa’s experience, and please add to the conversation by posting comments.

I am a part-time library media specialist at a small pk-8 school in rural Oklahoma.  I am blessed with excellent colleagues and wonderful students and a quite supportive administrator (who is both superintendent and principal!)  I have 25 years of teaching and library media experience and am amazed at the extent of the changes in teaching methods in both the classroom and the library.  Resources such as BrainPOP Jr. as well as equipment such as classroom response systems and interactive whiteboards have truly energized the teaching and learning environment.

I work with students from all grades- some on a weekly basis.  The lesson I plan to describe today is typical of how I use BrainPOP Jr. along with my H-ITT classroom response system (clickers).  This particular lesson is with the third grade using the BrainPOP Jr. video entitled Winter.

Before the class arrives, I create a display of a selection of both fiction and non-fiction books related to winter.  Then, I open the software portion of the classroom response system.  The software allows one to enter a website and runs alongside the website.  The website remains interactive.  I open BrainPOP Jr., choose the Winter video, and then open the Belly Up feature to catch the students’ attention immediately.

Once the students arrive in the Library Media Center, I give each a ½ sheet handout of a list of the words from the Word Wall.  I tell the students to be sure to listen for those words during the video.  We analyze the Belly Up comic and then we watch the Winter video.

Next, I distribute the clickers, and we use the H-ITT classroom response system to answer the questions presented in the Easy Quiz and the Hard Quiz.  The software allows the students to see a graph of how their peers have responded.  I can show the correct answer right away using the CRS, or we can discuss their answers and then I can display the correct answer.  Of course, I click on the correct answer in BrainPOP Jr. and Moby gives us his cute, little nod that never fails to elicit at least one giggle.

After we complete the quizzes, I open the Word Wall.  The students use the handout I gave them earlier and their clickers to match the words with their definitions.  I point at a definition, and the students click in their choice.  Again, we can see an analysis of the results.  In the H-ITT classroom response system, the students’ responses and grades are recorded automatically, so I can print them out for the teacher if he/she wants to actually record a grade for the students’ work in the library.  This immediate feedback seems to help keep the students enthused and to enhance the learning of the material.

Before class, I have printed a copy of Talk About It, Write About It, and the Activity to give to the classroom teacher to use later if desired.  She seems particularly interested in the hands-on Activity that goes along with the Winter topic to reinforce her symmetry lessons.  The activity gives the students half a cap, half a snowman, and half a snowflake and asks them to complete the other half of the drawing.

If I were to do this lesson with an interactive whiteboard, I would also have the students work in small groups or partnerships on the Game and the Draw About It features. The interactive whiteboard would also work well with the Talk About It and Activity resources.

Finally, I display the Pop a Joke (What do you get when you cross a snake and a snowman?  Frostbite LOL) to end the lesson on a light note.  I then direct the students to the display of books with winter themes.  Of course, they may choose any book they want even if it isn’t from this display.  Next week, I will ask the students if anyone wants to share any topic/s they found in their books that was also presented in the Winter video.

After the students check out their books and go back to the classroom, I reflect on another successful lesson using BrainPOP Jr. along with my H-ITT classroom response system.  Again, I feel genuinely fortunate to have access to these superb resources.

Thank you for reading this tome.  I can go on and on about the uses of BrainPOP Jr., but I know I must stop for now.  I do have one more item that I just must mention and that is the BrainPOP Educators section.  It offers exceptional information especially in the State Standards section where one can search each state’s standards to find relevant videos.

–I swear I didn’t pay Lisa for that last bit. J Thank you so much for painting such a vivid picture of a creative, quality interactive lesson, Lisa. So inspiring! Anyone else willing to share?

Please note that the Winter topic is available for free all month, along with lots of other great topics and resources through our Winter & Snow Spotlight. Enjoy!

  • Carol Halbmaier

    WOW! I’m impressed! Our district is in the process of getting interactive whiteboards for all classroom teachers. I’m waiting patiently (most of the time) for mine- I can’t wait to learn more about them! How long does it take to actually plan and organize for a lesson like this? What would be a good goal for a classroom teacher just starting with interactive whiteboards? Once a week? Day? Have you seen your student’s attentiveness increase when you have lessons like this one compared to “get out your science book” lessons? Also…when I do get my whiteboard, could you come to my school and help me figure it all out? ;)

  • Lisa Remy

    BrainPop Jr. makes planning the lessons easy with all the features that are included. They also have a link to lesson plans for both teachers and parents. As far as the interactive white board, I use mine every day in the library. I have seen classroom teachers use them as part of their morning routine with the calendar. I believe the students would much rather use the whiteboard, the clickers, and Brainpop than to just read out of a book. Of course, as a librarian, I still definitely support the “reading out of a book.”

  • Robert Miller

    Yes, WOW Lisa for accenting the curriculum in the classroom with technology and other resources outside in the media center!

    To Carol: You are not going to believe the ease of integrating your whiteboard into lessons through BrainPOP/BrainPOPjr. We have interactive whiteboards in many of our rooms and although teachers use hosted flipcharts or create their own, everyone RAVES about how the BrainPOP/BPjr topics can be brought into a lesson (impromptu or planned) sooooo smoothly and effortlessly for both the teachers and students– Everything is done and ready/set for you!

    The quizzes in BrainPOP are great to run side-by-side with clickers and pausing the movie or annotating on the side margins are a given with an IWB. Our primary classrooms LOVE the interactivity built into the BPjr topic pages. (Tip: If you are using a Promethean ActivBoard, get their wand– younger students can reach/interact even easier with the activities as an independent center).

    Yes, attentiveness starts with the audible “pop!” of a topic and continues with the teacher and student working with the activities around the movie. You gotta love attentive students.

  • mslinch

    What a fantastic post, Lisa! We’re so honored to be able to make BrainPOP Jr. for you. If you ever have any special requests, or a topic you’d like to see, please let us know.

    I’d be curious to get a library media specialist’s opinion on the “Read About It” feature. Is it helpful? Do you have any ideas on how we could make it more relevant or useful?

    Karina Linch

  • Lisa Remy

    Karina, I love the “Read About It” feature and actually often either end or begin my lesson with one of the recommended books.

    I really appreciate the authors videos and wouldn’t mind seeing more of those.

    Thanks for the great resources, Lisa

  • mslinch

    Thanks, Lisa!

    We’ll definitely add to the authors videos on BrainPOP Jr. this year. Any particular authors you or your students would really like to see?

  • Lisa Remy

    Bill Wallace, Barbara Park, Mary Pope Osborne, Jane O’Connor, Karma Wilson, The Berenstains, J. K. Rowling, Paula Danziger, Rick Riordan, Kevin Henkes, AVI, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Dian Curtis Regan, Gary Paulsen, Jane Yolen, Will Hobbs, Lynne Reid Banks, Mike Thaler, Mike Wimmer (illustrator), and the list could go on. Maybe it would be interesting to focus on the award winners of the past year. Thanks for asking, Lisa