Managing overwhelm: How do you curate and consume your educational reading list?

This blog post is a sharing of how I curate and consume my education reading list. It’s a response to Ollie Lovell’s (@ollie_lovellblog post with the same questions (and title!).

Ollie Lovell, Amie Albrecht, and Michaela Epstein gave a #MAVCON session on strengthening the Edu-Twitter/blogging community in Australia. If you write a blog in response, let one of them know and they’ll link your response into their posts.

1. What does your average reading/watching/listening day look like? (How much time do you spend reading/watching/listening? Which platforms are you on? Are you reading hard copy or digital, et cetera.)

I’m a brand new teacher – I got my registration on the 15th of October, and started work the next week. Outside of readings for University classes, my primary source of educational reading is from Twitter, although there have been a few books. But through placements and now work, I’ve not had the time to dedicate to a careful read of what books I have, whether that’s the physical copies I have (pictured, incidently, in the site header), or the handful of other ebooks I have also.

I am connected to a number of teachers and teacher groups through facebook, which does provide some amount of resources, but the most active group is for SACE Chemistry, which is out of my expertise.

I’d talk more about Twitter, but that’s the next question, so let’s talk about it there instead.

2. If you use Twitter, how do you use it? (Do you use lists? Just scroll through your feed? etc)

Twitter I’ve made part of my daily schedule. In the morning, when I first reach for my phone to try and engage my brain to not fall back to sleep, I’ll open Twitter to see what all the American teachers have been doing while I sleep. I’ll then typically check Twitter throughout the day when I have any sort of downtime, whether I’m walking between buildings, or need a mental break from the task at hand.

As for how I use it, while I’m aware of TweetDeck, and have used it a few times to manage collections of tweets I made during my teaching placements, for the most part I just scroll through my feed, unless I’m searching for something specific I’ve seen previously.

3. How do you manage your reading list, and how do you decide what makes the cut? (google keep, tabs in a web browser, evernote, your brain? Do you use an RSS list like feedly?)

Continuing on from the previous question, I primarily use Twitter through my feed, but do a few things to manage this. I’m quite particular about  who I follow. If I’m followed by someone, or if I notice someone doing something interesting in my feed, whether that’s by someone I follow sharing a tweet, or having a conversation, I’ll look at that person’s profile. If what I see is a lot of education focused content, whether that’s sharing resources, research, ideas, or just being general helpful, I’ll likely give that person a follow. If the person primarily uses it to chat to random friends, and only occasionally shares education relevant stuff, I’m not going follow that person. Equally, if I follow a person and they regularly fill my feed with stuff I don’t want to see, I’ll unfollow them, maybe adding them to a list if they’re still useful to know exists.

I’m also careful about how I like tweets. While I will like tweets purely to be supportive of people I know, or who I’ve chatted with on twitter before, I otherwise try to keep my likes to things I genuinely am interested in, and that I would likely want to be able to find again. That way I can scroll through my like feed to find things.

I also make use of the bookmark feature on the Twitter mobile app (not actually sure if can do so with the desktop version. If you can, I’ve not seen it.). This is often more interesting looking/sounding articles that I want to read at some point, but can’t at the time I’m seeing it. I don’t want to like something that I’ve not read – how do I know if I will actually like it, after all. But when I’ve only got a few minutes, I know I don’t have the time to read and reflect on a blog post or some other article, but if I don’t mark it somehow, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to find it again.

4. How do you take notes and collect the gems from what you read? (Where do you store? How do you store? Do you periodically revisit? Do you take notes as you go or all at the end?)

Not something I do a good job of. I mainly use likes and bookmarks to collect things of use. The only exception to this is mathematical puzzles and games. I have a particular interest in puzzles and games, and I’m working to collate the different things I come across. That is half the point of my website in fact.

5. Is there anything you’re still trying to work out in terms of managing overwhelm and the massive amount of edu-info that’s out there?

The overwhelm I’m feeling at the moment is more the challenge of my first months of teaching, and just keeping up with the act of teaching. I’m finding it hard to then actually implement any of the stuff I read. The other thing I’m then not finding the time to do is writing. I’ve a number of blog posts I wish to write, and I’ve not found the time to tweet about my teaching either (although there’s more than just time preventing that).

A longer term goal is to actually keep track of some of the info that comes my way, but I think the way for that is to write more. If I can write reflections or comments on things that interest me, I should be able to find my own writing easier. Maybe I should actually start retweeting things…

6. What are some of your fave tweeters/blogs/podcasts/youtubers etc that you’d recommend to others (please write a sentence or two after each recommendation to say what you like about that source).

I write about my experience of starting to use Twitter elsewhere on the blog (incidently prompted by the MAVCON session prompting this blog), which may be of interest. My earliest follows would probably be my primary recommendations.

I’ve found David Butler (@DavidKButlerUoA) and Amie Albrecht (@nomad_penguin) to be high value in the stuff they share. Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove), when teaching, regularly shares compilations of interesting things maths educators are doing on twitter, which can be found on her site. Howie Hua (@howie_hua) is educates future teachers, and often shares interesting content, helps connect new twitter users to other educators, among other things. I’ve also been finding John Rowe (@MrJohnRowe) high value, particularly recently, with a stream of interesting puzzles (which can be found listed here).

Published by Jeremy Hughes

STEM educator in SA

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