Information Overload- Tips to Get Organized!

Hello and Happy Wednesday! I hope that you are reading this post from a pool-side, lake-side, mountain-side or somewhere relaxing! 

I don't know about you, but I have been loving the posts on this blog recently! SO many great reminders about PPP, planning with the end in mind, assessing, and more!  So often, when I read blogs, go to workshops or conferences, take classes, or visit TpT, I find myself thinking, "How am I going to remember use all this great stuff?!" 

When it comes to planning, many of us have so many tools in our bags that it can be overwhelming to figure out how to implement them all or even how to simply store everything! My desk becomes covered with piles of songs, activities, worksheets, books, etc. and my brain gets filled to the brim with ideas. Unfortunately, unless you have a great system for storing your resources, they can often end up unused, forgotten, or collecting dust in a classroom cabinet. So, today I am going to share some...


How to Store Ideas

1. Create a database

If you have taken any of your Kodály levels, you probably have a database of folksongs that you have analyzed to use in your classroom. However, your database can go FAR beyond just storing folksongs. I use my database to keep a list of children's books I like to use throughout the year, listening examples I like to use, folk dances, holiday activities, etc.  

When I went through my levels training, I used Excel to create my folksong database. I am, admittedly, a bit of an Excel dummy, so I have since switched to using Google Spreadsheets, and I love them! Here are some reasons Google Spreadsheets are super handy...
  • You can access it from anywhere! If I am sitting in a workshop or meeting a teacher friend for coffee, I can pull it up on my iPhone, iPad, or computer to add something to it. 
  • They are safely stored in the Google Cloud. I never have to worry about my hard drive crashing or my computer getting stolen. :) 
  • They are super easy to use, which is a relief for my spreadsheet-hating brain
There are a lot of ways you can organize your database. Mine has the following pages:
  • Folksongs (this is my retrieval library)
  • Children's Literature (books I like to use)
  • Listening Lessons and Examples
  • Movement Lessons
  • Manipulatives and Other Games
  • SMART Board Activities (I list all of the resources I have on my computer that I can draw from)
  • Holiday Activities
  • Orff Lessons
  • Assessments
  • YouTube Videos (links to the videos I like to show)
  • Random
From there, I have checkboxes for the concepts they teach so I can search by activity or concept and come up with my list of resources. I also have a column where I list where it is stored, so I know how to find it. Every time I come across something I think I will use, I just take 30 seconds to add it into my database. It takes some time to get it set up, but it is a gold mine once you have it up and running! 

2. Create Concept Lists or Concept Plans

In addition to my folksong database, I have a list for each concept that I teach on my Google Drive. They look something like this...

Whenever I come across a new idea or activity, I add it to my list. This way, I can have all of my ideas in one place when I go to plan. You can also do this in a notebook or binder, just create one page for each idea! 

How to Store Electronic Data

I would probably cry...a lot...if my computer died. If your hard drive is anything like mine, it is filled with TpT downloads, files I have created, powerpoints, music files and so much more.  Below are some of the ways I keep my Electronic Data safe and organized...

1. Use the Google Drive or Drop Box

I store most of my classroom materials on the Google Drive (for the same reasons listed above). You can actually download an app that lets you save right to the drive from your computer, so that you don't have to always be uploading everything. Drop Box has the same features, so it is a great alternative if you are not a google user. When it comes to saving files, here are my big tips...
  • Name your files CAREFULLY! Don't just download a file and save it as "Untitled Presentation (24)." I rename every file I download to match my system. By naming your files appropriately, you can search for them and access them easier than if you just use a random system. I have used a few different systems for naming my files, but my favorites have been
    • Name the file by the concept first (for example: somi- Tracing worksheet). Then you can search your folders or drives by the concept and everything with that name will pop up! 
    • Name the file by grade level first (1st grade- President's Day Beat and Rhythm). 
  • Use folders! Use folders within folders! Use folders within folders within folders! You can create folders for each concept, each grade level, each class, etc. Storing your files in folders makes it so much easier to navigate through all your resources and pull up things that are relevant to what you are working on. 
Here is a YouTube tutorial on Google Drive if you have never used it (there are actually 6 videos, but this is the first!). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ZvYRU1Y5Y

2. Use Bookmarks

Almost every web browser has a bookmark feature. I know that many people turn to Pinterest to store their favorite websites; however, just like TpT, I have found that as my Pinterest gets bigger and bigger, it gets harder to navigate. So, on my school computer, I keep folders of bookmarks to my favorite websites and online activities. This way, I can easily pull up note reading websites, composer bios, etc. without having to log in to my Pinterest account. 

3. Get rid of what you won't use! 

Don't let your documents become clouded with things you are never going to use. Move it to the trash to make room for all the gems you have!

The Pursuit of Joyfulness has some more great ideas for storing digital files. So, if you are still needing ideas hop on over here

A Quick Tip on Storing Physical Materials

Scan things into your computer! If you have a Ricoh machine in your school, chances are it has the ability to scan a file and convert it to a PDF that you can store in your (fabulous new labeled and folder filled) files. There are also several apps you can use to create PDFS like PDF Cabinet. Aileen wrote a great post about PDF Cabinet and organizing files that you can check here.

I feel like I have just scratched the surface with this post, but hopefully it gets you thinking about how to store your materials so you can access them quickly and easily! 

4 comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post! It's timely and useful. I, too, am spreadsheet-resistant. I'd love to see a tutorial on your method of setting up and using Google Spreadsheets sometime in the future, but thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post, Kate! I love my Google Drive to back up things like clip art, lessons and the like, but I have never used Google Spreadsheet! You've inspired me to check it out. :-)

    Malinda
    My Musical Menagerie: Kodaly and Orff Classroom

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post, Kate! I am a neat FREAK, but this is a wonderful list of reminders and new ways of thinking of organization. Like you said, the frontloading can take some time, but it is SO worth it once it's done. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow Kate!! Great post! I have so much on my computer, Dropbox and Google Drive that I'm overwhelmed! Your post made me realize I'm not alone and there is a way out!! Lol You're the best!!

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top