Ways to become iSmart


ManageBac for Newbies

By Noemi Griffin

No doubt in your freshman year you’re getting used to all kinds of changes (yay you can actually use lockers whenever you so please). We, the convergence crew, as well as your Decatur peers, are here to offer you some advice which will hopefully make your transition smooth sailing.

For the rest of your career at DHS, we suggest that you make use of a handy dandy little tool called ManageBac. And just in case you’re drowning in the newness of it all, we’ll be coming to your rescue with this even handier little guide to navigating and using ManageBac.

If your teachers haven’t already explained to you what ManageBac is for here’s a quick synopsis: ManageBac allows you to keep all of your deadlines for your various classes in one neat format. As you advance higher into the IB spectrum (if you so choose), ManageBac will become your best friend by storing all your various proposals and information that correspond to all the different IB acronyms.

For now though you’ll only need to use it to access and files that your teachers post, or verify any upcoming deadlines.

You can also post your own deadlines on your ManageBac calendar, including homework and other such assignments, with the add event option towards the top of your dashboard.

Embedded in the blue header you’ll discover an array of options for you to choose from. The most pertinent of which for your freshman needs being “dashboard”, “classes” and the envelope in the very top right corner which will display your messages. Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 3.57.42 PM

When you log in to ManageBac you’ll automatically be taken to your dashboard which is where you can view your event calendar. If you click under classes the drop down menu will allow you to specify which class you are looking for (handy if you have a busy calendar and can’t find dates for a specific class).  And finally when a teacher or counselor has sent you a message a red notification, as with most notification alerts, will appear with the white envelope.

Always check your notifications  because a teacher may be alerting you to a deadline change or other pertinent class info.

That’s just about everything you’ll need to know about ManageBac for the majority of your first year endeavors.



By Andalib Samandari

Almost half of teens with cell phones own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. One quarter of all teen cell phone usage is for the internet. Sounds like a waste of time?

While checking Snapchat isn’t going to get anything done, there are tons of tools for the hard worker. The Wall Street Journal said that smartphones may be the future of productivity.  Airlines use phones gathering fuel prices. Taxi drivers use them to find passengers.

And now you can use one to streamline your workload.

This guide will compare two of the most popular iPhone apps for making to-do lists, organizing tasks and setting reminders for various chores. Both are designed as replacements for the native iOS Reminders app, and have unique benefits to set them apart. They are:

anydo-logo Any.DO – Free

wunderlist-logoWunderlist – Free



Any.DO is an elegant, minimalistic app designed to make tasks easy to add and see at a glance. Its clean font and light colors complement both iOS and Android, and make scrolling through task lists almost a pleasure.

When first opened, Any.DO sorts tasks into “Today,” “Tomorrow,” “Upcoming” and “Someday” so dates and times don’t look overwhelming. You can also view tasks by categories or “folders.”

Adding tasks is a simple matter of swiping down and typing in a memo. Swiping down and holding will bring up voice entry. You can set reminders from the same screen, either for a time and date or when you enter or leave a location.

Voice entry is more of a gadget than a necessity, especially because of the inaccurate or quirky interpretations. You would be better off sticking to Siri for setting reminders – which leads us to Any.DO’s first missing feature.

All widely-used reminder apps sync with iOS’ native app. Any.DO is the one exception, which leaves it at a kind of disadvantage. Although this is not a major loss, some users – especially those who use Siri to set reminders – may be sorely disappointed.

Furthermore, Any.DO can become overwhelming with large numbers of reminders in one day or even over multiple days. Folders and dates cannot be viewed simultaneously, unlike the built-in reminders app.

Overall, Any.DO is a well-designed app that should function well for the average user. Power users, such as intensive collaborators or large numbers of reminders, may be better off with other apps.



Wunderlist is possibly the world’s most social to-do list. Its main features, from chat to intra-app emails to public lists, are centered around interacting with family, friends and coworkers.

Wunderlist’s main screen is the user’s profile picture, list title and notifications, all over an attractive background picture. From there you just tap on an item to view details, or click the checkbox to mark it complete. (Any.DO’s method of swiping away items is more engaging, but that’s a minor point.)

Adding items is even simpler than Any.DO, with no swiping required. Reminders are on a bar attached to the keyboard, and they sync with iOS reminders as well. There is no voice entry, and iOS reminders set from Siri don’t sync back to Wunderlist. (Reminders sync is one-way only.)

Wunderlist’s main selling point is, as said earlier, its social abilities. During or after setting a reminder, click on the share button to add colleague to an individual task. You can also add them to an entire list, and they can view, edit and participate in the group discussion page. You can also create public lists and publish them on the Wunderlist website, where you can share the link with anyone via email or other social media.

Wunderlist is great for those working in teams or other groups, but it doesn’t really have any groundbreaking design or other features. It could be compared to the likes of Trello and maybe a simpler Google Docs, while not really needed as a replacement for personal Reminders.


The End?

Any.DO and Wunderlist are both great apps, but with different target audiences. If you want a fun, simple personal organizer, go with Any.DO for its clean design and ease of use. If you need to work with classmates, teachers or club members, invite them to try Wunderlist. If you just need to be reminded to do your homework or walk the dog, just stick with iOS Reminders for the best system integration.


More Tips

Check out these website for more smartphone know-how for high schoolers:

National Education Association – Using Smartphones in the Classroom

National Center for Learning Disabilities – Tips for Teens on Getting Organized

Apartment Therapy – Six Back-to-School Apps for High School and College Students