Category Archives: Tech Tools

Get Things Done with Trello


My Trello GTD Board

I had a chance to learn more about the Get Things Done (GTD) method created by David Allen this week in my MSU course Teaching for Understanding with Technology. I’ve heard of the GTD method before and even tried exploring it on my own but I always found the process a bit overwhelming.

A view of the calendar

A view of my Trello GTD calendar

I already incorporate a number of different tools (e.g., Evernote, Google Apps, Pinterest, etc) in my workflow to increase productivity but I often find myself reverting to the Mac Stickies app to collect to-do’s and prioritize tasks. Last year, I started playing around with Trello because I liked the visual nature of it and the way it integrates a calendar, checklists, and attachments like Google docs or links. Initially, I setup my Trello using this seven step process but I found it hard to sustain. I realized that I needed to better organize the various projects I’m involved with before figuring out which things to work on each day. Here’s the new system I created:

Throughout the day, quickly add cards manually or even via email to the “Stuff” Holding Pen list.

At the beginning and end of each day, review the Collect list and organize the cards into their respective project lists or the “Do it!” list if it is a task that takes under two minutes. If it’s a non-actionable item, I’ll add it to one of my Pinterest boards or Evernote, my two main places where I store resources and ideas to revisit later.

Once tasks are distributed among the project lists, I’ll jump into tackling the actions that take less than two minutes. Then, I’ll give items in my project lists that are a top priority (due in the next 2-4 days) a red label so I’ll know to work on them. Finally, it will be time to get to work on my projects!

I do wish Trello somehow let you have recurring tasks and also cards inside of cards because some projects involve so many actions. I’m excited to see how my new system works over the next few weeks and I’ll try to post an update here to share my experience.


Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New          York: Penguin.

Using Tech to Ground & Engage Your Classroom

Often times, technology is touted as either a solution to the problems in education or a growing concern we need to address as students spend more and more time in front of a screen. I want to touch on the idea of tech as neither a solution or a concern, but simply a tool, and a great one to have in your classroom when you want to create a positive environment.

I have found technology to be invaluable tool in helping me keep track of tasks,  organize my schedule, and maintain a good work-life balance as an educator and a professional. Apps like Lift, Headspace, Wunderlist and Supercal, provide support in building new habits, meeting goals, being more mindful and keeping track of everything that’s involved with coordinating technology at my school. I think it’s important to introduce similar, developmentally appropriate, tools to our students to help them see how they can use technology as a tool in their school and home lives to stay healthy and organized.

GoNoodle Brain Breaks

Hurdle Stretch

Stretching Before the 100M Hurdles

I recently learned about a new tool called GoNoodle that offers a variety of free brain breaks that you can use in the classroom. It’s ideal for elementary students but I think some of the activities could be used with middle or even high school classes that need a break or some exercise. One of the things I love about the tool is that it provides different types of breaks (e.g., calming, energizing, focusing) and most of the activities range between 2-5 minutes long. This means that I can easily squeeze a GoNoodle activity into my Maker Club agenda after school or even during a short thirty-minute tech time with students.

Since GoNoodle is web-based, I can access it from any computer, regardless of what classroom I’m in and it really seems to help students get ready for work, especially after recess, when they’re a bit wound up, or at the end of the day when they’re starting to feel tired.

GoNoodle allows you to set up a classroom (or multiple classes if you teach more than one) and choose a Champ to act as your class character/avatar. The champs grow as your class completes more activities, motivating students to participate and try new brain breaks.


GoNoodle has been particularly helpful with my Maker Club students because at ages 5-8, they’ve already had a long day when they come to see me after school and as much as they want to dive into making, they’re often feeling restless, wiggly, and tired. We often do activities with Maximo, who guides the students through yoga poses and helps them focus, or we do one of the Zumba activities to get everyone up and moving! If you have a longer block of time or indoor recess (we have had a lot of them this winter!), you could easily combine a few activities together and get closer to increasing your class champ level.

Using GoNoodle Video

Since I have also been exploring mindfulness for the past year, I really appreciate the “Airtime” break because it helps my students gain an awareness of their breath and take time to just breathe. A number of classes at my school have started using GoNoodle for brain breaks and I’m excited to see each class grow their own champ and begin to develop their favorite brain breaks, just like they have favorite greetings for morning meeting.

GoNoodle is also running a fun contest this month on Pinterest where every week, a teacher will win a GoNoodle Madness classroom pack! To enter, you can pin an image in this post or anything from and then tag your pins with @GoNoodleBreaks and #GoNoodleMadness!

Stop, Breathe & Think

If you want to go deeper into mindfulness with your classroom, the Stop, Breathe & Think app is another wonderful (and free!) app that you can use. It prompts students to first stop and assess how they’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is something older students could do independently or younger ones could do with the guidance of a teacher.

You can choose up to five emotions from an extensive list, organized on a spectrum from happy to angry, and then the app provides a list of suggested mediations in response to those emotions. Each meditation is between 3-9 minutes so if you’re short on time, you can always choose a quick one from the list.

The app provides an audio-guided meditation that eases the listener into and out of the meditation with student-friendly language. Similar to leveling up with the GoNoodle champs, you can earn stickers as you complete more meditations in the app. If you can sense a certain mood with a specific student or among your class, you can also go into the app and choose any of the meditations from the list without filling out the self-assessment.

I think the app could be great to use as a whole class in the morning or after lunch and it could also be nice as a center or even for individual use, if you have devices available that a child could take to a corner to find some “headspace” if they’re feeling unsettled.

What kind of brain breaks and activities do you use in your classroom?

Do you have a favorite tech tool you can share to help teachers engage their classroom and create a positive learning environment?