How I Use It
I use BrainPop videos before teaching content (as an engagement tool/hook), during teaching (mini-lesson, hands-on activity, lab), and after I teach content (practice, reinforcement). I also use BrainPop videos as homework assignments before, during, or after students learn content. I find that with thoughtful planning and integration, BrainPop videos support learning content at any stage in the learning process. BrainPop videos that teach skills, I find, are less effective. For example, students did not remember much about the water displacement method (for measuring the volume of irregularly shaped objects) until they conducted the test themselves. This is not surprising, of course. Furthermore, I find that with my ELLs and students with special needs, students learn more from BrainPop videos when they are able to watch at their own pace with a 1-to-1 student-computer ratio. Pausing, rewinding, and taking notes definitely help students to be more active learners.
The videos are all generally the perfect length (my students have short attention spans) and the appropriate content level. The language and humor is appropriate for students of all levels (including my ELLs), and the characters (Tim and Moby) are likable. I also like the closed captioning option. I think BrainPop videos are excellent for introducing, supplementing, or reinforcing content when used in collaboration with other teaching practices, such as hands-on, experiential learning. BrainPop should certainly not be used in isolation. The quizzes do not demand critical thinking, but are a great way to help students build confidence and interest in the content.