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Featured Website of the Month (May) - BrainPOP

Someone once said that “curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Have you ever been amazed at the sheer amount of questions that children can generate? They seem to be a fountain of questions in the cavern of curiosity. I don’t know about you, but “why?” seems to be the most common word in a child’s vocabulary. Why do I have to go to bed? Why do I have to eat my vegetables? Why is the sky blue? Why? Why? Why?

Since children are naturally curious, why not use the "why?" questions to help them learn? While teaching, I enjoy trying to grab students' attention with a “hook” at the beginning of a lesson. I like having the students generate the why questions before the lesson has really taken off. If the hook is used correctly, students will have questions about the coming lesson. This helps to engage them for the rest of the lesson and activity.

This month’s website feature helps to open the door for engaging students and getting them to ask questions. And, if used correctly, the website should also peak children’s interest so they can engage with the material and learn. The website’s tagline is, “A Universe of Learning: Whatever you teach, whatever your students want to explore, BrainPop is a launchpad for curiosity.”

BrainPop is a website designed as a resource to be used at school and home. It’s not meant to become a replacement for the curriculum. It is, however, meant to enhance and support the curriculum. BrainPop states that “all content is aligned to and searchable by state standards including Common Core”. There are movies, quizzes, games, activities, and more. These resources are separated into various sections: Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Technology, Arts & Music, and Health.  

The website is easy to navigate. Click of the subject you would like to learn about and type in a search. For example, I wanted to find a lesson on goal setting, so I went to the Health section. There was a video called “Setting Goals”. The video is a short animated clip following the characters Tim and Moby as they walk through how to successfully achieve goals. Along with the video, there are several button options of things to do. For example, by clicking on the “Quiz” button, you are brought to a page with multiple choice questions. These questions serve as a way to see how much of the information students retained. By clicking on the “Activities” button, you are brought to a page containing a worksheet. The activity attached to the ‘Setting Goals’ video is a worksheet where students have to  write a realistic goal and answer some critical thinking questions about achieving that goal.

I know several teachers who use BrainPop primarily for the science videos. However, this website has much more to offer than simple videos to use during science lessons. It’s a ‘launchpad’ for teachers to get students engaged in many areas of study, not just science. Can you think of a fun way to use this website at home or in your classroom?

While there is a subscription for this website, there is a way to get a demo before committing to making payments. Click on the “Request a Demo” website and fill out some basic information. They will email you with some steps for setting up the demo. This way you can explore the website yourself to see if it meets your expectations and needs. I hope you enjoy this website as a great learning tool in your classroom.

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