Episode # 26

Incorporating EdTech at an Arts Magnet School

December 15, 2022

About This Episode

Brianna Lugibihl is a teacher working for an Arts Magnet School in Lima, Ohio. But what does it mean to be an Arts Magnet? And how does Educational Technology fit into a classroom that already incorporates music, visual arts, dance and theater into the core curriculum? See how Brianna uses art, educational technology and differentiation to help her students be successful.


Brianna Lugibihl

Brianna Lugibihl is a 5th-grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at the Liberty Arts Magnet in Lima City Schools whose mission is to inspire students and encourage advocacy by igniting their internal creativity, critical thinking, compassion, empathy, and curiosity as they engage in their own healing and discovery in a collaborative, challenging, inventive, and high expectations environment on the path to becoming life-long learners.


Brianna began her career as a 4th and 5th grade ELA and Social Studies teacher in Cincinnati and taught 8th grade ELA and Social Studies in Lima City Schools prior to her current position in 5th grade. In her free time, she enjoys collaborating with the Curriculum Associates Extraordinary Educators Class of 2022 and pursuing trauma resilience and restorative justice practices with Eastern Mennonite University’s Masters in Education program. Brianna holds a B.A. in Middle Childhood Education and minors in Theater and Communication from Bluffton University. She aspires to be the contagious energy leading others to love learning and who they are.


[00:00:00] Kara: Hey, is this thing on? Are we recording? Can I get a tech person? Oh, for the love of ed tech.

[00:00:47] Kara: Joining us today is Brianna Lugibihl, who is a middle school teacher at Liberty Arts Magnet in Lima, Ohio. Hey,

[00:00:56] Brianna: Brianna.

Hi. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:59] Kara: Yeah, thanks for joining us today.

I know you have some exciting things to share with us but first I wanna know how you became an educator to begin.

[00:01:10] Brianna: That is a fantastic question. So normally when I talk to teachers, they have this amazing German idea for the reason that they became a teacher, like they were teaching other stuffed animals. I was not that person. So when I decided to go into teaching, it was actually because no matter what job I was put in, I found myself in a teaching position because it’s something I gravitate towards.

I love reading into and helping people reach their goals, whether that be adults or children, or one of my first jobs, which was coaching gymnastics in high school. I love watching students learn, finding what they’re struggling with and finding ways for them to achieve their goals, and then watching that moment when their face lights up and they’re excited about learning

[00:01:57] Kara: so was education your first. Choice, like when you went to college, did you go into education or did you have some other paths before you landed there?

[00:02:08] Brianna: So when I started my freshman year of college,

I started as an undecided major. But I knew that if I wanted to teach and that was something that I was considering, that I needed to do my initial placement.

So the university that I went to, which is Bluffton University, before you enter the teaching program, you have to do a field place so nobody gets farther in their teaching career like they used to in their third and fourth year. Get in the classroom for the first time and realize it’s not for them.

So I went into the classroom, I was in a sixth. And seventh grade class. And I found that I really enjoyed it and I happened to be in middle school and I’m like, oh, these are my people. So I ended up pursuing it from that program, but I knew that there were other things that I was interested in as well.

So I actually completed enough classes to almost have a double major in communication with a concentration in theater as well, which is a great job from Arts Magnet. Yes.

[00:03:02] Kara: Yeah. that’s really cool.

[00:03:04] Caryn: Could you kind of tell us what it means for a school to be considered a magnet school? I don’t know if everybody knows that.

[00:03:11] Brianna: Definitely. So magnet schools across the United States are different. Depending on what the state requirements are, what the district looks like. But Arts Magnet for us means that students arts classes are weighted equally with their common core classes. Our students in our building, it’s a K to eight building.

So from K to four, they have different arts requirements than five through eight. But in fifth through eighth grade, and I’m in fifth grade, that means that they take five arts classes that are part of their report card that are weighted equally with their other classes. So for us, Band or orchestra, choir, visual arts, dance and theater.

[00:03:50] Caryn: That’s awesome. Yeah, my kids would love that. It’s definitely gym. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s amazing. I’m just thinking about my four year old and like he needs to go to your school cuz it’s like singing and dancing and .

[00:04:02] Brianna: It is so much fun. He would .

[00:04:05] Caryn: He would fit right in over there. That’s fun.

Find his people. Yeah, he would find his people .

[00:04:10] Kara: Okay, so because you’re an arts magnet school and there is a heavy emphasis on the arts, how does technology play into your classroom?

[00:04:19] Brianna: So our district as a whole has actually put in a blended learning initiative for the past year and heading into the next couple of years with that, we have blended learning coaches in our building, which again, is new.

This is their second year in that position working with teachers. So while our building does emphasize arts integration, we also are working with all of our teachers to work towards blended learning in the classroom. So we do have access to a lot of technology and it’s integrated in arts classes and a lot of interesting ways that I don’t know that I would think of or be able to innovate if I wasn’t able to see it in such abstract ways.

[00:04:54] Kara: So with the blended learning and integrating the technology, how are you using that to differentiate?

[00:05:01] Brianna: We utilize Schoology. It’s similar to like Moodle or Blackboard or Camba. Just all of the platforms that use for educational purposes. But on Schoology there’s a couple of different ways that I differentiate and I also differentiate in form the way that I use technology with the students.

So let me explain what that means on assignments, first of all, I wanna make sure that they’re accessible to all of my. So when I have tests or quizzes online, I make sure that they have voice accommodations for the ones that need ’em, which is something that frees my time up in the classroom to be able to work with small groups in ways I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

Also on Schoology, I tend to make separate folders for each of the groups and we’re differentiated to the specific skill we’re working on. So let’s say we’re talking about theme, and I know one of my groups is able to identify the theme in a story and cite evidence with it. I will have an assignment that is focused on that.

Let’s say I have another group who’s able to do that. But they’re ready to be pushed to that do K level four web step and knowledge. Like they’re ready to create something, they’re gonna be writing a story, coming up with a theme, and then coming up with questions for other students to answer during that time period.

If I have students who are struggling with what theme is, but if they work with a group, they’re able to discuss and come up with the answer together. They might be doing something on the computer or they might be doing something separately where they share their knowledge with a computer using something like Flipgrid.

And then I can have a group that works with me and I can actually pull up the story, we can highlight it together. I have a Ben Q Board in the front of my room, which is a type of smartboard. I utilize to highlight and take notes on. And I know that I can use that with my students in the classroom.

They can scroll through it, they can have it read aloud to them in ways that I wouldn’t be able to if I was just teaching in a small group on paper. And then each of these groups can do separate things and I can track their progress because they’re submitting it in some kind of format that I can see later.

That’s something I wouldn’t be able to do if I was teaching full class to everybody on paper. I wouldn’t be able to track it as well, or it would create a lot of work for me. And we know as teachers, like we don’t have a lot of time already, so anything we can do to save time is extremely important.

Right. .

[00:06:58] Caryn: I’m like super impressed right now. I know. I am too. I’m like, wow. That sounds cool. ,

[00:07:05] Brianna: can I share with you one of my favorite things that I’ve done so far this year? Yes, please. Okay. So we know that fluency is a struggle. Mm-hmm. , and we know that if we want to track, let’s say I have 50 students across my two classes, and I wanna hear every single student read, and each passage is a minute.

That’s an hour right there. And during that hour, the students have to do independent work, which just doesn’t sound like something that we like. It’s not functional use of all the time that we have, but we wanna be able to hear our students read. So at the beginning of the week, I have a Google Doc that usually has like some sort of maze passage or a passage that’s integrated with other content.

I teach since I teach social studies and language arts. and they read through the passage and they time themselves for a minute on a Google Doc, and then they put a comment on the last word, so I know where they ended. Mm-hmm. . Okay. Then we do it again and throughout the week we do their cold reads and warm reads on that Google doc.

Ah. They’re able to highlight the words on the maze passage, so I can check their comprehension. They’ll have questions that go with that. And again, it’s something that takes us five minutes to the beginning of class and every single student gets to read. Yeah. Versus having one student. Or 50 students read over the span of an hour, and then when it’s finished at the end of the week on Friday, they time themselves reading the full passage and reading for a minute on a flip grade, which I can view later at a later time.

And it also keeps record that I have all these flip grade videos of all of my students reading that I can use later in meetings. And then they fill out on Schoology, one of the like fill in the blank dropdowns and they can check their accuracy for what they missed on the maze passage self-correct. And then resubmit it again.

Something I could not do individually with all of my students without wasting a lot of time.

[00:08:43] Kara: That’s awesome. So, okay, this may be a naive or ridiculous question. Probably not. , they’re all reading the passage at the beginning of the week. Are they all reading? or are they reading silently and you’re just hoping that they are honest?

Where they highlight that they made it to?

[00:09:03] Brianna: So before we get started, I should explain how my room is set up. So this might help you envision a little bit about what’s going on with me during that time. Right. Okay. So I believe in restorative practice and I think it’s really important for students to be able to see each other talk with each other during class.

So our class is arranged in a circle, which sometimes can be a little hard for moving around, and other times is extremely helpful. So in the past I had them read in their head, but this group needs to whisper or read it out loud. So they all whisper at the same time. And if they need a divider so they can’t see the other people beside them, we put it like a little trifold divider around them while they read.

And I walk around the inside of the circle so I can see who’s reading at all times and who’s not reading. And then I have a conversation with them. So after we do like initial like pass testing and fluency testing at the beginning of the year, I share their scores with them. Cause I think it’s really important for them to see that data so they know approximately how many words per minute they read.

And I tell them, Hey, when I look at. I know how many words you read. You know how many words you’ve read. At this point. Our goal is to improve that. So when I look at this, if I see that you read two pages, but your average words per minute are like 75 words per minute, I’m gonna be questioning that. So I’m gonna have you read out loud to me next time.

And usually that accountability requires the students to put it where they actually are. And then later on with non maze passages, I also teach them about how the end, you can highlight and on Google Docs you can count the words and they love that self check in. Like, Ooh, I read a hundred words this time and last time it was 91.

And it counts for them, which is so great. Yeah.

[00:10:35] Caryn: Great to use that feature too. Mm-hmm. , I love that. I’m just sitting here thinking about my middle school classroom. I’m just really impressed. I taught, I taught the same thing. I taught middle school language arts and social

[00:10:46] Brianna: studies.

So , you understand the quandary. You’re like, I wanna hear you all read, but I can’t do it. Yes, yes, yes.

[00:10:55] Kara: I remember even. In student, well this was in student teaching with my fifth graders. Like we had to pull each one of ’em out in the hallway and sit with them to like read and yeah, it was, it was time consuming.

[00:11:07] Caryn: Well, it takes more manpower

[00:11:08] Kara: too. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, cuz then you still have to have somebody in, right. The classroom monitoring and managing and. Yeah,

[00:11:14] Brianna: and again, like the quality of learning improves. I mean if you look at John Hattie, and if you’re not familiar with John Hattie, the New Zealand researcher who like looked up like 195 different teaching strategies and like rated how productive they were with students, how effective the number one and number two are related to teachers’ beliefs in their students and teacher efficacy.

So as much as we can work with our students and display that belief in them, the more they’re gonna grow. So I struggle with the idea of like only working with one student for one minute and then spreading it across a class period because so many other students are missing out on that ability to interact in a positive way.


[00:11:51] Kara: I was just wondering like with the way you’re differentiating instruction as well as, you know, implementing these technology pieces.

What some success stories that you’ve seen.

[00:12:03] Brianna: So when it comes to success stories with students the largest. Piece of differentiation that I have utilized, that I’ve seen. And I walked away from the lesson and I go, yes, this would not have been possible otherwise. And I’m so excited it happened is actually related to a social studies lesson.

So we were talking about latitude and longitude and I don’t know how much time you spent with fifth graders and latitude and longitude, but at this point, like some of them still struggle to read a timeline and the way the numbers go. Cuz like I. Heading the other direction, negative numbers is a struggle.

So as soon as you stick them in front of that information on a map, they’re like, excuse me, I don’t know what’s happening. So , it’s when we talk about it on a map and on a globe I teach a mini lesson ahead of time with the students about latitude and longitude that are tied into tableau and pantomime.

So Tableau being. In theater, still pictures that you make with your body to represent an idea and pants mind being movements that you create with your body to represent an idea related to latitude and longitude and a couple of other terms related to that lesson. Then when they’re done, they have some practices.

They do. And instead of normally like you have that downtime in a lesson where students are working, you give them one thing to do and then you see how they all would do on it. Instead, I put three folder, actually four folders together. There was a beginner folder, an intermediate folder, an advanced folder, and like, I got it.

I’m ready to go. We can do the exit ticket right now. And they were able to work on whichever one they wanted to work on for the time that we had to work on that lesson. So 15 to 20 minutes. And I encourage certain students like, start where you think that you are. So some of them started at beginner and were like, oh my goodness, I can definitely identify these terms.

I’m ready to apply them. Let’s move on to that. And it was divided between do K levels as well. Like one and two, two to three, and then three to four. And then after that, you know, They started to move through and they’re like, Ooh, I thought I was advanced. Like I thought I knew this information. And the moment you tried to tell me to apply it to climate, I was like, I don’t know what’s happening, so we’re gonna go back to the other terms.

And students got to take real ownership over their learning because of that. So the buy-in was a lot larger. And then by the time we got to the exit ticket, Which again on school G is generating this report with data about how we did on each question set, which I share with students, and we talk about, we miss this one the most.

What misconceptions were they? They were able to kind of self-monitor their learning, and I could work with students who needed individualized help during that time, and other students knew if I was struggling, then I just need to move back to the other folder and practice to be able to move up to the next skill.

[00:14:30] Kara: The thing I’m loving about this the most is you’re really creating self-sufficient learners, like who are taking ownership of their own journey in education,

[00:14:40] Brianna: And that is the goal, and I feel like one of the largest struggles that we have is teachers.

Like we want to instill in them the knowledge, but at some point they need to take it with on their own and run with. And sometimes I feel like we struggle with that, especially when we’re differentiating because we feel like we need to have such a hold on what they’re learning to make sure they learn that specific skill.

Right. Yeah.

[00:15:01] Kara: Which another thing you mentioned the way they were laid out and you used an acronym, it was like D L D O K.

[00:15:07] Brianna: Oh do K. So yeah, what does that mean, ? So Webb’s depths of knowledge web was, is an educational theorist that impacts a lot of what students do, and he created a frame of reference. If you Google Webb’s, do K, like capital D K, you will see a circle divided into four sections and their verbs related to a student’s ability to do something.

Do K one is like. I can identify what something is. I can list what something is. It’s the bare minimum understanding, and by the time you get to D O K four, you are creating. You could teach it to somebody else. Like at that point, if you’re at a DOK four in my classroom, you’re working on something like Flipgrid where you’re teaching the lesson to somebody else who’s watching it later versus do K one is like I am matching the terms together to try to figure out what we’re talking about.

Yes. Gotcha.

[00:15:55] Kara: Okay. Yeah. Thank you. So it’s similar to the idea of Blooms, like Blooms Taxonomy? Taxonomy, yeah. Yes. Okay.

I feel like, and Karin, you can weigh in on this as well, but the word differentiation sometimes I think scares people or like they have You know, a vision of how it’s supposed to look like where they have to have everybody on different novels and they’re trying to monitor eight different books at one time

Or like every

[00:16:26] Caryn: single person has to have something tailored exactly. To them. It sounds like that you’re kind of creating like groups of similar leveled kids.

I think sometimes people hear differentiation. They’re just like, overwhelmed.

[00:16:39] Kara: Do you have tips or advice for teachers who, like, they really want to differentiate, but they’re struggling with either maybe how to start or what it should really look like

[00:16:53] Brianna: it’s important to remember that there are three modes of differentiation, process, products, and environment. And those can be integrated a lot of different ways with te. So, for instance, I can have the same assignment. So everyone is doing the exact same assignment it’s in Schoology.

They have all the voice features that they need, but some students have headphones because they’re hearing the story read aloud to them, and that’s allowed in their accommodations. Some students are working with me, so we are working through the assignment together. Some students are working in pairs and some students are working.

By themselves. Those are different levels of differentiation as well. It’s the exact same assignment. I’m gonna get fantastic data from it, and I know which groups are working, but we’re leveling the playing field by giving students the things that they need to be successful on that assignment. So I think sometimes we overly complicate what we think it should look like because we’ve seen these amazing things, but we forget that students will feel like it’s overly complicated if we feel like it’s overly complicated and we’ll end up with a thousand questions that we do not have time to answer.

[00:17:59] Kara: So before we hit record, you had mentioned something about Curriculum Associates Extraordinary Educators program. Can you tell us what that is or how you’re involved?

[00:18:11] Brianna: Yeah, so Curriculum Associates to start off is. An organization, a business that has created the iReady and iReady curriculums that are utilized in a lot of schools across the nation, specifically as relates to this podcast.

They’re known for the iReady program, which differentiates how students are learning at a variety of different levels in ELA and math, which I can share with you. I’m such a fan of what they do, but they have a program to encourage and inspire educators as well as connect them with a network across the United States.

There is an application process that you go through. I’m in the third class. There was a 2020 and then covid hit, so that obviously changed a little bit about what the program looked like. I’m in the class of 2022 when they just closed applications for the class of 2023. But through that program I’ve gotten connected to educators across the United States.

We met at a conference in Boston. I get access to some resources in my classroom. I can talk to other educators and see what they’re doing, which has given me so many inspirational ideas for how I work and it. Huge form of encouragement for what we’re doing as well, and a sounding board for new ideas.

[00:19:18] Kara: Wow, that’s really, that’s really cool because I’ve heard of iReady and I’m always like, I know it’s a framework. Yeah. Or

[00:19:26] Brianna: no. Yes. So iReady actually has a couple of different pieces to it. The iReady system is an online differentiation system where students take like a diagnostic at the beginning of the.

over the skills that they would learn and it finds skill gaps. And then all of the lessons for that student are based on the specific things that they need and it, he allows them to track their progress. And you get data reports from that that go back to you, that I utilize to create some of the small groups.

So a lot of the questions I usually get are, how do you know? You know which student should start in which category. Cause sometimes on Schoology I can say, oh, this specific student needs to be in this folder. So I will hide the other folders from them. They’ll work there. And the reason being is I’m looking at data usually from assessments form and assessments that I use, and some assessments in the iReady system to see where potential gaps would be for students.

[00:20:15] Kara: Wow. Okay. So it’s, helping you gather the data to determine. What

[00:20:22] Brianna: their needs are. Yes, and it’s giving them individualized lessons as well. So like one of my small groups would be like iReady, where I work with some students on specialized skills. But at that group, they’re working on lessons that are at their level.

So if they’re at eighth grade level, they’re doing eighth grade lessons. If they have gaps in phonics, they’re doing phonics lessons and the like system assigns it to them and tracks it for them. But teachers can see all the data that goes with it. So it’s really cool.

[00:20:46] Kara: Have you ever heard of soul, like student organized learning environments?

[00:20:50] Brianna: Oh, I don’t know if I have,

[00:20:51] Kara: but I sound like the sound of it. Yeah. . Yeah. Okay. There was one year I had this like really great group and I decided I’m gonna try this. And so basically all you do is you write like a open-ended question, and then you just say like, go on. So we used to do it around Earth Day and like my question was always like, what do you, what is the biggest threat to our planet today?

Well, you know, you always have students that just like Google that question and then like the first thing that would come up would be like overfishing. And they’re like, it’s overfishing. I’m like, I don’t know. Is it ? ? Well, what do you mean? I mean, it says it is, I’m like, I don’t know. That might not be our biggest problem, you know, because they’re so used to having like one Right answer.

Yes. It’s like an effort to try and like change that mindset, to do a little research to figure out, you know, and then before too long you have groups that are like, well, no, we’re finding that it’s, you know, air pollution, or, oh, we’re finding that it’s plastics, or, oh, we’re finding that it’s, and then it’s.

[00:21:52] Brianna: Hmm. I might have to borrow that one. That one sounds like a lot of fun.

[00:21:56] Kara: I had this one group, they went like over the top, cuz the whole, the whole deal was they had to teach whatever they were finding. To the class. So, you know, they, yeah, like a presentation to whatever.

And I had this one group of girls that their big thing was the plastic pollution and like the, then they discovered the whole garbage. Thing in the Pacific

[00:22:19] Brianna: Ocean. The class, the Great Pacific Garbage. Yes, yes, yes.

[00:22:23] Kara: So they, garbage patch prototyped this thing. They made this contraption with like a Kleenex box and then like demoed it that like they were envisioning that you could pull this behind a boat.

And it would work like, you know, kind of like a sweeper. And they, I mean they had gone, they

[00:22:43] Caryn: went above and beyond. Yes. They were solving the problem. Yes.

[00:22:46] Kara: Yeah. And it was just so cool because


[00:22:49] Caryn: On their own. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Taking their own initiative. Mm-hmm. that. It does sound fun. Yeah.

[00:22:55] Kara: So

[00:22:56] Brianna: anyway, well talk about like an authentic.

Learning experience though, like technology gives us the ability to do things with authentic learning experiences that we can’t always do.

[00:23:06] Kara: I mean from field trips and you know, taking ’em places that they can only. Envision? Yeah.

[00:23:12] Brianna: Oh, I would love to share something that I just thought of.

Yes. So we have actually zoomed with some other people that I’m friends with about certain topics that we’re talking about to interview them as well as done like virtual zooms with like Everglades National Park. Oh, has an opportunity every year. Yep. And we’re doing it again this Thursday with this group where they actually have like national park rangers that are like in the water and sharing what’s going on with the Everglades as you’re watching it.

And students can interact and ask questions while they’re in the field. It is such a cool experience that we can’t go to Florida. Right, right. That’s we’re in Ohio. Like it’s not really an option and the climate’s completely different. So they’re always amazed that if we do it at this point in the year, like why aren’t you like freezing?

Like, what’s going on over there? .

[00:23:57] Kara: Yeah. Oh my gosh, that’s way cool. It’s amazing.

[00:24:00] Brianna: And earlier this year we got to talk to a couple people about immigration, their immigration stories in ways we wouldn’t normally be able to because they live in different parts of the United States. So that was really cool as well.

[00:24:11] Kara: Wow. Yeah. And like making that world smaller.

[00:24:14] Brianna: I’m a firm believer that students who have less access to getting out into the world to make their world smaller, need enrichment more than our students that we normally push our enrichment at.

So the students above grade level, it’s actually the ones who are struggling or below grade level that I believe need the most enrichment. So anything I can do with technology to make that happen is extremely important.

[00:24:38] Kara: For people that may not know, can you explain a little bit about what arts integration means?

[00:24:44] Brianna: There is a huge difference between arts integration and arts emphasis. So arts emphasis is when we go into the classroom and we’re like, oh, we can add. To make this better. So for instance we’re gonna do sketches about the different land forms, or maybe we’re gonna create them out of modeling clay as a tie to art.

Maybe we’re gonna sing a song about what we’re learning in class that is art’s emphasis. So we are pulling in the arts to add to a lesson to make it more interesting or to add a little bit of an enrichment piece. Arts integration is similar to like blended learning or technology integration in the fact that if you take it out of an arts integration lesson, the lesson falls apart.

It is not the same. So if I am integrating with technology, if I take the technology out, the lesson is not gonna work well together. If I have an arts integrated lesson, if I take it out, then I have to completely change what I’m doing with my lesson. So the arts are equal in the lesson. As compared to what you’re doing with your core content.

[00:25:45] Kara: That makes sense. Mm. Cool. Thank you so much for joining us.

Well, thank you all. It’s been good.