23 February 2014

Thinking About Web 2.0 Tools

At the beginning of the school year, my AP Human Geography students were assigned two countries to explore in depth during the course of the year. Essentially, students create a portfolio of these countries that includes the seven themes we explore during the course of the year. This is a great assignment for APHG students because it helps them learn specific real-world examples of major concepts.

Students began the year doing this assignment on paper. For each unit, they created maps or charts for their countries. Those documents were placed in their binders. As the teacher I saw their work. They might share with a partner or in a small group. However, their work isn't easily available to the entire class. It could be useful for students to see examples from their peers, so I decided to try one unit's work online.

The assignment was given in Edmodo, which we regularly use in class. Once students finished their work, they had to post it for everyone to see.

For the assignment, students created posters in Glogster. In this case, students were focused on elements of political geography. One example is embedded below. This particular assignment is relatively low barrier for learning this new tool because the information is factual; students were not required to provide comparisons or analysis. Once the posters were complete, students were able to compare the political geographies of the countries they were assigned with those of their classmates.

To complete this assignment, students needed an introduction to the basic elements of Glogster and needed some time built into the assignment for exploration of the tool (they had not used Glogster previously). After that, they could get started adding their information to the poster.

One of the challenges with this project was that I did not have examples to show students. This project was an individual assignment. Few teachers have the luxury of having computers for each of their students, so extra time must be built in for students to have access to computers. Finally, as districts take more control of technology, it can be a challenge to keep computers updated. Glogster requires Flash Player to run. I am fortunate that I can update Flash Player on my own. It would be difficult to move forward with a project like this if a teacher had to call tech support every time Flash needed to be updated.

I will be using Glogster more during the course of the year. One of my goals is to increase the level of complexity for students so that higher order thinking skills are required.