So You Want To Be Digifficient: Pigeon Pictures & Digital Storage

Last time I talked about podcasts, one specific podcast I dig, Cortex, Omnifocus, and the importance of systems.

Systems keep you focused and eliminate resistance.

In General Purpose Problem (Cortex Episode 6), Grey said, “When something is not working well in your life just try harder is always the wrong answer. You need to figure out how to make the system better.”

One way to reduce resistance is to reduce choice. Then, practice until it happens automatically.

When you get a piece of paper at a meeting, what will you do with it? If you don’t have the habit in place, you’ll get back to your room, desk, or office, toss it on the table and it will slowly grow to an untenable monster pile that consumes your soul.

Once you decide on digital cloud storage that is accessible anywhere, commit to putting everything there. Reinforce the habit. For the one minute version of how to get started, check out the 60 Second Tech Tip on our YouTube channel (subscribe while you’re there).

If you know that the response to getting a piece of paper is to take a photo, store it in your digital storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, whatever) and then throw the paper away, that pile never comes into being and then, later on, when you’re looking for it, you can find it.

A word about flash drives:

They’re great as a redundancy, but not as a primary storage place. If the flash drive gets destroyed because you stop fast and a gallon of milk crushes it, your pbirdpiclans are gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. The same applies to saving only to your computer. Remember: Digital storage should be accessible from anywhere, not just your devices.

Practice with low-risk material first.

Take photos of pigeons and things you don’t care about. Save them to your cloud storage and then delete them later. This will be low risk enough that if you mess up, you won’t be upset if you make a mistake and lose information. That’s a good habit to get into anytime you’re trying something new. The more you’re willing to take risks and try new things the better you’ll get.

Go sign up or set up your cloud storage space. Play with it. Save some pigeons there. Pay attention to areas where you can eliminate resistance and create habits of automaticity.

E Highlighter for Close Reading

by @chocolateteacher

eHighligher is a pretty nifty way to integrate both physical books and technology into your close reading activities.  The app is reasonably priced at $1.99 and offers real value with minimal risk.

Say you are using a text book, reading a novel with your students, engaging in research, or having students read independently with certain goals in mind.  You have iDevices at your disposal and you want to integrate notetaking and transcription into the activity.  eHighlighter could be a tool you might employ.

Have Barcode? Will Scan

The first thing I love about the app is that you can acquire a books bona fides (title, Author’s name, and publisher) by just scanning the book’s barcode.  The app uses WorldCat, “The World’s Largest Library Catalog,” for reference and the speed in which it returns results is impressive.

If you’d rather search for the book and edition you possess, that option is available as well as just manual entering the information.

You scan a barcode and..."Voila!"

You scan a barcode and…”Voila!”

If you can take a picture…

Then you can bring in your text pretty easily.  Once the picture is added, you’ll have options to add page numbers, any notes and tags, which will give you the ability to organize any work you’ve done.

Take picture, bring in your text

Take picture, bring in your text

Adding a Note (for Metacognition)

Want a response to a text dependent question?  Want to record an “Aha!” moment, a question about the text, or something to bring up during class discussion? Make a note of it.

Notes for Metacognition? That's convenient.

Notes for Metacognition? That’s convenient.


You’ll be prompted to add highlights to the beginning and ending of the text you’d like to have transcribed.  This is my only real beef with the app.  It can take a while to transcribe something.  The good thing is that I wouldn’t necessarily be using the device for transcription as the original image and note you take are always available for viewing.

Even if the transcription process is labored, the functionality of the app makes it one that both teachers and students could use effectively.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close

The Final Frontier: A Kinder, Friendlier American History

by @chocolateteacher

Heroes?  We don't need no stinkin' heroes.

Heroes? We don’t need no stinkin’ heroes.

Always on the look out for new apps and fun games to play,  I happened upon an app called “Frontier Heroes,” from A&E which depicts a pretty interesting version of American history.  The app is divided into 6 eras- Early America, The Colonies, American Revolution, The Frontier, California Gold Rush, and the Land of the Free.  I was quite excited to play the game. Each era is full of games depicting “life” during that era and DYKs (Did you Knows) that inform the player about life during the era. I thought this was a tool that would be great instructionally.  I was both very wrong and very right.

Early America (1600)

Them Natives?  They're all the same...

Them Natives? They’re all the same…

Nothing really exciting here. You shoot a bow and arrow and bang a drum.  Again, nothing really mind blowing. The remarkable thing about this is that in the DYKs Native Americans are lumped together, despite there being 566 Federally recognized tribes currently.  It’s great to lump people together, but then again, it’s not.

The Colonies (1607-1755)

Colonists?  Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Colonists? Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Early America only lasts seven years. (Who knew?) The colonists come into the picture with no mention of what has happened to the Native Americans.  The activities one engages in never even allude to the very real reliance of the original colonists on the Native tribes.  The only mention of “Native American” is that the main food in the Pilgrim’s diet was ‘Indian corn.’

American Revolution (1765-1783)

The American Revolution...a  enterprise devoid of diversity.

The American Revolution…a enterprise devoid of diversity.

So, it’s 1765.  Estevanico has been dead for 200 years now.  But in the world of the “Frontier”… there ain’t no sign of Negroes.  None. Oh, except the Affirmative Action blackish face that one encounters in an anachronistic rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  By 1640, there were Africans on what is now the continental United States, yet they are conspicuously absent from any point of game play in this era.

There were black spies during the American Revolution. There were female spies during the American Revolution and women were integral to the success of the war. There were black slaves during the American Revolution.  There were blacks that fought for the British during the American Revolution.  Heck the first dude to die for “American Freedom” was a black dude, but…you wouldn’t know that if you used the app.

The Frontier (1800-1848)

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Home on the range and…still no sign of the Native Americans, who by this point are being forced off their ancestral lands or killed.  There is a red face dude that looks severely sunburned who might (maybe) be a white guy in red face when one simulates the Pony Express.  No mention of Spanish missions. The only people involved in Manifest Destiny were white dudes.  True story.

California Gold Rush (1848-1865)


What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

Different era…same song.  It is interesting that this era encompasses the years of the Civil War.  No Abe Lincoln.  No Jeff Davis.  No Frederick Douglass.  No Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Just toothless miners. Totally glossing over the war that freed the slaves?  Kinda inexcusable.


Land of the Free

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

The Land of the Free being locked is a metaphor for this entire game.  One cannot arrive at the reasons why our country now has a level of freedom for all those that reach it’s shore through the game play of the app. It would seem to reinforce the fact that white men are the only people that have and will make history here…and that’s a real shame.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow

by: @weberswords

I’ll spare you the “Let It Go” parody video.


Creating word art: the only thing Wordle is good for.

What is it? It’s a great buzzword, but why is it valuable?

One of the big misconceptions is that workflow requires technology. That’s not the case.

It’s simply the way in which your work……..flows. The way it progresses from one stage or process to the next.

In the classroom, writing is a great example of this. In many cases, first you prepare an outline or work in a graphic organizer, then you draft, revise, edit, and write the final draft or publish.

This can also be applied to doing tasks. For example, if I think of something I have to do I might write it down on a sticky note. After I have five (completely arbitrary number it could be three or 10 just as easily) sticky notes, I sort those tasks into categories of to do lists – errands I have to leave the house to do, professional tasks, and tasks that can be done at home. After that, I write them in my handy, dandy notebook and as I finish those tasks, I mark them off. No tech involved. Yes, AND a great example of effective workflow.

To do list workflow

To quote the late, great Stuart Scott, “BOO-YA!” workflow. No special degree required, people. You can totes do this.

Just like planning in the classroom, you have to know WHAT you want to do before you bring in any technology.

In the case of workflow, sometimes seeing what other people have done will inspire you to create a new workflow.

Just remember: The point of creating a workflow is to make things MORE streamlined, not more complicated.

If you create a new workflow and find it’s actually making work more difficult, I’m giving you permission right here and now. ABANDON SHIP! Try something new, but reflect and learn from the failure. Where did the workflow go wrong? Maybe you don’t have to abandon it entirely, just pivot. Tweak it and see if that helps.

Here are some tools and workflows (digital and analog) *I* use that will hopefully inspire you:

Bullet Journal – Webs-style (Analog)

We love journals here at Intelligent Hoodlums. It’s a bit of a love affair for some of us (*cough* @chocolateteacher *cough*). Writing things by hand helps you remember things.  I’ve adapted my bullet journal to something that works for me.

[Everything in the next paragraph is something I talk about in the video so don’t watch AND read. Save yourself some time and do one or the other. The video might clarify if you can’t visualize what I’m talking about though]

In addition to the index and summary of the month I have a summary of the week where I record events that will occur when I’m looking ahead at the week and events that do occur as things happen during the week. I also fold my pages into two columns and record one or two days worth of to dos and events in a single column. This way I can fold the page and focus on just one or two days or open up both pages and see the whole week.

Automator (OS X)

I think this is a hidden gem of OS X. If you have a Mac and you haven’t peeped this check it out. Go to spotlight and search Automator or from your Launchpad it’s in the Other folder.

Other folder

I’m pretty sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible with Automator. I use it for three major things:

  •  One double click = quitting all open programs

Quit all buttonThis sits on my desktop and all I have to do is double click to close everything that’s open on my computer.

  • I created a pseudo-program that generated a random writing prompt for my students to practice the state writing test.
  • Bulk editing photos: You know how your camera or phone names your photos IMG9829829829834928 and you have no idea those are your pictures from your 2012 trip to Tahiti? With Automator you can select a group of pictures and rename them complete with date and a numbering system in a couple clicks and a few seconds.

IFTTT (web, Android, & iOS)

Workflow screen capture


Similar to Workflow and Automator, IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, takes tasks you already do and puts them together to make you MORE ALL POWERFUL (MUAHAHAHAHAAA). IFTTT is available on the web, iOS, or, if you’re so inclined, Android.

In the examples I shared, if I lose my phone and email myself with #lostphone, it will call my phone and an automated voice says Liam Neeson’s monologue from Taken.

Other things I do with IFTTT are:

  • Favorite tweets get sent to Pocket to read later
  • I can send things to Evernote and they get automatically organized by the way I hashtag them in the subject. For example, if I had an Evernote notebook for 3rd period algebra, I could email #3rdperiod and all my notes would automatically go into the right notebook.
  • I have a secondary backup of my contacts because any new contact I add gets sent to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

Workflow (iOS)

This app is pretty sweet.

Photo Jan 19, 9 44 48 AM

This is the app that prompted this post. The world is pretty much your oyster on this one (as long as you have iOS 8). You can put together as complex or as simple a workflow as you like. I have one that allows me to speed dial from my home screen. That’s one of the best features IMO. I can save workflows to my home screen for one touch access.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the mysterious term “workflow” and shown you how you can become a productivity ninja using these concepts and tools.

HTML Metacognitive Markers and Close Reading

Close Reading is the rage.  Coding is the rage.  Why not mix the two?  You want your students to “mark up” the text with metacognitive markers?  Why not use HTML or Markdown? You’d be killing two birds with one stone without having them touch a computer at all.

My advice? Make sure that students have interactive notebooks for the complex texts that they’re reading so that they’ll have plenty of space to “code” their thoughts.  After all, coding is just a language and language is used to express yourself.

An example anchor chart might look like this…HTML and Metacognitive Makers (2)

Link to the Infographic

Everything I Know About Feminism I Learned From Buffy

by @davidatpcs


Let’s be honest.  If TIME Magazine has their way, the supposed dirty word of ‘feminism’ will be the next piece of vocabulary that gets stricken from the dictionaries.


Who am I kidding?  TIME has really lost its relevance if the best kind of material they can produce is clickbait polls that seek to erase the ‘worst’ word of 2014.  If the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still around today, I think the heroine of the story would have a few choice words to say:

“I’m the thing that monsters have nightmares about. And right now, you and me are gonna show ‘em why.”

Let's show 'em, Buffy.

We can all use a little more feminism (some of us a lot more) in our lives. Most of all our students.  They need to see what a physically and mentally strong, fiercely independent, yet extremely protective, young woman means in this day and age.  Students are saturated with media that tells them very much the opposite – that women are delicate flowers, often in need of rescuing, and incapable of making their own decisions.  Current popular television series are largely lacking characters that exemplify the personality of late 90s and early 2000s Buffy that made watching so informative and empowering about how everyone should see real women.


Given the rash of issues with sexism and harassment lately in very public circles, I think we could all use a reminder of what good female role models are so our young ones don’t turn into toxic Internet-dwelling trolls with distorted perceptions of the female gender.

No one puts Buffy in a corner.

Below are some of the most important qualities Buffy has exhibited throughout the seasons that define feminism exactly as the dictionary explains it: equal rights for men and women alike.

  • Buffy was on equal footing with Angel, a several hundred year old vampire.  She did her own fair share of rescuing Angel when it came to the Danger Zone and she was never afraid to speak her mind, especially when a situation didn’t sit well with her.
  • Friends come first, always.  If Buffy was ever forced to choose, I knew exactly where her loyalties lay, even for the stuck-up fashionista Cordelia Chase.
  • Her leadership abilities were always about being a boss, not a bitch.  I absolutely abhor the double standard of qualities that would be considered boss-worthy for a male, yet ‘bitch’-worthy for a female.  Buffy dispels those nonsensical notions quite handily by being the Scooby Gang’s rock whenever they need her most.
  • She never stereotyped, even when others were eager to do so.  Angel and Spike being the best examples, people were often quick to label the two of them ‘demons,’ but Buffy took the time to understand the real people behind the monstrous visages of these individuals and frequently made efforts to defend them against the Rileys of the world who saw everything in black and white, good and evil.
  • Buffy is equal parts kickass and compassion.  It is important for viewers to see her as not only a demon slayer, but a teenage girl who has feelings and cares for the well being of everyone around her.  People are complicated, multi-layered beings and Buffy is no exception.

It's never too late to watch Buffy!

Every one of our students could benefit from a few choice viewings of Buffy: “The Gift,” “Hush,” “Once More With Feeling,” and “The Body” in order to get a better sense of what real women are capable of and the qualities not only little girls, but also little boys, should be striving to achieve as they grow to young adulthood and beyond.

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.