Guest Blogger: Assessing 1st Graders with BrainPOP Jr.

Christine Yarzabek’s first grade classroom is a technology integration playground where her students can frequently be found on the SmartBoard, performing research scavenger hunts on their computers, interviewing each other with Flip cameras or practicing for spelling tests on a host of different websites. You can visit her personal blog or follow her on twitter @CYarzy.

BrainPOP Jr.  has become an important part of my first grade classroom.  When I first started using it, about four years ago, I strictly showed the video clip and we took the quiz together with the use of our Promethean voting eggs (clickers).  Now…I find myself assessing my students with BrainPOP Jr. in an entirely different way.  We are constantly assessing in our district; whether it be DIBELS, spelling tests, weekly comprehension tests, math tests, and the list goes on and on.  This year, I have found myself assessing my students through BrainPOP in multiples subjects.  Here are some examples of activities I have done with my first graders.

I just finished up teaching fractions (a very difficult concept for first graders!). I started the lesson by having each student type 2-3 sentences for me to tell me what they already knew about fractions. Click here to see a student sample.

Each year I struggle with ways to teach equal groups.  I showed the BrainPOP Jr. movie whole group, and students revisited it during their center time.  I post BrainPOP Jr. movies on glogs that I post on my wikispaces page.  At the end of our chapter, I revised our math test a bit and instead of doing the problem on making equal groups using paper and pencil, I took the students to the computer lab and had them complete the typeable and printable Draw About It activity from BrainPOP Jr. They were asking to complete this word problem: Moby invited three friends to his party.  He gave out 9 balloons.  How many balloons did each friend get? Draw your answer.  The students had 20 minutes to answer.  I was truly surprised with the results!  Out of 22 students, 20 of them were able to get the right answer.  I really liked how easily the page printed out and I was able to attach their drawing to their written test.  The students enjoyed going to the computer lab and I got a much better snapshot of how they were doing in math.

I love using BrainPOP Jr. across subject areas.    We often revisit many of the topics on character, setting, main idea, types of sentences, etc. in reading and writing.  In science each year we study parts of a plant. At the end of our unit, students use BrainPOP Jr. to create their own outdoor scenes.  Once they are printed, they need to label each part of their flower.  This again is another quick assessment that the kids really enjoy!

Overall, BrainPOP Jr. has truly changed the way that I assess my students.  I am always trying to find something that doesn’t really feel like a test!  My students love Annie and Moby and are always eager to learn with them!

Christine Yarzabek
Derry Township School District
Hershey, Pennsylvania (The sweetest place on earth!)

Have you used BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. to assess your students? Share your ideas and strategies by commenting below.