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:(