This topic has been on my "need to write about..." list for a while now, and this week, I'm all about crossing things off of my to-do lists!
Have you ever used Symbaloo? If not, you're missing out. I know I blogged about this in April, but it truly is one of my favorite sites for differentiating online tasks for my students.
Symbaloo is functionally a bookmarking site, but it organizes the bookmarks visually in a very user-friendly/kid-friendly way. Websites are saved as "tiles" and put into "webmixes" organized by topic or purpose. They can be kept private or shared and searched. For example, I'm looking for resources to help with our upcoming unit on the Revolutionary War, and I found this webmix through a search:
The tiles look like icons for apps, and the webmix designer can edit them to change or upload pictures, give titles, change colors, etc. The tiles can also be dragged and dropped and rearranged to help with organization. I always like having sites already bookmarked for students so that we don't have to waste time typing in web addresses (and subsequently figuring out where the spelling went wrong...), and I like that this site lets me bookmark sites with visual cues in addition to the text.
Pretty cool, right?
But let me tell you how I really use this site.
At the beginning of the year, I create a tile for each of my students with their name and a generic subject-specific icon on it. For example, for reading, my webmix looks like this:
Then, I go through and edit the links associated with each person to differentiate instruction. For example, if I want Josh to read something from one website and Zack to read a text from another, then I'll link the tiles to those two sites. But then on the next assignment, if I want them to read the same thing, I'll link both tiles to the same site.
The initial setup can be a little time consuming (about 20-30 minutes), but it's very easy to use once it's set up. It really takes the guess work out of what assignments my students need to be working on when we do differentiated activities online since they just click on their name.
Another perk: the site is iPad compatible, so we're able to access these webmixes through Safari or other web browsers. One downside, however, is that you can only link to websites, RSS feeds, and audio sources -- not actual apps on the iPad.
Should you decide to give it a try, check out the education version at edu.symbaloo.com.
Finally, here's a link to my original tutorial as well as brief tutorial video about Symbaloo that I found to help you get started.
Do you use Symbaloo in your classroom? If so, I'd love to hear how you use it in the comment section!
Have a great week!