Get to know a CBE

Digital Citizenship with CBE of the Month Andrea Alvarez

Posted by cemignano on

It’s officially back-to-school season and we’re excited to introduce you to our August Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month, Andrea Alvarez, who is sure to inspire you as you head back to the classroom for the year. Read on to learn about where Andrea found her passion for teaching and love of technology.

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
I teach Computers to students from kindergarten to fifth grade including special education students. My main focus is to teach students the skills they need to use technology correctly and to learn that technology helps them express themselves and be creative using different tech tools. I want the students and their families to learn how to be safe online, how to be good digital citizens and to inspire them to try computer science.

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 14 years.

What inspired you to go into education?
My mother and her love for learning, helping and teaching others inspired me to go into education. When I was a little girl I struggled in first and second grade. My sister would grasp things faster where as I would need a long time to understand a concept. I needed to work harder in order to get better grades. I was also very shy, and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing what I knew in class. I was afraid to say the wrong answer. My mother, an educator herself, helped me to overcome my shyness and made me feel comfortable with my learning style. I remember that in our house we had a little room that she designed like a classroom. My sister and I had our own desks, a blackboard, lots of books, crayons and many other things. Everyday after work she would come home and we would review what we covered in class in the little room. It was like a game! We had a lot of fun while learning. My mom would be the teacher and review the concept, and then my sister and I would take turns being the teacher which was a lot of fun. As I was growing up I knew that I wanted to foster in children the desire to learn and accomplish their goals. I wanted to help others discover the wonders I had been shown. I knew that children learn at different paces and have different learning styles. As an educator I am given the opportunity to guide children in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. I want to help nurture the value of life learning in others and help them achieve their potential, teaching them the skills that they need to succeed.

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I was part of the NYCDOE BrainPOP IPPD Winter Class of 2015. It was a great course. I love being a part of the CBE family. I know that if I have a question someone is always available for help. They love to hear feedback from educators and students in order to help them improve their program. I love being a CBE and that is why I presented “BrainPOP – More Than a Movie!” at the NYCDOE Tech Summit during the summer of 2015 and 2016. I truly believe that BrainPOP can reach multiple learning styles and children that are at risk. Hooray for BrainPOP! With great honor I can say that I am a Certified BrainPOP Educator.

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
I teach a Digital Citizenship unit and the most memorable project (just to mention one of many) was the Cyberbullying lesson. We started the Cyberbullying lesson by taking a quiz in BrainPOP in order to check for their background knowledge. It was surprising to see that they only had the basics and we definitely needed to explore Cyberbullying further. After having a discussion with the class and using the Related Reading and different activities in BrainPOP, my students were ready to play the games in GameUp. The games were great as my students need to make the right choices to advance in the game. As the final project I asked them to make a Cyberbullying comic strip. It came out great – we printed them out and displayed them on our bulletin board. I hope that in the near future BrainPOP will have a comic strip feature where students can design their own comic strips using some of the characters from BrainPOP and their avatar. That will be great!

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
I have noticed that my English Language Learners have increased their vocabulary and they are able to understand the concepts being taught in class. It has helped both my students and their families. My school is located in a community where many parents don’t speak English or English is their second language and it is hard for them to help their children with school work. This is where BrainPOP comes into place because parents and students can use it to go over concepts that may be a little hard for them to understand. As a result, students are more prepared and feel confident to participate in class.

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
I am given the opportunity to spread the word about the different features that BrainPOP has to offer. Students and educators are in love with the BrainPOP movies and quizzes. Many educators don’t know about the many features BrainPOP has to offer such as Make-a-Map, Related Reading, Graphic Organizer, Game Up, Primary Resources and BrainPOP for Educators. Implementing these features of BrainPOP in the classroom and providing Professional Development for educators is a rewarding experience because you are able to reach all learners.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
I have a passion for sharing new ideas, helping children discover their potential, inspiring students to do their best and accomplish their goals. I am a great believer that technology is a tool that helps all learners to be active learners. BrainPOP offers that to students and that is why I love it. BrainPOP movies offer content knowledge and reinforcement from lessons. I love that BrainPOP has many features that cover Bloom’s Taxonomy such as the Quiz and the Graphic Organizers (understanding), Related Reading (applying), GameUp (analyzing and evaluating) Make-A-Map (creating). As an educator we have to be open-minded to our students’ learning needs, cultural needs and learning styles in order to make them flourish in our classroom and beyond.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
I would love to see students design their own avatar and be able to send a message to Moby using BrainPOP. Another wish would be to give students the ability to make a comic strip using their avatar and characters from BrainPOP, then submit it to their teacher.