Classroom Tools That Work


A look at apps and extensions that help power our Google Apps for Education paperless classroom

This is the first in a five-part series about favorite apps and extensions for Google Chrome and Google Drive.

I have been using Google Drive for four years now to power our paperless classroom.  In previous posts, I talked about how the comment tools in Google have improved student writing and thinking, and about how I have used Doctopus to manage a paperless classroom.  This post features add-ons, extensions, and apps for Google that have enhanced writing, digital creation, research, and feedback in my classes.  

In experimenting with our paperless classroom, my students and I have tried out a great many tools with mixed results.  Initially, I liked every app and extension I saw and filled up my Chrome browser and Google Drive accordingly, but in the process of testing apps and extensions with students, I have better defined my criteria for a useful tool.  By my definition, to be useful for students, an app or extension must enhance their learning, as opposed to simply completing a task for them.  To be useful for me as a teacher, an app or extension must truly enhance my instruction, not simply add bells and whistles.  And for all of us, the app or extension has to work seamlessly.  Here are the apps and extensions we’ve found most useful arranged by purpose.  Incidentally, we only used apps and extensions that were free or that had free versions at the time.  This may have changed since our testing of them.  

Read, Write, Repeat

After a summer off, I am returning to blogging with a new, and I hope, lasting, enthusiasm.  This summer when I wasn’t adding anything to my blog, I dedicated time to reading the blogs of other educators and thinkers whom I admire.  I guess I would say that I went looking for other mentor texts to explore a greater variety of topics, styles and techniques.  Here’s what I learned.