Google has come up with a lot of different aspects to educational technology. One part that can be applied to Google Chrome (the web browser) and the other is that it can be combined with Google Drive. Today we will be looking at extensions that are in conjunction with the browser (Google Chrome). This extensions are almost like a web version of assistive technology providing similiar tools for students.
Another great thing about Google extensions, you can login into Google with your google account (often through gmail …even though quite a few school boards/districts are creating staff and student accounts), and you can use it on other devices such as tablets, phones and other computers that have Google Chrome on it.
Read&Write for Google
Read&Write for Google is a great extension with a lot of different features. It is almost like a web version of Premier AT. The only catch with this extension is that it has features that are considered premium, meaning that you need to pay a fee for them.
This extension allows you to hover over text with your arrow and allows you to listen to text be read. This prevents students from having to highlight over text and then click an icon for it to be read as it automatically highlights up to a sentence or line of text. It will also track text as it goes highlighting it in blue and skipping over text as it goes.
Read&Write for Google also allows for people to translate their work into another language. However, from what I have seen it only looks like it translates to Spanish. You can listen to what words have been translated and then close the box when it is done as it opens a separate dialogue box. Out of this extension though this is my least favourite part as it is very limiting in its options, as well as other than the pronunciation it is really just an arm off of Google Translate, which we try to encourage our students to not use, as it isn’t always correct.
Fortunately this extension is able to be paired with Google Drive. A lot of boards have been setting up Google Drive accounts for their staff and students, which is a great tool and something that I have talked about previously. In this case, this extension allows students to highlight important parts of articles that they have found right on the webpage. Then you have the option to click on the colourful circle button which will import the highlighted pieces into a word document on Google Drive. It will also hyperlink (give the title of the article with the webpage associated to it linked to it). As Google Drive does not require you to save written works it will automatically save it for you. This is a great tool to have as it doesn’t require students to have to save or print off a large quantity of articles when doing research, but rather allows them to do it interactively. It is also great for those students when you are reminding them to write down what reliable (not Wikipedia) websites that they are collecting information from as it will automatically do it for them.
Read&Write for Google has a variety of other features, such as a fact finder which will when highlighting a word and then clicking it will open an alternate window which will come up with options and definitions about the highlighted piece. There are also two different dictionaries. A regular dictionary, which when a word is highlighted will open a window that connects to Google and shows the definition. There is also like shown below, a picture dictionary. This is great for those visual learners that may read the difficult word, but require something more tangible or visual to help with decoding it. Some of the pictures are a little vague to assist students, but some are great to help with the decoding and comprehension process.
Ideas for how to use Read&Write Google in the classroom:
1. For those students who require assistive technology, use it in replacement of things like WordQ, or Premier when getting students to do online research/converting them to use Google Drive more often.
2. For students to independently conduct online research for projects. As it has so many tools available, it makes the process much easier.
3. Use as a part of the differentiated instruction piece. Some students prefer to read content, and some prefer to listen to it.
Announcify is a simple but great extension. It seems limited, but sometimes more is less for some of our students. The purpose of this extension is to provide a chunked out reading of online text. The extension symbol presents as a red blob character or what I think of as a red warm fuzzy. When you click on the extension it will open a new tab (which is like a new webpage, just neatly organized under one browser opening). It will then lead you through the selected text. It will only focus on the parts that are currently being read. This is great for those who have issues with processing or focusing. Sometimes though it doesn’t like to work on sites like Wikipedia (this personally I don’t have a problem with as it pushes students to find better, more reliable resources), however you might have to double check it if you are looking to use a particular website with all students.
Ways to use Announcify in your classroom:
1. Use it as assistive technology for those who struggle with comprehension because of decoding.
2. Use it as a way to read large articles online to a class or small group.
3. Use it as an assessment piece for comprehension so that no inflections are not imposed onto the text.
Clearly is an extension that eliminates the extra distractions (ads, unnecessary pictures, etc.) that make sometimes reading a webpage or online article difficult. It takes the webpage and puts it into a simple, distraction free page. Clearly is also connected to Evernote, meaning you can save these webpages directly to your Evernote account. It allows students to also highlight texts and change the theme (so darker background) or the size of the text. Unfortunately Clearly cannot be paired with Announcify or Read&Write for Google so that these articles can be also read aloud.
Ways to use Clearly in the classroom:
1. To have students focus on the task at hand and eliminate the possibility of them clicking on outside ads. I find that when the ads are present and are presented like a part of the website, like an alternative game or something that lures them off the site and then off task.
2. It can be used to collect data, if given an Evernote account.
3. It can be used as an assessment piece, when students collect data and save it onto a folder in the teacher’s Evernote account so that they can track what they have collected and provide feedback when they are learning about reliable research, citing and plagarism.
4. It can be used as a part of a daily “In the News” part of your classroom curriculum, teaching current events, so that they can read the article and come up with questions without having external things popping up with the help of the Sticky Notes from the SMARTBoard, or having external dialogue boxes (like Word) open for questions to be jotted down on.
Google extensions are great as they can be “saved” or more like attached to a singular account and be able to work in multiple places. It is like a web version of assistive technology, but with tools that can and should be used by all students to teach them good study and work skills as well as provide them an environment that is distraction free. It is also great in the fact that it can address at least two of the three learning styles.
Next blog post, Mental Heath Awareness Week…we will jump back to the Google extensions for Google Drive after Mental Health Awareness Week.