Don’t ever ask students to make a poster again! Instead…

Digital “posters”

  In the olden days, students used to make posters.  Teachers would assign some sort of presentation.  Parents would run to the store at the last minute to buy poster board and markers.  Students (and parents!) would make colorful bubble letters for a heading, glitter and glue would come out, pictures would be cut out and pasted strategically around the board, charts might be drawn, and so on.  On presentation day, the poster would be set on the chalk tray as the student talked about Johnny Tremain/the tundra/our friend, the atom/Pythagoras/[insert idea here].  The posters hung in the hall for a couple of weeks (or months if the teacher didn’t have anything new to display) and then got thrown out.  Millions of trees gave up their lives to make these posters happen. 

            Then one day, the internet came along and someone had the bright idea of creating a site where anyone could create an online, interactive “poster” with imbedded video, audio, and images.  Let’s say some 4th graders got a grant from a local bank to learn economics through pet ownership and wanted to present their project with a balance sheet, a video of the pet, and them talking about what they did.  They could go to Glogster (http://edu.glogster.com/) and create a “poster” like this (click on the link):

http://erikpalmer.edu.glogster.com/pretzel/   CAUTION: The video is of Pretzel eating a live mouse and may not be for the squeamish.

            This poster, or glog, was created by 4th graders in a school I worked with recently.  Obviously, instead of piece of poster board for display in one class in one school, the students were able to create something long-lasting and for a potentially huge audience.  The bank staff could see what their money sponsored, other classes around the country could see the example, and grandma and grandpa could be sent a link, too.  If we want to address 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, innovation, and communication, Glogster probably accomplishes this better than the old posters do.

            Glogster is an easy site to navigate.  Enter the web address in the URL bar.Click Sign Up on the upper right. Choose your license.  Like many sites, what was free now has a cost. Teachers should sell it this way: “Instead of going to store and spending money on poster supplies, bring one dollar to class and I will provide the ‘supplies’.”  The teacher licenses give teachers a code that they can give to students enabling them to create posters without having to sign up.  Once you are signed up, you can create a glog. You select a WALL (the background) and click on the appropriate button to add GRAPHICS (pre-installed designs and decorations), TEXT, IMAGES, or VIDEOS.  I am interested in developing speaking skills, so I draw your attention to the SOUND button.  It allows students to upload sounds or record. 

            Teachers do not have to work with Glogster very long before they get quite comfortable manipulating the site.  More importantly, students quickly become adept at adding images, sound, and text.  In the fourth grade class I described above, before I could get to a student who had a question, another student would often solve the issue.  We never taught our students how to play Angry Birds.  They figured it out on their own.  Your tech phobic teachers will be surprised at how quickly students master glogs so reassure them that they do not need to be pros before they incorporate Glogster in their classes.

            Glogster fits into any curricular area, is workable for almost all ages, allows us to reinforce speaking skills, and meets concerns about 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, innovation, and communication.  The products are engaging and are available for a large audience to experience which increases student motivation.  The next time you walk into a class with student posters on the wall, suggest edu.glogster.com to the teacher.  Put the products on your school web page and see how quickly the interest spreads in your building. 

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