app screen A fan of technology I often look for solutions online for the challenges I meet in class. One of my more exciting discoveries is the simplest tool ever: BrainpopELL.

I was a bit worried about the childish video clips and how these are going to be accepted by 7th and 8th graders. Those students who have recently graded elementary school and are anxious to seem grown-up. So, I started by introducing the contents of the app and explaining how every lesson corresponds with some grammar topics that we have to learn. I showed them how it has even the most advanced grammar topics that are taught in high school. I explained that the video clips are made to be short, amusing and simple and that they should be understood easily by people of various ages. And then added, that every time they finish a lesson’s quiz with a “10 out of 10” they get the points in their grade book.

Being struggling students, the idea that they can easily get a 10 out of 10 in an English quiz makes it the most appealing opportunity ever. The lesson never revolves around the BrainpopELL app, however, when they finish the class assignments they ask and usually get permission to switch to work on the app. I do my best to avoid homework and discover this is the only thing they might do on their own at home.

The most surprising experience I have had with the app so far was with a dyslexic 14-year-old student, who could barely read his mother tongue of Hebrew and had no knowledge of English at all. I suggested to him to work only with the app and use the listening and speaking plus games. Within less than 6 months of English lessons, 4 hours a week, he could read, write and speak. It wasn’t only the app of course, but this was definitely the kick starter.

You can find links to the apps here:
By the way, I didn’t get anything from Brainpop in return for this piece. I honestly like it.

What I am missing here in Israel is the ability to monitor users and see how much time each spends on the app, how many times they attempt at the quiz. I would have loved if they did attempt as a more “grown-up” version of video clips too, and my last proposal is to add a video creation tool where the students get to write a script for a new video on the topic they have just learned. This would drive the learning to a whole new level.

If you are an educator interested in a webinar – here’s a recent one: