Last week, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the awesome K-5 staff of the Mexico Public School District. For over 3 hours, we were able to share, discuss, and create using new tools presented to help maximize their first days of school with their new students. Among the resources shared were Padlet and TodaysMeet. (view brief tutorials on how to get started here: Padlet, TodaysMeet).
A large portion of our time together, was spent on helping the teachers organize their school year workflow. As a former 4th grade self-contained classroom teacher, Google Classroom was a huge asset to my teacher toolbox. However, realistically, this tool can be overwhelming to primary grade teachers and students. So, the Web 2.0 tool, Symbaloo, was introduced to my K-3 teachers, as an option for organizing and managing tools to optimize classroom learning. This post will share information, tutorials, and practical classroom uses for each.
WOW! What a resource for any teacher, regardless of grade level or content taught. Symbaloo is a cloud based tool that allows teachers the opportunity to organize favorite websites and apps into, what Symbaloo refers to as, a webmix. For teachers, this is an opportunity to organize all of your favorite websites and web tools to help promote and reinforce learning within the classroom. I suggested my K-3 teachers use this as a default homepage for their young learners. What I really like about Symbaloo is that you can incorporate visual cues/icons for your early readers, struggling learners, or ELL students. Here are other ideas, for Symbaloo use, shared during our PD workshops:
- create a “tile” with each student’s picture, linking to their own differentiated webmix
- create tiles, with covers of popular books, linked to online reading of texts to be used during Reader’s Workshop
- organize different content area sites/apps into different content webmixes
- primary teachers can use a temporary “webpage”
- create a webmix, to share with parents, to reinforce learning in the classroom
Getting Started with Symbaloo (video)
As I stated earlier, the release of Google Classroom for all GAFE (Google Apps for Education) districts and teachers, proved to be an invaluable resource in my teacher toolbox. As a teacher who encouraged online sharing of work, my Google Drive became bogged down with many assignments shared with me by my students. Although I was excited to start the process of becoming a “paperless classroom”, I found myself spending quite a bit of time locating the assignments in my Drive and placing them in appropriate folders to be viewed, commented on, and graded. Google Classroom helped organize my students’ workflow.
Through Google Classroom, teachers have the opportunity to create different “classrooms” for each class/content area taught. As a teacher, I can post announcements and assignments for my students. Before Google Classroom, I really had to emphasize the importance of making a copy of any assignment I shared through Google Drive to my students. If they did not make a copy, they would inevitably change the original template or have an ongoing, ever growing assignment with every student’s response. As a teacher, I would do my best to prevent this, by making all my shared Drive items, view only, forcing my students to make a copy to complete, but Google Classroom takes care of that for you. There is an option to create an assignment/copy for each student. What a time saver!
Google Classroom also creates a Drive folder for each created “classroom” to help organize student work. No longer was I searching my Drive looking for a particular student’s assignment. I simply accessed the folder for the classroom the work was assigned, and there was the completed, turned in assignment. Did I mention, with one click of the mouse, I had a list of the students who had completed and turned in assignments, and those who had not? No more marking names off the endless supply of class checklists! Don’t forget, I could access my Classroom, and so could the students, from anywhere there was a computer, internet connection, and access to their Google account. Want the icing on the cake??? Google Classroom now has a free app! I could check assignments while waiting in the doctor’s office if needed!
Whew!! So many benefits to Google Classroom. I have provided a Google Classroom Basic video, and a more in depth video of Google Classroom possibilities. Hopefully you will find these useful. As always, please leave comments below sharing any questions, ideas, and/or comments about any of the tools that were shared today!
Google Classroom Basics (video)
Google Classroom Pt. 2 (video)