Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
April 4, 2017

7 Google Apps, Extensions, and Add-Ons for English Teachers

By Mary Blow
Grades 6–8, 9–12

    This year, each of my students received a Chromebook. Throughout the year, my English teacher colleagues and I have been test-driving different apps, extensions, and add-ons. The tech tools below were selected as my favorites because they improve my students’ writings and simplify the evaluation process. Some tech tools require a little practice to develop the fluency that will eventually save you time, so don’t give up too quickly.

    Google Apps, Extensions, and Add-Ons

    Before discussing the tech tools, it is important to understand the different categories of Google resources: apps, extensions, and add-ons. You can find the apps and extensions mentioned in the Google Web Store. Apps are web-based applications, like Google Docs, Quizlet, and WeVideo. Extensions are mini-programs that integrate with the Chrome browser. Extensions enhance browser function, increasing interaction with web pages: Pinterest, Grammarly, and Pocket.

    Google add-ons are features that enhance how a Google application functions. For example, I use Open Clipart, Extensis Fonts, and Avery Label Merge to enhance the functionality of Google Docs. Add-ons are not found in Google Web Store, they are accessed through the application, like Google Docs for which the add-on is meant to enhance. Search for and manage add-ons through the “add-on” menu in Google applications.

     

    EasyBib

    EasyBib is a Google Docs add-on that has been around a while. It is a citation tool. It assists users with creating bibliographies. There is the choice of inserting a bibliography using MLA, APA, or Chicago citation formats. While in Google Docs, search EasyBib for books or journal articles by: ISBN, titles, authors, or keywords. You can also copy and paste a website URL into EasyBib to get the citation information of a website. However, I have noticed that the add-on version of the app does not always generate accurate or thorough website citation, so I encourage students to use EasyBib app, the online version, to manually create website citations.

     

    GradeProof and Grammarly

    GradeProof is a Google-Docs add-on. Once students complete a written assignment, they run GradeProof, which offers grammar, spelling, and phrasing suggestions. A dialogue box opens, inside Google Docs highlighting grammar, spelling, and phrasing mistakes. Students navigate through the identified suggestions and decide if they want to accept or ignore them. When finished, they save the changes, which are updated in the document. According to my students, it is the most useful tool we have discovered this year. I like that explanations for the suggestions are offered, so my sixth graders are not just clicking accept to every suggestion.

    I like GradeProof better when working in Google Docs; however, Grammarly is a useful Chrome extension, editing online texts when typing into blogs or other social networks.

     

    Google Keep

    Google Keep is a note-taking tool, a Chrome extension. I am sure this tech tool has many useful purposes, but I discovered one significant benefit for English teachers while reading an article by Eric Curts, “Using Keep for Grading Comments in Docs” (Control Alt Achieve). Google Keep speeds up the grading process because it is integrated with Google Docs. Be sure to watch Eric’s seven-minute video “Using Google Keep for Grading Comments in Docs,” which is embedded in the blog post. It is all you need to get started with the Chrome extension.

    My Writing Feedback Comments is in the developmental stages. You can invite colleagues to collaborate on notes, which simplifies the process of generating a writing comments library. My comments are categorized: ideas and details, sentence fluency, organization, word choice, conventions, voice, and formatting. I have already learned that it is quicker to type “add space” or “delete space” rather than searching for the comment. If you have too many comments to search through, it slows down the process and defeats the purpose of using Google Keep. Tagging the comments as Eric suggests also helps to locate them quicker.

    I like that my sixth graders have a record of my comments. It has been my experience that some students forget what you discussed during a writing conference. They appreciate the additional support.

     

    Orange Slice Rubrics

    Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric is a Google Docs add-on that has become my favorite tech tool. Having Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric in your arsenal is like having peanut butter and jelly in your cupboard. It is a staple of life. Matt Buchanan, the creator of the Orange Slice rubrics, hosts an Orange Slice Teacher Rubric YouTube channel with short tutorials to get you started.

    You can use the default rubric that comes with the add-on, but I like to use my own. Below is my video on how to create your own rubrics that are compatible with Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric. I create rubrics, save them in a folder, and paste them in a Google Docs assignments before sending copies to my students.

     

    Now that I am proficient with the teacher version of the add-on, I am introducing Orange Slice: Student Rubric, a separate add-on, to my young writers who self-assess or peer review before submitting assignments. The teacher and students share the same rubric. The shaded areas in the rubric are color-coded green, purple or green, identifying the different reviewers: self, peers, and teacher. This tech tool is great for bringing effective teaching onto the digital stage.

     

    Read & Write

    You may be familiar with Read & Write, a Chrome extension. Many students utilize it for text-to-speech support. They can also use this tool to annotate online text. However, it is the Voice Note tool on the Read & Write toolbar that caught my eye. With Note Tool teachers can embed audio comments in Google Docs. This is a great method of providing feedback to struggling students. I don’t like leaving tasks hanging, so even though it takes a about 15-30 seconds for the audio to process, depending on the length, you no longer have to write, “See me, and I will explain how to revise this in class.” Instead, students receive a link to the audio file attached to the highlighted text in the Google Doc. It is the next best thing to face-to-face conferencing.

    Note: this tool requires the premium version, which is free to educators. Sign up for the free version through the help menu. It takes a couple hours for them to verify your information, but it is worth it.

    Kami

    Kami PDF Document and Markup is a Chrome extension for annotating and marking up PDF files. With Kami, students can complete PDF handouts and submit the finished work in Google Classroom. They can also read and annotate PDF articles or stories. Many students and adults skim online text. This tool reinforces skills for comprehending digital texts. Kami’s five-minute tutorial “How to Send Individual Copies to Students Using Google Classroom” explains how to:

    ·      assign PDF files in Google Classroom

    ·      complete assignments using Kami

    ·      evaluate students’ annotations in Kami

     

    Quizlet

    Quizlet always infuses excitement into classroom activities. I use the online app to support vocabulary instruction. Students have the option of studying with flashcards, quizzes, or games, supporting the different styles of learners. Periodically, I host QuizletLive competitions, a component of Quizlet. My sixth graders study feverishly for competition day. The app randomly sorts students into groups, who then compete to select the correct word that matches the definition. It is quick to set up because you can import students from Google Classroom. The best part is that retention of vocabulary words is much higher because students like to study.

    Some of these tools are new; some have been around a while. Either way, I find them to be useful supporting my instructional goals. Beware of adding too many Google apps, extensions, or add-ons. Sometimes they conflict. Please share your favorite teaching tools for English teachers below. It will make a great resource for us all.

    This year, each of my students received a Chromebook. Throughout the year, my English teacher colleagues and I have been test-driving different apps, extensions, and add-ons. The tech tools below were selected as my favorites because they improve my students’ writings and simplify the evaluation process. Some tech tools require a little practice to develop the fluency that will eventually save you time, so don’t give up too quickly.

    Google Apps, Extensions, and Add-Ons

    Before discussing the tech tools, it is important to understand the different categories of Google resources: apps, extensions, and add-ons. You can find the apps and extensions mentioned in the Google Web Store. Apps are web-based applications, like Google Docs, Quizlet, and WeVideo. Extensions are mini-programs that integrate with the Chrome browser. Extensions enhance browser function, increasing interaction with web pages: Pinterest, Grammarly, and Pocket.

    Google add-ons are features that enhance how a Google application functions. For example, I use Open Clipart, Extensis Fonts, and Avery Label Merge to enhance the functionality of Google Docs. Add-ons are not found in Google Web Store, they are accessed through the application, like Google Docs for which the add-on is meant to enhance. Search for and manage add-ons through the “add-on” menu in Google applications.

     

    EasyBib

    EasyBib is a Google Docs add-on that has been around a while. It is a citation tool. It assists users with creating bibliographies. There is the choice of inserting a bibliography using MLA, APA, or Chicago citation formats. While in Google Docs, search EasyBib for books or journal articles by: ISBN, titles, authors, or keywords. You can also copy and paste a website URL into EasyBib to get the citation information of a website. However, I have noticed that the add-on version of the app does not always generate accurate or thorough website citation, so I encourage students to use EasyBib app, the online version, to manually create website citations.

     

    GradeProof and Grammarly

    GradeProof is a Google-Docs add-on. Once students complete a written assignment, they run GradeProof, which offers grammar, spelling, and phrasing suggestions. A dialogue box opens, inside Google Docs highlighting grammar, spelling, and phrasing mistakes. Students navigate through the identified suggestions and decide if they want to accept or ignore them. When finished, they save the changes, which are updated in the document. According to my students, it is the most useful tool we have discovered this year. I like that explanations for the suggestions are offered, so my sixth graders are not just clicking accept to every suggestion.

    I like GradeProof better when working in Google Docs; however, Grammarly is a useful Chrome extension, editing online texts when typing into blogs or other social networks.

     

    Google Keep

    Google Keep is a note-taking tool, a Chrome extension. I am sure this tech tool has many useful purposes, but I discovered one significant benefit for English teachers while reading an article by Eric Curts, “Using Keep for Grading Comments in Docs” (Control Alt Achieve). Google Keep speeds up the grading process because it is integrated with Google Docs. Be sure to watch Eric’s seven-minute video “Using Google Keep for Grading Comments in Docs,” which is embedded in the blog post. It is all you need to get started with the Chrome extension.

    My Writing Feedback Comments is in the developmental stages. You can invite colleagues to collaborate on notes, which simplifies the process of generating a writing comments library. My comments are categorized: ideas and details, sentence fluency, organization, word choice, conventions, voice, and formatting. I have already learned that it is quicker to type “add space” or “delete space” rather than searching for the comment. If you have too many comments to search through, it slows down the process and defeats the purpose of using Google Keep. Tagging the comments as Eric suggests also helps to locate them quicker.

    I like that my sixth graders have a record of my comments. It has been my experience that some students forget what you discussed during a writing conference. They appreciate the additional support.

     

    Orange Slice Rubrics

    Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric is a Google Docs add-on that has become my favorite tech tool. Having Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric in your arsenal is like having peanut butter and jelly in your cupboard. It is a staple of life. Matt Buchanan, the creator of the Orange Slice rubrics, hosts an Orange Slice Teacher Rubric YouTube channel with short tutorials to get you started.

    You can use the default rubric that comes with the add-on, but I like to use my own. Below is my video on how to create your own rubrics that are compatible with Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric. I create rubrics, save them in a folder, and paste them in a Google Docs assignments before sending copies to my students.

     

    Now that I am proficient with the teacher version of the add-on, I am introducing Orange Slice: Student Rubric, a separate add-on, to my young writers who self-assess or peer review before submitting assignments. The teacher and students share the same rubric. The shaded areas in the rubric are color-coded green, purple or green, identifying the different reviewers: self, peers, and teacher. This tech tool is great for bringing effective teaching onto the digital stage.

     

    Read & Write

    You may be familiar with Read & Write, a Chrome extension. Many students utilize it for text-to-speech support. They can also use this tool to annotate online text. However, it is the Voice Note tool on the Read & Write toolbar that caught my eye. With Note Tool teachers can embed audio comments in Google Docs. This is a great method of providing feedback to struggling students. I don’t like leaving tasks hanging, so even though it takes a about 15-30 seconds for the audio to process, depending on the length, you no longer have to write, “See me, and I will explain how to revise this in class.” Instead, students receive a link to the audio file attached to the highlighted text in the Google Doc. It is the next best thing to face-to-face conferencing.

    Note: this tool requires the premium version, which is free to educators. Sign up for the free version through the help menu. It takes a couple hours for them to verify your information, but it is worth it.

    Kami

    Kami PDF Document and Markup is a Chrome extension for annotating and marking up PDF files. With Kami, students can complete PDF handouts and submit the finished work in Google Classroom. They can also read and annotate PDF articles or stories. Many students and adults skim online text. This tool reinforces skills for comprehending digital texts. Kami’s five-minute tutorial “How to Send Individual Copies to Students Using Google Classroom” explains how to:

    ·      assign PDF files in Google Classroom

    ·      complete assignments using Kami

    ·      evaluate students’ annotations in Kami

     

    Quizlet

    Quizlet always infuses excitement into classroom activities. I use the online app to support vocabulary instruction. Students have the option of studying with flashcards, quizzes, or games, supporting the different styles of learners. Periodically, I host QuizletLive competitions, a component of Quizlet. My sixth graders study feverishly for competition day. The app randomly sorts students into groups, who then compete to select the correct word that matches the definition. It is quick to set up because you can import students from Google Classroom. The best part is that retention of vocabulary words is much higher because students like to study.

    Some of these tools are new; some have been around a while. Either way, I find them to be useful supporting my instructional goals. Beware of adding too many Google apps, extensions, or add-ons. Sometimes they conflict. Please share your favorite teaching tools for English teachers below. It will make a great resource for us all.

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Mary's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Writing Journals: Exploring Mood

In this journaling activity we explore how the setting contributes to the development of mood. Additional journaling activities are shared as well.

By Mary Blow
January 10, 2017
Blog Post
Plotting With the Grinch

'Tis the season to be Grinchy! Dust off your classroom copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss and join us with this “wonderful, awful idea,” of reviewing the elements of plot with your students.

By Mary Blow
December 13, 2016
Blog Post
8 Library Makeover Ideas

Read on for eight ideas to update and modernize your classroom library with the goal of motivating your middle schoolers to read, while creating a personal space where they feel at home.

By Mary Blow
November 16, 2016
Blog Post
Veterans Day: Exploring Symbolism in a Military Ceremony

This Veterans Day, I wanted to create a missing in action/prisoners of war table that is included in many military commemorations. After we explore the symbolism of the ceremonial table we jump into analyzing symbolism in literature.

By Mary Blow
October 19, 2016
Blog Post
Engage Readers and Increase Comprehension: Annotate Text

Teaching my students to become engaged readers was not easy. I am excited to share the annotation lesson that helped my sixth graders comprehend informational texts. Included is a FREE Science World article to use in your classroom.

By Mary Blow
September 20, 2016
Blog Post
Aspiration Balloons Icebreaker With a Sprinkle of Character Traits

Forming trusting relationships goes a long way in middle school classroom management and motivation. The aspiration balloons icebreaker helps me get to know my students while encouraging them to reflect on the type of person they want to become.

By Mary Blow
August 23, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us