In the mind of a CBE

Practicing Research Skills with BrainPOP – A CBE Aha! Moment 5.19

Posted by cemignano on

As part of the BrainPOP certification process, we ask educators to consider a past teaching practice or project to let go and identify how BrainPOP’s features and tools can replace and improve upon it. We’re excited to share May CBE of the Month, Dinah Wade’s Aha! Moment in hopes that you’ll be inspired 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 was very excited to see the BrainPOP Make-a-Movie feature! We use Google Apps for Education, which is fabulous for organizing and sharing work, but many of our students are overwhelmed when released to search the internet for images, video clips, and research when creating a movie. They must learn to vet the sources, make sure the file is labeled for reuse, learn to use a video editing program, and more. Many 5th and 6th graders are capable of this, but many are not, especially those with learning disabilities. When I saw the features to Make-a-Movie, I immediately thought of those students who have difficulty finding correct information on the internet. BrainPOP includes valid information and all the tools to make a fun, good-looking video that is tied to the curriculum! Currently our school only has BrainPOP ELL for a select number of students, but I am currently showing the teachers the new features available! So far, our special education teachers have been very excited about the built-in features that support the curriculum. BrainPOP teaches curriculum, yet there are many higher order thinking skills applied! My Aha! Moment let me see the varying levels of the program and how it can help ALL students! In the future, I would like to use BrainPOP to differentiate my instruction as well as to offer activities according to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Some students are more interested in creating movies whereas others prefer playing games. BrainPOP allows students to choose how they learn!

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?
In the library, I teach 5th and 6th graders the basics of writing a research paper. I taught mini-lessons covering topics such as: how to cite a source, encyclopedias, internet research, finding the correct book, and finding good websites. This took many weeks before we even started writing. When I watched the BrainPOP video about “research,” I changed my thoughts on how to introduce different sources for research. Rather than the students completing a scavenger hunt in an encyclopedia or listening to me speak about different sources, they can watch the BrainPOP video then complete a concept map and video explaining the different resources available for research. The students will use the notes pages to guide them as they watch the video and explore the different resources. I believe the students will feel much more empowered by doing their own learning through BrainPOP. Since the activities are online, the students can also review and create at home.

3) How will you integrate BrainPOP’s new features and tools to replace what you’ve done in the past?
We are now a 1:1 school. Students are able to conduct their own research and create digital presentations at the same time rather than waiting for a device to become available. When students come to the library to gather research, I can direct them to the BrainPOP site to learn about their chosen topic. In the past, BrainPOP was used more in a whole group setting to watch the movie. Now, with individual student accounts, students can learn at their own pace. Teachers, including myself, must let go and allow students to learn on their own. BrainPOP allows for students to extend their learning, work at their own pace, as well as submit their work to their teacher. I would like to teach students how to use the BrainPOP tools so that they can conduct their own learning in the classroom. If I have students work on lessons such as concept mapping, Make-a-Movie, and GameUp, then the teachers can get to the core curriculum and use those tools!