Symbaloo to you too!

Ok, lets give this a shot. This is something I stumbled across today while doing some reading about inquiry based learning. It’s called Symbaloo, and it’s like a tailored web-quest type resource, that let’s you select not only resources for research and compile them into one page. It also let’s you link up collaboration and web tools. Neat idea, not sure how it will work in the classroom (as far as kids logging in and all that, remember my babies are only in 2nd)!

Above, I hopefully have embedded some sort of widget that is usable…I really have no idea what I did but here goes!

As always,
Mrs. Marino

How KidBlog is changing my life!

So I stumbled upon this site called KidBlog.org while looking for something totally unrelated and now after using it for about 2 days in the classroom, it has totally changed my life!

KidBlog is a basic blogging site that can be set up to be controlled by the teacher. You don’t need emails to set up student accounts, only the teacher account. Then when each student logs in they can add to their blog or comment on someone else from the class blog list. The platform is set up on a WordPress type blog so many of the functions are the same, only very stripped down.

We have a classroom set up and I can put all of the students in with their own account. So far in two days the kids have posted about lots of little things like being new to the school or summer vacation stuff. The nice part is not carrying around writing journals to grade or comment. I have the permissions set to email me when a new post is made so that I can approve it before it goes up. I spend about 5 minutes when I check my email, clicking through to their posts, checking for decency and then making a quick comment.

Today during “Fun Friday” I had students that choose to write on the blog instead of play games, and we are not talking about my gifted students, we are talking about my high needs students that won’t write during regular class time! I think this addition to our station routines is going to make a huge difference in our writing.

Another high point is the versatility, because they are typing through an Internet program, their work is autosaved and accessible from any computer. So I don’t have to save files on flash drives or our district system, which is super complicated for 2nd graders. I’m also thinking that when we do our NaNoWriMo in November, we will be able to type and save our work like real novelists plus keep track of our word count!

This is exciting, and if you are a teacher there is no reason why you should not have a KidBlog for your class. This is a huge step in helping to teach students to be digital natives and responsible users of technology as a TOOL and not a TOY! Ok, mini-rant over!

As always,
Mrs. Marino

Spelling City! Spelling City! Spelling City!

I stumbled upon Vocabulary Spelling City last school year around the 2nd nine weeks and used it for most of the school year. As the summer is coming to an end, I started thinking about what I wanted to keep going as far as technology tools for this coming school year and Vocabulary Spelling City came to mind.

Check out my Class Spelling Lists!

Vocabulary Spelling City is a website designed for teachers and students to practice spelling and vocabulary. Teachers can sign up for a free or premium membership. Either one allows you to post custom spelling lists and store them for students to access at any time. Several of my students used the site at home for their nightly spelling homework. Along with each spelling list you create comes a variety of games and activities tailored with your specific list. Many of the activities are printable, allowing you to send them home or work in class offline. The premium membership lets you give each student a login. Then you can track their progress and activity.

I actually enjoyed a lot of the features that it had to offer like customizable spelling lists, interactive games and printable activities. Last year the kids went to the site every once in a while, mostly to play HangMouse! This year I was considering putting a computer in the Word Work and Writing station, and requiring students to log in and complete activities during the week. I mostly used the printable activities as spelling homework or morning work (especially the handwriting worksheets!).

One thing that I really liked about it was the ability for students to take their spelling test online at their own pace. I would send a few kids over to the computer to take their spelling test and when they were done, they printed out a certificate or scorecard that gave their grade. This allowed me to give different spelling tests to different students simultaneously! And before you start thinking that I must have had a huge classroom computer station or lab access, I did this with just 3 computers. I gave the students an order to follow and they switched out!

Overall the activities are well thought out and the printing options are nice, especially since the basic account is FREE! This year I am excited to try out the premium membership and will definitely post an update after I’ve had a chance to work with it.So give Vocabulary Spelling City a shot and see how it works out in your classroom! Be sure to comment below to let us know how it works for you in your class!

As always,

Mrs. Marino

Watch out! I have a GIVEAWAY! After I get 10 comments on this post, one lucky commenter will get a FREE Premium Membership to Vocabulary Spelling City  for a year!