BrainPOP Teacher in Residence and POPstar, Mike Jones, shares his reflection on spending two whole weeks in the BrainPOP headquarters in New York.
This last summer I was selected to be BrainPOP’s Teacher in Residence in their Manhattan office. I was privileged to be only the second teacher selected for this honor and followed in the footsteps of fellow POPstar, Robert Miller. It was such a tremendous experience. I felt like I was back in junior high sitting at the cool kids’ table or getting drafted to play in the big leagues.
The best way to describe my days would be organized play. I was able to sit in on meetings to see just how much work goes into designing the BrainPOP Educators website to provide a meaningful experience for teachers when accessing important information. I created informational how-to videos about the Mixer. I spent many hours on GameUP trying out games and activities. I wrote blogs about my experience and created science lesson plans to link with videos. I was asked my opinion which I never seemed lacking about design and uses. More importantly, I was able to work with a staff that is creative, intelligent, and extremely passionate about producing a high quality product and improving the education of our students.
That being said, I started to realize that I had a huge advantage over most of the staff. I get to see daily the impact that BrainPOP and its resources have on students. The BrainPOPpers are like great bakers who never get to eat their own cakes. No other website, media, or tool can replicate the successes that I’ve seen using BrainPOP.
- I have been able to provide ELL content to non-English speaking students.
- I’ve seen students “sneak” BrainPOP Jr. with their headphones on so no one knows what they are learning.
- I see students regularly go into “related movies” just to explore.
- I have students reading at an early primary grade still learn concepts from watching BrainPOP.
- I’ve had students who have used programs like Voki and Blabberize to make their own BrainPOP videos…on their own…for fun.
- I’ve had success with kids watching videos at home so that I can flip my class for more labs.
- During free time, students choose GameUP to “play.”
- I have students challenge each other to see who can watch more movies in one night.
I could keep rambling on…
BrainPOP gives students a set of tools where they can play, laugh, explore, and learn. You have a unique product towards which teachers and students gravitate.
- No student draws pictures for their Learning Management System.
- No student writes letters to an interactive whiteboard.
- No class project makes videos in the style of most educational movies.
- No teacher downloads clip art and sounds for a presentation to look and feel like their gradebook program.
I’ve been fortunate as a trainer to work with several educational technology companies; however, BrainPOP holds a special place in my heart. Even more personal, I see the impact of how my own children have grown up using BrainPOP. I speak so passionately about it because I want to celebrate all of the successes that my classroom has because of them.
This was how I was able to spend some of my summer vacation…
…and it was an awesome summer!
Guest Blogger Mike Jones is a 7th grade life science teacher from Bloomington Junior High School. He is a trainer for the annual technology conference, The Moveable Feast and has presented at several conferences, such as IETC, ICE, WEMTA, IETC, and Tech Talks. He is also the lead trainer for his district’s 1:1 classroom deployment pilot. Michael enjoys reading, BASE jumping, scuba diving and exaggerating about his hobbies. He is the co-creator of several tech guides. . and his two children, Kat & Parker.