Three Google Chrome Hacks for Better Productivity

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” By Paul J. Meyer

As I have been working with educators the last several months, these three hacks have helped central office educators to teachers with productivity when using Google Chrome. I thought I would share here to help others as well:

1. Chrome Browser Start Up: As educators we need to launch a lot of sites to start our days. The average teacher I work with opens up a minimum of four tabs usually, email, Google Drive, what every LMS they are using and Zoom. An easy hack to save you time is to get the chrome tabs you use to open up upon starting your browser. To do this you can…

  • Click on the ellipsis icon on the top right of your chrome browser window
  • Select “settings” and scroll to the bottom until you see “On Startup”
  • Click “Open a specific page or set of pages”
  • Click “Add new page” and you can manually enter a URLs you would like to start up on the page.

2. Chrome Grouping Tabs: Tab groups in Google Chrome give educators the ability to put collections of tabs together into a group that can be organized with names and colors. This allows educators to organize their various subjects or block classes easier. To do this…

  • Right-click on a tab and a drop down will appear
  • Click on create that group
  • Add a name for your groups (Example: Reading or Block 1) and if you want chose a color to help differentiate them. You can create as many groups as you want.

3. Chrome Speed: Teachers often say that their browser is going slow. Here are a few things you can do to speed up your browser:

  • Update Chrome as it works best with the latest version.
  • Close unused tabs. The more tabs you have open, the harder Chrome has to work.
  • Clean up your extensions. The more extensions you have, the hard Chrome has to work too.

If you have chrome hacks I would love to hear them. Share in the chat!

10 Ways to Provide Formative Assessments in a Virtual Classroom

“Students need endless feedback more than they need endless teaching.” Grant Wiggins

Formative assessments are a fundamental part of teaching. They help teachers determine where gaps are in students learning and provides data to inform instruction. Formative assessments also help students because they increase engagement and provide students with ownership in their learning. Formative assessments should be consistently in educators practices as it is a great way to provide feedback to students on their learning journey.

Formative assessments can easily be added into any virtual learning environment. Below I share five strategies and five digital formative assessment tools that can support your teaching virtually.

5 Formative Assessment Strategies

Mad Lib Tasks: Mad Libs are fill-in-the-blank sentences, series of sentences or stories. In education, Mab Lib tasks helps teachers and students quickly assess which questions/concept/skills they do or don’t understand. If you wanted to assess a students understand of motion (speed, velocity, acceleration, deceleration, reference point) and forces (gravity, friction, centripetal force) here is an example of a Mab Lib: Force can make an object ____, ____, _____ or _____. The student would have to fill in stop, speed up, slow down or change direction. (Hint: You can also provide a bank of terms if you want to as well).

3, 2, 1: At the end of a lesson, provide students with three prompts to reflect on such as 3 facts you learned, 2 things that surprised you, 1 thing you have a question about. They can write this on a Google Doc and submit it to you or it could be in a discussion thread so students can learn from each other.

3 Question Quiz: My students loved this one! I would ask them to come up with three questions that they think would be on the test with an answer key ( so they had to show their thinking/work). This allowed me to see who might need a reteach or had a misconception and then I used some of their questions on the quiz! They loved seeing their questions and I liked the time it saved me of creating the quiz!

Numbers: Formative assessments can be as easy as having students self assess how they feel about a concept/standard/skill. Posting a likert scale can help you gage where they are: 1 – I need more help, 2 – I think I got it but might have a question, 3 – I can teach others. Once you have a safe learning environment you can have students share via flashing a number signal up on the screen or you can have them send the numbers privately to you via the chat function.

Entrance/Exit Ticket: Quickly see what the students know or don’t know by providing a few questions for them to answer. This is something you can have up at the beginning of class as students are entering the virtual classroom or at the end. You can utilize some of the digital tools below to support you with tickets too.

5 FREE Formative Assessment Tools

Jamboard: This is a great interactive whiteboard tool that saves your work right to your google drive. Give your students a check out questions or word problem, have them show their work and submit the assignment. This is a great way to make their thinking visible so teachers can provide feedback. You can also use this tool to share realtime whiteboard work by sharing your screen.

Classflow: This powerful tool supports virtual learning from instruction to assessment. There are polls, quizzes and interactive whiteboards you can use to assess students knowledge.

Edulastic: Standard based formative assessment tool that has a great assessment bank but you also make up your own questions as well.

Padlet: I love this tool because it is so versatile and often under utilized. It is a great way to what students are thinking but having students show what they know by having them create on a padlet is a great way to assess their thinking. For example having students create a story timeline of the main points.

Flip Grid: A simple way for students and teachers to create online discussions via video. Great for posing a question and having students respond to hear their thinking but giving them time to process too.

More resources on formative assessments:

Top Tech Tools by Common Sense Education

3 reasons to use formative assessment in your virtual instruction—and tips on how to go about it

How to do Formative Assessment in Distance Learning

5 Digital Tools to Promote Collaboration

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Having students collaborate using different digital tools helps build students communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Here are five ways to promote collaboration in both a physical and/or virtual classroom space.

Video Ask: It was created for business but teachers can turn anything into a learning opportunity with VideoAsk. Teachers and/or students can pose questions and you can reply back different ways such as with video, audio, or text. It works asynchronous so students can reply back with they have had enough time to process and/or when it is convenient for them.

Wakelet: This application allows teachers and students save, organize and share content from across the web. It can be used multiple ways in the classroom such as co-creating a digital newspaper or newsletter. You can provide your students with a topic and theme such as Ecosystems and students can find current events around that topic and have discussions.

StoriumEdu: StoriumEdu is very unique as it gamifies creative writing. Students get different digital “story cards” that represent different aspects of storytelling and character development. The cards serve as writing prompts, helping students figure out what to write next at each step of the game.

Gimkit: Similar style to Kahoot, Gimkit is a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. It makes it great for remote learning because each student can play on their own devices

Dotstorming: Have students brainstorm together and vote on their favorite ideas. Last week I collaborated with a teacher to help create their virtual classroom rules/norms together with the students using Dotstorming. The students add cards of what they wanted the rules to be for their virtual classroom and then they voted on the top four rules co-creating their rules together.

I would love to hear your favorite digital tools to promote collaboration in the classroom. Share in the comments!

Collection of Digital Learning Activities and Lessons

“I dream of a digital India where quality education reaches the most inaccessible corners driven by digital learning.”By Shri Narendra Modi

Over the last week I have been capturing lessons and activities that educators are posting to help other educators. #bettertogether

Resources for School Closings: COVID-19

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’”by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

With COVID-19 causing uncertainty in schools, I started curating resources that I have been seeing that support you and your students. With all the free digital resources, don’t forget about non-technology learning such as books, puzzles, cooking (following a recipe), playing outside, and conversations!

It is also important to recognize that this is an emotional time for everyone and we need to make sure we are thinking about the social and emotional needs for all.



District Leaders:

All Educators:

Please share any resources you know of in the comments for all to see!

How to Build a Digital Innovation Playground for Educators

“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.” By Li Keqiang

I had a goal that I wanted teachers to see technology tools as not as a another thing but how it could enhance lessons. Previously, I would tell educators that technology was a tool but I realized that wasn’t working. I decide to change my thinking and SHOW them HOW technology could be a tool. This is where my idea for creating a digital learning playground came from. I wanted to share my experience so that other schools or districts could build one too. 

  1. Find a space where you could house the technology in a “showroom” type of atmosphere. 
    • We chose to create ours in our Professional Development Center in a classroom. 
  2. Create a list of technology tools that you think teachers would like to utilize in the classroom. 
    • We started our list with items we knew some schools already had but did not know what to do with; they had purchased them because they “looked” fun such as Spheros.
  3. Start to contact technology companies to see if they would donate their technology tool to your playground; understanding the return could potentially be that teachers/schools would purchase the technology for their classroom. 
    • Not many technology companies donated but it was a good place to start
  4. As donations came in and while you make purchases, learn how the technology tool works and start to build lesson plans that incorporate standards. 
    • We played with the tools to learn them and then created lesson plans based on NC standards for all different grade levels and subjects. 
  5. When educators visit the room allow them to play with the resources and see the lesson plans that connect to the curriculum. 
    • We created a schedule to allow teachers to know the times the room would be open. We also created a professional development around the tools and soon had a smaller digital playground “on the go” (via a bin) so we could recreate the room at different schools when giving PD. We also created guidelines to help educators design their own learning experience when they came to the room.

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Digital Writing in the Classroom

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” By E. L. Doctorow

Digital technologies are a great way to enable communication, collaboration and help teachers design authentic tasks for their students. Here are a few of my favorite apps that you can incorporate digital writing into the classroom.

iOs Apps: (Free)


Day One Journal


Paid: MyScript Nebo 


G Suite





5 Google Instant Searches To Help You in The Classroom

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” By Albert Einstein

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Google aims to make their search site as useful as possible including having what is referred to as instant search cards. Instant search cards are when interactive information is the first result which allows you to “experience” what you searched for. Below are the top ten instant search cards you can utilize in your classroom with your students!

  1. Roll a die: When you type this in a six sided die will appear for you to interact with by rolling it to see what number appears.
  2. Timer: When you type this in a timer appears that you can use for multiple reasons in the classroom such as for transitions. Student also love using it to help with time management.
  3. Weather: When you type in weather your local weather will appear.
  4. Flip a Coin: When you type flip a coin, like the die, a coin appears so you can “flip” it. It is a great way to see who starts first or for probability lessons.
  5. Definition of: When you type “definition of” and the word you want, the results will bring up a featured definition snippet in Google. No more going to a dictionary website for what you need!

There always fun Google “easter eggs” (an intentional hidden message, joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, webpage, video game etc) such as pacman and “do a barrel roll”. My favorite is Google in 1998 as it takes you back to what Google looked like when it first launched in 1998!

NCTIES18 Recap

“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” by John Emmerling

One of my favorite conferences is #ncties18. This conference always gets my brain thinking in new ways and reenergizes me. There is a lot of great information in just a few short days so it always takes me a few days to process. The one word I could sum up this conference this year would be #inspired.


  1. Marley Emerson Dias: She is the amazing young lady that started #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign and wrote the book Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! She is the youngest to be named Forbes 30 under 30. Check out her resource library here.
  2. Kevin Carroll: I can’t say enough things about Kevin Carroll as he truely is a game changer and amazing at his job! I often times feel guilty that I don’t have the best work/life a balance but he made me realize that it is okay not to because I LOVE what I do! He had so many great quotes but these three are my favorites
    1. “The master in the art of living makes little distinction …..blur the lines of work and play and find the joy every single day.” Kevin Carroll
    2. It’s not enough to have an idea. You have to advance it.   The difference between a dream and a reality is action.” Kevin Carroll
    3. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
  3. Students at Stedwick Elementary School: I can’t do this video justice with words….just watch, The Lie.

New Tools and Ideas:

  1. YellKey – cool shorten link site
  2. Ziteboard: – white board for web browser
  3. #booksnaps – great way to add in digital literacy into your lessons

“Technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with the liberal arts married with the humanities that makes our hearts sing. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact.” Tim Cook


Assessing Your Technology Integration

“The technology itself is not transformative. It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative.” – Tanya Byron

I am in schools and classrooms daily and too often I see the misuse of how technology should be used. Often times I hear Principals or teachers sat, yes we are using technology, see how this teacher is using ______ (fill in blank with website or tool) but the students are not using anything. Or I see technology beginning used as – lack of a better term – “babysitter”. They will tell me how they use Dreambox or Compass Learning etc as a station or something students can do after they finish their classwork.


Technology should be used to transform the classroom and school to allow fo authentic, real world application. Technology should be supporting the curriculum goals, and helping the students to effectively reach their learning goals.

Here are some questions to help you asses yourself to see how you or your school are integrating technology. Rate yourself by using the scale, zero we don’t do this or 5 we do this with fidelity, in all _______ subjects (if you are a teacher) or classrooms (if you have a school perspective).

  1. Are digital resources being utilized with purpose?
  2. Are teachers/administration modeling for students/teachers using transformative technology in their classroom/school?
  3. Do assignments provide opportunities for creativity and critical thinking?
  4. Do students own their own learning? Do they have choice in what tool they use or product they create?
  5. Do students use technology to create authentic products that are for authentic audiences to show their understanding of learning outcomes?

20 – 25 Score: You are showing mastery with using technology to transform learning. Ask yourself, “How can I contribute in helping others integrate technology to transform learning?” Use this as your next step to empower others.

10 – 20 Score: You are on your way with using technology to transform learning. Look at your lowest score for the questions and ask yourself what can I do to make this better?

0 – 10 Score: You are starting your journey in implementing technology into your school or classroom. Take a look at the first question and see how you can improve in this area. If you did well on this question, then look at the next question as the question go in order of transformation. Only select one question to improve upon to not overwhelm yourself or anyone at your school.

Other resources and ideas to help you integrate technology into your classroom:

Previous blog posts on integrating technology

The 4 Stages of EdTech – The SAMR Model for Technology Integration