In January and February I worked with 5th grade on a unit called Bigger, Better, Faster. Before the unit started, one 5th grade teacher came to me with an idea of grouping students together in triads and assigning each group standards from the 5th grade GPS related to the turn of the century. The groups would have students from each of the 3 fifth grade classes and would be formed based on the student’s strengths. Her original hope was for students to create a final product such as a brochure or tri-board. Once we began collaborating, I suggested that we think about giving students multiple options that included some technology-based final products so that students could use one or more of the options in their products. We decided on Glogster, Animoto, Power Point, and the paper-based brochures.
I created a pathfinder with links to various resources in Galileo and on the web. At the bottom of the pathfinder, I included a double entry journal for students to use as they researched so they could copy and paste direct quotes from websites and put the quotes in their own words. Students spent several weeks researching their topics. Students also created their own united streaming accounts and watched videos about their topics. We explored Creative Commons as a resource for finding images to include in products, and students got to work creating.
Classes took turns rotating through our media center computer lab so that I could support them, but they also used laptops in their classrooms. During the last week, the entire 5th grade met in the media center and used the laptops and the lab. If I did this unit again, I would have done this format of work session during the entire unit. Although it was loud and chaotic, amazing things began to happen. As students began using tools like glogster, they figured out tips and tricks. When one group discovered something, they immediately began sharing their new-found knowledge with the other groups. Soon, groups established themselves as experts on particular technology areas, and other groups quickly realized who they needed to go to for help. This student-to-student collaboration was the ideal situation you want and it built a community of learners among the whole fifth grade.
This was my first venture into Glogster, and while it hasn’t been a perfect experience, I’ve been amazed at what the students have figured out how to do by just going in and exploring. I showed them Glogster as one option for their final products, but I did not go into great detail about how to use it. The most frustrating thing for them so far has been that the free basic educator account does not allow them to upload files. I’ve temporarily fixed that by subscribing to a one-month trial of the premium account so that we can see how well we actually like using Glogster. All in all, using tools like Glogster to create a final product has been a motivating experience for most students. Instead of creating tri-boards and paper brochures and posters, they are creating digital content that can be easily shared with a wider audience. They have worked collaboratively, and we’ve seen that each student is bringing his or her strengths to the groups. I’ve stood in awe as I’ve watched one student pull up from the research phase of the project, which contains both quotes directly from the source and information in student words, while the other students had the final product pulled up to input the information. I’ve watched students split themselves between 3 computers to do individual work, email their work to one another, and then find ways of putting it all together. Some students in the groups used Animoto, Power Point, or searched resources like School Tube to locate or create pieces that were then embedded in their group’s Glogster or other product. This project has reaffirmed the power of doing initial instruction and then giving students a space to create, at which point the teachers and media specialist become facilitators and supporters of learning as students need guidance or run into barriers.
Now that the project has come to a close and students have shared their learning with the whole 5th grade, I plan to subscribe to the premium version of glogster ($99 for 50 accounts) and use this with other classes. I already have a 2nd grade class that will be using Glogster to document their exploration of inventions. My plan is to bring in some of the 5th graders who just used Glogster to sit alongside the 2nd graders as they begin their own projects. I hope to do more student-to-student collaboration across classes within a grade level and across grade levels in the future.
You can view 2 of the Glogsters below.
David C. Barrow Elementary