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.
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I often get asked what platforms I recommend for the beginning blogger. Shake Up Learning started 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.
By far, the best choice for blogging is WordPress. You can customize WP to your hearts content! WordPress 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, 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 life-saver! 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 freemium image and photo editing web tool. I use Picmonkey for quick editing and access to cool themes and images. 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 advanced programming projects, WordPress troubleshooting, and to create the Shake Up Learning Chrome Extension.CLICK HERE to create a Fiverr account.
Unsplash Photos is a stock photography website where you can get high-quality, royalty-free images for your website, blog, or presentations. “Over 550,000 free (do-whatever-you-want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.”
I use Unsplash to get eye-catching photos for my keynotes and presentations, and for blog images as well. They also have a great add-on for Google Slides. CLICK HERE to join Unsplash.
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
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.
GADGETS & ACCESSORIES
iPhone Case: Spigen [Card Slot] Slim Armor
I have the iPhone 6, and this is by far the best case I have ever had. It will hold two cards and it is perfect for my drivers license and one credit card. LOVE IT! Even though I use Apple Pay when I can, it’s still not convenient everywhere so this gives me easy access to my card.
iPad Case: Speck Durafolio
I have the iPad Mini and this case has been the best iPad case ever. I need full coverage because I drop everything. My iPad is fully protected and I have the kickstand when I’m watching video. Plus, it is super slim and doesn’t add a lot of weight to the iPad.
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!
Looking for Book Recommendations?
Check out this post: 50 Awesome Books for Teachers!
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