The Best Productivity Tools to Make Your School More Efficient (and Fun)
Our team's favorite websites, apps, and Google extensions, and more.
As a member of ThinkCERCA’s Success Team, I’m tasked with the awesome job of helping administrators and teachers successfully implement ThinkCERCA in their schools. In this role and as a former Personalized Blended Learning (PBL) Coordinator for Milwaukee Public Schools, I’ve encountered a handful of tools that, if implemented thoughtfully, can make schools more efficient and fun. Here, I outline some of my favorite productivity tools, including a few we use at ThinkCERCA.
Poll Everyone is an affordable polling tool that collects real-time audience answers using mobile phones, social media, and web browsers. Educators can use this tool to generate fun and even competition-oriented teaching/learning experiences for students. In BYOD classrooms, Poll Everywhere offers immediate gateways to protected, anonymous responses that offer every student a voice in a classroom discussion or activity.
I never conduct a ThinkCERCA training without Today’s Meet. This web-based chat tool helps facilitate conversations “alongside the primary activity, presentation, or discussion.” Today’s Meet is the perfect solution to the otherwise mundane PLC or after-school meeting. Like a pop-up Twitter feed, Today’s Meet lets educators ask questions quickly similar to a traditional “parking lot.” What’s more, Today’s Meet time settings create long-term instructional value by allowing users to keep a copy of the conversation live for up to a year.
Slack, an internal communications tool for teams, is a staple here at ThinkCERCA. Users can participate in Slack channels, which are basically topic-based chat rooms. Some schools are using it as a place for educators to share best practices and collaborate around student achievement while others use it as a tool to give students feedback.Slack, an internal communications tool for teams, is a staple here at ThinkCERCA. Users can participate in Slack channels, which are basically topic-based chat rooms. Some schools are using it as a place for educators to share best practices and collaborate around student achievement while others use it as a tool to give students feedback. While Slack has a free version, they also offer an 85 percent discount to schools in their paid plans.
Grammarly (Google Extension)
There may be no better Google Extension than Grammarly, both for educators and professionals alike. In the hands of a developing writer or student, Grammarly’s online proofreading tool can help building high-capacity writing skills by teaching students the ins and outs of effective and professional grammar. Combined with ThinkCERCA, Grammarly offers teachers a powerful one-two punch for developing students’ college and career readiness skills through the act of writing.
Clean Print (Google Extension)
Many teachers still find value in printed text; however, tools to help educators not waste paper (we’ve all printed out ads unintentionally) or keep student eyes on what’s important are desperately needed. Clean Print is another Google Extension that aims to save teachers time by quickly whipping up PDFs from online articles that are perfect for printing. You can remove images, add notes, save articles to Google Drive, and much more.
Remind (formerly Remind 101)
Remind continues to evolve at breakneck speeds in their effort to provide educators with safe communication pathways for family awareness. My children’s teachers, here in Wisconsin, use Remind daily to send my wife and I everything from quick photos of my son reading Dr. Seuss to his classmates, to updated pick-up times for the upcoming fieldtrip. Best of all, unlike a cell phone number, Remind works to provide the essential messaging boundaries and space for teachers to prevent parents from sending late-night texts about their child’s performance.
Steve has been an advocate for sustainable, healthy teaching within the greater Milwaukee Area for more than five years. After graduating with degrees in English and secondary education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Steve has fought to improve his own teaching practices as an IB English teacher at Reagan IB High School, as well as those of his peers as a Personalized Blended Learning (PBL) Coordinator throughout the entire Milwaukee Public School District. Over the past two years, Steve’s additional work as a consultant has led him to ThinkCERCA, where he is humbled to not only join a team that understands the demanding, critical role educators must play in order for their students to succeed, but be a part of the brave new journeys schools and school districts are setting sail for today. In this work, Steve is joined by his beautiful wife Millicent, and their two awesome kiddos, Huxley and Luella.