Sweet Findings

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Symbaloo

What a fun English word!
The idea of investigating this resource hibernated for six months before

actually entering the mixes of interactive, organizational Symbaloo!

Last spring, I happened across this website through the Van Meter Elementary Library website. At that time, Shannon McClintock Miller managed and wrote The VanMeter Voice. Her expertise caught my attention, and I immediately “followed” her on Twitter. Since that day, she changed locations, but still be found sometimes with her favorite sidekick, Hagen, blogging and interacting with technology experts around the nation. With 36.8K followers, I am hardly her only fan, but for a few days I toted her around as my new BFF! Her fresh ideas, optimistic outlook, and easily navigated blogs created a sense of curiosity. Like Hansel and Gretel, I proceeded and meandered until lost with a popcorn trail of bookmarks behind me. One bookmark read: “Symbaloo” wriggled in and out of my mind often, but time constraints and other responsibilities prevented the taming of that infinite wriggle.

Finally, with a required journal due in two weeks, I blasted the usual excuses and forged through Symbaloo. At some point, the foraging grew to intense exploration of pre-created webmixes.  Symbaloo allows the user to create a topical board of choice websites for easy access and return activities. As users create each board, the software grants sharing privileges with other Symbaloo members or specified individuals.

Before I registered an account, the scouring began with the first links found at the top of the tool bar. Working my way through the “Writing,” tabs, I happened upon Make a Word Cloud and created this beauty by entering my blog URL.

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Distracted by the plate of choices, I clicked to several web sites admiring their interactive charm.  I eventually chose to enter the VM Library Resources Symbaloo first. With a simple click on the iconic link, dropping from one resource to another, I engaged myself in trying keyboarding practice, math fact practice, and watching books in videos. Enjoying the process, I even located a favorite author and her recent interview,  Candlewick’s Five Questions (Plus One) with Kate DiCamillo.

Simply by clicking on the magnifying glass, I searched our recent curriculum topic, “Fables, Folktales and Fairytales,” and with immediacy the screen transformed into a tapas-like assortment of traditional literature resources to read and explore. Daring myself, I tapped “Add this Webmix,” and instantly it was on my list of Symbaloos to share!

Ultimately, the sweetest event ensued, the construction of my own Symbaloos. Symbaloo perfected the art of user-friendly websites. I used screen-shots of the websites and created tiles, manipulated them into “like” areas of the grid, and added a link. Symbaloo provides icons and color changes to offer an individual display. In the end, I realized this was just a beginning an ever-changing and evolving collection of resources that I could share with parents for easy access on my teacher web.Of course, I challenged myself and succeeded placing 3 Symbaloos on my teacher web for parental access and student practice.

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This tool provided me with the ability to organize websites in an easily manageable and sharable way. A useful source that discourages the dropping of kernels along the way, but instead establishes maps and the ability to open and close different paths on an as needed basis. There are no worries of birds eating the popcorn. The ease and ability to mark visits with tiles making work together to make return visits less scary than that of Hansel and Gretel, but just as sweet!

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