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15 Incredible Tech Tools For Teachers To Use In 2016

15 Incredible Tech Tools For Teachers To Use In 2016

When education is combined with technology, wonderful things can happen. Students are happier, more curious, and they receive the educational support that they need. Teachers are empowered to create engaging lesson plans, assess student’s needs, and effectively create a positive learning environment. Each year, new technologies are released, or they begin to gain attention. Here are 15 of the best tech tools for teachers for 2016.

Emaze

emaze - amazing presentations

    Teachers can use Emaze to create beautiful presentations that synthesize the elements that students have been learning into cohesive units. Students can use this tool to create presentations to demonstrate their knowledge on a variety of topics. Teachers can also track the progress that students are making on their presentations. Because Emaze works on a variety of devices and allows for sharing, it is a great collaborative tool both in and out of the classroom.

    Plickers

    plickers -collect real-time formative assessment data

      Many of the edtech offerings that are available only work if the students have access to a device as well as the teacher. Sadly, for many classrooms that is not feasible due to budget, or policy forbids it. With plickers, instead of using devices, students have cardboard plickers that the teacher can scan. These can be used to do impromptu polls, to check which students understand the material, and for a variety of other purposes.

      ZipGrade

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      zipgrade - turns your phone or tablet into an optical grading machine

        Anybody who is a teacher, or who lives with one, knows how much time they spend grading papers. With ZipGrade, teachers can create and print out assignments, then they can grade them instantly by scanning them with the camera on their smart phone. All they  have to do is align the squares on the grading sheet with the squares on the app.

        WriteAbout

        Digital Writing for Classrooms

          One of the best methods of getting reluctant writers to enjoy writing and to write more often is to give them the opportunity to write about the things that interest them. In the same vein, it is also the best way to get students who might be excited about writing outside of the classroom interested in writing in the classroom. WriteAbout is a platform where students can write, give and receive feedback to one another, and publish their work. Teachers can mentor students through this process and offer suggestions and feedback.

          Kaizena

          Kaizena - Fast, personal feedback on student work

            This is an add-on for Google Docs that allows teachers to leave feedback on students work on Google Docs or through the Kaizena website. Rather than taking the time to type out feedback, teachers have the option of using voice feedback. Even better, students don’t have to wait for teachers to check their work. Instead, they can request advice and feedback as they need it.

            Custom Writing Service

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            ProCustomWriting - Professional Writers and Custom Approach

              Educators can use custom writing services for a variety of purposes. First, these services offer up great content on subjects such as improving writing skills, great tools and apps for students, study tips, and more. Teachers can also contact these services for help writing tests, quizzes, and exams.

              StoryBoard That

              Storyboardthat - Powerful Visual Communication, Made Easy

                Teachers use this utility to help students create storyboards on topics related to English and History. This encourages students to take a creative and visual approach to demonstrating their knowledge by creating characters and story lines to build stories and to reenact  historical events. Once students have created their storyboards with the help of their teacher, it can be saved as a slide presentation, PDF doc, or cels within the storyboard app.

                Aurasma

                Aurasma - Start Creating Augmented Reality Today

                  Augmented reality is becoming more and more popular as a tool that teachers can use to embed exciting and enriching elements into everyday assignments and classroom experiences. Imagine students in a classroom studying about the origins of the planet earth, scanning a trigger image and watching a clip from a lecture by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Think about a student who is frustrated as they try to complete a homework assignment, but can scan a trigger image that leads them to a math games website that gives them a bit of a mental break while also driving home important concepts. Aurasma is the tool that allows teachers to create those trigger images and to connect students who scan them with enriching educational experiences.

                  PlagScan

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                  Plagscan - Wipe out Duplicate Content

                    It is a sad but true fact that academic dishonesty is rampant. In addition to this, many younger students lack education when it comes to discerning what is or is not original work. Teachers can use a tool like PlagScan to determine whether or not a student’s written work contains elements that are not their own. Then, they can decide whether or not they are dealing with a case of intentional cheating or simply an educational issue. Here are some detailed reviews on this and other plagiarism checkers.

                    Paper.li

                    paper.li - Collect great content to share And engage with your audience wherever they are

                      Everyday, teachers are working to teach students about a wide variety of topics. If they are trying to do so using the standard lecture model, chances are many of their students are bored to death. Paper.li was designed around the idea that students want to consume information in the same ways that everybody else does. In other words, not through lectures or boring texts, but through relevant content that is delivered in engaging ways such as newsletters.

                      Edmodo

                      Edmodo - safest and easiest way for educators to connect and collaborate with students, parents, and each other.

                        Edmodo is a sort of online social media platform for the classroom. Teachers can create accounts and then invite both students and their parents to connect with them. This platform can be used as a place to engage in discussions, to send out announcements, and to create a collaborative environment involving parents, students, and educators. This is a great tool for those who want a social media type environment without all of the concerns associated with those platforms.

                        Google Cardboard

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                        Google Cardboard - Experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way

                          Many teachers have dreamed about getting kids excited and engaged by using virtual reality in the classroom. Unfortunately, even after the technology became mainstream, the cost of putting this technology in the classroom was simply too high. Now, Google has come up with inexpensive virtual reality goggles made from cardboard that has the potential to bring VR into all classes, not just the well-funded ones.

                          Versal

                          Versal - In the classroom or the office, creating powerful, interactive online learning experiences has never been easier

                            This is a free tool for teachers and educators that can be used to create courses for students. These courses might contain videos, interactive timelines, 3D models, and a variety of other content. Teachers can even upload their own existing content or import content from elsewhere on the internet.

                            Periscope

                            Periscope - Explore the world through someone else's eyes

                              Periscope has become a big hit with content marketers and bloggers, but the tool also has great eductional potential. Periscope is an app, created for twitter users that allows them to live stream video broadcasts via their smartphones. Audience members can join in, interact with the periscope user, or watch a video recording of the event after it is over. Teachers can use the app to allow students to create broadcasts and presentations, to connect students with subject matter experts, or to allow students to follow broadcasters who are filming relevant content.

                              Formative

                              Formative - Intervene in the moments that matter most

                                Formative is a platform that teachers may use to give out live, real-time formative assessments and receive results immediately. The teacher simply creates an assignment using the platform, and then has the students complete the assignment from the web enabled devices they have using their student accounts. The teacher can view students answers and provide real-time feedback. Even better, students aren’t limited to multiple choice answers. They can show their work, draw pictures, or find other ways to give their answers.

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                                Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

                                7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

                                Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

                                You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

                                Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

                                Instead, we’re going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

                                How Do We Remember?

                                The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

                                This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

                                Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

                                The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

                                Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

                                Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

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                                The last step is memory retrieval.

                                That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

                                You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

                                Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

                                7 Natural Memory Boosters

                                So how to work on memory and boost your brain power? Here’re 7 brain boosters backed by science that you should try:

                                1. Aerobic Exercise

                                Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

                                Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. [2]

                                In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

                                They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

                                So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

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                                Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

                                2. Sleep

                                You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password). [3]

                                Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance. [4]

                                Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance. [5]

                                3. MIND Diet

                                Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

                                The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet. [6]

                                The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

                                The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

                                The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

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                                So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

                                4. Relax

                                We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

                                When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

                                To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

                                Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

                                5. Continuous Learning

                                The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

                                Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

                                Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games. [7]

                                Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

                                6. Stay Social

                                The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

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                                Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline. [8]

                                In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. [9]

                                What to do?

                                Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

                                7. Wakeful Rest

                                This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

                                But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories. [10]

                                What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story. In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date. [11]

                                Conclusion

                                You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

                                There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

                                More Resources About Boost Brain Power

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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