Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD: Molly Kirk

Our series of spotlighting teachers who use BrainPOP concludes with Molly Kirk, a 5th grade teacher at Foothill Elementary. To get started, visit the BrainPOP in BVSD webpage, and for more ideas about how to use it in the classroom, check out Part 1 & Part 2 of this blog series!

Molly Kirk, 5th Grade Teacher | Foothill Elementary
21st Century Cohort 3.0
Class Website
Molly is currently in her 9th year of teaching 5th grade at Foothill Elementary. She has worked in BVSD as an elementary teacher, a secondary Language Arts teacher and in the GT and Literacy programs. Molly has a Masters in Education from University of Colorado and is endorsed K-12. She is a member of the BVSD 21st Century Cohort 3.0 and thinks the IT department is awesome!

How do you use BrainPOP in your classroom?

One of the things I love about BrainPOP is the versatility. I am able to find a BrainPOP video for almost any topic I teach. Along with the variety of topics, there are also so many different ways to use BrainPOP beyond the videos with Moby.

Recently, we watched two videos about the American Revolution as an introduction to the important events leading up to the Revolution. The kids did a scavenger hunt of sorts using the American Revolution Timeline in GameUp. They had a list of six events and needed to put them in chronological order using the Timeline as a resource. Then they could choose three battles of the Revolutionary War to read more about. The additional links in the game were informative and we found the students engaged and seeking additional information on topics that they found interesting.

What do you see as the benefits of using BrainPOP?

BrainPOP allows me to apply the 4 Cs easily. My students can be creative as they design their own Make-A-Map which also taps into their critical thinking skills. I love seeing their thinking as they share Snapthoughts with me which also allows them to communicate their thinking. We frequently use BrainPOP with partners or in small groups to allow students to collaborate. I can differentiate by using the FYI and Activities and I love having access to BrainPOP EspaƱol for my Spanish speakers. They can watch the videos in both English and Spanish to reinforce content specific language. One of my favorite things is that from time to time I will log on and see that my students are using BrainPOP at home to learn about topics they are individually interested in.
Editor’s note: For more information on how to use the educator dashboard, go to the BrainPOP Help Center.

If you had one piece of advice to give about BrainPOP, what would it be?

Go beyond the movies and the quizzes. BrainPOP has so much more to offer that allows you to tap into higher-level thinking skills. So much technology just entertains; the full spectrum of BrainPOP allows students to truly engage in the learning process.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Student Data Privacy in BVSD

A teacher is the first line of defense in protecting student data and privacy. On December 12, 2017, the BVSD Board of Education adopted a Student Data Privacy Policy, as required by the state. This policy includes some new training requirements for anyone who works with student Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including teachers and many district-level employees.

All staff members who work with student PII will be required to complete a 30-60 minute online course that is available in Schoology by December 21, 2018. To meet the board policy requirement, staff members must complete all modules, including discussion pages and quizzes. The goal of this requirement is to help all BVSD employees have a better understanding of their role in protecting student data.

Once the training is complete, it is also important to continue not only maintaining the protection of student data, but also educating our students on the importance of keeping their own personal data safe and secure. There are many resources to support all of us as we integrate this important component of digital citizenship into our instruction including:

BVSD Digital Citizenship website
Student Data Privacy in BVSD website
Data Privacy Practices Pinterest board

With these resources and advice, we hope to empower all BVSD teachers and staff to use digital tools that they believe will make a positive impact in their lives and the lives of their students while also ensuring the privacy of all students. If you have any questions about how to help teach your students about the importance of online safety and security, contact your Ed Tech Specialist today!

Monday, July 16, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD: Michelle Eckstein

Our series of spotlighting teachers who use BrainPOP continues with Michelle Eckstein, the Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School. To get started, visit the BrainPOP in BVSD webpage, and for more ideas about how to use it in the classroom, check out Part 1 of this blog series!

Michelle Eckstein, Elementary Technology Teacher | Peak to Peak Charter
21st Century Cohort 4.0
@mdeckstein | Website

Michelle has been teaching in elementary schools for 10 years, and is currently the Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School. Prior to joining the staff at Peak to Peak, she was the TAG Educational Advisor at High Peaks Elementary and Lafayette Elementary Schools. She has a Masters in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut and endorsements in elementary education, gifted education, and instructional technology. She loves seeing students authentically engaged when they are creating with technology.

How do you use BrainPOP in your classroom?

I use many of the digital citizenship videos and activities in my classroom as well as using the BrainPOP videos to introduce coding to students. Students and I really like the Meaning of Beep. In this game students compete against the computer or a classmate as they improve their academic vocabulary on the topic being studied.

What is one of your favorite things that you have done with BrainPOP?

One of my favorite BrainPOP features is the SnapThought tool. Using this tool students can capture their thinking while playing a game. It’s a great tool to use as students play Sortify. SnapThought allows students to grab a screenshot at a moment during game play. They then reflect on their thinking. In the example below, a student is playing Sortify Multiplication and uses the SnapThought tool to take a screenshot during game play. They then explain their thinking and submit their thinking to the teacher. Students love game play, and the SnapThought tool increases the cognitive demand by asking students to explain their thinking.


How is BrainPOP helping your students?

Students enjoy the BrainPOP characters: Tim, Moby, & Annie. The characters and humor in the videos keep students engaged. I find BrainPOP a great way to introduce a topic and build background knowledge, and then I can use many of the activities for students to engage with the content. I love the number of choices for students to show what they know and think critically about the content. I like using Make-a-Map as a collaborative activity for students to think together about most important ideas of a video. The creative tools of Make-a Movie and Creative Coding provide opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. I’m really looking forward to using these new tools more often!

If you have one piece of advice to give to another teacher, what would it be?

My advice to others wanting to get started on Make-a-Movie or Creative Coding is to start with a small group. Give them some time to learn how to use BrainPOP to create and then have them be your “experts”. In the beginning it can be a bit overwhelming for some students to figure out how to create with Creative Coding or Make-a-Movie. Having a few student experts will enable you to focus on helping students with higher level thinking and not get bogged down with teaching the tool. I’m planning to start with my 4th and 5th grade Student Tech Team as experts and they will then train others in their classes to help as well.

Anything else to share?

The BrainPOP Certified Educator program is a great way to get to know some of the less frequently known features of BrainPOP. I’d highly recommend this free training.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

InnEdCO 2018

As the BVSD Ed Tech team continues to ride the wave of excitement from this year’s InnEdCO conference, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some highlights. Over fifty BVSD teachers, counselors, administrators, and district staff joined us up in Keystone, Colorado for several days of learning and networking! 

Did you attend this year? We’d love for you to share your reflections in the comments below.

BVSD Presenters
BVSD was represented at the conference with twenty seven fantastic sessions! A wide range of topics were presented, giving attendees a diverse sampling of our expertise and passions. Monday’s Leadership and Digital Literacy academies included a workshop from Aspen Creek K-8 administrators and a panel of teacher librarians from across Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts. Throughout the main conference, BVSD inspired teachers from across the state with sessions on student engagement, project-based learning, ISTE standards, student tech teams, creative note-taking, grading, and a whole lot more.

Attendee Activities

Attendees from BVSD had some new opportunities to connect with each other this year. One addition to the activity lineup was a conference-long scavenger hunt! Using Goosechase, a digital scavenger hunt platform, participants worked with their teams to complete a series of “missions”. These challenges had teams exploring the Keystone resort and checking in at specific geofenced locations, recording team choreographed dances, and posing for pictures during team lunches, keynote presentations, and at vendor booths.

Thank you to all who participated in this team building event! Teachers and leaders from different areas of the district were able to connect with others they did not know prior to InnEdCO. We look forward to an even better game next year.

BVSD Tweets at #InnEdCO18

Using social media, especially Twitter, to connect with others during a conference is rapidly becoming the norm. Our BVSD attendees used the platform to share session takeaways and provide support to fellow presenters. Below are a few tweets from InnEdCO. To see more, check out the #InnEdCO18 hashtag on Twitter!

Mark your calendars now for InnEdCO 2019 in Keystone June 10-13!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD

Did you know that BrainPOP is available in BVSD for all K-8 students? If you are not already using this resource in your classroom, check out the BVSD BrainPOP page to get started!

How can you make the most of this awesome resource?

Some of our BVSD teachers share their best tips & tricks below!

Along with these fun projects, teachers shared how they appreciate the way BrainPOP allows students to access content, no matter what their academic level is. The visual animation is attention-grabbing and effective, and Tim & Moby, the funny and friendly guides, are an instant hit with students! One growing resource is their digital citizenship collection, which can be used with any content area. The activities change with each movie, so they never get boring, and many are available in a printed format if needed. Additionally, because the videos are short, they are easy to incorporate throughout a unit of study.

How have you used BrainPOP in your classroom this year?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Innovate@BVSD 2018

Innovate@BVSD 2018 is just around the corner! As you are making your summer plans, be sure to include an excursion to Meadowlark PK-8 on Monday, July 30th and Tuesday, July 31st. With keynotes from thought leaders Sue Meyer & Todd Burleson, deeper learning workshops, and a fantastic schedule of presenters, it is sure to be two days of inspirational and valuable professional learning!

Register & Share!

  • BVSD employees register via MyPassport: Course Code 16666; section #22633. 
    • Attendance is FREE and BVSD attendees can earn .5 salary credit*. 
  • Out of district attendees are welcome! Please fill out the registration form at
    • There is a nominal registration fee.

Attendees will:

  • Tour a BVSD Innovative school that models innovative learning community environments;
  • Investigate education software solutions and maker education tools via ½ day hands-on workshops;
  • Explore the Student Innovation Showcase and experience how Project Based Learning and Design Thinking methodologies promote authentic learning & student agency. 
  • Be inspired by your peers as they share how they bring the 4 Cs to life for their students. 

Bond Phase Schools

BVSD schools in Bond Phases 2 & 3, don’t miss this opportunity to experience open and flexible classroom designs, test-drive innovative furniture options, attend sessions offered by architects that specialize in school design, and connect with staff members currently experiencing the instructional shifts brought about by these student-centered spaces.

     *Salary Credit option fee is $15.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Revenge of the Podcast People

Podcast imagePodcasts have been around for years but are quickly making a resurgence in the education world.

At least 112 million Americans have listened to podcasts, a figure up 11 percent from last year [2017], with 67 million listening to podcasts at least monthly. (Forbes)

And for good reason- teachers are able to both create and consume podcasts to get on-demand professional learning in an informal environment and students have an impromptu, candid platform for their voices. Podcasts are a unique form of auditory learning because listeners get to hear the voice of real-life experts and people that influence and inspire them all while feeling like they are a part of the conversation.

Are you ready to hit record and try something new? While we have your ear, listen to our podcast below to learn more about how you might use podcasts professionally and within your classroom.
Not a Rocking Chair Librarian logoNot A Rocking Chair Librarian | Episode 17

As mentioned in our podcast, use the resources below to help you get started with podcasting in your classroom.

"Why Podcasts Are Popular (And 4 Content Lessons To Learn …) - Forbes." 11 Jul. 2017, Accessed 8 May. 2018