How I Use It
I use this product in class almost biweekly. As long as a Brain Pop video corresponds with our topic, I'll use it. Next week, for example, I'll use it on consecutive days. I'll show the Causes of the American Revolution video on Thursday, and then the French and Indian War on Friday. Both videos, as stated above, are engaging, interactive, fun, but yet direct and to the point.
I also find that middle school students, regardless of their intellectual level - both high and low learners, that is - enjoy the videos and never seem to tire of them. So far I've found plenty of success in their connecting the greater ideas of our lesson to the fun intro of the video, for example the students really connected better to the Brain Pop on Native Americans than they did to my lesson! So, while my lesson may have failed, their connection to the video saved me.
Again, I use the Brain Pop videos both inside and outside of class for our 7th grade early American history course, and am surprised to see the students gravitating to the website on their own - just for fun and personal knowledge. That, to me, is true learning!
My overall opinion of Brain Pop is that it is a fantastic supplement to a teacher's lesson, both inside and outside of class. The videos are engaging, and the summative assessments at the conclusion of the video (quizzes and activities) are well constructed and simple for the students to use. I really like this, and I use them for all of the American history videos that Brain Pop offers.
The best part of Brain Pop - in my classroom, at least - is that I use it as an activating tool for the lesson. Since the videos are just 5 minutes long, I'm able to go around and check homework, talk to a student, take attendance, and a few other strategies that we always can never seem to have time doing.
I also really like that the students have a smile on their face when they're watching the videos, as Tim & Moby are both fun (and intuitive) characters.
One critique I have of Brain Pop is that I've brought a couple of historical accuracies to their attention. For example, in the video on slavery, they show one of the border states as part of the soon-to-be Confederacy. While it's yet to be corrected, the information team was great to talk to and share a dialogue with. I also wish there were more topics, and that there were trainings for students to use on their devices.