How One Teacher Used BrainPOP to Teach Her Students – and Herself – About Citizenship

Posted by SM Bruner on

More than 40 years ago, Carmen Gil was an ESOL professor in her native country of Venezuela. She came to the United States and has been teaching at the same school in Jupiter, Florida, for 36 years!

Initially, Carmen was an ESOL teacher and taught kids from around the world. She started using BrainPOP to help her explain things to students that she herself didn’t know well, such as how the American government functions.

At that time, Carmen wasn’t yet a U.S. citizen. She had studied extensively for the citizenship test but said she just couldn’t seem to memorize the information.

“I’m a visual learner,” she explained in an interview with BrainPOP. Carmen started reviewing some of the government and civics movies from BrainPOP she had shown her students, and realized they were the perfect study tool!  “I could not have passed my citizenship test with out BrainPOP.” Carmen said.

She then started using BrainPOP to teach her students’ parents. ESOL teachers in Carmen’s district are required to meet monthly with parents to help them get involved in school and understand what their children are learning. BrainPOP Español did not yet exist, so Carmen translated the movies into Spanish as she played them. She would bring in in treats for the parents to enjoy while watching the movies, and pause to discuss frequently. As a result, her students’ parents became much more informed on topics ranging from higher level math skills to citizenship.

“BrainPOP has been invaluable,” Carmen said. “I’ve been crazy about BrainPOP and I use it for every single class.” She utilizes BrainPOP, BrainPOP Español for her Spanish-speaking students and parents, BrainPOP ELL for students who are learning English, and BrainPOP Jr. for younger students.

Now entering her 37th year, Carmen teaches technology for grades K-5. “My students call me Mrs. Moby because I always use BrainPOP.” Her routine is the same with each lesson: the BrainPOP movie introduces the day’s concept to students and prepares them for the lesson Carmen teaches afterward. “The kids know this routine,” she says, and the students from other countries appreciate the consistency. “The graphics really help them – it’s perfect for ESOL students.”

What’s Carmen’s best tip for teachers who want to use BrainPOP? “Check the BrainPOP site before doing your lesson plans and see what topics are there. The lesson plans are already written and the resources and games are there. You know they’re going to be fabulous and the kids will enjoy them so you can build your lesson around them.”

Thank you, Carmen, for sharing your inspiring story! Congratulations on all that you have accomplished and the incredible work you’ve done serving students and families in your community.

Filed as:  POPstar, Social Studies