Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Skip to my Symbaloo!

The web allows us many opportunities to guide students in exploring a wealth of resources, but it can be overwhelming at times.  How do we facilitate meaningful learning while maximizing the limited time we have with students?   Let me introduce you to Symbaloo!  Symbaloo (shown below) is a fantastic website that allows you to create webmixes.  Each tile links to a web source that you choose.

Ms. Saverino and I used the Symbaloo below to facilitate a jigsaw.  Each corner of tiles featured a different type of artifact (article, commercial, political cartoon, magazine cover) on the topic of mental health.  Symbaloo allows you to choose the color of each tile, so students were assigned a color (blue, orange, red, or green) and divided into groups.  Students in group blue explored all of the blue tiles, thus allowing every student to discuss all four artifact types.  We also linked a google doc where students reported out their findings.  For the second part of the jigsaw students were placed in mixed groups (blue/green/orange/red) and discussed the similarities and difference in their artifacts.

Symbaloo is a tool that offers so much potential.  Tracey Kracht (@lpstechmentors) and I brainstormed this short list!

Ways to use Symbaloo in the classroom:
  • Organize research sites and articles for students
  • Do a jigsaw of resources facilitated by using different colored tiles for each jigsaw group
  • Create a webmix containing one unit of flipped materials and resources
  • Create a review webmix for students
  • Provide students with a webmix of the tools you will consistently use in your classroom
  • Activities to push/differentiate for students who are consistently ahead (or remediate for those behind)
Add your best ideas for using Symbaloo in the classroom.

A Lesson Worth Recycling

At a recent conference at the Denver Convention Center, I was quite fascinated by these trash cans:

Strange...I know!  The word 'LANDFILL' really caught my attention, and I was quite cognizant of my trash disposal for the three days I was at the conference.  Why use the word landfill instead of trash or waste?  To persuade!  The word trash would have only informed us where to put our waste, but the word landfill persuaded us to think twice about our waste and whether it was really for the landfill or the recycle.  I love how one word can have so much power!

Mrs. Schaeffer and I explored these ideas today with students as we explored various purposes for writing and generated lots of potential writing topics.  The lesson was a launch into A Raisin in the Sun, and our goal was for students to understand how writing purpose can shape a topic.  We narrowed the focus to family dynamics, a central idea of the play.

Check out this SlideRocket to see the structure of the lesson:

Here is a snapshot of the writing topics generated by one student today:

Click HERE for a Google Doc of this organizer you can use with students.  It's a lesson worthy of recycling!

This framework, adapted from Kelly Gallagher's Write Like This, is a great way to understand why purpose matters and could certainly be adapted for any content area.  It would be powerful to establish these ideas at the beginning of a school year and build on the framework throughout the year.