Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Powerful Chrome Apps

This morning I had the pleasure of working with our VLA staff and like all of my weekly workshops I learned way more than I taught.  As we explored options for setting up Goole Drive Offline (where anyone can view and edit Docs and Presentations without an internet connection using Chrome - check it out), Linda Hoang and the rest of the VLA staff started sharing some of the more powerful Chrome apps they and their students have been using this year. This lead to an amazing 30-minute journey through the Education section of the Chrome App Store.

Chrome apps are usually free and work with any computer (Mac, Windows, Chromebook) in the Chrome web browser.  To download or install a Chrome app you just need to be signed into the the browser (or Chromebook), which means this should only be done on a computer where you have logged in under your personal account.

All of the apps listed below are ones students could easily use at home or school.  Take a few minutes to check them out.  Additionally, we have a Chrome Apps section to the NCS Professional Development Portal.


Desmos Graphing Calculator - If you are around my age you might recall that $100+ graphing calculator you needed in high school and college.  It's now free and available as a Chrome app ( these days...).  Similar to your TI-81 users can easily enter equations and individual points to generate graphs.  These graphs can then be saved for later use, printed, or exported as images (all things I don't I remember my TI-81 being able to do).

Daum Equation Editor - Yes, Google Docs does have an equation editor, but sometimes it is a bit wonky and difficult to use.  The Daum Equation Editor allows you to quickly and simply create equations for math or science that then saved as images and easily imported into other documents.

Geogebra - Kristen Miller first introduced me to this a few weeks ago as an iPad app, but Geogebra is also a Chrome app that allows users to create and manipulate functions in algebra, geometry, calculus or physics.  As Kristen showed me it is a handy resource for students to demonstrate their understanding of mathematical concepts in the real world.  Her students are going to be using it for an amazing upcoming project.  I won't let the cat completely out of the bag, but it involves the game Angry Birds!

Duolingo - Interested in practicing your Spanish, French, German or Italian skills?  Are you slightly competitive and like to compete against your friends?  Duolingo allows you to do both in one free and well-designed app.  Once signed up users make their way through thematic challenges where they have to master translation, listening, and pronunciation skills for a given language.  It used to only be a smartphone app, but now it is also free for Chrome.

BioDigital - BioDigital is an interactive, 3D human body where users can explore and peel away different body systems.  Think of it as Google Earth for the human body.  As you click on objects they are labeled and provide different pieces of background knowledge.  The app is anatomically correct, so might not be perfect for all audiences.

Typing Web Tutor - As we all know by 4th grade students have to be able to type a single page in a single setting according the Common Core ELA Standards.  As a result, a variety of typing programs have started springing up.  Typing Web is a free Chrome app that also has a teacher management portion for our technology electives.  Another highly rated one is Typing Club

Statistics for Active Typing - Curious how quickly you type?  Statistics for Active Typing is a Chrome Extension (similar to an app, but always runs in the background) that tracks your typing speed as you conduct your day-to-day activities in Chrome.  It is a bit nerdy, but I have noticed that during the few months I have had it installed my typing speed as increased as I have set personal goals.

Cite This for Me - This is another Chrome extension that provides citations in any format for the webpage on which you happen to be reading.  This citation can then be copy-and-pasted into a document and manipulated (if necessary) to match a particular style guide.  It is a handy scaffold for helping students with their citations.

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