Sunday, August 12, 2012

Virtual Field Trip

Here is the link to my virtual field trip:  EDIM 508 Final Project

For my final project for this course, I created a virtual field trip that takes my students to a few places around the French speaking world.   When I first thought of an idea for this project, I thought that I would just have students learn information about various French speaking places.  Then, I thought that I should try and include some grammar and vocabulary into the assignment.  Culture is easy to teach, but it’s difficult sometimes to find assignments that involve grammar that my students would be interested in.  Therefore, I decided to have my students write a journal entry in the past tense that describes a trip they took around the French speaking world. 

This assignment would help my students develop their respectful and ethical minds.  This virtual field trip exposes students to aspects of the life and culture in four distinct areas of the Francophone world.  It brings in aspects of daily life, art, geography, animals, landmarks, and much more.  This assignment allows students to look at other cultures and places in a way that is exciting and motivating.  “We can no longer simply draw a curtain or build a wall that isolates groups from one another indefinitely” (Gardner, pg 94).  It is vital that our students learn about other ways of life.  So many of my students have never left the greater Baltimore area, and they have no idea what life is like in places outside of Maryland.  It is especially important for me, as a French teacher, to help my students see beyond Maryland.

It is important for “human beings to accept the differences, learn to live with them, and value those who belong to other cohorts” (Gardner, pg 94).  A big concept that I teach is “different, not weird”.  When my students begin learning French, and learning about the various cultures, I hear the word “weird” constantly.  I work hard to change that way of thinking.  My students eventually come to understand that other cultures are not weird, they are just different than what they are used to.  “Respect for others should permeate one’s life”, and I hope that through assignments such as this one, I can help my students learn to respect other cultures (Gardner, pg 111).

Project Resources:

Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA

Eiffel tower. (2008). Retrieved from
Reinhardt Dining. (Photographer). (2012). Paris cafe. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Consulate General of Madagascar. (n.d.). Madagascar tourism. Retrieved from

Travel Tahiti. (Photographer). (n.d.). Dance. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Pioch, N. (19, September 2002). Gaugin, paul. Retrieved from

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Respectful and Ethical Minds

This week’s topic of the Respectful and Ethical minds was one that I related to very quickly.  As I have mentioned before, I teach at an IB-MYP school.  So much of what we do in our school is related to developing these minds.  One of the biggest connections I thought of was the Learner Profile.  These are ten characteristics that we try and get our students to embody throughout the MYP program.  These characteristics are posted in every classroom and throughout the school, and are part of our school’s vocabulary.  The characteristics are:

·         Caring

·         Communicators

·         Respectful

·         Principled

·         Risk-takers

·         Balanced

·         Inquirers

·         Knowledgeable

·         Open-Minded

·         Thinkers

“Humans exhibit a deep-seated tendency to create groups”, and I think that these Learner Profile characteristics help our students learn how to interact appropriately within their groups (Gardner, pg 92).

In my classroom, I work very hard to help develop respectful and ethical minds.  I teach not only the French language, but I teach about various cultures throughout the French speaking world.  Most of my students have never left the greater Baltimore area, so world cultures are completely unknown to them.  Knowledge of other cultures around the world leads students to understanding and compassion”, and I certainly try to expose my students to other cultures in my class (Reed, 2007).

In her article, Reed suggests the use of e-mail in order to promote global learning.  I would like to try this in my class this coming school year.  My school district has finally approved the use of e-Pals, and I can not wait to try it out!  In speaking with language teachers from other districts that have used e-Pals, they have nothing but praise for the site.  They have linked up with classes throughout the world, and exposed their students to other cultures.  It also provides a wonderful way for students to communicate in French.

Another project I would like to do that promotes global learning is podcasting.  Getting my students to communicate orally in French is a struggle.  I think that they would be excited to create podcasts, and would therefore be more willing to speak in French.  If I can link up with a classroom through e-Pals, my students could share their podcasts with other students throughout the world.  It would also be exciting for them to hear podcasts from their e-Pals.

My school certainly promotes developments of our students’ respectful and ethical minds.  The IB-MYP curriculum framework is very much geared towards global learning and character development.  There are many exciting things that I would like to try in my classroom to help promote these goals.


Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA

Reed, J. (2007, September 28). Global collaboration and learning [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Project 2: Glog

Here is the link to my Glog: Click Here

I have looked at many Glogs before, but this week’s assignment was my first time creating my own Glog.  I must say that I am now LOVING Glogster, and can not wait to use it with my students in the coming school year!  I think that the possibilities for its use are endless, and I know my students will thoroughly enjoy creating their own Glogs.

This Glog that I created would be used at the end of Unit 2 for my 6th grade French IA class.  The last two topics of Unit 2 are the date and the weather.  This Glog could be used as a review for these topics for the whole class, or as a differentiated activity for students that need more review and practice.  I was lucky to find a video on Discovery Education that addressed both the weather and dates.  There are not many videos on Discovery Education about French vocabulary and grammar, but luckily this “Standard Deviants” series is fantastic!

The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Standards this Glog addresses are as follows:

1.2.A.c. Demonstrate understanding of developmentally appropriate information gained through active listening or reading by applying it to a different context.

1.3.A.a. Write and deliver short descriptions about very familiar topics of personal interest.

2.2.A.d. Identify countries, regions, and geographic features where the target language is spoken

4.1.A.d. Compare and identify the use of idiomatic expressions between the target language and English

Standard 1.2.A.c. is addressed by the Discovery Education assignment, as well as the review games.  Students have to watch and listen, and then apply what they learn.  Standard 1.3.A.a. is addressed in the writing portion of the assignment.  2.2.A.d. is addressed by having students write about the weather in a French speaking country.  They would need to find out where the city is located, as well as the general climate.  Standard 4.1.A.d. is addressed by reviewing what is taught in class about the structure of the dates and weather.  The format for both of these is quite different from English. 

Using Glogster in my class will help  my students develop their creating minds.  “The challenge to the educator is to keep alive the mind and the sensibility of the young child” (Gardner, pg. 84).  I think that an assignment using Glogster will help to do just that.  My students will be excited to make Glogs, because they will enjoy the opportunity to be creative in showing what they know.  More and more in the world, creativity is  “sought after, cultivated, and praised” (Gardner, pg. 77), and Glogster is a wonderful tool to encourage creativity!

Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog on Content Creation

For this week’s blog, I needed to talk to a student about creativity and technology.  I have a former student that I was able to get in touch with.  This student, Morgan, was in my French class for all three years of middle school.  Last year, when Morgan was a freshman, I kept in good touch with her.  We have two middle schools and one high school under one roof, so when Morgan went to high school, she was still able to visit me often.  She would volunteer in my classroom two days a week to earn service hours.  Morgan is an amazing kid, and a student that I will always remember.  She is extremely bright and thoughtful, so I knew that I would get some good insight if I e-mailed her about this assignment.  Here are the questions I asked her, and her responses.

1) Do you feel like you are able to be creative in school?

I really only feel creative in my Creative Writing class. All the other classes, not so much. My classes were IB classes, so they were more focused on learning the material and getting the work done rather than creativity. Some, like my English and Art class were exceptions, but other than that I could not be very creative in class.

2) In which classes do you feel that you are able to be the most creative?

I personally feel most creative in my writing class. I am an author, so that class gave me the chance to expand my creative bounds and helped me learn more about writing to make me better. That writing class gave me more knowledge ALONG with letting my creative brain be free and inspirational.

3) Do you think that technology allows you to be more creative?

It all depends on what technology is being used. Smart boards and Power Points have a higher creative use than Word Document. It also depends on the assignment given by the teacher. So possibly.

4) What are some projects/assignments that you have done using technology that have allowed you to create something (like a video, presentation, voice recording, etc.)

In my technologies class, we had to create a power point describing a story we went through once in our life. We used music and pictures from the trip if you had them. We also typed the words, or spoke them verbally, to explain the story. This project was fun but also taught us how to use the program we were using to create the story.

5) What are some ways that your teachers could allow you to be more creative while still accomplishing the goals of the class?

One way to do it would be have many more projects with creative freedom and a lot of crafts or other things that we create. High schoolers LOVE crafts and projects :) It’s the sad truth that we keep avoiding. If you twist the learning into crafts, we teens will realize 'Hey... we just learned something!!!'

Morgan’s responses made me smile.  She writes just like the author/history teacher she plans to be one day!  I like how she says that her creative writing class allows her “creative brain to be free”.  Wouldn’t it be great if this could occur in more classes than just creative writing?  I also like how Morgan talks about how students learn best when they don’t realize they’re learning.  I think that by using digital media and technology, we can allow this to occur more often. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creativity in the Classroom

Sir Ken Robinson’s speech is one that I have viewed many times.  I have seen it in previous Wilkes classes, as well at professional development sessions through my school and school district.  I think the message that Sir Ken Robinson gives is very powerful, and something that should be thought about very carefully. 

In many ways, our schools do kill creativity.  There is so much focus on meeting standards, and paperwork, and standardized testing, and so many other things, that teachers don’t get to do what they really need to do –which is to teach.  No two kids are the same, so give each kid the same education just doesn’t make sense.  Each student has different interests, skills, and capabilities.  We need to help them discover these, and foster them.  As Sir Ken Robinson said, “all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them” (Robinson, 2006).  For example, in my school district, middle school students only have their “encore “ classes on a three day rotation.  So a student might have a week where they only have art class one time.  My best friend is our school’s art teacher, so I spend a lot of time in her classroom, and I see students that struggle in my French class (which is more “academic”) absolutely flourishing in her art class.  Yet these students only get to be in a class that they enjoy and in which they find success every three days. 

Sir Ken Robinson talked about how “we have no idea what’s going to happen in terms of the future”, and how “education is meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp” (Robinson, 2006).  We really don’t know what kind of future we are preparing our students for, so the best we can do is help them develop a variety of skills.  Creativity is one of these skills, and I feel it is one of the most important.  Gardner talks about how companies such as Google value creative thinking, and how many other companies are starting to do the same.  We are doing our students a huge disservice if we don’t encourage creativity.  “Parallels about between the synthesizing and the creating minds”, so we need to do whatever we can to develop both (Gardner, pg 88).

So, how do we go about fostering creativity in our classrooms?  There is no easy answer, but I think that technology can certainly help.  One of my favorite projects I have ever done was last year’s final project with my 8th grade French II students.  We finished the curriculum early, so I needed a project for the last week and a half of the school year.  I split the class into groups, gave each group a topic we had studied during the year and a flip camera, and said “go”.  I put no parameters on the assignment, and I was blown away with the result.  I had one group make a rap music video explaining the difference between “who” and “whom” in French.  Another group filmed an episode of a dramatic soap opera that taught direct and indirect object pronouns.  I was blown away by what they created, and they loved the project. There are many technologies and Web 2.0 tools out there that allow students to create unique and original material.  The more we can find ways to use these in our classes, the better off our students will be.


Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity? [Web]. Retrieved from

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Media Infused Presentation

View My Prezi Here!

For this project, I designed a Prezi that could be used with my French II students to help them review the passé compose (past tense).  I really enjoyed creating this project, and can certainly see how projects such as this could help develop the disciplined and synthesizing mind.

Any project that uses a variety of types of media and sources is an effective project.  It allows students to look at a topic from a multitude of perspectives.  It also helps motivate students.  Each student has different interest and needs, and allowing students to use different sources and media types will help each student to relate to the assignment in some way.

In his book, Gardner discusses the issue where “students may have accumulated plenty of factual or subject matter knowledge, but they have not learned to think in a disciplined manner” (Gardner, pg 22).  This is certainly a problem that all teachers can relate to.  We want our students to not just recall facts or information, but to understand that information and apply it to various situations.  French is a topic that builds upon itself. There are many concepts that my students learn that they can use later on to predict new grammar rules.  Having my students create projects such as Prezis where they have to apply an old concept to a new one would help develop their disciplined minds.

Synthesis is also a very important skill for our students to learn.  Gardner defines synthesis as “the ability to knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole” (Gardner, pg 44).  When I created my Prezi, I did exactly that.  I took the topic of the passé compose, and then visited a variety of sites to gather information about the topic.  I even created some of my own media (the audio clips) to add to the final product.  I then combined all the information and media into a presentation that would concisely and completely review the passé composé.  My students could certainly create a similar project.  Doing so would help them develop their synthesizing minds.

This was my first time using Prezi, and I am already mentally planning various projects my students could do using Prezi.  If I am so excited about using Prezi, I can only imagine how excited my students will be about using it!
Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Synthesizing Mind

This week’s reading about the synthesizing mind came at the perfect time for me. For the past two weeks, I have been mentally planning a project for my 7th grade students for the beginning of the school year.  I had been rolling ideas around in my mind trying to finesse this project, and Gardner’s chapter gave me  some good direction and more of a focus for the project.

As Gardner says, “The ability to knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole is vital today” (Gardner, pg 44).  I agree that synthesizing is a skill that needs to be developed in our students at an early age.  The project that I am planning has students synthesizing information from various sources in order to teach their classmates a topic.

My 7th grade students are in French IB.  At my school, French I is split up over 6th and 7th grade into French IA and French IB.  When students come back in 7th grade, I always face the issue that they have forgotten so much of what they learned in 6th grade.  Since languages build so much on previous topics, it is vital that they review and, in many cases, re-learn what was taught in 6th grade.  I usually spend the first month of school doing this review.  I find it difficult to come up with engaging lessons to re-teach what I taught the year before.  So I decided that, this year, I would have the students do the teaching.  I will assign students to small groups, and assign each group a topic that was taught in 6th grade.  Each group will then be responsible for creating either  a Prezi or a Glog that teaches their classmates about their assigned topic.  Their Prezi or Glog will have to include information from the textbook, internet resources, a video that they create, connections to other subject areas, and more (again, I’m still developing this project).  Once students create their project, we will spend a few days in the computer lab having students view each other’s projects.  I think this assignment will be engaging for my students, and also help them to practice synthesizing information from a variety of sources.

When Gardner outlined the “Components of Synthesis” (pg. 48), I was immediately reminded of the IB-MYP Design Cycle.  Gardner’s components are:

·         A goal

·         A starting point

·         Selection of strategy, method, and approach

·         Drafts and Feedback

In my school, we use the IB-MYP Design Cycle when  students do larger projects.  The steps of the Design Cycle are:

·         Investigate

·         Design

·         Plan

·         Create

·         Evaluate

Both of these provide a similar framework for creating an effectively synthesized product. 

One of the components of the project is to have students relate their topic to another subject area.  My school focuses heavily on cross-curricular education, and I always enjoy seeing students make connections from one subject to another.  They often surprise me with the connections they make! “Interdisciplinary synthesis” is not always easy to achieve, but it is necessary for our students to look at a topic from a multitude of contexts (Gardner pg 50).  Our students need to take their lessons, and “transport at least part of those lessons across the hallway” (Gardner, pg 59).  I think including an interdisciplinary piece to the review project will help my students relate French to other topics.

I am excited to try this project out with my students next year.  I think that I now have a better idea as to what the final product should include, thanks to reading Gardner’s chapter on synthesis.  Being able to synthesize information is a vital skill, and I hope that I can do my part to develop it in my students.


Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

IBO. (2005-2012). Middle years programme curriculum. Retrieved from