Guest blogger Donna Adams Román shares her approach to project-based learning with the use of BrainPOP.
Inspiring independent thinking is a challenge all teachers face. It requires some intentional embedding of the 21st century learning skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.
If planned right, a project furthers the type of independent learning that translates into quality outcomes. In order to do that, students need to develop enough background knowledge in the subject to know how to structure their inquiry. BrainPOP has been the best tool to provide that background. It has helped revolutionize my classroom this year.
So, what does that look like? In a recent Project-based Learning unit on the United States branches of government, we wanted the end result to be the deep understanding of how the three branches of government work to maintain a balance of power. Well, I could have assigned reading and stood up in front of the class to explain it….or I could let them discover it, as I did with my colleague Lisa Parisi in our United States Government project that required the deep understanding of one pivotal legal issue.
To be successful in something this independent, the students need enough background knowledge to know what questions to ask and where to direct their inquiry. BrainPOP has been the best resource for that. In this case, I found US Government & Law section on BrainPOP to be filled with excellent resources. I chose a few that would provide the background they needed to start their inquiry. They could then go back to BrainPOP to look for additional resources when needed.
There have been solid background-building resources on BrainPOP for every project I’ve done this year, and that has allowed for independent inquiry, which in turn leads to student empowerment. And that’s what we all want. All it takes is a little planning and some Tim and Moby!
Donna Adams Román is a 5th grade teacher at Mill Creek School in Geneva, Illinois, blogger, trainer, and presenter committed to providing rich learning opportunities for her learners and professional learning network. She is a recent recipient of ISTE’s first place SIGOL Online Learning Award and a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. Donna is active in Professional Development online and in her district, CoSN, ISTE, Flat Classroom®, and iEARN.