What’s New at BrainPOP?

You may know BrainPOP as the fun robot movie site. And it is an amazing way to introduce a student to or further their understanding of a variety of topics. I also, as a teacher of students with autism,

have a soft spot for Moby who never says a word but communicates so much.

Gladly my district determined it was an essential tool, so we’ve had a subscription for all schools to BrainPOP, BrainPOP Jr., and BrainPOP ESL for years. I been trying to spread the word that it so much more than movies and quizzes, but many teachers are unaware and never get beyond that. That’s not to say those movies aren’t amazing resources. They are. With their ability to simplify complex topics and useful moments to pause for questioning, you could get a lot of mileage out of just that. But why not use all the tools available. Were you aware that if you’re using your school login for BrainPOP (instead of an individual teacher login) then you’re missing out on a number of available features? We’ll discuss that and what else is new in the world of BrainPOP.

MyBrainPOP Teacher Access

Schools that have a subscription to BrainPOP also get a special code for teachers to set up a MyBrainPOP individual account. If you don’t know that info, reach to your tech person or contact BrainPOP to get it. Once you have that code and are ready to get started you can set up classes, connect student accounts, create assignments, make assessments, save your creations, make unique quizzes, enable ESL placement tests, and track student progress (i.e. grades).

Certified-BrainPOP-Educator-Program-Final-715x294Also BrainPOP Educators provides common-core aligned lesson plans, trainings, webinars, and other tools. If you’re new to the site, go to the getting started section. You can continue in the training section which will even give you more information and even help you on the path to become a Certified BrainPOP Educator.

NEW FEATURES

You may have noticed BrainPOP Jr. just got a complete makeover to mirror the one that BrainPOP got about a year ago. Both sites now use full HTML5 content (e.g. no Flash necessary) which means both that many new features are available and the full site can run on your tablets.

MAKE-A-MAPTim's map

If you were unaware, BrainPOP has a built-in concept mapping feature to be used by students or teachers. You can add text, photos, and video clips directly from any movie on the site as well. A MyBrainPOP account is required to give students access to their own maps that they can submit and to save ones you create. Check out the tutorial.

MAKE-A-MOVIE

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One of the newer creation tools allows you to easily make BrainPOP-style movies with templates, resources, and even introductory letters. I got to attend the first annual BrainPOP Make-a-Movie Awards ceremony at the ISTE Conference. It was amazing the kind of humor, insight, and learning that can be packed into the 2-3 minute videos created by teachers. There are sure to be updates coming to make it even easier and more adaptable, but it is already a useful tool. You can view the introductory webinar to see what else it can do.

QUIZ MIXERQuiz Mixer

The quizzes provided in BrainPOP are good, but, with a MyBrainPOP account, you can pull questions from other quizzes or create your own polls/questions that are adapted specifically to your students’ needs. You can then assign it to classes/students. It will track student responses with viewable/exportable data. Find out more about how to use the quizzes to differentiate.

CHALLENGE

I’ve only recently begun using the new challenge feature, but I can already tell it is a wonderful new way to test student knowledge. Instead of just a multiple-choice quiz students will engage in labeling, concept mapping, matching, sequencing, and more. Their screencast gives an overview of each type.

CREATIVE CODING

Moby code

You may have used BrainPop movies to introduce computer programming, but now you don’t have to leave the site to continue student computer science instruction. By partnering with VidCode, BrainPOP made it possible for students to create visual coded projects based on many of the BrainPOP topics. For now, the coding projects students can try include a Meme generator, Doodle Augmented RealityStop Motion Animation, and a Newscast. The creations are made using JavaScript that the students are walked through with tutorials. There tutorials for teachers too.

NEWSELA

BrainPOP has also teamed up with Newsela, a company that publishes leveled news and non-fiction, to connect BrainPop topics to related Newela articles.

Annie and Jr.NEW TO BRAINPOP JR.

Everything on the site can now be read to you. Simply hover or tap depending on the device you’re using. Also to help emergent readers, transcripts and closed captions are available for every movie.

Along with now adding BrainPOP’s Make-A-Map, Quiz Mixer, and games, BrainPOP Jr. has revamped their other tools like Write About It, Draw About It, and Talk About It. There is even a transcript now for the Belly Up comic.

They’ve also added a new Word Play feature (similar to the Word Wall) which invites students to play with topic-related vocabulary. First they choose the word they want to play

with, then they draw, write, or create a skit using the word.

Click to hear all words, definitions, and instructions read aloud to support developing reading skills. And all saved work feeds into My BrainPOP, so teachers can review and provide feedback. You can see more details in BrainPOP Jr’s What’s New Webinar which gives you classroom strategies on how to use the new features.

A degree of freedom must exist for play to thrive. Humans are evolutionarily hard-wired to play. – Matt Farber

moby_my_brainpopPLAYFUL ASSESMENT

There is a big difference between game-based learning (which I love), and giving students “free-time” to play on the computer/iPad (which I’ve seen regrettably too often).  There is a whole section on the how and why of teaching with games on BrainPOP educators. Look into how, unlike traditional assessments, playful assessment improves interest, content knowledge, and grit. Lessons, videos, and tutorials are included. In GameUp BrainPOP has created games or links to games that have demonstrably worthwhile educational content. You can search by subject matter or level for the games that are right for your students. Movies will also link to related games. Below I highlight some of BrainPOP’s own games.

SORTIFYsortify

Sortify is a game in which students categorize and sort information from BrainPOP movies into bins representing key concepts. Students earn more points when sorting tiles into bins labeled with more complex concepts. Students may also earn bonus points for accurately sorting all tiles into only four bins. Accruing the highest possible score indicates that a student has understood the topic enough to strategically group and categorize key concepts and ideas. Check out the trailer or see how to play.

MEANING OF BEEP

The Meaning of Beep is a game of context clues and synonyms. You attempt to guess the correct word given related information. See more on how to play.

TIME ZONE X

Time Zone X is a game where you try to restore order to the timeline across a number of themes. Get enough right and you can unlock other themes. Get them all in a category and receive a historical artifact. See how to play or even create your own time cards.

HISTORY

In case you were interested, BrainPOP began in 1999 as a project of founder and former oral surgeon Avraham Kadar who wanted his young patients to understand their procedures in a simple/visual way. Then it was soon discovered that the funny, quirky videos could break down many other complex topics into content that would be more easily understandable. It’s come a long way since when it was distributed on cds. Hopefully these new features will continue to improve how you present contentBrainPOP Tools Overview

 

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