Into the maw…

Look how cute! A baby leatherback turtle!

Exhibit A: Leatherback turtle

Just like my i-Pod from years ago:


So sweet. So innocent. But yet, they grow:

Three external hard drives...
Three external hard drives…

But my digital life has turned into this:

Inside the mouth of a leatherback turtle (See Exhibit A)

Yes, this is how I currently feel about my digital hoarding. See that external hard drive with my name on it? That has ten years’ of lessons, plans, photos, videos, etc. on it. And the other day I found it in the laundry room garbage.


There were other terrible, unmentionable things in that garbage, too, and it was on its way out the door when I spotted it.

I have no idea how it got there; lately, I’m believing in house gremlins because my Apple watch, a  gift from my husband last fall, has gone missing. I have looked high and low. It’s gone. No, it wasn’t in the laundry room garbage pail, or under my bed, or stuff on a shelf. It’s gone. Will I replace it? Probably not. It was pretty cool, though. And now I’m sad.

But what would I have done if I hadn’t noticed, and rescued, the Holy Grail of Hard Drives from the bucket? Would I have missed it? Felt this strange sense of grief without being able to place it? I’ll never know. What I do know is I’ve tried to curate, delete, organize, and consolidate my digital tomes many times, and have met with odd and undermining obstacles.

Here are the storage sheds in my virtual world:

  • Google Drive
  • i-Cloud
  • The district’s personal server drives (H)
  • The district’s switch to Microsoft’s OneDrive/Office 365
  • My personal Dropbox account
  • My personal computer (Mac)
  • My school-issued computer (PC)
  • My old Macs
  • My old Dell (who knows what treasures still exist on that one?!)
  • Three external hard drives, including the rescued one.

And this digital list doesn’t include the binders I organized last summer, with labeled tabs, of many years worth of lessons, ideas, and curriculum maps.

Don’t think I’m not aware of my hoarding problem. Wait a damn minute, that’s not fair! I’m not a hoarder, I’m a saver! This has potential! And so does this! And if I don’t save the same thing in multiple places, what if it gets lost? ONLY PROVEN BY THE TRASH CAN CONSPIRACY OF ’16! The fact is my tendencies not to delete lessons has only been reinforced by multiple times when a colleague has needed a lesson or a file. This is the truth. But that doesn’t give me an excuse for not organizing this stuff better because it’s gotten completely out of hand.



You know that old saw of “preparing kids for a future that doesn’t exist yet?” I can think of something right now. I would pay a kid to curate my files/computers. Right now. I would outline the most important things/categories and have them save to two places: a hard drive and a cloud.

But how to label and categorize? Is it by medium, standard, theme, unit, or what?


  • Power Points
  • Prezi links*
  • Smartnotebooks
  • Lessons
  • Letters/Teacher Files
  • Photographs/images
  • How-to flip/blended classroom videos


  • Go through every lesson and label by CCSS? Oh no…but…


  • Files by thematic (units)
  • Files by Lesson overview:
    • Literary elements
    • Short stories
    • Grammar lessons
    • Writing workshop
    • Reading workshop


  • This would be fairly simple to do…right?

*So the Prezi thing — this made me realize how much of my work is already saved somewhere to some digital cloud, some other place, where it’s not located in one of my accessible hard drives. Dang, do we just gather all the links? The embed codes, and put it together?


Oh look...another image for my files.
Oh look…another image for my files.

The other day during testing, I set up a way to port files from the rescued hard drive to my Dropbox. When I check in after twenty minutes, it had over 2,800 files to go. It would take things off the hard drive as direct file folders: I had to unpack everything and try. This led to falling down the rabbit hole: looking at old video clips, reviewing former students’ work, reminiscing about times of yore. Okay, that is hoarding, I admit. Or is it?

Finding photographs of my sons from when they were younger? Being able to send a student a video of when he was in 7th grade (he’s now in the Navy), and having his mom be so happy to see it? Are we so burdened by our own narrative digital information we freely and capriciously trash it?

There’s got to be a better way.

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?