In the mind of a CBE

Teaching the Civil War Through Student Choice – A CBE Aha! Moment 5.18

Posted by cemignano on

A key component of professional growth is the ability to reflect on past practices and identify ways to improve in the future. With the importance of self-reflection in mind, we ask CBE candidates to think deeply about lessons or units they’ve taught in the past, and share new ideas on how they plan to incorporate BrainPOP the next time around. We’re excited to welcome May’s CBE of the Month, Kristen Brooks, back to the blog to share her BrainPOP Aha! Moment and hope it will inspire you to identify your own!

1) Tell us your BrainPOP “Aha! Moment” from the certification process. What specific use or application of BrainPOP excited you during this course? How did it change your expectation for using BrainPOP in your teaching practice?

I love seeing visual creations to show what a student is thinking or illustrate their thought process. My big Aha! Moment during the certification process was learning more about the Make-a-Map feature and finding ways to use it. My students were asked to help BrainPOP by beta testing some of the features built-in to the Make-a-Map tool so I also had a true sense of honor and pride when would use it in class. So many of my students helped in a small way with creating the final product through their reflections and responses. I also enjoyed explaining the term “beta testing” to my students and how important our role was at that time. I have added the vocabulary word beta-testing to my list of iPad Lab words because peer feedback is so meaningful to students that we now “beta test with a friend” all assignments/creations before they are digitally submitted to me. This was all started through being a BrainPOP POPstar and then becoming a CBE, something I highly recommend for all teachers to complete.

2) What is a specific lesson or unit you’ve taught in the past that you can re-formulate to bring in the new tools, features, or content you discovered through the CBE process?

Since I am a specials teacher, my focus is to teach students how to create enrichment projects based on the content they are studying in their homeroom class. I focus primarily on our social studies standards like the Civil War. In the past, we would watch the BrainPOP movie about the Civil War and review the quiz questions. Then my students would use the Related Reading feature to gather more information independently, and they could choose to create an app smash using Chatter Pix or iMovie to tell the events or causes of the Civil War. They also had the option to complete one of the items under the activity button like a graphic organizer.

3) How will you integrate BrainPOP’s new features and tools to replace what you’ve done in the past?

After my Aha! Moment I realized how easy it would be for students to choose what they would create to explain the Civil War to me. We started with individually watching the BrainPOP movie on the Civil War or Causes of the Civil War. Now, the students can use several new areas of BrainPOP to further their learning through play like Challenge, Time Zone X, Meaning of Beep (vocabulary), Newsela, or Related Reading.

Finally, I will ask them to choose a creation or presentation to show what they know about the Civil War.  These are a few of my recent ideas but students can also make up their own:

  • Make-a-Map: Create a concept map explaining the causes of the Civil War, or the historical figures in the war.
  • Make-a-Movie: Create a movie explaining the major battles of the Civil War.
  • Primary Source: Check out the photo from Atlanta in 1864. Write a newspaper article explaining the sights and sounds of the war and what has taken place in this photograph.
  • App Smash: Create a timeline of the major events of the Civil War, then complete the project with the app of your choice.