Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

App-tober 2: Getting the Most out of BrainPOP on Touches

October9

Since we only have 35 minutes at this week’s App-tober session, this post will serve as preview, notes and reference for what will be demonstrated.

A while ago, I wrote a post about BrainPOP and then more recently one about The Mixer. I’m going to continue to highlight this very popular and effective service (that we do purchase), but in a new arena: the BrainPOP app that is made for iPod Touch and iPad. The app is free, and with it, a student may access the free movie of the day. This alone could perform as a great extender for students who may need a little extra and the topic does not matter. However, if you have a BrainPOP subscription, there is a log-in option on the app. This feature gives the user the ability to search all of the movies and quizzes that can be found via a desktop or laptop with a subscription, making it a great way to connect with your current curriculum on the Touch or iPad.

For the most part, BrainPOP tends to be accessed as a whole class activity with a classroom projector at our school. Sometimes, students gain entrance to the movies individually in the computer lab to deepen their understanding of a topic or review concepts before a test. I am big on accountability. Often in various activities, I witness students fast forwarding and even skipping through what they are supposed to be reviewing through a movie or game, not really focusing or giving it the proper attention deserved. Sometimes there is a sense that what they are doing “doesn’t count”. Of course, we can dialogue the purpose, but a concrete task associated with such activities seems to go along way to having students pay closer attention and get the most out of the exercise. For that reason, students may be asked to complete a reflection based on what movies s/he has watched. This reflection usually is in the form of a 3 2 1 summarizer, and it’s most likely on paper (although a Google form could be utilized as described in this post).

I would like to take this opportunity to suggest a few ideas of how to use the BrainPOP app on iPod Touches with some evidence of learning.

  • Write a reflection using the built-in Notes app.

On an iPod Touch, you can not toggle between the BrainPOP movie that you are watching and Notes without the movie starting over. However, a student could watch the movie, go to Notes and begin to write a reflection (that will save). Theoretically, the student could go back to BrainPOP and fast forward through the movie to remember, and then continue the reflection in Notes. The beauty is this: the Notes reflection/writing can be emailed directly to the teacher by the tap of a button right in the app. Having a dedicated email associated and set up on the Touch, lets the student send this work right to the teacher. The teacher’s name has been pre-set in Contacts on the device making it simple to send his/her thoughts to the teacher in an electronic format. Imagine the paper saved! To manage this new system, a teacher could set up email folders to archive student work. Having the student type in an agreed upon username in the subject line along with a keyword makes it easy to identify in the teacher’s inbox. These type of reflections let students communicate their understandings as well as be held accountable and document for their learning.

  •  Take a screenshot.

There are several ways that screenshots can be utilized with BrainPOP (or any activity) on a Touch to show what students are learning.

  1. The BrainPOP quiz score can be screenshotted and emailed to the teacher. By pressing and releasing the power and home buttons simultaneously on the device, a student can take a picture of his/her quiz score. Then by going into Photos on the device, the student can choose to send the quiz picture in an email to the teacher (as previously described). The student could include a sentence or two as reflection in the body of the email as well.
  2. Perhaps the assignment is to report important an vocabulary word in the movie. A student could watch the movie once, and then on the second screening, the student could screenshot a vocabulary word as it is displayed or explained in the BrainPOP movie. The screenshot could be emailed out of Photos to the teacher with a short explanation of why the word is important to the topic.
  3. Another assignment after watching a BrainPOP movie could be to submit a “flash card” to the teacher. The student would email to the teacher a screenshot of the movie and explain what is going on in the scene. The teacher then could make all of the screenshots  into a slideshow that could be shown to the class as a part of a review of the topic before a formal assessment.
  4. Along the same lines, the student could be given parameters such as taking 5-7 important screenshots on a topic in a single movie or over several movies. (For example, there are six movies on the topic of simple machines at BrainPOP.) These screenshots would go into Photos and made into an album right on the device. This album then would be played as a slideshow and used a review of the topic. Furthermore, this review could be watched and the Notes app could be used to jot down notes. Yet another extension would be to use another app (Animoto, iMovie, etc.) on the Touch to make a slideshow that could be shared with classmates outside of the device. And that will be saved for another workshop…

All of these examples illustrate a student not only watching a BrainPOP movie and taking an interactive quiz on a mobile device, but then reflecting and demonstrating the meaning of its contents in a very streamlined and individual manner that can be efficiently received and reviewed due to the built-in capabilities of the device. Certainly something to consider the next time you want students to watch BrainPOP.

(It must be noted: In no way is the screenshotting of copyrighted material being endorsed for any means of profit, distribution or duplication to forgo a subscription. Screenshots should be discarded immediately after use.)

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