So You Want To Be Digifficient: Time Is On Your Side

In the first part of this series, I talked about podcasts, systems, and Omnifocus. After that maybe you decided to start listening to a podcast or two (Cortex, perhaps?). You purchased Omnifocus or some other app in which to dump your thoughts so they aren’t occupying your brain and you started thinking about how to improve your systems.

I suggest bookmarking these posts and coming back to them from time to time for both my own shameless self-promotion and for a couple of other reasons. One reason is to ground yourself and get back to basics when things get crazy. Second, you might not be ready for the next step. Perhaps it’s been difficult getting into the habit of inboxing or remembering to capture your paper memos and put them into your cloud storage of choice. If you’re looking for a quick overview of Google Drive, check out the 60 Second Tech Tip video I made on it.

Today I want to talk about timers. As teachers, we rely heavily on them. I always struggled with buying enough of them. I was glad to have iPads for my classroom because every iOS device and probably most mobile devices come with a timer built in. You can even just type, “20-minute timer” into the Google search bar and it will give you the option of starting a timer on the search results page.

There are two timer apps in particular that I’m fond of: 30/30 and Due.


30/30 is great for sticking to a routine. This can be useful if you think you waste time getting ready in the morning, you want to do HIIT at the gym or if you do rotating centers in your classroom. The app is created by Binary Hammer. Check out their website or download it and give it a try.

Due is another Grey/roommate recommendation (I’m starting to wonder if they’re just the same person). Due is actually a reminders/to-do list app, but the timers are where the power lies. You can create custom timers and when they go off, you can snooze them for a minute. At which time, they’ll pop up and remind you again.

I used to set a stopwatch to track the amount of time I did something. When I was done doing the thing, I would record the time on the stopwatch. The problem with this was I would often get distracted or forget that I set the stopwatch going in the first place. With Due, I make it a set amount of time and it’s a countdown instead of a count up. I find this helps me stay focused because I know that at the end of the countdown, I’m going to take a break (see: Pomodoro technique).

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 6.30.09 PM

Another app that I’ll give a quick mention to is Coffee Break. I like that Coffee Break puts my screen to sleep after a designated time. I have a tendency to keep working even though the timer goes off. Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes I forgo my break as a result which is no good for productivity and focus. Another reason I love Due, it keeps track of how long it’s been since your timer stopped. Thus, I know if I’ve spent an extra two or ten minutes working. Sometimes it’s amazing how quickly time goes by.

This whole timer thing might feel too regimented and stressful, but it goes back to reducing or eliminating resistance. If I don’t have to think about what comes next, it stresses me out a lot less.

Do you use a timer system? What systems have you tweaked or put in place in order to eliminate or reduce resistance and stress in your life? Share in the comments below.


Here at Hoodlum Central, we believe in Design Thinking. We integrate it into most things we do and it’s been pretty fruitful both in our day jobs and in our business practices.

No matter which flavor of Design Thinking one subscribes to, ideation is essential. You can’t prototype anything if you don’t have a smorgasbord of ideas to play with. While Webs and I generally do this with the Googles, I recently came across a tool I hope to use during my 9-5 hustle. Pitchcard seems like a promising tool to use in a classroom looking to encourage designing.

Pitchcard allows you to ideate publicly if you wish. You title your idea, choose a color, and then write a brief (200 word) description, which I think is awesome. Being forced into being concise allows one to hone the “spirit” of the idea more authentically in my opinion.

Once your idea is placed on the card, you can distribute it publicly on social media or privately via email.

The feedback that your idea garners is sent to the email that was entered which hopefully allows one to refine the idea into a better concept.

Classroom Applications


If you are at a GAFE school, one could utilize this tool pretty easily. Everyone of your students would have an email address, giving them the ability to send ideas to classmates efficiently and to archive the feedback so that it could be referred to when needed. Generating feedback on ideas for projects and writing assignments just got #mosexy.

Exit Tickets

Looking for thoughts about what students learned during class? Don’t want to create a Google Form or use Exittix? This is a pretty streamlined way to gather information from your students about what they learned or struggled with during the school day.

Lesson Feedback

So you want to know if your lesson was the bomb or just bombed? Send a Pitchcard to your students and allow for feedback.

Lesson Plan ideas

Send a Pitchcard to colleagues about an idea for your have for that quantum physics lesson and see what they say.

A Open Ear to the World

Say you’re a teacher with very little technology at her disposal and you’d like to use the tool. If you had a classroom email or social media setup, you could have students generate ideas that could be posted for feedback and then disseminate that feedback to students. Class project could be #mosexy if you sent a Pitchcard rather than used snail mail or limited contributions to conversations in the room.

In short, Pitchcard is a tool I hope to roll out next week during my day job. Students will be pitching video game ideas and Pitch could be a very slick way of making students feel even more empowered.

Close Reading: iPevo Presenter App

by @chocolateteacher


Close Reading can be done with a number of apps, many of them of the paid variety.  In schools that have a number of iPads, cost is an issue.  With that being the case, iPevo Presenter App (free) can be used for the budget conscious teacher or school administrator.

If you don’t have iPads for each student, this  tool can still be leveraged in your classrooms by a single user.  iPevo has video function that can be used to upload examples to a blog, website, Cloud Storage, or Learning Management System (Edmodo, Schoology, etc.).  In addition, you might want to invest in a mirroring program such as Reflector, Airserver, or X-Mirage in order to mirror you iPad onto your laptop which is attached to a projector.  You could also purchase a dongle that will connect your iPad to your VGA connection.

iPEVO Presenter

1. Open an internet browser (Safari, Google Chrome,etc.) on your iPad.
Find your complex text through a browser and take a screenshot.

Find your complex text through a browser and take a screenshot.

You’ll need to locate some complex text from a website.  I’d recommend using a piece that is a paragraph or two and no longer.  If you can’t find a suitable text, you can type one in a word processing app.  Either way, you’ll need to take a screenshot of the text (sleep button and home button simultaneously). You’ll see your screen flash if successful. The screenshot will be placed in your photos.


2. Open the iPevo Presenter App
Upon opening for the first time, pay attention to what each component of the app does.

Upon opening for the first time, pay attention to what each component of the app does.

Quickly double click the home button (the white square that is physically on the iPad).  Find and open your iPevo Presenter App.  Don’t be hasty to push buttons! Read the functions of each component of the app first.  This will give you an idea of other ways to incorporate this app into your practice.





3.  Bring your Screenshot into the App
Look at the bottom of your screen.  You'll see a picture icon.

Look at the bottom of your screen. You’ll see a picture icon.

Look at the bottom of the app.  You’ll see the picture icon with the plus sign in the bottom left corner on it.  Click it and it will prompt you to allow it access to your photos.  Do so and choose the screenshot.

*Pay attention to the other import options.  You can use this tool in a number of different ways. You can also bring in multiple pages.




4. Mark your text
Look at the top of the screen for your options for interacting with your screenshot.

Look at the top of the screen for your options for interacting with your screenshot.

Look to the top of the screen, you’ll find tools that will allow you to write, erase, and add text to the screenshot. Play around with the colors and size of your writing and text.  You might want to have certain metacognitive markers use a specific color of text and writing.





5. Save your Marked Up Text
Look to the bottom left corner, you'll see a camera and video camera icon.

Look to the bottom left corner, you’ll see a camera and video camera icon.

Look to the bottom left of your screen and you’ll see a gray and white camera icon.  Once you’ve finished, click it and you can save your work to your photo app.  There is also a video camera that can be used to record all the marking in real time.