Establishing a Middle School Community

By Mary Blow on August 3, 2010
  • Grades: 6–8

During the first week of school, my top priority is welcoming the incoming 6th graders into our middle school community. This year, I decided to use an EduGlogster poster, a digital poster, as the ice breaker activity.

Ice Breaker

Ice breakers are important in middle school because they foster student-teacher relationships. For some students, the transition to middle school is smooth and effortless, but for others, acclimation to middle school is more challenging. Whether the transition is smooth or challenging, middle school students are more successful if they feel connected to their school community. I have observed that students who value the school community are more motivated to succeed academically and socially. Throughout the year, my students endure many emotional, physical, and  social challenges: peer pressure, time management, maturation, organization, and changing friendships. It is a scary, emotional time for them, as they strive to find themselves. The school community provides a support system to assist students in dealing with these challenges.

My EduGlogster poster provides the sixth graders with a glimpse into my personal life, an opportunity for them to get to know me. The poster serves as a model for their first assignment, which is to create their own multimedia poster to introduce themselves to the class. As a rule, they are receptive to their first public speaking presentation because they are presenting familiar content. Through our sharing, we create a risk-taking classroom environment. Trust and understanding become the foundation of our new middle school community. At the same time, I get to know my students, so I can diversify assignments and tap into their interests and aspirations.  

To Glog or Not to Glog?

So, you think you might like to glog?  EduGlogster, a Web 2.0 tool, is similar to Glogster, except EduGlogster is designed for educators, so don’t confuse the two entities. EduGlogster offers free student accounts — and they don't require email addresses for registration. After the initial setup, students have access until you delete their accounts. It is Web-based, so it is accessible from school or home. To learn more about how to use it, see an EduGlogster tutorial video. Other great resources include Photo Story 3 (free download, for Windows),  Windows Movie Maker, and Soundzabound (royalty free music for schools). For evaluating their EduGlogster posters, I use this Glogster rubric.

Once my students are familiar with EduGlogster, multimedia posters are an option for future reports or classroom presentations. Whenever possible, I like to offer my students choices. I have discovered that middle school students are more motivated to learn when you offer them choices. Ultimately, the skills learned in creating and presenting with a digital poster are utilized throughout the year. 

How do you establish a classroom community at the beginning of the year?   

Comments

I like the idea of glogging but I must be doing something wrong. I watched the video from the link above and when I was signing up I did not see the space where it asked for the number of students. I was under the impression we were allowed 200 but when I go into the student area of the account I tried to set up now it want me to pay a fee. I don't want to sound like I expect something for nothing but I am looking for inexpensive ideas for my students to share who they are. thanks sherri

Hi, Sheryl. I would definitely start with less components than I have on EDUGlogster. I added so many because I wanted to demonstrate all the options you have: videos, narration, hyperlinks, images. Save videos for last. Please feel free to post back if you need clarification or help. ~Mary

Thank you for all the information about EduGlogster. I was aware of Glogster, but did not know there was a tool more geared to educational use. Although I have not tried to use Glogster, I saw the potential for a sixth grade teacher I will be working with this year. She is wanting to incorporate more technology into her classroom instruction. Now I think I will steer her toward EduGlogster instead. She has some excellent social studies units which have traditionally had a poster as a culminating project. I see EduGlogster as an opportunity for her to take a unit which she has already developed and deepen and enrich the learning through the use of multimedia. I am hopeful that the process for developing a "poster" isn't too complicated since I don't want to overwhelm my colleague. Any recommendations as to helpful tips or suggestions as to how to introduce this to students? Thanks for your help!

Hi Mike. I'm sorry you were disappointed in SLOB. It does address bullying, which makes it a heavier read. I am going to check out your suggestion, Sixth Grade Glommers, right away. It sounds like it would be a nice compliment to SLOB, as it accommodates those students who enjoy lighter reading. Thank you for sharing. If you find any other books that address middle school issues, please come back and post.

I saw that you liked SLOB, so I checked it out...not bad...but it didn't really "catch me" (sorry!) One of my (and my students) favorite books is Sixth-Grade Glommers, Norks, and Me by Lisa Papademetriou. It really is a great book for beggining Middle School kids. It emphasizes how family is always there for you and how both you and your friendships will change during Middle School...yet the change can be good. The kids love the book...it speaks about the changes in Middle School...but its "lite" and fun.

Brent, Thank you. It is nice to have you back.

Great idea, Mary. Keep 'em coming. Thank you for the troubleshooting tips!

Hi Victoria,

I like glogging instead of creating posters out of construction paper. They are much more interesting.

Troublshooting: If you have an existing Glogster account, you have to log out. EduGlogster is a different entity. You need to sign up for an separate EduGlogster account with a different username and password. It takes up to 24 hours to get the educator's account approved; however, they approved mine in minutes via e-mail. When you sign into the EduGlogster account, you will find a the classroom management piece to assign usernames and passwords for each student. Contact me if you need help. I'll be glad to give you a hand.

Welcome to Scholastic, Mary! Making glogs is a great deal of fun. I plan on using them in the classroom this year. Prior to this year, I have made them to display on my website, but I honestly did not know they expanded to EduGlogster. The only thing is... I am not seeing any options on how to sign up my virtual class once I click on that link. - Victoria

Welcome aboard, Megan. It is nice to have such a great fan. I hope you enjoy the new school year.

Mary, I love EduGlogster! Welcome to Scholastic.com. I am looking forward to reading your posts this year. Smiles, Megan Power

Hi, Ashley. One of the things I like about EduGlogster is that it is applicable to so may projects--even enhancing your web site. Good luck!

Hello Mary! Welcome to the scholastic online community! I look forward to your posts this year. I loved this idea of using Glogster as an icebreaker. I teach 1st grade, so it's not as practical to have them create their own. However, I used Glogster to spice up my school website. I like that it has the interactive icons.

Good luck this year! :) Cheers, -Ashley C.

Mary,I am glad you like the glogster ice breaker activity. I like to integrate technology options for my students, especially in middle school, as they love social networking. Showcasing their work is important as well. I am thinking of having them embed their glogster into an electonic portfolio.

Glogging looks like fun! I will definitely check it out. For several years now (over a decade!), I've started the first day of school with the 5x8 card interview strategy Linda Rief describes in her book, Seeking Diversity. The question-talk-refocus-talk-write procedure is perfect for introducing how we'll write all year, and I get lots of good information about my students on the very first day. It works with elementary students through first year college comp students to returning adult students in a non-credit writing course. Rief teaches middle school, so it's perfect for sixth graders! Have a great start to your year!

Stacey, Thank you for your kind words. I find that my greatest inspiration comes from networking with great colleagues.

I just have to repeat - your ideas (and you, yourself) are fabulous! Keep them coming! Scholastic is so lucky to have you. I do like Glogster! What a great curriculum tool!

Linda, I am glad you are joining the community. Glogs are glorified posters, except they tap into students interests--communicating with technology.

Nancy, you know where to find me if you need any help with technology. I'd be happy to lend a hand.

Allie, thank you for the kind words. I'm sure you are just as impressive.

Heather, yes this project can be modified very easily. Good luck with your first grade class this year.

Love love love, this! What a great way to start the school year! I teach first grade so I'm thinking I could modify this and make it a long term project for my students to complete with an older students help towards the end of the year! Thanks for sparking my brain!!! So excited to try this out this year!

Mary, this was awesome! I think this is a great way for your students to get to know you. I'm very impressed! Allie

This is awesome! You are going to help this technologically-challenged teacher get up to speed.

Hi Mary, Glogging sounds like a great idea to me and a good way to help incoming middle schoolers make the transition to their new school community. Thanks for sharing this resource! I'm looking forward to following your blog this year. Cheers, Linda

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