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10 Best Tools for Teachers and Students to Use in 2014

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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.

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                  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 October 21, 2021

                    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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                    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

                    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                    Program Your Own Algorithms

                    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                    How to Form a Ritual

                    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                    Ways to Use a Ritual

                    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                    1. Waking Up

                    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                    2. Web Usage

                    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                    3. Reading

                    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                    4. Friendliness

                    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                    5. Working

                    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                    6. Going to the gym

                    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                    7. Exercise

                    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                    8. Sleeping

                    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                    8. Weekly Reviews

                    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                    Final Thoughts

                    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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                    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

                     

                    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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