What I’ve Been Doing Since My Last Post (1 of 3)

a photo of some of the professional books in my To-Be-Read pile

The first set of professional books I want to make time to read.

These past months have kept me very busy. Before going to Texas for a very special high school graduation at the end of May, I began learning how to use Google Reader so I could read other blogs on a more regular basis. As I began learning, I discovered several great literacy related blogs (on my own and thanks to my Twitter PLN). I am so thankful I did because on May 26, 2010, the morning I was leaving for Texas, I awoke to this lovely tweet from LeeAnn Moore aka @mom2preteens,

I named yours as a “blog to watch” in my post today. You have taken off like wild fire with your blog!

One of the rules of the award was that you needed to nominate ten other blogs for the same award. Thus, all my time and discoveries helped me write this post, which names my blog nominations. (Click here to read LeeAnn’s other nominations.) In addition, on July 16, 2010, Susan Dee aka @literacydocent surprised (and delighted me) with this:

Hi Julie! I have nominated your blog for the Versatile Blogger Award. Here is the link! http://thebookmavenshaven.blogspot.com/2010/07/versitile-blogger-award.html Thanks for sharing your amazing thinking with all of us!

Again, a rule of this award is that the recipient nominates other blogs. Thankfully, since my last post, I have found several other great literacy blogs. I will share them soon, along with a post about what Google Reader is and why I think it is a valuable tool for educators.

While I was in Texas, I greatly enjoyed my time with family. I also really enjoyed being in an organized and clutter-free home (the opposite of mine). As a teacher, I have spent a large amount of money purchasing resources for the classroom and since I do not currently have a classroom, all those materials must be housed in my home (along with a lot of paperwork).

I have been looking for a reading specialist position on a daily basis. Unfortunately, California is going through a severe education budget crisis and reading specialist positions are extremely rare. Further, when they are available, they are only open to educators who are currently in the district with the opening. To see what I mean, check out this morning’s job search on Edjoin for Orange County (the go-to place for finding education openings in California). Why do I bring this up? Well, if I cannot find a position for the coming year, all my materials and paperwork are going to have to stay here, so I figured it was time to give our home a good decluttering and major organization overhaul. (Having friends come in from Denmark for three weeks probably had a little to do with this, too!)

Although money is tight right now, I just had a major birthday, so I chose to use my gift money to buy two filing cabinets and a hutch to help me get more organized. One filing cabinet is now full (and organized) and my wonderful husband is still building the other one. It made me laugh while I was filling the filing cabinet because as I ran across things I hadn’t seen in years, I kept thinking, “Ooooh! This would make a great post!” The same goes for organizing the garage. Once the second filing cabinet is built, I will organize all the paperwork I am hiding in the garage. I can’t wait to see what treasures are waiting for me in there!

My massive collection of professional and children’s books also lacked a bit in organization, so I spent a lot of time organizing them. I even put the unread books into the order in which I want to read them. I hope to include them in GoodReads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing eventually. (Thank you to my Twitter PLN for offering your thoughts on each system!) I also reorganized my professional journals. Journals subscriptions other than “The Reading Teacher” and “Reading Research Quarterly” went into the garage because I needed more room for these two–I have been subscribing to them for years.

Before going to Texas, I made a new daily to-do-schedule and included time for reading these books and journals. Although I have not gotten around to using this schedule yet, I know that when I do, I will relish that time.

Wait! Let me take that back. I have been reading the children’s books. Can you guess where? It is one of the three “Bs” I learned from Jim Trelease and one that I always reminded students to take advantage of–reading in the bathroom. Sure, maybe this is a bit too personal for this blog, but a lot of reading can happen in the bathroom. Since struggling readers cannot afford to miss any opportunity to read, I highly suggest reminding them to keep reading material there (and any other place where opportunities for reading can be missed). You can read about the other two “Bs” under Trelease’s heading, “Is there something I could buy that would help my child read better?”

Another organization issue for me was email because whenever I found an interesting resource, I emailed it to myself. The amount of quality resources I have found on Twitter these past 9 1/2 months is astounding! (If you want to find out how long you have been using Twitter, click here and enter your Twitter username.) I know I should be organizing my resources on Diigo or Delicious, but that is further down my to-do-list. Until I really learn how to use these tools, I will continue using my somewhat effective way of organizing them through my many email folders.

I was not only organizing these resources into categories and topics, but by things I wanted to share on the three Facebook pages I administrate. Figuring out what to share where caused me such grief because some people are fans of multiple pages and I do not want them to have to read about the same resource more than once. While writing this, I made a decision. From now on, this will be the focus of each page:

I am going to go through all my email folders of resources once again and force myself to choose one page for each resource. So, depending on your interests, you may want to join all three pages. Then, the only dilemma I will face is deciding on the order in which to post them. (This also caused me much agony.) Should I post the old ones first, the new ones first, or try to mix it up? I think I will go with the old ones first. That way, even if you saw it in the past, it might be a nice reminder. The only exception will be if there is some kind of deadline associated with the resource.

These decisions should help me tremendously and are a welcome relief! I really have been agonizing over what to post where. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you are already a fan of any of the pages, thank you very much! I will start posting regularly once this new reorganization is complete. I wasn’t posting regularly on any of the pages because I was simply overwhelmed by the amount of resources I collected (and by the decision of what to post where). In fact, I had so many resources saved to share that I had to restrain myself from using Twitter for quite a while in order to avoid collecting any more. Sad, but true.

How do you keep track of your resources? Diigo, Delicious, email, something else? What would you recommend for me? Do you subscribe to blogs and websites using a feed reader? Do you use Google Reader or something else? Do you have any helpful hints for me? What about GoodReads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing? I know some teachers have students use them, too. If you do, what are the benefits? What do you think about my new plan for my Facebook pages?

Click here to read part two.

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  • http://twitter.com/NancyTeaches Nancy Ehrlich

    Hey Julie,
    It is so good to have you back. As an organizing fanatic myself, it can be daunting. I use Google reader, but it can be overwhelming when you fall behind. I've had some success with bloglovin.com because I like how I can organize by categories. (I spent the beginning of the summer re-organizing my entire basement, which includes 29 years of teaching materials. It is all in plastic containers, by grade.) I've been trying to use delicious for bookmarking, but I fall back on my old way of saving it on safari by making folders. Then, when I'm on a different computer, I email it to myself and start the whole vicious cycle again. I'm always looking for better ways to organize my resources.

    The job market here in the east is just as dry. Good luck with the search. Any school would be lucky to have you.

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Thanks, Nancy! It's good to be back. Thanks for the info on bloglovin. I hadn't heard of that feed reader before. I will have to check it out. 29 years of teaching materials… all organized in plastic containers by grade… wow!!! That is quite the accomplishment! Kudos to you!

    I originally tried both Diigo and Delicious. I leaned toward the one where you could highlight and annotate, but that just added so much more time because I was annotating everything. I think if I try again, I will go for the one that doesn't allow that. But then again, the annotation feature is pretty darn cool. Maybe I should use that one, but be more selective in the resources I annotate. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one having trouble organizing them.

    Thanks for the well wishes and compliment. It is very much appreciated. :) I imagine that difficulty in finding a teaching job is going to start affecting how many people go to school to become a teacher (if it hasn't already).

  • http://twitter.com/Linda704 Linda704

    Hi, Julie,

    I use both Diigo and Delicious. Delicious is pretty much education/literacy related, and I have it linked to my school blog [ http://edublogs.misd.net/litlearnshare/ ]so it will post every day I bookmark. Diigo I use for education, but also my research (some I keep private) and fun stuff like dog-related sites. Diigo posts to my personal blog [ http://linda704.wordpress.com/ ] each week that I have bookmarked sites. I wouldn't get hung up about using the highlighting/annotating feature. In other words, just because you can, doesn't mean you have to. I usually don't. :) My only advice to you is to really think about your tags so you can use them consistently eg: reading_fluency or “reading fluency” or readingfluency. Keep up the great work here!

  • http://twitter.com/Linda704 Linda704

    PS…once you get Diigo and/or Delicious up and running, you can link to your blog here. I have a delicious wigit on my litlearnshare blog. :) That will give you additional options for your sidebar, as you can have all your favorite articles bookmarked in the bookmarking app.

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me such great tips and things to TWRC about. It was very helpful to look at both of your sites to see the similarities and differences. It makes sense to use them for separate things. I will have to TWRC some more on the possibilities.

    Great point about the highlighting/annotating feature, “just because you can, doesn't mean you have to.” (That made me laugh, too–which I love to do.) Keeping tags consistent is another great point. I struggled with keeping the tags consistent (and helpful) on this blog, but I think I am getting better.

    Thanks for everything, Linda! And may you keep up the great work on your dissertation. I can't wait to be able to call you, Dr. C.! :) Thank you for being a part of my PLN!

  • http://www.twrctank.com/ Julie Niles Petersen

    Thank you, Linda! That is a *great* idea! I had not thought of that. I don't think I will start doing this for a few months, but when I do, you will be the first to know. :)