I spent a great day on Saturday at #edcampWorcester. It was a relatively small edcamp, but had some very dynamic educators and lots of good conversations. One thing that came up was which Chrome extensions folks found useful. As more and more schools are moving to GAFE and chromebooks, we are seeing more extensions being created and it can be hard to find something useful in the myriad of choices on the chrome web store.
Chrome extensions, apps, add-ons...
So, what are these things, what are the differences between them and why should you care?
A chrome extension adds functionality. An example of this is screencastify- it allows you record audio and video online. Accounts managed by Hadley Schools have some restrictions by "organizational unit". The teachers should be able to access just about anything, however student accounts are restricted to those extensions that have been whitelisted by IT.
A chrome app is simply a link to a website. This can be useful for older students who can set up their own accounts on sites, but we do not use a lot of these at the elementary level as the accounts are centrally managed. An example of this goanimate. The app is simply a link to the site. The students at HES have accounts set up on the managed goanimate for schools site- not this general site.
Add Ons are a little bit different- not restricted to the chrome browser, but associated with various Google applications. It gets confusing because some add ons are also listed as extensions. An example of an add on for Google Docs is Easy Accents- which helps you put the correct diacritical marks on words in various languages. An example of an add on in Google Sheets might be Flubaroo or Save as Doc. Forms have their own add ons...
Why should you care? These tools can make your life easier- or at least more productive.
Finding the Most Useful Extensions
Our current list of whitelisted extensions can be found here. We are in the process of setting up a dedicated Hadley chrome web storefront for students. The students will be able click on a link like the one on the image to the left and see the approved apps and extensions, rather than randomly trying to find the whitelisted ones.
However, our current list is ever changing and isn't really set up for educators to use. I did not put additional information or categories on this list- which would be really helpful. But- there are many other lists you, as teachers, can access to see what you would like to use. If you find an extension that you wish to be accessible for students- please send the chrome web store url to both Mike and I. I know that our current list of 90+ may seem like a lot, but wait til you look at other lists...
Here is an excellent presentation from Kelly Fitzgerald- with twice as many apps- and she has them in categories... She has an excellent website with lists of favorite chrome extensions every week.
Lists and More Lists
April is National Poetry Month!
You don't have to teach English or Language Arts to have your students appreciate the beauty of the written word. Edgar Allen Poe defined poetry this way... "I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty."
Check out some of the poems about physics or chemistry or math. Just as Fibonacci is represented in so many things in nature, so poetry is represented in so many of the things we study at school.
Poems can be beautiful, funny, outrageous... and so much more. Check out some of the links below for apps and websites to use in the classroom. Monica Evons posted an excellent resource for elementary educators... some are ipad apps, but many are readwritethink ideas.
Just as Shakespeare's plays were meant to be performed, so much poetry is visual or meant to be performed. Spoken word poetry, poetry slams, etc... are much more popular than they were when I was a student- actually I don't think they existed... There are some excellent videos online- but the caveat- listen to them first!
Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up on April 21. You can still celebrate it before or after the date. Check out their resources here
There are so many great resources for your students, for teachers- both elementary and secondary... check some of them out on these symbaloos.
an oldie, but goodie...
You can find more VR videos from Discovery Education at http://www.discoveryvr.com/
I spent the day on Saturday over at #edcampGrafton. One of the sessions, which I did not attend was on Google Cardboard, and VR video. Google Cardboard has been out for at least 18 months, if not more. Click here to see the shared notes from that session. However, I did win a Google Cardboard set up in the door prize drawings. Have to say, I will probably never use it, and anyone who would like to borrow it to check it out- come see me. This fancy dancy new version of the old ViewMaster simply makes me seasick. It is very cool… but not only do I not own a smartphone, I quite literally cannot stand the 3D immersive view. I hated Second Life back when that was popular too. But- you may love it and find it incredibly useful… so here’s some info.
Check out the Google Plus community or look around on the Twitter hashtag... see embedded example below.
You can buy or make your cardboard viewer. There are also fancier Oculus Rift VR systems, pricey. Just to clarify- these are not just headsets for gamers- altho a lot of content is being developed for playing immersive games. Think of the possibilities- visit the jungles of Belize, walk along the Great Wall of China, check out models of Ancient Rome… The VR version can be very engaging for your students. There are lots of apps you can try out for both iOS and Android smartphones. There are good starter lists on the notes, as well as some of the links.
If you’re not really ready for all this- check out the VR or 360° videos on youtube- you can maneuver around just like you can when in street view on Google Maps.
Here’s a couple of examples: Remember- zoom in/out and move around with your mouse or arrow keys or use your google cardboard and your smartphone.
Looking for more ideas? VentureBeat had a nice write up a while back, Science Beyond the Boundaries has some great links and Ronnie Burt over at Edublogger recently posted about using it on a trip.
TRY IT... You might like it!
Or.. you may enjoy the April Fools Version, which works so much better for me.