Rayna Freedman CBE
Get to know a CBE

Getting to Know CBE Rayna Freedman

Posted by cemignano on

We’re thrilled to introduce you to May’s Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month, Rayna Freedman. Rayna is part of the Mansfield School District in Mansfield, MA and was recently named MassCUE President Elect. Read on to learn about Rayna’s teaching background and her experience as a CBE.

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
Spending my days with 5th graders, I get to see the world through their eyes! I am also an instructional technology specialist. I teach math, reading, writing, science, social studies, and how to be a better person all in one day. I integrate technology into our daily activities, and most of the time students choose the tools they want to use to enhance their learning.

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 17 years. I spent 11 years working with third graders, 2 years learning from 4th graders, and I am currently in my 4th year loving the 5th grade!

What inspired you to go into education?
When I was ten years old I wanted to fly to the moon or be an artist. I wanted to be a famous writer or a movie star. The thought of being an educator was the last thing on my mind until sophomore year of high school. That was when I met my inspiration in life. The one person who changed my life forever, sending me on this path of teaching others the way he has taught me.

I was never really allowed to explore my creativity until I entered Room 205. I always felt restricted in my work, handed in typical research papers instead of the projects I had envisioned. My mind was always running, thinking of ideas that would never come to fruition. I thought this year was going to be the same. Global History—boring projects, endless papers, quizzes, tests, and infamous quests. As the days dragged on, Mr. LaChapelle, the man we all called Chief, changed my view of teachers and education.

He gave us assignments without telling us how to do it. He let us be in charge of our learning. His expectations were set high, as he always expected our best work to come into his room. If our work were not up to this standard then we would not be prepared for the tests and quizzes. I strove to exceed his expectations, spending hours on my assignments; cramming in as much information from each chapter onto my projects. I would design pictures relating to different cultures, writing the information in each design. The student next to me decided to write her thoughts in a poetic form. The same information was captured in two completely different ways.

Knowing what I know now about the field of education, Chief tapped into our multiple intelligences and used Bloom’s Taxonomy to scaffold instruction. He wanted us to feel success all the time, and it was up to us to choose the directions to success, he just provided the avenue. He allowed each one of us to find ourselves in his class while learning about our world.  Respect, responsibility, and imagination were three components that filled the walls of his room. Students loved Chief for this and return year after year to thank the man who paved their road of success.

Chief did more than pave my road. He set me on my road to a future life. Because of him, I realized there are teachers out there who love their students and who want to see them succeed. He has a big heart and is not afraid to wear it on his sleeve. He may not know this, but he was my inspiration to enter this field. He showed me that there are teachers who care for their students and that instruction can be tailored to individual learners. He created lessons to expand his students’ minds, giving them the opportunity to be creative. I learned the true definition of a team player in his global history class. I thank him for giving the greatest gift —the desire to teach others as he taught me.

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I joined the amazing group of CBEs in 2015 while attending ISTE in Philadelphia. The best part about being a CBE is the community that welcomes you from day one. Educators from all backgrounds and BrainPOP staff are always out there to celebrate success and failures. They are a great sounding board and offer a wealth of pedagogical strategies to incorporate BrainPOP into daily classroom instruction. They are a huge group of people willing to share and encourage others to try new things!

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
We kicked off our Colonial America unit watching the 13 Colonies BrainPOP video. Students read about Colonial America in their social studies books. They worked in small groups to identify various features of the New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies. As an assessment they were asked to make a movie teaching the class about what they learned. Students used a variety of soft skills to create their videos, and they explored digital skills as they created their movie. I was able to understand what each student understood based on the movie created. No test needed!

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student? (or group of students)
The impact BrainPOP has on students runs deep! Students are empowered and take ownership of their learning in our classroom choosing to use BrainPOP tools. They love to use make-a-map to organize their thinking or play Meaning of the Beep to review skills. Many use the movies at home as a research tool for their month Discovery Quests. Students also love when I embed BrainPOP into our Reading Street hyperdocs. Several students told me using make a map was helpful when pulling three different resources together to create a writing sample. It helped organize their thinking. Students love how BrainPOP evolves with them! Currently they are exploring Make a Movie as a learning and assessment tool!

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
I remember years ago when I first started using BrainPOP videos to enhance lessons I saw the excitement in students’ eyes when Moby came on the screen. Since then I have challenged myself to find ways to incorporate BrainPOP into my classroom instruction. Moving towards a student centered approach affords me the opportunity for students to make the decision of when BrainPOP tools to support their learning. Being a CBE has provided a forum to ask questions to support students whether it be on Twitter or the Google + forum. The CBE community has encouraged me to present at conferences, share my love of BrainPOP on the ISTE floor, and connect with others showing that learning truly is a global adventure.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
On the first day of school my principal asked a question, “What do you think of when you hear technology in education?” I thought about this for a moment, listened to what answers my colleagues gave, and then raised my hand. “Technology is a tool to enhance the curriculum.” In other words, curriculum drives the instruction and technology is just a tool to get us there. Many people think technology needs to be a separate course or something we teach in addition to the heavily loaded curriculum plate we serve daily. Someone once asked me how I teach my students to use the variety of tools we use and access. The answer is pretty simple as the students teach themselves, I just create the experience. They are empowered to use technology to show off their learning, engaged in activities, and are in control of their decision making process throughout the learning experiences created. I have learned more from my students about using different tools than I would have had I stood in the front of the room instructing.

Teachers need to start thinking about how their lessons would evolve with the integration of technology. What doors open for students when they change the tool used to create? What do we really want our students to know and be able to do for the future? Thinking back to my principal’s question on the first day of school and what I have learned after a few months of experimenting with various tools is this: Technology teaches students to be global citizens, to collaborate and connect with others, to communicate using various methods, to create for an authentic audience, and to make decisions. Students are engaged in their own learning process, asking bigger questions, advocating for things, and taking risks with their thinking. I am learning with my students. In fact when my niece asked me the other day if I was really a teacher I told her “No.” Her mouth dropped. I smiled and said, “I am a learner.” A teacher stands in front of the room and instructs. I sit with my students and learn. That is the truth behind Technology Door #1.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
I wish the tools could be used collaboratively. Students love working together on movies and maps, but they have to be logged into one student account. Also the only person they can currently submit their work to is the teacher. What about sharing work with classmates for peer feedback? Students would love the option to send to a classmate. Lastly, does Moby do school visits? He would be a HUGE hit!