Using Google Add-ons in your Classroom

Posted by Shelley H. on Feb 15, 2016 4:26:19 PM

google_addons.pngAt Big Universe, our goal is not only to give teachers the skills they need to create positive learning outcomes for thier students, but also to provide tips and tools to help you be more effective as an educator. Technology is one area that we could all use a little extra advice.One such area I hear all the time is realated to Google Classroom.  Here are a few tips to intgrate add-ons in Google Classroom to make it more user friendly for your students.

Have you ever wanted to use Google Docs but needed some of the features that are only available in Microsoft Word? Have you ever created a simple assessment for your students and wondered why in today’s world of technology you still have to grade it? Have you ever heard of Google Add-ons? Add-ons are a fantastic set of free tools that can be used along with Google Docs and Google Sheets. This blog post will explain how to find and use add-ons and give you some examples of the best add-ons currently available.

How do you find and use Add-Ons?

In Google Docs or Google Sheets there is a menu item called “Add-ons.” Select the menu item and then click “Get Add-ons” to see a selection of add-ons available. It will feel similar to shopping in an app store. You can search by type, subject or name or just browse through all of them. Remember that the add-ons available in Google Docs are separate (and different) from the add-ons available in Google Sheets so don’t forget to look in both places. Once you install an add-on once, it will immediately be available for use in all of your Docs or Sheets. Most add-ons open a sidebar which allows you to utilize the feature without leaving your document or spreadsheet. Most add-ons also come with step-by-step instructions, so even if you aren’t very tech-savy, you can learn how to use them pretty quickly.

Which Add-ons should I start with?

Here are some of the best Add-ons for Google Docs:

  • Thesaurus - Highlight any word in your text and use Thesaurus to get a list of synonyms. Thesaurus includes the ability to click a synonym to quickly replace the selected word. This is an add-on that you should encourage all of your students to get and use for their writing.
  • EasyBib - EasyBib allows your students to search for books, journal articles and websites right from the sidebar. Once they find the source, they select it and then click “Add Bibliography to Doc.” EasyBib will add a Works Cited section at the end of the document and automatically update the bibliography as sources are added. This is another add-on that you should encourage your students to get and use.
  • Table of Contents - Google Docs already has a built-in table of contents but this add-on works in your sidebar rather than at the beginning of your document. It is meant to aid in navigating a large document so it would be especially useful to you and your students if you often collaborate on long documents.
  • OrangeSlice: Teacher Rubric - This is a tool that allows you to add customizable rubrics to the top of your student’s papers as you are grading them. It is especially useful in paperless classrooms where students no longer print assignments. You can electronically return their assignments right along with the complete, graded rubric.
  • Kaizena Shortcut - This is a tool that allows you to verbally comment on your student’s Google Docs as you are grading them. Again, it is a great in a paperless environment. Since we speak faster than we type or write, it also saves time and allows you to give your students very specific, thorough feedback. In order for this add-on to work, there are some extra steps required at set-up and each of your students needs to have the add-on in their Docs in order to be able to listen to your comments.

Here are some of the best Add-ons for Google Sheets:

  • Flubaroo - Flubaroo allows you to quickly grade and analyze data on multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank assignments. It can be set to automatically grade assignments and email the grade back to each student.
  • Doctupus - This is essential if you are using Google Docs in your classes without using Google Classroom. It automatically creates a customizable structure in Google Drive for keeping track of all of those student Docs being emailed to you.
  • autoCrat - Allows you to merge data from Google Sheets into Google Docs. It can also be used to create an auto-response letter from a Google Form submission.

Google is constantly changing and improving features. Look for them to continue to increase their list of add-ons for Docs and Sheets. What about you? Do you have a favorite add-on that you think everyone should know about? Share it in the comments section below

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