Saving time is the number one priority in most teachers’ minds. If we can save a few clicks on a task we do repeatedly throughout the day, and you multiple that by 180-190 days, that’s a lot of time saved. As a teacher and incurable efficiency seeker, I turn to Google Chrome for extensions for time saving opportunities. There are plenty of extensions upon which, as an educator, I have become completely dependent. Here are my top 5:
- Talk & Comment (leave a digital audio comment anywhere)
- Print Friendly & PDF
- Google Docs Quick Create
Read on for details and steps for success!
UPDATE: Screencastify just added the MOST AWESOME features, so I had to move it into the #1 spot for increasing productivity and time saving! More to come on Screencastify additions in another blog. Stay tuned!
#1 Time Saving and Productivity Extension: Screencastify
My top teacher extension is Screencastify. As the name implies, this extension enables screencasting from your device. The power of this extension is in the speedy way you can record a mini-lesson for students to watch either remotely or in person at a station. Once recorded, these mini-lessons can be shared with other teachers, and if you divide and conquer, just think how much time you would save! 🤩🤩🤩
This extension automatically saves all videos you create to your Google Drive and has export options for animated GIFs and mp4 for iPad viewing. It has automatic upload-to YouTube or Google Classroom features, so you can begin building your training library right from this extension.
Microsoft Districts Can Use It, Too
If you are a Microsoft District, you can still create videos in a free @gmail.com account and share the link from your Drive. You don’t have to worry about YouTube being blocked when you host the video in your Google Drive. Teachers can also download the video and upload it to OneDrive or any LMS you use such as OTUS, Schoology, Canvas, Teams, etc.
The Free Version is AWESOME!
As you can see in this screenshot, the free version of Screencastify offers up to 5 minutes of video with an unlimited number of videos. This is ideal because most recommendations for training video length supports less than 5 minutes. That might force some of us to be more concise, and that’s a good thing.
Screencastify offers browser tab, desktop, and webcam shots. It also allows your webcam shot to float over your screenshot with the ability to move it around, close it, and open it at will. There are drawing tools for easy screen labeling and annotation, and it’s just an all around powerful tool for teachers and students alike.
There is also a vibrant editor within Screencastify for all free and premium users. The editor has tools to cut, crop, zoom, blur, and add text to your video. I use Screencastify for all of my training videos. For under $50/year, I went premium because the ROI (return on investment) is worth it for me. If I were still in the classroom, I’m pretty sure I’d stick with free.
UPDATE: Screencastify has added embedded questions in your videos for student engagement and tracking for formative assessment. Check back for a full blog and video showing the new features.
#2 Teacher and Student Extension: Talk & Comment
With the onset of personalized and self-paced, asynchronous learning, teachers and students have a need to communicate asynchronously. Remote learning maybe seemed like a novelty in the beginning, but it quickly led to text fatigue, and some early or struggling readers and writers were at a loss. I also can’t even begin to think how hard it must be for the Pre-K – 2 teachers to teach and assess reading skills!
Talk & Comment to the rescue! Talk & Comment is Chrome extension that enables teachers and students to click the microphone icon, record an audio file, click a button to auto-copy the link, and paste it anywhere pasting is possible. The most popular place to place it is in any Google app comment. When you do this, it pastes as an actual audio file that is click-and-play no matter whether you are in Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Classroom. However, when outside Google, it pastes the link anywhere, and the user need only click the link to hear the audio file.
Think about how easy feedback and collaboration can be for all learners with this new handy tool. It can be used as an asynchronous conversation tool.
How to Use the Extension
Step 1: install the extension.
Step 2: click the microphone icon on the right edge of your Chrome browser to begin the recording.
Step 3: click the green check on the pop-out toolbar to stop the recording
Step 4: listen to the recording before sharing it
Step 5: the link automatically copies to your clipboard, so all you have to do is paste it (control + v or right click and choose copy). Even the littles can handle this.
Step 6: Paste your link.
- When you paste it in a non-comment area, it looks like this:
- https://talkandcomment.com/p/018b4799c8b15e54c0d80aa3 (voice note)
- When you paste it in a Google comment, this is what it looks like:
Notes to Know:
- This extension does not save the audio file indefinitely. Each file is saved for 90 days.
- Only use this extension for temporary notes.
- For permanent audio files for student portfolios and such, I recommend vocaroo.com.
#3 Teacher Extension: Print Friendly & PDF
How concerned are you by the ads that show up on websites that you want to share with your students? Because you cannot predict what will show up, there is always the chance that something inappropriate or just distracting will pop up.
Are you tired of creating lessons with links to sites that change or are broken over time? Well, struggle no more. In just a few clicks, this super friendly teacher extension turns any webpage into a PDF with full credit to the source and without any of the ads. You can download the PDF and share it out with students via a hyperlink in any file or LMS you choose.
How’s that for time saving?
How to Use the Extension
Step 2: Go to the website you want your students to read.
Step 3: Click the Print Friendly & PDF extension
Step 4: Use the top toolbar to …
- Modify text size
- Modify picture size
- Undo actions
Step 5: Use the yellow highlight over sections to delete parts you don’t want.
Step 6: Use the top toolbar to choose which format you want to export it in: PDF, print, email.
Step 7: Follow each format’s respective directions.
Voila! You have a lesson in an instant! Students can annotate this document easily using the next extension on the list. Check out #4: Kami PDF Annotator.
#4 Teacher and Student Extension: Kami PDF Annotator
This Chrome extension just might end up being the number one time saving productivity extension for teachers and students. It turns any digital PFD into an annotatable document. The free version is robust enough to meet your basic needs, and the paid version is off-the-charts useful.
Kami functions seamlessly with Google Drive, OneDrive, and your hard drive. The free tools include highlight, comments, and text boxes as well as free draw, shapes, and eraser. If you saved a webpage as a PDF with Print Friendly & PDF above, Kami gives the students the tools they need to annotate and mark it up. Also, worksheets that you scan as a PDF can now be completed digitally. I don’t condone all worksheets on devices, but worksheets do have a place for practice and review, so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, right?
For students to be able to use Kami, each would have to have the extension installed. If you have a Google console, these can usually be pushed out and installed by your IT Department saving you the time and effort. If not, check out this video showing parents how to install the extension.
If you or your school does decide to purchase the paid version, you get a dictionary, text to speech, equations tools, images insert, and digital signature features. They are always improving, so check out their website at kamiapp.com.
#5 Teacher Extension: Google Docs Quick Create
With two clicks, Google Docs Quick Create lets you create a new, blank file for the following apps: Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms in a new tab! It is a time saver and doesn’t create it over existing work on an open tab. It opens a new tab for you AND starts a new blank file! It shrinks 4 steps into 2 and stops you from starting a new file over an existing tab.
Without this extension, you have4 steps to get a new, blank file:
- click a new tab,
- go to your apps launcher (waffle),
- locate the app you need,
- click on it,
With this extension, you have two steps to get a new, blank file:
- click the extension
- choose your app.
Done! Just like that. This app works great for teachers and students alike, so share it with your students to save them time as well.
With your school or district approval, consider sharing these extensions with your students to empower them to create freely and professionally! As a Google district, your IT Department can add the extensions across the board remotely, so the students and teachers don’t have to jump through hoops to install the extension. (Another time saver for everyone!)
So that’s it for my top 5 time saving extensions for teachers. Please, use the comments section below to share your top power extension for teachers. Let me know what you think of the extensions on my list, and share your successes or failures with us. If your teachers or admins could use some remote or on-site training for increased efficiency, check out our Google training opportunities.