5 Must-Have Technological Tools to Increase Your ESL Productivity
Not feeling very productive lately?
You might have read Top 5 Productivity Tips for ESL Teachers and as a follow up to this article, we’ll provide you with some specific technological tools that will help take your ESL productivity to the next level!
Increase Your ‘ESL Productivity’ With These Technological Tools
Evernote is an excellent application for ESL teachers. It can be downloaded for free to a great variety of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android phones and Mac or Windows computers. This handy little software allows you write notes, capture Web pages and even record voice notes in a matter of seconds so if you're ever suddenly inspired by a great idea all you have to do is make a quick note either on your computer or phone and store it for later. Here's how you can specifically use Evernote to improve your productivity:
Organize your notes with tags – For example, if you start gathering URLs of websites that feature Christmas lesson plans, tag them as “Christmas”, and you'll be able to access all of your notes for that theme with only a click.
Plan for an absence – Evernote lets you email notes or share an entire notebook with a substitute teacher.
Take photos. Snap a pic of your bulletin board for specific month or celebration and save it for next year! The same goes for whiteboards. If you happen to have a very productive mind-mapping session, take a photo and use it later to make a worksheet out of it (and then publish it on BusyTeacher.org!).
Keep all of your worksheets organized. Keep all your handouts, test papers and other lesson materials clearly organized and on hand.
And these are just a few of the things you can do with Evernote! Synchronize your devices and have the same notes available on your phone and desktop!
Get rid of the useless piles of ‘to do’ lists once and for all! Remember the Milk is a website that allows you to organize all of your tasks and send yourself alerts for things that must be done on a particular day. In our article, Top 5 Productivity Tips for ESL Teachers, we recommended that you schedule one afternoon or evening a week to plan the following week’s lessons. If you need to schedule in some additional tasks, like shopping for supplies, making copies, or planning a teacher meeting, simply add them all to Remember the Milk, set your alerts, and relax – you won’t forget another important task again!
Freshbooks takes the guesswork out of personal accounting. This tool allows you keep your financial records safe and at your fingertips, and absolutely free of charge (for a basic account). Also, this is the best billing tool for ESL teachers who need to send invoices to their students. Freshbooks keeps a record of all of your invoices and expenses. It’s intuitive and easy to use – who said bookkeeping is a struggle?
Google Docs is the ideal tool for teachers who share or work from different computers on a regular basis. USB drives are easy to use, but the truth of the matter is that they tend to break, and what’s more, they may carry nasty viruses from computer to computer. If you constantly work from different computers, Google Docs is the solution for you. You may access your files from any computer, anywhere, but you also have the option to share documents with other teachers. Wouldn't it be great for all of the ESL teachers at your school to share lesson plans via Google Docs?
Even the least technologically savvy teachers understand the importance of backing up files, right? There’s no bigger nightmare than realizing that your hard drive has just been fried by a virus, and you've lost years of worksheets and tests in a matter of seconds. Backing up files in external drives or CDs is time-consuming and tedious. Plus, these devices don't last forever, and this is a task you need to schedule on a regular basis for it to be effective. Mozy takes care of it all. For only $5.99 a month, you can have all of your files safely stored in an online environment – automatically. How will you spend your newly acquired free time?
Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Like anything in life, it can be misused, and in some cases, it may even demand more of our time.
But here, we’ve presented tools that will only make your life much easier. Use them wisely and be the most ‘ESL-productive’ you have ever been!
Claudia has been an ESL teacher for 20 years and has taught a wide variety of students from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, complete beginners to advanced students. This vast teaching experience has helped her write over 100 articles for BusyTeacher.org. When she is not teaching, she is also a freelance travel writer contributing reviews for V!VA Travel Guides' upcoming Uruguay edition, as well as travel articles and blog posts for a variety of online publications. She is currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina with her spunky 7-year old daughter and crabby 10-year old cat, Ulysses. Google +.
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