The Beauty and Simplicity of Symbaloo

     As teachers, we are known to be excellent curators of things that are relevant to our everyday work – whether it be organizing our classroom library by lexiles and genres or grouping our lesson plans and teaching materials by subject matter.  And now, we live in a world where digital literacy is no longer just an option but a required skill set for teachers and students.  Hence, our ability to select, organize, and manage the most useful and meaningful online resources has also become necessary.  This is not to mention the many social media sites that have become part of our everyday lives.      The good news is, there are a number of social bookmarking sites that have increasingly grown in popularity.  One of my latest favorites is Symbaloo.  You can use it as a homepage on your Mac or PC.  You can also download the mobile app on your Android phone or iPhone.  On your iPad, the homepage can be set using the Safari web browser.  To learn more about Symbaloo, check out my infographics below:

Keep your online life sweet and simple.  Try Symbaloo.

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Five Great Uses of Interactive Whiteboard Apps


     Step aside, Promethean, InterWrite, and Smart Board.   Teachers would certainly love to have you in their classrooms, but even without one they can still use the technology with almost similar functionality, now that interactive whiteboard apps are becoming more and more sophisticated.

     I think that interactive whiteboard apps are one of the best digital tools ever created. I am one of those teachers who are not lucky enough to have a Smart Board in my classroom, but after discovering these wonderful apps such as Educreations, ShowMe and Doceri, I think I will be okay without a Smart Board.

      Here are some of the great uses of an interactive whiteboard app:

  1. You can use it to reteach a lesson. If you have students that missed your previous lesson or needed to review it, you can use a corner of your room to set up a learning station with an iPad so that they can just click on it and watch your recorded lesson using the app.
  2. You can use it as an additional resource to help struggling students do their homework. For example, by explaining a Math problem with diagrams and step-by-step solution, completing a homework becomes a lot easier.
  3. You can make your lessons more visually appealing and engaging. Students love to use technology in the classroom. It will amaze them more to hear your voice on your recorded presentation and watch it as if you are teaching it live in the classroom.
  4. You can manage your time more efficiently in the classroom. As long as your presentation is made accessible to students, you spend less time re-teaching or explaining your lesson over and over again.
  5. You can share your lessons online. These interactive whiteboard apps allow you to do a voice-over recording of your lesson and insert images or diagrams, which can then be uploaded on the web and shared with your students, parents or colleagues. If you choose to make it public, you can share it with anyone!

     The more sophisticated app called Doceri allows you to connect your iPad wirelessly to a computer, which will then let you control the computer through your iPad. I will explain more about this amazing app in another blog.

     In the meantime, go ahead and check out these apps:  Educreations, Explain Everything, Screenchomp, ShowMe, Doceri.

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Digital Tools to Use as Warm-up or Extension Activities in the Classroom

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     What an amazing school year it has been! My ESOL kids had lots of fun with their International Day projects.  I was able to use a number of digital tools in my classroom that my students truly enjoyed and shared the resources I used with my colleagues in one professional development session.

     And so my Summer vacation officially begins. This is the best time to do some gardening, to clean out closets, to get rid of the clutter in every nook and corner of the house, (which I hope I never have to do!), but most of all, to spend some quality time with my family. But not quite, because right now, I am in the process of compiling some apps and sites that I thought would be useful in my class, either as a warm-up or an extension activity. This, however, requires that students have access to a mobile laptop or a tablet. Here is a list of five digital tools that I thought any teacher could use in his/her class:

1. AnswerGarden – This is best for brainstorming activity where you ask one question and students answer in 20 words or less. To create an AnswerGarden, type a question, then share it with your class via a direct link to your AnswerGarden so that they can post their answers.

2. Tagxedo – turns your text into a word cloud with different shapes, which is perfect for visual learners. For example, you might ask them to list down synonyms of the word “love,” then turn these different words into a heart-shaped tag cloud!

3. Wordle – This is another word cloud-generating digital tool that is similar to Tagxedo, but without the shapes.

4. Padlet – This tool lets you build a wall for your students to post answers live in the classroom. This is perfect if you want to immediately gauge their writing skills as they post their answers in one sentence or two. All they have to do is double-tap on the wall and type in their answers, which everybody can read.

5. Popplet lite – This is a mind-mapping tool that allows students to sort out their ideas visually using texts, drawings, or photos. I am quite sure students would enjoy thinking about words or ideas that are associated with a certain concept and sorting them out using this app as compared to just using a traditional concept mapping template on a worksheet.

     So, whenever you’re ready to plan for the next school year, visit their websites to find out more details about how to use them in the classroom.

     Let’s all enjoy our Summer!

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