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Top 19 Tools and Resources to Innovate Your Classroom

Top 19 Tools and Resources to Innovate Your Classroom

It’s no secret that students are preoccupied with the Internet. They are inseparable from their smartphones and tablets, so teachers have hard time making them understand that classes are for learning, not browsing, Tweeting and texting.

So how about using a slightly different approach that can make everyone happy? Instead of forbidding your students to use their tech devices, you can find a way to use them on behalf of your lectures. Here are my top 19 tools and resources to innovate your classroom.

1. LearnBoost

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    LearnBoost will help you record, sort and organize each student’s progress. This is the best way to share grades with your students and their parents.

    2. Schoolbinder

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      Schoolbinder is a free online student organizer that enables you to create a class page and add, organize and edit assignments for your students.

      3. My Big Campus

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        My Big Campus provides all the resources you and your students need to bring some innovation into the classroom. Your students can access the platform through their tablets and smartphones for the purpose of learning, so everyone will end up happy.

        4. The Together Teacher

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          The Together Teacher provides many resources that will help you maintain an organized classroom, including project ideas, to-do lists, plan templates for your lessons, sub plans, and many more resources.

          5. MyHistro

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            MyHistro enables your students to combine Google maps, media and blogging to create interactive timelines and tell personal stories, which will greatly increase the collaboration in your classroom.

            6. Dipity

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              Dipity will enable your students to create timelines for class purposes. Presenting creative timelines in a fun slideshow will convince them that learning is fun.

              7. SonicPics

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                SonicPics enables users to add recorded narration to pictures and create a threaded story. This feature can find multiple uses in the classroom, including custom presentations, curriculum reviewing, and personal narratives.

                8. MindMeister

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                  MindMeister is a mind-mapping tool that will enable your students to develop and organize their ideas for class projects by encouraging collaborative brainstorming.

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                  9. Glogster EDU

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                    Glogster EDU will enable you and your students to create interactive online posters that combine graphics, videos, photos, sounds, text, and much more.

                    10. ClassDojo

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                      ClassDojo will help you improve the classroom behavior by awarding points to students who behave well.

                      11. Remind101

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                        Remind101 is a safe and simple way to send group text messages to your students and their parents, so you can send notifications and reminders without invading their privacy.

                        12. Socrative

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                          Socrative will help you engage your students beyond the classroom by sending quizzes and other educational exercises that will make the process of learning and testing fun.

                          13. Edmondo

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                            Edmodo is a social platform, similar to Facebook, which you can use to continue the class discussion after your students leave the classroom.

                            14. CollaborizeClassroom

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                              CollaborizeClassroom will allow you to create a personalized learning site that will leave your students prepared for the activities in class by collaborating and helping each other.

                              15. Prezi

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                                Prezi will change the way you and your students make presentations in class, by incorporating a visually stimulating canvas that’s much more appealing than the usual slide-by-slide presentation.

                                16. Projeqt

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                                  Projeqt is one of the best ways to inspire your students to express their creativity and learn through an intuitive platform for creating dynamic presentations.

                                  17. Gnowledge

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                                    Gnowledge will enable you to create and share tests with your students and fellow educators. The website provides various test resources that will make that process easier.

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                                    18. Mentimeter

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                                      Mentimeter allows you to share questions with your students and enables them to send instant feedback through their tablets or smartphones.

                                      19. ClassMarker

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                                        ClassMarker is a great way to create secure online exams and quizzes with multiple types of questions. The tests will be automatically graded, saving you a lot of time and effort.

                                        Conclusion

                                        Today’s teachers have to roll with the educational innovations if they want to stay connected with their students. The times of “ex cathedra” teaching are long gone, so now every teacher has to reinvent their approach in the classroom in order to motivate students to get involved and interested in learning.

                                        Your students’ gadgets don’t have to be a distraction now that you know how to use them with the purpose of creating a more inspiring learning environment.

                                        Featured photo credit: Richard Lee via flickr.com

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                                        Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                                        How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                                        How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                                        What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

                                        When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

                                        In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

                                        While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

                                        As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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                                          Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

                                          Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

                                          The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

                                          But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

                                          However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

                                          This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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                                          Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

                                          We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

                                          Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

                                          Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

                                          The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

                                          When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

                                          When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

                                          How to Make Decision Effectively

                                          Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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                                          1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

                                          You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

                                          Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

                                          Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

                                          2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

                                          You don’t have to choose all the time.

                                          Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

                                          Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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                                          3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

                                          You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

                                          The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

                                          Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

                                          Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

                                          So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

                                          More Tips About Decision Making

                                          Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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