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How to Get Your Professional and Personal Resources Organized for Summer and Beyond

posted Sep 6, 2017, 10:46 AM by Lynn Erickson

Are you swamped throughout the school year? Do you get resources delivered to you, but just don’t have the time to look at them? How many sites have you bookmarked during the school day, never to go back to?

As our school year winds down, summer is usually the time we can take a break and relax. It is also the perfect time to catch up with some resources we found over the school year and just didn’t have a spare moment to peruse.

Here are some tools and resources to organize these educational finds we have stumbled across:

Google Keep: Users can capture text, add images, generate ideas, and create to-do lists that can be shared with others. It is similar to iPhone Notes, except it has quite a few more options, like syncing across all devices, adding an auto-formatted title, and allowing for collaboration. With Google Keep, you can bookmark the interesting links that you find throughout the school year—images can also be added that match your link. As you are looking through your website resources, it might prompt an idea for a project. Add a checklist of ideas that correspond to the website you found and your project idea. Color-coded notes can help keep you organized as well. Use the drawing tool to mark up images, draw a note, or add additional information instead of typing. All of your notes and ideas can contain reminders that will also sync to your Google Calendar.

Pinterest: Use Pinterest to save articles, visual content, or other useful pieces of information you find on the Internet. You can easily create a “board” of different educational topics and pin articles, visual content, or websites that you want to go back to. When you “pin” on the platform, you are adding a visual image to your board. When you “repin” content, you are adding a pin that someone else created to your board. Installing a “Pin It” button will allow you to pin any website you come across to your board, and boards can be organized in any format that works for you. Some organization ideas for your boards could be topics such as educational books, lesson plans, technology tools, Google Apps for Education, educational infographics, and inspiration.

Livebinders: Compared to a digital binder, Livebinders is a tool that allows for the integration of a variety of online resources in one location. Organization of a Livebinder includes tabs that can be organized by topic, subject area, professional development idea, or whatever you like. When a link is added to the Livebinder, it shows up live within the binder. Binders can be private or public, and they can be shared with others for collaboration efforts. Additionally, Livebinders can be embedded into a blog or website. Livebinders can be used with students as well, such as providing students with a flipped classroom approach of video materials that they can use from home and in the classroom, student portfolio work, project resources, or for reviewing videos of math or science materials.

Diigo: Diigo can be used as a bookmarking tool to organize the links that you want to save—websites can be categorized by titles, notes, keyword tags, lists, or groups. With the Diigo extension, you can highlight, annotate, and leave virtual sticky notes on web pages and PDFs. Diigo can also be used as a professional learning community (PLC), where you can join groups of like-minded educators to share resources and ideas. Some groups to consider joining are Diigo in Education, EdTech Bookmarks, and Sites for Education.

Symbaloo: Use Symbaloo as a visual bookmarking tool—with an account, you can access all of your bookmarks from any device, and can also share these resources with others. One of the best aspects of Symbaloo is the embed feature, which allows you to embed your Symbaloo pages on your own blog or website. Not only can you use Symbaloo for your own professional resources, you can set up webmixes (categories) for your students by topics or subject areas you teach. You can even use Symbaloo as a way to organize student portfolios. What’s more, you can embed content into your Symbaloo webmix, add widgets, search modules, and newsfeeds as well.

 

For those of you who want to do more professional development for the summer aside from the resources you gathered throughout the school year, consider the following free or low-cost ideas:

 

  1. Join an online discussion forum: Communities such as edWeb have a variety of groups that provide webinars you can watch in real time, or go back and review the archived versions. Other communities to consider are Education WeekTeaching ChannelEducational World, and Google for Education.

  2. Listen to various Ted Talks: These inspirational and informational talks about education and educational topics are well worth taking the time to listen to.

  3. Attend a free teacher-led Edcamp: If you have never attended an Edcamp, take the time to attend one in your area. Hosted at a school or organization, participants are greeted with a board of times and locations for the day upon arrival. Potential topics are selected by participants who either want to lead a conversation or learn more about a particular topic. Once the board is established, participants find sessions that meet their needs.

  4. Join a Twitter chat: Chats are set up at various days and times throughout the week, and are offered by educators on a variety of topics. The complete list of topics and times are updated on a regular basis.

  5. Go on your own field trip: Now that you have the time in the summer, experience your own field trip to a museum, national park, or other place that interests you. Check your local library for discount passes to museums, zoos, and other attractions in your area. Additionally if you are a NEA member, discounts are offered to many attractions you might be visiting.
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