Over the past several weeks, I have been working on a number of projects. A part of almost everyone of these has included the identification, review and recommendation of select resources for teachers to use in the classroom or for trainers to share with teachers. I have to admit, I love exploring for resources and I truly get lost in the process. I strive to locate the best quality resources and research that will help teachers.
A significant aspect of this that keeps me looking is the realization some time ago that what worked for me wouldn’t always work for other teachers. An incredible technology coach and teacher, Davina Mann, was one of the first to really call me on this. Most of my teaching assignments were in the middle and high school grades. We I began work with the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX), my responsibilities expanded. I had to let go of my preconceptions about how a classroom worked and what would work in a classroom. I always felt like I was doing pretty well until one day I spouted off about how this app or that app could easily be adapted to the lower grades. I really hadn’t given it serious thought, just in my mind I could see several ways to use it in my classroom. I remember glancing over at Davina and she had this look that basically said, “You are full of it!” She never said it, but I remember stumbling through the rest of that sentence and slinking away. Could it really be used with younger kids? Could I have done it? I honestly didn’t know. It was then that I really started looking for ways to fairly and honestly look at every piece of software, every app and every web resource that I would recommend seeking to find all of the good and all of the bad, but doing so from multiple points of view.
That is when I began curating, rather than collecting, resources. I began scouring the web looking for evaluation tools. I was even part of a team, along with Davina Mann coincidentally, that developed an app evaluation tool for the ALEX iPad Professional Development course. I found blog posts from Tony Vincent. I found tools from Kathy Schrock. But it seemed that everyone of us were missing something. Most recently, I have fallen in pedagogical love with Liz Kolb’s Triple E Framework. I’ll be sharing even more about my thoughts and upcoming uses of Triple E in future posts, but having a way to evaluate these resources is half of the battle- putting high quality resources into organized collections around various curricular topics is the penultimate goal of any self respecting Ed Tech Specialist.
There are a variety of ways to collect these resources. Over the years, I have effectively used LiveBinders, Diigo, Google Bookmarks and a dozen other tools to collect resources. They all work and each have a place in your Tech Coach Toolbelt. When looking for a tool to place curated resources in front of students so that they can quickly and easily get to where you want them to be, nothing may be better than Symbaloo. The visual nature of the Symbaloo webmix, carefully curated by a teacher results in a huge time saving as 25-30 elementary kids will be able to get to just the resource you want them to visit by simply clicking or tapping in a particular icon.
However, my go to tool for curation resources for teachers is still Participate Collections. With thousands of resources already in the database, finding quality resources and quickly organizing them into collections could not be easier. But it doesn’t stop there because any resource that has a unique URL can be added to a collection. That means that you can have a collection that features six weblinks, four YouTube videos, three Android or iPhone apps, a Padlet board, a Thinglink interactive picture, a Google doc, and a self paced Kahoot! all side by side in a single collection.
A recent update to the collection tool provides a beautiful card style layout to your collections, making it even easier to navigate and quickly find the particular resource you are looking for. Multiple users can still collaborate on the same collection, providing ample opportunities for team curation. Once your collection is complete, you can share it easily. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, because your collection will never be complete. But that is no problem. Participate collections can always be edited, adding new resources or removing obsolete ones. If you haven’t done so lately, head over to www.participate.com and take a look at the new collections tool. The, do yourself, and me, a favor and curate a new collection of quality resources. Be sure to share it on Twitter!