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10 Best Tools for Teachers and Students to Use in 2014

10 Best Tools for Teachers and Students to Use in 2014

All teachers have a goal to establish clear, friendly, but authoritative communication with students and their parents. Parent meetings are not the most relaxed environment for the teachers to share their expectations and plans, which is why many educators have started using online tools to make this process easier.

As a teacher, I have been using many web-based tools to bring some fun into the classes and make the communication with my students and their parents more effective. I’ve chosen some of the most useful tools to present in this list, which will hopefully be implemented in the teaching techniques of an increased number of educators during the upcoming year.

1. TutorsClass

tutor class

    TutorsClass is an online solution for distance tutoring. You can use it to create your own tutoring profile and invite students who want to learn lessons in the comfort of their home. This web-based tool will enable you to create your own virtual classroom that will completely substitute offline classes for your students. You can schedule lessons and get secure PayPal payments from your students.

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    2. Smore

    Smoore

      This website gives you a free opportunity to create colorful flyers. I have found a creative way to use this tool – I made a flyer with my contact information and told my students to print it and place it in a visible place (such as their fridge, for example). This way their parents can easily find a way to contact me whenever necessary.

      3. Audioboo

      Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 5.19.20 pm

        If you have a website, this tool will be a nice addition to your arsenal by allowing you to record messages and share them for free. This is the best way to get your message to people because parents and students don’t exactly like reading through long texts of weekly or monthly updates.

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        4. Screenr

        Screenr

          Creating online screen recordings becomes much easier with the use of this online tool. When you need to describe how a certain website functions, you can record an audio message with Screenr as you’re touring the site and elaborating on its features. Sometimes your students are required to use certain websites on a regular basis, and this is the best way to make sure everyone understands how they function.

          5. Remind101

          Remind101

            All parents that opt in to the group you establish will get your short text messages sent via Remind101. This has quickly become the most valuable tool of communication with my students’ parents. It’s free, takes minutes to set up, and allows me to send the needed information in the easiest manner.

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            6. Fotobabble

            Fotobabble

              Creating a fotobabble is the best way to explain simple procedures and policies needed for your classroom. All you need is to choose or scan an image or document and upload it to this service. Fotobabble enables you to record an audio message that will help you explain those procedures and policies.

              7. Google Forms

               

              Gathering all information you need from students and parents becomes easy with this online tool. Google forms can be used for giving quizzes to your students, sending surveys to parents, planning events, or collecting any other type of information easily. You can connect a form to a Google spreadsheet and automatically see the inserted updates.

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              8. Polldaddy

              Polldaddy

                Creating a poll and embedding it on your site takes only minutes with this online tool. My experience with polls tells me that they create an increased amount of interest and attract return visits to the website. You can use Polldaddy to survey the attitude of parents towards the policies in your classroom.

                9. Socrative

                Socrative

                  Socrative is well known in the world of education, and there is a valid reason for its popularity. I found that my classroom became much easier to handle as soon as I started using this free online tool. Socrative enables you to use different educational games and exercises to engage the students, who can access the activities with their tablets, laptops, or smartphones.

                  10. Padlet

                  Padlet

                    I have used Padlet to create a welcome board where my students can introduce themselves. This is a cool way to familiarize young students with an educational technology tool because it’s easy to use and makes them interested in classroom activities.

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                    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                    When you train your brain, you will:

                    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                    1. Work your memory

                    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                    For example, say you just met someone new:

                    “Hi, my name is George”

                    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                    Got it? Good.

                    2. Do something different repeatedly

                    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                    But how does this apply to your life right now?

                    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                    3. Learn something new

                    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                    4. Follow a brain training program

                    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                    5. Work your body

                    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                    6. Spend time with your loved ones

                    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                    The bottom line

                    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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