Class Tech Tips: 3 Tips for Classroom Discussion Backchannels with BrainPOP

Class Tech Tips: 3 Tips for Classroom Discussion Backchannels with BrainPOP

Capture student knowledge

At ISTE this yearI led two sessions on using digital tools to capture formative assessment data. In both of my #FormativeTech sessions I asked teachers to open up a Today’s Meet page I had set up for them. Then I showed a BrainPOP video to the group. In this backchannel space I asked the teachers to type in one thing they already knew about the topic. So for example, before watching a video on Alexander Hamilton, they typed in something they already new about this historical figure. Asking students to share something they already know is a great way to set the stage for new learning.

Check for understanding

A backchannel is kind of like a chat room where students can type in a response to a question or a general observation. When showing a BrainPOP video to your class, pause a minute or two into the movie and ask a question related to the topic. For example, if you are showing students the Alexander Hamilton clip from BrainPOP you might ask them a question like, “What impact did Alexander Hamilton have on the development of the United States?” Students can turn and talk to a partner, then open up a backchannel like Today’s Meet and share their responses to your question. This gives you information you can use to assess student understanding.

Plan for tomorrow

As you look over responses in a backchannel you can learn a lot about what students know about a topic, what they are excited or curious about, and what misconceptions they might have. If you show a video on a new topic to students, giving them access to a backchannel space to chat about the topic will give you information you can use to plan for tomorrow or the next week’s lesson.

Click here to download my poster with more FormativeTech tips for teachers or visit BrainPOP’s website to get started with this awesome resource!

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Monica Burns is a fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom. Visit her website at for creative education technology tips and technology lesson plans aligned to the Common Core Standards.