Get to know a CBE

Game-Based Learning with CBE of the Month Elizabeth Eastman

Posted by cemignano on

We’re excited to introduce you to June’s CBE of the Month, Elizabeth Eastman from Houston, Texas. Read on as Elizabeth shares her experience as a Certified BrainPOP Educator and some of the BrainPOP features that excite her the most.

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
I currently teach a 5th & 6th grade STEM elective class and work also as an Instructional Technology Specialist and coordinator of Learning Commons for grades K-6 at Mandarin Immersion Magnet School in Houston, Texas.

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 22 years.

What inspired you to go into education?
I have several sources of inspiration that have brought me into the field of education. First, I was inspired by my parents as educators. My mother taught Spanish and French and my father was a professor of Political Science. They surrounded me with books and nurtured my love of learning. Another source of inspiration comes from one of my siblings who was an excellent student in school until 3rd grade. The negative experience he had in his classroom that year caused him to lose his desire to achieve and succeed. He began to struggle with school which continued over time. There was something about the learning environment that year which adversely affected him in a significant way. I hope to contribute to other kids positive learning experiences as a result of choosing to work in the field of education. Finally, I am fascinated by teaching and learning by nature! I love learning and creating inspiring learning experiences for kids so they will too.

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
At the 2017 TCEA Conference [Texas Computer Education Association], I attended the CBE class last February where I was amazed to discover all the tools and resources that BrainPOP now offers. I’d used BrainPOP in the past for its informative movies and quizzes for content-area learning. But I discovered that BrainPOP had evolved light years beyond just movies and quizzes! What an amazing suite of creation tools and resources to be found in My BrainPOP! What I like about being a CBE is that I have become a part of a supportive community that allows me to continue to expand my understanding of the incredible learning potential in the BrainPOP platform. I am connected to a community of educators who are using technology innovatively and effectively which is also inspiring.

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
As part of my STEM and Maker Education instruction, 5th and 6th grade students investigated Game Design and Development. First, students used
Scratch Programming and Google CS 1st to create scripts for Maze, Platform, Launcher, Cave Surfer, Quest, and Escape Games. Throughout, we employed a Design Thinking approach to explore what makes a game enjoyable and challenging. We developed concept maps about our favorite games and their features. Then students interviewed one another to build empathy and gain perspective about others’ preferences.

We used BrainPOP GameUp extensively as part of this study. I filtered through the array of games and assigned a list of challenging cross-content-area games for students to play and analyze (such as Fly to Mars, Chronopticon, Gate, Riddle Book, Guts & Bolts, and Do I Have A Right?) Students played and then analyzed and composed their reflections about features and strategies through the embedded SnapThought tools.

As a culmination, students took on the Global Cardboard Challenge and built original games out of cardboard after defining their game elements, ideating and prototyping through a Design Thinking process which continued throughout our study. Students worked in teams and their creative products were astonishing!

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student? (or group of students)
Gamification is such a significant trend now in education and using GameUp with students it immediately becomes clear how powerful games can be to inspire students’ curiosity, strategic thinking, and curriculum learning. I recently used GameUp’s Time Zone X Mars to help students develop historical context as part of a project where students were engineering rockets virtually and eventually building models physically. Through Time Zone X Mars students built timeline after timeline stringing together key events as they occurred in space travel. A number of students became so immersed with the subject of space travel and in expanding new timeline threads in comparison to one another. All the while. I observed them sharing their discoveries and collaborating on strategy. Many students became interested in other historical subject areas of Time Zone X too, of which there are many!

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
Through the experience for becoming a Certified BrainPOP Educator, I have been able to access the full potential of My BrainPOP. When kids instantly join My BrainPOP [through class code or sync to Google Classroom rosters] my assignments of all types are accessible to them–from Quizzes to Games to Movie-Making and Concept-Mapping projects! The ability to assign, track and assess students’ work and even give customized feedback on students’ assignments is fantastic! With student data analysis from the Quiz Mixer I have been able to identify areas of strength and weakness for individuals or groups of students so I can reteach or clear up misconceptions. Through my CBE experience, learning how to fully implement these great resources has made a huge impact on me and my students. Connection to BrainPOP’s CBE community has added  a whole new dimension to my learning innovative approaches for BrainPOP tools and resources too.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
I am passionate about designing learning that makes a difference in the connections students make to information and ideas, to one another and to global audiences. I am continuously seeking out ways to deepen and expand collaboration, communication, and creation through technology. I want to create personalized learning experiences and use digital tools to power differentiation for a range of needs, styles, and abilities. I have found BrainPOP tools like Make-a-Map, and Make-a-Movie, Quiz Mixer, and GameUp with SnapThoughts have truly empowered my students’ as thinkers, creators, and communicators.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
The potential for Make-a-Movie as a digital storytelling tool is phenomenal. I hope to see the capability for adding photos and other student-created media created to movies. I also hope easier sharing becomes possible for student-created movie clips or concept maps to outside audiences. Screencasting to capture them works currently.

An area for students that is similar to BrainPOP Educators might be worthwhile also. BrainPOP Students area might feature student Make-a-Movie creations and Make-a-Map for various content-area learning [perhaps with safe usernames as identifiers for privacy protection]. Featured GameUp games might also share snap thoughts from students demonstrating their reflections and connections to one another.