5 easy ways to improve reading engagement with BrainPOP and Newsela

 
5 easy ways to improve reading engagement with BrainPOP and Newsela

On most BrainPOP topic pages you'll find a 'Newsela' button.

But why is its addition to BrainPOP a bit of a game changer for your literacy instruction?

Wait. What's Newsela?

Newslea is a popular literacy platform that provides engaging, high-quality, nonfiction news articles adaptable to students’ reading levels.

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We partnered with them to integrate their content alongside ours.

Here's an example of our Digitial Etiquette topic page, showing the the button that you would click to open the relevant Newslea article.

It will take you to a Los Angeles Times article called "Why emojis are a no-brainer for digital communication".

Take a look on the top bar. You see a drop down menu that allows you to dynamically change the text, by lexile level, to suit the child or class.

This means your students read and discuss the same content, while enabling individual students to access material at their specific reading level.

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Here's some ways you can use our Newsela integration to improve your children's engagement with non-fiction texts.

1. Highlights and annotations

Select a word or sentence and the annotation tool pops up on the right hand side. Use this to highlight unfamiliar vocabulary, signal specific text structures like compare/contrast, and provide questions and prompts for discussion.

Annotation in Newsela

2. Multiple read-throughs

On a student's first read through focus on vocabulary and identify the purpose of the article.

On second read through Introduce a question and have students work with a partner to read again, annotating text that relates to the question as they read.

On third read have students individually look for additional evidence, perhaps providing writing prompts like:

  • According to the article . . .
  • The author bases this claim on . . .
  • The conclusion that can be drawn from the article is . . .

3. Use Newsela opinion articles to facilitate a debate in your class

Divide students into two groups and assign each group a side to debate.

Remind students to use facts from the article to support their arguments and encourage them to conduct further research as needed.

Prompt a class discussion after the debate.

4. Small Group Guided Reading

  1. Gather a group of students who read at a same/similar reading level and briefly introduce the Newsela article, including the content of the text and some of the structural and vocabulary challenges.
  2. Then have students read the text independently as you circulate, supporting individual students as needed.
  3. Finally, bring the group back together to share common understandings and identify reading strategies they used.

5. Hone those listening and syntax skills

Read aloud a Newsela article to the class or small group to model engagement, fluency, and pausing for deeper comprehension. Demonstrate thinking aloud and engage students in prompted partner or whole class discussion. Hearing text read fluently is important for developing a sense for syntax, and for honing listening skills.

 

BrainPOP 101 - learn about BrainPOP using BrainPOP!

 
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Nope, that "101" in the title isn't binary! It's the name of our new self paced training module.

Sounds fancy!

It is!

It's an introductory course for BrainPOP teachers, to learn how our products and resources work and explore all the features.

But this isn't any ordinary course.

You literally use BrainPOP to learn about BrainPOP!

If that sounds meta, it is, but it's a lot more fun than clicking through a dull drill and test.

You will:

  1. Watch an animated movie on how children learn with BrainPOP.
  2. Take a Challenge to see how BrainPOP engages higher-order thinking with interactive assessment tasks.
  3. Read an FYI all about the history, people, and technology behind BrainPOP.
  4. Explore a Primary Source, examining documents from the BrainPOP archive. including the very first drawing of Moby!
  5. Take a Quiz about BrainPOP's tools and features
  6. Play the learning game Time Zone X, that focuses on 'Education through the ages'
  7. Create a concept map in Make-A-Map to visualize thinking and connect ideas on the question "What is BrainPOP?".
  8. Animate an interactive presentation with Make-A-Movie

How do I take the BrainPOP 101 course?

You need to have your own individual Teacher login. If you don't have one, then get in touch about activating this facility for your subscription. There's no cost, but we do need to get your consent to set it up.

Is it compulsory? Is it the only training on offer?

No, not at all. You can start and finish it in your own time. You'll see a progress bar at the top of your screen after you start it.

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There's also a huge range of support, training, and professional development options on our Educators site from light touch activities like webinars to our BrainPOP Certified Educators program.

How do I start BrainPOP 101?

Just click the button below!

 

Get creative with coding!

 
Creative Coding with BrainPOP

>10 PRINT "CODING IN BRAINPOP!";
>20 GOTO 10

Yep, you read that right.

You can now access Vidcode AND Scratch based coding projects inside a huge range of BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. curriculum topics.

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What sorts of things will children be able to do in a Creative Coding project?

What's our approach to helping you teach coding?

Designed to seamlessly integrate with what you’re already teaching, Creative Coding makes it simple to introduce coding and provides students with the opportunity to “show what they know” in a whole different way.

We make coding part of what you're teaching, not a separate technology driven exercise.

Coding for All

Because they span the curriculum and provide multiple opportunities for differentiated instruction, our Creative Coding projects reach students with a breadth of needs, and at all levels. These projects:

  1. Help your students build and demonstrate knowledge in a way that is personally meaningful to them, in a familiar environment
  2. Guide and scaffold children and adults so that no technical background is needed
  3. Reduce inequality in access to computer science instruction when worked into the school day

The two methods - block AND text based coding

The block- and text-based projects are developed based on Scratch and Vidcode.

Block-based coding, based on the Scratch visual programming language, is an effective way to introduce computational thinking that fosters creative expression and experimentation. Perfect for younger pupils, or those new to coding.

Scratch on BrainPOP

Text-based coding with Vidcode deepens that knowledge by inviting students to apply programming fundamentals to create projects using JavaScript, empowering them to show what they know about what they're learning in school.

Vidcode on BrainPOP

Want to learn more?

There's a huge amount of Creative Coding teacher support material in our Educators site, but maybe start with our 'About Creative Coding projects' support page that details each type of project.

How do I unlock Creative Coding in BrainPOP?

Creative Coding is an optional add on feature, priced separately to your main school subscription.

You also must have a whole school licence to BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. PLUS individual teacher and student accounts enabled on your subscription.

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If you see this padlock icon on a Creative Coding button on a topic page this means you do NOT have it unlocked.

Get in touch today to get a no obligation quote to enable Creative Coding for your school.

We're currently running a promotion too - save 25% if you add it to your subscription before December 31st 2018.

     

    Eat well, be well, learn well!

     
    Healthy Eating with BrainPOP

    You don't need me to tell you that eating healthily brings positive results.

    Getting kids able to identify healthy foods, make good choices, and build healthy eating habits at a young age is vital to their food attitude later in life.

    But "healthy" doesn't just mean "Eat your greens!".

    (though this helps)

    It's also about salt and sugar, understanding food additives, different food groups, and portion sizes.

    Healthy Eating lesson ideas

    Take a look at our Healthy Eating topic in BrainPOP Jr. that joins Annie and Moby at school lunch break.

    It covers all the basics of food choice, nutrients, junk food, and how the right food choices and a balanced diet positively effect your body and mood.

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    It also links to a great lesson idea called 'Balanced Diet Lesson Plan: Chef Solus’ Build-a-Meal Game'.

    Food Groups

    If you wanted your class to dig a little deeper into the science of food then hop over to our Food Groups topic.

    A great game to play from this topic page is the 'Food groups Spinner'.

    Project the spinner up on your white board and invite pupils to come to the front and press the 'Spin' button.

    Whichever food group the spinner lands on ask the class to suggest foods that fit into that group. It also comes with a food groups worksheet if you'd like to have them write their answers down.

    You could also build your own spinner that adds a 'Junk food' category and ask pupils to say what foods they know (or eat!) that could be junk food!

       

      STEM in your garden

       
      STEM resources for the garden

      Summer's here! The sun is out (probably) and gardens are blossoming into their very best.

      But did you know how much science is happening in your garden? Whether you have a window box or a hundred acres, let's take a STEM look at what's going on in your very own ecosystem...

      Plant life

      • Seed Plants and Seedless plants are what makes your garden beautiful and green. Compare and contrast these two types of plants, how they reproduce, and learn key vocabulary such as 'spore', 'angiosperm' and 'vascular'.
      • Fungi - Explore the diverse Fungi kingdom, and discover the unique characteristics that set the 1.5 million species of mold, yeast, and mushrooms apart from all other organisms. Learn how fungi grow, feed, and reproduce, and what they look like when they’re above ground. And explore the many roles fungi play in the ecosystems around us--in our soil, in our kitchens, and even in our bodies.
      • Carnivorous plants - we mustn't forget plants we grow in greenhouses and windowsills! Learn where these meat-eating marvels live, and how their habitats have shaped their special diets, and the difference between passive and active trapping techniques.
      • Soil (BrainPOP Jr.) - What's in all the different layers of soil? What does it provide to your garden, its plants, and insects?
      • Parts of Plant (BrainPOP Jr) - Learn about all the components of a plant from roots to petals.

      Minibeasts and creepy crawlies

      • Ants - Our characters, Tim and Moby, introduce your class to the intricate world of ants. Find out about the other insects ants are related to, learn the parts of an ant’s body, discover the different jobs that ants can do, and which members of the ant colony live the longest and shortest.
      • Honey Bees - Discover what makes a honeybee different from other bees and what their body structure is like. You’ll also learn about the three different categories of honeybee — worker, queen, and drone — as well as how these creatures work together to keep their hives bustling all year long.
      • Spiders - Learn about spiders’ body parts, their silk, and spider venom and poison. Maybe spiders won’t seem so scary once you learn about all the good things they do for your house and garden!
      • Butterflies (BrainPOP Jr) - Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly.

        Maths

        • Fibonacci sequence - Explore the beauty of maths by discovering how this fascinating concept occurs in nature. Probably even in your garden - try growing a sunflower!
        • Flower Power - In this learning game, students must use their knowledge of fractions and decimals to make as much money as possible through growing and harvesting valuable and exotic flowers.

        The science around your garden

        • Photosynthesis - Learn what makes plants green, how plants make their own food, and what an important role the sun plays in photosynthesis.
        • Metamorphosis - Learn which creatures go through different kinds of metamorphoses, plus the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis.
        • Pollination - Find out how flowers reproduce by pollination and fertilization as you discover why lots of new flowers can pop up from just a few seeds. See how new seeds form, how pollen can travel, and how to identify the reproductive parts of a plant.
        • Plant growth - learn why flowers grow on apple trees, and how plants reproduce through pollination. Find out the parts of a flower and what each part does, as well as how insects help in the reproduction process.

        Please note some of these resources require a username and password to access. If you are not a subscriber then please request a free trial.

         

        Here we go! World cup resources on BrainPOP

         
        Football resources on BrainPOP
        "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." - Bill Shankly

        Whether you call it 'soccer' or 'football' it's a game that's played in all corners of the planet, by old and young.

        We're certainly looking forward to seeing England get to the quarter finals before crashing out in a penalty shoot out.

        But before you get swept up in the madness of football's greatest spectacle why not explore the great game in all its glory?

        Social Studies  >  Culture  >  World Cup

        Join Nat, Moby, and the gang watching a World Cup match, and explore the highlights of this international football tournament.

        You’ll learn how the tournament works, famous moments of World Cup history (such as Maradona’s “Hand of God”) and which country has won the most world cups!

        Once you’ve watched the movie take our 10 question interactive multiple choice quiz about the World Cup. Do you know enough to take you to the final or will you fall apart in the first round?

        Social Studies  >  Culture  > Soccer

        The beautiful game! A game of two halves! Sick as a parrot!

        At the end of day you don’t want your lack of football knowledge to send you off for an early bath. Learn the basic facts that all football fans should know, from the size of the field, to the number of players on each team, to the names of the different positions. We even tackle the offside rule. There’s also a great set of football activities and graphic organisers to help students get to grips with what constitutes a foul. Oi, ref!

        Social Studies  >  Famous Historical Figures  >  Pelé

        Ever heard of Edison Arantes do Nascimento? No? What about Pelé? Thought so! That’s Pelé’s birth name.

        Considered by pretty much everyone as the greatest footballer who ever lived, explore Pelé’s incredible career from humble beginnings as a talented kid from a poor family to member of the Brazilian national team. Pelé is now the game’s most famous ambassador! Don’t forget to check out our interesting facts and figures about Pele to go in depth into the history and achievements of this great sportsman.

        Extra (time) ideas

        Make a Map World Cup chart

        Why not encourage your most football fanatic fans to use Make a Map to plot the progress of their team as they (hopefully) make their way through the tournament? It's a great opportunity to practice building a concept map and a structured flow diagram!

        Meaning of Beep - Soccer

        Use context clues to uncover unknown words in this fun single or multi player learning game. Great to expand vocabulary.

        Not used BrainPOP before? Why not...

         

        Explore a topic - Volcanoes

         
        Volcanoes on BrainPOP

        Kilauea on the island of Hawaii is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It recently explosively erupted, creating an ash plume that can be seen from the International Space Station.

        It's Mother Nature at her most destructive, but also her most creative as you'll see in our Volcano topic on BrainPOP and Fast Land Changes topic on BrainPOP Jr.

        Let's take a look at BrainPOP Jr. (ages 5-9)

        In this topic pupils can watch a short animated movie that answers these questions:

        • What is an earthquake?

        • What is a volcano?

        • What is a flood?

        • What is a wildfire?

        Annie discusses the effects and consequences of natural disasters, but also reflects on the idea that they can refresh the environment, like Volcanoes bringing rich soil, which is good for growing crops.

        There's an easy and hard quiz to provide assessment, and a great writing stimulus called 'How can volcanoes change land?'.

        Volcano writing assignment - BrainPOP Jr

        Now let's focus on Volcanoes on BrainPOP (ages 9+)

        Volcanoes on BrainPOP

        The 5 minute animated movie about volcanoes explores tectonic plates, how volcanoes are formed, where they appear, and how they contribute to the planet's ecosystem.

        More volcano resources

        1) Time Zone X 'Volcanoes'- A fantastic time line game where students place historical volcano related facts on a timeline.

        2) A Cause and Effect graphic organiser, where students are asked to describe a natural disaster and it effect on the environment.

        3) A creative coding project where your class can create a stop motion animation about volcanoes.

        4) A Newsela article about scientists planning an explosive study of Mount St Helens (they're literally going to be setting off explosions).

        And much more on the topic page.

        If you're a BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. subscriber just log in and get learning.

        If you aren't a BrainPOP school yet, what are you waiting for? Request a free trial and check out our explosive Volcano resources!

         

        Assignment builder

         
        Assignments Moby

        For many years teachers used to ask us "How do I know when a student has watched a movie on BrainPOP?"

        Not any more! BrainPOP's assignment feature is blended throughout BrainPOP, allowing teachers to assign almost anything in BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.

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        Students get notified of the assignment when they login, their interaction with the resource gets captured, and they can keep a personal eye on their assignments feed.

        I can see your brain working through the possibilities from here :-)

        Want to direct a class to watch a specific movie in preparation for tomorrow's lesson and know who has and hasn't seen it? BOOM! Assign the movie to the whole class.

        Want to assess a particular set of students on their understanding of a topic? ZAP! Assign the Challenge feature to specific students from your class.

        Want to target a student with some remediation work before a test? KAPOW! Create a personalised quiz using the Quiz Mixer and assign it just to them.

        Want to create a mini project for your class to demonstrate their understanding? BAM! Build an multi part assignment, adding a movie, then the quiz, then the Make a Map tool.

        Assignment builder.jpg

        It's super easy. You can also...

        • Schedule assignments using the “schedule for later” option and then select the date you want students to see the assignment
        • Add resources from both BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. into one assigment (only available to customers that have both products)
        • Add multiple classes to an assignment. Just click the + symbol next to the class drop down menu

        How to assign something in BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr.

        Assign buttons
        1. Simply log in to your individual account and navigate to the feature you’d like students to work on.
        2. Click the ASSIGN button, then choose a class and optional due date.
        3. To see the list of everything you’ve assigned, or to edit your assignments, click on the ASSIGNMENTS button at the top of your screen.
        Assign a resource in BrainPOP

        How students manage their assignments

        Students log in to their own accounts, where they will see Moby pop up and advise them they have a new assignment.

        Clicking on MY BRAINPOP at the top of the page will show them all the assignments they’ve received thus far or any that are overdue #embarrasedmoby

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        Try it out today. It could revolutionise the way you use BrainPOP.

         

        Inspirational women on BrainPOP

         
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        Today is International Women's Day 2018, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

        There are many topics in BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. that feature women who through their work, ideals, and actions have changed the world in so many different ways.

        I wanted to share a selection from across the curriculum, and highlight their inspirational stories.

        Start your journey with our topics 'Women's Suffrage' and 'Feminism', both good top level subjects that open up discussion about the historical journey of women's rights.

        Social Studies, Activism, and Politics

        Wangari Maathai

        Be motivated by three very different female activists who progressed their causes in the face of great adversity and risk.

        • Rosa Parks, an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, and "the first lady of civil rights".
        • Helen Keller, the first deaf and blind person to ever graduate from college, and how she became a living symbol of the human spirit’s triumph over adversity.
        • Wangari Maathai, who used her knowledge as a trained botanist and her passion for women’s rights and environmental conservation to effect positive change in Kenya.

        Women in power

        Queen Elizabeth 1.png

        Begin with story of the last queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, whose downfall led directly to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

        Then introduce your students to Queen Elizabeth I, the storied queen of 16th Century renaissance England, before learning about her contemporary, Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch.

        Maths, Science, and Technology

        Sally Ride.png

        Historically women have been poorly represented in STEM, but that started to change in the 19th century, notably with the achievements of the world’s first computer programmers, Ada Lovelace.

        You must meet Marie Curie, one of the great minds of the chemistry world, and then explore the work of Jane Goodall, the remarkable primatologist and anthropologist.

        And finally take a trip into space with Sally Ride, the world's first female astronaut. who broke the gender barrier for a new generation of space scientists.

        Literacy

        Reading Emily Dickinson

        Solve mysteries with Agatha Christie, one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century and the bestselling fiction writer of all time.

        For the poets among you discover the life of the celebrated poet Emily Dickinson and explore one of her groundbreaking poems. "A Bird came down the Walk".

        And don't forget Maya Angelou, brilliant poet, respected actor, devoted activist, beloved professor, and most well known for her best-selling memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

        The Arts and Media

        Frida Kahlo.png

        Journey to Mexico to learn about the life and art of Frida Kahlo, a master of self-portraits, before looking at the life and work of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated and influential American artists Georgia O'Keefe.

        Finally, are you ready for an audience with the queen of a media empire, Oprah Winfrey?

        Inspirational young women

        Malala.png

        I couldn't finish this post without spotlighting some amazing girls and young women who made their mark on the world. Like Anne Frank, the famous diarist who's words survived to tell her tragic story.

        Your heart will swell with pride at Ruby Bridges' (BrainPOP Jr.) story of determination to get the best education she could in a segregated America.

        Every young person should listen to Malala's astonishing story of her fight for a better education, and how she became youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

        Extras!

         

        This BrainPOP Jr. movie made me cry

         
        Ruby Bridges.jpg

        There's a million and one ways to teach algebra, or punctuation, or how a star is formed.

        But how do you teach bravery?

        How do you encourage your children to have the courage of their convictions?

        Who understand that making the harder choice is sometimes the only choice that makes sense?

        One way is to seek inspiration in others, to look to their example and learn from the path they took, often in the face of great adversity.

        Have your children met Ruby Bridges?

        Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!
        — Ruby Bridges

        Following the end of school segregation in America in 1954, 6 year old Ruby passed a test enabling her to attend a better all-white school in New Orleans, closer to home.

        In doing so, she became the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in America.

        Her journey was hard and fraught.

        Famously, Ruby had to be escorted into William Frantz Elementary School by policemen. But she stayed calm and composed.

        No one would speak to her, or teach her, for a whole year.

        In fact, other parents started taking their children out of school in protest.

        But she persevered.

        A teacher, Mrs. Henry, stuck by Ruby and taught her. Other people also believed in Ruby and neighbours and community members helped the Bridges family and protected them from angry protestors.

        Ruby went to school every day and over time the school welcomed more children from different backgrounds.

        She went on to become a civil rights hero who stood up for her rights and encouraged black students all over the country to do the same.

        Ruby Bridges 2.jpg

        This topic sensitively explains concepts like segregation, racism, and activism in a way that's suitable for young children. As an educator you should use Annie's notepad prompts to encourage questions and develop understanding of these grown up terms.

        But also don't forget that at the heart of this topic was a real 6 year old girl, in a smart dress and clutching her school bag, tiny in comparison to the adults around her, who persisted.

        Even when the world seemed to determined to get her to stop.

        And she didn't. She kept going to school. She believed she had to the right to the best education she could get.

        Can you imagine the courage that took?

        All children could stand to be a little more Ruby.

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