The BBC reported on Monday research that shows kids “would rather struggle alone” with Maths than ask for help and that they are worried they might “look foolish”.
“A survey of 1,000 10- to 16-year-olds found two-thirds would rather struggle alone or ask friends or family for help…The reasons pupils gave for not asking for help more often were that they were worried about looking foolish, were embarrassed or did not want to draw attention to themselves.”
Hands up who hasn’t felt like this at some point – fear of reaching out in case we stumble and fall. Adult approval and peer judgement at this age can be very powerful (de?)motivators.
BrainPOP has core qualities that can help kids independently sidestep this issue, to help them build confidence away from the glare of an audience.
1) Peer vs Authority - BrainPOP uses the power of narrative and engaging characters “posed as peers” rather than “instructing as authorities” to help students grasp complex topics. Tim and Moby create a personal aspect to learning through a conversational tone, the more informal “you” or “I” language, and a familiar voice.
Kids can turn to BrainPOP to engage with Maths concepts in a comforting child-friendly environment without the need for adult guidance. Tim & Moby are non-threatening and empathetic characters who exist to support learning. Tim & Moby never judge, only help.
“Peter Lacey, of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said schools should focus on developing pupils’ confidence in mathematics slowly, rather than racing through concepts with undue haste and leaving some students behind.”
2) Reinforcement – Kids can watch BrainPOP movies again and again or re-take the POPquizzes until they truly understand the concept. We address the knowledge and understanding behind the practical application of problem solving.
For example, our Exponents topic doesn’t provide endless examples showing workings involving exponents; it tells them what an exponent is so they gain the understanding required to work out maths problems in class. In the movie, we follow Tim and Moby as they travel in a microscopic submarine around a human body.
By using the example of calculating white and red blood cells, these characters show us what a base number is and where an exponent is written in relation to it.
They teach us a couple of different ways to talk about exponents, as well as why exponential numbers can get so big so fast. We also find out how to write exponents, and how to expand them into their fuller form.
A comprehensive explanation, with natural pause points and key vocabulary highlighted throughout, all in under 5 minutes.
The pedagogical benefits of BrainPOP don’t stop at Maths either.
3) Learning Outcomes – every movie starts with a letter from a child. The famous BrainPOP letter sets the expectations of the student at their level. Each POPquiz allows students to get instant feedback and retake the quiz multiple times should they wish.
4) Control – they can pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay movies at their speed and understanding. Having control over their own learning significantly increases understanding of the concepts.
5) BrainPOP supports various learning styles – Whether kids are visual, logical, social or solitary learners, BrainPOP is a flexible resource that can accommodate them.
While we think it important to highlight the benefits of BrainPOP for those students afraid to ask for help we would never encourage kids not to ask for help. That’s why we produced a Getting Help topic with the overarching message to ask for help whenever you need it. Please take the time to watch it and show it in class.