I feel like prefacing this post by explaining that I was not always technology-savvy. I avoided technology that seemed too new or unnecessarily complicated. I felt that simpler was always better, but becoming a teacher pushed me outside of my comfort zone. In an ever-changing world with consistently more demanding 21st-century skills, teachers are teaching students how to utilize computers, responsible digital citizenship, and technology more and more. The questions I often hear about technology integration within education are: What applications should I teach my students? What different websites and tools can be used for direct instruction? How do I improve students’ digital literacy? These are all such important questions, but there are other equally important questions that are not asked as often: What tools can teachers use to save time? How can teachers’ lives become easier with technology? What are the technology essentials that teachers should be personally using? These questions are what I will start to answer today with the most necessary chrome extensions!
For those who are unfamiliar, chrome extensions can be “downloaded” to your email account and will be used whenever you access Google Chrome. These extensions will appear right next to your URL/search bar as small icons. When you click the icon, it is activated and you can use whatever cool function it serves. Side note: If you use any other browser other than Google Chrome, I strongly suggest switching! If you are on a Chromebook, you will automatically use Google Chrome. I prefer Mac products and it was not until this year that I finally made the official switch from Safari to Google Chrome. Safari is Mac’s default browser and I had all of my favorite pages bookmarked, passwords memorized, and it automatically popped up when I opened my laptop, making me hesitant to do all that work over again. However, the services that chrome extensions provide convinced me to finally make the permanent switch for Google Chrome to be my exclusive browser!
To browse through and download chrome extensions, go to the Chrome Web Store. While some extensions do cost money, all of the extensions I will go over are completely free.
Here are the top eight chrome extensions that every teacher MUST have:
Now, I would actually suggest Grammarly for every single person, not just teachers. Grammarly proofreads your writing for spelling and grammar in places where you usually do not get the extra help. As an English teacher, I feel like my grammar mistakes are especially scrutinized and there has been more than one cringe-worthy mistake made; we are human after all! I am sure everyone has sent out an email at one point or another with an embarrassing typo to a colleague, administrator, or even a parent. Grammarly is very simple to use and it catches all of those mistakes that you might make!
This extension is definitely geared more towards teachers, especially teachers who give assignments online and find themselves typing the same feedback over and over again. When enabled, Checkmark makes small buttons appear on a Google Doc and gives you the ability to highlight a word, select a pre-made button (one that they provide, or something that you customized), and have a full comment posted on that document. Checkmark provides grammar related feedback, and I personally customized my own for comments that I find myself making a lot: “Remember to cite your sources,” “Don’t forget to double-check your MLA format,” “Expand your analysis,” etc. This extension is easy to use and cut down my grading time in half! It is essentially the digitized version of writing “awk” in red ink on the margins of your student’s paper and having them decode your shortcuts. The benefit is students will not ask you what “awk” means because Checkmark writes out the full comment/sentence for you!
If you assign essays on Google Classroom, another time-saving grading extension is Goobric! As a warning, this does take quite some time to initially set up! I am attaching a tutorial here and here to explain the process in greater depth. What Goobric essentially does is ingest your Google Classroom assignment, you attach a rubric that you have created in Sheets, and the rubric is posted on top of each essay. You can quickly click the student’s score in each category of your rubric, and then click next to go to the next student’s essay! While I use Checkmark for first drafts or smaller assignments, Goobric is great for a larger, summative assessment, particularly if you have detailed rubrics that cover all the feedback/comments you would generally make. It also allows you to grade more objectively when you really stay focused on the rubric grading system itself. This extension does seem intimidating at first, but I have really loved working with it.
This is just a very simple time saver! This is essentially an icon by your toolbar that will allow you to quickly open up a new Google Doc, Slide, Sheet, Drawing, or Form in a new tab. If you find yourself continuously typing in your search bar or going to Google Drive, this will quickly create (hence the name!) the new document and it so convenient and easy!
I have found this another easy fix to an annoying problem when teaching! You know the scene: You have something projected from your computer, maybe something students are copying down for notes or directions for the activity they are working on, and then the projector screen turns blue because your computer fell asleep! Of course, you run back over to the computer, wiggle your finger on the touchpad back and forth, and wait for what seems like forever for the screen to come back up. When you activate this extension, it keeps your screen running so it will not go to sleep. Whenever my computer is plugged into the projector, I keep this running to avoid the dreaded blue projector screen in the middle of a lesson.
At some point, you or your students have used Easybib to properly cite a source. While I understand why some teachers prefer students to cite sources personally, without the aid of technology, I am not one of those teachers. I encourage students to use technology’s tools to make our lives easier and then have them proofread for mistakes afterward. This toolbar is a shortcut to make that shortcut even shorter! Once downloaded, you can click the Easybib icon and it will cite the current page you are on. This is not only a great tool for teachers to cite their own sources but also a tool you can teach students to use when working on their own research.
Here’s a fun one! Emojis are now a seemingly integral part of our lives and they are super fun to include in lessons. These emojis can be placed in your Docs (which can be part of your syllabi, handouts, assignments, etc.), emails, and more. Emojis can also add a quick illustrative element to your Slides/presentations, which I appreciate! 😎
Adding to the fun–Bitmoji! If you do not already have a Bitmoji, I strongly suggest creating one (you can do so through this extension). It is a cartoon character of yourself and it is a more life-sized and fun emoji, with funny sayings. Students LOVE these and I often use Bitmojis as an image for a presentation (they are great for frontloading vocabulary!), or I even paste one at the bottom of student work to tell them that they did a great job! I also use my Bitmoji for classroom decor in my room, using Google Drawings or Google Slides. Chrome extensions can also be fun and light-hearted, not always so serious!
I hope you feel inspired to start browsing the Chrome Extension store for ways to make your life easier, more manageable, or even just a little bit more fun!
Let me know what extensions you use that has made all the difference in your day!