My boss asked me to make a schedule that would show him when in the week I was free. But when I sat down with my schedule to figure out when I was free, I found that I couldn’t actually read it. The schedule for Monday is radically different from Tuesday, which is radically different from Wednesday, which is… you get the idea.
So, I humiliated myself for a few hours trying to plug class times and study halls and weekly team meetings into my calendar program, and finally gave up. It didn’t make sense. Instead, I called up a spreadsheet program.
Then I used it to make a spreadsheet that showed the days of the week broken up into five-minute increments, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, and then I plugged my classes in to the whole schedule, in order to SEE where and when my free blocks were, and how long they were. And then I made it into a PDF and printed it out. It’s not perfect — what sort of schedule is? But now I can look at it, and see what the frame of my week is. Wednesday is really busy, Tuesday much less so. All my days look crowded.
But I could cut holes in this sheet of paper now, and they would tell me EXACTLY how long my free blocks were, and where in the schedule they are. The blocks are larger or smaller based on the amount of time they represent, too, which wasn’t true on my standard calendar. And I can see them now, where I couldn’t before.
One of my colleagues does all of her planning in paper now, rather than try to use her computer. “It’s easier,” she said, “Especially when I have to line up my school calendar with home activities and the kids.”
I did more. I got a paper plan book today. I’m thinking about going back to a paper grade book.
Where are the places where you’re finding that technology isn’t serving you well? Where are you going back to more basic methods, like pencil and paper? How are you planning differently?
I can’t handle a paper calendar (live by Google) but have never found a e-planner that works for me. Something about the writing, erasing, rewriting, changing, rearranging that is too much part of the process. My plans are like prewriting for my teaching. All the apps take that part out of the process.
And I still haven’t found an electronic substitute that equals a handwritten thank you/ praise you note (although admittedly I don’t give them out enough).
Where are you going back to more basic methods, like pencil and paper? How are you planning differently?
There’s something cool and convenient (Latin roots: assembly/fitting) about the yellow sticky–long live the stickies! I still have them on my laptop usually until my palms wear them out after my typing.
Otherwise, I wonder if the above scheduling problem could be solved with Pages. You can import just about anything! Even an I-photo image of your paper schedule for digital distribution.
Here’s to a great September–Bill
I find the digital schedule doesn’t help me fix my calendar in my brain very well. And the standard printed grid of our school schedule shows classes beginning and ending at the same time — but when you read the actual listed time blocks, they’re different.
I used Numbers, the companion spreadsheet program to Pages, to build my schedule and exported it as a PDF. and now it’s in the front of an Arc notebook from Staples. It’s working out pretty well.
There are certain books I want to have in electronic format. Technical books are at the top of the list – they’re expensive, they’re heavy, and they’re obsolete after 2-3 years. I signed up for O’Reilly’s Safari Books Online service, which solves all those problems.
That said, I hate their book reader. I can never size things quite right to fit the screen, and always fight with the page navigation controls. I want to hit page down or an arrow key, and it’s a constant steady irritation.
Ditto for cookbooks on the Kindle app. The search results column is too small. I can’t see enough to know if a result is the recipe, the table of contents, the index, or part of an overview.
When I’m learning something, I prefer to take notes by hand. They’re illegible, but the kinesthetic part helps lock the information in my mind.
Are the calendar and gradebook things that you can leave in one place? I need my calendar when I’m in many settings, and prefer not to carry them. Google Calendar’s online UI is comfortable. The little screen on the iphone is not, but it fits in my purse or pocket and is always on hand.
Pen and paper are also technology, just like your computer’s spreadsheet and calendar apps. It is our familiarity with and the design of these electronic technologies that creates triumphs or stumbling blocks.
Paper is far more kinestetic than an app.
The kinesthetics of paper are kind of why I’m shifting back to paper, actually. It’s clear that there are advantages to communication digitally, but learning and thinking, it seems, happen far more manually than digitally. It’s like we haven’t evolved to use the tools that we’ve developed.
I’m reminded of Frank Herbert’s BUTLERIAN JIHAD in the Dune books, when thousands of years ago, people turned against machines that think and decided to rely on memory and brain power and paper tools. Hmm.