Monday, December 22, 2014

The Best of Div1Edtech in 2014

A Look Back

We had a great and busy year at the Div1Edtech Blog. We had ten unique authors and wrote 45 different posts that included topics for grades one, two and three. 


The Five Best Posts of 2014

Do not have time to read all 44 (excluding this one) of our blog posts from 2014? With the help of in-person conversations, the stats from Blogger and the +1s we received on Google+, we have compiled this year's Best Of list for you!


Top Community Of Practice Post

In October, David “EducatorDave” Salmon presented how he uses Plickers in his grade three classroom at an EPSB COP day. I think a lot of teachers were then using Plickers the following week! He followed up his presentation with the post Throw Out Those Clickers and Use Plickers! which was equally well received. 

Top on Google+

Many Google+ readers obviously liked Digital Worksheets - Using Google Drawing In Math!

Three Other Top Posts


Onward to 2015

Do you find the Div1Edtech Blog helpful? What topics would you like to see more of in 2015? Leave a comment to let us know. 

Come back to see how we are using educational technology with younger students in 2015! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

An Hour Of Code

What Is An Hour Of Code?

Started in 2013, I believe, the Hour of Code is an initiative tied into Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14th in 2014). The week is meant to provide students from kindergarten to grade twelve an opportunity to learn about computer science. The Hour Of Code is meant to expose students (and the public at large) to computer programing.  


Like any hour, day or week special event - you do not have to do this during that specific week if you are interested in participating. So if you are reading this blog post and want to do an "hour of code" in your class but do not want to way until 2015, go for it.



Why Do This With Division One Students?

Digital Literacy! 21st Century Skills! Students use products that involve code everyday. By having students participate in the Hour of Code, it helps them understand their modern world. And as it says on the Hour of Code website, it also "helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path."   


How To Do An Hour of Code When You Don't Know How To Code?

I admit last year when I heard of an Hour of Code I was interested but I haven't done any coding since university other than some HTML. This year I was a professional development day where I was given twenty minutes to explore Code.org. That's all you need - twenty minutes to explore and you will be ready to work with your students! You do not HAVE to sign in or register to do the activities. If you do sign up your class, then you can see your students' progress. As well, their work/progress is saved. 


What I Did

I decided to use Play Lab with my students. While I liked that the Frozen activity was as topical, I liked that Play Lab was gender neutral. I signed up and put the link that Code.org generated (for the students to login) on my class website. I printed out cards with the students' login information on them.

I did not tell my students what they were doing. I had them get their netbooks set up and then they joined me on the carpet for a video. At the start of each activity there is a video that introduces coding. I shared that with my whole class as I wanted to make sure all of them watched it all the way through and I wanted to elaborate on what they were doing. By the end of the video they were all pretty excited about learning how to make their own computer game. 

I was logged in a student account I made for myself. I modeled how to do the first four activities (there are ten in all) as I have a number of students who would have a challenge reading the instructions. I also modelled looking at "show code" at the end of each activity. I explained coding was another language and that when you selected "show code" it would translate what they had been doing into the coding language.  This lead us to the next embedded video about events in computer games. Again we watched it together. 

Then they were free to work at their own pace. Not surprisingly, most moved through the first four activities quickly. Activity five was the first one they had to figure out independently. In Play Lab this is when you not only have to "run" the program but you have to then interact with it to get the actions to happen. I helped one student. Then when the next student got

stuck, I sent over the student I had helped. Then when the next student got stuck, the newest "expert" was sent to help and I kept the chain reaction going. I encouraged students to help each other in general.  The activity has lots of built in supports/hints, but if you are struggling with reading, these are not helpful. I also found my students, not unlike myself, were less likely to read the instructions and more likely just click around until they solve it. If unable to solve it, then they would read the instructions (sometimes with my prompting). I also circulated to help and encourage them to help each other. 

Some of the most common errors were:

  • not putting the blocks in the correct place
  • not interacting with the puzzle after the "run" was selected (sometimes they needed to click on something or use arrow keys)
  • putting too many blocks in an activity (so they'd have all the correct blocks but with one extra one that caused it not to work)

Do You Need A Whole Hour?

I had blocked off an hour to do this activity (including getting logged in, watching the videos together and our short discussion). Most of my students were on or had completed the ninth activity. One student completed it all.

It made me laugh later in the day when my student teacher announced he had a very special something for the students, one of my students inquired excitedly if was to make their own computer game?




What's Next?

I think I will give them one more opportunity to make a game (activity ten). I have taken a screenshot of the end of Play Lab so that I can remind students to not press continue until I have their story URL. I do wish this was somehow stored in the teacher dashboard.  What I have not been able to do is move my student who has completed the entire activity onto a new activity. I can change the "course" for the whole class but not individual students. I may just make a new section.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

5 Great Division One Math Sites

There are so many math game websites out there to support the Alberta mathematics curriculum. Some are very specific and provide games and activities for a narrow number of concepts. Most, however, have many activities that have a wide range of great material for the division one math teacher. Here are five of my go-to websites for free online math activities in no particular order: 

OCSD Interactive Games 


Oswego City School District (New York state) has a large number of free math games as well as templates to make your own games (I have never tried these to see if they work). My favourites are:



A Maths Dictionary for Kids


I love using this website for the beginning of a new math unit. In the last few years I have started having students filling in a keywords sheet. At the beginning of the year I do this as a whole class activity. Then I move to having students doing it in partners. Eventually students work independently on creating a math glossary for themselves. LearnAlberta has a similar resource called Mathematics Glossary (you have to be logged into LearnAlberta to access this) but I do not find it as division one friendly. 


Math Under the Sea


A great resource you can access through LearnAlberta (again, you have to be logged into LearnAlberta to access this) based on the grade three Alberta curriculum but I have used pieces of it with grade twos. I like that it has short and simple yet engaging activities linked to the Alberta curriculum. Students get instant feedback on their work.

ICT Games - Numeracy

These activities are based on the English National Curriculum. Despite it being based on the English Curriculum, most of the activities support the learner outcomes of the Alberta curriculum. The activities are simple and fun and provide instant feedback to students. Perhaps the most loved ICT game each year is: Funky Mummy.


Virtual Manipulatives

I am cheating here a bit. Instead of one website, I've lumped a few virtual manipulative sites together. I still value concrete manipulatives over virtual manipulatives in grade two. However, I think providing students some experiences with virtual manipulatives is important so they can use them at home. They are also great to use at school when a school has a limited number of resources. I especially like when students get immediate feedback on how they use the manipulatives. 

  1. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives - Five years ago, this would definitely be my go to website for math manipulatives and it still is a great resource. However, now there are so many great K-3 sites for online manipulatives. 
  2. Virtual Manipulatives - Glencoe
  3. Illuminations K-2


A Note About LearnAlberta

LearnAlberta is meant to "assist kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers in Alberta locate and utilize digital learning and teaching resources produced by the Ministry of Education." Students and teachers can log in with a username and password provided by their district. For those with EPSB accounts, you can simply log into SchoolZone and then go to the resources tab and log into LearnAlberta by selecting the link there.


What are your favourite websites for math?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Get your students thinking with Into the Book!


Into The Book  Entry.png



Into the Book is a fabulous interactive reading comprehension website to teach reading strategies to students. Without exception, my students have found this site to be engaging and one that builds their confidence and success in understanding how to use reading strategies. Do they all become master readers? Not quite, but most students will start deliberately using at least two or three strategies in their reading and are quite proud of themselves that they can articulate why and how they are using it!



The strategies covered are; Using Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating and Synthesizing.



Into The Book  Questioning.png
Each strategy has an introductory overview that is read to the student, a short video of a teacher and students in a classroom discussing the strategy...and the best part, interactive activities that students can complete on their own to practice using the strategy. Students can save and print their work or email it to their teacher to print for them. Each activity asks students to use higher level thinking skills and to respond in different ways.




Into the Book  Teacher Area  Resources  Summarizing.png
There is a not only a teaching guide for each activity, but a wealth of teaching resources for the strategies, including watching videos of other teachers teaching, a song, a list of read aloud books to support teaching the strategy, downloadable posters and lesson plans for other activities to do with your class.











Into the Book  Student Login.png
When students go to Into the Book, they click on ‘Students’ to enter the student area. There they will be asked for their ‘Key’, which is their password. Initially, they simply enter their name in the ‘Get a Key’ box and Into the Book generates a password which will be their name with a series of numbers behind it. Once this is recorded, they will use this to enter the site, thereby saving all their work should they not complete an activity in a session.

You can skip the log in process, however, students’ work will not be saved. Teachers do not require a log in to enter the teacher area.


Each section of the interactive activities has an ‘Audio’ button, so low readers can have the information and text read to them. They can go back at any time  and revise their work, or simply start again.


I have used this site with grades two and three. I start with a read aloud from the recommended resources and discuss the strategy with my students. I then introduce the song and the poster, and we do another read aloud and work with the strategy together. Then we go to Into the Book. I have done this both as a whole class and as a centre during our Daily Five time. I have used most of the lesson plan resources and have found them engaging for students. The one drawback is that for some activities, students need to enter text on the site, and that can become an issue for low spellers. I always tell them that I am not marking spelling, but I need to know what they are saying, so to spell the word the way it sounds.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Digital Worksheets - Using Google Drawing In Math

Can't They Do The Same Thing On Paper?

I've started using Google Drawing as a math centre this year. I've been creating what I call digital worksheets. Students are given material to respond to, similar to a paper worksheet. So why not just give them a paper worksheet?
  1. Technology in and of itself is motivating - it can be in colour when worksheets are black and white.
  2. It teaches them skills that will allow tasks to be more student created later in the year.
  3. It's more environmental.
  4. The more I use this format, the more likely I'll create more transformative activities. 

My Centres

Typically I do math centres a minimum of once a week. I have three centres in a one hour block. So that is about eight students to a centre. I try to make two centres that require little teacher input and then one Google App centre that I spend most of my time at.  I give a quick overview of the centres to start and then students rotate through the centres. Each centre is about 15-18 minutes in length.

The Activities

Thinking Addition For Subtraction

Students had to drag the subtraction number sentence to the related addition sentence and use the addition sentences to solve the subtraction questions.

What worked well: the simplicity of the activity.

What I would change: I made the font too small. My students use netbooks and while it worked okay, I think less questions with a larger font would be better. 

I have made a revised template for use next year. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy








Make Them Equal - Make Them Unequal


Students had to drag the dots to the scales to either make the picture look equal or not equal. Students then had to fill in the number sentence - I had provided the symbols.

What worked well: students were able to do the task independently and they enjoyed the activity. Some were disappointed that the scales did not react to their choices ("Why doesn't the scale move up or down?").

What I would change: Sometimes students would drop a shape where they did not want it and in attempting to move it, would move the scale instead. I would like to find a pan balance image that would eliminate that issue. I try to always use images in my class that are free to use and I was not able to find a two pan balance/scale that was free to use that did not have a middle stem. I also required students to use all the objects for each picture. I do not think I would set that restriction next time.

Here is a template. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy

Math Equality Journals

Students had to drag the images to show two equal sets and two not equal sets. Students then had to type a sentence for each symbol to explain what it means. My student who did not know how to spell equal was able to grab his duotang and use it to spell it for his work. 

What worked well: All students completed all parts of the task. 

What I would change: Nothing at the moment. I kept in mind the issues I had in the previous two activities and I was really pleased how it worked this time. Third time is the charm they say?


Here is a template. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy

For these and other division one Google App templates, check out Division One Collaboration Site For Educational Technology. Click on the activity you like and make a copy!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Have You Heard Of Kahoot?

David's recent post on Plickers reminded me of another classroom response system I recently heard about. Unlike Plickers students will need access to technology to participate.

At the last three professional development events I've gone to this year someone (usually a K-3 teacher)  has enthusiastically asked "have you heard of Kahoot." As well, this question has been asked on a few of the Google+ communities I follow. So... have YOU heard of Kahoot? If not, read on. If so, share your best Kahoot in the comments!

What Is Kahoot?

Kahoot is a classroom response system set up in a game-based style where the teacher creates quizzes, surveys or discussions. It is free to sign up and very simple to use for both the creator and the participants.

Why Do Teachers Like It?


User Friendly

Kahoot is simple to use for everyone. The set up side for teachers is user friendly. The interface for students is division one friendly.

Pictures and Videos

It is a way to give a quiz with pictures and videos! I like that you can have a video playing while students enter their information. That way there is something for students to attend to if they are finished early.

Engaging

It is gamification of quizzes/worksheets. So students are more engaged. There can be a competition/points element. After I gave my first Kahoot I had students regularly ask me if we could do Kahoot today.

Immediate Feedback

Students get immediate feedback if their answer is correct or not. 

Collaboration/Sharing

You can make your Kahoots public. Therefore you can access and modify pre-made Kahoots. You can easily share Kahoots with your grade level partners.  

Colette's Tips


Have A Few Kahoots Ready

Depending on your technology situation, you may not want to fire up your laptops for just a 10 question Kahoot. I suggest having a few Kahoots on file for upcoming topics so that when you have your laptops/chromebooks out you can do a Kahoot.

Nicknames

Have students get into the habit of using their own first names.  That way the data you gather (even if it just formative) is easy for you to use. 

Points

In younger grades, consider not always using points.

Preview

In younger grades, consider not always using points. I suggest trying the preview option if you have never used Kahoot before. It allows you to see the teacher side and the student side together.

First Kahoot

Keep your first Kahoot short and simple with younger students. 

How Does It Work?

Teacher Side

I'm going to make a new Kahoot quiz about insulation, as that is our current focus in science, as I write this post.

1. Log-in/Create an account.

2. Select the Create a new K button.

3. You'll be asked which type of Kahoot you want.

4. You'll be prompted to give your quiz a name.

5. Next you will create your questions. You have a limit of 95 characters for each question. You can upload images or videos (this is currently "experimental"). You can assign each question to have points or no points. You can also decide how long each question should take to answer (5 seconds to 120 seconds). Then you provide two to four answers for students to select and you identify which answer is correct.

6. It took me some time to figure out how to add a new question when making my first Kahoot. To add another question, look at the bottom and you will have four choices. Continue to add questions until you are done your quiz.

7. Once you press save and continue, you'll be given the chance to reorder any of your questions. Then you will have the opportunity to set your Kahoot as private or public, add a description, set the audience, set the difficulty level and add tags.


8. Finally you can give your quiz a cover image.* You can also use their experimental feature embedding "a YouTube video to be displayed in the background of the lobby screen as players join the game!"

*I used my own images or images that had permission for reuse. I haven't found a good way to give attribution however. I tried the description box but there is a limited number of characters.

9. Your Kahoot is ready to play! Press the Play Now button to get a pin to give to your students.

10. After the activity is over, you will have an option to download the results. You will get a spreadsheet with each "nickname" and their answers. 

I suggest trying the preview option if you have never used Kahoot before. It allows you to see the teacher side and the student side together.


How Does It Work - Student Side?

The teacher logs in to Kahoot using one url https://create.kahoot.it/#login.

1. The users/students log in using a different url: Kahoot.it. There they enter a game "pin" number provided to them by their teacher. 

2. Then they are prompted to enter a "nickname". Once all students are in the activity can start.

3. The Smartboard* will show a question and possible answers. On the students' devices will be four colours. The students select the colour/shape that matches the correct answer. 

4. Students are then told on their devices if they got it correct or not. The Smartbord will show the correct answer and a graph of how many got the answer correct. 

5. Then the teacher can select "next" to go onto the next question. A scoreboard will show the top scores if you chose to have points. 

6. The students can rate the activity after the quiz is over. 

*There needs to be some way for the teacher to share the questions. I have used the Smartboard but you could use a TV, projector, etc.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Throw Out Those Clickers and Use Plickers!

Are you tired of having to change the batteries in your clickers or having to fork out thousands of dollars for interactive response systems? Are you getting frustrated with hooking up cords to your computer or waiting for students to logon to a personal device for assessment?  Well, let Plickers help make your formative assessment in your classroom a breeze with absolutely no cost to you.

I have been using Plickers in my classroom for about a month now and the students get very excited about bringing out their Plicker cards and "showing what they know".  It is a fantastic way of gathering formative assessment to guide your teaching and student learning.  I encourage you to give Plickers a try.  You and your students will be glad you did!

What are Plickers? 
Plickers is an app that can be downloaded onto an Android or iOS device.  With only one device and some printed cards, teachers can quickly assess or poll their students by asking multiple choice or true/false questions.  The students hold up their cards a certain way (see below) to submit their answers while the teachers stands at the front and scans the class therefore receiving their responses.

Why use Plickers?

  • easy to use and setup
  • completely free (except for printing the cards)
  • excellent formative assessment tool or for polling students
  • students love it! (speaking from experience)
  • inclusive for all - no personal or electronic devices needed for students (only one teacher device)
  • no batteries to replace or expensive equipment to purchase

What do I need for Plickers? 
  • 1 Electronic Wifi device with the Plickers app installed (Android or iOS)
  • 1 Plicker card for each student in your class (Plicker Cards)
  • 1 projecting device for questions (although you could have questions printed or written on the board)
  • registration for a free account on Plickers.com
How do Plickers work?
  1. Create a class on your Plickers account (each student you add gets a Plicker card assigned to them).
  2. Create questions from the "Library" tab on your account and assign these questions to your class plan.  You can have multiple classes and the questions can be assigned to each class.
  3. Print out student Plicker cards, cut them out, and hand to the assigned student.  Each card has a number which corresponds to the student that you added when creating a class.
  4. Log into your computer and your device from the Plickers.com website.  Click on "Live Class" from your computer and choose the question you would like to ask from your device.
  5. The question will be displayed from the projector and the students hold up their card a specific way to show their answer (more on that in the "How do students answer?" section)
  6. The teacher then clicks on the "camera" image on their mobile device and then scans the classroom.  As the teacher scans the classroom, the camera recognizes the student's answers and records them.  The students will also see on the screen that their card has been scanned by having a check mark beside their name.
  7. The teacher can then share the results on the screen with the students in the form of a bar graph.
The following quick video shows how the teacher collects responses. 


How do students use the paper clickers?

The Plicker cards are really simple and easy to use. You can download the Plicker cards here.  Take a look at the Plicker card below.


Tips for Plicker cards
  • Plicker cards can be used for multiple classes.
  • Print the clicker cards on card stock or glue them onto heavy cardboard.
  • If you laminate the cards, use a matte film as it could be difficult for the mobile device to scan the card due to glare.
  • Train your students to hold the cards straight up and down and not diagonal.  They should also be taught not to bend the cards or have their fingers in front of the image as the mobile device will not be able to read it.
  • Paste the card on both sides so the student does not have to look at the front of the card.
  • I put Velcro on the Plicker cards so the students can attach them to the front of their desk and easily find them when needed.
  • Teach your students to ensure that nobody is blocking their card.
Here is what my classroom Plicker cards look like.
Printed on very heavy card stock
Attached with Velcro on front of desk

How do I create classes and add students?

Please watch the very short video tutorial I created showing how you can easily create classes and add students.




How do I add questions?

Below is a quick tutorial showing how to create questions and then assign them to a class or classes.


Give Plickers a try in your classroom and let us know how it went in the comment section below.

Monday, October 20, 2014

5 Great Division One Language Arts Sites

There are many wonderful websites out there to support the Alberta language arts curriculum. Sometimes they are a site that is for one curriculum outcome. For example, Fly By is a great quick game with instant feedback for reviewing contractions.

There are, however, a few sites that have a plethora of great material for the division one language arts teacher. Here are five of my favourites: 
  1. Starfall 
    This is definitely for younger division one students. It is easy for younger students to navigate. It is mostly free (there are premium features). It is also great for English Language Learners.
  2. BookFlix
    This is an often forgotten about online literacy resource available through LearnAlberta (Online Reference Centre). The online books are divided into categories. Then within each categories there are different topics. Each topic has a fictional video storybook paired with a non-fiction eBook. It initially takes some time to teach students how to access the resource but once they learn you will have a harder time getting them off BookFlix.
  3. SpellingCity
    SpellingCity is a mostly free resource (there are premium features). Users can create their own spelling lists for free. Students can then play games and do practice activities based on the words chosen by their teacher. However, there are also many pre-made lists to choose from as well. Read my review for more information.
  4. Read Write Think
    This is a wonderful resource. Unlike the previous three websites, this has resources for a wider variety of grade levels. Their about page says it all: Here at ReadWriteThink, our mission is to provide educators, parents, and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in free materials.
  5. RAZKids
    While this is a subscription based service, it is great for the division one classroom and worth the investment. It provides eBooks for students to read/listen to and there is a quiz that goes with each book. It allows the teacher to both assign books and reading levels as well as track students' progress. The books themselves are average in terms of reading material. You will not find any classics here.  
What are your favourite websites for language arts?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mapping Centres

Second of week of school and it was time to introduce social studies centres. I have a small enough class that I was able to do this early. Despite a smaller class (22), the class make up made me decide to keep the groups small, especially as it is September.  When I do centres I almost always have one if not two technology centres.


Planning

I wanted to address a variety of different learning styles/multiple intelligences. 


  1. Video - On Discovery Education there is a 15 minute video called Maps: Keys to Everywhere. (logic smarts)
  2. Books - I have a number of books on mapping at the grade 1-3 level. As well, I raided the balanced literacy leveled book supply for six copies of Where Do We Live, Really. (word smarts)
  3. Puzzles - I have a floor puzzle that is a map of Canada and a few 100 piece map of Canada puzzles. (people smarts)
  4. I created a worksheet where students had to follow instructions and draw a map. (picture smarts)
  5. I had a worksheet on file called Another Close Call - where students have to follow directions and answer questions about a map based on the story the Three Little Pigs. (word smarts)
  6. Internet games - I have a collection of online activities that support the topics for mapping in grade two. I put these on my class website along with embedding a video/song about the provinces/territories of Canada we have be watching in class. (music smarts and logic smarts)
  7. I broke students up into six groups, making sure there was someone who was a stronger reader in each group to support their peers if I was not nearby. I put these on the Smartboard so students could see which centre they were to be in. 

Reflection

It worked really well. We did four rotations, so will do the last two rotations this week. The small groups minimized problems and those that came up I was able to problem solve. Most of the work was at a level where students were challenged but did not need a great deal of assistance, so I was able to circulate and support as necessary. Students in the book and worksheet groups had the option of working on their own (self smarts) or with their peers (people smarts). 

The task that students were the least on task for was the book centre. I have a large number of students not yet reading at a grade one level. Originally I had planned on making it partner reading however many of my groups had only three students. 

I realized that I had titled one of the worksheets "Make a Map" on the Smartboard but the actual sheet was Draw a Map. That caused a bit of confusion. A few students finished the worksheets about 4 - 5 min. before we switched centres. So I gave them the option of adding details and colouring to their work or they could work on a mapping vocabulary word search in their booklets. All the other centres had built in extensions. The book centre had enough books that students just kept choosing new books. The puzzle centre had the big puzzle and a small puzzle. Once students were done the big puzzle, they could then try the small one (only one group actually made it to the small puzzle). On my class website I put a number of mapping links that students could work on and revisit if they completed them all. The video centre was my timer. I kept an eye on how much time the students had left in that centre and when there was only 5 minutes left, I put a timer up on the Smartboard. 

Internet Resources

Canada Map Puzzle
CG Kids Map of Canada Puzzle
Map Skills – Compass Skills
Interactive Map: Use a Compass Rose



Monday, August 25, 2014

Calgary Summit: Apps, Extensions, Add-Ons, Links and Tips Oh My

This summer I went to the first annual EdTechTeam Calgary Summit featuring Google for Education. This was my third "GAFE Summit". My primary reason for going to such an intense event during my summer HOLIDAYS was to get more experience with presenting. However, I also went because my previous two experiences were energizing and motivating.

As I presented three times, I missed out on attending a number of great sessions. However, I still came away with a number of ideas and contacts. I hope to share some of the ideas/links that I found inspiring and interesting. If you want to delve deeper than what my blog post provides, you can check out the Collaborative Notes from the Summit.

Going to GAFE Summits are great because they include educators from a vast majority of backgrounds and teaching positions. In this blog post, I will be sharing what I think may be useful for division one teachers.



Apps, Extensions, Add-Ons, Links and Tips Oh My

I stole this title almost straight from Michelle Armstrong who did a session on apps, extensions and add-ons. However, I will be sharing ideas from a variety of sessions.

What Are They?

Apps and extensions are mini-programs that enhance the Chrome browser. Add-ons are usually former scripts that enhance Google Document or Google Sheets. You access all of them from the Chrome Web Store. Note, there are two add-on stores: a Docs Add-On store and a Sheets Add-On store.  Like all things on the Internet, not all apps/extensions should be trusted. Check out the ratings and reviews. Also, it should be noted that having too many extensions running, doing so can slow down your browser. You can still have them installed but turned off until needed (see below for an extension to help with that). 

Extensions

  • Awesome Screenshot  - allows you to edit, annotate, and share images. What I liked is that you could blur out part of an image. 
  • Speak It and Announcify - read websites out loud.
  • Extension Manager/Switcher - allows you to easily turn on and off your extensions.  
  • Adblock and Adblocker Plus - Block advertisements. How are they different? One forum I read said that Adblock is developed originally for Chrome, and Adblock Plus comes from Firefox.
  • One Tab - When you have a number of tabs open, OneTab will convert all of your tabs into a list.
  • Screencastify - video screen capture software.
  • Read and Write For Google - Free for teachers! In the premium version, it has a variety of for reading and writing supports. In the free version, students can have text read to them in Google Document.
  • Boomerang for Gmail - remember MS Outlook's delayed send option? This replaces it for Gmail, basically it schedules messages to be sent at a later time.
Want more extension ideas? Check out the blog post Great Classroom Specific Chrome Extension by Holly Clark (who is a regular GAFE Summit presenter).


Apps

  • Pixlr - photoshop but easier
  • Tab Timer - timer shows in the tab while you work in other tabs


Add-Ons


  • Doctopus (for Sheets)- a super easy way to share documents from your drive with others. Google Classroom looks like it will do the same. 
  • Flubaroo (for Sheets) - a grading add-on. 
  

Links


Tips

  • If you have the new Google Drive, change your drive to grid view and colour code your folders. If you associate one colour for each class / subject / theme and use then use that colour scheme across all your google apps.

  • Edit (or completely remove) your bookmarks’ names so they are only icons, giving you more bookmark toolbar space.