A Bit About Me

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Wordle is a great tool that I have used on occasion to help give students the opportunity to literally turn their words into art, and the best part is that it's free. This has been an extremely exciting thing for the second grade students in my school, as they are the first students that I have introduced to this creative technology. Of course, it is important to mention that for the sake of time, one should really and truly have students type their words out in a program like Microsoft Word prior to turning them into a Wordle.

In my particular scenario, I had second graders conduct research on an African American of their choice for Black History Month. The research portion took two class periods. Then, students were required to type up a biography that was all about their person. The typing alone took one class period. The editing, and spell-check functions came about in the following class period. Then, students were able to copy their text from Microsoft Word, and paste it into the Wordle website.

One thing worth noting is that the Wordle website requires a Java plug in. Thus, if you're working on Mozilla Firefox, through a Macintosh platform, then you'll likely need to make sure that Java is installed on all computers, prior to having students create their Wordle. One more thing trouble that I just encountered is that Safari and Wordle don't get along too well either. When using Wordle in Safari, the layout will change randomly without so much as a click. This could also be from user-error, as I use a Macintosh with a touchpad as opposed to a mouse.

Here's How It Works:
  1. Start by going to www.Wordle.net
  2. Click "Create" in order to begin the process of creating your own Wordle
  3. Type or past your text into the first box. There are other options for inserting Blog feeds, del.icio.us tags, and things of that nature, however for education purposes, I've chosen to stick with the basic text option.
  4. It may take up to a minute for your original Wordle to appear. Once you original Wordle loads, you're able to choose from the following menu options: edit, language, font, layout and color.
      1. Edit: allows you to undo or redo an action.
      2. Language:  you can change the case of words (uppercase or lowercase). It also gives you endless options on different types (languages) of words that you can remove from the Wordle creation. You can also use this tool to show word counts for each word, which can be fun to analyze as it shows students just how frequently they use certain words in their writing.
      3. Font:  the font gives you a total of 32 options. This is one of students' most favorite things to change on Wordle as there is a font called "Grilled Cheese". That being said, it's important to note that there is also a font called "Sexsmith", which has the potential to generate a response from a few class clowns every now and then.
      4. Layout:  this feature allows the user to change the direction of the words. Choices include: any which way, horizontal, mostly horizontal, half and half, mostly vertical and vertical. In addition, the user can choose to have the words arranged in alphabetical order, and decide whether to have the rounder or straighter edges on the words.
      5. Color:  last, and most creatively is the ability to change the color of the Wordle. This is a bittersweet function. Bitter in the sense that the majority of schools likely restrict printing to black and white only. Sweet for those schools that do have access to color printing. One way to compensate for the black and white option is to have students color their Wordle after it is printed. This can prove to be great fun, especially for younger, elementary-aged students. In the color option one can choose from an area of color variations, each of which include between 2 and 5 colors per palette (BW, WB, Ghostly, Indian Earthy, Firenze, Chilled Summer, Blue Meets Orange, Kindled, Shooting Star, Organic Carrot, Milk Paints, Moss Heat, yramirP). Each palette varies in both color and intensity. If one does not see their preferred palette, then they have the option to create their own. The user also has the option to change the variation of the colors used; choices include: a little variation, some, lots or wild variation. 
  5. When the design is complete, and you're ready to print, simply select the print option at the bottom of the page. After clicking "print", you'll get a security warning message that states: "The applet has requested access to the printer. Do you want to allow this action?". When this appears, simply click "OK", for if you select "Cancel", then you will be unable to print your newly created Wordle.

The drawbacks of Wordle are as follows:
  • Printing the Wordle is a multi-click process, as you must check a box when selecting the print option, prior to getting to the printer menu.
  • Wordle can't be saved. That is to say that Wordle creations can't be saved to a disk. Instead, you can opt to post them so that anyone on the World Wide Web may see them. 
  • Wordle can't be emailed. You can email a link to the completed Wordle, but you can't log in to edit it. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


No instructional technology blog would be complete without so much as a mention of Glogster.

Glogster has been one of the most functional and, at times, most challenging tools that I've used as a Technology Teacher this year. First, and foremost, let me clarify that I'm a Technology Teacher at an Elementary School. Earlier in the school year, I had six classes of 4th grade students researching various Social Studies based facts on our state, in order to find information to include on their Glogster page. Their end product was to create a Glogster page showcasing:
  •  6 history facts with dates and descriptions
  •  a brief biography on one historic figure from the state
  •  5 of the state symbols
  •  the 3 regions of the state, and 2 cities in each region
[In hindsight the project would have been significantly more effective had the quantity of information been reduced, specifically in the areas of history and state symbols. Also, a classroom teacher would likely be able to have students complete this project in a more time-effective manner, as they spend more time with their students, whereas most technology teachers see each class only once per week at best, for a mere 45 minutes (not factoring in the time that it takes for the computers to log on). ]

After completing the research, students were then paired up in order to create a collaborative environment in which to complete their final project. This aspect worked out very well overall, but I must say that in order to complete the pairings successfully, one must first be able to identify which students are familiar with the Glogster program, and are apt to catch on to technology tools with relative ease, so as to best pair the students on a high-low scale in terms of ability to use technology tools effectively. This is one of the best parts in creating a Unit Plan centered on authentic assessments, because it supports ISTE's NETS-S, Standard 2 on Communication and Collaboration:
  • 2A:  "Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media"
  • 2D:  "Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems"

Another huge time saver when using Glogster is to create usernames and passwords for students prior to allowing them access to their Glogster page. While this process takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on the size of the class (in my case, it took around 2 hours to create 85 accounts and write down each pair's log in information), it is definitely worth the investment as it saves a great deal of time on the side of the students, by allowing them to simply retrieve their log in card at the beginning of each class without having to remember a strange combination of letters for their username (e.g. sfj19tok). When changing the usernames, creating something as simple as the partners' names (e.g. BobTom), is basic enough, and it aids in students' ability to "remember", which is on Bloom's Revised Taxonomy at the lowest level of the pyramid.  

With Glogster, students are able to select graphics (including animations) and text boxes for inputting their information. The double-edged sword here is that students' options are unlimited in the creative aspect, and at times, students have had a challenging time negotiating which option to use ranging from the background of their Glog to the text boxes used for the information. The good news here is that students can change the background as often as they'd like. The bad news is that if they're choosing a new text box, then they would either need to copy and paste their information from the old box to the new box, or they'd need to type everything all over again. For the sake of time, I prefer the copy and paste option. 

If students are completing a project using research via Internet sites, then it is our duty as professionals to ensure that they are citing their sources properly. Throughout my graduate school experience, I had always used either EasyBib, or the option located on my library's homepage or EasyBib. However, for elementary students, I happened to have tripped on a website that has proven to be significantly more functional, and one that I wish I had known about while in graduate school as the site has a free APA option, whereas the APA option on EasyBib comes with a price. The site that I would suggest for students is:  http://www.bibme.org/. This site allows students to keep and download a running tabulation of their sources, while appropriately citing their sources through a simple copy and paste of the website into the citation generator. Of course, before using this site, I would suggest that one teach the importance of citing sources, so that students understand the need for this additional step.

When students wish to find and upload images and videos for use on their Glogster page, it is important to have a mini-lesson dedicated to the downloading of pictures onto a computer and then the uploading of said picture onto the Glogster page. This process also goes for the incorporation of sound and video. The following site is one that I've used for this and many other classroom projects:  http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/

One of the greatest features of the Glogster EDU site is the ability to interact electronically with the class, and the ease at which students can interact with one another. When students are "stuck" on how to do something, they can send a message to the teacher or post the question on the message board, this is great, because it allows more time for the facilitation of student learning and creating, and less time on direct instruction.

There's also this really neat function that enables you to create student portfolios using the classroom management function of the Glogster page.


Glogster EDU    vs.     Glogster.com

Glogster EDU:
  • costs at least $29.95 per year
  • allows the teacher to have control over usernames and passwords
  • allows the teacher to see each student's progress                
  • is free
  • requires an email address in order to register
  • offers no classroom management options

  • Teacher Light (50 accounts)  =  $29.95/year
  • Teacher Premium (200 accounts)  =  $99/year
  • School Premium (up to 2500 accounts)  =  $2/account/year
  • District Premium (at least 2500 accounts)  =  starting at $4875/year 

*One last thing worth mentioning:
Currently, Glogster EDU is hosting a contest for K-12 students to see who can create the best Glogs in relation to Earth Day. Below is a link to tell you more about the specs. Cash and prizes are among the several awards for this contest:


So I've been disconnected from this world for a little too long indeed, so long in fact, that the iPad 3 has already been unveiled. For those of you who know me, you likely know that I've been working on my M.S. degree and ITS certification for the last two years. At last, happily and sadly all at once, I've completed both programs. Now, I hold an M.S. in Instruction and soon, I'll be applying for my Instructional Technology Specialist certification. Thus, now I'll undoubtedly have more time available to share more information on relatively new, and emerging technologies.

Stay tuned...