Get to know a CBE

Differentiation with CBE of the Month Ruby Sheets

Posted by cemignano on

We can’t believe it’s already August and time for our next Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month! We’re excited to welcome Ruby Sheets as August’s CBE of the Month who is currently living in São Paulo, Brazil. Read on to learn more about Ruby’s experience as an international CBE and be sure to check back later this month for part two of her CBE series!

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
I currently teach the English component of a 3rd grade bilingual (English/Portuguese) curriculum at an international school in São Paulo, Brazil.

How long have you been teaching?
This will be my tenth year as a classroom teacher. For eight years in Brooklyn, NY, I taught bilingual special education (English/Spanish) in a pre-K to 8 school. Before that, I taught adult ELL.

What inspired you to go into education?
I have always been intrigued by how people learn and what motivates engagement. My interest in bilingual education stemmed from becoming fluent in Spanish as a young adult, and wishing I had had the opportunity earlier in life. I believe that speaking more than one language fluently is a powerful skill for too many reasons to explain here. I also believe bilingual education is an incredible resource for immigrant families, allowing them to provide an education for their children that respects where they come from as well as where they now live.

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I took the training at BrainPOP Headquarters in the Spring of 2016. I like being a CBE because, through finding out about the inner workings of BrainPOP, I get more ideas about how to use it in my classroom and those of my colleagues. I also learn about other teaching tools and organizations, such as It helps me connect to a larger community of educators who I have a great deal of respect for.

I also really enjoy giving feedback on new games, videos, and other features. The feedback on my feedback always teaches me something new about what BrainPOP has available and helps me understand better how other people think. My students greatly benefit from my increased enthusiasm, and concrete opportunities such as the virtual tour.

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
My most memorable projects have been making BrainPOP-style movies. This Spring, my 3rd graders used Make-a-Movie to present a variety of science topics that covered the standards we had studied throughout the year. All students presented their movies at a showing for their parents on the last full day of school. They organized everything, with a program, helpful vocabulary, signage, presenters, ushers to take parents to assigned seats, a light person and a tech person. They were very proud and impressed with themselves, as were their parents. It was magical.

It was a great opportunity for differentiation, review and reflection. Strong readers took notes from print and online sources which they incorporated into their videos. Others based their research on information from BrainPOP movies with related topics. Students were so motivated to get their video just right that they had the patience and stamina to perfect elements such as pronunciation, grammar, spelling and other particulars of language that are difficult to focus on in other mediums that do not require creating audio recordings, which is a listening and speaking standard for the 3rd grade.

In 2016, my sixth graders made movies on Math topics. They made skits, stop motion videos, traditional lesson-style presentations and PowerPoints with audio. Some students explored grade-level topics they had struggled with, such as multiplication tables. Other explored advanced topics they were just beginning to be exposed to, such as standard deviation. They made the movies in the language they were most comfortable with and showed them to other classes, spreading the knowledge beyond the classroom and providing the students with purpose that motivated them to do their best work.

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
Having ready access to high quality material in both English and Spanish (but not side by side) is incredibly helpful at a bilingual school. Materials in one language are powerful supports for learning in the other. This is also helpful for parents, especially if they were not raised in a similar school system that their children are a part of, are illiterate, and/or they do not speak the dominant language of the country. The videos, quizzes, and activities give them an accessible entry point into their child’s learning.

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
This past year, my first in a new school, being a CBE allowed me to lead trainings and become a resource to other teachers and even administrators. It facilitated the process of getting to know the curriculum and culture of the school as I helped others incorporate BrainPOP features into the teaching they already do. In addition, becoming a CBE enables me to have more meaningful interactions with my students, their parents, other educators around the world, and the people at BrainPOP Headquarters.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
Technology allows students to create projects that are more like the mediums they consume on a regular basis and the mediums they will be creating as they become part of the workforce. When students are given the freedom and trust to be the teachers, they are empowered, engaged, excited and much more fun to teach. They learn much more… and so do I…  

Technology also allows students to move along at a pace that is useful for them. Particularly in Math, I have made lists of BrainPOP topics that are from previous grade levels, the current grade level, and future grade levels. Inside and outside of the classroom, students will review past topics or move forward to new topics, depending on their need. Since they are all using the same platform, they are not embarrassed to be reviewing old topics or to be the nerd moving ahead to something new.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
If I were granted just one wish, I would love a way to have students collaborate on creations like Make-a-Map or Make-a-Movie, as with GoogleDocs. If I were granted many more, it would be great to be able to add subtitles or closed captioning in Make-a-Movie. The current text feature is intended for labels. Being able to add music would also be helpful, as would having a Make-a-Map template that is more of a storyboard that can then go into a Make-a-Movie. I know you have the storyboard printout, but digital would be great too. But my greatest dream of all would be to have BrainPOP in Portuguese. Brazil is huge! And the Portuguese spoken in Portugal and Africa is close enough for those places to be interested as well.