Structuring Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind
October 27, 2011 | Volume 7 | Issue 2
Table of Contents
Tech for Teachers
Glogster—A New Way to Look at the Poster Project
ASCD Express's new Tech for Teachers column is written by guest columnist Jason T. Bedell, who'll use both text and a tutorial video to encourage teachers to infuse technology into their practice in simple but meaningful ways to help increase student engagement and learning.
Posters have been a standard classroom project for a long time, and teachers from kindergarten to college across all subjects have assigned poster projects at some point. Posters are a simple way to get students to creatively convey valuable information, show their learning, and express themselves. And simple does not mean bad. In fact, posters can be extremely versatile. Now with a Web 2.0 tool called Glogster, students (and teachers) can make posters online.
The basic tool is free of charge and allows each teacher to work with up to 50 students. Glogster doesn't merely add fancy digital tricks to a poster; it improves on the intention behind the poster assignment by letting students include text, audio, video, pictures, and more to make the poster (called a "glog") interactive. Instead of mostly engaging visual learners, the interactive posters can further engage kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners, which makes assignments well-rounded and helps more students participate fully.
For example, one of Kyle Pace's students made this glog on life cycles. Some of the things to note are the links to more information in several places, allowing for deeper learning and more connections. Further, the student has also made and embedded several videos for a more thorough explanation.
Posters, of course, are partly graded on aesthetics—does it look good?—but this can favor the artistic student. Glogster, however, while still allowing the more artistically inclined students to thrive, also provides means—such as colorful backgrounds, stickers, and images—to help less artistic students create an aesthetically pleasing poster and focus on content.
Reaching an Authentic Audience
Another important aspect of almost any student poster project is its display. There is a difference between passively displaying students' work on a classroom wall and directing students' work to an authentic audience. With a glog, students' work can be either public or private, and they can put it on other websites, if desired.
If you make the glogs public, they have a comments function, an intrinsic feature of social networking that can be powerful in showing the level and quality of engagement of an authentic audience. For example, a student could make a glog to bring awareness to a recent news event or natural disaster, such as an earthquake, to illustrate how to help victims or to invite others to share how they are getting involved.
It is good practice to display student work so that they can take ownership of it and receive constructive criticism. Using this online tool opens up that dialogue to others interested in the poster's topic.
Students Express Their Math Understanding Creatively
As an English teacher turned library media specialist, I initially struggled to find ways to incorporate research and media literacy with math. The pre-calculus teacher and I were working on a lesson to prepare students for their final exam, and we wanted to create a project that would reinforce important concepts while giving students freedom to explore the content in a way that would make sense uniquely to them.
We jointly chose Glogster because it helped us give each student the freedom necessary to do well. With Glogster, the students could demonstrate mastery of a concept in several different ways, instead of being limited to just one method, such as a test.
The lesson involved letting students choose from a list of concepts that would be assessed on the final exam, including quadratic equations. Each student was responsible for creating a glog that he would use to teach the concept. The glogs could include any medium that the tool supports, including videos, songs, pictures, text, web links, and more.
To give students an idea of how Glogster enhances a poster, we shared an example of a glog about solving a quadratic equation that includes links to self-enrichment websites and an embedded video from SchoolTube, a YouTube-like video site that features student- and teacher-made videos related to academics or school life.
The pedagogy behind Glogster is sound because it allows students to learn by making deep connections with the content through images, videos, audio, and links. These connections help strengthen learning and allow students to see that a concept can draw together many components that create a more complete "big picture" and better understanding.
Be sure to check out my brief tutorial about how to use Glogster.
Jason T. Bedell is an instructional technology consultant and a library media specialist at Belmar Elementary School in New Jersey. He tries to research how effective technology integration can deepen student learning and make the school environment more student-centered.
ASCD Express, Vol. 7, No. 2. Copyright 2011 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.