Thursday, August 3, 2017

How Symbaloo Saved My Sanity!

I don't know about your school, but in the last few years our school has had major updates to technology happening every summer.  I am incredibly grateful and I'm always excited to have the newest of the new....but it always comes with the dreaded email that says, "Make sure you have all of your data backed up to the cloud and don't forget about your web browser bookmarks.  We will be wiping everything clean this summer."  I've read that statement from our technology guys for three years in a row now! Luckily, I am cool with the cloud now, so I don't have to worry about my files being lost! However, I wanted something faster for saving bookmarks and reloading them each year.  I was so tired of sitting down at every student computer in my classroom and reloading last year's bookmarked websites.  Yes, I'm sure there are super quick ways around that, but I'm still learning about the quick techy ways to do things. This frustration with reloading bookmarks is what motivated me to find my beloved Symbaloo website.

Symbaloo is an online bookmarking website that allows you to create a free account.  Through this website I can access my bookmarks from any web browser or computer and I can customize the bookmarks to meet my needs.  The first day that I signed up, I created a username and password that I could share with my second graders.  Then, I added all of the student websites that we use in our classroom and I uploaded an image to represent each bookmark.  I knew that this would not only help me stay organized, but it would help my students get to their websites quickly.  It also helps my non-readers find websites that they enjoy because all they have to do is click on an image.  I divided my student bookmarks into four different categories by creating four tabs, which the website calls a "webmix".  I also added my own background to each "webmix", to help my students distinguish the different pages.  Here are the following tabs/webmixes that I created:

Reading Tab/Webmix - used during reading centers

Math Tab/Webmix - used during math centers


Just for Fun Tab/Webmix - used during indoor recess and computer prize time


Research Tab/Webmix - used to help students navigate online research material and publishing sites

The research tab is probably my favorite tab, because it is so dynamic in my class.  Last year, the students did a huge research project on animals local to Pennsylvania.  However, our primary library didn't have a ton of books on the birds included in the project.  To solve the problem, I bookmarked a few trustworthy sites that had information on their animals.  This allowed those students to work independently until I could make a stop at our local library and find appropriate books for them.  I also love to add bookmarks of live web cams from zoos and aquariums when we are doing research as a whole group.  Then during their computer time they just click on the icon that I create and it takes them right to the live cam website.  

Let me know what you think! Do you use a bookmarking website?  If so, which one? If you try Symbaloo out, let me know how it goes.  Also, if you need help navigating how to use the website, I'll be posting a how to series very soon.


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