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Mixin’ It Up with the Common Core (originally published on October 5, 2012)
My name is Kara Wilkins. I have been teaching at Hudson Memorial Middle School , in Hudson, New Hampshire for fifteen year. I have spent a majority of that time as an eighth grade social studies teacher. For the last three years I have had the pleasure of chairing the Social Studies department as well.

Our school purchased a full Brainpop membership for teachers and students about five years ago and we have never looked back. I have incorporated Brainpop into every facet of my teaching, from previewing a topic, reviewing a topic and my favorite, at home extension of topics being learned in the classroom.

I am also constantly looking for meaningful ways to integrate technology into my classes to increase student engagement so when Brainpop came out with The Mixer I knew this was going to become an integral part of my classroom routine. Over the years I have purchased various “quiz making” Web 2.0 Tools but I knew that Brainpop would be great because my kids already knew the format, loved Tim and Moby and it could be done in class with an interactive whiteboard or out of class as an extension.

The Mixer fit in perfectly with a new activity I was launching that I found on Pinterest (my other love :) ) called Textmapping (http://www.textmapping.org/). I photocopied a textbook section on the Economic Regions of the United States and had students preview and pre-read the material by identifying titles, subtitles, vocabulary, sidebars, graphics, etc. with various colors and shapes.
In order to move them to a deeper understanding and comprehension, I had them complete a multiple choice worksheet with this activity (i.e. Where should you move to if you want to live in a region that contained the world capital of the movie industry?) Back in the day, this would have been nearing the end of the activity, but to add in a little Common Core flare I made the students “show their work”. “What? This isn’t math!!!” is what I heard from all corners of the classroom. When the students went to answer the multiple choice question, they had to go back to their text and highlight the information that led them to their answer. The were citing textual evidence all over the place! After the students completed this activity in groups of two or three we used The Mixer to review the answers. Because my original activity was multiple choice, I was able to seamlessly transfer it to The Mixer. The kids loved using this interactive correcting activity on the Smartboard and The Mixer helped me create a multifaceted activity that helped me really engage the learners in my classroom. I know that The Mixer will become a reliable and fun tool in my classroom that the students and I will look forward to using.

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