In today’s modern world, teachers are faced with an ever more difficult task of keeping their resources and their lives organized. It feels like greater demands are being expected from teachers and that our job is becoming more difficult. Here are some simple things you can do to both keep yourself more organized, and in the long run save yourself a lot of time.
Google has a number of wonderful applications, and I’m going to talk about a couple of them in a bit of detail here because they will help you immensely, once you know their power. I have been using the calendar application provided by Google for a year and a half now, quite successfully, to both store my lesson plans, and keep track of my schedule. The other application I use multiple times daily is Gmail.
It has a number of important features that I should mention. The first is that you can have as many calendars as you like, and switch the display between the calendars. This allows you to, for instance, share a calendar with someone else and overlay your calendars to find a common meeting time by looking for the places where neither of you have something scheduled. It also allows you to edit a private calendar and then easily switch to editing a public calendar. Another nice feature is the ability to subscribe to your calendar and receive daily reminders about what you have planned for the day in email form.
The best feature of the Google calendar, in my opinion, is the ability to set it as either private or public. When your calendar is private, you can invite individual people to view your calendar, but otherwise it remains hidden from the public. My wife is subscribed to my calendar and I to hers, and we can share information between the two of us pretty easily. However I also have a public calendar I’ve created and I provide a link on my class blog so the students can see the calendar.
As for Gmail it has a number of cool features. The interface is extremely easy to use, and includes useful features like creating automatic filters for your incoming email messages, labelling conversations to make them easier to find in the future, and built in chat with other Gmail users. You can also add widgets to your Gmail page, like for example embedding a display of your personal Google calendars or a comic of the day application. The size allocated to you is gigantic at over 7 gigabytes of space and counting. I almost never delete any of my messages, and with their custom "Search your mail" feature, you’ll never lose an email again.
Both of these applications work together to provide you much of the power of Outlook on Windows, but accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection. As well, I am fairly sure you can access these two applications from your iPhone or Blackberry, and I have some seen tutorials on keeping your portable information devices synced with your Google applications. These two applications together can save you a lot of time and effort keeping track of information you have received and things you have to do.
I’ve been using Google Sites with my students on a recent project, and it is a very easy way to create a website, either for personal or professional use. You can easily create multiply web sites, and invite students (or anyone with an email address) to help you build a site, while keeping your other sites separate. As well, each site can individually be set to be publically viewable, or viewable by invite only.
In your Google sites you can embed pictures, videos, and Google calendars. This gives you an easy way to take the calendar you created using Google calendar and display it for your students, allowing students and parents to view your school schedule. Saves a lot of time when negotiating with your students about when to meet them for extra tutoring.
Try out these web applications sometime. Trust me, you won’t regret it.