Saturday, December 27, 2014

Symbaloo Review: Great for Young Internet Users

SymbalooEDU is a fabulous website that allows you to save all of your favorite online resources and websites to your own page that is saved in the cloud so that you can access it anytime and anywhere you log in! You can also share this page with others, making it easy for students and teachers to access the same online resources. Here are a few reasons why I'm a HUGE fan of SymbalooEDU in Kindergarten:

     My students can easily make choices during their time online from websites that I pre-approve. There is no need to google search anything, which is just an invitation for disaster in Kindergarten. I no longer have to worry about them misspelling something, or them accidentally clicking on something they shouldn't be. I create the direct links to where I want them to go to, for everything from fun content area games to research articles that I want them to read. When students have choice they feel more empowered in their education, causing an increase in learning and impact. When my students have choice AND I know they are accessing safe materials that I don't have to micromanage it is a win-win! Even better is the fact that I can continuously change it to meet our needs. I'm updating it a few times a month as myself and my K team plan out what we want our students to be accessing. Choice + currently relevant information = high level learning!

     It is extremely easy for teachers to use and share with students. My school already utilizes SymbalooEDU and each grade level has a page. The links to our SymbalooEDU pages are on our school's website. The Media Specialist and one teacher from each team has access to managing the page, making it easy for teachers to adjust their grade level's page as they need to. Easily accessible and user friendly (hey if a bunch on teachers can get it to meet their needs during our super busy prep time it must be user friendly!) SymbalooEDU is an easy way for teachers to organize appropriate and relevant grade level online resources that we want students to see both at school and online at home.

Above is what our Kindergarten SymbalooEDU page currently looks like (after I just removed the special holiday content we put up) You'll notice links that correlate to our current literacy and math standards (such as letter names, letter sounds, beginning words as well as patterning, counting, and number recognition). I like having access to both subject areas on one page. We then push out our SymbalooEDU page to our classroom Chromebooks making student access as easy as can be.

Another way to utilize SymbalooEDU is by creating pages that only have links relevant to certain standards. For example, here is one that Matt Gomez and #kinderchat completed that is all about counting and patterns. I stumbled upon Matt Gomez's Symbaloo page in the middle of a teacher Pinterest marathon I was having late one night and realized how great of a tool it is for my students (and me!) to use.

Which leads me to another reason I like SymbalooEDU....because I can find other people's pages and check out their links. Think of it as a way to see into other's bookmarking bars. If I'm looking for a Kindergarten appropriate online activity I can comb through my favorite Kindergarten SymbalooEDU pages to see what others have already discovered and are using. By far my most visited SymbalooEDU page is Matt Gomez's and more specifically his Just Dance Video webmix.  With the Just Dance Video webmix all the videos are converted to SafeShare which makes me feel much more at ease. Every week my students learn a new dance that we do every day, throughout the day as a quick and fun motorbreak. I'll even just pull up the Symbaloo page and let the students choose which one they'd like to do.

If you haven't already I strongly suggest you look into SymbalooEDU. It is a fabulous tool to use with our young Internet users, as well as an easy reference for teachers on the look out for new online resources! Oh yeah, and it is free to create accounts. Even better, you don't need an account to utilize the pages that others have already created! Leave a comment with links to your favorite SymbalooEDU pages!