These Are a Few of My Favorite Things 2013

best of 2013It seems so hard to believe that a whole year has passed since my last “favorite things” post. But for me, it’s been a pretty insane year, filled with an amazing number of ups and downs, tons of work, and the chance to meet many new friends and colleagues.

So, here we go…these are a few of my favorite things from this past year:


Granted and… thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins 
Grant Wiggins is the co-author of the well-known education book Understanding by Design. I love Grant’s blog because he takes such a functional approach to not just the controversial, but the mundane. Case in point: it’s ridiculous to require teachers to write student objectives on the board when they don’t even know how to write good objectives. The focus should be on the quality and function of the objectives, not something structural like writing them on the board. I try never to miss one of Grant’s posts.

Common Core & Ed Tech
This blog is written by my colleague, Gene Tognetti, and his colleague, Karen Larson. Their topics, as you might suspect, cover the range from education to technology to common core. The posts are brief and enjoyable and there is always something new on the site that I haven’t heard about.

Aubrey’s Blog: Bringing Out the Best in People
Aubrey Daniels is a world-renowned expert in performance management and organizational behavior. His blog is wonderful for anyone who works with colleagues who are human beings. So that’s right, it’s wonderful for ALL of us! Aubrey has innumerable tips on how to improve your leadership and on how to produce optimal performance in those around you.


Behavior Babe (@BehaviorBabe) is a behavior analyst who is focused on the ethical application of behavior analytic principles and the dissemination of accurate information about the science of behavior analysis. She’s a wealth of great information.

Richard Culatta (@rec54) is the Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the US Department of Education. He is, in a word, great. Richard is all about improving kids’ access to technology AND making sure that what they use is of the highest quality, both from a hardware perspective and from an instructional perspective. Check him out.

Frank Catalano (@FrankCatalano) is the only repeat from last year’s “favorite things” list. But it’s well deserved. Frank is so insightful about the ed tech space and totally plugged in to what’s going on, with whom, and when. He is a must-follow for edtech-ers.


Fast Company – I really enjoy this site for business and innovation topics. They often have insightful analyses of new ways things are being done in the business world, particularly for startups and entrepreneurs. I get lots of good ideas for my own business (even if many of them I’m not in a position to implement!) from Fast Company.

Mashable – I rely on Mashable to keep me up-to-date on social media, tech and innovation. They have a bunch of other just fun stuff too about entertainment and lifestyle that often catches my eye. But they definitely have their collective finger on the pulse of the latest gadget or tech device that is gaining popularity.

Edudemic – I like Edudemic for ed tech news and ideas. I don’t always agree with their perspectives, but it’s a good resource for finding out about what people in edtech are talking about and thinking about.


The Answer PadI wrote recently about The Answer Pad here. I love, love, love good formative assessment, and this app allows students to construct all kinds of complex answers to questions. From drawings to writing to math problems, all kinds of constructions are possible.

Run Pee – Okay, there’s always got to be one oddball on the list, and this year it’s Run Pee. Run Pee is an app that tells you when the best time during a movie is to, well, run and pee. And, I hope this isn’t too much information, but, if you’re like me, you need to know! With this app, you choose the movie you’re seeing from the interface, hit “start” at a particular time (usually when you see the logo for the movie studio) and then your phone vibrates in your pocket when it’s time to “go.” And, on top of that, you can read a little summary of what happens while you’re gone. It’s brilliant! There are versions of the app for iOS, Android and Windows.

The Common Core Standards app and Next Generation Science Standards app – Both of these tool apps come from Mastery Connect and are really helpful if you are in the process of aligning content to the new standards. The apps list all of the standards, by topic and grade level and are very easy to navigate. Needless to say, they don’t do the alignment for you (if only!); you still have to do the thinking part for yourself. But they are very handy and much simpler to use than the standards’ web sites.


The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly – by David Meerman Scott
This year I just have the one book to recommend. Given that I’ve started up the new business this year I haven’t had a ton of free time to read. And this book, frankly, has really stood out from everything else that I have had time to read. This book is a fantastic “how-to” guide for navigating the new marketing space. The last third, or so, of the book is a “make your own” marketing plan. I had a lot of learning to do about the new methods of social media marketing, in particular, this year and this book really helped.

Okay, so that wraps up my favorite things of 2013. I would love to hear from you about some of YOUR favorite things from this year. Please tell us all about them in the comments section so that we can all benefit from your discoveries!

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 2014!

About karen mahon

i am a behavior and learning scientist. i hold an ed.d. in educational psychology and am trained as an instructional designer. i have spent more than 15 years working in education and instructional software design.
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