Exploring delicious in school

Age Range: 5 - 11

I originally signed up for delicious without really knowing what to use it for. I was happy with saving bookmarks within my web browser, which were then synced across my computers and mobile phone using the syncing options in Apple's MobileMe. However, after exploring the social bookmarking aspect of the site and adding more people to my delicious network, I am now using delicious on a daily basis to find and retrieve useful websites. I've even installed the bookmarking software Pukka, which allows you to post new sites to multiple delicious accounts, without leaving the site you are bookmarking.

This is the Pukka interface... a simple window which pops up whenever you want to add a new bookmark:

Delicious with Pukka

This post is an explanation of how I'm beginning to use delicious more in my own classroom, and how I'm hoping to extend its use across the school.

Delicious in my own teaching:

One of the tags I use the most within my own delicious account is 'emw'. When the children come into the classroom at the start of the day, I usually have a photo showing on the Smartboard, with a question or an activity for the class to try. This is their 'Early Morning Work' (hence emw). This might be linked to a topic that we are learning about, it might involve something creative, or it could be aiming to develop the children's thinking skills. If I find an image which I think might be useful for this, I tag it with 'emw' and use the Notes area of the bookmarking options to add the challenge / activity which I think the children could complete. When planning for the week, I can then just copy the picture, along with my notes, onto my Smartboard slides.

One of my regular sources for 'emw' photos is the Crooked Brains blog, as it has a wide range of photos, some of which are extremely weird and wonderful! The Problem Pictures site is also a great source of probem-solving and mathematical photos.

Another tag that I use a great deal is 'iwbgames'. The sites tagged with this are usually fun games which the class can play together on our Smartboard. These are generally used as a treat, or at the end of a busy day. Some of the children have picked up on my use of delicious to locate these games and have gone home and bookmarked my 'iwbgames' delicious page so that they can then play the games at home, and get a head start on the new games that I add!

Some other tags I use regularly:

  • class8 - At the moment, I am teaching my 8th class at my current school. So, anything I want to try with that class, I also tag class8. If I've used something with 'class8' and I want to try it again next year, I'll change the tag to class9.
  • podcasting - Having produced a school podcast for a number of years, I've been involved in training for others who would like to start. When doing this, I often recommend that people explore my podcasting bookmarks on delicious.
  • subject.topic - If I find a useful site which is linked to a particular topic, I'll try to bookmark it with a 'subject.topic' tag. For example, my World War 2 bookmarks are tagged history.worldwarii, and sites with Tangrams are tagged maths.tangrams. I find this system really helpful when I'm in my classroom trying to find relevant sites. It also means that my tagroll is much more tidy!

Introducing delicious across the school:

On our school's network, we have 'Shared Favourites' which are all saved in different subject-based folders. The staff regularly add new sites to these, which is fantastic. However, these are now quite cluttered. They are also tied to our internal network, so they cannot be accessed outside of school. Therefore I'm hoping to transfer our bookmarking system to delicious during the next academic year. When I was first considering this, I asked around on Twitter if any colleagues already used delicious in their schools. Thanks to John and Tom for their replies:

Delicious Comments 1
Delicious Comments 2
Delicious Comments 3

Having seen that others were using delicious across their schools, I decided to give it a go. So, I registered a delicious account for school and imported our 'Shared Favourites' into it. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer refused to export our Shared Favourites, so I had to add each one manually!

When the children open their Internet browser at school, their home page is currently our school's website. I thought about setting the home page to the new school delicious account. However, I don't feel that a list of hundreds of links would be very child-friendly, especially for those with younger age groups. So, I decided to set up a new start page on our school site, which uses the linkroll and tagroll features from delicious. Here's a screenshot of part of the new page:

Delicious School Start

By using special tags in our delicious account, I can highlight a small selection of new sites for children and teachers, which are automatically updated as I find and bookmark them. I also thought that adding the tag roll to the bottom would allow staff and pupils to then explore the delicious account easily. This could be very useful for research purposes in the classroom. For example, I can ask children to use the sites tagged 'tudors' to support their History work, rather than having them aimlessly searching online.

Regular visitors to our school's site will see the normal home page. However, when inside school, children and teachers will soon see our new 'Start Page' with the delicious links and tags. This address is also quite easy to remember so hopefully others will use the page outside of school as their own starting point for our new online bookmarks.

While writing this article, I've also thought about using a 'today' tag to give children quick access to sites which are relevant to that day's lessons. They could then use these bookmarks to extend their learning at home.

Do you use delicious at school? I'd love to hear your own ideas and experiences!

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Glenn Ashton

Great site, and great idea! I'm going to use something similar for those who are writing and reading eBooks!

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