Monday, May 2, 2016

10 Terrific Tools for Teachers

National Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on Tuesday of the First Full Week in May (for 2016 it is May 3rd). In honor of the day and all the awesome things educators do, this blog post highlights ten Google-related tools to makes the lives of teachers better.

These tools include Chrome Web Apps, Chrome Web Extensions, and Add-ons for Google Drive programs. Some may help save time, or do work for you, or provide you with new and useful ways to accomplish your normal teaching tasks. Some of these tool may also be helpful for students, but we will focus on their application for educators.

You may already be aware of some of these tools, but hopefully you will find a few that are new, or be encouraged to try out one you have heard of before.

So see below for a list of 10 terrific tools for teachers, along with ideas and suggestions for how they can be used in schools to make life easier, more efficient, or more effective. And to all the teachers... thank you so much for everything you do to impact the lives of children!

1) Read&Write for Google Chrome
Chrome Web Extension link
Read& Write is a Chrome extension that provides a drop-down toolbar with loads of neat features. Many of the tools are geared toward students, but two of them can be especially helpful for teacher.
First, Read&Write has a text to speech tool that can read your Google Docs aloud in a variety of voices and speeds. You can use this to listen to students essays and reports, or to proofread (or “proof hear”) your own writings, directions, and documents.
Second, Read&Write has a Voice Note tool that lets you record your voice to insert personalized spoken feedback into a Document. This can be a great way to speak your feedback for student writing, rather than having to type it out.
Note: Normally Read&Write has a cost, but it is available to teachers for free. After installing it through the link above, then fill out the form linked here to get upgraded for free: Free Upgrade Form

2) OrangeSlice Teacher Rubric
Google Docs Add-on link
Rubrics can be a powerful tool for assessment and feedback. However, you may be wondering how to use a rubric with a digital assignment. OrangeSlice Teacher Rubric is a free Google Docs Add-on that makes it quick and easy to add and use a digital rubric on any Google Doc. For more details, see my training on “Rubric Tools for Google Docs” here: Blog Post link

3) Flubaroo
Google Sheets Add-on link
An oldie but a goodie, Flubaroo is an Add-on for Google Sheets that will automatically grade your quizzes for you! Get and share assessment result immediately in class without needing to take home a stack of papers to grade in front of the TV. For more details on how to use Flubaroo, see my resources here: Blog Post link

4) Zero Noise Classroom
Chrome Web App link
A noisy room is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can often be the sign of active, student-directly learning. But sometimes you do need to keep the noise down to an acceptable level. For those occasions you can use the Chrome Web App called Zero Noise Classroom. Start the app, set your desired noise level and time duration, then the app will listen to the room noise and indicate how often the limit is broken with a red line.

5) Timer
Chrome Web App link
Countdown timers can be a useful tool in the classroom to give your students a specified amount of time to brainstorm, discuss a topic, work on a project, complete a sample problem, perform an experiment, collect data, or provide additional structure. There are many tools that can do this, but the Chrome Web App called Timer is an easy but powerful option. Simply set the countdown time, optionally choose an alarm, and away you go! For more details on how to use Timer, see here: Blog Post link

6) Clip It Good
Chrome Web Extension link
Images are a great way to improve the engagement of a Google Doc, Slideshow, Sheet, Form, or Drawing. And Google Photos is a convenient location to save and access your images with unlimited storage. But is there an easier way to get pictures into Google Photos than having to download the images, then upload them to Photos? Yes! With the Chrome Web Extension called Clip It Good you can simply right click on any image online and choose which Google Photos album you want to save the picture to.

7) Share to Classroom
Chrome Web Extension link
Google Classroom is in itself a great time-saver, helping teachers to manage the mountain of digital files turned in by students for assignments. However as great as Classroom is, you can even save more time with the Chrome Web Extension called Share to Classroom. First, find a website you want to use with your students. Now click the Share to Classroom extension, choose the class, and then choose if you want to “Create Assignment”, “Ask Question”, or “Make Announcement” using the page. If the students also have the extension installed, you can choose “Push to students” to make the website automatically open up on their screens to get everyone on the same page (literally) at the same time.

8) Draftback
Chrome Web Extension link
Revision History is a powerful tool to see every change ever made to a Google Document, who made the change, and when it was done. This can let you track student improvement in their writing, evaluate group work, and more (for more ideas and uses see my post here: Blog Post link ) As awesome as Revision History is, you can make it really come to life with the Chrome Web Extension called Draftback. This extension plays back the Revision History in real time (or sped up) so you can watch the document as it was created to get real insight into the student’s writing process.

9) Synergyse
Chrome Web Extension link
What do you do when you need to know how to do something in Google Apps right now, and you aren’t having any luck finding help? For the ultimate in “Just in Time” training you can use the Chrome Web Extension called Synergyse. With the extension installed you get a special Synergyse button to click on inside of most Google Apps programs. Simply click on the button to get a list of tutorial topics. Choose a tutorial and Synergyse will literally walk you through the steps as it highlights parts of the screen, speaks instructions, and has you click the needed buttons. Best yet, this extension used to cost money, but Google has purchased it and now makes it free for all users.

10) JoeZoo
Google Docs Add-on link
Nothing's better than a teacher's eyes when grading student writing, but wouldn't it be nice to have a second set of eyes? With JoeZoo that is just what you get. With this Google Docs Add-on you can open a student's writing, launch Joe Zoo, choose to "Give feedback", and then run the "Monkey Checker". The add-on will now check through the Google Doc to find errors in formatting, grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and structure. Additionally JoeZoo will provide an explanation of the error and suggestions for correcting the issue. You can use JoeZoo to be a "first pass" check on student work, and can then add your own feedback as needed.


What other tools help make a teacher’s life better, more efficient, or more effective? Use the comments below to share some of your favorite teacher tech tools.


  1. Thanks for sharing this list Eric! Found a couple new ones I didn't know about!

  2. Fabulous Eric thanks for sharing!!

  3. Wow, Eric! These are all great tools. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks for this, Eric. I'm going to check some of them out.

    By the way, the feature you highlight about JoeZoo is awesome, but it's only a small slice of the product. It's also a rubric and grading tool that's far better implemented than anything else I've seen. It's the first such tool I will confidently share with the whole teaching staff – not just the early adopters and tech-friendly ones. You should check it out.

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  6. Good piece of information, DraftBack is really a good application I've tried it before. We run a blog for students about plus 1 allotment and sslc result.

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  8. This was super helpful!

  9. I only use three of these but will definitely give a try for more!
    I also like this free punctuation checker.
    Thanks for sharing! You have an awesome blog!

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