A Bit About Me

Friday, April 6, 2012


No instructional technology blog would be complete without so much as a mention of Glogster.

Glogster has been one of the most functional and, at times, most challenging tools that I've used as a Technology Teacher this year. First, and foremost, let me clarify that I'm a Technology Teacher at an Elementary School. Earlier in the school year, I had six classes of 4th grade students researching various Social Studies based facts on our state, in order to find information to include on their Glogster page. Their end product was to create a Glogster page showcasing:
  •  6 history facts with dates and descriptions
  •  a brief biography on one historic figure from the state
  •  5 of the state symbols
  •  the 3 regions of the state, and 2 cities in each region
[In hindsight the project would have been significantly more effective had the quantity of information been reduced, specifically in the areas of history and state symbols. Also, a classroom teacher would likely be able to have students complete this project in a more time-effective manner, as they spend more time with their students, whereas most technology teachers see each class only once per week at best, for a mere 45 minutes (not factoring in the time that it takes for the computers to log on). ]

After completing the research, students were then paired up in order to create a collaborative environment in which to complete their final project. This aspect worked out very well overall, but I must say that in order to complete the pairings successfully, one must first be able to identify which students are familiar with the Glogster program, and are apt to catch on to technology tools with relative ease, so as to best pair the students on a high-low scale in terms of ability to use technology tools effectively. This is one of the best parts in creating a Unit Plan centered on authentic assessments, because it supports ISTE's NETS-S, Standard 2 on Communication and Collaboration:
  • 2A:  "Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media"
  • 2D:  "Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems"

Another huge time saver when using Glogster is to create usernames and passwords for students prior to allowing them access to their Glogster page. While this process takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on the size of the class (in my case, it took around 2 hours to create 85 accounts and write down each pair's log in information), it is definitely worth the investment as it saves a great deal of time on the side of the students, by allowing them to simply retrieve their log in card at the beginning of each class without having to remember a strange combination of letters for their username (e.g. sfj19tok). When changing the usernames, creating something as simple as the partners' names (e.g. BobTom), is basic enough, and it aids in students' ability to "remember", which is on Bloom's Revised Taxonomy at the lowest level of the pyramid.  

With Glogster, students are able to select graphics (including animations) and text boxes for inputting their information. The double-edged sword here is that students' options are unlimited in the creative aspect, and at times, students have had a challenging time negotiating which option to use ranging from the background of their Glog to the text boxes used for the information. The good news here is that students can change the background as often as they'd like. The bad news is that if they're choosing a new text box, then they would either need to copy and paste their information from the old box to the new box, or they'd need to type everything all over again. For the sake of time, I prefer the copy and paste option. 

If students are completing a project using research via Internet sites, then it is our duty as professionals to ensure that they are citing their sources properly. Throughout my graduate school experience, I had always used either EasyBib, or the option located on my library's homepage or EasyBib. However, for elementary students, I happened to have tripped on a website that has proven to be significantly more functional, and one that I wish I had known about while in graduate school as the site has a free APA option, whereas the APA option on EasyBib comes with a price. The site that I would suggest for students is:  http://www.bibme.org/. This site allows students to keep and download a running tabulation of their sources, while appropriately citing their sources through a simple copy and paste of the website into the citation generator. Of course, before using this site, I would suggest that one teach the importance of citing sources, so that students understand the need for this additional step.

When students wish to find and upload images and videos for use on their Glogster page, it is important to have a mini-lesson dedicated to the downloading of pictures onto a computer and then the uploading of said picture onto the Glogster page. This process also goes for the incorporation of sound and video. The following site is one that I've used for this and many other classroom projects:  http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/

One of the greatest features of the Glogster EDU site is the ability to interact electronically with the class, and the ease at which students can interact with one another. When students are "stuck" on how to do something, they can send a message to the teacher or post the question on the message board, this is great, because it allows more time for the facilitation of student learning and creating, and less time on direct instruction.

There's also this really neat function that enables you to create student portfolios using the classroom management function of the Glogster page.


Glogster EDU    vs.     Glogster.com

Glogster EDU:
  • costs at least $29.95 per year
  • allows the teacher to have control over usernames and passwords
  • allows the teacher to see each student's progress                
  • is free
  • requires an email address in order to register
  • offers no classroom management options

  • Teacher Light (50 accounts)  =  $29.95/year
  • Teacher Premium (200 accounts)  =  $99/year
  • School Premium (up to 2500 accounts)  =  $2/account/year
  • District Premium (at least 2500 accounts)  =  starting at $4875/year 

*One last thing worth mentioning:
Currently, Glogster EDU is hosting a contest for K-12 students to see who can create the best Glogs in relation to Earth Day. Below is a link to tell you more about the specs. Cash and prizes are among the several awards for this contest:

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