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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 April 19, 2021

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                                The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                                Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                                In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                                When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                                Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                                1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                                When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                                As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                                That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                                The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                                What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                                Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                                There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                                So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                                2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                                When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                                No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                                3. Move Your Body

                                A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                                It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                                So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                                4. Connect With Another Person

                                Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                                One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                                Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                                5. Use Your Imagination

                                When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                                That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                                And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                                Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                                Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                                More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                                Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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