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Teaching Tips

Keeping Students Engaged and Learning During the Summer

Posted by jglassman on

The ideas in this post come from Certified BrainPOP Educator Alexa Corniel, grade 4 teacher at Skyline Elementary in San Diego, CA.

Every year parents ask, “What can I do to keep my child learning and engaged over summer?” In the past, I’ve suggested countless book titles, math problem-solving sets and writing prompts. Were my suggestions useful? Probably not. Were they engaging? Definitely not! However, this year I am prepared to offer up a bigger and better solution… BrainPOP! Our school now offers BrainPOP to every student–even during the summer. Talk about engaging! Following are some ways my students will use BrainPOP during the summer.

FAMOUS AUTHORS

My students are voracious readers and also love to investigate . After stumbling upon BrainPOP’s Famous Authors and Books unit, I am encouraging them to watch movies in that unit, and read as many books as possible by one of the unit’s featured authors. Using Make-A-Map, students will keep track of similar themes, symbols and character types found within the particular author’s work.

You also may want to take advantage of a learning journal, such as Seesaw, over the summer as a way for you to communicate with your students, and for them to communicate with each other. With Seesaw, for example, my students can participate in the #booksnaps trend. Simply post instructions on your class feed asking students to take a picture of an interesting part of a book they’re reading. Their pictures will automatically be available for other students to view. You will be surprised at the quality and type of conversation this will spark!

PRACTICAL MATH

Do your students ever ask, “When am I ever going to use this?” I get that question in math all the time. This summer, I’ve prompted my students to investigate the many real-life ways we use math by exploring BrainPOP’s Practical Math unit. They will create a BrainPOP-style movie using the new Make-A-Movie feature to show how they use math in their daily lives.

STUDENTS MAKE THE BEST TEACHERS

My kids love to teach and quite frankly, they are awesome at it! Since I’m always looking for engaging ways to introduce new concepts, I asked my former students to choose a topic they found challenging this past year, and use Make-A-Movie to teach the topic, so they become the experts. I will use these student-made movies for my incoming students. You can extend this activity by having students use the Book Creator app to make a booklet on the topic as well. Encourage them to include a notes section in their book so that your future students have a place to jot down “aha!” moments they might have when watching the movie.

FRAGILE ENVIRONMENT

Kids are the future, so we should empower them to become the good they want to see in the world. Over the summer, I encourage my students to get together to explore the topics in BrainPOP’s Our Fragile Environment unit. Using what they learn from the movies and other features, I’ve challenged them to make a change in their neighborhood. I’ve been impressed by what my students have done in the past, from making posters on water usage to leaving flyers with tips of actions people can do at home to help the environment. I am so excited for their ideas and cannot wait to hear about what they accomplish this summer!

CODING!

Coding has become a buzzword synonymous with innovation. As an educator, I recognize the importance of incorporating computer programming, and specifically coding, into the curriculum. This summer, my students will explore BrainPOP’s collection of computer science movies, games, and more. The game Blockly: Maze is my personal favorite! I’m especially excited about a brand new feature on BrainPOP called Creative Coding. This exciting new feature invites students to code a variety of projects including memes, stop motion movies, and more!

MENTAL HEALTH

Acknowledging and understanding mental health is an important and growing area of focus today. Figuring out how best to address some of these sensitive topics can be challenging for both teachers and parents. BrainPOP’s Psychology & Behavior unit offers a powerful collection of movies for parents and students to watch together. After watching, I encourage families to have “Tim and Moby Table Talks” during meals. Exploring topics such as Stress, Bullying, or Getting Help at the inception of the school year can be an effective way to stimulate a discussion on issues pertinent to overall student health.

The learning opportunities on BrainPOP are endless and the innovative topics and information is continuously updated to ensure student relevance. Have fun BrainPOP’in your brains over summer break!

For more ideas about inspiring kids during the break, watch Alexa’s webinar A Stimulating Summer with BrainPOP.