Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glogster + Time = ?

I logged into Glogster, and I was happy with all of the templates I could pick! There were about 30 different templates all with different themes and formats, and I was excited!  ‘

I decided to go with a history timeline, and I figured I could turn this into a timeline for a text. I chose Steinbeck’s The Pearl, which is a novel I teach. Then, my excitement abruptly stopped.

I feel like Glogster doesn’t work as efficiently as it could. There are too many buttons, and I usually like having options. There are buttons for formatting the text box, and then there are buttons for formatting the text. The problem is the constant clicking and double-clicking on the text box and highlighting the text. I also found it difficult to keep all of the text consistent. While all of my text size was at 30, all of the different boxes were different sizes, so the text looked inconsistent.

The Second "Text  Box Formatting Box"
The First "Text Box Formatting" Box

After deciding not to mess around with the frustrating text anymore, I decided to upload a video. I wanted to pick a Steinbeck biography available on YouTube. It took me a while to figure out what I actually had to click to upload a video. I ended up with this screen!

For some reason, my video enlarged a million percent, and it took up my whole screen! After about a 10-minute freak out, I realized that the photo from YouTube just took up my whole Glog, so I just had to minimize it. This also frustrated me, so I decided to add a picture. My “glog-in-progress” said that I could “Drop Image” into a box, and I figured I could take a saved image from my Desktop and drag it into the box. Nope. I had to delete the “Drop Image” box and then upload my image via a randomly placed button, which I am still unsure as to how I found it.

I think Glogster could be fun a project (mostly at-home) for students as long as they have at least a week to first learn the tool and complete the project. Because of all of the templates, there is wide variety of ways to use it. It could be used for something simple like a book report or science project, but I think it would be a great way for students to introduce themselves. With enough time, it would give even the most “uncreative” student a chance to thoroughly express him or herself. A really awesome glog can look like this:

 I worked for about an hour, and as a relatively creative and tech person, this is all I accomplished before calling it quits:

So here is your answer, just in case you haven’t figured it out yet:
Glogster + Time = Frustration…at least for me

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Glogs is a Weird Word

Glogster is where you make glogs. Glogs are graphic blogs. Glogs is also a weird word.

While glogs is a strange word, glogs are actually just a way to create online posters. It makes even the most "uncreative" person look like Picasso. GlogsterEDU is a free online platform that allows you to create glogs, and it also allows you to create and share assignments with your class.

To start, you sign up, and you are taken to your Dashboard. From your Dashboard, you are able to create your glog. Your Dashboard looks like this:

 If you are a teacher, you are able to create a class and from the Dashboard, you are able to create assignments and send those assignments to your students, who will also need Glogster accounts. Glogster provides the teacher with a certain number of student accounts and passwords. The students will then change the password when they first log in. Glogster also allows you to check on the status of your student assignments, and you are able to send individual students notes and reminders. It is this instant feedback that is just one of these reasons why Glogster is an effective tool to use.

One issue with Glogster is that it can be pricey. There are free trial accounts for which you can sign up, but for the premium accounts, it can be quite pricey (upwards of $100 for class accounts). 

I’m a teacher. The only price tag I enjoy is free.

Dreaming about GAFE...and How I Can Use It

Last night, I had so many dreams about GAFE. It was wonderful.

I know that for my telecollaborative project, I want to create a literary magazine. With this literary magazine, it would be amazing to use Google Docs in order to have students collaborate with other groups of students in other schools or even other countries.

It would be possible for students to create posters or collages collaboratively online through the Google Draw app.  I made a (really crummy) collage that could be used for my literary magazine. I’m sure there would be a better way to create a more creative and artistic project. It would be nice if GAFE had a Glogster-like feature to help produce more creative projects.

My "collage" focused on Anne Frank, MLK, and Gandhi. Obviously this is not great, and I think the students would make a better collage, especially if they worked together for a period of time.

I also think it would be neat to have a collaborative poem written in Google Docs. This poem could be students within the same class, but it would be awesome to have students in different locations around the world writing a poem about what they see every day, how they deal with injustice, and how they try to fight injustice. This is what I would really want to accomplish with my literary magazine.

The students would love the fact that other students would be reading their work, and I feel like it is important for students to have an authentic audience. In a way, it adds more pressure to students because other people (besides me) will be reading it. However, it also takes away the pressure because it wouldn’t be read and analyzed for a grade.

Monday, July 21, 2014

GAFE...Not Just Another Acronym

Two years ago, Howard County introduced GAFE. For at least six months of that year, I had no idea what GAFE meant, and I just figured it was another acronym I would never understand or care about.
I finally found out that GAFE stands for Google Apps for Education, and that still didn't help me much. I decided to attend a professional development that same year, and come to find out, I didn't have the administrative access to the GAFE on my laptop. Ugh.

However, my computer was finally fixed, and I have to say, I have loved using GAFE, especially since every student in Howard County has a GAFE account and access. It was super easy to organize my Google Drive, where all of my documents, presentations, rubrics, etc. can be stored in folders. You can see how my Google Drive is organized (right now, at least) by my English class and seminar folders. This is just because it's summer. Once school picks up, I'll have many more folders!

One way I have used GAFE is through Google Docs, and it makes my job as an English teacher much easier. Through using Google Docs, I am able to share assignments and rubrics with my students. Below is one of my rubrics I was able to share with my students, which was great because now students won't lose it:

Additionally, multiple students are able to work on assignments like papers, poems, or PowerPoints, and as long as they are shared with me, I can comment on them as the students work. Right now, my GAFE is pretty plain, but I have it all organized and ready to go for next year!

I had only used Google Docs a few times last year, but the students loved it, and it made my job much easier. Students have always loved the quick feedback I can provide, and I can grade faster because I have already read the student's work several times. I also would like to use Google Forms in order to complete my student surveys in the beginning of the year--it would be much easier than keeping track of hundreds of papers! I'm still thinking of more ways to incorporate GAFE into my instruction...I just wish it wasn't another acronym.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Small, Tiny, Issues with Weebly

I continued my adventure with Weebly! I decided that for my Critical Information Literacy Project that I would create another website. I know what you’re thinking—overachiever. Well, that’s part of it, but I also wanted 1) more practice with Weebly and 2) wanted to make something that I could eventually use with my students. I think I’ve accomplished both.

So for my website, I decided that I would make one based on Edgar Allan Poe’s death theories. I am a little obsessed with Poe. Poe is my favorite unit to teach, I have a “Poe-ka Dot” tote bag, and I call Poe my boyfriend (although my students usually say that I can do better, which I’ll take as a compliment). I also have a one-eyed black cat named Poe, so not only am I obsessed with a dead alcoholic writer, but I’m also a cat lady. Anyway, I am pretty proud of my website so far! It was easy to make, and I think it looks awesome!  Click here if you'd like to see it!

I did have one issue, though. The formatting for text seems to be a bit of a pain sometimes. For example, I went to make a citation page, and there was no way (at least that I could find) to make a hanging indent. You may not think this is an absolutely horrible thing, but for an English teacher like me, it is. I wanted to make a citation page so that my students could use one as a model. Even though I use MLA in class and my citation page is APA, I figured my students would like to know that I actually took the time to make one. Does anyone know how to "fix" some of these formatting problems?

I also noticed that sometimes Weebly acted really slow. There were about three times where I had to refresh my page, and some of my work was gone. It could just be my grumpy old computer or the WiFi I was using, but it did get a wee bit frustrating. 

However, I think that making a Weebly as my teacher website and even for individual projects would work out great. I also think that students would love to make websites using Weebly because it is so easy. I think if students have about 30 minutes to fiddle around with Weebly, they should be good to go. It reminds me of Glogster in that even the most “uncreative” person can make an awesome looking website.

I hope to use Weebly more in the future, especially now that I know what I am doing!

The Classroom Scoop on!

So after much thought (and some helpful comments), I brainstormed some ideas for how to use in the classroom. For example:

·      Current Events: For a social studies classroom, it would be great to use in order to have students scoop current events. I remember having to gather current events in high school from newspapers or printing out articles from online. Then I would have to summarize the event and then reflect on the event. It would be so much more efficient (and green!) if this could be done online! This way, the students could follow each other, and their audience would be more authentic. Yay!
·      Grammar Mistakes: I love getting emails and pictures from friends and family, but my favorites are when they are sharing these awful grammar mistakes. My brother sent me this article the other day:

As an English teacher, I’ve noticed that students tend to learn more and be engaged when they see how silly these spelling and grammar mistakes can be. I also think this one is just hilarious (and a great way to teach homophones:

·      Science Articles: Science is everywhere nowadays, and it changes daily. This could be similar to the current events in social studies, but instead, it could be current science. Students can find what interests them in science, and it makes it more relevant to them. I would have much preferred to do this in middle and high school when science was not super exciting for me. There is a reason I became an English teacher after all.
·      Idea sharing with colleagues: can be a great way to share ideas with colleagues who have similar interests. Collaboration is the key to maintaining creativity as a teacher!

The good thing about the first three ideas is that they let students find their own interests. Students can post what they find interesting, and from there, they will continue to receive more suggestions from about similar topics.  Besides, isn’t part of teaching help students find their own identity?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Two Scoops Ahead!...without the yucky raisins. reminds me of the bulletin board in the copy room at work. The bulletin board has all sorts of information about upcoming dates, flyers, and “interesting” articles. You know, the dates that passed three months ago, or the flyers that are only for Spanish teachers, or the articles that are about the old curriculum that was eliminated three years ago? The only good thing about that bulletin board is the comic strips. is almost like that bulletin board, but it’s online. The best part is that you can make it only relevant to you, and you can keep it as up-to-date as you would like (and if you’re me, you can add as many comic strips as you can stand). allows its users to personalize this “online bulletin board.” You can find any website, article, comic strip, or video, and post it to your own page.  All you have to do is copy and paste any URL or upload any personal document, and it will appear on your page. You can also comment on the article, picture, video, etc. and others can see your comments. Additionally, you can make as many pages as you would like, which means multiple topics.

This also is a way to share information with other colleagues. For example, when you search for a certain topic, like “education” or “iPads,” related articles will appear. These articles have been “scooped” by people with similar interests to you, which could be other educators for people like me.  Also, you are provided with hundreds of suggestions for scoops, which can be really fun to just sit and click on each of them.

I like that is non-formal, and each scoop is almost like a mini-blog.  I had made one for a previous class, and it was specific to reluctant readers and using technology. You can tell when you look at it that I loved writing comments. It would be interesting to see how it could be used with middle school students. I would probably get some “interesting” comments and scoops…

…all appropriate ones, of course.