Guest Blog: I Wanna Be Moby When I Grow Up


Wendy Gorton is a technology integrator at an American school in India, a Google Certified Teacher, and Google Apps EDU Certified Trainer. She enjoys integrating collaborative and innovative technologies in the classroom to help her students learn and share about the world with each other.  Find her to collaborate on!

I first saw Moby, not in the flesh, but most certainly in the plush, roaming around the halls of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference in Denver last year. I was immediately transported back to the memory of my first walk down Main Street in Disneyland when I was six, spotting Minnie Mouse and instantly enveloping her in hugs. As a fully-grown adult having this kind of excitement and glee over seeing this whimsical character whose beeping wise cracks are so familiar to me, my students, and my fellow teachers, I can only imagine the joy that my students would have. I instantly uploaded the photo online for all of my students back at home, who comment back with cries of joy and, “Did he beep?”

I discovered BrainPOP as a student teacher five years ago and never turned back. Oftentimes, videos can be maligned as a crutch for teachers. Stories abound of the substitute who flips on an hour-long video and hangs out at the back of the classroom, but for me, BrainPOP transformed educational video into a whole new animal and learning experience. As a project-based and constructivist educator and technology integrator, I thrive on opportunities that allow students to question the world around them, create their own knowledge, and create and share real-world experiences with each other. BrainPOP’s snappy, quick jaunts into every topic imaginable make it a breeze to integrate content.

In the classroom, my fellow teachers and I have gotten creative about how Tim and Moby help us learn about familiar and complex topics. We often ask students what questions they have about a topic and then have them use their curiosity to look for the answers within the animations. We also use key question prompts, helping students formulate more exact questions before a movie, such as asking, What is the FUNCTION of an economic system? and What is the SIGNIFICANCE of the Civil Rights movement? By teaching students how to ask more specific questions, they often can dig much more out of a BrainPOP movie than by just watching initially. While students love running the quizzes themselves, they also like to look at the patterns of assessment questions. After seeing the initial questions, students look for close seconds and total left-fielders, helping them during standards-assessment time and ultimate Quiz Masters of content!

Perhaps the most powerful project we have done with BrainPOP is based on their idea; let’s make our OWN BrainPOP movie! Recognizing the power that humorous, visually engaging, well-captioned and clearly explained topical short movies have on learning; students figured they ought to create and share movies with each other. They began breaking down the magic that is Moby and his lifelong friend Tim. They examined the elements that are common to each episode. A funny introduction, a letter and question, and Tim explaining super-clearly about the topic with examples, vocabulary, and of course the intermittent Moby interjection. Students asked questions of each other and the production house was born! Students busily scripted, blocked, and shot their movies and quizzes and showcased them to each other, laughing all the way. It was a fantastic complement to empower students to question, research, and share with each other!

And no, Moby did NOT beep at me in Denver, but he certainly danced around!

Wendy Gorton

Do you have tips or ideas for making BrainPOP-inspired movies with your students? Share thoughts, comments, or suggestions below.

  • Karina


    I really appreciated this blog post! I particularly liked this line:
    “As a project-based and constructivist educator and technology integrator, I thrive on opportunities that allow students to question the world around them, create their own knowledge, and create and share real-world experiences with each other.”

    I actively used BrainPOP in my classroom and it was always an incredibly participatory experience. I love that you’re advocating that teachers incorporate media, but more importantly that they encourage media literacy, and media creation. It sounds like your students are making, experiencing, and contributing. Great work!

    I’ve just “followed” you on Twitter and I hope we’ll keep in touch.

    Karina Linch
    SVP Product Management at BrainPOP

  • Tatum

    Hi, Wendy! What a pleasure it was to interact with you through email and your blog post. Your students are so lucky to have you. Your innovation and passion for creating life long learners is inspiring. Good luck with your workshops and am so excited to hear about how you use our BrainPOP app with your students! Don’t forget to stop by and dance with Moby again at ISTE!