Video can be a very useful tool for education, but so much of what is available is above the level of my 7th grade students to understand independently, which renders it mostly useless for the flipped classroom. That is why I love Brainpop. Its videos make perfect entry-level introductions to a wide range of topics in history and other topics . Furthermore, it provides follow-up activities and lessons, allowing me to hold my students accountable.
I have used Brainpop videos often this year to introduce or reinforce lessons taught in class, usually at home (flipped model), and sometimes in the classroom.
Just last week I used one in the middle of our research project to reinforce the concept of source reliability. Given the world wide web (literally world wide), I can’t think of a much more critical lesson for students in the modern generation, students who think that Google is their major source of information, rather than understanding that it is only a window to other places.
To help the students with one step in this process of understanding the world of information, I used Brainpop. Following some tips I picked up from other bloggers, I gave my students with an overarching question to consider before they went home to watch the video: How do you know if your source is reliable? It’s been a subtheme for our research all year, and I felt like now they were ready, based on their experience and prior lessons, to truly evaluate sources on their own. Up until now, we have basically required students to follow the steps provided, which forces them to begin with the most reliable sources (academic encyclopedias and databases).
After a very brief intro to the question and topic, I sent the students home. I assigned them to watch the video at home, complete and submit the related quiz, and then answer the questions on a worksheet I provided for them.
The next day they came to class full of ideas around reliability, and I wanted them to reinforce and apply their understanding. For the final stage I used a think-pair-share around the questions on the worksheet. This got them discussing their thoughts about reliable research. Once they were done with that, I gave them a list of 10 types of sources and asked them to rank the sources as a team. This sort of evaluation forces them to really consider the relative merits of each type of source, and hopefully, sets in their minds the learning objectives, 1) that all sources have some reliability, 2) some are much more reliable than others, and 3) even 7th grade students can use their knowledge and skills to help determine reliability.
Overall, I feel that the combination of video, discussion, and application in a flipped classroom model is a powerful learning tool that motivates students and engages them in higher levels of learning without even realizing it.