My 2020 Stack: Apps & Tools I Use The Most

My 2020 Stack: Apps & Tools I Use The Most

These are the show notes for my latest episode of The #PhysEd Show Podcast. Take a listen to the episode by using the player below or subscribe to the show in your favourite podcast app!

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Let me start this off by saying that I usually resist the urge to write these types of posts. With limited time and energy, I usually try to stick to content that is aligned to my mission: to help you be the best physical educator you can be. If I don’t believe that something I can create can help you – in one way or another – grow as an educator, then I try not to spend time making it.

However, I like this type of post! One of my favourite traditions at this time of year is reading through “Top Apps”, “Best Tools”, and “What’s On My Homescreen” posts. At heart, I’m a geek and a gadget lover. I could waste hours and hours on sites like Product Hunt and YourStack. Finding new apps and tools that can open up exciting possibilities, save time, or – you know – do cool stuff is fun. 

I get asked all of the time about the apps/tools I use in my teaching/creative process so I figured I would write this post up. I also hadn’t written anything in a while so I thought this would be a good blogging fingers warm up for all of the content I have planned for this month. 

Here’s something you should know before getting into this (and this is a bit of a rant): although I will share the apps I use, I have a hard rule that I no longer talk about the specifics on how I build stuff. Unfortunately, I have a really hard time accepting when I see my work copied/stolen which is something that has happened pretty often in the past. Over the past ten years of sharing online, it happened too many times and I decided to set a hard boundary there for my own mental wellbeing. I will say this: I think a lot of people believe that I have some magic app that makes all of this work easy. I don’t: it’s all the result of hours and hours and hours of work. Pulling an idea out of your mind and making it into something real is extremely satisfying but also incredibly frustrating. A lot of the resources you see on the site are final versions of ideas that went through weeks/months of design and research work – and also years and years of self-taught skills – so that I could get them to be as close to what I envisioned in my head. So when a final template gets ripped (and by ripped I mean copied, branding changed, put on website/TPT for personal benefit, or used to “build my own platform”), I get pretty peeved. So what you’ll see here is the extent of what my comfort level is with sharing. I feel pretty confident that I’ve shared enough over the years (and plan on continuing to share a lot in the years to come) that I’m not going to let myself feel guilty about this. So… sorry? Ok, end rant.

I’ve decided to break this post down into three categories: teaching, creating, and wellbeing. Each category will have two sections: apps and tools. The “Apps” section will focus on the software side of things and the “Tools” section will focus on hardware. Also, I’m focusing on apps/tools that I used most in 2020. There are definitely more that could be added to this list, so maybe I will add to it over time. 

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

Apps For Teaching

Tools For Teaching

Apps For Creating

Tools For Creating

Apps For Wellbeing

Tools For Wellbeing

Apps For Teaching

ZOOM

In a world where everything feels like it’s now being done virtually via video conferencing apps, Zoom stands in a league of its own. I have no idea how the app works so well in such consistent fashion, but it just does. Waiting room, breakout rooms, emoji reactions, chat room control, simple link management… all of these features have helped make the jump to distance learning so much easier than it could have been (not that it was easy!) My favourite pro tip: taking faculty meetings for a walk with video off and AirPods in!

GOOGLE SLIDES

As you learn later, I’ve been a Keynote user for over a decade so I never felt the need to learn any other presentation software. Sure, I had toyed around with Google Slides a little bit (like when I made the Heart Rate Viewer), but it wasn’t a tool that I felt the need to learn more about. Then the pandemic hit and I found myself quickly having to set up my classes on Google Classroom and convert my assessment tools into digital, editable versions. Using the “Export-PDF-as-PNG/Upload-PNG-as-Google-Slides-Background” hack that I figured out, I was able to turn all of my existing assessment tools into virtual versions of themselves and assign them to students in Google Classroom. You can learn more about that hack in my blog post on “Google Classroom Physical Activity Journals”.

GOOGLE CLASSROOM

As I just mentioned, once my school went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, I set my classes up on Google Classroom. I had been using the platform a little with my grade six students, but the jump to distance learning would mark the start of my deep dive into what Google Classroom can do. Spoiler alert: it can do a lot. Managing units (or “Topics”), content, and assessment on Google Classroom is an organized, rich, and pretty user-friendly experience. I loved being able to create assignments and attach additional learning materials that would help my students dive deeper into their understanding of the topics we explored in class. 

I also loved using the Stream to post relevant-but-not-essential materials for students to explore on their own time to help them build additional interest in what we were learning in class. An example of this would be posting the episode of Vox’s “Explained” series on Cricketand inviting to students to share what they thought of the sport, it’s history, and how it related to similar striking and fielding games that we were exploring in class.

A final testament to how much I love Google Classroom: I won’t ever start a school year without having it set up right off the bat. 

SEESAW

At St. George’s, only students in grades three and up have Google accounts assigned to them, which means that K-2 cannot use Google Classroom. When the school became a virtual one in the spring of 2020, we had to set up our students on a different platform: Seesaw.

Seesaw also falls into that category of apps that I have heard teachers rave about forever but never took the time to explore (I usually maintain digital portfolios in Google Drive instead). Having no choice but to dive right into the world of Seesaw, I found myself enjoying the app more and more as time went on.

I haven’t fully explored Seesaw’s full range of possibilities yet, but I’m excited to keep learning about what’s possible on the app’s platform. As of right now, I’m enjoying creating activities directly in the app (check out my Mix & Match activity), annotating student performance videos with visual and written feedback, and creating class announcements with interesting materials (similar to what I’ve done in Google Classroom). I also uploaded all of SHAPE America’s National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes into Seesaw which made it really simple to tag activities/videos with “Skills” (a.k.a. GLOs). This helped me filter student work by outcomes, which saved a ton of time with my assessment. Check out this tweet for links to the GLOs in a Seesaw-friendly spreadsheet and information on how to upload them to your school’s Seesaw account.

FLIPGRID

Although I do not like the idea of having my assessment evidence spread out over multiple apps, Flipgrid is just too cool of a platform for me not to be using it. Everything about the platform feels smooth, polished, and user-friendly. Similar to how my younger students would use Seesaw to upload their own skill performance videos, I’ve used Flipgrid to do the same with my older students (e.g. grade six students worked in pairs and uploaded videos of their striking in our Striking and Fielding Unit).

In the spring, I got a little more creative with Flipgrid. In our S.M.A.R.T. Goals Fitness Unit, students were able to design a quick workout (< 5min) that targeted the component of fitness that they were seeking to improve via their S.M.A.R.T. goal action plan. We used Flipgrid to create a “Virtual Gym” to showcase some of these workouts. Here’s how that worked:

Students were invited to record themselves performing their workout directly into Flipgrid (this wasn’t mandatory). Once uploaded, their classmates could view the workout and perform it themselves. If they chose to do so, they could record themselves performing it and upload that video as a comment response or they could simply leave a text comment to let the uploader know that they had completed it. The idea was to build a student-driven workout video library that students could tap into to add some variety to their exercise schedules.

Tools For Teaching

IPAD/IPHONE

I’m bunching these two together even though I use them differently, but I do not think that I’ve taught a single lesson in the past seven years without my iPhone/iPad on hand. 

My iPhone is always close by – and on Do Not Disturb – so that I can use it to control the music that is AirPlayed into our gym via Apple AirPort Express-connected speakers (I get into that a bit more in my “Live From #PhysEd! My Television Setup!” blog post). I currently have an iPhone XS which has a much better camera system than my 6th generation iPad, so the iPhone is usually what I use to capture video of students’ skill performances for their portfolios.

As for my iPad, what don’t I use it for? Apps that are in heavy rotation on the device include Numbers (for my Gradeboooks which are constantly updated), Coach’s Eye (which I use to break down skill performances, usually while AirPlaying to the TV), BaM Video Delay (which I usually use in combination with my clip-on wide angle lens and tripod), Plickers (for scanning my students assessment magnets at the end of class), YouTube (for sharing videos, starting dance parties, or getting into workouts), Seesaw (for uploading to Seesaw), and a whole lot of others.

OSPREY SAVU HIP PACK

It’s confession time: I’ve become a hip pack enthusiast. I can’t think about hip packs (née fanny packs but I know that makes the U.K./Australians giggle) without thinking of Sarah Gietschier-Hartman and Naomi Hartl. They were the OG hip pack promoting PE teachers in my professional circle. 

After a few too many incidents of forgetting my iPad/iPhone/Apple Pencil outside, leaving my hand sanitizer inside, or going shackles during recess duty, I decided to go all in and get a pack. The Savu Hip Pack by Osprey isn’t big enough to hold my iPad, but it does hold everything else and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a full-sized backpack on my hip. Plus, it holds my coffee and field guide when I go birding, which is a win-win in my mind.

AIRPODS

So these are here because they were key during my live virtual lessons. Being able to move freely while running a lesson without having to worry about audio issues removed some of the frustration around having to teach PE online. In the spring, I had to teach from home (“welcome to my gym/pantry/kitchen”) while my wife taught in the bedroom beside me and our toddler watched Sesame Street. Needless to say, it wasn’t ideal. 

The AirPods helped me make sure I could hear and be heard as I performed jumping jacks, skill demonstrations, or dance moves. The fast charging was really helpful as well as I have a pair of 1st generation AirPods and the batteries on them drain pretty quickly now (I try to alternate buds as I teach). Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I try to take as many meetings to-go: instead of sitting around staring at my screen more than I already have to, I put my AirPods in, turn off my video, and go for a walk.

GIMBAL

So I take a lot of video when I’m assessing my students’ skills. As I mentioned, I use my iPhone to record the video (with the camera set to 1080p and 60fps). It’s great, but a lot of times it leads to shaky video. I’ve tried using a tripod/wide-angle lens mount to counter this, but it doesn’t always lead to shots that are close enough/dynamic enough to let me see what it is I’m looking for.

The solution to all of this was deciding to buy a handheld gimbal. Gimbals allow you to hold a camera/phone and move while still being able to keep the camera/phone perfectly steady. It achieves this through a variety of motors that stabilize the camera as you move. 

I purchased the Zhiyun Smooth-Q2 back in 2017 and have zero regrets. It was below $200 CAD and had great reviews. I still use it all of the time and have never had an issue!

LOGITECH WEBCAM C920

I work with an external monitor at home and needed a webcam for it. A few years ago, I picked up this one from Logitech as offered 1080p video and a wide-angle lens. Little did I know how much use this would get in 2020!

When I was teaching from home in the spring, I would often do so from in my kitchen. We live in a tiny apartment here in Montreal, so space was an issue. I would mount the webcam to my Tripod and have it pretty high. This setup, combined with the wide-angle lens let my students see as much of me as possible without me having to be far from the camera. It also let me get the most out of the small spaces I had to teach in.

ELGATO KEY LIGHT

This was another “Lockdown Teaching In A Pandemic” purchase that I picked up in the spring. As I mentioned, I had to teach from home. At times, this meant teaching during my son’s nap time. That nap time was so key as it gave my wife and me time to get stuff done around the apartment without kiddo wreaking havoc as we did. To keep that sacred nap time going for as long as it could, I would opt to teach in the storage unit/basement of my apartment. To imagine what that space looks like, think of a dark, dingy dungeon full of baby paraphernalia. It wasn’t the best, but it worked!

The lighting in the basement is pretty non-existent so I needed a solution. The Elgato Key Light seemed to be a good option at the time. It’s WiFi-enabled (so I can control the lighting from my phone), LED-powered, and low-profile (so it fits in my space). As an actual key light, it’s ok (you need to be on a 2.4Ghz network for it to work properly which has been a pain when I try to record anywhere but at home). I also picked up the Elgato Green Screen to go with this in an attempt to hide the fact that I was teaching in a storage unit. Although the screen is good quality, it isn’t actually very useful for PE purposes: it’s not tall enough for me (I’m 6’2”) and the base at the bottom – although very useful for storage) means that you have a base at the bottom of your green screen shots. 

Apps For Creating

Alright, let’s get into the next category!

This is actually what I get asked about the most: how I make the resources you see on this site. I’m going to share these next few apps in the actual order that I use them when creating new resources, which will hopefully give you some insight into how I go about my creative process.

THINGS 3

I’ve been a long-time Things user and love where the app is at in its development right now. I use Things as my “Getting Things Done”-inspired productivity system. I use it to capture new ideas that pop in my head, sort action items (often sorting them as calendar events in Fantastical or emails in Spark), plan out projects, and create roadmaps for goals. 

When I get a new idea or see something that inspires me, I quickly add it to my “Someday” list along with some notes and links. Once a week, I go through my Things inbox, Projects lists, and Someday pipeline and plan my work for the week.

Occasionally, I’ll combine the work I do in Things with my mind-mapping app of choice: Mindnode. Mindnode makes it easier to see the whole picture when doing some longer-term planning.

WORKFLOWY

Workflowy is an outlining app that I’ve been using for a while that works exactly how my brain works: it lets you jot down ideas, unpack them, rearrange thoughts, and quick sense of a mess.

For a lot of the content that I hope to produce (e.g. blog posts, podcasts, videos, games, courses, presentations), I need to make an outline. Workflowy helps me achieve this in a non-overwhelming way as the app let’s you zoom in on single points and expand them as much as you need to. Once your done, you can zoom back out and see everything you’ve put together. 

ULYSSES

With an outline created, it’s time to get writing! My go-to writing app is Ulysses. I love how the app lets me gather/organize pieces of writing – big and small – into an easy-to-understand system. Ulysses’ best feature is its simple interface: when it’s time to get writing, all I need to focus on is typing. 

KEYNOTE

For the games, videos, and presentations I make, I create all of the animations in Keynote. As I create my outline and script, I add specific animations I need to make to my Things project list. With all of that work completed, I sit down and get ready to lose my mind as I try to turn notes and words into animated sequences.

Once the animations are done, I export them as movie files and get ready for the final edit.

FINAL CUT PRO X

My video editor of choice is Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and made the jump from iMovie. FCPX has a pretty vibrant community of developers who create all sorts of templates and plugins that can make your video edits come out the way you want them to look. 

Occasionally, I will also need screencast recordings to showcase something on my computer/mobile device. For those, I use ScreenFlow. I’ll create the shots and edit them directly in the app before exporting the video file and adding it to my FCPX timeline.

PIXELMATOR PRO

For graphics and images, I use Pixelmator. I love the app’s interface and how smooth the experience is. Although I still make a lot of graphics in Keynote, I’ve been relying on Pixelmator more and more these days. This is especially true for when I need to prep graphics for the web/social media.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

There are a few other apps I use for specific tasks that didn’t merit a whole write-up. GoodNotes on iOS is where most of my resource mockups are made. I used to record/edit the podcast in Logic Pro X but made the switch back to GarageBand once I got my RODEcaster Pro (more on that in the next section). I use Dropbox all of the time (I still prefer its cloud storage experience over Google Drive). GIF Brewery 3 is how I edit gifs when I need to. PDF Expert is how I edit/annotate PDFs.

Tools For Creating

MACBOOK PRO (2018)

My daily computer is my MacBook Pro (2.3 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 | 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 | 512 Gb storage). It died on me in the summer! Logic board fried out somehow and the keyboard was on the go for a while (do you know how annoying it is to have an “E” key that only works 50% of the time)? I was still on Apple Care for a month so I was able to get it all replaced. Eventually, I’d like to get into the new M1-powered Macs but I’ll ride this laptop out for as long as I can!

APPLE PENCIL

As I mentioned earlier, I got the 6th generation iPad when it came out. It was the first non-Pro iPad to support the first generation Apple Pencil. I never thought I’d enjoy using a stylus so much! I had used the “Paper by 53” Pencil stylus in the past, but the Apple Pencil is a whole other ball game. Combined with GoodNotes, I love taking hand-written notes, create future resources mockups, annotating PDFs, and marking up images. I caved and got a “Stylus Sling” to secure the pencil onto my iPad and avoid losing it (I don’t just wear my hip pack everywhere, dontcha know). 

CANON EOS RP

I had been wanting a good mirrorless camera for a while. With the jump to all meetings going virtual, workshops having to be delivered online, and my desire to produce more video content (have you subscribed to my YouTube channel yet?), I decided to get myself a camera. I’m no photographer so I didn’t need anything too insane, just something that could record good looking video. When I saw that a firmware update enabled the Canon EOS RP to record at 24fps, I decided to go with that.

I have two lenses for it: the 24-105mm RF kit lens that came with the camera and the 35mm RF macro lens. Honestly, I freaking love my camera. It does exactly what I want it to do, does it well, and is advanced enough that it will push me to learn more about photography.

When I use the camera as a webcam for meetings or workshops, I use the Elgato CamLink 4K to connect it to my Mac. I had purchased the dongle prior to the Canon Webcam utility being released, but I’m really happy with how it performs.

TELEPROMPTER

Ok, here’s another confession: I’ve been using a teleprompter for the past couple of months. With extremely limited time to create video content, I couldn’t afford all of the loss of productivity that comes with struggling to say things right on camera. I got the Glide Gear TMP100 to help with this. I very, very rarely put text up on the screen: usually, it’s just images from my animations or prompts that help me get the shots I need for my edit.

Since having it the teleprompter, I discovered another use for it: when I use Zoom for lessons, meetings or virtual workshops that I host, I log into the meeting as a second account using my iPad. I then place the iPad on the teleprompter’s shelf so that I see the participants in the prompter’s screen. This way, I can make direct eye contact with participants/students as I look at the through the teleprompter and directly into my camera’s lens.

RODECASTER PRO

One of my goals for the site is to go deep into audio. I’ve hosted the #PhysEd Show Podcast for years but haven’t been good at consistently putting out content for it. With a toddler at home and said home being a tiny apartment, it can be hard to find time/space to a) outline the podcast, b) set up the recording space, c) record the podcast, d) edit the podcast, and e) publish the episode.

To help streamline some of this process, I decided to get the RODECaster Pro. It’s an awesome machine that lets me get audio to sound the way I want it to sound, mix everything together live, and export a final file that gets uploaded to the web. Combined with the RODE Podmic that I picked up with it, I’ve been having so much fun recording episodes without all of the headaches that used to come with it. By not having to get into the audio editing software, I get to avoid letting the perfectionist side of me slow down the process and second guess quality. I sit, I record, I ship. End of story.

SONY WH-1000XM3 NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES

Have I mentioned that I live in a tiny apartment in the city? It can be really hard at times to get into a good flow when creating when there are constant distractions around you. In the summer, we spend our time at my in-laws beach cottage in Nova Scotia. I don’t have a workspace there, so I need to set up in the living room (where everyone else is to). Two things you should also know about Nova Scotia in the summer time:

  1. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
  2. Someone is always mowing their lawn.

In order to escape all of the noise (literally), I decided to invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. My favourite YouTuber (MKBHD) declared the Sony WH-1000xm3’s as the best choice to go with (at the time). I went with his suggestion and have never regretted my purchase!

I swear these things are powered by some black magic vortex to sucks the sounds out of the air. The first times I wore them felt so strange as they literally cut everything but my music out. I now travel with these everywhere: from my desk at home, to planes, to the beach cottage, to school (if I was on a spare, my headphones were on). 

These are one of the few products I’d feel comfortable saying are 100% worth the investment.

Apps For Wellbeing

WAKING UP

I’ve been an on again/off again meditator for a couple of years now. My journey started with Headspace (which is amazing) and also included Calm, Oak, and just the Timer function on my phone.

Over the summer, I decided I wanted to go a little deeper into the practice and take a more formal course. I had heard of Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” app 28-day intro course as it had been recommended by a couple tech leaders that I’ve followed for years. The membership is expensive (it was $129.99 CAD when I bought it) but I’m happy to vouch for the fact that it’s much more of a course than just a meditation app. 

I completed the 28-day course and have been using the app on an (almost) daily basis ever since. Beyond the daily meditation sessions that it offers (which are great), the app includes access to all kinds of additional learning materials (e.g. videos, podcasts, mini-courses) that can help you learn more about the nature of your mind and consciousness.

If you’re just getting into meditation, I would definitely start with something like Headspace or Calm. That being said, if you’re looking for something that can help you take that next step in your practice, I highly, highly, highly recommend Waking Up!

APPLE FITNESS+

Ok, this is a very late entry into my 2020 Stack, but I really love Apple Fitness+. It’s just fun. The trainers are great, I’m always able to find a workout that I can complete at home (again, in my kitchen/gym/learning lab/coffee stand) with only a couple of dumbbells, and the music brings me so much joy.

I think what I am most excited about when it comes to Apple Fitness+ is that the version I am using right now is THE LAUNCH VERSION! The platform is only going to get better from here. 

JOUR

Journalling is one of those habits that I know can have a profound impact on your well-being. In the past, I did all of my journaling in Day One (which I still use). However, the pandemic has made it really hard for me to maintain a healthy inner dialogue. Although I see a psychologist, those visits can be few and far between.

Jour is a journaling app that is built on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Each day, I complete a quick self-assessment of what is going on in my mind and then the app provides me with a – again, short – MBCT-based guided reflection. 

I’ve been using the app for a couple of months now and have been really impressed with the impact it can have on my mental well-being, even in moments of tension. If you’re someone who is looking to get out of their head and start feeling better, I highly recommend it!

ENDEL

Endel is one of the few apps that I can confidently say I use for hours every day. It’s an AI-powered soundscapes app that generates a goal-oriented (e.g. focus, relax, sleep, recover) sound environment that is tailored to your current location and metrics (my wife often asks what I listening to, to which I respond “my robots”). 

I use Endel when I was up early in the morning to help my brain get into work mode. I use it in the afternoon to help me relax when I take a break from working to get some reading. I use it in the evening to help me fall asleep better.

It’s supposedly all backed by science (although I haven’t taken a deep dive into that) and the app seems to be making pretty impressive partnerships that will push it to continue to evolve as time goes on. 

Tools For Wellbeing

APPLE WATCH (SERIES 6)

I had an Apple Watch Series 3 for a couple of years. Its screen got cracked by when my son mistook it for a toy airplane. It sadly died on a hot summer day when I decided to take a dip in the ocean while paddle boarding in an effort to cool down, forgetting that the cracked screen was severely less water-resistant. Such is life!

When people would ask me if the Apple Watch is worth the money, I often recommended that they put their dollars elsewhere. It wasn’t until I was without one for a couple of months that I realized how much I relied on it. 

My main uses for the watch are a) umm… knowing the time and b) health and fitness insights. I don’t get push notifications to it (except for iMessages) because I hate notifications. When teaching, I did use it as a remote for the music in my gym which was great.

All this to say that I picked up the Series 6 at launch and my love for the device has never been stronger. Although the blood oxygen level sensor is cool, I don’t really use it. With the health issues I’ve been having this past year, I do you the heart rate monitoring and ECG features pretty often. That said, fitness remains the main non-time-telling feature that makes me love my watch. Now with Apple Fitness+ in the mix and the Apple Watch serving as the key to that platform, I’m definitely much more of an Apple Watch advocate than I was in the past.

AMAZON BASICS SAFE

This is a ridiculous purchase that is only topped by how ridiculous I feel about WHY I felt the need to buy this but its impact has been too strong for me not to mention it. I’m addicted to my iPhone, which has only become more evident by the sheer amount of doomscrolling I’ve engaged in this past year. I can shut my MacBook and I can close the cover on my iPad, but my iPhone seems to always be calling for me to pick it up. Far too often, this addiction has robbed me of my ability to be truly present with my family, my ability to disconnect and relax when needed, and of my mental wellbeing.

After reading a New York Times article on phone addiction, I decided to pick up this safe to add some friction between my urge to check my phone and my ability to pick it up. It’s great: big enough for two iPhones and the security cable port can actually be used to pass a lightning cable through so that you can charge your phone while it’s in the safe.

In the past month that I have been using it, I’ve been able to significantly drop my weekly ScreenTime down. I’ve felt more present with my family. I’ve been able to replace the urge to pick up my phone with a desire to pick up a book, work on a puzzle, or play a quick game of Wingspan (my new favourite board/video game).

If ever things get crazy and I find myself really struggling to keep my phone down, I’ve even planned to have my wife set the last digit of the safe’s combination. That way, I could still unlock the safe in an emergency but it would take me up to ten tries to do so.

WEIGHTED BLANKET

My wife bought me this for Christmas! I’ve been having a hard time going to sleep/staying asleep lately and it was really affecting my mood and mental health. My wife’s friend – who has experienced similar issues – recommended trying a weighted blanket. Almost instantly, I felt better with the blanket on! She got me a 15lbs single blanket which is perfect for naps/reading on the couch. 

KEEPCUP THERMAL

I love coffee and it’s a big part of my morning routine. Since my son was born, I’ve had to switch to becoming a morning person as I usually find myself too exhausted for late-night work anymore (I used to be a pretty hardcore night owl). My morning coffee routine involves great coffee, a Chemex, my gooseneck kettle, and now this KeepCup Thermal (a gift from my sister-in-law from last year’s holiday gift exchange). 

I’ve had a glass/cork KeepCup forever and love it. However, my mornings typically look like me rolling out of bed at 5:00AM, turning on the kettle, brewing a cup, and getting straight to work (usually with Endel playing on my Sony’s). I can get lost in work pretty easily, which means that I normally drink my coffee pretty slowly. My trusty KeepCup keeps my morning Cup O’ Joe hot long enough for me to enjoy it through and through. It’s also perfect for cold, Canadian walks to work in the winter time (our winters here span from August to June, or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes).

PHILIPS WAKE-UP LIGHT

Speaking of getting up early, I hate it. Ok, I don’t actually hate it (I actually love being the only person up between 5:00-7:00 every morning), it’s just that it was hard for me to make the habit stick. In the summertime, I’m usually getting up right around sunrise (which is great), but winter month’s make it hard to get out of bed when the apartment is freezing and even the sun wants to sleep in as long as possible.

After having it recommended to me by a friend, I picked up this Philips Wake-Up Light to help out with my mornings. The light simulates a sunrise, starting 30 minutes before your desired wake up time. Instead of an alarm sound, I have it set to birds calls. However, I usually wake up before I ever hear those. 

The light has been key to my success in becoming an early riser. I also love using it at night when you can set it to simulate a sunset instead. I set the timer to 45-60 minutes and then read some fiction on my Kindle (usually fantasy) as the room gets gradually darker and darker. It’s very soothing.


So that’s it for my 2020 Stack! There are a bunch of other apps/tools that I use on a regular basis (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, Kindle, Audible, PDF Expert) but I didn’t feel like I needed to share them all here. 

I may continue to update this post as the year goes on and new apps/tools come into heavy rotation in my life. For now, this is what I’ve got!

I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these apps/tools out in your life or if there are any others that you think I should check out! Hit me up on Twitter to let me know what you would recommend!

As always, thanks for reading and happy teaching!

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. Having taught elementary physical education for 10 years, Joey is now focused on helping physical educators grow their confidence and competence as teachers.