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Google Chrome extensions for educators

New York Teacher
Girl sitting at computer

The Tab Resize extension allows you to display two windows side by side.

There are many reasons for using Google’s Chrome browser — it’s generally fast and integrates seamlessly with Google programs you may use, such as Google Classroom. But there is another good reason: the ability to add Chrome extensions.

Extensions are essentially shortcuts to software applications that make programs easier to use because they instantly appear in your browser window. There’s no need to minimize or shuffle through programs — everything you need is all on one screen.

To install an extension, make sure you are logged in to your Google account and visit the Chrome web store. Once you’re on the page of an extension you want to install, click the blue “Add to Chrome” button at the top right.

To use an extension, look for the dark puzzle-piece icon on the top right of your browser screen, next to the web address field. Click the puzzle icon and a list of downloaded extensions will drop down. Click the pin icon to have extensions you frequently use display at the top.

Here are some of the best extensions to consider for your classroom:

  • InsertLearning allows you to embed questions, discussions or other instructional content directly into any website and then include the content within a digital lesson. When students go to that website, they can respond to those prompts and take their own notes.
  • Equatio lets you create mathematical equations, graphs, formulas and quizzes by intuitive typing, voice recognition or handwriting. You can assign work and quizzes and send them to your students. Some science content, such as the periodic table, is also available.
  • Screencastify is a screen video recorder that teachers can use to create instructional videos. Having this extension available in your browser makes recording easier and cuts down on editing. You can add questions to assess student understanding, too.
  • Google Docs Quick Create is simple but effective. This extension brings up a quick menu that lets you quickly create new Google docs, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and drawings without switching windows.
  • Kami is a document markup tool. Upload any document and insert interactive content for your students, such as text boxes, drawings or audio and video files. You can assign work, give feedback and even grade right from Kami.
  • Tab Resize is one of my personal favorites because it allows you to split your screen so you don’t have to cycle through windows or tabs. It’s great for creating instructional materials and displaying your screen in class. For example, you can show a video and live commentary from students simultaneously — or any combination of screens that works for you.
  • Clearly Reader removes ads, pop-ups and other irrelevant items from a webpage. I’ve avoided using sites with overwhelming amounts of ads before, but now, with Clearly Reader, they disappear. Options like customizing your display and text-to-speech and translation tools are also available.
  • Mote lets you record voice comments and audio notes and insert them into Google Docs, emails and forms to increase accessibility for ELL and special needs students. Mote also offers transcription in more than 20 languages.
  • Slido adds live polling, quizzes, word clouds and Q&A sessions you can conduct within Google Slides so you don’t have to switch applications. With Slido, you can avoid dreaded boring presentations by making them more interactive.

Sandy Scragg is an instructional technology specialist with more than 15 years of experience in New York City public schools.