Jude, BrainPOP UK’s ELearning and Mobile Consultant, recently visited the RSA Academy in Tipton. Mr Naeem (@umerz1) and the gang have been using BrainPOP for nearly a year now so she was keen to see how the students and teachers use BrainPOP as part of the Opening Minds curriculum.
“RSA Opening Minds promotes innovative and integrated ways of thinking about education and the curriculum. Teachers design and develop a curriculum for their own schools based round the development of five key competences:
3. Managing information
4. Relating to people
5. Managing situations
A competence based approach enables students not just to acquire subject knowledge but to understand, use and apply it within the context of their wider learning and life. It also offers students a more holistic and coherent way of learning which allows them to make connections and apply knowledge across different subject areas.”
The “Opening Minds Curriculum” is used in over 200 schools across the country and the RSA Academy was one of the first schools to practice a dedicated Opening Minds curriculum. It has won many awards since, the latest being The Naace 3rd Millennium Learning Award.
21st Century learning and realsmart
Armed with my trusty iPad and clinking with badges I went to meet Mr Naeem and Mr Morton. Over a cup of tea they told me how they had been using BrainPOP with the realsmart Learning Environment. Realsmart works with Google Apps so it was great to see they’d already set up the BrainPOP Google App integration and were using the quiz results.
Some of the classrooms had ActivExpression devices so I was able to show them the Promethean Quiz integration. Staff and students were also using Vimeo to upload class videos to realsmart and the Maths Department has a twitter account to encourage Maths by tweet.
I popped into Miss Josh’s Year 7 Science lesson. Observing the class really helped me understand why Opening Minds methodology is different. For example, one teacher may take the same class for a lot of their school time and teach across a number of subjects. BrainPOP is a valuable scaffold for this because it lets you access topics from across the curriculum.
Also, communication is a key skill re-enforced in every lesson. Even though we were in a science lesson, the students were thinking about the different ways information was presented. So if we were learning about atoms we might learn by reading about them or a more visual method (such as an animation!). Everyone got a chance to speak and say which way of learning suited the task best.
I asked the students if they were aware they were being taught in a different kind of way?
“Yes,” said one, “because the lessons are far more fun and less boring.” Another added, “Yes, because we’re very special.” Well said.
Miss Josh shares her thoughts on BrainPOP:
“BrainPOP is definitely something which can be used at key stage 4 in science as it really does cover the content for the AQA GCSE Science specification. But the use of BrainPOP doesn’t stop there. At key stage 3 the Academy delivers the Opening Minds curriculum and BrainPOP on many occasions has been used within the lessons. An example where it has been carried out is when a group of students were developing their logical thinking skills within the lesson. Students were asked to watch a BrainPOP video and then use their logical thinking skills and the information gathered from the video to complete a worksheet.
Students have also used Tim and Moby to help them evaluate communication skills. They watched videos and looked at how the characters communicate the information to their audience. Feedback from the students:
Student A: “Tim and Moby spoke at a steady pace”
Student B: “The key words are always shown on the screen to help the students”
Student C : “The videos are really colourful making the people watch it because it is eye catching”
BrainPOP is definitely an education tool which can be used in a range of ways even outside the curriculum. It has also been used to help my tutor group when they ask questions about certain topics. After watching these videos it has helped the group to develop a range of class discussions.
BrainPOP is brilliant – it’s a great way for students to learn, the more you use them the more your students grow to love the characters. I now have year 7 students proudly wearing their Moby badges around the Academy!”
The flipped classroom
I found the visit really helped me understand why BrainPOP is good for student-centred and student-led learning, or the “flipped classroom” as Mr Naeem called it, where students have more control over their learning. Knowledge is important, and Tim and Moby are great for passing that on, but what students do with the knowledge is even more important. The fact that Tim and Moby do the first bit lets teachers concentrate more on the second.
Thank you RSA Tipton – I hope to visit again soon!