In a previous article titled “How to Boost Teacher Productivity,” we listed ways for educators to get more done. Because when you’re a teacher, you’re always on the go, and it’s challenging to find the time to learn tricks that could make your life easier.
But we forgot to tell you about some mind-bending technological tools that you might want to give a try. You could even use a few in the classroom! Let’s check them out.
Make your life easier with these 9 productivity tools for teachers
Grammarly has added hours to my day. And I mean HOURS. This grammar tool allows you to paste or import documents and then run them through a grammar scanner.
This program has saved me from some stupid proofreading mistakes. All I do is click on the suggestion and poof, Grammarly changes it.
For any teacher who assigns students papers (i.e., the majority), this tool can save you a lot of headaches when grading. I encouraged students to run their essays through Grammarly before turning them in to me. I found that this process reinforces learning because students must click if they want the correction or not. Plus, each revision pops up with a box that explains the grammatical rule in question.
(Note that Grammarly isn’t always correct and doesn’t always know the context.)
It’s a productivity and learning tool all in one. Give it a try!
We spoke about Trello in a couple of other posts, but it remains one of my favorites because it literally helps organize my life. For all of you English teachers out there, no — that isn’t hyperbole.
The app and website have a handy to-do list that automatically takes your due dates and transfers them to a calendar. You can also attach images and files to your list and collaborate with others.
Did I mention that you can create numerous boards based on a theme, so it becomes a brainstorming tool, too? With Trello, students and teachers can collaborate easily and manage their hectic schedules.
3. Google Drive
I don’t know what I’d do without Google Drive — it’s a must-have for teachers. This productivity suite offers apps for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and much more. It even plays nice with Microsoft Office, allowing you to open files from other formats (like .docx) and edit them directly.
Not only that, but it’s also an excellent collaboration tool that allows users to share documents with students, teachers, administrators … anyone — all with the click of a button. Talk about saving loads of time so you can grade those 100 essays that have piled up!
Google Slides and Google Docs are especially useful for students if they’re ever working on group projects in your class — with Google’s live editing feature, multiple people can work on the same document in real time, and their changes will show up immediately.
Additionally, Google Docs has an editing feature that you can use to track changes. This program increased my grading productivity because students could see the revisions and comments all in one place.
I didn’t even need to bust out a pen or hand anything back since everything was conveniently done online. So if you want to ease your grading load, definitely consider having students turn in electronic assignments so you can make the most of Google Drive.
You may have a grading system already in place at your school, but it still doesn’t hurt to use the free version of Engrade, an online gradebook with extra features, to create your own quizzes.
Why? Because the system not only stores these quizzes for later but also grades them for you! That’s right, and you can transfer any multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank tests into your grading database. Can I hear a woot-woot?
Online Stopwatch is a website where you can plug in a specific amount of time and have a kid-friendly visual countdown to display with an overhead projector. The site features a bomb or a watch that will explode or buzz when the time runs out.
It’s amazing how seeing this out of the corner of your eye can boost student productivity. And when you’re not using it with students, it can work for you, too. Just turn the visual on for however much time you have and work away!
The Forest app is one that teachers and students can both enjoy. The concept is simple yet brilliant! You pick a tree, click on “grow,” and the seedling will fully bloom after 25 minutes of productivity.
Here’s the catch: If you leave the app to do something else on your phone, your tree will die. Ouch! It’s a clever way to incentivize productivity, and it actually works. You can even use it to monitor cell phone usage in your classroom. Any dead trees at the end of class? Then you know something’s up!
Plus, they’ve partnered with Trees for the Future to give back to the environment — users can spend virtual coins they earn in the app to have a real tree be planted.
When I’ve used this app, it’s helped me zone in because — for some reason — I want to see that tree grow all the way. Twenty-five minutes may sound like a small amount of time, but there’s a lot you can get done in that window (like planning that lesson for your next period).
7. Wikis and websites
We’ve written in the past about how Wikispaces and websites can help teachers with planning, but they can also be incredible productivity boosters.
There are quite a few easy-to-use sites out there like Wix and Weebly, but I always stuck with PBworks, which is a Wikispace. I used it to easily edit my weekly schedule and provide students with a link to it.
This easy-to-use interface also let me easily save attachments of worksheets, links to videos, and more, all on a convenient page that students and parents can visit.
This collaboration space not only gave me an outline of what I was doing that week but also increased student productivity because everything was available in one secure place.
The site also backed up everything. So, if a student lost a worksheet, there were no excuses not to get it done because it was on the wiki, too.
Yes, this takes time to set up, but it’s worth it.
8. Alpha Waves
According to research, alpha waves (your brain waves when in a state of relaxation or focus) reduce depression and boost creativity. And there are lots of apps that electronically mimic alpha waves to stimulate your mind.
Alpha Waves lets you hear the waves in the background, but it also has music, which is perfect for when you need to cancel out sound.
You can also put this on when students are working on a project. Just tell them that it provides a boost to their focus.
Alpha Waves is also a solid tool to have in your pocket when you need to block out screaming kids in the school halls or loudspeaker announcements during your planning period.
Classcraft is a classroom management system where students can create and customize their own avatar and use it to go on academic adventures. Teachers like you can create specific “quests” for students to embark on based entirely on their curriculum. This is another productivity booster that also conveniently monitors students progress in one place.
It’s also an engaging site where students aren’t just playing a game for fun — they’re enjoying the activities, sure, but they’re also meeting essential learning objectives along the way! So, you can kick back and watch as your kids use their devices to complete quests, earn awards, and learn new things.
It’s a gamified learning platform for teachers and students alike — what a game changer.
Try a few of these productivity hacks
Educators are always packing neat tools in their bags of tricks, and these online productivity hacks will up your teacher (and students’) game.
In a world of distractions, we all need to learn how to be efficient with our time. So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this, and try out one of the productivity tools from the list. Who knows? After using some of these apps, you may find that teaching is actually a breeze!