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5 Tech Tools to Make Teaching Less Stressful During the Holidays

5 Tech Tools to Make Teaching Less Stressful During the Holidays

By Becca Sadwick

We hope the holiday season brings joy and happiness, but all too often it adds more stress to already-hectic teaching schedules. Here are some “anti-stressor” tech tools that bring fun and simplicity into your classroom to keep the holiday the blues at bay.

1. Storybird – Make it fun

Writing and Reading

As E.L. Doctorow, American author, editor and professor pointed out, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” Storybird gives teachers an exciting way to engage students in reading and writing exercises in precisely that “learn as you go” fashion.

reading too much? Whooos ReadingThe site allows students read stories other students have written, or to create new ones from scratch. Storybird can be used to write poetry, non-fiction, essays, reports and even blog articles, making both reading and writing fun.

For K-5 students the site uses pictures to spark creativity. A student chooses a picture from a huge library of images that triggers creative thinking, and then drags words from a word cloud into the workspace to kick-start the story. Older students can write long-form chapter books, poetry and other content.

Watch the overview video here.

2. Desmos – Save time

Math

Long live the graphic calculator. But now, that venerable tool that’s had its own place in student backpacks for more than 25 years may be on the verge of extinction. It’s most likely replacement is the free, online graphing calculator that can be found at Desmos.com.

The calculator can plot a wide range of equations spanning algebra, inequalities, trig (Cartesian and polar), as well as pre-calculus, calculus, statistics and probability functions. The Desmos calculator runs on laptops, Chromebooks, iPads and Android devices.

The website serves as a storehouse where teachers have created and saved their own animated graphs organized into interactive classroom activities that illustrate various math and graphing concepts. No time to make your own materials? Just use these ones!

For an introduction to Desmos, visit the tutorial at here. (Bonus: Click here to see how you can challenge your students with a fun project that goes above and beyond the study of parabolas and quadratic equations!)

3. Pocket – Save time

Save stuff for later

There’s practically zero time during the holidays to read all the great articles and resources you find on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. So, when you see a great resource online, simply put it in your Pocket app.

Pocket lets you collect online content now and view it later, even when you don’t have Internet access. The app can sync to your computer, tablet, or phone, and has more than 17 million users who use Pocket to save text, pictures and video in one organized place.

Visit GetPocket.com to download this free app, or watch the introductory video to learn more.

4. Instructables – Make it fun

Group Projects

The Instructables.com website has been called “DIY Heaven,” thanks to its massive collection of projects—100,000—all of which come with detailed instructions. These project-based tasks range from creating alternative Christmas trees to using aluminum cans that make “The Most Annoying Sound in the World,” which unexpectedly explores the science of acoustic resonance and the physics of waves in a way kids are sure to enjoy.

Browse this site to find projects that will keep your fidgety, holiday-ready students busy. Better yet, reduce your search time by visiting the educator’s page at Instructables for Teachers.

While the entire Instructables.com website is free to use, Pro memberships are available at rates between about $20 and $35 per year, depending on the billing plan chosen. Pro members have richer access to the site, as noted here, and teachers are given Pro memberships free of charge.

Instructables is an excellent tool for supplementing your curriculum with projects other teachers have posted, or with projects you design for your students. Likewise, you’re invited to share your class project with the Instructables community. Have fun!

5. NOVA – Make it fun & save time

Almost Everything Else

If you’ve always thought the NOVA television series had interesting programming, you’ll be glad to know it has evolved into a major resource for educators. NOVA is produced by WBGH in Boston and broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Today though, it provides lesson plans and supporting video and education resources that are hard to find anywhere else. Best of all, access to NOVA is free, and it’s content can serve the entire K-12 population.

If you’ve never used NOVA in your classroom, here are some links you can use to get started.

Remember, there’s an entire ecosystem of developers, content owners and others that collectively build apps, websites and digital resources for education. Many, including those listed above, are free. Look for apps that will simplify and bring fun to the classroom during the holiday season in the Apple store and at Google Play.

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