LessonPaths and Symbaloo can be used together to create the ultimate interactive online learning center. Educators can combine the power of these tools to build a 24/7 resource that provides three essential components for learning:
- Guided practice
- Independent practice
This format will seem familiar to teachers who have created lesson plans that include these solid building blocks for improving academic outcomes.
Similar to the creation of a good lesson plan, creating your online learning center starts with establishing the goal or outcome for your students. This may be something that is established by your state educational codes or driven by a school decision. You may have given a pre-assessment to your students and discovered that some are missing some essential skills. Of course, you simply may wish to provide a challenging learning experience for your advanced students.
Once established, the next step is to find resources that will assist students in mastering the content. This material will enhance and support what you are doing in the classroom. Keep in mind that you need resources that will teach the content and provide guided practice and independent practice. Generally, you want to find interactive activities. Stay away from quizzes and exam practices because they lack teaching components that are necessary to help students master concepts.
Teachers are busy and do not have time to spend hours searching for resources. I found that I had discovered a “quick scan” system to find great interactive resources online that teach and provide guided and independent practice quickly. Here is how to save time and find excellent resources:
- When searching for a topic, use a Boolean search to find quality websites more efficiently. For example, suppose you would like to create a track for scientific notation. In this case, put quotes around both words like this: “scientific notation”.
- Add the word “interactive” to the search. This will narrow down the search to websites that contain activities most appropriate for an online learning center. For example, we would search the following term: “scientific notation” interactive.
- When the search results are displayed, scan the titles and short blurbs provided on the page. The goal is to eliminate wasted time opening sites that will not provide the necessary support for students. Scan for the following keywords to determine whether the site will be helpful:
- Consider This Site: Interactive Math Lesson, Explanation, Video, Play Interactive, Interactive Java Tutorial, Interactive Tutorial, Interactive Practice Lessons, Challenge Games, Interactive Tools For Practice And Assessment
- Maybe Use This Site: Interactive Exercises, Interactive Practice, Skills, Practicing, Interactive Resources
- Skip This Site And Look At Only If Necessary: Interactive Quizzes, Exam(s), Examination(s), No mention of the word “interactive”, Software, Chapter(s), Unit(s), Test(s)
Putting It All Together
As you create or find resources that will become part of your online learning center, begin to build your LessonPaths playlist and add tiles to your Symbaloo Webmix(es).
Using the LessonPaths interface, educators can upload PowerPoints, documents, images, and videos that will provide instruction. Add online videos and engaging sites that teach the concepts and can be viewed and reviewed as often as the student needs to feel comfortable with the material. LessonPaths’ interface provides
a safe and user-friendly environment for students and breaks the learning into manageable steps.
Embed a Symbaloo Webmix that has a variety of guided practice tiles (visual bookmarks) that lead to sites that engage and support student learning. Students are more likely to remain the lesson environment because the webmix is presented within the LessonPaths interface. One of the most valuable features of the Symbaloo webmix is that it can be updated at any time. If a tile is added or removed, simply clicking “update webmix” on the Symbaloo site will update the online learning center.
Share the News
Once you have completed your LessonPaths playlist and are ready to share it with students, be sure that you “advertise” it whenever possible. Spend some time in class showing students the Online Learning Center and explaining your expectations for its use. Publicize the learning center on your website, at parent meetings,
classroom newsletters, and on papers sent home with students. In other words, get the word out that there is a great resource that will support students, is easily accessible, and results in improved academic outcomes.