Have you discovered Trello? I can’t remember exactly how I did, but I’ve been using it for almost all of my work related tasks and I’m loving its features and flexibility! Here’s the lowdown on this free digital tool, which you can find here.
Trello is a very visual productivity tool that uses boards, which contain lists, which contain cards, which contain whatever information you want to store there. You can create an organization for free with as many boards/lists/cards as you’d like. It has a look very similar to Pinterest, but you don’t “pin” things to it. Rather, you create cards and then save info to the card. Once you’ve created your card, you can assign it a due date and you can also tag members of your board to the card, effectively assigning it to them. You can add comments to the cards and are notified anytime someone adds a comment to any card, list, or board that you are subscribed to.
Like I said, I’m using it for nearly every work-related task I do. I even decided to try and create an online lesson planner/assignment tracker with Trello this school year. We’re only 4 days in but it’s working great so far! I have 2 boards dedicated to my homeschool tasks: one is for lesson planning, where I have a list for each subject, each of which contains cards with various assignments within that subject. When I’m ready to actually assign those tasks to my students, I move the cards to my other board, Daily Assignments, to the date that they’re due. Here’s what that looks like:
When you click to open one of the cards, this is what it looks like:
If you look over on the right side, you’ll see that you can also add a due date and attachments to any card. This is great if you want to include a link to an online resource related to your assignment.
When you click completed tasks on a checklist, the progress bar moves and the items are crossed out, giving you immediate gratification (well, me at least!):
I’m also using Trello for my Challenge B class as our primary means of communication among parent/teachers, myself, and the students. This is what my board organization looks like:
There’s a board for each subject area which is where I post any supplementary resources that I may find: links to online articles or videos, book recommendations, and information about helpful files that can be found on CC Connected just to name a few. My “General” board (pictured below) is where you can find (among lots of other things) my student handbook and a list called “Don’t Miss This!” which contains cards for important emails sent to parents. Trello has the ability to post a card to any given list when you send an email to the board URL: the card gets posted to my “Don’t Miss This!” list and because all of my parents have subscribed to that list, they get an email (or text notification) that a new post has been made. I love this because it takes communication *out* of email–where replies can often get cumbersome and confusing–and puts everything in one place where parents can access it in multiple ways (desktop computer, tablet device, or smartphone).
You can assign colored labels to cards, too. If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll see some cards with red labels. These are tagged “Important.” I’m also going to be using blue labels for all information posted to my Trello boards that is related to the blue book exam. When you click the search box and type “blue book,” each item tagged with that label will show up! Even cooler is the fact that Trello will actually *save* your searches if you’d like so that next time when you go to search, “blue book” will be listed as a search item and you can just click it to get the most current list. Very slick!
I think my very favorite thing about the way Trello works, though, is the way that you can drag and drop cards from list to list. This is why I think I’m going to love it so much for my homeschool assignments. In the past, I’ve created computer-based assignment trackers that I would tirelessly update each week only to inevitably fail to get to all the assigned tasks. This would require me to go into my digital file, update the assignments for the next week based on the slipped tasks, and re-print. Now, if we don’t manage to get to a particular task for any given day, I’ll be able to drag and drop that task onto the next day (or any other day). I love that!
Granted, this digital tool isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is as much of a tech geek as I am and for some, even thinking about this kind of a system is overwhelming (or maybe even distasteful!). That’s OK. Different strokes for different folks, right? All I know is that I *love* what it’s been able to do for me in terms of organization and planning and so I want to pass the word.
Trello has an entire set of “Inspiring Boards” here that are full of all sorts of great ideas for using this free online tool. If you decide to use Trello, I’d love to know how you use it!