A Cool Tool for me

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about some of the web 2.o tools I like best. One of them is Symbaloo.


This tool allows you to organize links to websites. You can use it as a PLE or a way to organize your favorite bookmarked sites. I started using it last year after listening to Wendy Drexler talk about it in a webinar. She showed how middle school students were using it both to collect research links on a topic and to link to the final online artifacts (glogs, etc).


Since I teach 5th grade, having students search for readable content is sometimes more time-consuming than is reasonable. So, I thought I would start out using it as a way to gather preselected links about a social studies topic. Then, I could share them all with my students. Here’s a picture of what a “webmix” or “desktop” I made.

I assign a link to teach tile and pick the color and little icon that go with it. Not hard, not fancy, so helpful.

This webmix above was from last year. We were just moving on to studying classical Greece after studying Crete and the Minoan civilization. So, I did some searching of pictures and text in advance. I arranged the tiles so that the pictures were at the top and then as you move down the links are more and more text-heavy. Using the “share this webmix” option, I emailed the link to my students. Then in class they could follow the link and see the same webmix you see above. Students had some time to explore the links at their own pace. Those who like to see a visual first, could start at the top. Those who wanted more words, could head to the middle or bottom rows. Great for differentiating.

Also, you’ll see on the bottom right, two tiles with pencil icons. These are links to wallwisher bulletin boards for students to leave questions or interesting facts.

I have continued this pattern of using Symbaloo this year as well. So far, I have made a webmix for links about Mesopotamia. Again, I organized more pictures and bite-sized information towards the top and more far-reaching text at the bottom. And, again I linked to bulletin boards (this time Stixy) to collect questions and fun facts.

I have found that this allows students to gather some background knowledge that works for them. Then, we come together again, each student has already begun to build that background knowledge and has a place for new information.

Other ways I use Symbaloo:

  • I made a webmix that is just links to all my students’ edublogs on one side and in one color and all their eportfolio wikis on the other side in a different color. (I borrowed this idea from Ann Leaness @aleaness on Twitter.)
  • I have started a webmix of tools and resources that my class uses so that we have a 1-stop shopping place to find all our the tools and sites we use a lot.

I love this tool. I have shared it at several unconferences (EdCampPhilly and NTCamp) and offered a short session on it during an inservice day at my own school. Those who came to my session at school were not all classroom teachers, but all were enthusiastic about how they were going to use it in their everyday lives.

Anyone else using Symbaloo in a great way?

  1. Wow, Wendy thank you for such a great post. Wish you could come to edcampOC to share this with the attendees. We have shared a link to this post on our Symbaloo Love page: http://www.symbalooedu.com/symbaloolove/

    Daniela Bolzmann
    Team Symbaloo
    daniela [at] symbaloo [com]

    • MsEiteljorg says:

      I’m heading to EdCampNYC on Saturday. I haven’t decided if I’m going to volunteer a session, or just soak up ideas. I’m looking forawrd to it in either case.

  2. Maggie says:

    I am a big fan of Symbaloo for, as you indicate, it can really help students differentiate their experience. It also promotes student choice and voice within content threads, which is something else I’m pretty passionate about. You do a really fine job of showing us practical applications and extensions of Symbaloo here, Wen. Thanks for sharing!

    • MsEiteljorg says:

      Maggie, my faithful reader, this year when I put some YouTube videos on the Mesopotamia webmix one student then found some other great related videos that I ended up sharing with the entire class.

      I used the webmix with all the links to wikis (eportfolios) at conferences. It made it easy to find everything I wanted to share with parents. The wikis are awesome by the way. I’ll be writing again about them soon. We’re finishing up essays that we are podcasting to add. Lots going on over here.

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