Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In this research skills lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-8, students use BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. resources to conduct independent and/or collaborative research on a selected topic. The focus of this lesson is to support students in identifying their interests and following their passions in an educated manner. Students will share their research findings with the class using web 2.0 tools or other presentation methods.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Conduct independent and/or collaborative research on a selected topic.
  2. Share research findings with the class using web 2.0 tools or other presentation methods.


  • Access to BrainPOP's website or mobile app
  • BrainPOP Expert Certificate page from BrainPOP Educators
  • Computers for students to use or mobile devices


The focus of this lesson is to support students in identifying their interests and following their passions. Help your students connect to their world and learn about things that are important to them! To prepare for the lesson, you'll need to print out the BrainPOP Expert Certificate and make a photocopy for each student.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Share a few of your own areas of interest with the class: a historical period you're fascinated with, a favorite genre, a science topic you love to read about, etc. You may want to share props or photos, as well. Explain that these are different from your hobbies, but sometimes hobbies and work opportunities develop from your interests.
  2. Tell the class you'd like to learn more about the things that are fascinating to them! Ask students to think about topics they've learned about in school or in books and online, then turn and talk to a partner about some science, social studies, math, health, or literacy topics that interest them.
  3. Pass out the blank BrainPOP Expert Certificates to the class and explain that students will be researching a topic they care about, and that's they'll become a certified BrainPOP expert through their work!
  4. Give students time to explore the notebooks in BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. and select one that interests them. You may choose to allow students to work in pairs or groups. Have them write their selected topic and name on the certificate. On the back, they should write the names of 3-6 movie topic pages (depending on your students' ability levels) that they intend to explore in order to become experts in their chosen area. Alternatively, students can use their mobile devices to submit their movie topics to you via Google doc or form, Edmodo, etc.
  5. Have students pass their certificates in for your approval. Help students narrow or expand their topics as needed and ensure that they have selected appropriate movies to help further their understanding.
  6. The following day, conduct a class brainstorm session to determine the criteria students will need to meet in order to earn their certificates and the BrainPOP Expert status. List students' ideas on the board. For example, they may wish to watch each movie, take the corresponding quiz, and complete one feature activity.
  7. If needed, provide note-taking sheets, graphic organizers, or other support for students to use in recording what they learn. Outlines, webs, KWL charts, 5 W charts, item/description charts, and more are available on the Graphic Organizers page.
  8. Explain that students will be able to choose a presentation method to share their research with the class. Allow them to brainstorm some possible ways they can communicate what they learned: Voicethread, a blog post, video, podcast, PowerPoint, Prezi, poster, skit, etc. Alternatively, students may want to set up a visual display of what they learned and set up stations around the classroom. Students can walk around to each display and talk with the class "expert" on each topic.
  9. Give students time in class or at home to conduct their research. Check in with them frequently to provide support and guide students in their thinking.
  10. Assign each student a time to present or share their newfound expertise. At the conclusion of each presentation, award each student their BrainPOP Expert Certificate! Encourage students to share their area of expertise with their families.

Extension Activities:

Ask students to consider what career paths might enable them to continue following their passions and learn more about topics that interest them. Encourage students to research various jobs and connect (via Skype, email, etc.) with people who are working in their chosen field. What other things will they need to learn to be successful in the career they've selected? What else can they do to develop their skills?