Productivity

Introduction

Web Resources to Improve Your Performance

                                                    Hourglass

“work smarter… not harder” (Allen F. Morgenstern) 

Being a good teacher requires more than just teaching. It also involves planning, emails, paperwork, feedback, school meetings and so much more.  This Thing will help you learn how to manage all of those duties and increase your Productivity.

 

Tools of Productivity

Image by DavidRockDesign from Pixabay 
Free for commercial use - No attribution required

On any given day in the school year, a teacher performs a multitude of duties.  Managing all of these as well as teaching requires planning and organization.  By utilizing technology for these daily tasks, teachers can boost their current structure’s efficiency, saving time. In other words, with digital tools teachers can boost their Productivity.  

Organization and planning require more than just the cloud computing skills from Thing 5, therefore this Thing will focus on other resources and tools for increasing Productivity.  For clarity, we have grouped these into four categories: collection, organizing, performing, and communicating.

 

The Noun Project

Productivity by SBTS from the Noun Project


Increasing your productivity in the classroom requires a combination of virtual tools as well as the knowledge to use them.  Just having the tool without the proficiency to implement it effectively can be frustrating and actually a waste of time.  

Like any tool, there are pros and cons.  The benefits of using productivity tools include: making collaboration easier, providing easy and quick access to communication, maintaining progress tracking, and 24-7 access. On the other hand, these tools can be a distraction, reduce interpersonal contact, and are susceptible to technical difficulties and data breaches.  If you do a quick literary search however, you will find that most people think that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Since no one system or tool works for everyone, you will need to do your homework.  Because there are so many of them, we recommend that you start by investigating only a few.  


When deciding which tools to investigate, consider areas of your Productivity that need improvement, and explore the ones that could help.  To assist you in your research, download the Tool Evaluation Advance Organizer and fill it out as you go along.   Bonus: Keep in mind that these tools can also be used to help you stay organized at home.

Dino Soft Image

Laptop by DinosoftLab from the Noun Project

Collection tasks require tools that gather ideas, articles, web resources, notes, reminders, etc. and put the information in one place for easy access.  They increase Productivity because all the resources for a particular “unit” are in one location and can be easily shared with your students, parents or colleagues.  Keep in mind that these should be seamless across all devices, so find the ones that work best with your cloud suite tool (Google, Microsoft 365, iCloud). 

Find one Collection Task Tool from this list and investigate using the Tool Evaluation Advance Organizer.

Social Bookmarking

a.  What is it?

“Online social bookmarking is a better idea for today‘s busy teachers. It allows us to bookmark online pages, including websites, pdfs, podcasts, and videos. In essence, with social bookmarking, we produce an online, readily available library collection to read and share, without fear that we won‘t be able to locate our resource again."  (from: How Social Bookmarking Can Help The 21st Century Teacher - Kathleen A. Gormley and Peter McDermott)  Sharing your resources with your students or other teachers is what takes social bookmarking to the next level.

b.  How does social bookmarking increase productivity?

Just like your files in the cloud, bookmarks can be organized making them easier to find which saves time not to mention frustration.  Folders, groups, collections, categories - these are all the ways in which online resources can be grouped using social bookmarks.

c.  Characteristics of a good social bookmarking tool

  • Browser extension available for easy access (See Thing 1 for more information)

  • Mobile app available

  • Organization of resources; grade level dependent

  • Allows for creating groups to share resources

  • Easy integration into your Learning Management System (Thing 5)

  • Multi-functional

d. Social bookmarking tools

Diigo - contains all of these features plus annotation

Diigolet: bookmarklet that allows highlighting and sticky notes

Symbaloo: account required, quick, contains ads

Wakelet: account required, browser extension, read aloud

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP and THINK

Did you find a social bookmarking tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Annotation

a.  What is it?

Once you find a website or online article that you can use in a lesson, you might want to have your students annotate it for deeper understanding.  Besides virtual note taking and collaboration, annotating can involve highlighting text which can increase accessibility of the material.  Read 10 Ways to Annotate with Students by Jeremy Dean for practical application ideas. 

b.  How does annotating increase productivity?

For teachers, annotating is a quick method of providing feedback to students.  At the very least, annotating online saves time on printing hard copies. 

c.  Annotating tools

Diigo: account required

Note.ly: virtual sticky note board, anonymous and account; Chrome extension

Sticky Notes: Office 365 app

Liner: works on all major browsers

Markup.io:  enable real-time commenting directly on a website

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP AND THINK

Did you find an annotation tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

File Converter/Scanner

a.  What is it?

File converters modify an existing material file type to accommodate accessibility for all learners. They also can convert text to audio and vice versa. Usually, these tools have scanning and PDF options, so they are also included here.

b.  How does a file converter increase productivity?

Teachers can quickly convert an existing file to make it more accessible to all students.  Many of these can be done using a mobile app which saves time.

c.  File Converter/Scanner tools

Zamzar: converts text, audio and video files

Online Convert - file converter

Office Lens: trims and enhances pictures of text and makes readable, converts to PDFs

Microsoft Office Lens: for iOS

PDF Candy-free online PDF editor

Tiny Scanner: Android mobile app, scans and creates .pdf files

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP AND THINK

Did you find a file converter tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

URL Shortener

a. What is it?

URL shorteners manage and create shorter or personalized hyperlinks to websites or shared resources.  While most of these are free, the best ones have freemium versions that allow for URL customization and analytics.

b. How does a URL shortener increase productivity?

By converting long, unmanageable, and hard to remember hyperlinks to shorter and more memorable ones, students will be able to quickly and easily access the resource.

c.  URL shortener tools

TinyURL - URL shortener, quick, anonymous, URLs never expire
Bitly - URL shortener, sign-up required
Zapier - URL shortener, sign-up required, easily links to other apps

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP AND THINK

Did you find a URL shortener tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Virtual Notebooks

a. What is it?

Think of these as your online 3-ring binders.

b. How does a virtual notebook increase productivity?

Not only will these tools allow for note-taking, but they also group materials together making it easier and quicker to search and share them.

c. Virtual notebook tools

Evernote: app designed for note-taking, organizing, task management, and archiving
One Note: Microsoft 365 account, Note-taking app, information gathering, and multi-user collaboration. Lesson planning
LiveBinders: account required; create binders, textbooks, evidence documentation, and ePortfolios 

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP AND THINK

Did you find a virtual notebook tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Gem Designs

Image by Gem Designs from the Noun Project

Organizing tasks require tools that help with time management and planning.

Find one Organizing Task Tool from this list and investigate using the Tool Evaluation Advance Organizer.

Virtual Lesson Planner

a. What is a virtual lesson planner?

Just like a paper lesson plan book, virtual planners allow teachers to create and share lesson plans.  Unlike a paper book, however, virtual planners easily link the lessons to standards/objectives and can be readily shared with all stakeholders.  For more information read the Most Used Lesson Planning Tools by Teachers (Ananya Debroy, EdTechReview).

b. How will using a virtual lesson planner increase productivity?

  • Reduce prep time
  • accessible anywhere
  • Easily align lesson to standard/objective
  • Shareable

c. What are some characteristics of a good virtual lesson planner tool

  • Browser extension available for easy access (See Thing 1 for more information)
  • Mobile app available
  • Content standards are pre-loaded or easy to enter
  • Curriculum mapping feature
  • Shareable
  • Multi-functional
  • Example: Planboard contains all these features plus a calendar

 d.  Virtual lesson planning tools
Common Curriculum - sign-up required
Tes Blendspace: sign-up required, mobile (other things)

OneNote (Microsoft 365) - tutorial video and written instructions

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP and THINK

Did you find a virtual lesson planner tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Task Management

a. What is it?

Task management tools are more than just list makers.  They help prioritize, schedule, and remind  so that you can manage your day-to-day duties.  A good task management tool allows you to sync your information across all your other tools and has a mobile version.  If you are new to using Productivity tools, this is a good place to start.

b. How will task management tools increase productivity?

Scheduling time to complete tasks increases efficiency which saves times; time that can be used to accomplish other tasks. 

c. If you are looking to form new time-saving habits, try timeboxing.  Basically, timeboxing involves assigning a fixed number of minutes to a task; scheduling that amount of time; completing the task within that time frame.  If you do not finish, you have to move on to the next task and schedule another time to finish the first one.  Zonebox on the Mac App Store is an example of a timeboxing app.

d. Task Management Tools

Any.do: To do list app - calendar, planner, reminders

Trello - task lists, organize, prioritize, teams, mobile app, integrates with other apps

Microsoft To Do - task lists, mobile app, reminders, free for Microsoft 365 districts 

Google Task for Android - syncs lists across all devices and Gmail, Google 

Google Tasks for iOS - syncs lists across all devices and Gmail, Google Calendar

iOS Reminders works better with IFTTT

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP and THINK

Did you find a task management  tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Virtual Calendars & Scheduling

a. What is it?

A good virtual calendar will allow you to create and separate all of your work and personal events seamlessly from your computer to your mobile device plus assist you with scheduling by checking your availability.  A great calendar will also allow you to share/sync calendars with students, staff, parents, family, etc. 

b. How will virtual calendars and scheduling tools increase productivity?

No longer do you have to add an event manually, these tools will do it for you by pulling the calendar and scheduling information from your other tools like emails.

c. Virtual calendar and scheduling tools

Google Calendar - Quick Guide

Outlook Calendar: How To/Video; Microsoft 365 account

iMac Calendar - Users Guide

Calendly:  Appointment Scheduling - eliminates back-and-forth emails for scheduling

x.ai - Scheduling Assistant- CC this and it will coordinate with others to find a time that works for all

LMS calendars will usually sync with others

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP and THINK

Did you find a virtual calendar/scheduling tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Mikicon

pomodoro by mikicon from the Noun Project

Performing tasks require tools that help you do the work.  They usually sync all of your apps together for a seamless connection between your calendar, reminders, to-do list, etc.  Some are useful classroom management tasks like picking groups, while others help form new habits and create focus when working online.


Find one Performing Task Tool from this list and investigate using the
Tool Evaluation Advance Organizer.

a. Performing Task Tools

Zapier - connect your apps automatically and automate workflow

IFTTT - connect all your apps and devices

Flippity - Random Name Picker

Online Stopwatch - Random Name Picker

Online Stopwatch - Online Timer

Time and Date - Online Timer with alarm

Pomodoro Time Management -  process for improving productivity using a Pomodoro Timer

Cold Turkey Website Blocker - focus, blocks distracting websites,games, apps

Mindful Browsing - focus, deters from mindless browsing, version for all browsers

Focus Mode in Word (365) - focus, see document on a blank screen, no menus 

Daily Habit Tracker - changing habits takes time, these apps can help the process

MindMeister: Create Your Mind Maps - collaborative brainstorming

Check additional resources for more suggestions

STOP and THINK

Did you find a performing task tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

We all communicate using email, text, IM, etc.  Communicating task tools are different.  They have the ability to separate communications by user groups, committees, projects, etc. while keeping our phone numbers private.  Since we are all multitaskers, our email inboxes and messaging apps can be cumbersome. These productivity tools also help group the communications together, so that you can easily find all the communications about one topic in one place and stay up-to-date with the topic.

Find one Communicating Task Tool from this list and investigate using the Tool Evaluation Advance Organizer.

a. Communicating task tools

Inbox When Ready - email, Chrome extension, sorts emails by priority

Remind - two-way communication with students and parents; phone numbers private

ClassDojo - two-way communication with students and parents; phone numbers private

GroupMe - chat app, great for groups, phone numbers private, works with Skype/SMS

Slack - chat app, streamlines all related messages in a group, archives

Best Messaging Apps and Websites for Students, Teachers, and Parents by CommonSense.org

STOP and THINK

Did you find a communicating task tool appropriate for your situation?  If so, create the account (if necessary) and BOOKMARK it!

Move onto making Connections