Thursday, June 14, 2012

Virtual Field Trip To DC

Enjoy my Virtual Fieldtrip to our Nation's Capitol. 

 Our 6th grade Social Studies curriculum focuses on World Cultures. Here we learn about the 5 Themes of Geography that can be used to describe any place that we study, and in general, our studies help us to understand and respect others around the world. To put student learning into practice we visit our Nation's Capital, Washington D.C., each year. Students are able to take their knowledge from the classroom and apply it to their own culture and society. The importance of our Nation's Capital is stressed, and students can see first-hand the countless opportunities we have to explore in our own country. Our goal as educators is for students to challenge themselves to explore areas that they may not typically be interested in, with an outcome of respect for the discipline. I am going to use my virtual field trip as an introductory lesson to what our Nation's Capital has to offer, before we are able to visit Washington D.C.

Throughout the year in World Cultures, and especially during this trip, students develop their respectful and ethical minds. Our actual trip occurs at the end of the year, where students have the knowledge to build and understand what is offered at the National Mall, such as museums and monuments. Teachers assign student groups with a maximum of 5 students and 1 chaperone, the Mall boundaries, and time frame. Students plan their entire trip with their group from day one, using their respectful minds as well as their synthesizing minds to sift through the countless things that DC has to offer.  The students develop their respectful and ethical minds by collaborating and comprising on where to go and when.  Students respect and value all group members’ thoughts and interests throughout the planning process in efforts to to provide a fun learning experience for all!  They are encouraged to challenge and lengthen their comfort zones, to develop respect for all disciplines.

An overall life lesson on respect is developed during this experience.  This is mainly the respect for what our country has to offer, the freedom we share, and the men and women who made it all happen.  Students apply their respect directly to their behavior in public, at monuments, and within the museums.  Their ethical and respectful behavior is developed throughout our study on world cultures, and our focus on respect for all disciplines in school.  By the end of the trip, students are amazed at what their group was able to plan and accomplish together, all while leaving them with numerous life lessons and a new found knowledge of what our great country has to offer.

God Bless America!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Video Blog on the 5 Minds

Here is my video on the 5 Minds and how I incorporate them into my classroom on a daily basis...enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Respectful and Ethical Minds

As Julene Reed stated, our students are engulfed in a global communication world. They are constantly using digital media and a variety of technology tools to collaborate and share things with each other. Many of my students use email daily, Skype with family members in other areas, and blog on their own.  In today’s world, collaboration amongst peers and staff is a must. Professionals no longer work alone, but instead, with each other in efforts to make the outcome even better. Ideas, emotions, and actual pieces are shared amongst people who are all striving towards a common goal.

Our students are the same way. They thrive by learning in a collaborative fashion and perform better in a digital project-based way (Reed.)  The statement that impacted me the most, and the one that I applied to teaching, is the fact that we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist today; therefore, it’s impossible to teach them everything they will need to know. We can’t answer them if they ask what their job will look like, or how they will do it. All we can do is help them learn to problem solve, think on their own, collaborate with others, and use media and technology to their advantage. 

Reed’s article reminded me of the video, "Did You Know," that we show each year as part of technology curriculum. We share this video with our students and then have a class discussion. I share that we as their teachers, strive to teach them things that will help them in their futures because we want to see them succeed. Most importantly, I remind them that they all have the ability to make this happen if they put forth the effort, and how this process needs to begin now, if it hasn't already.  They were amazed by the statistics shown in the video and seemed to be very motivated to continue into their futures. Many of them also seemed a little scared.

Modeling a variety of digital media tools in the classroom allows students to be both respectful and ethical. Students need to see the tools being used in the classroom to help learn the content, and then they need to be willing and able to “play” with the tool to enhance their learning. This will usually include some type of collaboration, and he or she will model their understanding through various projects, blogs, videos, etc. I believe students need a positive role model in the classroom who not only has a positive view on technology, but also infuses his or her lessons with various aspects of digital media. 

Overall, technology is not the "cure all." Yes, it will certainly help students reach their potential  respectful and ethical minds, but technology itself is not the key.  Collaborative technology and project-based group work is what will drive their learning and create well-rounded, respectful, and ethical students for the future!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Glogster Creation

Being introduced to Glogster has made me a very excited teacher! I'm already planning ways to incorporate this tool into my Language Arts classroom. This tech tool allows students to develop their creative mind in the way that works best for them. The organization and creativity of Glogster goes beyond the realm of hands-on project based assessments and allows students to expand their digital minds!

Here is the link to my Glogster. I'd love to use this when teaching the Iditarod by having them research using my Glog as well as following up with the writing prompt. I would also love for each of my students to create their own Glog on their chosen musher. I usually have them do a written report on the Iditarod, but I feel that this would be the perfect replacement project. I have already spoken with my tech coordinator who is on board and ready to help me organize student accounts for next year. We have the ability to use our purchase money to buy licenses for our students using, but I feel that I could use regular Glogster since it's free and our district no longer has it blocked. The possibilities and creativity are endless when using Glogster!

The use of Glogster totally supports Gardner’s idea of creativity. There are many parallels between the creative and synthesizing mind, and Glogster helps to enhance both mindsets. Gardner mentions that the synthesizer’s goal is to place what has already been established in as useful and illuminating forms as possible; meanwhile, the creator’s goal is to extend the already acquired knowledge (Gardner, 2008). It’s always a challenge for teachers to push students to synthesize the information at hand and then use their creativity to create a project displaying their knowledge, but Glogster allows students to bridge these two mindsets and create various connections. The use of Glogster appeals to various intelligences and learners, especially those that learn best visually, not to mention the fact that Glogster can incorporate many things into one. Gardner mentions that those hooked on creative activity will use computers as intellectual prosthetics by manipulating variables and large amounts of information that could not be done prior to the computer age (Gardner, 2008). Based on the learners that we face in our rooms each day, whom are all growing up in such a digital world, tools like Glogster will appeal to them. They will be able to find their inner creativity, embrace it, and come up with a spectacular result that not only shows their understanding of the content, but in a sense, helps define who they are as a student.

Gardner, Howard. (2008). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creativity- What kids really think...

I spoke with four of my 6th grade students about their thoughts on creativity. All of them are in my Language Arts class and have experienced working with digital media and a variety of tech programs over the years. All of the students that I spoke to come from supportive families, both parents are educated to some degree, all participate in extra curricular activities, and all of the students are in the high LA and Math groups. Katie, Jason, Lexie, and Lauryn were all very excited to help me for my class and were thrilled about the topic of discussion. 

What is the role of creativity in the classroom?
*Creativity to me is important because without it, kids would not be able to think outside the box. Some kids only have black and white answers, but life is about creativity.
*Creativity in a student's work shows their personality and love for doing something above and beyond the norm.
*Creativity helps kids express themselves in the classroom by writing, projects, and doing any word with the freedom and expression that comes to them. 
*Creativity is important because it allows people to express themselves in the classroom and in life.

How does creativity play a role in your education? What have you done that allows for creativity?
*We use creativity for our education to learn things in various ways. It helps us learn better because it's usually hands on and gives us the freedom to choose. We have used TikaTok, book in a bag, book mobiles, and Imovie to name a few.
*It plays a role by letting students express what they want. It can be love, happiness, or sadness. We have done many things in the classroom like TikaTok, Imovie, Blabberize, and Podcasts.
*Creativity helps me have fun while doing school work or projects. I can think outside the box and be free on what I want to do while still completing the task at hand. We have used various computer tools in class.
*Creativity is huge in the classroom. It gives us the freedom to be us. We have used a lot of fun projects in the classroom like TikaTok, book in a bag, book mobiles, and fractured Fairy Tales.

What do you value currently in your education?
*I really like having Smart Boards and at least some computers. I also value having a freedom of choice when it comes to projects that we complete.
*I really value the freedom our teachers give us on projects. I also value the technology they let us use.
*I value the use of the Smart Boards during lessons and the lap tops during certain activities. I enjoy using them because they help me learn.
*I value the Smart Boards and technology that is offered to us. I hope it continues to increase! 

What would you change about your learning environment when it comes to digital media and technology supporting creativity?
*I would like to change the amount of computers that we have. I am thankful we have them but when you have 30 kids in a class, 15 computers aren't enough. I would love to have a 1:1 ratio, and instead of having only paper back books, I'd love to be able to have Kindles. I'm glad Warwick is using BYOD though.
*I would like to change where we learn. I don't like being in my seat all the time, I wish we could go outdoors. I also think we should have more technology so more kids can work on them at the same time!
*I think we should have more computer classes and more lap tops per grade level. We could use them for various tools and we could even type up all our papers in writing.
*I would love for everyone to be able to have their own computer, more time to go outside for some activities, and classes to include more activities like blogging and creating online projects since that is what our life is made of outside of school.  

After talking to my students, not only does creativity help to enhance variety in the classroom, but I feel as though it allows students to show who they really are. In a sense, it gives them ownership for their learning and puts them in a place to expand and challenge themselves. I always try to foster a community of learners in my classroom and encourage them to take chances and rise to the occasion. I always tell them that it's okay to follow the guidelines, but would love them to kick it up a notch and show me who they really are! Technology and digital media do just that!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creativity in the Classroom: Is it lost?

Sir Ken Robinson had an incredible impact on me, my views of the classroom, as well as my views on my students’ habits and actions. I totally agreed with him that we are teaching towards a group of children who are afraid to take risks, challenges, and be wrong. It’s not because they want to be that way, but it’s because our society and educational system has shaped them to be that way.

Robinson mentioned that every school in the world has a hierarchy that includes Math and Language at the top, and the arts at the bottom. Much of the bottom also includes creativity, and it’s becoming lost within our society. Because there is little time spent on creativity, we are teaching our children to operate and push towards the next level of simply getting an education or diploma, instead of pursuing challenges and ideas. Without students’ curiosity and ability to think on their own, it’s unsure what the future will hold. Education systems are so fixated on Math, literacy, and test scores that we are forgetting that everything we have today came from an idea in someone’s mind. Someone who was using his or her creativity.  I agree with Robinson that creativity is just as important at literacy, but unfortunately the way society and school systems are run, it doesn’t necessarily allow teachers to help encourage their students creativity in the classroom. Things need to change and I feel digital media can, and will, help this problem.

I believe the use of digital media will help bring creativity back to life in schools, and will help to keep it alive.  To help encourage creativity in my classroom, I try to create as many connections for the students as possible. For example, if we are studying a particular concept in Math, I try to have a conversation about what professions may use that skill. It helps to show students that even though we’re learning something from the text, it’s applicable in their lives. To enhance creativity I also use short video clips from Discovery Education, Teacher Tube, and Brain Pop to activate students’ knowledge and get them motivated to learn!  I try to include as many media based projects as possible such as IMovie, Kidblog, Blabberize, TikaTok, and Pod Casts. I am excited to attempt the use of Glogster, Prezi, and Edmodo within my classroom next year as well.  We are fortunate to have mobile carts in each grade level that allow us to create interesting projects and assignments for our students that will allow them to share their creativity with others. Despite all that technology can offer creativity, I believe it’s crucial for teachers to let students know from day one that it’s okay to be wrong. I know I personally stress to my students that we are a community of learners who are going to support, respect, and challenge each other throughout the year. I let them know what I too am a lifelong learner and I will make mistakes and be wrong, but I’m okay with that. I want my students to feel safe when exploring technology and their creativity because I feel that is the only way they will truly be able to express it.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Here is the link to my Prezi...enjoy!

Prior to this assignment, I had never been exposed to Prezi. At first I found that Prezi was tough to navigate with all of the movement that could be done on the screen, but once you created your first few slides, it became much easier. I’m sure there is still a lot for me to learn, but I look forward to it!

Upon seeing examples and attending the webinars, I termed Prezi “Power Point on Steroids.” I loved the way it interactively lends itself to various topics and sources of information. A media infused presentation like Prezi can do many things for the students in your classroom because it not only includes words, but also videos, audio, and movement between slides. It is a source of media that will appeal to many students’ learning styles and motivate them to become actively engaged in their learning. When using Prezi with various topics in the classroom, students can make sense of the topic in whatever way they synthesize best, giving them choice in their learning, and allowing them to take responsibility of their own learning. I’m excited to see the creativity that this could include when students are creating their own presentations.

I decided to create my project on the Literary Devices that I teach because it is definitely a lesson of mine that needed a little spice. I feel that the students will really enjoy the movement that Prezi includes, as well as the videos that I included. I feel that it will appeal to many types of learners and synthesizers in my room because it is bright, includes music, and is an overall summary (narrative) that is broken down into parts (taxonomy) throughout. I also included a “Ticket Out the Door” at the end of my presentation as a way for the students to think about what they learned, make connections, and ultimately synthesize.

Digital Media presentations like Prezi allow you to start from scratch, or create a project from an outline. Students, I feel, would enjoy the freedom of the fonts, colors, sizes, movement, and ability to imbed many other files, audio, images, and videos. Synthesis is apparent, due to interdisciplinary work by various means of digital media. I can’t wait to show this type of media to my students next year and allow them to try this instead of, or in addition to, Power Point.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The synthesizing mind is a powerful thing in which we all need to survive. Gardener states that individuals without synthesizing capabilities will be overwhelmed by information and unable to make judicious decisions about professional and personal matters (Gardner, 2008).  Synthesizing is not something that we can just teach to our students. We must change our methods of teaching to incorporate the vast amount of information that is available to them. We must also model it, and allow them to create their own synthesizing mind. By doing so, they are not only able to use this part of their mind at school, but also in their personal lives. In a sense it’s taking the information around them, whatever that may be, understanding it, and making decisions based on what they know and understand in various circumstances. It is helping them to be creative thinkers, problem solvers, and worthwhile citizens.

To show synthesis, we often have some type of evaluation built into our lesson. With the various learners that we are now encountering in our classrooms, especially those who are using 21st Century Skills, it is crucial that we include other methods of evaluating synthesis, such as a web tool or computer program. Synthesizing not only helps the students learn the concept at hand, but also remember it since they are actually applying their knowledge.

Within my classroom, I always try to incorporate as much technology as possible to demonstrate synthesis in a variety of ways. One of the activities that I have my students create is a plot chart, and character webs using Inspiration (our district has purchased a license therefore each student has access to it).

To begin, I show them the rap on You Tube about plot using the lyrics from the song, “Airplanes.” They seem to love this video because it is a song they are familiar with and they actually begin singing with it during the video. It really helps my musical learners. We then define and discuss what each part of plot is, and where we would find it in a story. I then use the children’s book, “The Mitten” because it has a variety of rising action, a climax, and then a solution. Together, with volunteers coming up to the Smart Board, we record the plot of “The Mitten.” 

I then have my students choose one of the stories from their anthologies that we have read in class, and fill out a plot chart that I have provided for them. Usually we are working on various novels within our guided reading groups at this time, and one of their ongoing assignments is to create some kind of plot chart throughout the book, as well as create character webs for the characters they encounter. They may do this assignment in any way they want using Inspiration.  I have them create both of these diagrams using Inspiration because they can save the document each time and it can be an ongoing thing. This assignment helps their synthesizing mind using the narrative category because it allows them to break down and better comprehend the story itself, it helps to develop their understanding of plot throughout a story, and it helps them pick out and explain character development.

Now that I’m aware of the eight categories that Gardner refers to, I am more aware of the different synthesizing methods that each of them may possess. The use of the various digital resources listed above would not only help the synthesis of plot, but it would also allow the students to manipulate and create their own diagrams using Inspiration.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gandhi- Lesson Using Discovery Ed and other Digital Media

Students will be able to apply their knowledge of Gandhi from the previous lessons to know and understand why he was such a strong advocate for nonviolence.  By using digital media, as well as interactive quizzes (Brain Pop), and Google Docs, all learning styles will present themselves in the lesson, and provide students with the opportunity to master the content.  Engagement techniques will be used throughout the lesson to make sure students are being active learners.  The final product, and assessment, of the lesson allows students to apply their knowledge of Gandhi in an active way, all while providing choice for the students involved.

Essential Question:  Who is Gandhi and what did he do during his lifetime to live nonviolently.

Introduction (hook): Watch a brief video, and together, create a list on the Smart Board of some of the things that Gandhi did for the people of India and nonviolent activists around the world. Students will participate in the interactive quiz at the end of the video to ensure they were actively engaged.

Vocabulary: Students will take part in creating a vocabulary map using Kid Pix, focusing on the Social Studies words used in Chapter 21 (India and Its Neighbors). Students will later use Quizlet to create flashcards of these same vocabulary words to help them study.

Guided Media Practice: Students will choose from various means of technology to learn more information about India and Gandhi

Independent Assessment Project:
After watching the DiscoveryEducation video on Gandhi, and based on the information that you found, contribute to the class GoogleDoc to display your understanding and application of this noble man, Gandhi.

Group Project: You will also use this GoogleDoc to help you create a newscast explaining Gandhi’s legacy. You will complete this project using various digital images and video, and you will compile your newscast using IMovie, Prezi, or Garage Band.

Create a Blabberize, acting as if you were Gandhi, explaining who he was and what he did during his lifetime on behalf of the people of India and nonviolent activists around the world.

*By involving various forms of technology and digital media, almost all of the multiple intelligences are covered in some way. Based on the activities mentioned above, the teacher is able to meet the needs and interests of all students within the classroom, which helps to cater to the “whole child”. Students will be actively engaged in their learning by completing various projects, but they will also be using various forms of technology first hand. Hopefully they will see the purpose in doing the projects as well. This lesson would also allow the students to choose what technology tool to use, as well deciding what lessons they want to contribute to on the class Google Doc. By giving the students choice, and including a variety of technology tools and digital media, students become in charge of their own learning; Which in turn, will increase their motivation to learn and succeed.

*Some of the links used in this lesson are generously provided by our School District and requires students to be logged in to the Student Portal.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

728 Challenge

I’m Allison Butler and this is my fifth year teaching 6th Grade at John Beck Elementary in Lititz, PA. I’m taking EDIM classes to find better ways to actively engage my students using technology.

Teachers should focus on the whole child by embracing the various intelligences, interests, and experiences that our students bring to our classrooms. Technology does this by providing a variety of activities and communication methods in the classroom, and it gives students the freedom to explore and choose. Challenges with technology include lack of time, equipment, and troubleshooting. We need to adjust our teaching methods to meet the new age of learners that we face each day.

In my room students use computers to research, blog, complete online activities, use Google Docs, create podcasts, online books, and digital stories, as well as “Write Around the Room.” Students have more opportunities in the classroom today because of technology. They have more choices, hands-on experiences, and challenges in this digital world. 

*This was VERY tough for me. I had to cut back a lot of things that I wanted to say, and I'm not sure I met my goal of 728:(