Tuesday, April 17, 2018

5 Top Chrome Extensions You Can ... and should ... Do

Extensions are "small software programs that customize the browsing experience" according to this article from Google. Basically this means it provides you with the ability to amp up your web experience for a lot of different reasons. 

To me, extensions are really awesome tools that allow you to do things quickly and easily. They allow for specific actions to happen with very little effort on your part. Below are some of my favorites. 

*** Note: you might have to ask your Google Administrator to enable these extensions ***

Share to Google Classroom: 

Are you a Google Classroom user? This one is a MUST! With just a click of a button, you can push your students'  computers to a specific site. (No more worrying about spelling or pasting the link somewhere ahead of time)

How awesome is this if you work with younger students? What about students with special considerations? Or simply in the interest of time?

I always picture this one in action while doing research. You want ALL students to see a specific site to start from ... with "Share to Google Classroom", you just click the extension, select the class you want to share with, and paste the URL. Boom! Done!

What about this ... Student A finds a really great resource and the teacher wants ALL students to find this site and use it. This extension will allow students to share their site back to the teacher, who can then repeat the process and share out to the class! Super easy!

CraftyText won't sound like a powerful extension, but it truly is! How many times to you need to (or want to) display a shortened URL, or short phrase, or specific wording. Game codes or codes to join digital classes are other popular ways I have used this extension.

Simply click on this extension, and type in your code, phrase, or link, and then click enter. Instantly it overtakes your screen in large letters making it super easy to see when projecting. Love, love, love this when I'm projecting. I hated repeating myself, and to just pop it up on the screen made it super easy! When you are done, click the extension and it goes away. Poof!


Screencastify is probably the easiest Screencasting tool I've come across - especially if you are wanting to do this with students. Screncastify is especially awesome because you can automatically save to your Google Drive! WOW! From there, you can share the same way you do with other Google Apps and files. 

This is a very easy way for teachers to give a very personal bit of feedback on digital student work. Rather than typing your feedback - which students might not even read - record yourself as you grade it. How powerful can this feedback be? To actually see AND hear the teacher. 

The best way to see this in action is to go to the Video Tutorial page for Screencastify.

Cite This For Me:
Cite This For Me was introduced to my by the 8th grade ELA teacher on my team a couple years back. She made a comment about how easy citations were and I was kind of shocked. She said "Yes, we just use this extension." WOW! Mind blown! Once installed, click the extension and it gives you the CHOICE between the four top citations styles: APA, Chicago, Harvard, and MLA.

All I can say is where was this when I was a kid?? 

Now, I know some of you are cringing ... is this something we no longer need to teach? While I'm not the be-all-end-all for academic decision making, I say let's focus more on teaching our students TO cite their sources instead of nit-picking the mechanics of the citations. Isn't that to more important concept? If it's not your work, giving credit to the creator is important. With this extension, there is absolutely no reason your students (or YOU!) don't give credit where credit its due ... and you can choose between which of the 4 styles you like best!

Select and Speak (SpeakIt!):
This extension holds a very special place in my heart. One of the best advantages of the availability of devices is when these little tools make learning not easier but rather POSSIBLE. I was asked at the end of last year to make regular appearances in a 4th grade class. The teacher's focus was to provide her kiddos with the best foundation in 4th grade so when they left our building and went to 5th grade, they'd walk in confident and prepared. You see, her group already had a bit more of a challenge with school since they needed additional support.

With some exceptions, I've been invited to their room for "Tech Tuesday". I installed this extension and introduced it. They took to it super fast! I didn't realize how powerful this was until their teacher told me how much they use it - especially in their content classes where the reading level is challenging! She said the ability for them to select what they need and listen to it has provided them with such wonderful independence. The confidence they are building as they progress forward is heart-warming. 

BONUS ➤ For an extra special & powerful way to boost your students, teach them to use voice typing in Google Docs. They can "type" what they want and then select what they wrote & listen to it read back to them! So often, I've noticed students think they know what they wrote, but when they hear it, they can hear where they need to do some editing. It's beautiful!

Do you have a favorite that I don't have on this list? I'd be interested to know! Tweet me @kiefersj

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