Special Guest Series: BrainPOP in Berlin! Week 4
Chris Carter’s saga with BrainPOP ESL in Germany continues with week 4…
I used Brain Pop Jr. today. Our current Unit of Inquiry is about animal habitats. On Sunday, I wrote habitat in the search window and got eleven matches – not too shabby BrainPOP. I went through them and found the language tougher than the ESL pages, but decided the visuals were strong enough to keep the class focused.
It worked, kind of. We started with Fresh Water Habitats because that starts with, “What is a habitat?” They could handle the explanation that followed but I lost half of them when Annie went on to explain ecosystems. They liked the game though. You get to choose a fresh water habitat and then fill it with plants and animals.
Today we did the Rainforest habitat page. Annie is quite the little chatter box compared to Ben. I think she’s fine for a native speaking third grader but my English learning first grade doesn’t get words like tropical, humid, equator, or species.
They keep waiting for Moby to bump into a tree, sink in the mud, or get squeezed by an anaconda. I stopped the video after about two minutes. The game saved the day again. In this one, you have to find the camouflaged animals in each picture. My students liked that a lot.
We’ve gone back to Brain POP ESL. It was like visiting good old friends again, after an awkward visit with new acquaintances. We’re on level one, unit three now. The first title, An Egg in an Igloo, is a catchy one.
It turned out to be perfect. This is the level for us. And there’s that old slap-stick humor that Student A loves so much. He roared when Moby and Ben got stuck inside an umbrella.
Friends are Fair. I repeated this phrase through the rest of the day. In addition to giving us a shared vocabulary, Brain POP has given us a shared reference point. For example, today when student P stole the ball from Student L. I made her give the ball back and told her, “Friends are fair.” I am pretty sure she understood, even though she didn’t look particularly thrilled about the message.
There was a lot of writing in today’s warm up activity. This is a real challenge for some of my first graders. I’m glad their listening comprehension is strong. I asked the students to share some strategies for coming up with the right answer. Two good ones were listening for the first letter of the first word, and counting the total number of words Ben says.
The first strategy helped Student H nail a particularly hard prompt. It was, “He sees a rabbit and a magician in the house.” – not a phrase I can imagine revisiting. I’m sure I’ll use “Friends are fair.” far more often.
Are you using BrainPOP internationally? Have you got any tips for Chris? We’d love to hear about it! Please post comments below.