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Symbaloo EDU and Weblist: Sharing the web with students

+ What it is: Sharing the web with students can be a challenge.  Websites can often have urls that feel unending, students can copy down a url incorrectly, students type with different speeds, or characters show up in the address that they are unfamiliar with.  Complicated urls can single-handedly convince teachers to ditch a wonderful web resource for something easier to manage…like a worksheet.  Sharing websites with your students doesn’t have to be a challenge.  Symbaloo EDU and Weblist are two of my favorite ways to quickly and easily share websites with students. Symbaloo EDU is fabulous because it was created with educators in mind.  Symbaloo lets you gather all of your favorite online tools and sites into a webmix about the topics you teach.  Symbaloo web mixes can be published and shared with colleagues, students, and parents.  Symbaloo can be used by students or teachers to create a personal learning environment. With Symbaloo folders can be created that contain sites and resources that are related.  Symbaloo can be used year-long, just continue adding sites and resources for your students throughout the year.  Everything that you have used all year-long will be in one easy place for students to access. Weblist lets you pull together and organize content on the web.  Create a list of urls centered on a theme and it is combined into one easy to navigate url.  The list can be saved as a bookmark or a homepage.  What I like about Weblist is the visual aspect.  Each website is saved as a snapshot of that website with the website name and a description below.  The visual organization is perfect for younger students who may not be able to navigate links designated by text. How to integrate Symbaloo EDU and Weblist into your curriculum: Symbaloo can be used by students to create their own “textbooks”.  As students search the web for resources based on subjects or inquiry questions, they can save what they find and create a virtual e-book of sorts.  Symbaloo can also be used by students to organize all of their online work in one place.  Students can add links to the slide shows, documents, videos, images, etc. that they create online.  Symbaloo becomes an e-portfolio.  Teachers can also use Symbaloo to create a customized “textbook” for their students complete with articles, maps, video, images, and interactive content. Weblist is great for quickly sharing a collection of sites with students.  Weblists are fast and easy to create (you don’t even have to login or register first!).  Weblists are perfect for sharing a collection of sites in a computer lab setting or with colleagues.  The visual interface of Weblist is perfect for students.  Students can easily travel from one site to another because the web page is embedded in the Weblist, the url never changes. Want to get really crazy? Combine Symbaloo and Weblist.  Create folders for your students on Symbaloo so that there is one central url to go to.  Have Symbaloo link to your various Weblists.  This combines the great organization and collaboration aspect of Symbaloo with the awesome visual interface of Weblist.  It is a powerhouse of learning for your students created by you.  Cool! Tips: Don’t forget that both Symbaloo and Weblist make for a great way to share online resources with your colleagues! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Symbaloo EDU and Weblist in your classroom!

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Wordsmyth- outstanding illustrated e-dictionary

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-11-2013

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iLearn Technology: Wordsmyth- illustrated e-dictionary

What it is: Wordsmyth is a fantastic online dictionary for kids.  WILD is Wordsmyth’s Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary.  It is a truly well done young reader’s dictionary for k-3 readers or ELL students.  WILD is a simple-to-use visual dictionary that includes definitions for 1500 words, developmentally appropriate sentences for each word and for each meaning of the word, integrated visual environments that help kids really explore language, audio for each word, and fun activities that promote literacy.  Wordsmyth has a dictionary for intermediate elementary and middle school students called Word Explorer Children’s Dictionary.  The Word Explorer includes a related-words feature where students can see concept maps, easy-to-read and understand definition, word histories, Language Notes, and thousands of images and animations to help students build literacy. Finally, Wordsmyth has a comprehensive dictionary suite with easy to read entries and definitions, illustrations, synonyms/similar words/antonyms under each definition, audio pronunciation and thousands more images.  Wordsmyth has different options for use.  There is a free subscription available to everyone that will allow students to freely access all 3 dictionary suites, advanced search options, puzzles, words of the day, look up history, customized pronunciation and dictionary formats, and a glossary maker.  MOST of the site is totally free to use with the free registration!  For $9.95/year, you can also purchase an individual subscription that gives some additional features such as the ability to customize the dictionary and gain access to premium features.

An educational subscription allows access to ALL tools including teacher tools.  Best of all, it is FREE for schools for the 2013-2014 school year.  Worth taking advantage of this option!

How to integrate Wordsmyth into your classroom: I’m seriously impressed with the Wordsmyth dictionaries.  They are truly an impressive option for a digital dictionary in the classroom.  The downfall of this site: the illustrated dictionary (WILD) is flash-based.  This means that it is not easily accessible on iDevices in the classroom.  It also means that it takes a bit to load each page if your Internet connection isn’t great.  

What I appreciate about this dictionary, is the accessibility for emerging readers, non-readers, or ELL/ESL students.  The dictionary is really easy to use, the definitions are easy to understand, and the accompanying audio and images are fantastic!

If you have a dedicated writing space in your classroom, make sure to include Wordsmyth in it.  Bookmark it on classroom computers, send it home to parents, include it on your classroom blog/website, etc.  This is a wonderful place for kids to be empowered during their writing and literacy time.

If you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 device setting, this site is worth making a web clip for to make it easily accessible to everyone.

Right now our students are inquiring into how we express ourselves.  Our intermediate students are looking at different mediums and methods that people use for self-expression.  Part of that exploration has led them into a study of words.  Wordsmyth is a great way for them to explore in a place that is developmentally appropriate and helps them see the way that language is connected and can be used for expression.

Wordsmyth has words separated by topic.  As you begin a new unit, give students the opportunity to explore the vocabulary on the front end.  You can do this as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard or individually on classroom/personal devices.  As you go through a class book or unit together, create a custom glossary that students can refer to.

Tips: Be sure to sign up for the free educational group subscription for the 2013-2014 school year.  With the subscription you get unlimited making/using/saving/sharing activities, customize the dictionary, access premium dictionary features, and access to the teacher tools.

What do you think of Wordsmyth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Comments (1)

I have a class of students with language impairments. The collections tab is a great tool for them because it allows them to make connections between the word categories. I plan to have them use that to include words in their personal dictionary so they can find them easier. Their spelling is often very phonetic so using a regular dictionary doesn’t help because their sounds are so off. I also plan on sharing with our ESL teacher. Thanks so much for sharing!

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