As an elementary librarian, content curation is a big part of my job. While my students (and sometimes their teachers) think they can just “google” any information they need, I know that Google frequently directs them to sites that are beyond their current abilities. For years my website has been the source of curated content for my building population.
This year my school district changed website platforms, obliterating my previous website. It wasn’t really such a terrible thing; my old site was admittedly stale and in need a makeover anyway, but the timing could have been better.
The new platform went live on February 1. February. It’s the middle of the year people. Teachers have established their habits for the year. They have shortcuts they rely on; routines drilled into their students and then on a random Wednesday they get a 404 error.
To be fair, we had been warned. But still. Who has time to really devote to creating a whole new website during the school year? (The folks in central office who have long since forgotten those pesky small humans that interfere with our best intentions, that’s who.)
Anyway, I had the bones of a tolerable replacement ready and my teachers got their shortcuts to most frequently used resources back, but it’s so… boring. And text dependent. I’m sure that can be rectified in time, and I decided to check out some of the Curation Tools for ideas.
I’ve admired Symbaloos that I’ve seen presenters use in the past, so I went with that. My memory of colorful squares with clear icons was exactly the type of resource my younger students need. My sixth grade is in the early stages of volcano research so I took the resources the teacher and I had collected and put them into my own Symbaloo.
It’s not exactly what I was hoping for. It IS better than a plain list of links, but the icons leave much to be desired. I don’t like that some of them are repeated, and I especially don’t like the ones that don’t seem to have anything to do with the topic. When possible I changed the icons, but for some reason, it wasn’t always an option. I really want the dude in the hard hat to go away but the best I could do was crop out his head.
I also wish that I could edit the blocks after they’re created. I forgot to check the box would allow text on the block a few times and had to delete the block and redo it. (True confession – I haven’t checked the help center as of this writing.) And what happened to the custom wallpaper I spent 20 minutes cropping and resizing? It only shows up when I’m logged it. I don’t need it. I wanted it for the kids.
If I can figure out the icon issue I’d like replace all of my current pathfinders with Symbaloo. I also think it could be an interesting option as an alternative book report for my students. I’m imagining they could develop a collection of links related to an informational or historical fiction book. Some of my teachers like to require a certain number of pages in books used for book reports, but if a student were to produce a quality collection of supplemental resources, perhaps that page requirement could disappear. After all, in order to develop that collection, the student would surely be reading (and retaining?) much more than if they grudgingly read 100 pages in a traditional book.