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2 Timesaving Technology Tools for Teachers

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Teachers, I estimate that we only spend one-third of our time actually in the classroom teaching. Would you agree? Long after the students are dismissed, we spend our hours planning, marking, doing professional development and preparing materials for the lessons we planned. Technology is supposed to make things better, faster, and more efficient. It's supposed to make these other tasks easier, but often learning the technology, itself, becomes a burdensome time-consuming chore.

As educators, then, we must constantly evaluate where to spend our time. Which tech tools will actually help us with our profession and which will take a lot of time to learn with limited practical application. Today I want to share with you two tech tools that have changed the way I plan, mark and organize everything. I share these tools because I believe that these tools really will help you and save you time, rather than waste it. Today I’ll introduce them, but over the next few weeks, I will highlight the many uses of these two tools for the classroom.
evernoteiconThe first tool is an app called Evernote. Evernote is a web-based application that allows you to make notes that you can then tag, file and have access to, from any device. Whether using your phone, iPad, tablet, home computer and/or any other device you may have, Evernote syncs your information between all devices seamlessly and allows you to find it with ease. record or make information in any format. Here are just a few examples:
**text notes** - type in anything you want to remember
**speech to text notes**- just speak a note into your phone and the voice recognition does an excellent job of creating a text note from it.
**audio** - you can use the audio recorder in any device and then share the audio file to Evernote quickly and easily. No more using a digital voice recorder then having to download it and rename it, etc.. This is one-step ease using your phone.
**camera** - just use your phone to take a snapshot of student work or projects, notes from your whiteboard, sticky notes, documents, or business cards that you want to record. TADA! Just name it, tag it and you will be able to call up the information quickly and easily forever! Another super feature of using your camera is that Evernote takes the note in the format you select, so you can specify that this note is a business card or a sticky note, etc.. Evernote will even let you use your phone as a scanner. This means you can take pictures of multi-page documents and it will scan them as one document. As an added bonus, Evernote has OCR(optical character recognition) which allows it to search the document for key words, when searching to find that document.
**video** - Evernote also allows you to make your videos and add notes to share. Any video on your phone can be shared to Evernote and then accessed by any of your devices. Never, ever worry about how to transfer a big video file again. Evernote does it for you.
There you have it, Evernote is my first choice of tech tools for collecting, sorting and having access to information. Finally, my desk is decluttered and it takes only a few moments to tag and file the information so it will be at my fingertips whenever, and wherever I need it!
scrivenericonThe second tech tool I want to highlight is Scrivener. Scrivener is actually a tool for writers. As a novelist, I first was introduced to Scrivener as an effective tool to organize and produce writing projects, but I can also see so many applications for my teaching. Here are just a few:
**unit planning** - Many of us have our unit plans set up in binders. Scrivener is like an electronic version of that. It is set up like a binder that will let you include documents inside folders and subdocuments within documents, etc.. The thing about Scrivener is that it also has a research section that allows you to pull in websites, articles, pdfs, MS word documents, powerpoints, etc.. You can pull in all your resources for a unit and put them in one place with easy access while you build your unit. Scrivener also has some very exciting features that make it easy to then take those resources, compile your unit together and export it in many different ways.

Screenshot of unit planning with Scrivener. The split-screen feature allows you to show the resource on one side while you plan on the other. I love this feature!

**differentiation**- Scrivener includes many tools that will allow you to produce materials quickly and easily for different students. It also has a nice little speech feature that will read the text with just one click of a button. This would be an easy way for students who need tests or any pdf document read to them read to them. I know there are other programs out there and web based, but this could be customized for a student quickly, and easily and there’s only one click needed. The only drawback is that Scrivener would have to be installed on the student’s computer, but the program is relatively inexpensive and there are good discounts for education.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight the specifics of “how to” use these two programs in the classroom. Watch for these tips in a series about Evernote for Education and Scrivener in the Classroom here, and on my blog at www.questteaching.com I hope you join me for more tips and tricks. I believe that the time you invest in learning these two tech tools will be returned to you manyfold. If you’re interested,  also remember to subscribe to my website at www.questteaching.com and you’ll be sure not to miss any future tips about classroom applications for these two “time-saving” tools.

Remember, time saved as we “work”, leaves more time for “play” with those we love.
Any questions? I’m here and would love to help.


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Sharon Skretting is the author of The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru, and the founder of the Quest Teaching blog-site. She has been teaching elementary school for twenty years. Being able to use her love of writing to excite her students about learning is a dream come true for Sharon. Her goal is to write fast paced, excellent literature, filled with interesting characters, danger and intricate plots that will help make students make connections to curricular concepts. The website is filled with technology, teacher tools and interactive learning quests related to curriculum.

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Guest Friday, 21 October 2016