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Have you ever considered how much time and effort we put into all of the things we do for our ESL students outside the classroom?
It's safe to say we spend more time planning lessons, preparing for class, correcting and grading, than actually teaching. Of course, you put a lot of care into each worksheet you design, but if it’s taking you hours at this day and age when we have so many resources and tools at our fingertips, then you’re not using your time wisely. It’s true; there are some teachers out there who are still reluctant to go the technological route, but once you see how much easier your work is, how much time you save, you'll never go back to pen and paper again.
Here are our top 10 teacher software picks, all of which are guaranteed to make your job easier and which you should be using on a daily basis:
Gradekeeper We all know how tedious it can be to keep track of scores, attendance, and all of the other information that is relevant to students' progress. If you've been thinking about investing in some assessment software, Gradekeeper will not disappoint you. This teaching software records grades and scores, keeps track of assignments, and even sends progress reports via email. With individual licenses available for $20, there's no reason not to try it.
VocabMaker This is one AWESOME vocabulary software for making printable worksheets! For a one-year membership fee of $22.99 you can make an astounding variety of printable worksheets and puzzles, like matching exercises, word search, fill in the blanks, crossword puzzles, or even bingo cards, among countless others.
Lesson plan maker Need some help organizing your thoughts and putting together a great lesson? MakeWorksheets.com has the answer for you. Besides their great teacher software for making all types of puzzles and worksheets, they also provide members (one-year membership for $29.99) with a handy little lesson plan maker that will help you plan a lesson from your own custom lesson plan format, but there are also several templates to choose from.
What2Learn Every ESL teacher knows kids love games. What if you need a series of short computer games to act as time fillers between activities, or to give your students a break from the more serious type of work? And what if you could give your students a game specially designed by you that they can play at home? Look no further than What2Learn! From their website you can make your own fun interactive game with vocabulary or questions chosen by you, which include options like hangman, word search or multiple choice questions. After you make the game, you obtain a code and a URL you can send to your students. All in a matter of minutes! All for free!
Booksearch No matter how much technology we use, we still need to cling to our beloved books. Booksearch is a software that allows you to search and find all types of books, even if they are rare or out of print. A great way to save money, as this freeware lets you compare prices before you make your purchase.
Bingo Card Printer What would we do without custom made bingo cards? With Bingo Card Printer, you can make your own Bingo cards and choose the size, font, color scheme, or what they say. No need to waste your time with glue and cardboard anymore. In minutes, you'll have the bingo cards you need ready to be printed. You can download a trial version of this great software for teachers for free.
Picasa Picasa is a free software developed by Google, an essential image editing tool that will allow you to edit the pictures you have stored in your PC so you may then use them on worksheets, coloring pages, games, flashcards, and all types of activities. You can also create albums to be shared with your students.
TestCommander This teacher software is an invaluable tool for creating professional-looking online or printed tests. You can publish tests online, and they’re automatically graded, with the test results sent directly to you. Or create tests that you will administer on paper and print them out. Also, you can send your test database to others. AND it’s available for free download. Pretty amazing, huh?
Hilitext This tool will make your Internet research so much easier as it highlights your keywords, thus allowing you to effectively and quickly scan a text for the information you need. It saves time and there’s no need to pore over a long text and make sure you’re not missing anything; the key information will be highlighted for you and in plain sight.
Are Microsoft Word and Excel driving you up the wall? Can't figure out how to make PDF files? Did you stay up late to finish that custom made board game? Fortunately, there are people out there, many who happen to be teachers, who have thought about your needs. Some of these teaching software solutions take the guesswork out of designing professional looking worksheets, quizzes or tests. Others simply make your work easier and less time-consuming.
So, what will you do with your newfound free time?
Pick up that book you bought but never got around to reading? Start an ESL blog? Catch up with old school friends on Facebook? Sip a cold margarita by the pool? Well, the choice is yours, but be prepared to enjoy all of these things and more with your extra free time.
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