Many schools offer Chromebooks and other notebooks to K–12 students as part of their districts’ one-to-one technology programs.
But, according to three speakers at the TCEA 2017 educational technology convention in Austin, Texas, some teachers and students have yet to unlock the hidden potential of their computers, especially when it comes to the browser they use.
Brittni Branton, Troy Kuhn and Tom Spall, instructional technology specialists at Brenham Independent School District in Brenham, Texas, offered their list of “10 Chrome Extensions You Can’t Live Without” during a Thursday session at TCEA.
Brittni Branton, Troy Kuhn and and Tom Spall, instructional technology specialists at Brenham Independent School District told TCEA about the best classroom extensions for Chrome. Photo by Jena Passut
“It’s really a list of 17,” Spall said with a laugh. “There are so many great extensions for Chrome.”
Here are the top 10, with a link to the full list that includes instructions for downloading each extension:
This extension is useful for making text larger on a screen. A teacher can input the text into a box on his or her Chromebook and, if it’s connected to a whiteboard, it will appear much bigger on the screen that students are watching. “If I want to share a URL with someone, or some other text, it will pop up,” Kuhn said.
“Life and game changers” is how Branton describes these two extensions. “You have to have both of them when you download the extension. The Tab Scissors splits a window in two side by side, and the Glue puts them back together.” Tab Scissors and Tab Glue are helpful for people who have several tabs open at the same time.
This extension allows you to create little avatars of yourself. Not only can you add little cartoon versions of yourself to your Gmail, chats, logos and Google drawings, but also it’s great for giving students feedback, Spall said.
Instead of logging in to each social media account to let the world know what your students are up to, Buffer allows you to send one post out to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus with one click.
Bitly makes any long URL short and easy to read, while Goog.gl makes QR codes. “Goo.gl also gives you details and analytics to see how many people are going to your site,” Branton said. “Bitly is a great way to make custom links.”
Forget trying to recall the keyboard combination to take a screenshot. Awesome Screenshot goes above and beyond a regular screenshot. It lets you make annotations, blur out parts of the shot, and even draw arrows to the part of the shot you want someone to pay attention to. “This is great for permission slips when you want to make sure parents sign,” Branton said. “And if you don’t want to share student names or grades, you can blur out that information.”
This extension elicited oohs and ahhs from the session audience. It’s an eyedropper tool that can pick up any color from the web. Just click on the color with the eyedropper, and the number code for that color pops up. Then go to your drawing and paste it into the custom color wheel. Try it with the funkiest color you can find.
How about an extension that will check your emails for typos? Grammarly will do that, and also check for grammar issues too — and it will send you emails letting you know how you’re doing. “I like it because it makes me look professional,” Branton said.
Like anyone else, teachers and technologists need to stay on task. “Dayboard helps you focus,” Kuhn said. The extension lets you put in tasks for the day. “If you don’t finish, they’ll still be waiting for you tomorrow.” Bonus feature: You can list websites for Dayboard to block, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and it will tell you how many times you cheated and went to those sites during the day.
Both of these extensions do basically the same thing: save and restore window sessions. So, if you teach a computer science class and there are certain websites you need for that class, you can save them as a group and pull them up as a group with one click.
EdTech is covering TCEA 2017, including articles on breakout sessions, keynotes and the pulse on social media. Keep up to date on all of our coverage by visiting our TCEA 2017 conference page.