5 Chrome browser extensions that you probably haven’t heard about but need to be using
It’s not a secret. I say it a couple times a week:
“If Google was a person, I’d marry it.”
And not just for it’s money. (Though that would be nice.) I love how the Google universe has something for everyone. Elementary. Middle and high school. Different content areas. A variety of tools for consuming and creating. VR. Digital literacy.
You don’t have to look very hard before you find something you can use.
But one of the easiest things you can use is the Google Chrome browser and what Google calls Chrome extensions.
A Chrome extension is basically a small piece of software that you download from the Chrome Web Store and add to your Chrome browser. These little pieces of software extend the capabilities of the browser across multiple web sites and do something that the browser itself can’t do. Most extensions add a button to your browser’s taskbar to provide a clickable shortcut for doing, well . . . something. This might be a tool that helps you annotate text or provides text to speech capabilities or helps you edit screenshots.
There are thousands of these little pieces of code. Many designed to help you do your job better.
And I’ve got my favorites. Here are five that that many teachers I work with haven’t heard of but should be using:
Offers simple and interactive training lessons for the different G Suite tools. This is an extension that automatically installs in your Google tools and provides just-in-time video tutorials. Say you’re in Google Docs and aren’t sure how to share your Doc with others.
Click the GSuite Training icon (a circle of Google colors with a question mark in the center) in the top right hand corner of the tool, type in some keywords, and boom – you get a list of possible videos that will guide you step by step through whatever you need to know.
The tutorials are all interactive and accessible right in the app. Perfect for your students as they learn to use their Chromebooks and other Google tools. Perfect for you as you continue to expand your GSuite skills.
Cite This for Me
Install the extension. Then simply browse to the page you wish to cite and click the extension button to generate a correctly formatted citation using APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles. 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.
Share to Classroom
If you’re using Classroom and don’t have this extension, stop reading! Install the extension and then come back here. Seriously.
Share to Classroom 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. You can also post announcements or create assignments directly from websites that you’re visiting. Say you just found a great news article about trade tariffs that you need your Econ kids to annotate or a sweet Smithsonian page about historical fake news that your US history class needs. Click the button. Select your Class. Select Create Assignment. Bingo bongo. Your kids have it
You can also save webpages to post to Classroom later if you need to.
One of the issues all teachers face is providing feedback. Especially when we ask kids to write. A three page compare and contrast for 125 kids? That’s basically a novel’s worth of teenage cut and paste that you get to read over the weekend. Google Docs and Classroom has made the process a little easier. But . . . highlighting and typing “Check for sentence fragments” and “Run on sentence” gets old real quick.
Checkmark helps with this. Install the extension, enable, highlight text in student work, click a button, and a generic comment is automatically inserted in the margin. See it in action on the demo Checkmark site. You still get to read the novel’s worth of student writing but this can help speed up the feedback process.
There are ton of text to speech tools out there. (I’m a long time user of Announcify.) Speechify is a bit different. After installing the extension, simply highlight the web text you want to read and listen/read at the same time. You have a choice of different voices. You can speed up or slow down the speed.
But what I really like and what makes Speechify different is that it let’s you text entire pages from your browser to your phone number as mobile mini-audiobooks. This is perfect for kids to use outside of class and as part of your flipped classroom
Need a quick tutorial on Chrome extensions? Check out the Google Help page.
A few final notes on extension management:
- You can easily remove an extension from Chromeand your account by right clicking the extension’s icon in the upper right corner of your browser’s taskbar or by clicking the three horizontal lines / Settings button in the top right of your browser, then sliding down to More Tools > Extensions.
- You can hide the extension icon by right clicking the extension icon and selecting the Hide Button option.
- Rearrange the order of the icons by dragging and dropping.
- And if you find your taskbar filling up with too many icons, simply grab the right hand side of your browser’s search bar and drag it to the right or left to show just the right number of icons.