Get to know a CBE

Getting to Know CBE Steve Isaacs

Posted by cemignano on

Fresh off the heels of the 2016 ISTE conference, we’re excited to introduce you to Steve Isaacs of Basking Ridge, NJ – ISTE’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year and July’s Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month! Read on to learn more about this inspiring educator and his experience as a CBE.

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
I teach the 7th grade cycle course, Game Design and Digital Storytelling and an 8th grade elective, Game Design and Development.

How long have you been teaching?
24 years!

What inspired you to go into education?
When I was in college, I worked with adults with Developmental Disabilities. I was majoring in Psychology and thought I wanted to be a therapist. Someone suggested getting certified in Special Education as something ‘to fall back on’. Well I fell, and I fell hard. 24 years later and reinventing myself as an educator a few times, here I am!

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I was part of the inaugural CBE class in 2014. I took the 3 hour course at ISTE in Atlanta. Prior to that I proudly wore the badge of a BrainPOP POPstar. I love being involved with BrainPOP for so many reasons. For one, the culture of the company is incredible. I was made to feel like a true part of the BrainPOP family from the first ISTE I helped out with which was in 2012 in San Diego (my first ISTE!) As someone passionate about EdTech and the importance of collaboration between educators and developers, BrainPOP is top tier in terms of valuing educator input and making educators feel valued. It is great being involved with a company where talking about their products is always met with enthusiasm from the people you are speaking with. EVERYONE loves BrainPOP! When I speak to educators about BrainPOP, I’m not trying to sell them something. They are already fans! What I can do, however, is provide them with information about features they may not be familiar with. This information is always well received and I get to see educators’ eyes light up when they hear of all the features that extend the use of BrainPOP far beyond the video and quiz that may be their frame of reference.

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
This year I began using more of the BrainPOP content as I was pleased to find great resources related to computer programming and game design. I provides my students with a project using Make-a-Map where the prompt is to explain the game design process with the tool. This is a great activity because it forces them to step outside of this thought that they are going to provide a brainstorming map that is simply recapping the video, and rather, must synthesize the information and refer to additional sources to create an effective mind map related to the game design process. For some kids, it takes a few tries and feedback from me to direct them back to the essential question and I like that my students are forced to think and not just take notes.

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
BrainPOP helped to set a foundation for students in my class to understand game design and programming as a context for my class. The Make-a-Map activity had a great impact in encouraging deeper thinking. Students are accustomed to an expectation of taking notes on something, so most approached the activity with the mindset that they would watch the video and use the tool as a means of regurgitating the information. Through the teacher-student feedback loop I was able to redirect many students to the importance of answering the essential question and understanding that they were using the information, not just taking notes.

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
I have had so many wonderful opportunities as a CBE. It’s been an incredible experience to support BrainPOP at conferences in the booth as well as help with the POPUp classroom. I have been able to attend PD sessions provided by BrainPOP and even serve on the PD advisory committee where I was able to collaborate with an amazing group of educators and BrainPOP staff to develop meaningful professional development. Working with EdTech companies is something I am passionate about and BrainPOP truly understands the value of working with educators. That is quite affirming!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
I am passionate about student choice in learning in order to help students find and nurture their passion. It is so important to make learning relevant to our students. I believe we should be leveraging the way students learn in informal learning environments as it truly demonstrates authentic learning. I’m passionate about student voice and providing students with opportunities to share their work with an authentic audience. In terms of technology, I’m all about content creation. Teaching game design and development lends perfectly to encouraging students to create their own content. Most recently, I have become very excited about the use of Virtual Reality in the classroom and developing content to be explored and experienced in VR.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
I would love to see BrainPOP focus on tools that encourage and perhaps develop tools for content creation and a space where students can share their work with the BrainPOP community.