Grammar Lesson Music Videos

Since my students begun working with the Chicago students, I have attempted to create lessons that would allow my students to become teachers to the 6th graders. I also wanted to help my students acquire more media skills as a result of completing my assignments.

The latest assignment was the grammar lesson music video assignment.

First, my students and I brainstormed on the grammar concepts that the 6th graders were struggling with. Next, we settled on three concepts that we thought were important and were also teachable in a song.

  • Capitalizing “I” in the middling of the sentence
  • Differentiating homonyms such as their, they’re, and there
  • Using better transitional phrases

Then my students rewrote different popular songs to create the music videos.

I always knew that my students were talented, but it has been so amazing to see them shine with their talent and creativity. Oh, let’s not forget their technical abilities!

Here are some examples.

I am trying to stay objective, but I must say I really LOVE the next video. The ladies in this video are so amazingly talented.

Next, we have the Puppeteers. They didn’t make a music video, but I absolutely love their work.

Finally, I adore this next video. I think that this shows how seriously my students are taking their roles and responsibilities. They are fearless in doing what needs to be done to be the best mentors they can be.

I hope people enjoy these videos as much as I did.

Poetry Project Continues

As a teacher, you know that when you trust your students to be creative, you run the risk of being shocked. However, I have learned to accept the surprises as they come. Truthfully, I look forward to my students surprising me with their amazing talent and ingenuity. I must say it is the best part of being a teacher. Luckily, I have had many wonderful surprises, and I know I will continue to be delightfully surprised. And I was thrilled to see that my students didn’t disappoint me during this particular poetry recitation.


While reciting Billy Collin’s “Introduction to Poetry,” a student of mine decided to demonstrate what it was like to “drop a mouse into a poem / and watch him probe his way out” (Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry,” 1996). Needless to say, this “show and tell” was a big hit! Having met Mr. Collins at conference, I know he would have approved this recitation with enthusiasm.

Collins, B. (1996). “Introduction to Poetry.” The Apple that Astonished Paris. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark. Retrieved from

Poetry Project

For "A Bird came down the Walk" by Emily Dickinson

For “A Bird came down the Walk” by Emily Dickinson

Last year, I did this huge poetry unit with my students. We had a lot of fun, and my video of that lesson ended up getting posted on the ASCD Edge blog ( This year I even shared all the steps with several rubrics for the world to use (

Now we are doing this again, and my students began presenting yesterday. As usual, we are having a lot of fun. Since I required them to have a poster or an additional 3-D visual, my students are showing their creativity in different ways. For example, a pair presenting “A Bird came down the Walk” by Emily Dickinson brought customized cups for each student in class filled with chocolate pudding and gummy worms (see the picture above). Another group reciting “The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton wrote the entire poem with glow-in-the-dark ink on the back of their shirts. We had to turn all the lights off in the classroom while they were reciting the poem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take their picture in the dark. But you can see their work below.

"The Starry Night" by Anne  Sexton

“The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton

Another pair reciting William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” built a tree and brought it to class (see below). I also had a pair playing the bongo drum while reciting their poem, a pair using a telephone made with good-old-fashion strings and toilet paper tubes, and another pair holding a bonsai tree and a bird house to represent a tree outside the window. These kids are using their creativity beyond my limited imagination. I am so proud of my students, and I can’t wait to create another video to showcase their talent. I truly have the best job ever!

“A Poison Tree” by William Blake

Identity Management

One of the toughest things about my journey since I came to the United States has been managing my varying identities. About a year after I arrived here, I became a wife and mother. Then I went back to school to get my degrees. I was still a second-language learner at the time – I  still am by the way, so forgive me for any errors that you see – trying to manage being all the other “people” in different contexts.

I am not saying that other people don’t have to manage varying identities. But I am experiencing a different phenomenon because of technology.

Since I moved to Bakersfield, I maintained a website. Because I found a great deal for my domain name, I was able to maintain a professional looking website with a personalized domain. But the site was mostly for my students who wanted to know what was going on in my class while they were absent. No one other than my students looked at my website, so I had to keep it looking friendly toward my population of high schoolers.

I spent about two years maintaining it as a class website, accumulating various artifacts along the way. However, I am starting to see that my website needs to be a professional website to help me cultivate a more sophisticated online presence. Since attending the 2013 DML Conference, it has beoame clear to me that I need to put my ideas about education and my project out in the world, so that people can read about them if I ever wanted to be considered seriously as a researcher and a doctoral student. At the same time, I still need a student friendly website for my students.

But how does one maintain that separation? I can barely find the time to write a class blog. Now I want to write about my research interest and my readings while writing all of that for the forums so I can pass my own classes at Pepperdine.

I suppose sleep is for the weak? But seriously. Someone find me more time! Please!

Dr. Nicole Pinkard

I met an amazing lady this week. Actually, I met several amazing people this week at the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference. I met Tracy Edwards from Pepperdine EDLT Cadre 15, who I began working with since October. I also met Akili Lee, the amazing Director of Digital Strategy and Development of the Digital Youth Network, and Asia Robeson, the Media Arts Coordinator and Mentor. But I was the most touched and inspired by Dr. Pinkard, who pulled me out of my insecurities with a couple of statements, and I thank my lucky star for having had the opportunity to meet her.

During a conversation about my peer-to-peer mentoring project, I said to Dr. Pinkard, “I don’t know anything. I am just a teacher, but that’s just what I think.” She gently reminded me with the warmest smile, “A man would never say that. So you need to quit. You have had to overcome a lot. If a person can’t respect you, it’s their problem, not yours.” She made me stand up straight and be proud of myself with her gentle encouragement. When I shared my desire to pursue the peer-to-peer mentoring project as my doctoral dissertation, she said, “The intent of the Digital Youth Media has always been for others to use it to do more research. No one person can do all the research. I am happy to help you pursue it.”

Then I found out more about her after the conference. A Stanford and Northwestern graduate, she is considered a leading expert in youth digital media. She even has a gigantic Wikipdia page with so many awards! So imagine my surprise how she didn’t dismiss me while I went on and on about how my idea of peer mentoring can make her “good” social media website “amazing.” Despite her status as an expert in the field, she was so open to listening to all my ideas. She truly is an amazing teacher. I can’t wait to work with her some more.

Project with the Digital Youth Network

The following is an article I submitted to the publicity department at Pepperdine University. It might be altered prior to the publication, but I thought I’d share.

Student Transformation through Social Media – How iRemix Changed My Seniors

Kip Glazer, EDLT Cadre 18

In October of 2012, Tracy Edwards from Cadre 15 asked, “Any writers or writing teachers looking for PT work?” on the All Cadre EDLT Facebook page. This simple question eventually lead to  our project of connecting her 6th grade students in Chicago and my 12th grade students in Bakersfield, California, demonstrating the power of social media.

This idea to connect students across the country came from a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Sheridan Blau at the 2010 California Association of Teachers of English conference. Blau argued for an instructional practice that allowed the students to become their own teachers.  Since then, I have been looking for a way to make this a reality when Tracy introduced me to the iRemix website.

By the time I connected with Tracy, I had already used Google Docs in my paperless classroom and established the peer-editing practices among my students.  However, iRemix offered me the perfect solution to take my instructional strategies to the next level.

Before they were incorporated into the iRemix website, my students wrote resumes and cover letters to be reviewed by the research team at DePaul University.  They also created introduction videos to be shared with the 6th graders.  When they finally gained access to the iRemix website in January of 2013, each of my students was assigned a minimum of 5 Chicago students.

To facilitate the writing-mentoring practice, my classes go to the computer lab once a week.  Here my students read, comment on, and edit the writing as well as multi-media produced by their assigned mentees.  They are also asked to reflect on their interactions and make suggestions to improve the iRemix website.

The most obvious benefit from this project is that my students are becoming much more cognizant of their own writing errors.  They have expressed the desire to gain more grammar knowledge, which in turn has forced me to expand my instructional repertoire.  They are also becoming extremely savvy in leveraging technology to express themselves.  The 12th graders have even created podcasts and videos as forms of communication in addition to providing writing feedback.

More importantly, I am witnessing my students becoming leaders with social consciousness.  Reading so many tragic stories of gun violence and murder written by the 6th graders, my students are actively seeking out ways to make a real difference in their mentees lives.  They are becoming empowered because they were given some responsibility.  And that’s the best part about this project.  We are teaching our young people that they are capable of making a difference and giving them the tools to do so in a safe and guided environment.

Since the launch of this project, we have been fortunate to be featured on the KQED Mind/Shift blog along with a couple of local media outlets.  I know that this wouldn’t have been possible without the Pepperdine community that has brought Tracy and me together.  I look forward to working with everyone on the iRemix team to gain more knowledge.

For more information, please contact Kip Glazer at

Class Blog

One of the toughest things about being a technical person is learning the limitation of it. More importantly, reconciling with my own limitations about the technology. Unfortunately, I just experienced it in a big way. I was converting my website and began reorganizing my website. In the course of it, I accidentally deleted my class blog in its entirety with one simple click.

In some sense, I suppose it’s not a big deal because I hardly noticed that anyone was reading it. However, it is devastating to realize I lost so much. I lost pictures that I posted. I lost words that I wrote. I can imagine how Mat Honan felt when he wrote, “How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Lead to My Epic Hacking,” except that I have no one but myself to blame.

I hope it never happens to me again.

Maintaining a Blog

I recently attended the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference. During an evening poster session, I was asked by a couple of people whether I blog about my research. I was both a bit shocked and ashamed by their questions.

As a teacher, I preach to my students about managing their online presence and electronic portfolio. However, I have never considered myself to be a “professional” who could have a following online. I also never thought that my project was worthy enough for people to be interested in reading about. Mostly, I am hesitant about my writing becoming available to the millions of people, exposing me to their criticism.

But I have decided to make the change. I am going to write about what I am passionate about from now on. No more excuses. If I want people to take me seriously, I need to take risks, which is the lesson I teach to my students everyday.