Google Earth Virtual Field Trip (EDIM 508 Final Project)

Here is the link for access to my Biodiversity Google Earth Virtual Field Trip

This was my first time using Google Earth and creating this type of virtual field trip.  I chose the topic of biodiversity because it is considered a readiness (tested) standard in seventh grade curriculum in Texas and has a global perspective that would engage my student’s respectful and ethical minds.  This project was created for the following 7th grade objectives:

TEK 7.10A – Observe and describe how support different varieties of organisms

TEK 7.10B – Describe how biodiversity contributes to the sustainability of an ecosystem

 A student is using their respectful mind when they try to understand views other than their own.  Students need to work together despite differences in belief and culture.  “The task for educators becomes clear:  if we are to fashion persons who respect differences, we need to provide models and offer lessons that encourage such a sympathetic stance” (Gardner, 2007, p. 110).  This biodiversity virtual field trip engages students in thinking about a global issue from different perspectives.  As students share the answers to the questions within the project, they will learn that there is more than one solution to a problem.  This project can help students learn how others perceive and go about solving global challenges and learn to appreciate those differences.

This project also engages the students’ ethical mind.  Students will learn that declining biodiversity can take place in any ecosystem and all of us effect this change, no matter where it takes place in the world.  A student is using their ethical mind when they realize they are members of a larger community and need to be responsible students as well as citizens.  “Students need to understand why they are learning what they are learning and how this knowledge can be put to constructive uses” (Gardner, 2007, p. 142).  This project engages students in the concept of biodiversity by reflecting on their actions that could potentially increase or decrease biodiversity in different ecosystems.

The final location in the field trip contains an assessment created using the Writing Prompt Builder from Discovery Education.

Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts

Images in the project were geotagged pictures licensed under Creative Commons from

Reynolds Middle School, Prosper TX – Location #1 –

Texas Grassland Photo – location #2 –

Mt. St. Helens – Location #3 –

Canadian Tundra – Location #4 –

Arctic – Location #5 –

Desert – Location #6 –

Wetlands – Location #7 –

Forests – Location #8 –

Rainforest – Location #9 –

Natural Disasters – Location #10 –

Using Digital Media to Develop Students’ Respectful and Ethical Minds (EDIM 508 U06a1)

As teachers, our job has become more than teaching students about reading, writing and math.  It is our job to teach our students the content curriculum at each grade level and we are also responsible for creating global citizens with important 21st century skills.  “Today’s students face a future where boundaries are abstract and global learning is critical. Tomorrow’s citizens must be global communicators, must be able to participate successfully in project-based activities, and must have collaborative skills” (Reed, 2007).

Digital media is a great way to create global opportunities for our students while developing their respectful and ethical minds.  “The respectful mind notes and welcomes differences between human individuals and between human groups, tried to understand these “others,” and seeks to work effectively with them” while “the ethical mind ponders the nature of one’s work and the needs and desires of the society in which one lives” (Gardner, p. 3).

A great way to accomplish this with my sixth grade science students would be during our unit on Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources.  In the past this unit’s culminating activity is for students to research and debate the best source of energy.  A great way to create a global perspective for this project would be to assign different regions of the world.  When researching each energy source, students would need to focus on their specific region of the world.  The focus of sixth grade social studies in Texas is world cultures.  This would be a great way to connect the two subjects for the students.  Students would need to shift their focus from the best energy source to what is the best energy source for their particular region of the world.  Students would develop their respectful minds as they learn about other regions of the world and their energy needs and challenges.

The other aspect of this activity would be the debate.  Students would be developing their ethical minds as they learn about the cost, availability and possible pollution of their energy source and determine which would be best for the people that live within that region.  They would need to determine how it would affect the people of that region both positively and negatively.

Often state and district curriculum is very narrow and teachers need to create global connections for the students within the curriculum.  “Through global activities, standard curricula are transformed into engaging projects with real-world applications and service learning opportunities. These types of projects promote creativity, address all learners, provide success for all students, make content meaningful, provide an authentic audience, motivate students and empower students to make a difference” (Reed, 2007).

This project would allow students to use a variety of technology tools.  Students would learn how to collaborate using technology as they utilize their school provided Google Drive accounts and enhance their research skills.  Students could debate the types of energy in a digital story or video presentation.  A great real-world connection would be to have the students email with representatives from different energy companies or set up a video conference for the students to ask questions about a certain type of energy.  Students would come away from this project with a deeper knowledge of the different energy sources in a real-world context.

Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts

Reed, Julene.  (2007, September 28).  Global collaboration and learning:  how to create a world of success without leaving your classroom.  EDTECH: Focus on K-12.  Retrieved from

Glogster and the Creative Mind (EDIM 508 u05a2)

Glogster is a great Web 2.0 tool for the classroom.  I created a Heat Transfer poster for my first glog.  I think starting with a blank page is a great way to inspire creativity but also would be daunting for some students.  Glogster is user friendly and I think my students would get the hang of it quickly.  Glogster could also work for the various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Students can create a glog that identifies a concept but could also change the structure of a glog to analyze a concept.

The topic of my glog is Heat Transfer.  It can be used with the following state standards:  TEK 6.9A Investigate methods of thermal energy transfer including conduction, convection and radiation TEK 6.9B Verify through investigations that thermal energy moves in a predictable pattern from warmer to cooler until all the substances attain the same temperature such as an ice cube melting. Both objectives are at the analyze level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The text information and YouTube videos are mostly at a lower level of Bloom’s but the hyperlinks to other websites and Discovery Education assessment add the higher level thinking skills.

Gardner says, “Sluices of creativity can be maintained by exhibiting different, equally viable solutions to a single posed problem” (2007, p. 86). I could simply provide my students will a prompt such as “Show your understanding of the types of heat transfer.  Make sure to include examples and explanations”.  Using this prompt with Glogster would provide many different outcomes which fosters creativity in our students.  It also helps them evaluate the importance of the different types of media.  Our students need to understand that media can help explain and clarify a concept but media can also distract learners.

When I have a short amount of time but want everyone to share their learning, I could use the laptops or computer in the lab to show everyone’s glogs at once.  Students could rotate and spend a few minutes looking at each glog.  Students can then share what they liked about their classmates’ glogs and what they learned by seeing the different presentations.  Glogster can be used in so many different ways in the classroom and I’m looking forward to using it with my classes next year.

Heat Transfer Glog –

Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts

Student Opinions on Creativity and Technology in the Classroom (EDIM 508 u05a1)

I asked my sixth grade students what their definition of creativity was and if they thought it was an important part of a classroom environment.  They described creativity as the ability to imagine new things, to be unique in your thinking, and to find ways to make the world a better place.  My students prefer classes that use technology more often.  I asked them to explain why they felt this way.  One student told me that technology doesn’t limit their thinking.  There are so many ways to do accomplish the task and technology gives them more ways to go about a specific task.  Another student told me that using technology in the classroom gives them so many more tools to be creative.  An example they gave was SMART Notebook.  The tools within the program gave them more options and ideas which made it easier to be creative.

My school district has K-6 at the elementary schools and this was our last day of school so the kids really thought about their classrooms next year when they get to middle school.  I asked them to reflect upon their experiences so far and how they would like their classes next year to incorporate technology.  The students want more independence and choice when it comes to showing their mastery of a concept.  They feel that when they get a chance to explore the content without specific directions,  they learn more.  I also asked them how they would feel if they had a teacher that did not use any technology.  I received 25 stares of disbelief.  One student commented, “Why WOULDN’T  they use technology?”

Do Schools Kill Creativity? (EDIM 508 u04a1)

My first response to this question was a resounding YES!  The more I thought about it though, I felt the distinction needed to be made between schools and our education system.  Our education system is set up to educate large numbers of students within a tight budget and is not structured to foster creativity.   As standardized testing becomes more rigorous, school districts become more data driven and creativity takes a less important role.

Schools, on the other hand, do not kill creativity.  When we think about schools we need to look at the teachers within each classroom.  Teachers work hard to fill their classrooms with engaging and creative activities.  As teachers, we face the enormous challenge of providing our students with what we know they need and what our curriculum says they need.  Our students have been programmed to find the right answer but Sir Ken Robinson points out that “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” (Robinson, 2007).  Keeping this statement in mind let’s refer back to our education system and standardized testing.  Standardized tests are all about finding the one right answer and students are measured by how many questions they get correct.  “There is a reason why so many famous creators hated or dropped out of school –they did not like marching to someone else’s tune” (Gardner, 2007. p 83).  Teachers have the ability to create open-ended activities for their students so that they can create their own tune for learning.

Digital media is a great tool for engaging our students and helping them create their own learning.  Technology can be integrated into inquiry based activities and project based learning quite easily.  I incorporated the flipped model into my classroom this year.  I created a short video on the concepts of force and motion and then the students completed activities based on their level of understanding.  When I was sure that they understood the concepts, they created their own investigations using the concepts they had just learned.   The kids enjoyed this unit so much that other teachers came to find out what we were doing because the students were talking about it all week in other classes.  Below you will find a copy of the learning contract I created for them and the video they watched to learn the content.  This was my first attempt at covering the content in the time allotted by my curriculum document and giving the students choice into what they would investigate.  As the school year went on, I was able to add more open-ended activities with less structure.

Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts

Robinson, Ken. (2007). Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? – January 2007.  Retrieved May 27, 2013 from YouTube Website:

Force and Motion Learning Contract

My Media-Infused Prezi – Potential and Kinetic Energy

My media-infused Prezi on Potential and Kinetic Energy could be used as a whole group introductory lesson or assigned to students as a flipped lesson.  This presentation was created for my 6th grade science students.  I started off with a video that would help them create their own definition of potential and kinetic energy before giving them specific examples.  I included questions in the Prezi that could be used as discussion during whole group instruction or give them something to think about if they are watching it individually.  I also found that incorporating videos and images from Discovery Education could be done with ease.

Prezi is a great technology tool to utilize when trying to help students synthesize information.  Gardner defines synthesis as taking ‘the current state of knowledge, incorporating findings, and delineating new dilemmas’ (p. 12).  Students can use this presentation to activate their prior knowledge of energy and incorporate the new information to create their own connections.  He describes four basic components of synthesis (p. 51-52).  Students must have a goal or objective during a lesson and a place to start the building of their knowledge, the teacher must determine a strategy for the lesson and students have to have an opportunity for feedback.  I believe Gardner’s four basic steps to help develop a disciplined mind are closely related to his components of synthesis (p. 32-34).  These steps include identifying the instructional purpose, taking the time needed to learn, use a variety of methods, and give the students opportunities to show their understanding.

I started my Prezi with the instructional purpose so students would know what we would be learning and included the use of video, audio and text throughout the presentation.  I also included questions for students to think about and answer in their journals.  If the Prezi is being used during a whole group lesson, the teacher could take time to talk about possible answers.  If the students are working individually on the lesson then the questions would lead into the next class period.

Prezi is also a very engaging technology tool that the students enjoy using.  Students that are engaged in the method of delivery and with the instructional purpose tend to make more connections to the content.  Group discussion after the lesson can help reel in those students that did not engage or connect with the concepts on their own.

Gardner, Howard. (2007). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Here is the link to my Prezi: Potential and Kinetic Energy Media-Infused Prezi  (

Using Technology to Synthesize Meaning (EDIM 508 u03a1)

Our students have vast amounts of information available to them at the click of a button.  As educators, we need to help them learn strategies to take in all of this new information and construct meaning out of it.  I use many technology tools to help achieve this goal throughout the school year.  One of the objectives for 6th grade science in Texas is to classify rocks by how they are formed.  In this unit, students used Google Drive to collaborate and SMART Notebook to share their learning.

My lessons follow the 5 E instructional method:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate.  The engage piece of the rock cycle unit was to observe different rock s and put them into groups.   Students used their science journals to record their information.  I did not give them any specific instructions other than to put them into 3 separate groups.  We then watched a short video, Types of Rocks and the Rock Cycle, from Discovery Education.  The explore component included this video and a lab activity.  We used crayon shavings to represent individual sediments.  The students then compacted and cemented the shavings to make a sedimentary rock.  The next step was to place a piece of foil on top of a beaker of boiling water.  The colors started to mix from the heat.  This represented a metamorphic rock.  Students then let the pieces of crayon melt completely, turning black and forming magma.  We let the wax, or magma, cool and harden into an igneous rock.  Students taped pieces of each rock sample in their journal as they created a graphic organizer of the information they learned from the lab.

The students used Google Drive for the next step.  Every student has a Google account through our school district.  I put students in random groups for the explain stage of the lesson.  The students were not sitting together and were working on a shared Google document.  We then read a passage about the different types of rocks together as a class.  Students were sharing important information from the passage, lab and video during this time.   Students then created a shared drawing of the rock cycle showing how each type of rock could transform into another type of rock.  Each document and drawing was shared with me so that I could monitor their progress and comment if needed.

Students went back to their original table groups for the elaborate activity.  Student were given the same rock samples from the engage activity and reevaluated the categories they created in their science journals based on what they had learned from the previous activities.  Students also added to the graphic organizer of the rock cycle in their journals from the lab by adding arrows to show how each type of rock could change into another.

The evaluation of student understanding was a rock cycle story.  Students used SMART Notebook to create their own digital stories about a rock going through the rock cycle.  (Note:  Students without access to SMART Notebook could use Photostory, Voicethread or another Web 2.0 tool to create their digital story.)  The students were given a rubric of the information to be included in their story which included the following:  make sure to include each type of rock in your story, explain where the rock is at each stage of the rock cycle and describe the formation of each type of rock.

This unit lasted about 2 weeks and was a huge success with my students.  They were able to learn about the concepts from different sources including each other.  I ask my students for feedback when we try new things in the classroom and the one thing that students liked the most was the ability to work with so many different students in a variety of ways.  The video below was created by one of my students.

EDIM 508 (u02a1) Using Digital Media to Teach Plate Tectonics

I teach 6th grade Science and love using resources from Discovery Education with my students.  I believe presenting content in a variety of ways in my class is the best way to reach all learners.  I see 140 students throughout the day and they all have their own way of learning.  My goal is to introduce the content of each unit in as many ways as possible.  This not only helps all of my students learn but engages them in the content.

Each year 6th grade students in Texas are introduced to the theory of plate tectonics and how the movement of those plates causes different geological events.  This year we started off the plate tectonics unit with a flipped video lesson.  I created a SMART Notebook lesson and turned it into a video.  (Here is the link to the video – I incorporated different activities into the video that helped students interact with the content.  These activities could also be completed without the technology aspect but the video lets each student work at their own pace and keeps them engaged.  It also gives me the opportunity to answer questions and help students that need it.  We also completed a lab activity using shaving cream and graham crackers to simulate the ways the plates move.  (picture below) We have a classroom video camera that students use to record their lab activities.  We can use these videos as a teaching tool after the lab but students have also used the videos to create their own tutorials.

Convergent graham crackers      Virtual lab

One way that I connect this unit to the real world is through Discovery Education’s virtual lab Quake It, Don’t Shake It.   This activity gives students the opportunity to use inquiry skills to solve a real-world problem. The students act as an engineer that works with geologists, architects, and other engineers to test the likely effects of earthquakes on local buildings.  Students learn about plate movement, how earthquakes occur and the possible destruction that they can cause.  Students create an experiment using the earthquake simulator to determine the location of a new building.   This virtual lab can be used with individual students, small groups or whole group.  You can extend the activity by having students create a proposal that they will present to the city council to summarize their findings.

The students really enjoyed this activity.  It gave them an opportunity to use the knowledge they had gained during the plate tectonics unit and apply it in a new way.  It also exposed them to new careers in the science field.  It helped them understand why they were learning about plate tectonics and a real world application of the knowledge.  Using digital media in the classroom not only engages them in the learning of a concept but gives the experiences that would be hard to replicate in the classroom.

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