Chrome extensions: 13 you need to be using
It’s been a Googlely kind of week.
Much of what I’ve been doing for the last ten days or so is to have great conversations with teachers learning how to best use a variety of Google tools. The problem, of course, is that there are so many to choose from and so many ways to use them. But we’ve been having fun sharing ideas, lesson plans, and tips.
One of the things we always talk about are ways to take advantage of the Google Chrome browser. I was a heavy Firefox user until about two years ago. I liked Firefox but we switched over bigtime to a Google Apps for Ed environment here at ESSDACK and using the default Google browser just seemed to make more sense.
And like many Firefox users, I loved the ability to integrate add-ons and extensions. When I moved to Chrome, I looked for that same ability to customize my browsing experience. Google and the Chrome Web Store didn’t disappoint.
There a wide variety of free and useful browsers extensions available for the Chrome browser. So if you work in a GAFE school, are thinking about switching to Chrome, or already use Chrome but just aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, read on.
Basically . . . extensions are little pieces of code that “extend” the functionality of your Chrome browser. Using the right extensions can turn Chrome into a handy-dandy Swiss-army knife. It’s not rocket science – you search and browse to find them at the Chrome Web Store. If you’ve ever added apps to your phone, you probably already have all the skills you need. But don’t be afraid to head over for a quick tutorial.
Once you’ve figured out the system of adding and managing your extensions, it’s just a matter of finding the ones just right for you. And sometimes that can be a problem. So to get you started, here are 13 of my favs in no particular order:
Whenever you or your students use YouTube, you’re bombarded with sidebars and comments and related videos and stuff you just don’t need. Once installed DF YouTube (DF > Distraction Free), hides all of that stuff – leaving you nothing except the actual video itself.
CleanPrint / PrintFriendly
Two different tools that do the same thing. Like YouTube, most websites have a massive amount of distracting elements. Links, related stories, and ads can distract you and students from the actual content you’re actually looking to use. Both CleanPrint and PrintFriendly give you an option for creating a clean piece of text from the website. This clean piece of text can then be emailed, printed, saved to Google Drive, Dropbox or as a PDF. Try ’em both and pick the one you like. Delete the other one.
For students reading below grade level, seeing and hearing text at the same time can be powerful. Announcify will strip websites down to just the text and then read that text to the student.
Every time you open a new tab in Chrome, Momentum will display a sweet landscape screenshot. But I really like it because it also allows me to create an easy to edit To-Do list, it has up-to-date weather, a hideable links bar, and search box. A handy way to help you and kids keep track of what needs to get done – all in a pretty little box.
An efficient web ad blocker – easy on memory and your CPU footprint and yet can load and enforce thousands more filters than other popular blockers out there. Allows you to whitelist certain sites while blocking the most annoying ads.
Add to Classroom
Save sites from around the web back to your Google Classroom. Just click the button to save the site to your selected Google Classroom, to share with students as an announcement or an assignment.
Share to Classroom
The extension allows you to push web pages to any of your Google Classroom classes, so that they open instantly on your students’ computers. With this extension, you can get your students on the right page, quickly and reliably every time. No more waiting on kids to type in the URL.
Black Menu for Google
Quickly search and access your most important Google tools all in one easy to use drop-down menu. Huge timesaver.
Cite This for Me
Simply browse to the page you wish to cite and click the button to generate a correctly formatted citation. Then copy-and-paste the citation into your assignment or add it to your online bibliography for safekeeping until later. This is perfect for helping kids keep track of their research.
Take quick screenshots or video recordings of anything on your screen including your browser, desktop, and applications you have running. Perfect for recording presentations, creating flipped classroom materials, and building tutorials. Screencastify is another favorite that does similar things.
Goo.gl URL Shortener
I use this tool every day. Goo.gl takes long URLs (especially those incredibly looooong Google Docs address) and shortens them to six characters. Clicking this button while on any website does it just that fast.
I just started using OneTab but am starting to fall in love. One of the problems I have is that I usually have 20-30 tabs open at a time. The problem? It uses a lot of CPU and power, causing shortened battery life and heat. So . . . OneTab takes all of your tabs and puts them into one with links to all of your previously open tabs. Handy.
So. Your favs?