What is a Google Chrome Extension and why teachers should use them?

If you are an educator in today’s world and you aren’t using Google, you are working way too hard!!  Google is an amazing teaching tool and it’s numerous extensions make it heaven on earth, especially for educators.  In this article, I’m going to share with you my top 10 Chrome extensions for teachers that make me and my classroom more productive.

Maybe you’re using Google Classroom but have never heard of a Chrome Extension.  Well, if this is the case I’m here to help!  Chrome extensions are small programs that utilize web technology/code.  They are created to perform a single purpose and make Google function more efficiently.  This means you as a teacher can function more efficiently!  These ten extensions are ones you will find yourself utilizing daily.  They will make your classroom and lessons more engaging and streamline your lesson planning and grading.  As I always say, work smarter and not harder.

If you are looking at educating yourself or more ways to work smarter and not harder check out my other articles:

Tech Skills Every Educator Must Have to Survive

Top 20 Distance Learning Tools in 2020

Google Chrome Extension

What Are the Most Productive Chrome Extensions for Teachers?

Kami Chrome Extension

#1 Kami

First on my list of Chrome extensions for teachers is Kami.  I use this extension for probably 80% of my assignments.  Kami offers both a free and a paid version.  Most teachers utilize the free version.  I personally prefer the paid version due to the additional ease of use for students.  I will mention that they still have a few kinks to work out.  Sometimes minor issues occur with this extension but overall it is a great program that adds so much value and time to my days.  Kami is a leading app/extension that allows teachers to upload PDF files and annotate directly onto them with no editing required.  This makes lesson prep a breeze.

As more and more schools are shifting to chromebooks and digital devices due to increased remote learning, Kami makes this transition easy for both students and teachers alike.  With Kami, you now have digital pencil and paper at your fingertips.  The tools inside of Kami promote students’ creativity by allowing them to draw freely and annotate with a selection of colors, shapes, text sizes, and even mathematical features.  This extension allows students to effortlessly save and download files to Google Classroom.

As a teacher, I love the grade with Kami feature.  This allows me to mark on students’ papers just as I would on a paper and pencil assignment.  The ability to place shapes or text anywhere on the page, makes grading very informative and flexible.  Grading with Kami offer various forms of feedback such as audio and video annotations, ensuring students’ understanding of responses.  Kami maintains the sense of normal no matter the classroom environment that you are teaching in.  If you aren’t familiar with Kami and want to learn more about how to use it, check out my video titled How to Use Kami with Google Classroom.

Share to Classroom Extension

#2 Share to Classroom

Number two on my list of Chrome extensions for teachers is Share to Classroom. This extension allows you to push webpages to any of your Google Classroom classes, so they open instantly on your students’ computers. With this extension, you can get your students on the right page, quickly and reliably every time.  Share to Classroom also allows you to post announcements, create assignments, or save web pages via the post to Classroom later option.

If you are using Google Classroom often with your students, the Share to Classroom Chrome extension will make your workflow a bit easier and much quicker.  If you need to post an assignment, announcement, question, or just needing to push a digital resource to your class, Share to Classroom can do that without having to actually sign into Google Classroom.  Save lots of time and effort lesson planning using the Share to Classroom extension.

Mote Voice Commenting Extension

#3 Mote Voice Commenting

My third favorite Chrome extension is Mote Voice Commenting.  Mote Voice Commenting lets you easily add transcribed voice comments and feedback to shared documents. Mote works with Google Docs, Google Classroom, Slides and Sheets.  One of the added features is that it supports transcription in 15 different languages.  This can be helpful in education with English as a second language student.

When you are grading lots of papers and time is of the essence, Mote Voice Commenting can streamline this process.  You will save lots of time using this extension.  There can be drawbacks with this extension, however.  If you have a strong accent the voice recognition system doesn’t always work well.  I find that this feature works better than the text to speech option inside of Google Docs.  Overall, I have had success with this extension and find it saves me tons of time during grading, especially on written assignments where lots of responses are often necessary on each assignment.  I think you will find this to be one of your favorites as well.

Classwork Zoom

# 4 Classwork Zoom

Classwork Zoom for Google Classroom is next on the list of Chrome extensions for teachers .  This extension has nothing to do with the popular Zoom meeting app, despite the fact that they share Zoom in their names.  This is a fabulous friend to teachers who use Google Classroom.  It streamlines many features and helps you keep tabs on certain aspects of assignments.  Teachers can use Classwork Zoom to monitor and manage students’ productivity on a variety of Google products such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Classwork Zoom pulls all of the document’s revision history into one place.  No more opening each assignment and scrolling through the revision history.  This extension shows the entire class’s work on an assignment in a timeline. In addition, Teachers have access to a variety of settings that allow them to add or remove information from the timeline view.

If you are an ELA, writing, or research teacher you are going to love this extension.  Worrying about identifying plagiarism is a thing of the past.  Classwork Zoom can identify when a student appears to have pasted in a large amount of text, helping you keep an eye on potential plagiarism issues.

Classwork Zoom is the perfect Chrome extension for teachers, going as far as helping with differentiated learning and classroom management.

How, you ask? Well, a glance on the timeline will allow teachers to identify students who have gaps of inactive time on a document.  Using this information, you can quickly and easily identify students that may need accommodations for the assignment or who need individualized motivation or assistance.  This allows teachers to respond quickly and easily to issues in a prompt, real-time manner.  When multiple students are working on a document, Classwork Zoom will show percentages for each student’s contribution. This makes grading collaborative projects a breeze, even in a remote learning environment.  It will also alert teachers when an unassigned user adds content to a document that user wasn’t assigned to. When you spot a potential issue, you can click on the student’s timeline and access the document for closer inspection. This extension is a must have in my book!  I don’t know how I ever taught without it.

Insert Learning

#5 Insert Learning

My fifth Chrome extension for teachers is Insert Learning.  Insert Learning saves teachers and students time while keeping students engaged.  You can insert questions, discussions, and insights via post it notes directly into any website.  When students go to that website, they can respond to those questions and discussions, see that insight, and take their own notes.  This extension was created by two high school teachers.  Who knows better what a teacher needs than another teacher!  This is a Chrome extension that was truly tailor made for teachers.

We have all been there, you are planning your lesson and you have added 10 different links, directions, discussion questions, and possibly a video link.  Well, no more.  Insert Learning allows you to place all of this on one webpage.  The toolbar consists of a few features: an assign button, highlight and sticky note buttons, and question, discussion, dashboard, and feedback buttons. All features allow for manipulation of a site, but the amount of manipulation and additional features added to any site is up to the teacher. There is a teacher dashboard where teachers can see their docents, copy others’ docents, and assign them to students. Teachers are also able to view student annotations, their answers, and interactions in discussions.

Insert Learning offers the option for teachers to create their own lessons or to choose from their public library of lessons.  Once you have your lesson ready, you can assign it to students using Insert Learning classes or the Share to Google Classroom extension.  They make it very easy and user friendly.  According to Common Sense Education, “The ease of creating a docent will entice teachers. More importantly, Insert Learning’s ability to fit so nicely in with Google Classroom and Drive and a plethora of other educational tools and products makes it a great tool.”

Pocket Chrome Extension

Picture from: Shake Up Learning

More Chrome Extensions for Teachers…

Google Chrome Extensions

Pocket Google Chrome Extension

#6 Pocket

Pocket is number six on my list of Chrome extensions for teachers.  How many times have you emailed yourself a link to something you want to use for a future lesson?  Pocket is an extension that allows you to save articles, videos, and websites that you want to revisit later. After installing this extension, whenever you find a video or website that you want to remember, you just click the extension in your Chrome browser, and Pocket will save it for you.  When you are ready to use these saved items, simply log into Pocket and you can see all the websites, videos, and articles that you have saved. This is a wonderful resource for keeping track of items you want for future lessons or professional development.  This extension is an organizational life saver and a must have for teachers!

Google Meet Plus Extension#7 Google Meet Plus

Google Meet Plus is up next on the list of Chrome extensions for teachers.  This is a brand new extension that just rolled out.  It has a basic and a pro version.  I haven’t used the pro version however, it looks great.  Pro does require a monthly subscription fee.  This appears to be more of a school or district wide decision to utilize the pro version.  The basic version offers lots of free features.  Some of the basic features include emoji reactions, messenger, help request, task management, trivia quiz, and link sharing, just to name a few.  There is more to the basic version but these are the features that I have utilized most and enjoy.

The pro version appears to offer some great features, especially during this time.  The pro states that it includes breakout rooms, customized quizzes, attendance, whiteboard sharing, polling, and personalized avatars features.  These are all fabulous features!  Please note that both the basic and the pro versions require the Google Meet participants to install the extension in order to see and interact with the features.  This means students must also install the extension.  Keep in mind this is a brand new extension and that can mean giving time for the kinks to be worked out.

Ed Puzzle Chrome Extension#8 Ed Puzzle

Ed Puzzle is number eight on my list of Chrome extensions for teachers.  I recently learned about this extension and have quickly come to adore it.  Ed Puzzle is a teaching game changer!  What teacher doesn’t use videos to enhance their lessons these days?  If you use videos in your lessons then you must incorporate Ed Puzzle.  This extension allows teachers to create or edit videos to share with their students and makes the video interactive and gradable.

Once you pick a video, you can add questions to check for understanding, trim the video, and add notes/comments.  In addition to this, it’s easy to track students progress, see how much of the video they have watched, force students to watch the entire video (by eliminating the skip feature), and check to see if they understood the material.  It’s extremely user-friendly and (for the most part) free!  I heard about this extension quite some time ago, but only recently actually explored the extension.  I don’t know what I was waiting for.  This has changed my teaching!!

When the extension is installed, a small button will appear underneath the YouTube (or other video source) video that says “Edit with Ed Puzzle”.  Simply click on that button and you are immediately taken to the edit screen in Ed Puzzle!   Make no mistake, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use it but it is slightly more involved than most other extensions listed in this article but very manageable.  Try it before you write it off.  You will be happy that you did.

Nod Chrome Extension#9 Nod

Have you been searching for a way to make your Google Meet class sessions more engaging?  Well, look no further than my number nine, Nod.  Relying on verbal feedback from multiple users can get very frustrating and confusing in a video conference setting. For Google Meet, there’s an extension that addresses that very issue.  The Nod Chrome extension adds in Facebook-like reactions. Students can clap, raise their hand, or LOL during your session without interrupting the speaker.  The ability for users to add non-verbal interactions to the conference makes for an orderly but yet engaging classroom experience.

The “emoji” list is short and strategic but it lets the host or speaker know that the user is engaged with the content that’s being served. The handy “hand-raising” option allows the speaker to know that there is a question or interaction from a viewer without interrupting the class. This feature also comes with a notification option, just in case you have your window minimized during a class or meeting. For the teachers and schools that are using Meet as their go-to platform (as we are), this will bring a lot of productivity while maintaining order during your sessions.

Google Jamboard Extension#10 Google Jamboard

Last but certainly not least, I included Google Jamboard.  This Chrome extension is great for teachers that need to illustrate problems as part of their teaching, such as Math and Science teachers.  With Jamboard, you can write and draw, type text sticky notes, and insert images all directly on a whiteboard type surface.  It allows you and your students to collaborate by sharing a jamboard during Google Meet classroom sessions, as well as during site based learning environments.  What a great way to continue working together while maintaining social distance!  This extension is a true must have!

BONUS Chrome Extension for Teachers!!

Extensity Chrome Extension

I have included the Extensity Chrome extension as a bonus.  This is another organization tool for teachers.  Extensity allows you to organize all of your extensions into “profiles.”  When you open these profiles, they automatically disable the other extensions and only enable the ones that you want. This allows your browser to run faster and makes it much easier to find the extensions you need.  We all know that the school internet is not always the fastest and can cause frustration if we try to work it too hard.

In a time when we need it more than ever and we equally need these extensions, Extensity makes it all work.  You can easily switch between profiles in seconds without needing to re-enable anything manually.  You can customize your profiles quickly and easily.  Extensity also allows you to manage your Apps (which are larger than Chrome Extensions and take up more resources).

I feel like teachers who are more inclined technically will use this extension, where less comfortable tech teachers may not.  I love this extension!  It is a real winner.  It also is very non-technical, despite its description.  I encourage you to install it and try it before you judge.  You will love it too!

I hope that you find these extensions as useful as I do.  If you have other extensions that you just can’t live without that aren’t on this list, please let me know what they are.  I am always looking to work smarter and not harder and I love to learn new things.  Also, I would love to hear which of these extensions is your favorite.  Drop me a line!