The Best Resources for Blogging, Branding, Gadgets, Books, and More!
My Favorite Things and Recommended Resources! I get a lot of questions about the resources I use, and recommendations for certain tasks. So I thought it would be helpful to create a recommended resource page for educators with all of my favorite things: my favorite web tools, gadgets, books and more. I will continue to add to it as I find more, and I will reference this page quite often in my posts. Bookmark this page for your reference and convenience. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
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*Note: Some of these links are affiliate links.
I often get asked what platforms I recommend for the beginning blogger. Until very recently, Shake Up Learning was on the Weebly platform. Weebly is freemium, and the free version offers plenty of features, and the Pro version is very reasonable (see pricing here). I really do love the ease and simplicity that Weebly provides. It is a great solution for beginning bloggers. CLICK HERE to sign-up for Weebly.
I recently migrated to WordPress because Shake Up Learning had outgrown the capabilities of Weebly. WordPress is great, and is offered in two forms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is freemium, and also offers a lot of fantastic features at a low cost (see pricing here). Shake Up Learning is a self-hosted WordPress.org site. The .org sites give you more control, but also require that you take care of the technical side of things, maintenance, and hosting. Here’s a comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
I have been using BlueHost for a while now (both on Weebly and WordPress), and their customer service is excellent! If you need to host a custom domain, BlueHost is a one-stop shop with support for both Weebly and WordPress. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND using Bluehost for your first website and beyond! CLICK HERE to sign-up for BlueHost.
Grammarly is a WONDERFUL tool for checking your spelling, grammar and more. It also will check for plagiarism, word choice and make suggestions. My writing is far from perfect and I need all the help I can get. Grammarly is a lifesaver! CLICK HERE to sign-up for Grammarly. Then install the Grammarly Chrome Extension so it will check your writing across the web: email, social media, blogging, etc.
Canva is a free and fabulous web tool for creating images, posters, infographics, presentations, flyers and more! Almost all of the images I create for this site and for my social media posts are created with Canva. Canva makes design easy! Plus, it allows me to create original images with my logo and branding. Canva will help you and your students look like you majored in graphic design! CLICK HERE to sign up for Canva.
Picmonkey is a photo editing web tool. It used to have a free version, but alas, it is no longer free. However, there is a free trial to test it out, and it starts as low as $3.99/month. I use Picmonkey several times a month to create images and backgrounds. I often even app smash and create images in Picmonkey. Picmonkey has lots of little Photoshop-esque editing tools, filters, shadows, borders, and really fun seasonal backgrounds and images. I used Picmonkey to create the background images for the Magnetic Poetry templates. Such a fun tool for teachers and students. CLICK HERE to sign up for Picmonkey.
Fiverr is a freelance marketplace, where you can get someone to complete a task for you for as little as five dollars. I’ve used Fiverr for tshirt design, podcast intro/outro, advanced programming projects, WordPress troubleshooting, and to create the Shake Up Learning Chrome Extension. CLICK HERE to create a Fiverr account.
Yes, this is a repeat! Canva is a very import tool in my social media toolbox and it deserves repeating! Canva is a free and fabulous web tool for creating images, posters, infographics, presentations, flyers and more! Almost all of the images I create for this site and for my social media posts are created with Canva. Canva makes design easy! Plus, it allows me to create original images with my logo and branding. Canva will help you and your students look like you majored in graphic design! CLICK HERE to sign up for Canva.
This Chromebook is super slick and I own it! It is a hybrid flip so you can flip it around and use it as a table and it comes with a stylus that is very responsive. These new Chromebooks are helping to close the gap between tablets and laptops, especially since we can now run Android apps on the newer Chromebooks. Check out my post: 6 Android Apps to Try on a Chromebook.
Another great Chromebook flip option, the Asus Chromebook Flip. 360-degree flexibility and a quick processor. New Chromebooks come out all the time. Check Google’s Chromebook page for the latest.
I love Alexa! I actually have the Echo, Echo Dot, and an Echo Tap! It’s pretty addicting. Alexa can answers questions, read audiobooks and the news, report traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service. She can also play music, controls lights, switches, and thermostats and even order a pizza or Uber!
Google has their very own voice-controlled home assistant, Google Home. Google Home is powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help.
The Wemo outlet is the perfect companion for Alexa or Google Home. I can turn my lamps on and off with just my voice! (I know…I’m a geek!).Wemo is home automation the easy way: Plug in a Wemo Switch, download the free app, and start controlling your lights and appliances from anywhere in the world, right from your phone. No hub or subscription required.
Sometimes I have to record the podcast when I’m traveling and this little microphone is super tiny but packs a big punch with good sound quality.
I travel a lot and noise-canceling headphones are a must! This are awesome! They have a really long batter life (rechargeable), great sound, and they are comfy!
Bluetooth speakers are great, but they don’t always have the best sound. I use this speaker at home and it has amazing sound and will get REALLY loud.
I’m still a newbie with the stylus, but I really like the feel of this stylus, especially when using the Paper by 53app for sketches and sketch notes.
MacBook Cover: Speck See-Thru Satin Hard Shell Case
Like I said, I drop everything, so even my MacBook has a case. This gives it protection and a little personality! My laptop is also covered in stickers, so the cover comes in handy for protecting the laptop from my sticker abuse.
Google Cardboard (version 2.0)
Google Cardboard is the bomb! A simple cardboard-based invention can transform you smartphone into a virtual reality headset. There are so many versions out there, and you can even build your own if you are so inclined. I recommend you get version 2.0. Either will work, but version 2 is a much better design no matter the manufacturer.
I love my View-Master, and not just because of the retro look. The View-Master brings the power of virtual reality AND augmented reality into ONE device. So you can drop your phone inside and use the same VR compatible apps that work across many other devices, and you can use the special View-Master apps and trigger reels to explore space, National Geographic locations, and more!
When I present, I always have videos! And even though most places have built in sound systems these days, this little speaker comes in handy! It’s super small and fits nicely in the mesh pocket in my Ogio backpack (mentioned below). AND even though it is small, it still produces a nice, loud sound that can easily be heard in a classroom. Oh, and it is Bluetooth but it also has a short audio cable that wraps around the body of the speaker, so it doesn’t get lost. Blue Tooth is great when it works, and if it is your device, but the cable makes it nice to share as well. This speaker has saved me so many times!
Everyone needs a portable charger for their devices, and this one is super small and super handy–a must if you travel. This is the “lipstick” size, but it’s a little bit bigger than any lipstick I’ve ever worn, but still small enough to throw in my bag.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the portable charger above. This short lightning cable is so much easier to use with the portable charger when I need to carry my phone and keep it charging in my hand.
I get so many compliments on this backpack! It’s super sleek and great for travel and conferences. It’s light-weight and slim but still has room for my laptop, iPad, adapters, and accessories.
I have seen several versions of these over the last couple of years but discovered this model at SXSWEdu. It was the first one that I found comfortable and decided to purchase one for my home office. It does contain an exercise ball so it will help you engage your core as well!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of the items mentioned above, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
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