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PEC's Web Site Review of the Month: October 2008 by Kelly E. Duell


Visit BrainPOP
brainpop

Health Section
brain pop health

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Reviewed Site: BrainPOP (http://www.brainpop.com)

Site Content Area: Health, Health-related, and integrated Kinesiology

Site Requirements/Access:

Since the site has so many graphics it will require JavaScript, plus you will need Flash. If you have your settings set too high, the images may appear as empty boxes or a little red x, in which case you will need to change your settings to allow images. To hear the movies, your sound card should be functioning and the volume turned on. I did not experience any pop-ups or ads on this site, which is a wonderful thing in today’s market.

Overview:

This site features a variety of sections including a teacher’s section, health, science, technology, math, social studies, art and music, and Free Movies. We will be focusing on the health and teacher sections. There is free information available on the site, a 5-day free subscription, a free membership for educators in the teacher section, and a paid subscription to the main section. This site focuses on 3rd grade and up, however there is BrainPop Junior site for K-2nd grade.

The Look:

The main page is bright, colorful, and very busy! It takes a few moments to figure out that you have to go down the list of boxes to link to whichever section you want to navigate. Each new page that you open will have a different background color with the same general look and feel. The educator’s link is on the far left side, top box, in a small circle. When you click on the link, it will open a new page, which is very easy to navigate. Scroll down to the bottom of the main page, and click on the Health box, which will open a new page, from there it is easy to navigate the five sections. Don’t forget to check out the Free Movies and the Top Movie selections, located on the main page.

Features of the Site:

Within the Health section there are several sub-sections: Diseases, Injuries, and Conditions; Nutrition; Personal Health; Genetics, Growth, and Development; Body Systems.

Body Systems has thirty-three links to the various systems within the body from A to Z. A few of these consist of blood, circulatory system, and skeleton. Let’s go to the skeleton section…the new page opens and you will find navigation on the top and the bottom of the page; a scrolling text box; and a movie on the right side. You must have a membership to view the movie. There are more options on the bottom of the page, which will bring you to another page with the same set-up. You can continue clicking, and clicking, and clicking, so be careful not to get lost or off-track.

Diseases, Injuries, and Conditions has over thirty additional resources available on this page, ranging from broken bones, to diabetes, to virus, and everything in between. When choosing one of these links, you’ll find a new page with the same look and feel of the previous section, where you will need to be cautious to stay on-task with all its additional resources and links throughout the site.

Genetics, Growth, and Development has considerably fewer links, which do include areas such as DNA and Fetal Development. Guess what, you’ll find the same lay-out for this page, with more links and resources to distract you from your mission.

Nutrition includes areas such as alcohol, fats, metabolism, and eating disorders. Again, you’ll find the same thing as previously mentioned for the additional resources.

Personal Health has one particular section which grossed me out, called “Boogers” yes, that is right, boogers-how disgusting! There are still many links that are not so gross, such as smoking, fitness, and CPR.

The Teacher section has lesson plans, video tutorials, classroom tools, state standards, a newsletter, a link for BrainPop to be on your website, and professional development. There are not as many lesson plans as I thought there would be, so stick with PE Central to get all your excellent lesson plans for your classes.

I struggled getting the videos to play in the Video Tutorials section. The opening video played not a problem, however subsequent videos continued loading and never got past that stage. This could be an issue with the site or it could be a glitch on my side, but it’s always better to know that it is a possibility to find challenges.

Classroom Tools has a variety of links which you will need to be registered to access, and then it will take you to pages that look identical to the ones mentioned above. I really liked the Graphic Organizers page, it has many you can download and print. If you’re looking for ideas for incorporating BrainPop into your curriculum, this page has the information you are seeking. Don’t want to cruise around the site? Use the “See All BrainPop Topics” link to find exactly what you want and navigate from there. The Curricular Tie-Ins was not that impressive, but I would imagine it is a work in progress. Do you use a WhiteBoard? There are resources available on this site to help you out. Want to jazz up your school website, add a BrainPop movie on your site, learn how by using that link. The Just For Fun! section did not really have a whole lot that is worthwhile, but maybe there is something on there you can use?

You can search for the State Standards or read previous Newsletters. You can even request BrainPop to come to your school for a Professional Development day.

Conclusion:

Overall this site is a useful tool for teachers to use for themselves as a resource, or to incorporate within their curriculum. Signing up for the free educator’s membership is worthwhile as is registering for the free 5-day trial. If this ends up being a site you use all the time, then it may be worthwhile to pay for the regular membership. I am not saying you should go out and do this; it is a personal choice that only you can make. Good luck surfing the site and have fun!


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