A Friendship elementary teacher, Paul Braun (grade 3), incorporates BrainPop, Scholastic News, and National Geographic in one very active lesson on habitats.
Mr. Braun starts the period with a timed three-minute sprint for math fractions (a nice review). Additionally, he models this by actually doing the sprint on screen, starting just after the students begin. As they go over the answers together the kids shout out, “Yes”, to indicate they have the correct answer. Partially invigorated by the mild shouting, the students are immediately on their feet to do jumping jacks, sit-ups and other exercises for about two minutes with Mr. Braun and a student leading the routine.
It is obvious that this is no ordinary classroom. The student desks are facing each other and not the front of the room, although they can easily turn to see the Smartboard and the short BrainPop Jr. animated film about habitats – kicking off the main lesson for the day. The videos are based on the characters of Tim and Moby with questions following. Mr. Braun can print the worksheets from BrainPop or project the questions on the board. He told me later that he uses Brain Pop Jr. regularly and that the most useful activity available to him within the program, besides the video, is the vocabulary word wall activity. “It’s the best.”
Turning to Scholastic News, he passes out the magazine reader but then projects the Scholastic website for more close reading of text. The inter-active website reads the definitions of new vocabulary for the habitat lesson to the class - the definitions pop up with a click. Students write down the main ideas of the article after finding them in the text.
The final part of the day finds students being assigned an animal and habitat to research. Logging on to HP Minis in groups of two, The National Geographic site is accessed from Mr. Braun’s school webpage, full of links to the animal videos, and becomes the focus of their research. The research will spill over to the next day. The students happily leave the room looking forward to learning more about their animals tomorrow.
By Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources