Get to know a CBE

Getting to Know CBE Kristen Brooks

Posted by cemignano on

We’re excited to introduce you to May’s Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month, Kristen Brooks! Kristen is one of our earliest CBEs and an inspiring educator all around. Read on to learn about her long history with BrainPOP and some of her favorite BrainPOP moments.

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
K-5th Technology Teacher in our iPad Lab

How long have you been teaching?
23 years

What inspired you to go into education?
I have always loved working with children and, as a freshman in college, a friend’s mom invited me to come volunteer in her classroom. I fell in love with teaching. From that day on, I knew I would be a teacher!.

Which CBE class were you a part of?
Inaugural Class #1, way back in 2014! Before I became a CBE, I was part of a smaller group of educators that worked with BrainPOP in their booths at conferences. We were called POPstars!

What do you like about being a CBE?
I refer to BrainPOP as my BrainPOP family. Since first meeting the BrainPOP staff they all immediately accepted and welcomed me as part of their BrainPOP family. I have always felt like I was included and part of the team, and having a connection to a company that listens to its clients (teachers and students) is such a huge advantage and a blessing. I have also been given the chance to work with BrainPOP at several conferences and I truly love showing other teachers and school staff all that BrainPOP has to offer, like the latest and greatest activities or the BrainPOP Educators website. It is so fun to share new BrainPOP resources or ideas for implementation, and see the teacher smiles because they know students are going to benefit.

Fun Fact
Most of the staff at BrainPOP know me and call me by my BrainPOP nickname “Teacher Kristen.” This was given to me by Peter Glovin, the first BrainPOP staff member I met at the GAETC conference in 2007.

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
A few years ago I was “testing out” giving my students a voice and choice options, meaning they chose how to create their life cycle of a butterfly project. Since I teach with iPads all day, the students were app smashing their designs. To create more of a movie-type project (this was before BP created make a movie), students worked in pairs to research the life cycle of a butterfly and wrote their scripts. Several  students used pictures from BrainPOP with the Chatterpix app to record their information, and then saved the completed project into their Seesaw to share with their peers and their family. Other groups used iMovie to create a bit longer project with a voice overlay, and finally some students chose to create a report-style project using either the Keynote app or the Pages app. I especially remember this project because I was completely out of my comfort zone with all types of projects going at one time but It was completely worth it. The bar was raised on our project quality not by me, but by the students. Everyone was being creative in their own way and the projects were all stellar.

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
BrainPOP brings clarity to so many students in our school. The way BrainPOP explains concepts in simple terms paired with visual understanding is super helpful in making the learning more relevant to my students. When students work through the various BrainPOP activities to expand and explain their learning, it is impactful and meaningful to each one because it is authentic learning due to the student choice options.

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
Becoming a CBE was much more meaningful than I realized at the time. It gave me a brand new group or PLN (personal learning network) of educators similar to me and my style of teaching. I had always had one or two colleagues that were excited to teach with technology at my school but they weren’t always in my grade level or on my team. As more and more CBEs were added, I found so many helpful CBE friends to collaborate with across the United States by using Twitter and email. Becoming a CBE helped me to grow professionally by encouraging me to do things I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to do, but the staff always assured me that I was ready, so I took a chance and completed the tasks. These events and the reassuring BrainPOP staff, gave me the courage to branch out in areas of education that I never dreamed I’d be doing now. I went from teaching in a computer lab, to teaching plus presenting in BrainPOP booths, to presenting about BrainPOP in concurrent sessions, to creating an iPad Lab classroom, to becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator, to speaking and presenting several times a year at technology conferences across the US about BrainPOP and many other Educational Technology topics. Wow, and the first step was using BrainPOP daily in my classroom and then becoming a CBE! Thanks BrainPOP and my BrainPOP family!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
I am a huge advocate of student voice and student choice. I believe students have more to add and explain than we sometimes give them time and space to do so. I love seeing their creations and thought processes for a problem through a video or tutorial they have created. I try to have the WES iPad Lab as a very creative and open area for students to explore and come to their own conclusions. We research, write scripts, create videos of all types, and then share with our peers and families. My huge slogan for all grades K-5th is, “Show what you know through a video or presentation.”

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
BrainPOP has always been so wonderful to add items that my students or I have requested in the past and  we have been blown away. At the moment, the only request we have is just more content on BrainPOP Jr. but we realize the writers and animators are working all day, every day to do just that. So kudos to all of the BrainPOP staff for being amazing and doing so much to make all BrainPOP products the best learning tools around. I would not be able to teach and do what I do without BrainPOP, BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP ELL. Oh, and my students would like Moby to visit our school in Woodstock, GA.