Use Trello to start the year organized

Kris Urban, Adviser, Corona del Sol Sunrise

I started using Trello about a year ago, and now I can’t imagine advising a publication without it.

Trello can explain itself better than I can: “Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.”

Here’s a simple example of how I use Trello:

Trello allows users to create an organization (or two or three, depending on how many publications you advise) and fill it with boards, lists and cards. I created a board for each issue of the paper and for each month for the online version. On each of these boards, we had lists for To Do, Doing, Done. We put all of our story ideas on individual cards under To Do. When a student decided to take an assignment, he attached himself to the card and moved it to Doing. Then, when he finished the assignment, he moved it to Done. At a glance we could see what stories were finished.

We also used Trello to do the budget, using lists for each page and cards for the stories, photos and ads that go on each page. It was much easier to move cards around when we moved a story or an ad from one page to another.

As the adviser, I used Trello for grading. I don’t often remember everything that a student does, so it was easy to require students put all of their assignments in Trello. I created one final list: Graded. When I gave students points for the assignment, I moved the card to that list.

Some tips:

1) Don’t let students create boards. Or, if you do, make sure they close them before they graduate. This isn’t really a security issue; this is more of a clutter issue. Only the person who creates a board can close it (unless you upgrade to the paid version). At the end of the school year, I had a bunch of boards still open and I had to contact graduated students to ask them to close boards.

2) It takes students some time to get used to Trello. I have some students who embraced it; others wanted nothing to do with it. But because I was using Trello to track assignments for grading, it was imperative they all use it. Frequent reminders to use Trello are helpful.

3) Encourage your students to add themselves to a card. That way, it’s easier to see who took what assignment. If they don’t add themselves, then you have to look in the history to see who moved the card.

4) Use the label color coding available. We decided to use the colors for different sections of the paper: news, Life & Times, opinions, sports, clubs and photos. Six colors are available; use what works for your publication.

5) Trello allows attachments. Especially if you are not a Google Drive publication, it’s a huge benefit to be able to attach stories to individual cards. Because Trello is an online tool, stories are accessible whenever and wherever there’s Internet.