Saturday, September 20, 2014

Productivity Tools for the Educator

The recent announcement of new Apple products and their updated operating system highlight how dependent many of us are on tech tools that are supposed to improve our lives.  I’m just as guilty, with too many devices, running too many operating systems, and a love for the newest and greatest ed tech applications.  

As with closets and drawers, the time comes periodically to do a “spring cleaning” and clear out the unused apps and dusty folders that no longer serve their original purpose.  For me, such cleaning also allows those quality applications to rise to the top.  

The focus of this post is quality productivity tools - sites and apps that provide four important functions:
  • Saves time on tasks I have to do frequently
  • Works with most of my devices (phone, tablet, laptop)
  • Is used often during the week
  • Improves my life by respecting my time or taking tasks off my list
Not surprising, the ones that stand out are all Google applications.  They run on all my devices and allow me to access them at work, at home and when I travel.

Google Forms A “survey” application that auto-creates a spreadsheet of responses (including a visual summary). Can be used to gather information, for formative assessment, rubric, student reflection form, class management log, documenting PD, collecting student work, and more.  Having all the collected information in one place provides a huge organizational benefit.  

Google Calendar Create a class calendar and share it with your families. Turn on notifications and reminders, add collaborators, and attach documents.  Use the invitation feature to share events, like Back to School Night or the class party.  I can have my personal events on the same Google Cal, but keep those private. Even works offline.  

Google Classroom Allows teachers to assign and collect work paperlessly.  Auto-creates folders on the students' Drive, which improves and models organization skills. Teachers can access student work in one place and easily provide real-time feedback. Still in beta, with more features to come.
This is just a short list, and we know there are many more good productivity tools out there. What do you like to use, and how does it benefit your life?

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