BrainPOP can blow your mind!

Post by Abby Rodriguez, Assistive Technologist (arodriguez@d181.org)

Screenshot 2016-03-09 09.11.06

Have you seen that jet commercial, you know, the one where people’s heads literally explode with purple smoke at seeing the phenomenal prices of products? Have you had a moment like that? Where your mouth hangs open and your brain stutters for a moment, attempting the process the awesome implications that this thing  may have for your or your students. I had this, recently, at the ICE conference.  

I attended several great sessions, but one that stands out is the session I attended on BrainPOP.  To this point, I had been using BrainPOP with students solely as a media resource. During speech sessions, I would often watch portions of videos with students and discuss curricular vocabulary or concepts. I found it to be a wonderful tool for this purpose. Attending this session opened my eyes to the many additional features available in BrainPOP. Please, take the time to explore it on your own and see what features you might be able to use for your student. Get ready for your own purple brain smoke.

I knew that each D181 building had a building account with access, but what I did not know is that I could create my own teacher account. To do this, you’ll need an eight digit letter/number code from your MRC director (each school has a different one). Then, you can create your own account linked to your district email account. Here’s a handout:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kkajoaN3wHVbww2aoQpP5VMkAF4V_mXaUoApFFsdEXI/edit?usp=sharing

From this point on, use your specific, teacher account to access BrainPOP (not the general school login).  

BrainPOP Movie the of Week and BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week are both available to be installed on student iPads. They are “approved” apps at arc.d181.org.

Regular BrainPOP (with Tim) can also be accessed on an iPad through Safari (there may be some activities that don’t work, but the most used functions will work on a tablet) or the BrainPOP Movie of the Week app. The BrainPOP Movie of the Week app allows students to log into the school BrainPOP account to access all content.  They have removed flash issues, so you should be able to access all the features through logging on in safari.  BrainPOP Jr. still requires a computer or the app to access all the features.    

After I was able to create my own account, I was then able to create a class.  See this handout:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jGz60bE8qx9dSHiYO1NuJhWknYI2atWMqy-wCOHlViE/edit?usp=sharing Once you’ve created a class and a code to go with that class, you can share the code with your students.  The code is active for 2 weeks, BrainPOP then locks the code so that it’s not floating around for random people to find/join.  You can alter this in the classroom management area.

Now my class was set up. I shared out the code for my class with students and they were able to create their own accounts.  See this handout: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tJWCCvc3k9gg2fKa8emT1qBrlUY_ZOGOqeKDlfzwcns/edit?usp=sharing

I strongly advise for you to have some kind of system for students to keep track of their account/login information.  If there are multiple teachers using BrainPOP, a student could use one account and just send assignments to the teacher by selecting the class. Currently, we are not set up to link the student accounts to their email accounts, so they will create unique user names and passwords.  Having a list of student accounts and passwords in your possession might be handy.

So, in sum, I have a teacher account, I created a class, and my students created their accounts.  So, big whoop, why?  This is where my mind was blown.  During the training, they showed me how to make a custom quiz for my students using the Quiz Mixer.  This was a quick and easy process during which I could pull questions from quizzes BrainPOP had already made, or make my own questions.  See this handout: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KlOV0xGZ0cItMw0ujrY2KJPa_–xXICAkeiZEEVp7zU/edit?usp=sharing

In the session, a teacher talked about how he used the quizzes as a beginning point for a lessons.  He could easily assess what background knowledge students had about a given topic.  Once students take the quiz and submit it to teachers, the results are tabulated in real time.  This gives the teacher immediate feedback on what the students might know.  Additionally, the teacher can individualize a quiz for the level of support a student might need.  Check this out: https://educators.BrainPOP.com/video/differentiating-quiz-mixer/ and you can see how he might add support for a student and change the quiz code for the student so that they can access the modified quiz.  So some students might be taking a quiz with the code “Ear” while others are taking one with the code “Ears.”  Sneaky differentiation, no?  

Another key feature that I found useful is map creation.  When you search a given topic within BrainPOP, it eventually brings you to a main landing page for that topic and you’ll see an option to “make a map.”  The tools within visual mapping are amazing.  It embeds the topic video in the map, so you can reference it while making the map.  It pulls topic vocabulary and makes a list for easy access, once you add a vocabulary word to the map it will automatically also add a clip with the target word directly from the video that references the word.  I could go on and on about maps, but check out this: https://educators.BrainPOP.com/video/science-concept-map-cell-structures/ to see how it works.  Also check out some great ideas for mapping on this list https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_4k7kGMg1QKMk85dkhMSmhPck0

Previously, I had used games as a collaborative tool to interact with students.  Now, I see how using SnapThought within gameplay can allow students to show their work/thinking to teacher.  See here https://educators.BrainPOP.com/video/snapthought-photo-reflection-tool/

The video is slightly older, and navigating the teacher view is different.  But the premise of using snapshots and making comments to them remains the same for students.  

Lastly, all the referenced links and material I was easily able to access in https://educators.BrainPOP.com/.  There is a wealth of information about lesson plans and ideas, training videos and webinars, and information from other educators.  This resource can help you take BrainPOP from a simple video tool to an integrated classroom tool.  Happy Popping!

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