This past week we had the opportunity to do some exploring of a variety of different tools and extensions. Currently, on my computer, I don’t use a lot of extensions. These are the following that I have enabled on my browser:
- Post to Seesaw Extension (Yes! This exists and it is pretty cool)
- Read Write for Chrome
- Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
In this blog post, I will highlight how I use these tools to support myself as an Instructional Technology Coach either for personal use or provide some ideas on how these extensions can be used with students if applicable. Furthermore, we will discuss the importance of privacy when using these extensions.
Some form of AdBlock for educators is a must. UBlock allows for me to be accessing the web without the clutter of ads on different websites, ads on YouTube videos. UBlock won’t necessarily improve your teaching but will save you time if you often show your students YouTube videos, and avoiding risqué ads that you don’t want your students seeing.
Wakelet is a great tool to add to the technology tool kit when it comes to curating resources. In a previous review on Wakelet, I define Wakelet as a tool that is “working to change the way that people find, organize and share information. Helping them organize and find the most relevant, authoritative, and compelling content from across the web”. Wakelet is able to modify and redefine educational practice. Maybe you want your students to curate a digital portfolio or links, social media content, Flipgrid videos, pictures, notes. Or maybe you want your students to take you on a tour of their city, province, country. Use Wakelet as a virtual field trip tool. The extension allows you to quickly add to your collections, and access your collections. You can even set it up to send you to your Wakelet collection page when you open a new tab.
The Seesaw extension is by no means a revolutionary addition to the powerful digital portfolio and communication tool. However, it does allow the user to take a quick screenshot and attach it right into a student’s journal. This tool would allow for the augmentation of education because it is a time saver in the classroom, and allows students to showcase another medium in Seesaw through their student journals.
OneTab is a Google extension that I started using in one of my first classes when Alec was showcasing the different extensions. OneTab allows the user to click the OneTab extension button to minimize all the tabs into one condensed tab. If anyone runs internet browsers like mine with 5 Google Chrome windows open with 15 tabs each, then this app is made for you. In the classroom teachers are able to easily open up all their links for the day and click the OneTab button to keep their browser windows and tabs organized.
If I had to suggest one extension on my list, this would be it. Grammarly is spellcheck on steroids. It is great for any typing you are doing on the web. When I am writing blog posts I often will first write the post in Microsoft Word and then transfer the post into WordPress. Grammarly is able to further pick out recommendations on how I can improve my writing. There is a paid option for Grammarly (It is rather pricey), but I have considered it multiple times. But to get started the free version is phenomenal. This app is sure to help with your communication.
Read Write for Chrome
This is a paid service that our school division pays for. I will be the first to admit, that it has its strengths and it’s weaknesses. Read Write for Chrome (RWC), allows the users to use dictation, text to speech, built-in dictionary, picture dictionary, audio recordings (similar to Mote), the ability to generate vocabulary lists, and more. The downfall is that I find the software cumbersome to use as compared to Microsoft’s Immersive Reader (and Immersive Reader is FREE!). However, RWC allows teachers to introduce this tool through Universal Design for Learning (UDL) teaching the students the skills and they can apply the skills if needed.
Tweeten is a Twitter engine that allows for multiple Twitter feeds to be available. If you are big into Twitter Chats such as #Saskedchat Tweeten or Tweetdeck would be something that I would encourage you to explore. The only real reason that I use Tweeten over Tweetdeck is the ease that I can add GIFs to my tweets.
Momentum provides a change of the bland and plain look when you add a new tab. This provides a clean page that offers a To-Do list, an inspirational quote, and the weather. I will enable this extension when I feel I need a change.
I learned about this really awesome extension when I went to TCEA in Austin in 2019. If you are a teacher who is into graphic design, or any sort of newsletter building this is a handy extension you might be interested in. Colorzilla can get a color reading from any point in your browser and copies it to your keyboard. This app works excellent in video editing software, or in a creation app such as Canva.
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
This application was a game-changer for me. When COVID-19 hit mid-March, we had many teachers wanting to download multiple different programs and services, often without looking into the privacy concerns regarding the app or service. Terms of Service; Didn’t Read pulls out all the of the important information that could be a concern from within the Terms of Service. Often as teachers, we do not have enough time to read the terms of service for all the applications that we are exploring. Often this gave me a starting place for the exploration of apps and software to be used in the classroom.
Student Privacy with Extensions and Apps
Many of the extensions and apps that are available right now to educators provide opportunities to teach privacy to students specifically around personal data. It is important that we are getting our students to consent to where their data is going and that the students understand where their personal information is going. Two great sites I often refer to include Commonsense Media and MediaSmarts.