Freshen Up Your Teaching with Some New Technology
This is a great time of year to try and freshen up what we do in the classroom. For me, this can also be a time that I can look deeper into curriculum and technology resources that I have put off for a while because of the busy schedule of my school day and being with my family at night. If you are like me and looking to try out some new technology this year that will help us to become more efficient and give students more ownership of their learning, then you have come to the right place. It also helps to try out some new applications in the middle of the year as a way to help students stay engaged during those winter months.
These are my personal top 5 applications or add-ons to Google Chrome. They are products that I am using currently in my classroom and I am having a lot of success. I am able to be more efficient with my time so I can spend more quality time with my students giving better feedback. These applications also help students start to learn some of their common errors and correct them with the aid of the programs. Some of these programs are free and some have a free trial and at the end of the trial, there is a fee for continued membership. Check out some of these applications:
Grammarly is a great Chrome extension that helps anyone revise and edit their work on the go. When you add this extension, it automatically syncs to your email, applications for jobs, essays, etc. The great feature about Grammarly is that is now available with Google Docs. My students and I love this because they can revise and edit their essays for simple grammatical errors and spelling. I can then focus my attention on the student’s content and making meaningful feedback on structure, and how to expand on what we are learning in class. The free version is great and fits almost all of your needs. If you are writing essays or going back to school, the premium version of Grammarly goes into more depth and looks at more ways to improve your writing! This app is also available for your other devices as well.
2. Selection Reader (Text to Speech)
The Selection Reader add-on is a great way to level the playing field for students that struggle to read your grade-level text. Oftentimes, I am assigning articles and students are conducting research at reading levels far above what they can read independently. This add-on allows the person to select the text on the website they want to read, click on the black speaker on the toolbar, and just like that, the student is able to read the same content as their peers. The voice on the application is a little robotic, but it is better than most out there.
What sold this product for me is that this is free and it is so convenient. Students do not need to wait for me to come around to read the words to them. Or, on the other hand, fake read the article and not understand what they are reading. This would be a great application for secondary students as sometimes their content and reading level gaps widen as students get into middle and high school. Check out this tutorial below.
The EquatIO add-on is a must-have resource for those who teach math at all levels. There are a free version and a premium version for this program. The free version fits most teachers’ needs on a day-to-day basis. The program allows math to now become digital and give all students access to this easy to use the program by TextHelp The features of this program include:
- Speech to text– Say the problem you want the students to solve and it will write it out for you!
- Integration with Microsoft Word and Google Docs-This allows you to create your math problems, exit slips, and assessments quickly. Students can complete their problems and then export them to their document to turn in the next day or digitally to their teacher.
- Write math expressions and equations quickly- Math has been a paper/pencil for the most part because of how labor intensive it is to write equations using devices. With their equation software, it is a breeze to create and solve math problems
- Is intuitive about what formulas you might need: EquatIO has formulas readily available for students to use to help guide them through the process of writing and solving their own equations.
How many of you love spending hours grading your student’s essays on the weekends? Don’t you love giving feedback on essays after they turn them in for a final grade? For me personally, I value my time and energy in school as well as outside of school with my family. The WriQ add-on for Google Docs is amazing because it will help you grade your student’s essays at the click of a button using a rubric that is meaningful to you and your students.
The program generates an overall score using different components of the essay. As the students make corrections, they can see their scores increase in each area as well as their overall score. I use this a lot for students throughout the writing process. This program allows me to use more of my time conferencing with students and providing support in areas of improvement. Some of the features of this program include:
- Rubrics designed for your Unit– You pick the rubric you want to use. They have informational, opinion, narrative
- Feedback in many areas of writing– This includes correct writing sequences, sentence variation, their vocabulary maturity age, and their time spent writing.
- Shares feedback with students– With the click of a button, you can analyze with charts and other statistics the score of your students writing. You can then save this and send it out to your students for review. This is great for rough drafts and allows students to fix their mistakes before the final paper is due!
5. Read&Write for Google Chrome
I work with students with various learning needs and this program is the total package. The main reason I like Read and Write is that it allows students to become more independent. The tools embedded here give students access to the curriculum at their grade level or beyond even though they may have a learning disability. The Read & Write program has so many features to list, but I will do my best to give you the highlights. Check out the tutorial video at the bottom for how to get it started.
- Simplifies web pages– This feature takes out all of the distracting content such as advertisements and pictures and allows students to focus on the content.
- Reads web pages, documents, and PDFs for you– Simply highlight the text you want to read and click the play button. Other features include different voices and faster and slower speech rate.
- Word Prediction– This handy feature not only tries to predict what you or your student is trying to type but if they hover over the words, they will read them aloud to you to help you figure it out.
- Traditional and Picture Dictionary-Simply highlight the word that you want to know more about and click either a picture or traditional dictionary icon and it gives you the part of speech as well as multiple definitions. The definitions can also be read aloud for you.
- Allows you to take notes and it collects them for you– As you take notes with multiple different colors, you can click the collect highlights button and it will organize all of your notes on a separate Google Doc. This makes taking notes a breeze! My students are using it right now for their biography research.
- Turn a document into an MP3 file– I used to record myself reading tests and articles for students each year. This one click allows you to have this downloaded instantly for you and then you can share this with your students. They can then pause and play at their own pace.
Bonus Site – ClassroomScreen- Also Free!
ClassroomScreen has it all for educators. This is a one-stop-shop for teachers who like to be able to make one click and keep their classroom management going smoothly. This site has some great backgrounds that change periodically. They also have some GIFs, which my students love to see up on the screen each day. My students like it so much they have added it to their own devices! Not only are the graphics cool, but there are many other cool features as well:
- Classroom voice levels reminder
- Clock to help keep your lessons and group work on schedule
- Voice levels- This is connected to your computer’s microphone and signals to your class when they are above the designated noise level limit.
- Traffic light– I use a red light to signal to students that they need to work independently because I am working one-on-one with a student.
- QR code recognition
- Random name chooser– Input your class roster and click a button to randomly pick a group or a certain person to help out with your lesson.
I hope you find these Google Add-ons and extensions useful not only for your classroom but personally as well. Please share with others and leave a comment for other cool add-ons or websites that we should try out!
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