One of my favorite educational websites to use in class is called Brain Pop. For those of you who don’t know what Brain pop is I’ll give you a quick synopsis - Brain Pop is a website that has animated videoclips starring Tim (a model student) and his robot Moby (comic relief). Tim and Moby answer letters about different topics covering all subjects covered in most public schools. After each Brain Pop video clip there are several extra activities that allow teachers to check for understanding. The one that I use the most is quiz section.
When I discovered that Brain Pop had developed an app that would allow students to access their movies on the i-Pad I was very excited. Unfortunately my excitement was short lived when I discovered that Brain Pop was only offering their featured movie of the week. When I use this website I use very specific videos that align with what I am teaching in class. I also found that the actual Brain Pop site does not work on the i-Pad because it uses flash to play its movies.
Since Brain Pop has been a part of my class for a long time now giving it up was not an option. What I needed to do was figure out a way incorporate the i-Pads into some aspect of the Brain Pop activity. In order to do this I thought though the process that was gone through when I used Brain Pop in class.
- I introduce and concept or topic (eg: communism)
- We watch the Brain Pop Video as a whole group (unless we are in the computer lab)
- We take the review quiz as a group using white boards and dry erase markers to answer the multiple choice questions (unless we are in the computer lab).
After thinking about the process and understanding that students would not be able to view the Brain Pop movies on the i-Pads like I had hoped my focus shifted from viewing the movies to the quiz section of Brain Pop.
Since my class would normally use an old technology consisting of white boards and dry erase markers. I decided that I would move that technology out and bring in the i-Pads to take its place. Looking for the appropriate app was very easy. There are several white board style apps that are free in the app store. The one that I decided on is called Neon Pad. Students write with their finger on a black background. The colors are very bright (neon) and they go across the entire color spectrum. When I read a question from the Brain Pop quiz students use neon to write down their multiple choice response. Next I count down from 5 to 1 as the cue for students to hold up their answers.
This is not what I had originally envisioned when I first decided to use the i-Pads with Brain Pop activities in class. A great deal of thought went into what looks like a simple activity. As of now this is one of my students favorite activities to do in class with the i-Pads (see the post “what the kids think”). It is still my hope that Brain Pop will create an app that allows students to use their entire site using the i-Pads, but until then I have an alternative way of using this website.