Guest Blogger: Differentiating Down Under!

I always find it fascinating to hear what’s happening in education abroad. We are so fortunate to have connected with Jan MacNamara, the Primary Library and Information Services teacher, at a one-to-one laptop school all the way in Queensland, Australia. Jan will be presenting BrainPOP at the VITTA conference this week, and was kind enough to share some thoughts on using BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. with her students. Take a look and please let us know what you think below!

Differentiation is so important in the classroom.  My students are selecting their own areas of investigation from the truckload of choice that is BrainPOP. They might choose to work alone or with a friend. There is no problem working in BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. My ESL students work by switching between both areas.

The students begin with assessing their prior knowledge by simply taking the quiz. They watch the movie and use the closed captioning and pausing features to help with their discussion and notetaking. Then the choices are endless – they can do the Experiment, followup with the Activities or start their own lines of inquiry using the FYI breakout area.

It is amazing how the investigations spiral from the core content of BrainPOP so everyone is doing their own thing – how can the teacher keep a finger on the pulse of the new learning?

The print feature in BrainPOP integreates perfectly with applications such as OneNote and Journal Writer.  The response elements from BrainPOP (ex., the graphic organizers, the notes, the quiz responses, the activity sheets) can be “virtually”  printed to a OneNote book and before you know it – each student has created a personalised set of resources on a topic that inspires them to wonder, think and learn. They build on their understanding by sourcing additional content and information, draw their own diagrams, record the results of their experiments, interview fellow classmates, take photographs to support their  inquiries  and even create their own podcasts . Their OneNote book is their personal record of their exploration and learning journey. As their learning mentor, I get to see how their thinking started and how their learning has progressed.

And then comes the best part – the sharing. The students are the “experts” and can bring their passion and enthusiasm to the class group by leading discussions using the BrainPOP tools and resources that are not only rich in educational content but engaging and fun!