I learned so much and have been integrating what I learned over the last two years into my daily practice. My posting has been minimal over this time period, but I'm back in the saddle again.
When I signed into Blogger, I saw two paragraphs about Symbaloo I had written back in March. I have to be honest: I want to finish the post, but had a hard time picking up where I left off. I'll do the best I can and post more over the summer.
Switching to Symbaloo
I've made a switch to Symbaloo on the computer lab computers. I used to use Delicious, but I wanted a more protected method of sharing links with the students. Symbaloo is a great site for allowing non-readers to select a website, too.
I first saw Symbaloo in the fall when Adam Bellow presented at Edscape in October. I liked the look of the website and the multiple tabs that can be set up. It took a little research to learn that he was using the paid version of the site. I was not ready to jump into paying for the service so I decided to see what I could do with the free version.
Symbaloo Trick One
I set up an account and have multiple tabs. There is a tab for each grade level from PreK-3 through eighth grade. In order to have it work, I have each computer in the lab use Symbaloo as the home page and I had the computer remember the user id and password. This could be a problem if students remove or add tiles. I only had one tile added by mistake once and never had a tile deleted.
There is another huge advantage. I start almost every class with a quick demonstration. When I start the Internet, I click on the grade's tab and show the students what I want them to do. When they go to their computer and start Firefox, it automatically takes them to the last tab I was on. No matter what grade was in the room previously the students are automatically shown the correct set of links.
Even if I did not demonstrate beforehand, it is easy enough for most grade level students to click on the proper tab. If I am with the PreK-3 or other younger students, as soon as the first child gets on and realizes they are on the wrong tab, I can click the correct tab for them and as the rest of the students start Firefox, they are automatically taken to the correct tab.
Symbaloo Trick Two
At the bottom of my Schoolnotes page, I have a link to the Symbaloo bookmarks. It actually leads to a wiki page with my school mix embedded in the wiki. Above the embedded page, I have links from PreK-3 through eighth grade. These are actually eleven separate wiki pages, but since I have identical layouts, it does not look like you're moving between pages.
I have to think about other tips that I have picked up on over the course of the school year. I have plenty of time over summer vacation to write. It is good to be back in the saddle again.