Last night while avoiding my other work, I was lurking on Twitter. Twitter, by the way, is one of the best ways to avoid work ever invented. During my lurking, @nnorris sent out a request for Web 2.0 tools that she could show to elementary and middle school Language Arts teachers. @drezac suggested Dabbleboard. The other thing Twitter is good at is giving you just the right tool when you didn’t know you needed one.
Dabbleboard is sort of an online whiteboard. You can choose to have it complete lines and shapes while you just make a few short mouse strokes or you can choose freehand and whatever you draw stays. You can also import pictures and PDF files if you wish. It says it also allows you to collaborate with others. Plus it’s free. Free is good.
Since I just found out about it last night, I didn’t experiment with it past creating a graphic organizer. I have really bad handwriting, so whenever I have to use the overhead (yes, I still use it) or doc cam, I end up having to reread what I’ve written to students many, many times. This site provided me with a way to create webs based solely on student suggestions rather than on the number of bubbles in a pre-prepared graphic. And it allowed me to create them quickly and easily as kids talked.
Since I was planning to give a lesson on prewriting today anyway, I thought I would give it a shot. I wanted to encourage them to be as out of the box as possible and making their ideas public is one way to do that. The following is what the board looked like in one class and the model essay starter we did based on it. I also was able to model some transitions sentences based on the class discussion. I was able to add and delete text easily to make room for whatever needed to be added no matter which way the class went.
This is what we created…
What I liked about the site:
- It’s free.
- You don’t need to sign up for an account – great for student use
- Easy to pick up, although it helps to watch the tutorial
- Formating text was a little tricky, but I could probably figure it out
- With a lot of items on the page, it was easy to click on the wrong thing
- Had trouble with the embedding feature, but that could be user error
- Saving online is a bit weird
Overall, I liked the site. While I thought it was very effective as a modeling tool, next time I would like to try it in the computer lab. Maybe see how well kids can use it to collaborate.