Special Guest Series: BrainPOP in Berlin! Week 3

Chris Carter’s saga with BrainPOP ESL in Germany continues with week 3…

Day Eleven

I tried the Sun is Shining (Teaching Tools; Extra Practice) game today after we finished level one, 2.1.  It went pretty well, though they tended to hang on my examples.  I let them stop after three sentences.  We’ll revisit the activity and build on it.  Student B said, “Mr. Carter, the sun is not shining.”  “You’re right.” I said.  “Very good!  The sun is not shining.  It is cold and grey today.”  Winter is coming to Berlin.

Day Twelve

Last Friday I sent the parents in my class the link to BrainPOP’s free lessons.  Many of the students are using BrainPOP at home now.  I like this.

Day Thirteen

I’ve run into a little problem with the You Can Do It quiz and, to a smaller extent, with some of the Warm Up activities.  At the end of level one 2.1 I let the students come up three at a time and each answer a question.  The students who are not sure of an answer often look over their shoulder for help; and the help comes pouring in.  Since we’re trying to learn English I request that the help come in English but some students still call out in German.

“There!  Over!  Yes!  No!  There, yes, yes!”  I don’t mind it in English, if they’re not too quick with the help.  I’m getting some more detailed directions such as “Over the red door!”  These often come from student K who is already strong in English but I let her call out.  I believe her vocabulary can expand the vocabulary of the whole class.

So here is the problem:  When we review the quizzes, some students call out “That was mine.” when they see their question.  Ok, that’s not really a problem,” I thought.  They’re proud of their work.  Good.  And when one student called out “That’s mine,” for a wrong answer, I thought,”Even better, they’re not afraid to make mistakes.  They are happy to learn from their mistakes.  They are good risk takers.”

But now students are not just calling attention to their own answers.  They’re calling out the names of the other students.  This is no problem if we get ten out of ten.  The problem is we usually get around seven out of ten the first time we do the quiz.  Some of them have ten out of ten as our class goal and they moan when we don’t reach that goal.

When we get to the wrong answer a couple students call out the name of whoever got it wrong.  Some moan that their advice on the correct answer was ignored.  I keep stopping and reminding them that mistakes are accepted in our class.  That we learn from our mistakes. That we are good risk takers.  But all I’ve done is drive the moaning underground.  I can still see a few of them shooting smirks and glances in the direction of errant students.

I’ve got to think about this one…  I know the quizzes are geared towards assessing individual progress but we really enjoy using them as a whole class too.

Day Fourteen

No BrainPOP today.  We spent the day at the Berlin Zoo.

Day Fifteen

My message seems to be getting through.  The class seems more good-natured about the two mistakes in the quiz yesterday.  Today is Friday.  We’re going to the adventure playground this afternoon.  My class has German and Music today as well so we were very busy this morning.  We did our BrainPOP lesson during snack time.  The class didn’t mind.  BrainPOP has become one of the highlights of the day.

Are you using BrainPOP internationally? Have you got any tips for Chris? We’d love to hear about it! Please post comments below.