January 3, 2014

Simplify: A handful and a bushel basket

Filed under: about me,edtech,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:01 am

Simplify. It’s a common New Year’s Resolution. As teachers, we laugh. How can we simplify with so many requirements, so many masters, so many changes, and so little time?

How can we not?

simplifyMy strategy for 2014: A handful and a bushel basket

I have a handful of go-to tools I use constantly:

  • To do the simplest tasks
  • In the shortest time
  • To accomplish the greatest amount

Nearby, I have an electronic bushel basket to choose from when:

  • There is more time
  • I need a solution for a complicated challenge
  • I seek to inspire

What’s in my handful? This handful is so much a part of my daily life, I do not see them as “tools” or “technology” anymore. That’s what “simplify” is all about:

Dropbox– because I can share big files and give people a direct link without fearing that Google is watching my every move. Besides, it shows up as “part” of my computer (Finder)

Google Docs/Drive – because so many people already have memberships and I LOVE being able to make color coded folders to organize things, no matter whether they are “owned” by me or not

Doodle – because I hate endless emails chains about possible meeting times

iStuff: iMessage, iTunes, Contacts, iCal and plain old Mail. Yes, my Mac is my right handful.

Evernote – because I carry it with me everywhere: iPhone, iPad, laptop. I keep everything from hotel confirmation info to saved images of what an outfit looks like to information I fear my sieve-brain will lose. And I can keep it organized in searchable notebooks. I love grabbing travel info to read later when planning a trip! I do the same with info and ideas about anything. I even keep things to help when visiting a hospitalized relative.

Hootsuite – because I have a professional Twitter account, a personal FB account, and a TeachersFirst Twitter account, among others.    I can preschedule what I want to “say”!

Grammarly – because I am unapologetically the world’s WORST typist, even though I am a very good speller. This saves a LOT of embarrassment.

Screencast-o-matic – so I can SHOW instead of TELL. (I love using this to show writers what I edit in their work.)

Plain old screenshots – as above, only in freeze-frames.

Could I live with just this handful? Probably. Will I limit myself to these in 2014? Definitely not. If I need more reach beyond the fingertips of this handful, I know where to find my trusty bushel basket. Although I rarely recall the tool names, I know I can find unlimited, good options at the TeachersFirst Edge. As chief editor of the site, every week I see the latest additions and add my own creative ideas to reviews of ones I particularly like (what a cool job!). The exact date we listed them as Featured Sites may be a blur, but I know I can search for them by keyword, Edge category, or tag, such as device agostic tool. I don’t Google it. I TF it. And every tool is already vetted (saves time).

If I were still in the classroom, I would choose a half-dozen-handful together with my class:

And if we were a BYOD school, I’d have them choose the handful from DAT (device agnostic tool) choices so kids could help each other. That’s it. Everything else waits in the bushel basket until a student or I needs more.


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