Please welcome our January Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month – Lauren Wade! Lauren shares with us some of the deep ways she utilizes BrainPOP’s tools like Make-A-Map and our partner games on GameUp with her students to positively change the culture of her school. Come back in a couple of weeks to read more about how she builds BrainPOP use throughout her school, and helps other teachers move beyond their typical use of BrainPOP in the classroom.
What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
I am the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) Resource Teacher, where I teach Pre K through fifth grades.
How long have you been teaching?
I am in my tenth year of teaching. I have taught second through fourth grades up until this year. In October I transitioned out of my fourth grade class to my new STEAM class, which was a big change! I’m still at the same school… now I just get to teach ALL 972 kids!
What inspired you to go into education?
Education has always been a part of my family; however, I did not realize that I officially wanted to be a teacher until the end of my first year of college. The summer after my second semester, I got a job as a camp counselor for the YMCA. Working with kids, playing games, and singing camp songs led to my exploration of the teaching profession. Originally, I thought that I wanted to teach middle school english, but through my college classes I solidified my love for elementary-aged children. I still sing many camp songs with my current classes, and thoroughly enjoy gamifying any and all learning opportunities. Having fun with kids is truly my inspiration!
Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I became a CBE in January 2015, in person, at FETC. Three fellow teachers from my school were there with me, and it has been amazing to be able to call on each other for in-school trainings. It was also nice to be able to collaborate about something that we all feel passionately about!
What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
BrainPOP has always been a staple in my classroom… It was one of the first websites that I was directed to when I began teaching in 2007. As I have explored more and more cutting-edge technologies, BrainPOP has remained, and evolved, with my classroom practices. In its evolution, I have thoroughly enjoyed utilizing the Make-a-Map tool. Recently, I was teaching students about the Civil War, and its impact on Florida. Although there is not a video directly about that topic, there are tons of Civil War resources that I was able to pull from! I had my students use their My BrainPOP accounts to begin a concept map from the Civil War video. As we discussed the topic, I had the students add to their concept maps, even creating blank nodes for Floridian facts. As my students learned, they were able to visually see the connections they were making on their Make-a-Maps. They would submit their maps to me throughout our unit of study, and I would provide feedback and suggestions on how they could revise their thinking. Using the Make-a-Map tool enhanced my students’ understanding, provided formative feedback to drive my instruction, and made them excited to engage in their learning! Posting our completed maps on our bulletin board was encouraging, and my students beamed with accomplishment.
How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
BrainPOP carries a lot of weight at my school… since I have recently transitioned to a position where I teach students in every grade level, I have increased my usage of BrainPOP (which I didn’t think was possible!) due to the level of engagement that it provides. As soon as students see anything BrainPOP on the projector screen they are instantly inquisitive and excited. My classes are short, so I often do not have the time to explore the many additional resources… but I task each class with further exploration. Many grade level teachers will email me after STEAM class to ask what I did, and how they can get to the game, map, or resource that I encouraged their students to explore. BrainPOP has not only impacted one specific student at my school… it is changing our school’s entire culture.
How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
Being a CBE has had a massive impact on my teaching career because it has opened up a network of like-minded educators for me. After I became a CBE, I was invited to work with BrainPOP at FETC last year, and for the 2017 conference. Sharing the BrainPOP love at conferences fuels my excitement! I also love that as a CBE I am able to find resources, ideas, and even troubleshooting help from my fellow CBE’s. I have met CBE’s from all over the US, and I know that if I needed any insight that they would offer support. The CBE network is the best!
What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
My passion in education is driven by preparing students for real-life experiences. I am a firm believer in facilitating a student’s growth mindset, as I teach students how to deal with challenges. As a STEAM teacher, I have to constantly experiment and try out new things… never knowing what will, and will not, work. My goal is for students to follow my lead, and to be willing to try, fail, and continue trying. Whenever I present websites, apps, GameUp games, anything unfamiliar I always preface the new content with the idea that students need to be open-minded, and be willing to figure things out. Teaching students resilience, through the use of cutting edge technologies, is a real-world skill that will impact their lives far beyond the classroom.
What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
Many of my wishes have been fulfilled this year from a mobile friendly version, to assignments, to the amazing games that are constantly being added to GameUp! If I had to ask for one more thing, I would like the ability for students to upload their own images from the camera roll in the Make-a-Map tool… that way they can add in their own images that may be more directly related to specific concepts.