Thursday, September 22, 2022

Three Ways Focusable is Helping Me Be More Productive

Disclosure: Focusable is currently an advertiser on my websites.

In the past I’ve used browser extensions to block websites that distract me from getting work done during my day, but eventually I would still find a way to distract myself. Recently, I started using a different approach thanks to the help of Focusable. Focusable is not a browser extension. Focusable is a tool to train yourself to focus on the work that you need to do. So far, it has been quite helpful whenever there is something that I need to do, but just can’t seem to get started doing.

I’ve been using Focusable for almost two weeks now. Here are the ways that it has helped me use my time a bit better during my work day.

I can do anything for five minutes!
I can do anything for five minutes. I can use those five minutes to mindlessly scroll Instagram looking for a quick dopamine hit or I can start working on a task that you need to get done. Focusable has helped me use those five minutes to get things done.

In Focusable you create something called “progressions” which is another way of saying goals or tasks that you need to complete. Each progression begins with a five minute block of time. Often, the first step in getting something done is just starting to work on it. Whenever I’ve started a progression in the last two weeks, once I complete the first five minute block I’m ready to keep working on the task at hand. In other words, working for just five minutes is enough to get me in a flow to keep going.

No more “I’m just going to look for a minute” breaks.
Focusable progressions have time blocks of five, ten, and twenty minutes (you can adjust the times, but those are the default recommendations). The goal is to work on your task nonstop during those time blocks. Between each block Focusable prompts you to reflect and breathe. I’ve found it to be a fun exercise to not look away from what I’m working on until I hear the chime from Focusable telling me to stop. Previously, I would just stop and take a break whenever I felt like it, which could mean a break after writing one sentence or after two hours of picking my way through a difficult problem.

Resetting With a Focused Break
For the last month I’ve been working on a particularly vexing problem with one of my websites. I’ve had moments when I wanted to chuck my laptop like a frisbee! It’s in those moments that I need to walk away and reset, but not walk away for too long because then I’ll lose momentum. Focusable has been helpful in not only getting me started when I don’t want to work on the problem and it has also been helpful in reminding me to take a break after thirty-five minutes of working on the problem. At the end of every set of three time blocks, Focusable prompts you to take a break away from your screen for ten minutes.

These focused breaks have also been helpful when I feel like I’m getting annoyed or frustrated while working through my inbox or replying to social media posts. Rather than continuing down a frustrating path that leads to me venting, I have the reminder from Focusable to walk away from my screen.

Learn More About Focusable
Focusable was featured in this week’s Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In that newsletter I also included this video that provides an overview of how Focusable works from a teacher’s perspective and from a student’s perspective.



By the way, I used Focusable to help me focus on writing this blog post.

Two Ways to Add an Image Search Tool to Your Website

In yesterday's blog post about finding free images for school projects I mentioned that Photos for Class offers a free tool for adding their image search tool to your website. You can do a similar thing if you use Google's Programmable Search tool to create your own image search engine. Both options enable you to add an image search box directly into any page on your Google Site or any other website builder that allows you to embed third-party content. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to add an image search tool to your Google Site by using Photos for Class and Google Programmable Search


Applications for Education
Adding an image search tool into your classroom or library website can be a helpful time-saver to your students. Rather than having to keep track of websites that offer free images or going to Google Images and using the search filters there, students can just go to your website to start their search for free images for their projects. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Expedition Insects - An Interactive Book from the Smithsonian

Expedition Insects is a neat interactive book from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The book was written to helps students in third through fifth grade learn about insects from all over the world. The book is full of pictures and videos to complement the text. Throughout the book students can click or tap on underlined words to quickly access their definitions.

Expedition Insects was created for the Apple Books (formerly known as iBooks) platform. It is interactive if you read it on a Mac or on an iPad. A non-interactive version of the book is available to read as a PDF.

Applications for Education
By reading and watching the content in Expedition Insects elementary school students can learn about how the insects survive in their respective environments. Students can also learn about the role that insects play in ecosystems.

50 Ideas for Your Next Tech Tuesday

Are you a new tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a little tech workshop? Do you need some ideas for it? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is for you! 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In 50 Tech Tuesday Tips you will find ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 



Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects

Photos for Class is one of my favorite sites for students to use to find free images to use their projects. The best feature of Photos for Class is that it automatically adds attribution information to the footer of the images that students download. Recently, Photos for Class was updated to provide stricter image filtering. I thought this would be a good time to create an updated video about how to use Photos for Class. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to find free images on Photos for Class. In the second half of the video I demonstrate how you can add the Photos for Class search tool to your own website.