I check email on vacation. I leave the technical emails alone but, while my hubby reads the newspaper, I enjoy reading the blog subscriptions that come to me by email. This summer, posts from educators like Cool Cat Teacher, Tamara Fisher and Glenn Wiebe included a wealth of resources I didn't want to forget.

I filed all the emails of resources, determined to get through them when I got back home. Post-vacation jet-lag provided me the opportunity to do that. But as I opened my 10th or so resource, I began to feel overwhelmed. I remembered two problems from years past:

Problem 1: Forgetting the location of resources
Perhaps you know the feeling. You spend the summer learning about new tools. During the school year, you remember a resource that would be perfect in a lesson, but you can't remember the name or location of the site - and you can't find the bookmark.

If I am going to use all these great new tools, I need organization systems so that I can find them quickly while planning lessons. I slightly reformatted unit plans so that resources could be matched with teaching points. As I looked through the websites, lesson ideas came to mind. I immediately linked the website to the unit planning page. See Sample Writing Unit Template. The template includes the teaching points, a list of resources (both print and web-based), and a list of mentor texts.

Problem 2: Making resources immediately available to students
Perhaps you can also relate to excited parents and students emailing great resources they have found online. When the emails arrive, I become responsible for embedding the links onto a classroom website or Google doc. Sometimes I forward the emails to students, clogging student inboxes and setting a bad organizational example.

While I plan to experiment with Evernote this year, I have temporarily linked resources to a wiki. I will instruct both students and parents (students can re-instruct parents as necessary) to add links to the wiki rather than emailing the resources to me. With the wiki, I will no longer have to send individual emails to students. I will also not be solely responsible for adding resources to a list - time that would otherwise spent planning or assessing.

What organizational systems do you use? Do you have any websites you'd like to link to my wiki?

Views: 51

Tags: curriculum, technology

Comment by Steve Hargadon on August 1, 2011 at 8:45am
I LOVE Evernote, and it's significantly changed my storing/cultivating/managing of resources.  Wikis are great.  You might also think about social bookmarking (Diigo or Delicious) as I think they will do exactly what you want--right-click on a web resource, tag it, and have it appear in an RSS stream or widget you have for your students.


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