Time to Get Things Done (GTD Methodology)

This week I reviewed and tried out different technologies to help organize my life as a teacher-leader, educator, and mom. To follow the ideas of the “Getting Things Done” methodology (Allen). Rather than adding another new tool to my plate, I decided to share the tweaks I made to one process tool I have in my toolbox that I am working on utilizing better – Google Apps for Education and more specifically Gmail.

Although I have used Gmail in the past, I didn’t realize how much I still needed to learn. Google really has developed intuitive ways to use email as a personal office – file cabinet included! Rather than just being a simple messaging system, it has encompassed all the tools I use and need for my life and job. Normally I would hesitate towards putting all of my eggs in one basket, such as I feel like I do sometimes with Google. However, one big point in its favor is that all of the apps I use are free, continue to evolve, and support my teaching, learning AND my life. There are not a lot of systems that can fulfill all of these functions so well. Full disclaimer: I have also been completing my Google tests for becoming a Google Certified Educator – 2 tests down, still Gmail to go! So testing out this tool this week serves two purposes: I can share the tips and tricks I am using and I can also help prepare for my next Google Apps exam.

The first small but really important thing I learned about Gmail was the ability to archive messages. I’m sure you have probably skipped over this feature in Gmail hundreds of times, but discovering it literally changed my whole way of processing correspondence and the work I do. Instead of deleting emails, I simply archive them and clear them out of my inbox. That cut down SIGNIFICANTLY on the amount of emails I see and freed me up to assign the rest to Tasks.

The Task Manager is another cool feature I like to use on Gmail. I also love the ability to sync emails and dates with the Task Manager. My next step tonight was to download a Task App – called TaskFree http://goo.gl/0s1lNR  and I’m hoping to take my Gmail organizing to the next level with it. I’m not  tied to a desk, so I hope to use it on the go to keep my priorities with my various teacher leadership roles.

I will be blogging regularly about what I do and use with Google Apps, so I hope you will stick around to see what I have to say! Feel free to comment with ways you use Gmail in the comment section.

P to the L to the N

P to the L to the N This week I chose to focus on my PLN. Personal/Professional Learning Networks are a way of titling the people & things that you learn from. I chose to share my PLN to my blog both as a cathartic way of figuring out how all my webs of learning fit together, but also to share with you, my readers, how there are many opportunities and connections can be available. One of course being this blog.

Full disclosure – I have never thought of myself as a lonely educator…instead I feel like connections are what makes me THRIVE as an educator.

In doing this exercise on the nifty tool of Popplet –  a bit more intuitive to use than my previous mind-mapping website, mindmeister.com – I discovered three key things.

First my PLN is enormous! The orange represents the people who contribute to my PLN, the pink represents the social media that I access, the blue represents the education writers, and the gray some of the education advocacy groups I belong to. Here are some closer up screenshots of what I’m referring to:

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I give a lot of credit to the fact that I was born into and married into a fantastic group of educators so from the womb I have been surrounded by a great Personal Learning Network. That PLN has completely inspired and helped to create my Professional Learning Network.

Second, technology expands my PLN, but the largest group of contributors to it are the people behind the technology and the people I interact with through conversations, chats, emails, observations, and collaborative writing.

Third, as completely reflected in my expansive Popplet, I love to be involved. I have really worked this year on expanding my PLN to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there for educators. That’s why I blog for Big History Project, National Board and was accepted for an America Achieves Michigan Ed Voices fellowship. If I am not elevating the voice of educators, someone else will. This year, my goals are to  continue to use Twitter to expand my PLN as well as continue to seize opportunities to present my ideas on education.  What does your PLN look like?

Back to school – always on the quest to learn!

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In 2015, I recommitted myself to blogging! Although a firm push is from the requirements for Michigan State’s CEP 810, I am relishing the opportunity to put my inspired thoughts about education out into the world.  I am challenging myself to sharpen my skills and knowledge about learning through educational technologies through this course, so for much of the first part of 2015 that will be my editorial focus.

The task this week was to create a blog (or in my case – start a new one) and write an essay about what learning is and how the learning processes of experts and novices differ. In this essay, found here: http://goo.gl/UnZZz7 I reflected on realizations I had from reading the text of Bransford, Brown, & Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn. Much of my reflection centered around how my current experience as a curriculum coordinator in a blended learning program relate to the assigned topic. I look forward to hearing thoughts, comments, and/or suggestions about my work!