Get to know a CBE

Coding Professional Development with CBE of the Month Becca Gratz

Posted by cemignano on

We’d like to introduce you to November’s Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month, Becca Gratz! Becca became a CBE at FETC in 2019 and is an Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science for grades K-2 (in some cases 3-5)  for 8 schools in Loudoun County, VA. 

What inspired you to go into education?
I have a Bachelors in Mass Comm, Wedding and Event Planning and, as a single mom I wanted a career that left my family at the center. In a family of educators, it wasn’t hard to choose. I got my masters in Elementary Education in an intensive one year program (47 hrs!). In all honesty, I wanted to be a lobbyist for education – and found my passion is digital integration! 

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching?
As a kiddo who grew up battling a learning disability, I always found it hard to focus and stay on task in traditional learning environments. This is where my passion for finding solutions that work for every learner sprouted from. I love giving students the opportunity to learn through hands on, authentic tasks. In my position, I teach kiddos about robotics, coding, Computer Science, and Computational Thinking. I love all things coding (and plugged in)! If it makes a child stop and wonder… if a child can see an opportunity to learn, I am in my happy place! I never want a child to be afraid to take a risk because they may fail. I want them to delight in their failure, because that is where learning truly happens!! 

How does BrainPOP support your educational passions and inspirations?
BrainPOP is a tool made for every learner and educator. It has a plethora of topics and resources, and I have yet to find a topic not covered in the BrainPOP library. It is personalized for all learners and gives opportunities for choice and voice. Students no longer are limited by text through BrainPOP. They can play games, create videos, map concepts, code, and so much more! I am driven by the idea that learning should be safe and fun. With BrainPOP, students have fun learning with familiar characters, and feel safe to express themselves through a variety of platforms. 

Think about how BrainPOP supported professional development opportunities in your district.
In preparation for a PD, I began exploring the various coding activities. I have no formal education in coding, but have always found it easy to understand. I made several basic block based coding examples. I even ventured into text based coding (which hooked me the moment I began). When showcasing the basic coding I had learned to a small group of teachers, I saw lightbulbs begin to come on – in teachers! In the classroom I saw this every day, and never imagined I would see it in a group of teachers. Students were never afraid to be vulnerable, but teachers were. I had tried other coding platforms and had mixed reviews from teachers. The fear of this unknown thing was washed away by the ease of BrainPOP coding. Teachers began coding models for students and asking questions! One teacher told me that she was a “digital immigrant” before coming to the training but felt confident leaving that she could immediately begin using it! BrainPOP has this amazing ability to break things into digestible pieces and address even the most seasoned learner. I set out to show the basics and broke down barriers in the process. 

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list?
I would love to see even more content related to technology and the digital world, and my dream would be to see ready to use lesson plans for educators to integrate BrainPOP and Computer Science into their teaching. Teachers have enough to worry about, and I know many teachers would love to use resources but don’t have the time to sift through them all. It would be great for teachers to click a topic and see a complete plan for integrating the various pieces to scaffold and support learning.