Pocket

Pocket logo

It feels like the end of a years-long quest. Finally, after trying dozens of tools (LiveBinders, sqworl, Symbaloo, Delicious, Diigo, Scoop.It… the list goes on and on!), I have finally found The One. A tool that organizes my many (MANY) bookmarks, gets them off my bookmarks toolbar and into the Cloud, that comes with an iPhone app to put all my bookmarks in my pocket.

Pocket.

Pocket has everything I was looking for:

  • Interface. For me, a beautiful, simple interface is crucial, because so many bookmarking sites are filled with clutter that overwhelm me.
  • Browser extension. Pocket has a lovely little extension for your browser (I use Chrome) that makes adding a new bookmark as easy as clicking on a tiny pocket button. While many competitors have this same feature, I found that they asked for additional information (title of site, etc) and ran really slowly. With Pocket, clicking the button is all you have to do, and it works in the blink of an eye.
  • Tags. Before, my bookmarks were organized into folders. There are two problems with this system: 1) You can’t search for bookmarks in folders, and 2) Unless you want repeats, a bookmark only lives in one folder at a time. With tags, you can tag a single page with many words, putting it in lots of categories at once. Tags are also searchable, and you use Pocket to pull up all pages that have a particular tag.
  • Accessibility across platforms. Because I use two computers (home and work) plus an iPhone, I need my bookmarks to travel with me. By installing the Pocket app on my phone, I can access it from everywhere.

My Pocket homepage, with tags listed down the right side.

Technically, Pocket is a reader app. Originally called “Read It Later,” it was designed to clip articles, videos, and photos so that you can read them later, when you have time. Once read, you can archive them, or mark them as a favorite. The app is still useful in this way, and if you find yourself frequently coming across articles online, and want to hold onto them for a while, Pocket works beautifully. However, it has the power and flexibility to be used as long-term storage for your favorite recipes, blog posts, kitty videos, lesson plans, educational videos, and much more.

Pocket seems to have a pretty good following, and gets lots of love from tech blogs, so I’m hoping it will stick around for a while. Just in case, I still have a hidden folder with all my bookmarks. For now, though, the search is over!

ePals

I recently “attended” a webinar about reaching reluctant readers, and the presenter frequently referred to ePals as a resource. In that context, he explained it as a great place for age-appropriate articles that would entice fans of nonfiction to read. Sign up for the service and articles from Smithsonian are delivered straight to your inbox.

It wasn’t until I went onto the site to sign up that I saw the true scope of ePals, and its intended purpose. While it hosts a great variety of teacher-friendly resources (lesson plans, projects, articles), it is in fact a service that matches up classes around the world as pen pals. A teacher simply signs up and makes a profile, indicating the type of classroom he or she is interested in connecting from (Spanish-speakers, students in China, students in grade 3).

Watch this video for a quick overview.

The site makes communicating with classes around the world so easy, with video-chat and email services incorporated. You can search for a class to talk with, or join a project that other classes are doing. With all the great resources (from trusted sources like National  Geographic, Cobblestone/Cricket, and Smithsonian), your class can read an article on global warming, then discuss it with another class in Argentina! Having a common discussion point can help to dispel any awkwardness.

Even if you aren’t interested in connecting with international classes, the resources on this site are top notch. There are some great project ideas, and Learning Centers with games, quizzes, articles, and videos on topics in science, current events, and books.

The site has a lot, which means it can be a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to take a look, though, because ePals is a portal to all kinds of innovative learning.