Thursday, November 10, 2016

7 Chrome Extensions Teachers Should Try

When teachers ask me for help with a Google App and I see that they are not using Chrome, I start to feel bad for how much they are missing. Some have told me that their technology support has told them not to use Chrome – that it's slow.


I admit that Chrome has several user settings that need to be addressed before enjoying the facility. But I assure non-Chrome users that once they commit to a browser that can be customized, they will never go back to they way they once worked.

My favorite customization is using extensions, which are tools that can be added to a browser. These tools range from link shortening to more complex tools that allow you to do screencasts or make GIFFs.

Chrome extensions can make a teacher's work, especially in a 1:1 environment, rather effortless when it comes to basic routines or packaging the materials for learning.

Need a QR code generator or a webclipper? Chrome extensions for those needs and many more are available in the Chrome Store.

Here are five of my most-used extensions. I wouldn't want to teach without them.

1. Google Classroom

The Classroom extension does three important functions. (1) Share to Classroom; (2) Push to Students; (3) Push to Teacher. 

Let's say you've found a webpage that you want your students to access for an assignment. While on the page, click the extension and share the page to Classroom. It's that easy. 

Pushing pages is great. It's like passing be out papers to every student at once with a couple clicks. I especially like pushing pages when something unplanned comes up during instruction.

Explore the teachable moment by pushing the resource right away. 

2. Google Cast

Casting a screen is different than pushing a page. When a student's screen (or browser tab) is cast to a teacher's, the student can still control what's displayed on the teacher's screen. 

The teacher display is best operated via the Google Cast for Education App. Once installed, this app can sync the student accounts in the Google Classroom rosters. Students click the extension, choose the device, and await approval. It's a great way to facilitate student presentations. 

Google cast also works with apps like Airserver. The downside is that Airserver doesn't require permission to cast, which is why I prefer Google Cast for Education.

3. DocentEdu

This is my new favorite tool – mostly because it's a major time saver. The DecentEdu extension allows users to add questions to webpages or published Google Docs. Multiple-choice questions are scored automatically, and all questions are collected and accessible on the teacher's DocentEdu dashboard. 

Here's a recent post about DocentEdu. Try it. You'll love it. 

4. Poll Everywhere

Want to add questions to a slide presentation? The Poll Everywhere extension allows you to add questions from your Poll Everywhere account without leaving Google Slides. 

Check out this post for more about this app smash.

5. Screencastify 

Sometimes the easiest way to explain something is to show it with a video. Students like videos because they can pause and rewind. It's harder to do that with a teacher explaining something to a class full of peers. 

Screencastify saves videos to a folder in Goigle Drive and is easy to set up and start recording. I still like using Snaggit for GIFFs and other clippings from the Web, but when it comes to video, I haven't found an easier approach than Screencastify.

6. Print Friendly and PDF

Websites are great for teaching, but sometimes I don't want my students to be distracted by ads or other features on the site. That's why I use Print Friendly and PDF. It's easy to use and takes away all the clutter. My ELLs and students with learning differences especially benefit from the simplified formatting.

7. Google Keep

With all of our lives happening so much more in the virtual world, it's easy to lose sight, literally, of what's important. Don't lose it, keep it with Google Keep.

To me, it's more than a note-taker. Keep reminders allow me to work important routines into my days, weeks, and months. Plus, the ability to color code, add images, and tag notes for easy filing are lifesavers.

The Keep extension allows you to save a webpage and add a tag to stay organized. The best part is that you don't have to leave the page. Keep it, and proceed with your work.

Do you have a favorite extension? Share with us in the comments. 

Thanks for reading!