Monday, November 23, 2009

Brainpop Animations

I love Brainpop. I have used these videos in classrooms from 1st grade through 7th grade. Even though Brainpop is animated, the information is complex but presented in a clear and entertaining way. Each video is 2 - 4 minutes long, and my students especially enjoy Tim's themed T-shirts! The quiz is a great way to get whole class feedback. With a school subscription, you could use it in a computer lab, but I find it perhaps more useful to use an LCD projector and a screen, so that we can pause, replay and discuss portions of the videos.

Even though it is subscription-based (see below), there are a number of free videos you can check out.
I use these videos in three main ways:
  • INTRODUCTION: I might show a video first (ex: Black Holes) to spark kids' interest and help them generate questions about an upcoming lesson. Also, I can use the quiz as a pre-assessment of the class' collective knowledge.
  • REVIEW: After an activity (ex: kids acted out the life cycle of stars of varying masses), I play the video and hearing the vocabulary in the video helps them solidify their previous learning experience. (ex: "Hey - That's me! I was the nebula!")
  • EXTENSION: If students finish an activity early, or need more challenging content, I will have then watch other videos extending the current curriculum (ex: Big Bang, or often in Technology class, I will have advanced students watch information about binary code or the internet)
However I use it, the kids love it. Check out Brainpop or Brainpop Jr. for more information.
You can sign up for a 1 week free trial with an email address, and one year subscriptions range from Family ($99) to Teacher ($175) to School ($975) to customizable District options.