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May 26, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

Getting Things Done

I like productivity tools. They really do aid in GTD (getting things done). There are an overwhelming amount of tools to use so I suggest picking one, familiarizing yourself with it and then taking on more at your learning pace. However Google Reader, and Google Docs are two of my favorites. With Google Reader I save so much time having news and education materials come to me instead of me locating/going to them. You simply create a free Gmail account with username and password. Once logged in click on ‘reader’ at the top of your google window. You will see a button that says “add a subscription” with the words “enter a search term to find feeds or paste a feed url.” Go ahead and enter a search term or paste a url and then press the “add a subscription” button. Then sit back and let it all come to you. I was speaking recently with a close friend and high school Judaic educator and he told me when he learned of google reader from one of his administrators it helped him so much. I can really appreciate that. There is such a wealth of information on the web and so little time to sift through it to get the real ‘nuggets’ you seek.

Google Docs in particular is probably the most well-known productivity tool. For students Google Docs allows online collaboration on a document. Outside of class students can edit, leave and come back to the document at their leisure.  It enables them to focus completely on the task at hand without having to worry about where to store it, who has the most recent version of the document and so on. Inside the classroom students are engaged on a deeper more sophisticated student centered level. I also like the measure of student accountability that Google Docs provides. There really is little to no wiggle room for students- either they are on task in the classroom or not. They either have spent time working on the assignment at home or not. The fact of the matter is that online tools like google docs can make students better learners.

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