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.