How to teach 3 social studies units covering over half a century in 4 weeks: A 5th Grade Glogster Project

Last year, I began a journey with 5th grade that integrated multiple social studies standards into one big project.  The teachers put students in cross-classroom groups and assigned them social studies topics for a unit on the turn of the century.  Each group made a glog about their topic after using print and digital resources to gather information.  We were amazed by the leadership, collaboration, and innovation that took place in that project, but we made a lot of mistakes along the way too.  You can read more about last year here and here.

This year, we almost didn’t do this project.  The teachers were feeling even more overwhelmed by the content this year because they had to teach 3 social studies units and 2 science units in 9 weeks.  You would probably feel overwhelmed too if you knew you had to teach these units in that amount of time:

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Even the district planner recommends a total of 12 weeks for the units, but requires that it be done in the 3rd quarter (9 weeks).

After multiple combinations of meetings between me, the 5th grade social studies teacher, the gifted collaboration teacher, and the instructional coach, we developed a plan for how this year’s content might look.  Each of the 3 social studies classes were assigned a unit.  Within each class, topics were assigned to individuals as well as groups of students.  These students made plans of how to divide the content among their group.  On Mondays and Fridays, the social studies teacher and gifted teacher did direct teaching of some of the content from all 3 units.  On Tuesday-Thursday, students came to the media center to research their topics in online databases, websites, and books.  Last year, students just took notes as they read, but this year we wanted students to have a better structure that was based in questions that came from the standards.  The gifted teacher combed through the standards and created 2 different graphic organizers with questions for students to consider.  The organizer also had space to document resources used.  Some students chose to use digital copies of this organizer while others chose to print it out and write their notes.

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Once again, I pulled together a pathfinder divided up by topics.  This pathfinder gave each student a handful of websites about their topic.  I also showed them how to search the databases found in Georgia’s Galileo collection.  My paraprofessional took the topics and searched through our print collection.  If a book matched one group’s topic, she put a post-it with their names on the book.  If a book spanned multiple topics, she put it in a shared stack.

To begin our journey, I briefly introduced the pathfinder, graphic organizers, and how to take notes (not copying and pasting entire paragraphs of information from websites).  I also showed a glog from last year’s students to give them an idea of what they would ultimately be doing.  We chose not to introduce how Glogster works at the beginning.  We also chose to not give students logins and passwords to Glogster.  Students then began a week of research.  The social studies teacher, gifted teacher, student teacher, my paraprofessional, some college students, and me began working with students as much as possible to support them in their search.

After a week, I introduced how Glogster works by showing a very basic run-through of the kinds things it can do.  Students continued to research, but as they finished, they checked in with one of the adults.  Most of the time we offered additional guiding questions and support so that they had the most complete information possible.  Once students reached a point where they had enough information, they received their username and password to Glogster.

Most students began Glogster with deciding on their wall background.  Then, they moved to adding text from their organizer.  Eventually, students branched out to include photographs from public domain searches and linked their pictures to the sources they came from.  Some students also did audio introductions to their glog or recorded audio for various parts of their glogs.  Some students used Screencast-o-matic to do screencasts of timelines from PebbleGo or tours in Google Earth.  A few students used webcams to record themselves talking.  One group even did a webcam video of their resource list rather than just creating a text box for it.

You can view some of the finished or in progress glogs here:

Recovering from the Great Depression

Black Cowboys

Wright Brothers

George Washington Carver

Alexander Graham Bell

Thomas Edison

Spanish American War

McKinley & Roosevelt

Panama Canal


Voting Rights

US Contributions and Treaty of Versailles

Lusitania and Other Ships

Duke Ellington

Louis Armstrong

Harlem Renaissance

Babe Ruth

Charles Lindbergh

Henry Ford

The Great Depression

Jesse Owens

Stalin, Mussolini, Roosevelt, & Churchill


Presidents of WWII

Bombing of Japan

Changing Role of Women

Tuskegee Airmen

Cold War

Khrushchev & McCarthy

D-Day, VJ, & VE Days

Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, & Hirohito

Panama Canal 2

Once students finalize their glogs, they will present them to the rest of the 5th grade to share the responsibility of teaching and learning this massive amount of content.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Free Webinar Tonight: ISTE SIGMS Webinar on “Copyright Clarity”

Kristin Hokanson
Spiro Bolos

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 8pm ET 7pm CT
6pm MT
5pm PT

While copyright & fair use can be confusing to navigate you CAN use copyrighted material in your creative work! This introduction to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education will explain fair use, reduce copyright confusion and share helpful ideas regarding how to teach your students and staff about copyright & fair use.

Learn Central Page: event/142405/Copyright+Clarity
How to Connect: jnlp?sid=lcevents&password= Webinar_Guest

Find out about the presenters, view the slide set and valuable resources.

New Media Literacies Project Announces Free Webinar Series

New Media Literacies via kwout

Here is some exciting news from the New Media Literacies Project! You can also join the Ning and get engaged with the learning community by clicking here.

Educators are exploring the urgent challenges that 21st Century learners face by expanding their own learning experiences using a participatory, digital model of professional develmopment. In this context, educators are able to practice their own skills as teachers by creating, collaborating, connecting, and circulating with one another in an interactive, multi-media environment. Not only are they developing new materials for their own schools and districts, but also an 8-part webinar series focused on a comprehensive, practical understanding of the NML skills for the larger educational community.

The 8-part series will begin on February 11th and share the framework of social skills and cultural competencies which shapes the work of New Media Literacies, and illustrate the skills by looking more closely at learning through such cultural phenomenon as computer game guilds, youtube video production, Wikipedia, fan fiction, Second Life and other virtual worlds, music remixing, social network sites, and cosplay. Each webinar will examine closely new curricular materials which have emerged from New Media Literacies, Global Kids, Harvard’s GoodPlay Project, Common Sense Media, the George Lucas Foundation, and other projects which are seeking to introduce these skills into contemporary educational practices and leave participants with plenty of opportunities to take the material, information and methods back into their classroom.

We will host the first webinar on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7pm EST and focus on the new media literacies, judgment and appropriation as well as copyright, fair use, and creative commons.

Our special guests will be Flourish Klink, a graduate student at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program, and Erin Reilly, NML Research Director.

See the full listing of upcoming webinars and get information on how to join the sessions here.

Copyright Resources

Copyright is a regular topic in our school library program at Georgia Southern but we focus on it during the Administration class. This semester we’re trying something new-every student has to create a wiki with a set of copyright resources designed to be used by differerent grade levels of students or teachers. Many more links will be added in the next week or so but I thought you’d like to see our work in progress and I’m sure our students would appreciate any feedback about what they’ve done.

Judi Repman and Stephanie Jones

Just the Thing to Scratch Your Web2.0 Itch

Scratch Logo from Wikimedia Commons

Scratch Logo from Wikimedia Commons

Over the past two Wednesdays I took a fabulous class with technology diva Freda Williams in which I learned the basics of Scratch, a fun and fabulous new Web 2.0 tool. Scratch was created to teach the basics of programming to kids. 

Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Intel Foundation, and MIT Media Lab research consortia.

You can download it (for free, of course) from the Scratch website and start teaching it to yourself, or go to a great website called Learn Scratch that helps you learn how to use it.  The Scratch website also contains a gallery of ideas that you and your students can download and remix into new programs. Scratch programming language enables you to create your own games, music, art, interactive stories, and animations. Once you finish your creations, you can share them on the web, where you can receive an embed code that will enable you to post your product anywhere else you wish to share it.

Just imagine using this new tool to teach critical thinking skills to your students! Scratch can help you develop twenty-first century learning skills in your students. As they learn essential mathematical and computational skills, they will gain a deeper understanding of the process of design and become more highly engaged in the learning process.

Ruth Fleet, Library Media Specialist

Dean Rusk Middle School

Free Your AASL Standards

If you didn’t either attend ALA in Chicago in person or follow it from afar through assorted social media backchannels ,then you may be blissfully unaware of an imperfect storm brewing called “Free the Standards.”

In the course of teaching a workshop on using the standards, Chris Harris discovered that our standards, the very ones that are to be our compass in our efforts to infuse information literacy as an integral and seamless part of all curricular areas, are subject to some rather restrictive copyright limitations.   In a nutshell, Harris learned that:

Under the new permissions for use, I actually had to tell librarians that they can no longer quote the standards that they are using within their lesson plan documents! Given the push to spread the standards and the whole Learning4Life initiative, this is surely in unintended outcome of AASL’s attempts to secure the standards. And yet, an over zealous locking down of the standards is unfortunately preventing most use.

As stated on the permissions page: “Permission must be requested for publishing or posting a portion of the text or the original document in a print or online publication or on a Web site as well as linking to the PDF.” [AASL] A lesson plan is a print or electronic document, therefore permission must be requested for quoting the standards as is usually done in a standard lesson plan format. Additionally, a lesson plan could be considered a derivative work under the current wording: “The learning standards document is considered the core content if the publication cannot be written without the use of the content of the learning standards document. Such usage requires a license agreement and may include a fee.”[AASL]

A fee for including the standards in each lesson plan?

Most librarians in the workshop assumed that the permission for educational use granted in the standards document covered use in lesson plans. I did as well…until I read the new permissions page. The permissions page limits educational use to only the pdf document itself. “The PDF versions available on the AASL Web site are intended for personal and educational use. Printing or forwarding copies for your own private use or to share with others for purely informational or educational purposes is acceptable.”[AASL] Any quoting of the document (i.e. listing standards on a lesson plan) would fall under the “Publishing or Posting Excerpts” section and would therefore require permission (and maybe a fee) for each lesson plan. ( July 10, 2009 post)

On July 11, Chris followed up with additional information on just how severely restricted we as school librarians are from even linking to the PDF document:

Under AASL’s current permissions for use, you CANNOT use the language. CANNOT put the standards into Rubicon Atlas (or another curriculum mapping program). CANNOT even link to the pdf document on your website or in an e-mail. I know that Alison Cline wrote back yesterday saying this could be “easily taken care of” but it cannot. We need to change the policy that guides use of the standards.

Your participation in this dialogue is critical in our efforts to freeing the standards for liberal non-commercial use.  Suggestions for a Creative Commons License have been made via various blogs, Twitter, and the AASL Forum discussion list.    I urge you to make your voice heard via one or more of these vehicles for conversation—how can we hope to integrate the standards into district and state curriculum if we are not allowed to even identify the standards in a lesson plan or link to the PDF document?

Here are some resources for getting up to speed and being an active part of the conversation for #freethestandards .

This is a serious issue that is of concern to all school librarians.  What good does it do our profession and organization if everyone is too afraid to reference the standards for fear of violating copyright or being assessed a fee?

As school librarians, we face enough obstacles in trying to go above and beyond our mission of creating lifelong learners and infusing information literacy as an essential literacy for K-12. The current restrictions only make our task even more challenging—should it really be this difficult and worrisome to use our own standards?

Adding a Creative Commons licensing or some kind of compromise that allows more liberal use/referencing of the standards is a “do or die” in my opinion—if the current restrictions stay in place, our standards are sure to go absolutely nowhere in a hurry.   Whether or not you belong to AASL, the use of the standards is of concern to all—please take time to share concerns and possible solutions you may have in a professional and proactive manner.

Buffy Hamilton,
School Library Media Specialist
Creekview High School


Great Blog Images–Yes! Copyright Prison–No!

So here’s the problem: A) You dream of having an attractive blog. B) You want to set an example of copyright adherence for your students and blog followers, be they real or imaginary. C) You can’t get excited about going to prison and/or paying enormous fines for copyright violations. So what do you do to have pretty blog images quickly and easily without fear or guilt? Say hello to my little friends from the World of Web 2.o! You can safely use these sources to create your own images or borrow copyright-friendly images for your blog posts (or for any other school purpose such as your website, handouts, or social network pages). Here are my favorites, and I promise I use them all frequently because they are all so quick and easy that even a novice will find them irresistible:

  • Image Chef lets you create an image in under a minute that not only includes a graphic, but also includes any wording you can type in. OK, this image is tacky, but all I did was go to the site, select an attention-grabbing image, type in my slogan, tell the ImageChef folk I was posting to WordPress, type in my WordPress username and password, and they sent it right to my blog. Not every Web 2.0 utility is WordPress-friendly, but ImageChef passes the test. I have an account, but I didn’t even have to log in.
  • imagechefcopyright
  • GlassGiantworks just like ImageChef. I would show you an example, but it is blocked by our school district because there are also games on the site. As with ImageChef, you can select a design and add your own logo to accompany it. It takes just seconds to send the resulting image to WordPress or your website. You’re going to have to trust me on this one!
  • TypoGenerator allows you to type in some text and make an image with the words you typed. Sometimes your first result is ugly or unreadable. No problem. All you do is hit a button to change your text style, text color, or background. You can also change your format from landscape to portrait. TypoGenerator warns you to be patient because sometimes it moves quickly and sometimes it is a bit arthritic. If you are patient enough, you can get a lovely result. Then all you do is right-click to save the file as a .jpeg, and voila, you have a fabulous image of your very own.
  • copyrighttypo1
  • Kwout is a great way to get a sharp, smooth screenshot of a website to use as your image when you want to blog about a website, or a person who has a website, or a topic related to a website, or…you get the idea. To use Kwout, first go to the Kwout site, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to get the bookmarklet. Right click on the bookmarklet link, then click on “create in links.” You then need to click on “View” at the top of your toolbar, then on “Toolbars;” then if “Links” isn’t already checked, you need to click on “Links” so that it is checked. For Pete’s sake, don’t uncheck it! At the right side of your toolbar, you can then click on Links, where you will now see Kwout. Drag it over to your toolbar. This may sound complicated, but you won’t have to do it ever again. When you want to use Kwout, all you have to do is go to the website where you want to snag a screenshot, then click on the Kwout button you just created. If the button doesn’t want to drag, just click on the word “Kwout” in your links. A box will appear asking you to select the area you wish to quote. You drag your mouse to outline the area and click on “Cut Out.” You are given several options. I always select “embed”  and then copy the code. On your blog post, just click where you want the screenshot to go, then click on the HTML tab, then paste the code. The code will go in the right place, just like magic! The gorgeous  screenshot contains a link back to the site and has pretty, smooth rounded edges unlike a regular boring screenshot. You don’t have to create an account or anything. I know this sounds complicated, but, trust me, it only takes a few seconds to grab each shot.

kwout | A brilliant way to quote via kwout

  • PollDaddy was once all alone and probably lonely out in Web 2.0 land, but then a few months ago it joined up with WordPress and now you can add it to your WordPress blogs automatically without ever even leaving your blog. You can use your poll as your image. Can’t think of anything on which to poll your real or imaginary audience? Oh, please! Get creative! Like take this blog post, for example. I could poll you about your favorite Web 2.0 image tools, or about whether or not you have ever violated copyright in your blog posts or about why you think people don’t laugh more at my posts, or…well, the list goes on. Anyway, you can go to PollDaddy, or when you’re adding a post, just look up a couple of inches and you’ll see a circle. When you mouse over it, you’ll see that it says “Add Poll.” You just type in a question, then a few options for answers. There’s even a choice of allowing your readers to enter their own response. After that, select from one of nineteen different styles. You can even insert images to go along with your poll (keep them copyright-friendly, please!). If you create your poll from the PollDaddy website, be sure to tell the nice people that you are working with WordPress, if you are in fact doing so, so that you get the right code. You can also create great surveys for your patrons, by the way, so they can let you know how well you are doing.
  • [polldaddy poll=”1208356″]
  • Wordle allows you to create a cool image of a word cloud using words related to the topic on which you are blogging, or even all the words from an entire website or blog. For example, I could copy and paste all the words I have used thus far and paste them in. This takes zero time. Like TypoGenerator, Wordle wants to make people happy, so if you hate your results, you simple “randomize” or edit them, which changes font, color, whatever. If you post directly to WordPress, you get a tiny result. I like to do a screen shot, paste it into Paint, cut out the Wordle image, then paste that into a new page which I save as a .jpeg image. This creates a larger image. Again, much faster than it sounds. These are words from the first paragraph of this blog. All this took less than a minute.
  • copyright-wordle
  • Flickr Creative Commons is great for finding photographs taken by people who are willing to share their creativity, usually only asking in return that you give them credit for their work. The site makes it easy to tell what the creators want in return; right this minute there are over ten million pix available for just an attribution. I like to tell our students that the further you scroll down the page, the more people want, so it’s easier to stick to the top of the page. The explanation to the right of the page explains what the photographers (and videographers!) want in exchange for use of their work. Usually if it’s more than just giving them credit, it’s just that you not use their work commercially or that you don’t make derivatives from their work, like adding mustaches to the pictures of their moms. We can comply with that, right? Just click on the “See more” link in the category you decide to search, then type in your search term. And don’t forget to search for parts of speech other than nouns. Sometimes a verb, adjective, or adverb might work. When I find what I want, I save the attribution info in the title, so that if I ever want to use the file again, I will be sure to give the proper credit each time I use it. Here’s a great copyright logo courtesy of MikeBlogs.
  • copyright-symbol-from-mikeblogs1
  • Thanks to Sandi Adams, the Web 2.0 guru of Cherokee County, and Buffy Hamilton, the Sandi Adams MiniMe, for all their great Web 2.0 advice.
  • Ruth Fleet
  • Creekview High School

A Silver Lining to Copyright Confusion and Fair Use?

Do you find yourself frustrated as you try to interpret copyright rules and guidelines?  Do you feel stressed as you try to negotiate copyright dilemmas in a brave new Web 2.0 world?  If so, then surf over to Joyce Valenza’s resources for the upcoming release of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education on November 11!  Joyce has links with all the info, including links to the event wiki and UStream TV feed.

Fair Use Code of Practice coming very soon! – NeverEndingSearch – Blog on School Library Journal via kwout


copyrightconfusion » Release via kwout

Buffy Hamilton, Media Specialist

Debatable topic #3: Copyright Commando or Ultimate Informant?

This is our third “debatable” topic of interest…

“Should the SLMS only teach about copyright issues through staff development or take a more aggressive role in informing faculty and students of the law?”

Copyright infringement happens all the time in our schools. Oftentimes, it occurs because the teacher is not even aware that they are breaking copyright law. I can recall many instances when I stumbled upon someone infringing on copyright guidelines: making illegal copies of sheet music, recording full length songs onto video, using the opaque to copy Big Bird for the bulletin board, photocopying full texts so every student in the class would have a copy, and the list goes on. Exactly how proactive and assertive should the SLMS be in dealing with copyright issues such as this? While it is obvious that the teacher who is committing an infringement should be told they are doing so, should the SLMS routinely check to see if such situations are occurring?

One school of thought is that the SLMS should go beyond simply informing students, teachers and administrators about copyright law by taking measures that expand their basic knowledge in this area. For instance, Doug Johnson suggests the SLMS can become a “copyright counselor” by guiding students and teachers to make informed decisions regarding copyright and fair use. The more assertive you are in informing students and faculty of copyright laws, the more likely they are to understand that this is theft and support punishment of offenders. The better informed faculty and students are, the more likely there will be no embarrassing infringements for the school and school system. When the role of copyright officer is taken more seriously and aggressively by the SLMS, the more protected the users of information will be.

The opposite viewpoint is that the SLMS should only present a good, basic overview of most copyright infringements through an in-service at the beginning of the school year. Teachers can inform students in their classes about proper use of resources and explain what is, and what is not, allowed regarding copyright. Rather than spending precious time and energy distributing detailed information beyond a basic staff development session, the SLMS should budget for legal purchase of needed materials, help teachers obtain legal copyright permissions, and model ethical and moral behavior regarding copyright law. Informing teachers and students at the point of infringement is sufficient; there is no need to offend teachers by presenting more details than necessary when dealing with sensitive copyright issues.

The next question becomes: when a teacher is observed breaking copyright guidelines, should you turn them in to the administration or look the other way? I think the goal here is to lead the faculty and students to a point where they automatically seek out the proper way of dealing with copyright “situations” when there is a question. If the SLMS can get users to first recognize when there might be an issue of copyright clearance, present this question to him/her as copyright officer in the school, and then respond based on the allowable actions, just maybe the more appropriate title could be COPYRIGHT GURU!

(I strongly recommend the Carol Mann Simpson book Copyright for schools.)

Johnson, D. (2007, June 13). Lessons school librarians teach others. Retrieved July 23, 2008, from

Russell, C. (2004). Complete copyright: An Everyday guide for librarians. Chicago: ALA.

Simpson, C.M. (2005). Copyright for schools: A Practical guide. 4th ed. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth.

Dr. Phyllis R. Snipes
University of West Georgia