Blog Archives

How to teach 3 social studies units covering over half a century in 4 weeks: A 5th Grade Glogster Project

Last year, I began a journey with 5th grade that integrated multiple social studies standards into one big project.  The teachers put students in cross-classroom groups and assigned them social studies topics for a unit on the turn of the century.  Each group made a glog about their topic after using print and digital resources to gather information.  We were amazed by the leadership, collaboration, and innovation that took place in that project, but we made a lot of mistakes along the way too.  You can read more about last year here and here.

This year, we almost didn’t do this project.  The teachers were feeling even more overwhelmed by the content this year because they had to teach 3 social studies units and 2 science units in 9 weeks.  You would probably feel overwhelmed too if you knew you had to teach these units in that amount of time:

Even the district planner recommends a total of 12 weeks for the units, but requires that it be done in the 3rd quarter (9 weeks).

After multiple combinations of meetings between me, the 5th grade social studies teacher, the gifted collaboration teacher, and the instructional coach, we developed a plan for how this year’s content might look.  Each of the 3 social studies classes were assigned a unit.  Within each class, topics were assigned to individuals as well as groups of students.  These students made plans of how to divide the content among their group.  On Mondays and Fridays, the social studies teacher and gifted teacher did direct teaching of some of the content from all 3 units.  On Tuesday-Thursday, students came to the media center to research their topics in online databases, websites, and books.  Last year, students just took notes as they read, but this year we wanted students to have a better structure that was based in questions that came from the standards.  The gifted teacher combed through the standards and created 2 different graphic organizers with questions for students to consider.  The organizer also had space to document resources used.  Some students chose to use digital copies of this organizer while others chose to print it out and write their notes.

Once again, I pulled together a pathfinder divided up by topics.  This pathfinder gave each student a handful of websites about their topic.  I also showed them how to search the databases found in Georgia’s Galileo collection.  My paraprofessional took the topics and searched through our print collection.  If a book matched one group’s topic, she put a post-it with their names on the book.  If a book spanned multiple topics, she put it in a shared stack.

To begin our journey, I briefly introduced the pathfinder, graphic organizers, and how to take notes (not copying and pasting entire paragraphs of information from websites).  I also showed a glog from last year’s students to give them an idea of what they would ultimately be doing.  We chose not to introduce how Glogster works at the beginning.  We also chose to not give students logins and passwords to Glogster.  Students then began a week of research.  The social studies teacher, gifted teacher, student teacher, my paraprofessional, some college students, and me began working with students as much as possible to support them in their search.

After a week, I introduced how Glogster works by showing a very basic run-through of the kinds things it can do.  Students continued to research, but as they finished, they checked in with one of the adults.  Most of the time we offered additional guiding questions and support so that they had the most complete information possible.  Once students reached a point where they had enough information, they received their username and password to Glogster.

Most students began Glogster with deciding on their wall background.  Then, they moved to adding text from their organizer.  Eventually, students branched out to include photographs from public domain searches and linked their pictures to the sources they came from.  Some students also did audio introductions to their glog or recorded audio for various parts of their glogs.  Some students used Screencast-o-matic to do screencasts of timelines from PebbleGo or tours in Google Earth.  A few students used webcams to record themselves talking.  One group even did a webcam video of their resource list rather than just creating a text box for it.

You can view some of the finished or in progress glogs here:

Recovering from the Great Depression

Black Cowboys

Wright Brothers

George Washington Carver

Alexander Graham Bell

Thomas Edison

Spanish American War

McKinley & Roosevelt

Panama Canal


Voting Rights

US Contributions and Treaty of Versailles

Lusitania and Other Ships

Duke Ellington

Louis Armstrong

Harlem Renaissance

Babe Ruth

Charles Lindbergh

Henry Ford

The Great Depression

Jesse Owens

Stalin, Mussolini, Roosevelt, & Churchill


Presidents of WWII

Bombing of Japan

Changing Role of Women

Tuskegee Airmen

Cold War

Khrushchev & McCarthy

D-Day, VJ, & VE Days

Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, & Hirohito

Panama Canal 2

Once students finalize their glogs, they will present them to the rest of the 5th grade to share the responsibility of teaching and learning this massive amount of content.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Free Webinar Tonight: ISTE SIGMS Webinar on “Copyright Clarity”

Kristin Hokanson
Spiro Bolos

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 8pm ET 7pm CT
6pm MT
5pm PT

While copyright & fair use can be confusing to navigate you CAN use copyrighted material in your creative work! This introduction to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education will explain fair use, reduce copyright confusion and share helpful ideas regarding how to teach your students and staff about copyright & fair use.

Learn Central Page: event/142405/Copyright+Clarity
How to Connect: jnlp?sid=lcevents&password= Webinar_Guest

Find out about the presenters, view the slide set and valuable resources.

New Media Literacies Project Announces Free Webinar Series

New Media Literacies via kwout

Here is some exciting news from the New Media Literacies Project! You can also join the Ning and get engaged with the learning community by clicking here.

Educators are exploring the urgent challenges that 21st Century learners face by expanding their own learning experiences using a participatory, digital model of professional develmopment. In this context, educators are able to practice their own skills as teachers by creating, collaborating, connecting, and circulating with one another in an interactive, multi-media environment. Not only are they developing new materials for their own schools and districts, but also an 8-part webinar series focused on a comprehensive, practical understanding of the NML skills for the larger educational community.

The 8-part series will begin on February 11th and share the framework of social skills and cultural competencies which shapes the work of New Media Literacies, and illustrate the skills by looking more closely at learning through such cultural phenomenon as computer game guilds, youtube video production, Wikipedia, fan fiction, Second Life and other virtual worlds, music remixing, social network sites, and cosplay. Each webinar will examine closely new curricular materials which have emerged from New Media Literacies, Global Kids, Harvard’s GoodPlay Project, Common Sense Media, the George Lucas Foundation, and other projects which are seeking to introduce these skills into contemporary educational practices and leave participants with plenty of opportunities to take the material, information and methods back into their classroom.

We will host the first webinar on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7pm EST and focus on the new media literacies, judgment and appropriation as well as copyright, fair use, and creative commons.

Our special guests will be Flourish Klink, a graduate student at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program, and Erin Reilly, NML Research Director.

See the full listing of upcoming webinars and get information on how to join the sessions here.

Copyright Resources

Copyright is a regular topic in our school library program at Georgia Southern but we focus on it during the Administration class. This semester we’re trying something new-every student has to create a wiki with a set of copyright resources designed to be used by differerent grade levels of students or teachers. Many more links will be added in the next week or so but I thought you’d like to see our work in progress and I’m sure our students would appreciate any feedback about what they’ve done.

Judi Repman and Stephanie Jones

Just the Thing to Scratch Your Web2.0 Itch

Scratch Logo from Wikimedia Commons

Scratch Logo from Wikimedia Commons

Over the past two Wednesdays I took a fabulous class with technology diva Freda Williams in which I learned the basics of Scratch, a fun and fabulous new Web 2.0 tool. Scratch was created to teach the basics of programming to kids. 

Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Intel Foundation, and MIT Media Lab research consortia.

You can download it (for free, of course) from the Scratch website and start teaching it to yourself, or go to a great website called Learn Scratch that helps you learn how to use it.  The Scratch website also contains a gallery of ideas that you and your students can download and remix into new programs. Scratch programming language enables you to create your own games, music, art, interactive stories, and animations. Once you finish your creations, you can share them on the web, where you can receive an embed code that will enable you to post your product anywhere else you wish to share it.

Just imagine using this new tool to teach critical thinking skills to your students! Scratch can help you develop twenty-first century learning skills in your students. As they learn essential mathematical and computational skills, they will gain a deeper understanding of the process of design and become more highly engaged in the learning process.

Ruth Fleet, Library Media Specialist

Dean Rusk Middle School