Extending Your Use of Chrome: 3 Tools to Go Beyond the Basics
In daily life, I often find myself looking for ways to do something differently, and hopefully better. In my more than 10 years in the classroom I kept the personal goal of helping students be creative at the forefront of my classroom structure. From crayons and construction paper to Chromebooks and extensions, creativity took a variety of forms. As I explore the Chrome landscape today, I am finding more and more fun ways to help students be creative in less than obvious ways. These three tools are some of the most engaging ways to help students become more creative with their work:
Slides Sorter for Google Slides
I love sticky notes. Despite being somewhat tech-obsessed I still find myself often gravitating to the comfort of a great pen gliding across the smooth surface of a freshly-obtained sticky note. Even as I write this, the bottom of my screen is littered with notes consisting of reminders, a phone number or two, and more.
When I am planning something big, whether it’s a book or a keynote talk, I grab my big stack of sticky notes. I first create header notes in one color and then my sub points in another and I arrange them in order. I use sticky notes because I can easily rearrange them, or add a new point while easily shifting others below.
In my classroom, I taught students this style of visual thinking with Google Slides. To plan their work out, kids would create topic and subtopic slides. The challenge was always how to get them to see it in the broadest sense, much like my arranged sticky notes on my kitchen table.
Enter Slides Sorter for Google Slides. This simple extension allows kids to see their Google Slides presentation in the same overview that I see my sticky notes, and rearrange them just as easily.
Even as a child, no one ever accused me of being a future artist. I can’t draw well and don’t often try, so my creativity is often stifled by my lack of artistic ability. I have taken classes, sketched for hours, and read a number of books, but I still cannot create something worthy of inclusion into a public presentation. I typically leverage stock photos or purchased icons for presentations, but occasionally I would like to add something a little more personal.
On the surface, Autodraw is an A.I. Experiment by Google that attempts to guess what you are drawing based on the shapes you are using to comprise the picture. For me, however, this is a chance to draw something that Google will help me finish. Autodraw helps take me from challenged artist to having a finished product I can proudly add to a presentation. I wonder how many of my students would have benefitted from a tool like Autodraw, given its ease-of-use and ability to take to the finish line.
The recent resurgence of GIFs is nothing short of astounding. I can recall animated GIFs being created for the purpose of mitigating the slower bandwidth of dial up modems since none of us could download videos. As bandwidth speeds have increased and streaming has become the norm, I rang the death knell of the GIF, figuring it would end up in the same burial ground as the 56k modems that brought it about. In an interesting turn, however, GIFs have resurfaced and are going strong, in no small part thanks to the smartphone revolution. GIFs are regularly used as reactions, in text and other online messaging platforms, as well as in social media.
That leaves a person wanting to leverage the power of the GIF to find them through several sources, such as GIPHY and others. GIFit lets you easily create a GIF from a YouTube video, meaning rather than using the same warmed-over GIFs you’ve already seen everywhere, you can quickly make your own.
GIFit adds a small button by the same name to the lower right corner of the YouTube video and when clicked, creates a GIF from the section of the video you specify. Given the nature of the dynamic content in YouTube, the possibilities for new GIFs are seemingly endless. Not only that, but the content can be very specific. I would love to see students create GIFs from a video relevant to a topic area, for example.
For more relevant tools and extensions, you should check out my new book, The Top 50 Chrome Extensions for the Classroom, now available on Amazon!
Dr. Christopher Craft is an award-winning educator and speaker based in South Carolina and the Executive Director of Innovation for EdTechTeam. As a classroom teacher, he has been recognized both locally and nationally for innovative teaching with technology. Most recently he won the Belk Service Learning Challenge Grand Prize for his work with 3D-printed prosthetics for children. Dr. Craft was also asked to visit the White House and meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden for a dialogue on the current state and future of education. He was named to the National School Board Association’s “20 to Watch” and one of the prestigious “20 under 40” in South Carolina. He has a B.A. in Spanish, a M.Ed in Educational Technology, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina, and is Nationally Board Certified. Chris is a Google Certified Innovator, a Google in Education Trainer, and was recently accepted to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. Find out more about Dr. Craft at www.christophercraft.com or follow him on Twitter @crafty184.