Virtual Field Trip

The following is a blog post for my EDIM 508 grad class.

For our final project we had to develop a virtual field trip that would help our students develop their ethical and respectful minds.

Since I work with educators with a focus on connecting them with one another, I wanted to develop a virtual field trip that would highlight some of the things I have learned from educators in my PLN. My goal in doing this was to develop a personal story to share with educators about some of the exciting things I have learned. As they explore the Google Earth field trip they would be exposed to engaging resources from educators across the US and Canada, and as a result would begin to realize the importance of connecting with a diverse group of educators.

Over the past 10 months I have had the opportunity to work with educators from all across the US, Canada and even Romania. Many fully embrace the idea of being “connected” (DEN STARs, Leadership Council members, Gurus) and are constantly engaged with their PLN. Some educators, however, seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of connecting with their peers online whom they have never met in person. My goal is to create opportunities to tell stories and expose them to educators who are passionate about sharing.

This past weekend I hosted an in-person event in Charlotte for the DEN Fall Virtual Conference. During the event I overheard a teacher say “Richard Byrne (the opening keynote) is my new hero!”. I also overheard a conversation between several educators who were exchanging contact information and discussing how they will keep in touch. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me these are precious moments where non-connected educators are realizing the value of developing a PLN and taking their first steps to build their own community. It reminds me of the day I finally joined Twitter, the day I published my first blog post, and all of the exciting things I have learned as a result of being connected to some of the most amazing educators across the globe.

Inevitably, educators who take the time to develop a diverse PLN will be exposed to multiple perspectives and education philosophies. Some good, some bad, some strange. Through these experiences I would hope these connections help them to develop respectful and ethical mindsets. And it is with those mindsets that they are able to model respect and ethical behavior to their students.

You can download my .kmz Google Earth Field Trip HERE.


Oops I Crapped My Pants

I’m in the middle of potty training hell. My stubborn 3-year-old has the potty part down cold, but refuses to poop on the toilet. He also refuses to wear a pull-up and insists on wearing big boy underwear. He tries with all his might to hold the poop in all day until he can get a pull-up on when he goes to bed, only to call my name 15 minutes later to announce “I pooped in my pants” with a smile so big you would think Santa just stopped by for an evening visit. But lately he can’t seem to make it that long so he prances around on his tippy-toes trying to hold it in for dear life until he finally realizes there is no stopping it.

After several days in a row of picking him up from school only to be greeted with a poo-filled bag of dirty underwear that smells like a combination of skunk and vomit, I was at my wit’s end. I needed help, so I took to Facebook last night and posted the following:

I have a very stubborn 3-year-old who refuses to poop on the potty but also is refusing to wear a pull-up during the day. If I have to bring home another bag of dirty clothes I’m going to scream. Any advice? Do I just tell him no more underwear and only send pull-ups to school? He went #2 on the potty a few times and then just quit for some reason. Not sure if he’s afraid or just trying to make his mommy go insane.
Within 12 hours I had a thread of almost 30 hilarious comments from cousins, neighbors, friends, aunts and co-workers. To appreciate the humor, I’ll highlight a few:
Cousin: How bout a “if you poop in your underwear you have to wear them as a hat on the way home?” rule?
Friend: When you find the answer will you let me know…. I’m having the same problem with my 3! She won’t be bribed… It’s driving me nuts!!!
Former co-worker: well I have the total opposite. I get the yelling at top of lungs (restaurant bathrooms included) DADDY!!!!! I WENT BIG POOPIES!!!! COME SEE! Its a lot of fun.
Former co-worker: Each kid triggers on different “reasons” to make the leap. Our daughter was having issues. One day my wife brought her to a ballet class. She thought it was heaven on earth and asked Mommy if she could go every week. Well, the answer was truthful: “Sorry honey, the weekly classes only allow girls who wear undies and go potty”. Done.Game over. No problems since. Find the “ballet” in your child.
Former co-worker: We’ve went through the very same thing and finally seeked out professional help. Long story short (and you can call me if you think it’s an idea you want to pursue) – make the child responsible for their messes. On day one you say, “Pooping and peeing in the potty is your responsibility. You’ve been having trouble lately, so we have a new plan. If you forget to go to the potty for poop or pee, you have to be responsible for cleaning it up. That means taking off your dirty pants, cleaning the floor if any got on there and cleaning out your pants in the sink (or putting them in the laundry).” So, then you wait for the inevitable and then the hard part starts. You stand back. You say “I see your body forgot. So, you need to go and…..”. Do NOT do it for them. I know, it sounds harsh at first. And it’s gross (from someone who hates touching anything poo-related it’s hard, because they DO get dirty). Let me tell you though, we suffered through this one and off from 3years old-4years old. On day one, after I explained what would happen, he was disgusted. He had one or two accidents after that and when he realized how not fun it is to clean up, the problem ceased to exist. Now, the folks I consulted were also of the philosophy that we don’t bribe or reward kids for toileting – so if he does do well and doesn’t have an accident you don’t have parties or praise him. You just state facts “I see you choose to use the toilet today. How did that make you feel”.
Aunt: My Advice after raising 4 kids…..don’t sweat it…keep a diaper on him and don’t make a big deal about it at all….trust me…it will work out. Don’t make his home threatened by “rules”….it has to be a “fun” environment to live in and if it is…he will come around.
Another Aunt: Talk to your mom–I remember Michael not being able to poop on the potty and told them he’d do it when he was 4–and he did–on the golf course in the potty. Let him sit it in if he won’t wear a pull up. One time if his friends say something will take care of it. Oh the little things that try a parent.
***Side note- I think it’s hysterical that my aunt openly shared my  little brother’s poo issues!***
Brother: thanks for throwing me under the bus aunt T! this is O’s problem, dont drag me into this
Me: Aunt T- Thanks for the laugh by calling out brother and his poop issues!!smile I guess it runs in the family. Good thing he found someone to marry him before she found out:)!!!
Brother: I seem to remember having those issues because a certain sister told me there were alligators in there! Karma’s a B sister!
Me: Mary!!! She was always the mean sister.
Sister: I think you deserve what you get for calling me the mean sister. I’m going to tell O it’s cool to poop your pants (even cooler to wipe it all over the couch after helping yourself to some yogurt)
Mom: I think it is payback for you telling Michael there was an alligator in the toilet when he was little. He didn’t use the stool until he was 4! Have Uncle Mike talk to him! It’s no big deal….go back to diapers if he wants to.
Husband: I think I have Pink Eye from just reading this thread. The whole house will have it if O tries to clean his own mess.
Neighbor: I’m kind of on the side of going back to diapers till hes ready. You’re all in pain and eventually he will think uh no way I’m too big for diapers. All kids are ready for different reasons at different times. Stop driving yourself crazy! L was a late pooper. I had to watch her poop in undies in corner and then grab her put her on potty and clean it out. I never gave her positive or negative attention for it. I refused to feel miserable yelling at my 3 yr old over poop. I mean they are only three! But I was home all day so I could control it easily and grab her quick to change or go on potty. I know day care would be different. I only tell u the L story to ease your concerns. I think it’s very very common for potty training success to come in stages. Pee success first, poop later, overnight dry later, or all in reverse!!!!! C was potty trained at 2.5 no problem but he’s 4 now and still in an overnight pull-up. And I don’t care!
Cousin: First of all, nothing brings out parenting experts like a good potty training question….except maybe “how do you get your kid to eat vegetables?” or “how do you get your 3 week old to sleep through the night?”. I’m no expert, but I know one thing, I don’t know any able minded grown ups who still crap their pants….well, on a regular basis anyway. This seems to fall in line with “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Diaper it up until he is ready….but if he doesn’t want to wear one, tough luck…you have to earn your underpants with clean days. (You can steal that for a t-shirt slogan if you want). Three other comments. 1) I love that Michael Oppold got thrown under the bus by Aunt T. 2) Angie and Ginny I will pay to see the look on the faces of David and Brian when you let their kids smear poop finger paint all over the bathroom while trying to “clean up” 3) Love that the Oppold’s are getting with the times and are using facebook for stuff like this rather than filling my work email inbox.
****Side note- This was by far my favorite comment.****
After reading through the thread of comments I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud. I also realized I seriously needed to chill out. As my mother always says “This too shall pass”.  Sometimes I forget he’s only 3, and my expectations for behavior are a little unrealistic. It’s not like he’s doing it on purpose just to drive his mother insane. He’s 3! He’s not the first kid to have poo issues and he won’t be the last. Clearly my frustration, scolding and looks of disappointment aren’t helping.
So for now I’m going to tell him I love him, encourage him, order him some “Oops I Crapped My Pants and call it a day. There are bigger things to worry about.

Respect and Ethics in the Classroom

The following post is for my EDIM 508 grad class.

This week we were asked to reflect on Julene Reed’s article “Global Collaboration and Learning” by sharing ways in which digital media can be used to develop students’ respectful and ethical minds.

As a former social studies teacher I believe these are two incredibly important mindsets students must possess to succeed in today’s global economy. Chances are high that students will work in an environment where they are connecting with individuals from across the globe. In order to be effective and maximize their working relationships they need to respect the differences that may exist between their colleagues.

It’s important for educators to model respect and ethical behavior for students. Thought it may seem as if students are too self-involved to pay attention to teachers, they watch with a careful eye how teachers treat each other as well as how they interact with their peers in the classroom . While Gardner says math and science are “universal languages”, he talks about the importance of “human-inflected topics” being taught in a variety of perspectives. (pg. 111)

Growing up in a small town in Iowa, it was difficult to truly understand different cultures just by looking at pictures, reading stories and watching the occasional film strip. With access to digital tools and content, students can now be transported into a new environment, allowing them to gain a strong understanding by seeing information from a variety of perspectives.

One example of using digital media to develop respectful and ethical minds is by using Skype in the classroom. Teachers can visit Skype in the Classroom to search for classrooms and individuals to connect with from around the world based on specific content areas. With a click of a button students can be connected live to experts who can provide an engaging and interactive look into their culture. Experiencing a personal connection to individuals from new cultures provides an opportunity for students to understand and respect the differences that may exist.  Leveraging a tool such as Skype allows the students to break down the walls of their classrooms and connect with anyone, anytime.



Gardner, H. (2009). Five minds for the future. (2nd ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press.

Reed, J. (n.d.). Global Collaboration and Learning. Welcome To EDTECH™. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from

Skype in the Classroom. Retrieved October 11, 2012 from:

Glog Project

The following is for my EDIM 508 grad school class.

This week our project was to create a Glog that can be used to model as a tool for the “creating mind” discussed in Gardner’s book.

I developed a Glog that focuses on the 2012 Presidential Election.

As I reflect on this project I am aiming to answer the following question:

How can you use Glogster in your classroom this school year to foster the development of the creating mind?

“The mind of a five-year-old represents, in one sense, the height of creative power”. (Gardner, p. 84) As children enter a formal schooling environment it’s important to continue to cultivate and foster their creative mind. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, it is essential for educators to spend more time facilitating the learning process and allow students to take ownership of their learning. As they take on the task of learning new information we need to ensure we provide a variety of outlets for the students to express what they have learned. Glogster is a great tool to use for students to create content. This Web 2.0 tool allows for them to easily insert their own thoughts, images, audio, video, hyperlinks and animations. It allows the students to be creative with multiple options to customize the Glog to truly make it their own. Because this is an online tool, students can share the link to their blog and receive feedback through the comments feature. As students compare their Glog to their peers they can see the information in a variety of ways and from new perspectives. What one student learns about a topic like the presidential election may be different than their neighbor. By seeing their own thoughts compared to their peers it allows them to see a bigger picture and to understand they all play an important role in the learning process. In order to truly understand new information one of the most important things a student can do is put it in their own words so it makes sense to them. Providing access to a tool like Glogster allows students to easily create their own understanding of the content in a fun, interactive and customized way.

Click HERE to view my Glog.


Gardner, H. (2008). Five Minds for the Future. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press.

Students as Content Creators

The following is a blog post for my EDIM 508 grad class.

This week we were asked to have a discussion with students about the role of creativity in the classroom. Since I am no longer in the classroom I asked a relative who is a 5th grade teacher for assistance.

I asked 2 of her female students the following questions:

1.I s it important to you to have creativity all around you in school? How does this help you learn?

Girl 1: Yes, it is important to me because if there was no fun or creativity in a lesson I would not pay as much attention but if it was creative everyone would get excited and participate.  Having creative decorations will help me because it could relax and give me ideas.  Creative tools are fun and help excite people.  I always love to use tools.
Girl 2:  Yes, because it gets you more excited to learn and it makes it A LOT more fun!

My thoughts: It’s interesting that both students said creativity is important to make learning fun. I just watched an archived webinar on neuroeducation and it talked about novelty (the quality of being new) as a huge attention getter. I think as an educator, presenting information in new, creative ways grabs their attention. Technology makes this much easier to do as there are endless tools available to create content. These same tools also allow students to create content as they are synthesizing information. 

2. Do you feel it’s important to use iPads, Elmo, laptops to help YOU be more creative in school?  Explain your answer and give examples.
Girl 1: I feel that it’s important on the ipad because there are a lot of apps that get your brain warmed up and it can be fun while you do work.  Well the Elmo doesn’t really get you creative but it is useful.  Laptops can make you creative to like you could listen to a video then it could give you a lot of ideas.
Girl 2: I feel that it is very important to use these things because let’s say you have to type up a story on your ipad there are so many cool cool apps to use and there are awesome characters that you can use.  Another thing is, you get to look up things and it makes you feel more mature and that your teachers trust you.  The Elmo is cool as well because the kids can see what their teacher is doing.  It is so much easier for some people to see a visual of something and then they can do it.  Laptops are important too.  They help when we have to type something or we have to do something for mothers or something like that you can do different fonts and cool pictures.

My thoughts: Again, “cool apps”- the idea of learning being “fun” can be a huge driver in the learning process. I love the second girls comment ” you get to look up things and it make you feel more mature and that your teachers trust you”. Allowing students to take ownership of their learning is so important and helps develop them as self-directed learners. The first girl says there are apps that “get your brain warmed up”. (It’s important to note that each student in this class has their own iPad) Making new neural pathways to allow information to stay in their long-term memory requires practice- there are many apps that allow students to practice and create until they master a skill or concept.