Currently browsing Posts Tagged “glogster”

Half term review – April 2009

This half term I have been using new tools for me like Diigo, as well as exploring new ways of exploiting other Web 2.0 tools that I have been using for the past year or so, like Glogster, Animoto and, of course, mine and my students’ favourite, Edmodo.

Watch the video to see how we have been using these tools and to listen to some of my reflections, for all they’re worth, about the value of using technology in your classroom. Please do feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

The tools to which I have referred in the video are:

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Adding Glogster to blogs and wikis

This academic year I have been trialling using Glogster, a multimedia online poster creation tool, to assess writing and speaking in the target language – click the play icon next to the bird near the bottom left of the above poster.

Glogster posters, or Glogs, are a wonderful way of encouraging writing, speaking and creativity using technology. Generally, students have enjoyed the tasks I have set them using this tool and they have been looking forward to my setting new tasks using Glogster, often demanding to know when they will be going to the ICT room to start the next one (I have noticed, however, that few of my students have actually created Glogs for their own, personal use, but that’s another story…).

Although Glogster has the potential of becoming an indispensable tool for a teacher’s reservoir of online activities, it has often been plagued by small niggly problems such as losing work when Glogs haven’t saved properly or the bane of every languages teacher: difficulty in getting accented characters (å é î ø ü, for example) to appear on the Glogs.

Fortunately, Glogster has appointed a new Education Manager, Jim Dachos, who kindly introduced himself to Glogster users by way of comment on a previous post here on Box of Tricks. Hopefully, his arrival will mean that feature requests and suggestions from us teachers will be taken into account more readily and that any problems will be looked into with his help. Please get in touch with him with your comments and suggestions here

Embedding Glogs

One of the advantages of using Glogster is that posters created by your students can be showcased to a potentially worldwide audience. However, one of the most common problems teachers have reported to me has been the difficulty in embedding the Glogs into classroom blogs or wikis, given the sheer size of the online posters.

Below is a quick quide about how you can embed Glogs into other websites, like blogs or wikis, allowing you to change their size so that they fit wherever you need to embed them:

  1. When viewing your Glog in Glogster, find these options near the bottom right, immediately underneath your poster:

Options dialogue

  1. Then click the second option Embed into your page to access the embed code which you then need to copy and paste into your blog or wiki:

Copy and paste

  1. Finally, before you save any changes to your website, change the highlighted values to whatever size you need:

Change the values

These values tell your blog or wiki how big you want the Glog to be:

  • scale=”100″ means 100%, that is full size. Change the value to 50 for a half size Glog
  • width=”960″ and height=”1300″ govern the width and height, obviously.

Important: If you change the scale you must change the width and height accordingly, otherwise all sorts of strange things begin to happen. For example, if you change the scale to 50, you must also change the width to 480 and the height to 650. This way the scale, width and height remain in proportion.

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Why do I use Web 2.0? Now that is a good question…

Leon filming student

I was delighted to welcome yesterday Theo Kuechel and Leon Cych who came over to my school to interview me and some of my pupils as they worked on a Web 2.0 project in our ICT room. Theo and Leon are filming a number of practitioners across the country in order to put together a number of case studies for an online CPD course on behalf of Naace for the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

Their questions made me reflect about why I use technology and Web 2.0 (nope, I don’t like that term either, but, hey, it’s all we’ve got) in my classes. Using web based applications has become so natural for me now, you could even say normal, that I always forget that those of us opting to enrich our pupil’s learning experience in this way are very much in the minority, for one reason or another.


My interest in using web based applications to enhance teaching and learning started early. Having used computers a lot in a previous incarnation working for a large transport and logistics company, I already felt comfortable with the idea of using computers to help me manage teaching administration, such as assessment data or lesson planning, by the time I started my teacher training,

But it was once I was placed in schools as part of my teacher training, teaching real students, that I realised that ICT could make my life easier as a teacher in terms of administration, and also that pupils were actually engaged and enthused by the prospect of using computers in learning languages.

The use of web applications also allowed my pupils to use software which they didn’t have to install and which could be accessed from any computer as long as it was connected to the internet. This meant that they could work on the same piece of work, the same project, both from school and from home, allowing me to bridge the gap in between the two.

Examples of Web 2.0 tools applied to school work

Looking back to only five years ago or so, it is obvious that I have incorporated Web 2.0 into my schemes of work more and more without really noticing or even without having made a conscious decision to do so. It just happened, because it worked for me and my students. Nowadays, my classes do a project every two or three weeks which involves the use of Web 2.0 applications in one way or another.

These are some of the projects on which we have worked in the past year:

What makes these applications so special and why should you care?

The visual qualities of web 2.0 are very important. When I was a student, I went home after school and relaxed watching tv or reading a magazine. In comparison, the first thing my pupils do, however, is switch on their computers, not the tv. In their computers, they are faced with a world which is bright and visual, rich in images, video and sound.

Using web 2.0 at school taps into this world of theirs and allows pupils to express their creativity in a way which they find familiar, because these websites operate on the same principles of social networking and content creation and sharing to which they are already so used to. So, if we teach them in a way that reflects how they live their lives when they’re not in school, and if we help to ensure that the gap between their school life and real life is minimised, we then become better able to guarantee the commitment and engagement of the vast majority of our students.

Perhaps Prensky had a point after all…

In my experience, pupils come into secondary schools nowadays having already become very familiar with computers and able to easily navigate websites and communicate using the internet. If they are faced with new tools, they have a go and generally learn impressively quickly how to use them.

Yes, of course, this doesn’t apply to every pupil and, of course, they still struggle with spreadsheets and, of course, they don’t really understand what internal computing processes make the animations in Go!Animate come about. And does it really matter? If you think about it, they don’t have to know: you manage to drive a car perfectly well with only a basic understanding of how a gear-box operates or how the fuel is fed to the engine; you are probably perfectly fluent in English but, unless you’re a linguist, you might struggle to tell the difference between the indicative and subjunctive mood or the passive and active voice.

This doesn’t mean you can’t really drive or that you can’t really speak English, just that you don’t need to know the internal workings of how it is achieved, just in the same way a Formula 1 driver does not need to know the width of a piston or a writer does not need to know how many phonemes the English language has. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a Flash developer.

My inkling is that my younger students come to us already having developed something akin to web sytax, an internet universal grammar if you like, which they have often already mastered by the time they make the transition from primary. We, teachers, therefore ought to be able to make the most of what abilities these students already posses so as to transform the way we teach them.

Many thanks again to Leon and Theo for coming to see us and for making me think about why I do what I do. As ever, do feel free to let me know, by way of comment, what your thoughts are.

Photos by Theo Kuechel

Integrating Glogster into my lessons

When I first discovered Glogster just over a month ago, I realised straight away that it had great potential as a tool to engage my students and to get them to want to write and even speak in the foreign language.

In this case, I decided to integrate the use of Glogster in this week’s schemes of work and, as I did not want to leave myself to the mercy of our school network, I decided that in this first attempt at using Glogster, I would play it safe and set the creation of an online poster for homework.

My students, a Year 8 group (13 year olds), first year studying German, had recently been learning vocabulary relating to family, such as father, mother, sister, etc and in the previous lesson I had just introduced vocabulary pertaining to character, such as nice, boring, intellingent, etc.

On the day the homework was due to be set I dedicated 15 minutes (out of a 40 minutes lesson) to introduce Glogster to my students, demonstrate and exemplify its use and to explain clearly what I wanted them to achieve. This is what I outlined to them:

  • Make up an imaginary family, pick four members and describe their age, their character and their relation to you, as well as their name. You must be one of the members of the family.
  • Upload photos, add banners and text as you see appropriate.
  • Absolutely no offensive or inappropriate content.
  • You must email me the link to your Glog in time for our next lesson.

My objectives were:

  • My pupils should demonstrate knowledge of vocabulary acquired in recent lessons.
  • Pupils should demonstrate their ability to use the verb heißen (to be called) and sein (to be) to describe themselves as well as other people (first and third person use).

As the homework started to show up in my email’s in-tray, it was clear that the boys (I teach boys only) had done exactly what I had asked of them and it was patently obvious that they had enjoyed themselves in the process. Not only that, but it also made my marking much more enjoyable!

This is a very tentative first use of Glogster and I deliberately kept it simple by not requesting on this occasion that they recorded themselves speaking in the target language in order to add their voices to the poster. This is however something that I am certainly keen to explore in the near future.

Have you used Glogster yet? What do you think?

Do you know of a teaching and learning resource you would like to share? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.