Thursday, October 26, 2017

Improve Your Students’ Reading Experience with Chrome

Discover how extraordinary the Chrome browser is with this list of reading tools that will help your students have a more successful reading experience.
The Chrome browser is so dynamic that I’m often amazed at its functionality and how it can help the many students who are now reading on digital devices. If you have students who need a better reading experience or struggle with reading comprehension, then there are some apps and extensions that will help them. And many of these will be perfect for differentiating learning!

Reading Comprehension

Newsela – This is one of my favorite Chrome apps that I always feature in my trainings. Newsela features current event articles covering many subjects, each written at five different Lexile levels.  With this extension, students can read the same material at an appropriate level for themselves.
TLDR: Summarize Anything – The TLDR extension creates a short summary of any web article without leaving the original page. This will help students discern the most important ideas in the article they are reading.
Word Cloud Website Preview – I love word clouds, so this is another favorite of mine! This extension can turn any content from the web into a word cloud. The word cloud can then be reviewed to summarize the content on the page or to help decipher key words used.


ATbar – This Chrome extension provides you with a toolbar that has many features including color overlays for web pages, a dictionary, text to speech, word prediction, and more.
BeeLine Reader – Bee Line Reader is another one of my most beloved extensions, so much so that I wrote a blog entry about it here.  It creates a more readable version of a website by removing all of the ads and other extra distracting items. In addition, a color gradient can be applied to the page in order to guide the eye from one line to the next.
MagicScroll Web Reader – This extension turns web pages into a flippable ebook. Its unique scrolling system lets you scroll web pages without moving them. This makes it easier to read long articles without being distracted.
Mercury Reader – If your students are easily distracted, then they might want to get Mercury Reader. It makes any website easier to read by removing ads and distractions. You can also adjust the font size and color scheme of the new text.
This list is just a few of the many Chrome extensions and apps that help with readability and reading comprehension. If you discovered other app and extensions that work with the Chrome browser to help students with reading, please share in the Comments section below.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week

Need ideas on how to celebrate Digital Citizenship Week? Check out these activities and resources that are sure to help you.
Digital Citizenship Week (October 16 – 22) is the perfect time for you and your students to reflect on the role technology plays in your lives. It’s an opportunity to stress the importance of positive online habits, to learn about digital safety and responsibility, and to encourage acts of kindness. Whether you’re looking  to celebrate just this week or throughout the year, we have activities and resources that are sure to help you.


Three Kind Things

The latest social media app that all the kids are crazy about is the New Nice App. The app comes with a twist—it’s nice. The tbh app, short for “to be honest,” works by letting users send anonymous compliments to their friends and contacts. That being said, I created an activity that focuses on being kind. With this Google Slide activity, students write three kind things they will do. Next, they design their friendly ghost. The ghost doesn’t even have to look like Casper! Try it here by choosing an empty slide and listing three nice things you will do today. Get a copy of this Three Kind Things Ghost Activity here.

Positive Digital Footprint

A digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using the Internet. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services. Have students think about what their digital footprint will look like 10 to 15 years from now. Allow them to illustrate their footprint with words, images, or videos. Try it here by choosing an empty slide. Get a copy of this Positive Digital Footprint Activity here.

A Good Digital Citizen Grid

Being a good digital citizen is more than being a safe Internet user. It’s about being responsible and smart and having respect for yourself and others. Have your students engage in conversation about the importance of being a good digital citizen through Flipgrid. Check out this example from Berkeley County School District, where elementary students responded with their thoughts. Try it out by responding at If prompted for a code, use aa3f8a.

More Activities

Don’t forget to visit the blog Google-ize Your Digital Citizenship that I wrote last year. It contains more activities, such as a Digital Citizenship Pledge, a Responsible Use Policy Scavenger Hunt, and more.


Below are more awesome resources to take advantage of.
Be Internet Awesome – Google, in collaboration with online safety experts, developed the Be Internet Awesome program. The program teaches the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety. In addition to a curriculum for teachers, the program includes Interland, an online game that puts these critical lessons into hands-on practice for students.
BrainPOP’s Free Digital Citizenship Resources – BrainPOP’s free digital citizenship resources offer schools ready-made learning pathways. These pathways explore topics such as Information Privacy, Media Literacy, and Digital Etiquette. Be sure to check out the Teaching Resources, too. They include a guide, video overviews,  rubrics, and lesson plans. More information can be found at Making the Online World a Better Place Starts With You. Get registered here.
Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Week Activities –Common Sense Media lists activities you can do to celebrate kids using technology safely, responsibly, and respectfully. Below are a few resources from Common Sense Media.
Microsoft Educator Community Digital Citizenship Resources – The Microsoft Educator Community offers a digital citizenship course for educators. Educators can earn a “Microsoft Digital Citizenship Champion” badge that can proudly be displayed on their profile once they complete the course. Furthermore, educators get access to a OneNote Notebook full of resources and lesson plans.
PBS Webonauts Academy – Webonauts Internet Academy is a web game for 8-10 year olds. It gives them an opportunity to have some fun while exploring what it means to be a good digital citizen. It is quite engaging. In addition, it becomes all the more powerful when parents and teachers use the game to spark more conversations about digital citizenship.

Don’t Forget

Remember, the ISTE Student NETS #2 is itself called Digital Citizenship. As you build digital citizenship lessons, look at the indicators. These will help you in creating clear targets that students will understand and can achieve.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Back Up Your Google Drive With CloudHQ

Are you in a pinch, overwhelmed at making backups of hundreds of Google Documents in your Google Suites for Education or Non-Profit account? As wonderful as Google Suites for Education or Non-Profit are, making backups of your Google Docs can be a pain. What's more, if you are using a work-related account (e.g. school or non-profit organization), you may find it convenient to have a backup of all your work docs.

Making your own backups can be a pain. You have to take time out of  a busy schedule to create the backups. Sometimes, the backups don't work as well as you'd hope since Google gives you backups of files and folders as gigantic multi-gig files.Why not take the easy way out? can provide the support you need and ease your troubles! Using, I've been able to have pain-free, guaranteed successful backups of all my data in my work account to a personal Gmail account. I could have used CloudHQ to backup to any other cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox), but backing up this way makes life so much easier.

Here's how it worked for me:

1) Setup a free trial CloudHQ account using your work account (e.g. Google Suites)

2) Connect both your Google Suites for Education Drive and your personal Google Drive account using the handy wizards. CloudHQ supports a lot more so you aren't stuck just backing up one set of data. It can backup several at a time!

3) Setup One-Way sync to copy docs from Google Suites for Education Drive to your Personal Google Drive account. The source is the content (e.g. work) you want to backup or copy, and the target is your personal Google where you are backing up to.

4) Once the Sync pair is setup, you are ready to set it and forget it! It will work in the background to make an initial copy of your files. Once that first-time backup is done, then it will make incremental backups as needed to only those documents you add or change. Cool, right?

Thank you, CloudHQ, for making backing up Google Suites documents easy and painless. Are you ready to get started?