Learning Tools


In Palm Beach County we all (mostly) know and love the great curriculum resources provided by BrainPOP, and it’s companions–BrainPOP Junior and BrainPOP en Espanol. Our usage of these services is through the roof, and our teachers report over and over again how much they and their students love BrainPOP and the engaging content that the service provides.

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Now, through a comprehenisive study conducted with our own teachers and teachers in New York City schools we can back up how we feel about BrainPOP content with a scientific study that measured the impact of BrainPOP on student learning gains. To say the results are striking would be an understatement.

Looking at the chart here you can see the differences in learning gains measured using the Stanford 10 diagnostic test. Students in the BrainPOP groups had substantially greater gains than those in the control groups where BrainPOP was not integrated into the curriculum. Reading from the Executive Summary of the BrainPOP Effectiveness Study conducted by SEG Research you learn that:

Students who were in classes that used BrainPOP showed substantial growth in Science, Language,
and Reading Comprehension and more moderate gains in Vocabulary, during the course of the
study. Students in classes using BrainPOP increased their SAT 10 Language scale-scores by 24
points, their Reading Comprehension scores by 17 points, their Science Scores by 17 points, and
their Vocabulary scores by 11 points (see Figure 1). Students received approximately 16-20 weeks
of instruction using BrainPOP, yet the amount of growth achieved is equivalent to between one and
two grade levels of growth when compared to the national sample of students
included in the
Stanford 10 norm group (Harcourt Assessment, 2002).(emphasis added)

In addition to the Executive Summary you can read the full, detailed Report on BrainPOP Effectiveness at this link.

A companion study conducted at the same time found that “the use of multimedia instruction can significantly enhance student learning if properly designed and implemented. BrainPOP uses animation, voice, characters, diagrams and more to motivate and engage learners in curricular topics. Read the full research paper – Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom.

Our thanks to the teachers who participated in this study and to the great people at BrainPOP who gave our teachers instruction on its most effective use in the classroom. I had the pleasure of sitting in as Allisyn from BrainPOP Educator’s worked with our teachers to examine our benchmarks and demonstrate how lessons that support and enhance instruction can be found in BrainPOP’s library, and shared how she had used different kinds of content in her own classroom. The remarkable thing about the approach that the entire BrainPOP organization takes is how totally focused they are on creating authentic, fun, engaging learning experiences for kids. In a world run amuck with multi-media of all kinds, it’s often a tall order to get the attention of students and get them focused on your learning objectives. Based on this study, BrainPOP content does just that–engaging learning in the classroom in a way that leads to measurable gains.

Of course, no one, not even the folks at BrainPOP, claims that this kind of multi-media content engages every kind of learning, or is the best and only use of classroom computers. But clearly BrainPOP is far more than simply a modern-day version of the filmstrip if used as intended–as an awesome and fun (even!) curriculum add-on to get help kids get focused and excited (even!) about learning.

As most of you are probably aware, we will host our 11th annual SDPBC Technology Conference in March 2009. We are pleased to be returning to Santaluces High School for the second consecutive year. Here an example of a free online publishing tool that you can employ to spread the word. Feel free to share this countdown with anyone you think might want to have it simply by clicking on share in the lower left corner! Or better yet… go to www.sproutbuilder.com create a free account and build your own! You can build all kinds of widgets and other neat things. If you build something you’d like to share, LET US KNOW!!

Spelling City

Here’s a great way for elementary teachers or parents to help your students practice for those weekly spelling tests that we all know and love!  Also, you can search for a huge number of provided lists that cover a large range of age appropriateness, and content specific subjects.

As a teacher or parent, you can very easily create a “weekly spelling list” that can be accessed at home with a username and password of your choice. You have the choice of making your list public and searchable, or keep it private so only your students will know how to find it.  No email or identification is required of the student, and when they log in, they will be presented with several very interactive ways to learn their words. They can hear their words, take practice tests or play one of several games.
Jump in and give it a try!  I am using it with my children and they really seem to enjoy it.  I am sure you’ll find the same results with your students.  Let us know how it goes, and if you’ve shared any great new lists!

I often come across a link that I will share with a particular department, or group of teachers. I think this would be an example of one that may be of interest to many elementary, and select secondary teachers.
Sheppard Logo
http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/ is a site that has many fun and free educational games that cover many different subjects. This site was highlighted by CNN as a “Fun Site of the Week”, and I can see why.

If you take a few minutes to explore this fabulous resource, you will find everything from Astronomy to Zoology, from basic math operations to pre-algebra, from history to health, and even SAT vocabulary builders.

Whether you’d like to use this during your scheduled lab or computer time (although there are a few blocked advertisement banners, yes this site is currently available inside our firewall!) or by providing links to specific games as supplemental resources on your Edline pages, I can’t think of anyone I know who would not see true value in providing these fun and effective options for their students!