Thursday, July 5, 2012

Organize Those Websites

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. If you want to search through some of them, you can check out my IKeepBookmarks site. Or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

Three ways to organize websites for your computer center or technology class - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources.

Okay guys, I know it’s Thursday, but moving is kicking my butt!!  I think we are almost organized, now just to convince Maroc Telecom (the phone company here in Morocco) that telling me they will be turning the internet on in 48 hours means that my silly American self thinks the internet should be on sometime in that 48 hour window.  (It’s been 72 hours now and no internet – no that I’m counting!  Thank goodness for wifi cafes.)
Organize Your Computer Center with a Bookmarking ToolAnyways, today’s Website suggestion isn’t actually for your students, but your students will benefit from these 3 websites, because all 3 are ways to get all these awesome websites you’ve been collecting into one place and organized enough that students can access them – both at school and at home!  By using one of these sites, you can easily send your students to the computer and expect them to get to the correct site quickly enough to get done what is expected of them BEFORE the end of the center rotation.  (Come on guys, we’ve all had students who have spent their entire computer center getting to the website and zero time actually doing the cool activity you had planned!)  It also makes it easy to supply “additional help” sites to those parents that ask for them, or even assign websites as homework, if you teach in a district where it can be expected that all students have computer access.

1.)  The website organizer I have been using for year and years is: It’s great because it allows you to put all of your websites into folders with labelI Keep Bookmarks - Organize your Website for your Computer Centers of your choosing.  If you go to my I Keep Bookmarks site, you will see that I have mine organized by subject, and this is because when I created it, I was creating it for an entire school.  Also, if you go into any of the folders, you will find additional folders, and sometimes more folders inside the second folder.  This allows you to separate websites by class (if you have more than one), or by project.  You could even have a folder for each of your groups and put the specific sites inside the folder that you would like that group to use for their project or computer center.  Another benefit to Ikeepbookmarks is that you can hide folders, so that students only see what you want them to see when you want them to see it.
Two downfalls I have experienced with Ikeepbookmarks are: it is completely text based, so if you have non-readers, or struggling readers, it can be hard for them to find the correct site AND many of my students have difficulty typing correctly – often leaving off the s or misspelling mark.

2.)  Another bookmarking site I wasSqworl - Organize websites for your computer center introduced to a few year’s back is Sqworl.  Rather than giving you text links, sqworl creates a thumbnail of the website and displays these thumbnails for students to choose from.  For younger students and non-readers, these visual clues are a great way to build independence at your computer center.  You can also create folders in Sqworl, but I’ve never seen a feature where you can hide folders. 

3.)  This last resource is not one I have used Live Binder - Organize websites for your computer centerpersonally – yet.  I keep hearing about LiveBinders and how amazing it is as a way to organize your resources – both websites and pdf’s or documents.  When you organize your links, they become tabs in your binder.  What I like most about this is that you can put information on each tab, which means you can describe each website on the tab – or even better, give center or project directions, with the link right there!  And, if I’m understanding correctly, you can also have a page the kids can download!  I have to get in and play with this one a little more, and when I do, you can be sure I’ll pass that information on to you.  (If you use LiveBinders, I’d love if you’d leave us a comment so we can all share from you!)

Disclaimer Note – All of these sites have additional features available for a fee, but the features I discussed are based on the free versions, because let’s face it – I’m too cheap to pay for something if there’s a way around it!

How do you organize websites for students to use?
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources