Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Symbaloo, INFOhio, Research, Rigor and Resources~ Oh, my!

Research, Rigor, and Resources are not words one would typically put together with summer but, when pairing these ideas with reflecting, learning and adjusting they're just perfect!
I am fortunate to teach in a district that values professional development and offers a plethora of opportunities over the summer! One class, Research, Rigor, and Resources was just one of the opportunities. This class, by Christina Dorr @CHD2009, gave those in attendance the opportunity to look at the research standards across grade levels and develop a deeper understanding of  Research and Rigor and an opportunity to explore (new and old) RESOURCES (3R's)!

 As I worked I began to reflect on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Reading Informational Text and Writing and Presenting Information across the K- 2 level. As I looked at the standards I quickly noticed the reading standards match what many first graders do naturally with informational text. I have found kids are curious and drawn to reading informational text making this unit of study a favorite!

So, What's Missing~
In reflection on my current non-fiction study, the CCSS and the deeper understanding of the 3R's I realized our unit needed to include a better variety of resources. If resources are to include books, computers, places, people, (including themselves as a beginning point for research) I needed to find a way to make these resources accessible to the young researchers.

Finding First Grade Friendly Links~
Finding non-fiction texts has becoming increasingly easier as the shift from fiction to non-fiction has been pushed to center stage. My kids love the non-fiction books, they just can't get enough! But, there are always a few kids who want more, they want to go online and dig deeper! This has been a challenge in our first grade class. Many web sites are written at levels too advanced for young readers. Searching the internet is also a concern- How time consuming will it be to find the right site? Will the link be appropriate? Will it be from a creditable source? These concepts are a bit ahead of the younger researchers, they need more support and guidance.

InfoOhio To the Rescue!
During our 3 day workshop a representative from Infohio shared the wealth of resources available on their site (this is a whole different blog post). We learned how to search for non-fiction resources categorized by reading level and topic- What a treasure!  We were given a password and username during the workshop but, teachers, students and parents have access to this site and most of the resources are available through the public library website.  You just need your library number!

So, How do I Get the Kids to the best places on INFOhio? Symballo! 
To make these new web resources more avaiable and accessible I plan to use SYMBALOO! Liz Deskins, @lizbrary demonstrated the use of Symbaloo for collecting and sharing resources. This site allows you to upload photo's or choose from their bank of symbols to represent your link. Many sites will even open right within Symbaloo. Once you have your symbols and links created you can share the Symbaloo by an email link or by embedding on a blog. (I am new to this, if you find a link not working it maybe a result of the password, which I can' share but, most Symbaloo Links will work! )

If you have used Symbaloo I'd love to hear how you're using Symbaloo and any tricks you've discovered!

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