Cultivating the Ethical and Respectful Mind

As I watched and listened to the presentation, Julie Lindsay & Vicki Davis on “Flattening Classrooms”, I could not help but reflect on how their flattened classroom really presents an opportunity for students to develop and broaden their respectful and ethical minds (Gardner, 2008).  I also realized that the “Brick to Click” theme discussed in the presentation allowed for others to examine the abuses of the respectful and ethical mind.  Earlier this year, my students threw a curveball my way and I honestly was not able to think of an answer.   We were focused citing and making sure that the appropriate people were given credit for their work, and a huge plagiarism scandal hit the news.  My students were angry.  They wanted to know why this person was exempt from the “rules” that they had to work so hard to maintain.  We talked about integrity and pride in your work as well as a job well done, but it was challenging.  In a world that seems to increasingly try to push the limits on what is acceptable, we need to focus on what is right, respectful and ethical.  


Presenters Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis  (2014) discussed how flattening the classroom really leads to a global experience.   I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to several countries in my life.   I also have had the unique pleasure of traveling as a hearing person in the Deaf world when I attended an international conference of Deaf Education in South Africa.   While I was there, I not only learned about the world around me in which I was unaware, I also learned more about the Deaf world and culture.   Additionally, I learned how this small part of the world viewed me as an American.  I was asked more than once by students what Michael Jordan was really like in person.   Students did not understand I did not know him, they thought all Americans knew famous people.  That really touched home when they discussed how a young student from the southern United States addressed her  teacher as “sir”, a huge sign of respect, but to the teacher, it was a sign of disrespect.  I have attached this Youtube video showing how “BATHROOM” is signed in American Sign Language (ASL) and in Japanese Sign Language (JSL).  While ASL is the most commonly used and understood of the world’s sign language, due to the fact that the only university for the Deaf is in the United States and all students must sign ASL to attend, the sign for “BATHROOM” in ASL is considered a vulgar sign in most countries, therefore the “WC” sign is more acceptable.  I learned this the hard way, but it was a lesson that has stayed with me.  Every aspect of the flattened classroom is pre-planned, but these moments of global misunderstanding and understandings occur and are learning experiences.  If we stay in an isolated bubble, does true learning really happen?  As educators, we need to prepare our students for the global experience, the jobs of tomorrow.   Working across cultures is one way to do it.  The more I listened to this presentation, the more intrigued I became.   I know that I need to start out small, but this idea of joining one of the programs is of great interest to me.   I know what I will be looking into this summer.  My students are already behind the eight ball, they need all the help they can get.   Not only does a “flattened classroom” provide for worldly access, it presents language in a meaningful way, which in turn provides access to a greater ethical and respectful mind.




Gardner, H. (2008). Five minds for the future [Kindle]. Retrieved April 12, 2017.


Jslvideodayo. (2012, May 09). Lesson 28/ bathroom/ Japanese Sign Language 日本の手話. Retrieved April 12,

2017, from (2014, January 16). Julie Lindsay & Vicki Davis on “Flattening Classrooms. [Video

File]. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

Spotlight on Strategies: Thinking Maps

Spotlight on Strategies: Thinking Maps

My Spotlight on Strategy addresses Thinking Maps and the need for a common language for written expression, especially in relation to special education students and English Language Learners.  As a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, my students often struggle with written expression as English is not their native language.  Unlike non-English speaking students, Deaf students have no native written language.  The language that they are expected to use is grammatically and syntactically different from their everyday expressive language. This poses quite a conundrum.  Students are often hesitant to even try to use written language.  They are aware that language is out of reach for them and do not want to even try.  Thinking Maps provide a common thread in which students and teachers can speak.  Students are no longer expected to learn and maintain new expectations for each class.   Graphic organizers are the same in each class, the language and the vocabulary are all the same.  Students need to master one set of concepts which are applicable in all areas.

As technology becomes more and more available, the use of Thinking Maps also allows students to connect with one another more easily.   I often encourage students to use Google Docs or Google Drawings to complete their respective Thinking Maps.  This way students are able to make it their own yet they are able to collaborate with one another in an immediate manner.  As an example, I have a student who is sixteen.  Prior to entering my class, he literally had not written one word in two years.  He was terrified to write.  He would sign a story, he would retell, but he would not write.  Once given the option to complete his Thinking Map on a Google Drawing, he was willing to try.  He had immediate access to sign language dictionaries to locate vocabulary he wanted to use.  He was also able to immediately see mistakes and change them.  Probably the biggest plus for him was that he was able to see that his work had value.  He tested the system, but in the end, his work earned him full credit, something that he had not earned in a long time.  While he is nowhere near writing at grade level, he is writing.  When presented with Thinking Maps and access to a computer, he will attempt to write.  All in all, I believe that Thinking Maps provide access to concepts that were previously limited to students, especially those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Student Perspective on Creativity

During my 7th period today, I asked my students to help me with my homework.  Most were more than willing, a few chose to continue to work on their assignment.  My 7th period is a class of on grade level Deaf and Hard of Hearing students who utilize much technology and digital media in the classroom.  When asked to assess what they find valuable, especially when related to digital media they really struggled.  Most of the time, they were focused on how “technology” was related to their online classes.  It was clear that they found their online classes to be stifling and connected that experience to classroom technology. After redirecting the conversation, students began to assess how technology is used in the classroom.

Students discussed how technology benefits them:

*provides visual access which is valued in the Deaf community

*limits the need for 3rd party interference (video phones, Glide, Facetime)

*allows for direct access to materials, presentations can be shared

*cloud based tools eliminate the need for USBs and compatibility

*addition of video and sign language access

Students feel that digital media allows them unprecedented access to information and projects that their hearing peers take for granted, providing them access to more that normally was blocked by language.

Students discussed the negatives of technology:

*too much technology is being “taken over” by adults.   Students feel that adults are using digital and social media to police their children.

*too much is blocked and not available at school.

*teachers are not up to date on technology and they are not able to use wanted technology to share ideas.

*overuse of the same apps and tools

*unwillingness of administration to allow changes in the use of technology in the classroom

Students appreciate the importance of technology, but they wish that schools and teachers would be better prepared.

Creativity in schools, where has it gone?

Do schools kill creativity? How can you use digital media to bring creativity alive in your classroom?- that is the question….


I was tasked this week with watching a TED talk.   Tasked is too negative of a word, I love TED talks, so this was a joy.  The ideas, the flow and the humor in which interesting topics are actually present in an interesting manner are a draw for me.  And, I was not disappointed.  I watched Sir Ken Robinson TED talk regarding, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Ironically, the advertisement that led to the TED talk had an adult crumpling up a little girl’s picture and telling her is was not good enough, thus killing her creativity even before I started the talk.  As I listened to this TED talk, I was blown away.  Ken Robinson states that children do not grow into creativity rather ‘”they grow out of it” (Robinson 2009).   He further explains that academically, we tend to teach from from the head up and more towards the left side, expecting the same outcome for all students, an outcome which, at the minimum, is unrealistic (Robinson, 2009).  Rather than address only the head and its intelligence, educators need to look at the whole child.

I have been a teacher for over 17 years and I have seen the changes that have taken over education.   I have seen talented men and women, good educators leave the field, because they were no longer trusted to perform their craft.  I honestly believe that teaching itself is a creative craft.  Bringing the joys of the left and right side to the students.  But more and more, educational standards are being designed by those without the creativity and skill in the craft of teaching, therefore stifling not only the teacher, but the student.  My daughters are in first and second grade.  They attend an advanced academic school (they are brilliant…no I am not biased!).  Recently, their school piloted a dual Spanish Language program.  They are taught for half of the day in English and half of the day in Spanish.  I originally had no intention of placing them in this program.  Their schooling is already intense, I did not see the point, until I visited the classroom.  The students sing, they dance, they learn culture, create projects, they are always moving!   My younger daughter needs this and my older one thrived on the challenge of a second language.  They sing all the time at home.   My older daughter is writing a book in which her characters are Deaf, Spanish and herself!  My younger one is watching Youtube videos to make crafts that they learned about in class.  I am thrilled that they have this opportunity.  I am saddened that some of their peers do not.

As a teacher, I do not want to stifle the creative side of my students.   I am not creatively minded, I am analytical.   I am the only one in a family of creative people.  They helped me to be aware of the creative needs of those around me.  However, I did not know how to tap the creative minds of my students, since I do not think that way.  Technology has been a great help for me.  It speaks to my analytical mind while allowing my students to be creative in their endeavors.  I have seen success with tools like StoryBoardThat, Powtoon, Tagul and simple Youtube channels.   Recently, some of students created ASL poems regarding their reaction to the memoir Night.    I was blown away.  One student, who is normally all of the place, created the most stunning visual poem.  I do believe that digital media is a way to help get creativity back into the classroom, especially with those educators who are black and white.  Digital Media helps us to see the colors.


T. (2007, January 06). Do schools kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from

Romeo and Juliet Prezi    (to view as intended, please use the old viewer, not the updated viewer)

Deaf individuals are proud of their heritage and their culture.  Being Deaf is not seen as a limitation, but rather as a point of pride.   But, it is no secret in education circles as well as in education circles, that Deaf individuals often fall behind the achievements of their hearing peers.  Redeafined magazine (2012) explains that Deaf children, unlike their hearing peers are often born as linguistic minorities in their own families.  Unlike hearing children, the Deaf child does not have access to language from birth.  Deaf children are not read to nor can they communicate in a meaningful way.  Finey et. al (2003) have reported that auditory complex in the brain may, when devoid of stimulus, may contribute to enhanced visual input.  Therefore, it makes sense that multi-media infused presentations not only help to make connections that are missing from the auditory, it also helps to develop a disciplined and synthesizing mind.  As sources of information are coming at the student quicker and from various sources, students automatically want to make connections and integration in their worlds/disciplines (Gardner, 2008).   Access to a multimedia presentation helps to students make connections and allows them to begin the process of synthesis.  Additionally, for the population I teach, benefits in making additional neural connections to the material that may not have been previously available.  In previous years, Deaf students were sent to residential schools where they had access to language at all times.  Since the passage of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and the inclusion of least restrictive environment, residential students have seen a decline in population.   Students remain closer to home, attending day schools or their local public schools. While the student has more interaction with their families, the lose the consistent interactions in their own language, American Sign Language (ASL).  As technology increases, educators are able to include sign supported multi-media presentations that students can bring into the home. Technology is making the playing field more even for students who are Deaf and I believe the benefits are just starting to be seen.


Debunking the “Fourth Grade Reading Level” Statistic. (1970, January 01). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from

Gardner, H. (2008). Five minds for the future [Kindle ]. Retrieved March 26, 2017.

Finney, Eva M.; Clementz, Brett A.1; Hickok, Gregory2; Dobkins, Karen R. (2003, August 06). Visual stimuli activate auditory cortex in deaf subjects: ev… : NeuroReport. Retrieved March 26, 2017, from



As the “English Department” for the High School, I need to not only teach my classes and follow state standards for ELA, I also need to help students make connections and applications to their other academic classes.  This eduClipboard not only is a guide for students both inside and outside of my classes, it is a reference for other teachers if they wish to apply research resources within their respective discipline. I picked this topic as it is a standard that encompasses all high school grade levels, for the entire year.  It is applicable for other subjects as well.

Motivational Communication Poster

My classroom is a “voices off” environment, but not all my students are “voices off”.  I have many students who are hard of hearing who can talk.  However, since I have students who cannot speak or have any residual hearing.  Instead of adding to the list of “rules and regulations” that seem to fill our classroom.  Modifying the more important ideals of the classroom to motivational posters is a fun and impactful way to highlight them.   Additionally, it is quick and creative way to demonstrate understanding of a topic.   Posters can be displayed as reminders and points of pride.

PSA and the effects on the parents of today

As a parent of young children, I walk a fine line between the needs of technology and the wants of modern day children.   In order to better understand technology and how it effects/benefits my children, I previewed two public service announcements (PSA) to help me in this endeavor.

The first PSA I viewed, The Essay Movie,  showed the importance of innovation and ideas.   As the young girls in the PSA was brought before more and more people in “authority” who assessed her competence, she never lost sight of her vision of SMART phones, even as a young girl in (what appeared to be) the early 1950’s.  The PSA cleverly addressed those of us who are set in our ways and are able to look outside of the box, to embrace the innovative, the dreamers.  Rather than stifle them, the PSA encourages us to encourage them as one never knows where the next idea will come.  As a parent, I feel that this ad was very effective.   As a parent, I am often quick to judge or slow to come on board to ideas that are out of my realm of understanding.   Using a “flashback” to show the absurdity in the past of a device I cannot do without in the present, effectively woke me up to the idea that the dreams of today are the reality of tomorrow.

The second PSA I watched, We Think, focused on the unifying nature of the internet.  We as a people work together to produce and share our information, creating a world that is open to all.   The PSA felt as if it were targeting like minded people, who believed in the power of the internet and what could be globally.  I was not a fan of this PSA.   I think that there probably was significant information to be presented, yet it was not conveyed in a meaningful way.   The black and white nature, the line drawings to the sleep inducing music, I was not drawn to the message.  I was not engaged as I was with the previous PSA.  I made no personal connections.   I would not watch it again, nor would I probably visit the web site.  I think the wrong platform was chosen to disseminate this material.

Infographics for Student Use

My students, by nature, are visual learners.  Many times, the mere act of using written language throws a wrench into my ability to assess understanding and often times prevents students from really showcasing what they know.  Infographics are a great way to have students demonstrate knowledge in a visual form.   I explored three types of infographics this week.  I have to say that the two that really hit home with me were ones that were available on the Google platform.   I am not sure if it is because it is a form in which I am already comfortable or because I know that it will take very little to indoctrinate the students to these applications.   I first looked at a “timeline” infographic.   I found using Google Photos to be the most user friendly application to use.   At first, I was not that thrilled with it as I was looking for ease of use, but once I played around with it and stopped making it harder than it needed to be, I really enjoyed it.   I also liked that the album stays on the student’s cloud and is easily accessible.  One of the biggest struggles I have with my Learning Disabled students is the ability to remember where everything is located.   We use Symbaloo webmixes for ease of access in the classroom, but I also try to think bigger picture.   My students are juniors and seniors, they will be leaving the classroom soon and I want them to have skills that they can use later in life.   The use of Google Photos to create a timeline is something that they will be able to use as the mature and even start their own families.  Additionally, I used Google Drawing to create a statistical infographic.   I found this process to be fun and challenging.  I like the idea that it also challenged me to use my mathematical skills.   I needed to convert the data into percentages and then calculate how to visually represent that information.   This type of infographic could be used as a group project or as an individual assessment.   I am currently teaching a lesson on the Holocaust.   I think that I may change on of the written assignments to an infographic, allowing the students to demonstrate comprehension of the novel, the use of creative commons and creative expression.    I have also made a note to add the statistical infographic to the introduction of the unit, when we discuss the victims of the Holocaust.   All in all, I think that infographics can lend a great deal to the learning process for visual learners.