We were invited by Probationer Teacher Scotland, (part of GTC Scotland), a national support service provided to newly qualified Scottish teachers, to feature in their very popular “BlogSpot” section. This is a space where teachers in their probation year are asked to review products they love to use in class.
We turned to Jenny Harvey (@relativism), a class teacher from Kirkcaldy, Fife who presented a fantastic overview of BrainPOP. You can read the whole review below. Many, many thanks to Jenny for taking the time to provide this article. We hope you all enjoy it
BrainPOP UK – What is it?
BrainPOP UK (http://www.brainpop.co.uk/) is a library of animated movies featuring the characters of Tim and Moby who explain a range of different topics in a clear and accessible way.
Movies are available across all curricular areas and the content is added to and updated all the time.
BrainPOP is something I discovered during my training and I have been using it for three years with a range of stages across the primary school. The children respond well to the characters and are always very impressed to hear that I have met Moby in real life.
Although it is a subscription resource, there are featured movies and free content available to everyone plus there is a mobile app which has a free featured movie every day. It is also possible to sign up for a free trial, which is how I first used the site.
Why do I use it?
In a nutshell: it is easy to access and use, the information is presented clearly and it is linked to Curriculum for Excellence.
The format of the BrainPOP UK site is extremely easy to navigate and clearly set out in curricular areas. The home page is bright and visual rather than having screeds of text and the search function does exactly what it should.
Curricular mapping tools, which are linked to Curriculum for Excellence, make planning an easier task and the interactive multiple choice quiz feature can be a useful formative assessment tool.
How do I use it in class?
I have used BrainPOP UK during teaching time, as an activity for a group and also as a research tool for directed research tasks. When used during teaching time I vary the order of the movie and quiz; sometimes I use both but at other times I use one or the other.
As I mentioned, the curricular mapping tool, which is called Deep Beep, makes planning easier as you choose the subject area and the Curriculum for Excellence level to match to your Experiences and Outcomes and then the topic of the movie based on the matching results. Movies can be paused, rewound or fast forwarded as required. This allows time for questions, reflections and checking understanding at any stage of the movie. I like to keep a notebook book file open to record any notes or observations during the movie.
The quiz can be very useful at the beginning of a topic and at the end to assess knowledge gaps and progress and inform future planning. I have also used the quizzes as an example for question creation lessons during which groups of pupils create their own quiz on a particular topic and these are then peer assessed. The quizzes can also be used with response units if you have these in school.
Quizzes and movies are not the only resources available on BrainPOP UK. There are associated activities, related topics and an FYI section providing additional stories and facts related to the chosen movie topic. The FYI sections are a particular favourite of mine as they often help to answer further questions and can help to generate other questions for investigation by pupils.
And there’s more…
Free CPD! BrainPOP UK provide free webinars which you can access online and from the comfort of your own home. If you need evidence of these CPD sessions they can also provide certificates of completion.
The BrainPOP UK staff, or BrainPOPpers, have always been outstanding in terms of customer service. They answer any questions promptly and they have even created a movie for me in the past.
I hope that this brief introduction has helped give you an overview of how BrainPOP UK can be used in your classroom. Remember it is free to try, the only software needed is a browser with Flash Player and if you need any support the BrainPOP UK team are just an email away.