Fifth Grade Students Create A Multimedia Poster
My journey began back in September, asking myself how digital media has changed the way students write. How do they think about what they are writing and share their writing? More specifically, how will a multimedia poster change the way students research a topic, synthesize information learned, share/publish and present information in comparison to the traditional poster board format? For the last seven months I’ve been working with a colleague’s fifth grade classroom of 21 students at State Street School in Brewer, Maine. Her students had just finished presenting famous explorer posters to the class. The teacher and students were not familiar with digital posters; therefore, they were anxious to learn more about the website EDUGlogster.com and create their own Multimedia Poster. Brewer is located about 235 miles north of Boston, and has approximately 9000 residents. It is settled on the Eastern bank of the Penobscot River.
While searching for a new and different way to present information, I came across EDUglogster.com. The website claims to be, “the leading global education platform for creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond.” The site empowers educators and students with the technology to create Glogs, also known as multimedia posters. The teacher creates projects with templates and instructional guidelines, assigns them to the students, provides feedback throughout the assignment, and assesses their finished work. Students use text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments, and more. Glogster EDU creates a digital learning environment where teachers and students can familiarize themselves with technology. Best of all this comes at no charge to the teacher. Glogster does offer a Glogster EDU Premium at a low cost with more features http://edu.glogster.com/product-informations
There are several advantages of Glogster EDU over Glogster.com. While creating Glogs in the EDU Zone, students do not have access to view content from the regular Glogster site, which can sometimes can be inappropriate material. Students can embed their work in wikispaces. All Glogs made by students on the teacher page are private. The teacher can easily set up accounts for students by simply registering for the EDU Zone. Teachers and students are connected via Internet, and they can leave comments on other classmates Glogs. A handout about using Glogster is available from an online resource created by Kathe Santillo Online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/25030064/Glogster-Instructions-Revised
Glogs were a new and different approach for me as well the students. Students were familiar with creating slide shows, but had not created a multimedia poster board. The fifth grade students started by researching a famous explorer using books and the Internet. After collecting information they entered it onto a word document. Students printed pictures of their explorer, or tried to sketch their explorer free hand. They presented findings on a large white poster board format. After presenting to the class the students created a second poster board, but this time it was a multimedia poster board. They were especially excited to find out they could work on these posters at home or anywhere they had access to the Internet. Teachers, parents, and peers would be able to view their work at any time. Students were writing in an environment where their peers could read one another’s work and give immediate feedback. Writing with a purpose and an audience really changed the way they wrote. In addition to this, they were globally being read, judged, and valued. This impacted their effort level, resulting in a more critical eye when proofreading their material. However, there were some challenges. They soon realized that a one page digital poster limits the amount of information one can share. Many students found it difficult to transform a page of information about an explorer to a few sentences. However, the best part of this process was the way their writing became more concise and authentic.
Examples of student work
Comparing Traditional Poster to a Glogster/ multimedia Poster
I have created a table that summarizes the following points.
Research The research was similar using both formats. Students used the Internet to gather information about their explorer and read nonfiction books. However, the digital poster offered more audio and video options for students to download onto their poster board.
Synthesize Traditional posterboard format. Print/write onto paper, glue, scissors, markers, highlighters, rulers, choosing colors, Archaic? When using a Digital poster: surf, bookmark, copy, paste, save, read, write, save, post, download, import etc. Student decides on colors, layout, animation, sound, video, pics, etc. You can go to this website created by Kathe Santillo to view the Glogster.edu tools.
Publish Students read poster in front of the class, hang poster on the wall, students walk around the room reading others work. The poster board is bought at a local dollar store. Parents or teacher helps student glue work onto poster. Maybe invite parents to view posters hanging on wall. When poster is complete students can write feedback to other students about what they liked or would change about the poster. Digital publishing has no paper and student gets feedback throughout the entire process from teachers and students by blogging. Student can work on digital page at school or at home. Work can be saved and be accessed at multiple locations no more “I left it at home.” The World literally becomes their stage.
Evaluation At this point in my journey I started to wonder how to evaluate a digital poster. How is evaluating a multimedia poster different than evaluating the traditional style poster presentation? What would the pros and cons of multimedia posters be? The following is a general rubric to be used when assigning and assessing a Glogster page. http://www.rcampus.com/rubricshowc.cfm?code=W5W2B3&sp=yes
Next Step With more time and experience using this format, students would download video and record their own voices to narrate the digital poster.
Digital Is Reflection
After reading Digital Is, and having numerous discussions with colleagues, I realize I need to view student writing through a different lens. Writing today is not the same as it was before the digital age. Why? Digital media is everywhere young people go. It is part of their generation “the young.” It is even part of my Nana’s generation “the old.” It is who we are. Digital technology has permeated into our classrooms, our lessons, and our everyday interactions with each other. Twitter, Facebook, texting, instant messaging, this list goes on and on.
Some say we are writing less. Others say letter writing and the appreciation for hand writing has gone by the way side. I disagree with both; we are writing more than we have at any other time in our history. People are using their digital media to communicate not their voices. Texting, twittering, whatever you want to call it, it is a form of writing.
I have come to realize including a technology lesson into my classroom or requiring certain technology projects is not digital writing at all. Districts requiring that each teacher use technology so many times a year in his or her lesson plan isn’t really digital writing. It is simply requiring teachers to try something new; however, most of the time it is not new to our students. Digital writing is simply writing. All our thoughts, word choice and insights, have been molded by this digital age we live in.
When I observe students through a different lens and watch how and what they write, I begin to answer some of my original questions about what digital writing is. Digital writing isn’t a separate category for writing, as I once thought. Today’s writing is infused with digital technology. It is a part of us. It is our society and our communication system. Even though I use the word traditional, their first reports were filled with digital writing, from how they collected their information to the digital pictures they printed and posted on their poster boards. It amazes me how fast this process has changed. I like to consider myself still young at 36; however, while I was in college, gathering information about a topic or a person required days of taking notes, hand writing the different sources, reading journals and books, and viewing microfilm, and books. Today, you don’t even need to go to the library; all the information you need is in the palm of your hand. Internet access has changed the way students gather information. It is not only faster but the amount of information out there is endless. Though, this can be overwhelming and hard to decipher for some, gathering information digitally is a lot easier than it was in years past.
Overall, I have come to appreciate the value of multimedia posters and accept that sometimes more is less when it comes to sharing what students have learned. I have learned to look at students’ writing in a different way and to embrace the technology available to us in this digital society. I see how digital media has enhanced writing and how creating “Glogs”/Digital Posters can improve student writing and their enthusiasm for it.