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Top 10 Free Google Chrome Extensions for K-12 Teaching and Learning

Google Chrome is more than just a web browser; it can be a powerful instructional tool for teachers and students. With a host of helpful extensions, Google Chrome can increase productivity, encourage creativity, and make online learning more intuitive. Here are 10 of the best Google Chrome extensions for teachers and students K-12.

1. Grammarly

Grammarly can help teachers and students develop into better writers. This extension checks your grammar instantly as you type such as in a Google Doc or on your favorite social media app. Grammarly alerts you to your writing mistakes, such as when you’ve misspelled a word or forgotten a punctuation mark, and makes suggestions to correct them.  The real benefit though is the way it explains the mistake. This is especially helpful for students who need to know why they shouldn’t type “their was” instead of “there was” for example. The free version catches the majority of errors, but there’s also a paid premium version that picks up even more, makes stylistic suggestions, checks for plagiarism, and helps with vocabulary.

2. Google Keep

Google Keep works like a digital set of sticky notes, which you can use to store information from a variety of sources and organize in a way that is most helpful for you. With this extension, you can save important websites, images, and quotes and add notes that you can reference later. For example, if you found a lesson on integrating quotes in writing that you really like but you have a modification that makes it better tailored to your students, you could add your idea as a note so you don’t forget about it.

With Keep, you can also create color-coded checklists with checkboxes and set location reminders so the next time you are at the store it will remind you to buy the items you need for a project coming up in your class. You can also organize your notes by adding labels to them and as Keep syncs across all of your devices, you’ll have access to your notes no matter where you are.

Students can benefit from using the Keep extension by saving websites that they research and adding notes to describe how they plan to use the information.

3. Smallpdf 

As teachers and students continue to navigate online learning, the ability to find instructional resources that translate well to online instruction is a challenge many teachers face. If you’ve ever come across a worksheet or assignment that you think would be great for your students, but the file was in a PDF format, you probably know the frustration of wishing you had the file in an editable format to assign to your students online. 

The Smallpdf extension facilitates this process by giving you the ability to convert PDFs into an editable format. So now when you find a math worksheet in a PDF file you can convert it to a Word document that students can type their answers on. The extension also gives you the ability to merge, split, and compress PDF files.

4. Screencastify

This extension lets you record your screen for up to five minutes –a digestible amount of time for students to engage with a mini lesson from their teacher. If you need to walk students through the requirements of MLA format in Google Docs, for example, you could use Screencastify to record your screen as you demonstrate how to correctly format an essay in MLA format. Or you might need to show students how to navigate Google Classroom for your class. Students can use Screencastify to create presentations or show their work on an assignment. Videos automatically save to your Google Drive for easy sharing.

5. Mote

Formative feedback is vital to the learning process, but typing out individual comments in student assignments can be time consuming. Mote gives you the ability to leave audio comments on student assignments and it works with Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. So, if you need to explain how a student could be more specific in an essay, you can highlight the relevant part and use mote to leave a voice comment outlining your thoughts. Mote also gives you the option to have your voice comments translated into more than 20 world languages.

6. Pocket

The internet is replete with great resources for teachers, but the sheer number of resources can be overwhelming. How do you keep track of it all? And how do you remember that great activity you found on teaching fractions when you’ve found twenty other helpful articles online since then and the fraction activity is now the furthest thing from your mind? Pocket is a helpful extension that allows you to save articles you want to come back to later. You can add tags to categorize them so if you know you need something on the writing process, you could just check the articles you’ve tagged with the words “writing process.” 

7. Dualless 

Dualless mimics a dual-screen setup for your computer which is especially helpful for those who are teaching virtually through Google Meet. Using Dualless, you can split your screen so that one window has the material you’re presenting to your class while the other window is open to your Google Meet so you can monitor your students as you’re presenting. 

For students, Dualless removes the frustration of having to switch between tabs if they have to watch a video while working through an assignment, for example. They can simply open the video in one window while having their assignment open on the other half of their screen, allowing them to watch and work at the same time.

8. Edpuzzle

With Edpuzzle, teachers can create interactive lessons by adding questions at certain points in a video or even adding comments through voice narration. You can trim videos to only the sections you want to use, or you can use an entire video. As an added benefit, teachers can track student progress through a lesson by seeing if they are watching the videos, where they’re stopping, and assessing their understanding through student responses. While teachers love the ability to use any video already created online, they can also create their own videos for instructional use through Edpuzzle.

9. Jamboard 

Jamboard allows you to create a virtual whiteboard to demonstrate concepts when you’re teaching virtually. If there’s a math problem you need to show the steps for or a scientific process you need to walk students through, you can use Jamboard to visually communicate the information. You can write or draw on your Jamboard, as well as add images or virtual sticky notes of information. Jamboards are also great for collaboration. Teachers can create a Jamboard for shared lesson planning, and students can collaboratively use a Jamboard to create a presentation by adding text and images. 

10. Nod 

When you’re teaching virtually through Google Meet, it can be a challenge to measure student engagement. Nod helps to relieve this problem by giving students a user-friendly and non-intimidating way of interacting within the virtual classroom. Using emoji reactions, students can indicate their understanding, their desire to ask a question, or just to demonstrate their engagement without disrupting the instructional environment.

Google Chrome is the world's most popular web browser. Despite the annoyances related to hogging system resources, it's a very capable platform. And one of its strong points is the abundant extensions ecosystem. There are thousands of Chrome extensions. If you can imagine it, chances are there's an extension for it. 

There are literally thousands upon thousands of extensions.

There's another rub: You can install so many extensions that you can bring the browser to a creaking halt under the weight of the system resources that the extensions themselves consume. So, I set myself a challenge -- a shortlist of the seven best Chrome extensions. Extensions that are really useful, well-supported, and do a good job.

Here's the list I came up with -- all these extensions are free and work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

Bitwarden

My new favorite password manager

Bitwarden

Looking for a secure password manager that's also free? Look no further than Bitwarden, my new favorite password manager.

Bitwarden stores all of your logins in an encrypted vault that syncs across all of your devices, and all the data is secured using AES-256 bit encryption, salted hashing, and PBKDF2 SHA-256.

If you're not using a password manager -- and you really should be! -- then I suggest you take Bitwarden for a spin. Highly recommended.

View now at Chrome Web Store

Tab Wrangler

Must-have for tab hogs

Tab Wrangler

Closes tabs that have been languishing open for too long, but keeps them close to hand for when you need them. If you are a tab hog, this is a must-have, and it allows me to keep dozens of tabs open without the performance hit.

View now at Chrome Web Store

Adblock Plus - free ad blocker

One of the most trusted extensions

Adblock Plus - free ad blocker

The granddaddy of ad-blockers! Downloaded over 500 million times, it is without a doubt one of the most trusted extensions out there. And Adblock Plus is packed with features:

  1. Block annoying video ads and banners

  2. Block pop-ups

  3. Stop tracking and give yourself more privacy

  4. Fight off destructive malvertising that can hide in ads

  5. Give yourself faster browsing (as resources are blocked from loading)

  6. Customize features, like whitelisting for favorite sites

  7. Get free and constant support

  8. Give yourself simply more control of the experience you want

View now at Chrome Web Store

Evernote Web Clipper

Quickly save snippets of information

Evernote Web Clipper

Most of the time I'm keeping tabs open because there's some snippet of information in them that I need. Evernote Web Clipper allows me to grab that information, save it somewhere far more sensible than an open tab, and allows me easy access to it when I need it.

View now at Chrome Web Store

Ghostery

Privacy ad blocker

Ghostery – Privacy Ad Blocker

What does Ghostery do? Put simply, it blocks ads, stops trackers, and speeds up websites. The built-in "Enhanced Anti Tracking" also anonymizes your data to further protect your privacy.

View now at Chrome Web Store

Awesome Screenshot and Screen Recorder

Record your desktop or tab

Awesome Screenshot & Screen Recorder

A screen capture tool built directly into Chrome. A fantastic tool for people who want to capture the contents of web pages without the hassle of using a separate utility. You can also record the desktop, a tab, or the stream from a cam. And you can then go on to add narration over the top. A nice, very useful extension.

View now at Chrome Web Store

FoxClocks

Quick access to different timezones

FoxClocks

If you roll in different timezones, then having clocks in the browser's status bar will help keep you on track. Alternatively, just click on the FoxClocks icon next to your address bar for quick access to your clocks, without leaving the current web page. As an added bonus, FoxClocks deals with daylight saving time so you don't have to!

View now at Chrome Web Store

Can extensions affect browser performance?

Yes. The more extension you have installed, the more overhead you are adding to your Chrome browser. Chrome is already a bit of a resource hog, and depending on your computer, extensions can make this worse.

Can you easily uninstall Google Chrome extensions?

Yes. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar, hit Enter and you will get a list of your extensions. Click the toggle to enable/disable the extension, or click Remove to completely uninstall the extension.

Do extensions work when you are in Incognito Mode?

No, but you can enable that feature for an extension. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar and hit Enter. Find the extension you want to enable in Incognito Mode and click Details. On the next page, flip the Allow in incognito toggle.

Note the warning that Google has about doing this:

Warning: Google Chrome cannot prevent extensions from recording your browsing history. To disable this extension in incognito mode, unselect this option.

How do you update Google Chrome extensions?

Extensions update automatically, but you can do a manual update if you want. Type chrome://extensions/ into the address bar and hit Enter. On the next screen click the Update button at the top of the screen. Alternatively, to update a single extension, click on Details for that extension and then click Update.

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