Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 14 - LiveBinders

scheme for binders
By prallin
When I was in the classroom, I kept binders for every unit I taught.  Bulging, tattered remnants of those resources fill cardboard boxes in my garage. Fortunately there is no need for reality TV intervention.  I've started weeding out things and eventually will free up space so we can use the exercise equipment they currently surround.  Best of all, with today's tool the need to buy 4" binders in bulk no longer exists. LiveBinders, a free web 2.0 tool, provides a way to organize your collection of resources (websites, PDFs, videos, etc.), tag what you've created, store and present on "the cloud." And the neat thing, your teaching neighbor can borrow a binder and you never have to worry about not getting it back!

In an effort to hit as many features as possible, I decided to bullet what I've found useful the last two years as a LiveBinder user:
  • The site is full of screencasts and video tutorials to get you started on curating content.
  • You can rearrange materials easily in a logical order using tabs and subtabs.  
  • It is easy to update your existing binders.
  • You can personalize the appearance of your binders.
  • Using the Edit Menu you can insert text.  I find this really useful and you can see it at work in this binder. (You just have to accept my nerdiness when you see the binder.)
  • You can comment and rate other users' binders (on a side note, this is a practice we need to be more deliberate about in our 2.0 world).
  • Your binders can be private or public.  It's one of the decisions you make when you first create a binder, but you can always go back and change the setting.
  • You can search by public binders, by author, or by the Education category.  Use the search box on the upper right corner of the page. If you want to test out searching by author, I recommend entering "steven.anderson".  His "shelf" will come up.  I learned about QR Codes using one of his resources. 
  • After you search binders and find one you L*O*V*E, you can copy it to your bookshelf and edit it to fit your needs provided the author made it copyable (I always do).  So those of you who wanted more resources on Skype such as how to find partner classrooms, check out this binder.  Even if you decide not to copy it, you can add it to your shelf (see the bottom left hand corner of the screen for options).
  • When you are ready to share your LiveBinder, you have options.  Send a link by email, tweet it out, like it on Facebook, or present it using the Presentation button which opens a nice clean browser.  Remember those QR codes I learned about using a LiveBinder? I created some this summer for the LiveBinders I used at the eLearning conference. It was an easy, paperless way to share the resources.
  • Another option for sharing is to embed your bookshelf or a selected binder into your website or blog. The exception to this feature is WordPress blogs, but it works great with Blogger, Google Sites and Weebly.  The embedded LiveBinder below was created by the LiveBinder Team for new and returning users who want to learn how to maximize the potential of this tool.

    LiveBinders Tips and Tricks

  • LiveBinders can serve as a bookmarking tool if you add a LiveBinder It toolbar to your browser (I tried this but went back to Diigo for my primary bookmarking).  I found this most useful when I was researching for a unit that I knew I would be sharing out. 
  • You can collaborate with others on a binder, but there are some limitations to this feature.
  • The LiveBinders support team actually answers your help requests (and in a timely manner).
  • One feature that I should point out is that you can automatically fill a binder using a Google search. Personally I have not found that useful; however, I could see some teachable moments being generated.
  • One of the newest features is that users can build multiple shelves.  Imagine having a shelf where you and your colleagues can share materials, a shelf just for your students and one for their families....

You're sure to find more ideas sifting through the Cybrary Man's cyber catalog of Educational Web Sites.  He offers a page devoted to LiveBinders.  I found what students have curated using the tool very inspiring.

It seems I'm always recommending blogs, and today is not any different.  Tuesdays with Karen recently shared her excitement about LiveBinders by connecting it to TrapperKeepers of days gone by.

For those of you who use Twitter, the LiveBinder ladies Tina and Barbara are very responsive. They love to learn how educators are using the tool and will promote your binder.  You can also go to to follow the conversation.

Get Started with LiveBinders:
1. Click the Sign Up link to get this window.

2. Create a username and password
3. Enter your email address (you can opt out of getting mail but they need this in case you forget your username and/or password--hey, it happens!)
4. Check out the User Agreements and then click the Sign Up button.

Your Assignment:
Once you have opened an account and explored the featured binders, take a look at your classroom or office shelves, file cabinet or perhaps your digital bookmarks and envision how you could reorganize the material using a LiveBinder.  Share how you could use this tool or better yet, create a LiveBinder and share it.


  1. I can't believe I am the first person to respond! I love livebinders and have built a couple that I have used with teacher PD. I explored how to use LiveBinders to explore culture for the e-learning conference. I will share it here:
    Also, there is an applet (I think that is the right term) that you can put in your toolbar to grab sites for your LiveBinder directly from the web, making it easier to add to your Binder. I usually have to go in and make sure it stays organized. Interestingly, on a personal level, I made a LiveBinder when I was doing some research on a friend's illness. I made it public, because I figured 'why keep all of that work to myself?' I made the binder publlic, and it has had over 100 hits! It makes me excited that my work could help others.

  2. At first, I was hesitant to give LiveBinders a chance. After I saw it was the summer eLearning conference, I began to think that it might have some merit, but after I got on and played with it, I fell in love with it!

    I started by creating one about the common core standards. My binder listed the standards and then putting activities that matched them.

    Then I created a LiveBinder for my lesson plans. I could put links and pages and other resources that went with my daily plans.

    The best part was that I could share them with my special ed co-teacher so she could see what we were working on, add to it and be prepared.

    I have not kept up with it as much as I had wished, but it is a great tool with a lot of upside.

    The one downside I found was the layout options, which were limited. But you can work around them with a bit of work.

  3. Wow, this seems awesome. I think that this would be more of a Winter break or summer task when I have plenty of time to convert all my actual binders into the virtual binders. I will definitely save this one though and give it a shot when I have time.
    After exploring the website, I can see sharing my binders and getting feedback. I also would love to explore fellow teachers' binders to see what my students are missing out on.
    I definitely need more time to explore this website!

  4. I love LiveBinders. Like John, it took me a little while to warm up to the idea, but now that I have tried it, I use them all of the time.
    One of the things I've learned about LiveBinders, though, is that if you want them to be social, you need to be thoughtful about how you curate the tabs and add transitions. Otherwise, people will not find them as useful.
    Here is a LiveBinder that Brett Clark and I put together about Building Your PLN through Social Media:

  5. I think a LiveBinder would be useful for organizing materials for our spring musical. It seems like I have paperwork for the show spread all over the place. This would be a good way to keep schedules, notes, forms, instructions, etc all together and make it available to the cast and their parents.

    I can also see how this would be GREAT for organizing units for my exploring arts classes.

  6. Once again, this is something I didn't know existed. 2nd I am the queen of white binders. I have so many it on the verge of unhealthy. This is so the intervention that I needed! I think I've found my winter break project, thank you for sharing! :)

  7. I haven't personally used LiveBinders, but I also know of people that swear by them. It's always fun to read about the variety of tools because of the comments I see. Very insightful and fun to see the thought process.

    LiveBinders seems like one of those things that would take me a large amount of time to sit down and transfer things to. I already use Google Docs so heavily and Diigo to share links and content, I feel like I would be doubling up on organization. I have seen binders put together by Tim and Brett as well as others and many are useful, but sometimes they follow a strange organization that doesn't work for my brain.

    Either way, powerful tool.

  8. As foreign as it would have been for me to picture trading chalk and an overhead for a promethean board 12 years ago, I guess the thought of trading my file cabinets in for scanned, organized, online binders with resources should not be such a far stretch. If only I had more time...
    Good tool...great for compling and sharing out with others!

  9. I agree with Brian, I will play around with using it to see which of the options I like best. I really like Google Docs, but I am up for changing my mind if I find LiveBinders to be better.

  10. I am very organized with folders on my computer. It allows me to have one icon with all my documents inside throughout several folders. LiveBinders looks like it would work the same way, except allow you to have them everywhere. This is much more organized than sending attachments to "dummy" emails to keep files accessible on the go.

  11. I must confess that I'm a folder person. I'm very organized but have a ton of folders labeled and filed away. Taking some of them that I use the most and putting them online sounds like a great idea if I can find the time to do it. I've looked at some the feature binders and there is some really good stuff out there. I'm anxious to look at it more as time allows.

  12. As a first year teacher, I am still gathering materials and the pile is starting to grow. Playing around with LiveBinder and seeing the features it has to offer makes me want to start a digital pile! Knowing that the copy machine can e-mail PDF's, I can see my filing cabinet becoming empty and my LiveBinder filling up with categorized worksheets, lesson plans, and activities. I may have a hard time letting go of all those papers, but it would make moving rooms a lot better!

  13. I have been working on one for my lesson plans. Saw it on symbaloo a few days ago, so I'm ahead of the game! I teach 6 different grades of music, so this gives me some organization, and while I am searching or bookmarking, I can add them as well. I also like how each section is printable, so you only print what you need.

  14. I found out earlier this year about Live Binders when another teacher emailed me the link. I searched and found many I like. I too am a BINDER NUT and can totally see this being a great organizational tool for myself and freeing up some needed classroom space. I have not tried to create one of my own yet but sounds like a fun winter or summer project. I love looking through the binders that are already posted. I am glad that this was shared.

  15. I struggle with organization. I can definitely see the use of livebinders to organize and share concept and/or standard related materials. Personally, I believe livebinders could be a better way to organize my lesson plans and activities. I think livebinders could be created to organize resources for students in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, etc. There are many times I run across different websites, games, or videos that would be helpful for students when we are covering a particular standard, but since we are not there yet, it gets shoved to the side (and often forgotten). Livebinders would be a way to save and organize by standard or concept for the students. Enjoyed looking at the other binders....takes so much time...could spend days just reading and looking.

  16. I love LiveBinder!! I am moving my folders of training materials there for easier access.

  17. I added the livebinderit button to my bookmarks toolbar and created a small binder of math game websites for a specific child who could benefit. I did this on my home computer so now I look forward to using livebinders at home for travel planning, recipes, warranties, etc.

  18. Molly, I keep saying that it is a break time project. When break gets here I want to take a break and not do anything. So I'm going to start now with the unit we are working on now!

  19. This sounds like a great idea. It is definitely something I will need to tackle when I have more time. I think I could use it as a way to share guided reading lesson plans, resources for PLCs, and other websites for planning readers' workshop. When one of my fellow teachers wants to borrow information, I can direct her to my livebinder!

  20. I think this looks like a great tool for planning and organizing professional development resources. It would be great to create a binder to organize resources and collaborate with other teachers on the content. In the end, the binder can be shared as a resource for teachers to refer to after a PD session. I can't wait to get started with Livebinders!!

  21. Wow, live binder would be great for me. Especially since I'm one of just a few Japanese teachers in the area. We all have great ideas, themed units, and activities we could share without worring to give back or make copies of items for everyone.

    I'd love to switch over to this system and I'm going to make it a summer goal of mine to work on getting at least one level imported and finshed to share at our next Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Assoc. meeting in the fall of 2012.

  22. I have so many files that are taking up room. This is a great tool to be able to use to make them digital.I can also have a binder for all the chapters and units that I use. When I do get them all organized it will be so easy to pull up and send an assignment to a student who needs it. Having the time to do all of this is the hard part.

  23. I was introduced to LiveBinder a couple of weeks ago and loved the idea. It is a great way to not only organize teachers, but students as well. I have not gotten any binders set up as of yet, but my plan is to create unit binders for my lessons and novel sets.
    LiveBinder would also be a great way for students to complete projects and even organize digital notes.

  24. A teacher presented a session at ICTM on Authentic Assessment using Live Binders. I so want to try it. My use will hopefully be beneficial to others that teach math. It seems like every day someone comes to me asking for an activity or something on a particular algebra topic and I could just direct them to Live Binder. Time!

  25. I would love to play around with this for awhile. Right now it just seems like a fancy way to have different file folders in a dropbox. I could see the usefulness though.

  26. Well, I think I will like this even better than Diigo! This is even better to share resources especially Autism resources I would like to share.

  27. Love paperless tools! I get overwhelmed by the piles and piles of papers! Because I teach 4 different grades, I definitely see myself using this to keep each grade level separated. I love begging, borrowing, and stealing from coworkers, and what a great tool to do so! This is definitely a lot easier than filing cabinets and copy machines!

  28. I am so excited to try this! I need more time(Christmas break???), but can definitely visualize this changing the way I store resources. It seems like it could be used for student projects as well - for example, having the students create a livebinder to study for their final exam.

  29. I have used livebinders in class and the students really enjoyed it. I often try to post games, tutorials, animations, etc… on Angel to help students study. I have asked students and they rarely utilize the study resources I provide them. I used a livebinder to start the skeletal system and had students research and find their own resources. Students had to create 3 tabs and find 5 different websites for each tab. I started very basic and had students create a tab for information, images, and one for games/tutorials. Students really liked doing this because they had ownership over the binder.

  30. Live Binders is a great way to keep organized. I wish that the presenters of all the workshops and meetings I attend would give me materials using Live Binders.
    I love the idea of creating binders for parents. I could put a syllabus and lessons in a binder that can keep parents up-to-date on the activities and assignments for their child. Currently, my parents are asking for more information on finding student assignments. All work is completed and submitted on the netbooks. It has taken time to teach the kids Angel, Google Docs, etc. and the parents are not necessarily familiar with these tools. I can use Live Binders to put all of this information together for the parents.

  31. I offered Live binder as a tool for my students, but very few found it visually stimulating and chose other more interactive options. I think this is geared strictly as a teacher tool, but squirrels and other tools seem more interesting in my book.

  32. This is a good way to post material and resources for students and colleagues. When students are finished early with work, this would be great for them to do. They could add to a class Live Binder and other students could access it. I really like the idea of putting studying materials together.

  33. I think the LiveBinders would work best for me to, like Jerad, convert my organized file folders on my computer into an easily accessible cloud based file system. Also, I think it would be a great way to share units with my grade level team that could be accessed and added to year by year as we find more and better ways to teach subjects. We are constantly sharing games, worksheets, and activities with each other as we collaborate constantly. This seems like a great way to do just that but even across the corporation.. especially with the conversion to the common core coming.

  34. I love livebinders. I used to have a white binder for everything. Now it is even more readily available and I am telling others about it as well, portfolios is a perfect example of how this could work.