Sunday, July 18, 2010

E-mails, E-groups and Organization ~ Oh My!

The heat is on,and summer is running full "steam" ahead so at times we have been hibernating in our air conditioning and that means I have some time for playing on my new laptop and learning new things.

I recently posted about Microsoft OneNote that I am still learning to use but also wanted to share a few more things that I have been doing and hearing about when it comes to keeping ourselves organized and on top of things.

Nowadays, many homeschool parents and children really rely on using the internet for research and working on things, I know for us, it has been so helpful in teaching, exploring and of course researching just about everything under the sun and beyond!
side note: a safer search engine for your learners is Sweet Search, you can try it out by looking above to the right side bar or clicking on the link. 

Many of us enjoy the e-groups that are online and the community networks and blogs that are out there which helps with support and encouragement for each other and is a great resource for information.

Managing these things can be quite another story~ as I have been using all of these things I found a few ways to help me stay a bit more organized and up to date on topics and events.  Here are a few new things I am doing to help me:

E-groups: yahoo and google groups ( I mostly use yahoo e-groups since I am not a huge fan of google groups thus far, I do not find much on there at this point for homeschoolers and much is more inappropriate for what I am looking for)
I enjoy these groups when I find some that I can relate to and find a great group of people.  It can be tough finding the right "fit" for a group, but I do have a few favorites that I find the members very helpful, kind, and supportive.
Here is a list of some of "my personal" favorites: ( not in any specific order, promise)

IEW Families - a group of members who are using IEW writing products, very active

At Home Science- an on-topic group for science and math learning

Living Science- another on-topic group for science and math learning

Math On The Level- a group for parents who are interested or learning or using MOTL math program.

Special Needs Parents Homeschooling Special Needs Children- a warm, flexible group of parents who have chronic health issues who are at home teaching their children. A great place to have a cup of coffee, kick back and vent, support, encourage and ask questions.

All Kinds of Learners- last but not least, I do love my own group :)~ it is very diverse and is very supportive. I learn alot from all our great members. 



*side note: if your not already aware yahoo groups now has fixed their problem they have had with their searching and archives tool~ I have tried it out on a few of my groups and it worked wonderfully. This is really wonderful since for such a long time the search feature has not been very helpful in the past for group members.
*
When considering joining an e-group I don't just go by a friends recommendation I tend to go and look and read through completely the groups home page so I know what they are really all about and what the agenda or mission/goal is of that particular group. I also look down on the groups messages to see how many are posted monthly and then look at member size.  All these things tell me if this is a worthwhile group that is active and worthy of joining. 
When first joining a new e-group I usually subscribe and keep myself on daily emails, just so I can get to know how the group runs and having these in my email box often I can really read and learn about the group much faster than if I was on daily digest. If I like what I am reading and after introducing am slowly starting to connect with discussions and members I will change my status to digest (if the group is REALLY busy) or if I REALLY like the group I will stay on daily but to manage all the emails I create a filter within my email so that all the emails will go directly to that folder so I can read at my leisure and not have my email box flooded with posts from that particular group.
Its a really effective way to remain up to date and on topic with my groups.


I have found using filters are also great for newsletters, e-zine subscriptions, community networks and just about anything you don't want clogging up your email box.

Blogs- like many I enjoy reading and keep up with my friends blogs or blogs where I can get some great resources for helping me with our at home learning. I follow a few and those end up in my blogger dashboard which is great because when I sign into blogger I can see all my friends updates and get caught up.
I have found that I enjoy mostly subscribing to blogs by email instead of using an RSS Reader. It is probably just my personal preference but I find when I can subscribe by email I tend to be able to stay better updated and is much easier (you can create a filter for that particular blog as well).

Page Flakes is an interesting personalized homepage you can create from your RSS feeds that can help you better manage your blogs or e-zine updates. You can read more about on the link provided. I have not created my own page as of yet but again, am looking at doing so ~


Here is a great link resource to help you find a few organizational web tools that might help keep you better organized. It's called Mashable and when I came across this I just loved all the goodies I could explore ~
this link provides over 100 ways to organize ourselves~ be sure and check it out.

I will leave you with one more great link resource I found. It is featured on Slideshare and is a slide show of resources that is entitled Best of the Web.  These are really great resources for teaching to search through.

Hope some of these things help you stay better organized ~

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