How I Use It
I incorporated the Aerodynamics and Electricity videos on BrainPop while teaching aerodynamics and circuitry. They helped students wrap their heads around the complex concept of lift before they flew airplanes. While we building circuits, I allowed the students to individually navigate the Electricity video series to get an overview of the topic and then held a 'debriefing' session to clear up any misconceptions before we began building our circuits. While we were watching the videos as a class I often paused the video to ask clarifying questions or to check for understanding. While the students were working individually, I would wait until they had finished an animation or an activity and then ask them about what they had learned.
BrainPop and BrainPop, Jr are subscription-based websites that provide animations, activities and assessments in topics ranging from Digital Citizenship to Electricity. Each topic includes a variety of engaging and factually accurate cartoon animations that explain the basics of the topic. The animations are perfect for that moment when you find yourself trying to explain a concept and really just need a quick illustration. Tim and Moby use humor and a fun friendship that is engaging and very easy for children (and adults) of all ages to grasp. While the subscription fee is fairly substantial ($205 for a classroom and almost $1500 for a school) there are a lot of videos and activities available for free. The site also provides activities for students to complete after they have watched an animation and there are assessments that can be completed online or that can be printed out by the teacher. I have used this site both as a supplement to a lesson and with students as they explore a topic on their own, and while the videos are very informative, I have found that it is still necessary to 'debrief' with students after they watch the videos to smooth out any misconceptions. Overall, BrainPop is a teacher's best friend for explaining difficult concepts and it can be used individually by students to explore their own interests.