Those of us who teach in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards know that one aspect of the anchor standards for reading addresses the “integration of knowledge and ideas.” These standards ask that students know how to look at information from varied sources, explore arguments and claims, and analyze multiple texts with similar themes.
As online testing becomes a reality for many schools and districts this spring, teachers who want students to feel comfortable with this cognitive task need to provide opportunities for students to interact with multiple information sources, synthesize the information, and respond to a prompt. There are many tools that can assist teachers in presenting multiple sources in an easy-to-navigate format, but one free option that is a great fit for this type of task is LiveBinders.
LiveBinders has been around for a while. A way to collect information into a tabbed navigation interface, LiveBinders lets you gather information from websites or other sources into one spot (text-based websites, audio or video sources, images or maps online, uploaded files, interactive learner activities, etc.). For those who are interested in mimicking the tabbed format used in PARCC or SBAC, LiveBinders can also be embedded via HTML code into any webpage, allowing you to integrate a LiveBinder into an online assessment tool or Learning Management System.
Getting started with LiveBinders is easy, and getting sources collected for sharing with students is also a relatively simple process. Here are five steps to help you build your first binder.
- Create a free account (users must be 13 and older to register with an email, but students under 13 can create a login using a teacher's or parent’s email address). Under a free account, you can have up to 10 binders.
- Choose the option to create a new binder, giving it a name and description.
- Choose whether or not you want your binder to be public or private (private binders can be shared via access key). If you will be embedding your binder elsewhere, like a website, choose “Public.”
- To get you started, your binder will already have three tabs for you to work with, and it assumes you want to paste in a URL into the tabs. Paste in a URL to add a Web-based information source to your first tab. Once you click “insert,” the webpage will be displayed in your first tab.
- Add other information sources to the other tabs, either using existing URLs or using the “Content” menu to add things like uploaded files, embedded code, YouTube clips, images from Flickr, etc.
Once you have the binder created, you can further customize it by color-coding the tabs, changing the order of the tabs, adding or deleting tabs, and changing or updating content in the tabs. But the most important thing you can do now is to share it with your students.
The sharing menu in your binder provides you with either a link or code to embed (along with other social media options), and a link is probably the easiest way to have students access your binder. Once students have access to your binder, give them a prompt, and then collect their ideas however you want.
LiveBinders can be useful for teachers in other ways as well, and many people like the way it organizes content into a digital notebook. Using it for synthesis tasks, though, is a free, simple method for helping students view information from various sources in a single interface.