Get to know a CBE

Voice and Choice with CBE of the Month Sarah Dahlheimer

Posted by cemignano on

Please welcome October’s Certified BrainPOP Educator, Sarah Dahlheimer, to the blog! Sarah joins us from the Natick Public School District in Massachusetts. We can’t help but feel inspired by this passionate educator, and know you’ll feel the same way, too!

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area?
This year I am teaching fourth grade for the first time in a decade.  Since graduating from Wheelock College in Boston, MA 15 years ago, I have taught 5th, 4th and 3rd. The past 12 years I have been a part of the Natick Public Schools in Massachusetts. As an elementary teacher I teach it all!

How long have you been teaching?
This year I celebrated my 15th first day of school as a teacher.

What inspired you to go into education?
This type of question always makes me giggle as most people are surprised with my response. As a high schooler, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always respond a marine biologist. Mind you I was always babysitting, taught ballet at my dance studio, and volunteered in an elementary classroom for my required high school community service hours, but still I wanted to be a marine biologist. My grandfather, who spent his career as a middle school principal in Beverly, MA sat me down one afternoon in my sophomore year of high school and asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” Of course I responded, “I want to be a marine biologist!” Then he asked me, “what will do you as a marine biologist?” I can still remember looking at him and not knowing how to respond. What would I do as a marine biologist? My blank expression must have said it all. He continued, “have you ever thought about being a teacher? You have a way of connecting with children and I think you’d be amazing.” I let it sink in, then experienced one of those sparks flying, all the puzzle pieces fitting together kind of moments you see in the movies. It was at that moment I realized I really was meant to be a teacher. I just needed someone so dear to me to point it out.

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE?
I was part of the CBE class that took place at ISTE in Philadelphia in 2015. Superstar CBE Nili Bartley was highlighting the amazing work her students were doing in her classroom with BrainPOP on Twitter which piqued my interest. Knowing that I was attending ISTE in Philadelphia she told me I had to make sure to attend a CBE class, which I did! Thank you Nili! The class, and the coursework that followed, allowed me dive deep into the creation potential within BrainPOP. Like many, I had always thought BrainPOP was just about the movie and the quiz. I returned from ISTE ready to spread the BrainPOP magic with anyone and everyone!

Through being a CBE I have had the opportunity to develop relationship with other passionate educators from all over the globe. The online community is a wonderful place to post a quick question and receive an even quicker response. Being able to collaborate with the amazing people at BrainPOP and the BrainPOP Education team is incredible. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to grow my professional practice with this company. They are an incredibly talented group of individuals!

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources?
Last year we did a new project based learning unit on Pollinators. In this unit students were working in teams to learn about traits of pollinators, lifecycle of pollinators, pollinators’ habitats, life cycle of flowering plants (necessary plants in pollinators’ habitats) and the reasons for pollinator decline. Students conducted their own research on their focus topic and then worked collaboratively to organize all their research from BrainPOP and beyond using the Make-A-Map tool. They were able to grow their maps as they researched and discovered new information. Ultimately, they took their maps and used them to create their own BrainPOP videos with Make-a-Movie to demonstrate what they had learned about pollination and pollinators. BrainPOP provided the students with a place to organize their research which was interactive (Make-a-Map) and then a creative tool to show their knowledge in a highly engaging way (Make-a-Movie)!

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?
In the unit I mentioned above, I had one student in particular who was very nervous about speaking in front of the class. The thought of having to share his thinking in front of a large group was debilitating.  With the ability to record his voice in the Make-A-Movie tool he was able to have his voice heard. He was unbelievably proud of his creation and couldn’t wait to share it with his classmates, parents and everyone who entered our room! This project gave him the boost he needed to feel confident with having his voice heard.

How has becoming a CBE impacted you?
Through the process of the becoming a CBE I learned the ins and outs of BrainPOP sparking my excitement for this incredible product. I am constantly asking myself how can I use BrainPOP to enhance learning experiences for my students. It’s also a great deal of fun to ask students, how can you use BrainPOP to learn or show me what you know. The students are always able to come up with the most creative applications! In the online community I am able to learn about what is coming soon and also have the ability to participate in Beta tests. It’s also been wonderful to connect with others in the BrainPOP community through Twitter chats and on the Facebook community.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
First and foremost I care that my students know they are part of a safe community to take risks, fail, and grow. Growth mindset and the Power of Yet are embedded within everything we do in our classroom. I’ve always been passionate about integrating technology into my classroom in purposeful ways that provide students opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge. BrainPOP is one of my favorite go to tools for students to be able to show what they know with their creative tools. Over the past several years I have also been integrating computational thinking and coding into our already robust curriculum. My students are learning how to program robots, write code, and approach problems from a variety of angles while also becoming avid readers, writers and mathematicians.

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
The ability for students to collaborate with each other on project such as Make-a-Map, Make-a-Movie, and Coding. Also BrainPOP Jr. versions of health topics. For example, Cancer – through the lens of childhood cancer.