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​  Save Time on Instruction  with free Google Chrome Extensions
​ Save Time on Instruction with free Google Chrome Extensions
Leslie Ellis (ROE SchoolWorks) and Holly Kelly (LTC)
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We’ve heard it repeatedly: this school year will be nothing like we’ve ever experienced. Districts and teachers are creatively finding solutions to the barriers they encounter to distance learning, blended schedules, and virtual student engagement. These twelve Google extensions will help educators save time, deliver their lessons, and ensure students learn no matter where their classrooms are or how they’re instructing this year.

1. Screencastify

What is it?

Screencastify can record your screen, face, and voice. A user can use select tool functions while recording and editing videos. Users can record a single tab in a web browser, capture all screen activity, or use the webcam to record or insert a video.

What role can it play in instruction?

Teachers are using Screencastify to record instructional videos and post to their instructional platform for asynchronous teaching. If you’re using a flipped classroom model, students will watch your instructional video before attending class, which is where they will receive support, intervention, and enrichment from you, their teacher. Not only does Screencastify allow you to record your screen, but it also allows you to mark up the screen with a whiteboard feature. You can use this feature to model problem-solving in math, writing in ELA, and drawing in art, among other things. Because you can record your face and voice with Screencastify, you can connect with your students and establish a classroom community a little more quickly if you’re in virtual settings.

2. Tab Resize

What is it?

Tab Resize allows you to split/ divide tabs into multiple windows. This extension works very well on larger screens and also provides the options for a number of different present layouts. 

What role can it play in instruction?

This extension allows kids and teachers to work from multiple applications simultaneously. For example, they can instantaneously split their screen between Google Meet and their homework assignment. Teachers can split their screen among a list of directions, an example, and a working model to share with students during a Google Meet.

3. Google Calendar

What is it?

Google Calendar extension displays an icon, if pinned, of your calendar in your web browser. It will show the time left until your next meeting on the extension icon and you will be able to click the icon for a quick summary of your calendar. You  must open Google Calendar and be logged in before using the extension. 

What role can it play in instruction?

Keeping yourself organized is vital this year. You can track schedules for your remote learners and your classroom students. Post your Zoom or Google Meet links in your plan to streamline the virtual meeting process. Share your calendar with students, show them your office hours, and schedule blocks of time for one-on-one meetings. 

4. Save to Drive

What is it?

Save to Drive extension allows you to capture content from anywhere on the web and store it in Drive without having to open Google Drive. You will be able to save an entire page’s image or a single image on a page.

What role can it play in instruction?

Avoid printing a page to a PDF, save to your desktop, and move it to Drive. This extension will shortcut the process for sharing resources you find online with your students. 

5. Web Paint

What is it?

Web Paint is a drawing tool which you can draw lines, add text boxes, shapes to a live web page. You also have the ability to take a screenshot of the web page to use for later use.  

What role can it play in instruction?

If you’re looking for an interactive whiteboard, this is one option. Not only can you annotate on any web page or screenshot, but your students can also, too! If you want them to annotate an advertisement they find online for rhetorical devices; they can take a screenshot and write directly on the screen. They save it and upload it to the instructional platform to share it with you. This extension works well with screencasting and video conferencing apps and extensions, too. You can share your screen in Google Meet and annotate directly on your web page with Web Paint.

6. Vocaroo

What is it?

Vocaroo is a tool for recording audio in a browser. You can record using the featured buttons and/or add the recorded audio into your learning management system.  

What role can it play in instruction?

Vocaroo is particularly powerful for younger students, students learning to read and write, and English Language Learners. This simple app allows kids to provide a voice memo response with the click of a button. They can upload their audio response to Classroom without having to type. They can verbally share their response to a story, walk you through a math problem, or describe their observations of nature. This is just one possible way Vocaroo expands accessibility to students.

7. EquatIO

What is it?

EquatIO is a tool that allow yous to create mathematical equations and formulas. It can be used in Google Sheets, Forms, Slides, and Drawings. 

What role can it play in instruction?

Writing mathematical equations and expressions online is tricky without using code. This extension translates handwritten mathematical language into the proper mathematical format. Students can show their work in a digital form. Not only will you not receive sloppy handwritten work anymore, but you can streamline the grading process by pairing this extension with an app like Google Forms. For example, kids write their answer in proper form using Equati0 and insert it as their answer in a Form. You can use the Quiz feature on Forms to automatically grade and provide feedback to students’ math work.

8. Google Translate 

What is it?

Google Translate can translate web text and google docs.. There are over 100 languages to choose from. Easy accessibility allows you to translate a live web page. 

What role can it play in instruction?

This app is a no-brainer for students learning a second (or third or fourth) language. Suppose you’re sending written instructions or texts to English Language Learners students, and you do not have access to a translator. In that case, Google Translate is a great place to make documents accessible to students and their families in their native languages.

9. LightShot

What is it?

Lightshot is a tool that allows you to take screenshots of a whole page or just a selected area. The image will be downloaded for you to use in your learning management system. 

What role can it play in instruction?

Show your students a process by taking a screenshot. Pair each screenshot with text to create a set of visual instructions to print or post. Then, students have access to tutorials without needing wi-fi or technology. This is particularly useful for showing kids how to do hands-on projects like graphic design or art or how to navigate a computer program.

10. Quick QR Code Generator

What is it?

Quick QR Code Generator converts your web page or link into a QR code which allies another person to be able to scan with their device camera for accessibility. By using a QR code, another person does not have to type in a URL and saves time or mistyping error. 

What role can it play in instruction?

We know students will use technology to access instructional materials more than ever this school year. Link instructional materials, useful websites, and recorded videos to a QR code for easy access. Any student or family with a smartphone can take a picture of the QR code with their phone’s camera or a QR code reader and instantly access the resource without having to type a long URL. 

11. Bitly

What is it?

Bitly is a URL shortener. A user can customize a URL link to add personalization. 

What role can it play in instruction?

Pair a shortened URL from Bitly with a QR code and ensure that your students and families have access to important information and resources. You won’t risk a mistyped URL or case-sensitive addresses. 

12. Kami

What is it?

Kami a tool that allows you to markup a document and allow annotation. You are able to underline, highlight, add images and shapes as well to a document. Kami works with Google Drive and integrates into the assignments tab in Google Classroom. In order for a student to use Kami, they, in addition to their teacher, need this extension. 

What role can it play in instruction?

Your students can write directly on a document using Kami. They can mark up text with questions, big ideas, connections, etc. They can even complete practice problems or write explanations on it using Kami. Because students can write directly on the document or use text boxes, the app increases accessibility and possibilities for students.

How to add extensions in Chrome

Click Here to see how to add extensions in Chrome.

Closing Summary

We’re in no short supply of tech tools, applications, and extensions to use this school year. The twelve above are just a small sampling that will save you and your students time. No matter which tools you choose to prioritize and use, always ask yourself How will this affect student learning? This important question keeps our purpose in the forefront of our mind as we plan lessons to reach our learning targets and choose extensions to increase accessibility for our students.


Leslie Ellis (@MrsLeslieEllis) is an instructional coach with ROE SchoolWorks (@roeschoolworks) in Champaign, Ford, and Vermilion Counties in Illinois.

Holly Kelly (@LTCHKelly) is the Regional Educational Technology Coordinator with the Learning Technology Center (@ltcillinois) for East Illinois.