I was in a Year 1/2 classroom this morning working with a teacher new to our school. The kids had netbooks out and the teacher wrote up some website addresses on the whiteboard with interactive content about the Water Cycle that she wanted the students to visit and use. Being seven and eight year olds, there was a strong possibility that entering these sites successfully into the browser would be a tricky task. My quickfire solution was to open a Word document, paste in the two sites, press enter to make them links and then save that file in an easy to access folder on the network. I then informed the class where to go to find the file - hopefully creating an easier pathway.
However, I don't think that this is a very good solution and so now I'm appealing to the collective wisdom of this blog's readers. How would you create a way for young students to get easily onto teacher curated collections of websites? I'm thinking that even a delicious tag might be too confusing for this age group - but maybe a class blog that they become familiar with that puts these websites into a blogroll or page. But, you guys are smarter than me. What do you think?
I think with that age group it might be better if you used either Sqworl http://sqworl.com/index.php or Skloog http://www.skloog.com/ . Have a look at them and decide which might be better for your students. 😉
Thanks for those suggestions. Both tools look very good and I’ll need to play with them to know which will be the better option. This would work well if the teacher set it up for herself and then the students would only need one link.
I use a delicious site with my first grade class. We visit it together in the computer lab on many occasions and it is the homepage for our few classroom computers. I probably have too many different tags, but my students don’t seem to have any trouble finding what they want or need.
I’ve used delicious with older kids quite a bit as well but was unsure if it would be too complex for younger students – mainly with minor typos and so on. Any class can become familiar regardless of age given enough opportunity but I suppose I was looking for an option that I could just give to the teacher without any learning curve on their part. That might not exist of course.
I have a wiki setup on the teacher’s computer, with its own apache service running. The students have a bookmark (or their homepage) set to the ip address of that computer. I can then easily put up links, webquests and other information on this wiki. I have found it saves many valuable minutes each lesson and keeps the students on-task.
You could do the same with a blog, either locally on the intranet, or on the internet. If it is set as the students’ homepage, then that is even better.
Thanks, Rob. A wiki as an online base for a class is always a worthwhile option – maybe easier and less ongoing work than a blog.
I faced the same problem and the best way to share resources I could figure out is to install xmarks (formerly foxmarks – http://www.xmarks.com/ ) on the menu bar. Each button can represent a curriculum area or topic. The teacher bookmarks the links s/he wishes the students to use under the corresponding button in her/his computer (any computer really).
The classroom’s computers will all have xmarks under the same user and password, being clones of the teacher’s menu bar.
Xmarks works with ie, safari, firefox, and chrome.
The only weakness I see is that if a student makes a change in the menu bar, it will be syncronised to the rest of computers with the same ID and password.
This combined with a wiki will, I think, go a long way.
The main problem I would encounter with a menu bar install would be in the way our network is set up. Most alterations like that require admin privileges to set up plus there are the other synching issues you point out. Thanks for your suggestions though – using add-ons in the browser is an under utilised strategy for me.
Our quick fix is similar to yours, but instead of a word document, we just create a shortcut icon to the required website. This works fine with 1st graders, and gives them some reinforcement in navigating network drives, which is no bad thing.
Our more elegant solution for this year is class pages through Finalsite (our web based portal) – there is a block on their class homepage which includes useful links. Really no different to a wiki – as long as kids are navigating to it regularly, any web “homepage” would do, and it should streamline the process.
G’day Mike – your ideas remind me that I need to work harder to ensure that all classes have some sort of webpage that they become familiar with navigating to. Then the teachers have the one stop shop to place all of the links that their students will need.
I would go with a wiki. Easiest web page out there. Drop the links in as a beginning page. The thing with the wiki would be that you could make it a project page too. Have the teacher find videos and have the students watch them at home. Also have the students and their parents search the web for cool sites that they have found. Email the teacher to collect them at the wiki site. Just my 2 cents
Thanks, Chris. Wikis are mainstream enough now for me to suggest that all my teachers should know how to set up and maintain one.