Crazy about Chromebooks

Our district has deployed 13 Chromebooks in every classroom piloting the station rotation model this year in addition to the carts that other teachers can sign out for their students. What exactly do Chromebooks enable our students to do? Have students even begun to explore the potential of these lightweight devices? Unless students are personalizing their Chromebooks, adding extensions, and apps there is still a lot of unused potential in these devices to assist learners in mastering, creating, and sharing their learning.

When visiting classrooms today, I encountered a teacher with a small group of students exploring the Speak It extension. The students in the room were captivated by the ability to highlight a word they couldn’t pronounce or a paragraph of text, and have it read to them. They were thrilled to explore the extension further and realize they could have the text read to them in a different language as well.

When I explained to the students that they could add a wide variety of extensions and apps to their Chromebooks, to help them with their productivity they were excited. The teacher was stumped and wanted clarification.  What is the difference between an app and an extension? This is a good question because most people errantly feel these terms are interchangeable. An extension, adds an ability or a tool to your browser enabling the user to have a better experience when browsing the internet. On the other hand, an app is a self-contained tool that allows the user to do something, create something or a webtool.

Chromebooks, unlike iPads, offer each user a unique experience based on their settings, extensions, and apps. When a student signs into a Chromebook, it will appear different for each student based on themes, apps, and extensions installed by that user.

So what extensions should students and teachers be exploring? The options are growing every day. However, one should be choosy when it comes to installing extensions because the more you install, the slower your device will go.

My Top 10 Google Extensions:

  1. Screencastify– for recording your screen and sharing HOW TO videos with classmates and students.
  2. Kami– view and annotate PDFs collaboratively. This is awesome for close reading strategies!
  3. Black Menu– allows the user to find a drop down menu of installed apps, can be organized to put most used apps on top of list
  4. Print Friendly– allows educators to print webpages without the clutter
  5. Google Dictionary– allows students to highlight words and see definition and hear pronunciation, also translates
  6. Grammarly– allows content producer to check for common grammar errors and suggests synonyms
  7. Read and Write for Google Chrome– reads text to learners, gives definitions (pictorial and text), dual color highlighting, great for ELLs and students with dyslexia
  8. Share to Classroom– easy way to share new websites with students in Google Classroom
  9. Easy Bib– helps students properly cite evidence gathered on the internet
  10. Extensity– enables the user to quickly enable or disable extensions with a click

My Top 10 Apps:

  1. Pixton– comic strip creator, students can be very creative with this one (disclaimor: this is a paid app, but it is so very cool!)
  2. Google Classroom– assign assignments, poll your students, and make announcements
  3. Padlet– a virtual bulletin board for students to respond with sticky notes
  4. Mind Mup- a mind mapping app for students
  5. Zero Noise Classroom–  displays time in a rotation or center and displays percentage of time students were working above optimum noise levels
  6. Exit Ticket– tool for collecting student data, assess student understanding of daily objectives
  7. Class Kick– feedback tool for students, view students live as they work on their Chromebooks
  8. Kaizena– leave voice comments in a document for your students, share with student
  9. No Red Ink– adaptive grammar lessons and proofreading assignments
  10. Notebook for Class– students take notes, submit them for review and comments

Please comment below if you have any extensions or apps you’d like to add to this collection.

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About bulldogtechteach

I am a technology integrator serving in a k-1 and a 2-5 elementary building. I firmly believe in the power of technology to engage students and allow them to create and master their learning.
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One Response to Crazy about Chromebooks

  1. Dag Gonzalez says:

    Thank you for taking the time to describe your Chromebook deployment experience and suggested educational tools. As a manufacturer of Chromebook carts, cabinets and safes we work with thousands of schools. In our experience, with the implementation of 1:1 most schools simply don’t have enough carts to accommodate all the chromebooks or tablets yet there is a need to charge student devices. In those cases, we recommend the use of less expensive charging stations, such as wall mount cabinets or tabletop safes. These charging stations can also serve to protect devices while they aren’t used. http://www.pc-security.com @Datamationsys #edtech

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