Guest Blog: BrainPOP Speaks Middle School Science

BrainPOP was lucky enough to meet lead middle school teacher, Nicole Hesson, at the NSTA conference in San Francisco, CA.  Nicole shared with us how she uses BrainPOP as an effective teaching tool and how it speaks the language her middle school students understand! We were thrilled she wanted to spread the word with the rest of our BrainPOP Educators community.

This is the second year our school has been using BrainPOP.  Our middle school students love it!  Besides being entertaining, it’s great at teaching content.  This generation is living in an age of constant media exposure and teachers must utilize media and technology to effectively teach them.  Tim and Moby can say the same thing as I would say, and yet my students understand it better when it comes from the beeping robot.

In my seventh and eighth grade classes, we watch the BrainPOP movie as an engagement tool.  Each movie is just a couple of minutes, so it’s the perfect length for introducing a topic.  While they students watch the movie, I normally have them fill in one of the activities pages.  The close captioning option helps students with this task.  Often, we fill in an activity page worksheet together on the LCD projector and the students can then keep the pages as their notes.

The FYI content is where I get a lot of my homework assignments.  I use the features to extend what was learned in class.  I usually have my students read the passage (In Practice, Way Back When, Real Life, and In Depth are some of my favorites), then answer questions.  Understanding nonfiction texts is an area that many students need practice on and this is one way I can reinforce that skill in my science class.  The Real Life passages are wonderful for showing students why the topic should be important to them.  Sometimes, I have them explain the comic to assess how well they understand the material.

I’m still getting to know all of the features BrainPOP has to offer.  I just learned of BrainPOP educators while attending the NSTA conference in mid-March.  I am truly excited at exploring the variety of features available on this site.

Do you have any tips or ideas for teaching Science using BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr.? Post comments below.

Nicole Hesson
Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy – Parkside Middle School
Washington DC
nicole.hesson@chavezschools.org