4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – December 2014

More Chrome Extensions for teachers. To access previous blog posts on Chrome extensions for teachers Click Here.

Office Editing for Docs, Sheets and Slides

When launching an Office document the default for Google Drive is to show it in preview mode. If you would like to edit the Office document you will want to use this Chrome extension. The file opens as an Office document and stays that way. Caution, these do not automatically save like a Google Doc does and you can not add collaborators. Use the file menu to make a copy of the Office document as a Google Document.

Click Here to install the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets and Slides extension.

Anything to QR Code

Anything to QR Code Alice KeelerA QR code is a small barcode that is used by mobile devices with a QR code app installed. The QR code can link to a piece of text, a website, a video, launch a tweet, add a contact card, and many other things. QR codes are meant to be printed so that students with mobile devices can scan them. For ideas on QR codes visit http://alicekeeler.com/qr

The question is always how to do you MAKE a QR code? I use http://qrstuff.com oftentimes since it makes different types of QR codes. I also use the Chrome extension ShortenMe since it also gives me the short URL. However, to print QR codes the “Anything to QR Code” Chrome extension is fast and easy. Simply install the Chrome extension and on any website you will notice the QR code icon on the right hand side of the Omnibox.
QR code icon

Click on the icon in the Omnibox and a QR code for that webpage will appear. Click on the blue hyperlink that says “save” to download the QR code to your computer. This downloads as an image file. You can print this directly or insert it into a document and resize it before printing.

Click Here to install the Anything to QR Code extension.

Send from Gmail (by Google)

Gmail send toSend from Gmail will launch an email from your Gmail account and automatically include the link to the website. This is particularly handy for students to send you links to their digital portfolios or websites they are having challenges with.

Click Here to install the Send from Gmail Chrome extension.

Screencastify (Screen Video Recorder)

ScreencastifyUse Screencastify to create screencasts for students with instructions, provide video feedback to students on their digital work or to have students explain their thinking as they utilize web tools. Screencasts can be saved locally to your computer or to Google Drive.

Click Here to install the Screencastify Chrome extension.


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Alice Keeler Chrome Extensions for Teachers

Alice Keeler QR Code

I have been publishing several blog posts on Chrome extensions for teachers. I thought it might be helpful to link to them all in one place.

4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – December 2014

4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – September 2014

4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – July 2014

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 10

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 9

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 8

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 7

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 6

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 5

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 4

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 3

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 2

5 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – Part 1


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Google Drive: Having Multiple Collaborators Collaborate with You

Multiple People

I had someone on Twitter pose the problem that they are working with 150 teachers who will each be creating a Google Document and sharing it with him. He wanted to know the best way to manage all of the 150 files without having to deal with them one at a time in “Incoming.”

Create a Folder

In Google Drive create a folder.

Share the Folder

Right click on the folder to be anyone with the link can edit.
Share right click on google drive folder

Click on the “Get shareable link” in the upper right hand corner. This will automatically copy the link to the folder to your clipboard.
Get Sharable Link Google Docs

Click on the arrow next to “Anyone with the link can view” and instead choose “Anyone with the link can edit.” If you have a Google Apps account the default options will be to share with people who are on your domain. In that case click on “More…” to find the option to allow anyone to edit.

Share the Folder Link

In Google Drive click one time on the folder to select the folder. Locate the chain link icon in the toolbar. The link is not automatically copied, you will need to use the keyboard shortcut Control C on a PC or Command C on a Mac.
Share Folder Link

Email Link

Distribute this link to the people you want to collaborate with. When they open the link they will see a preview of the folder. In the upper right hand corner is a blue button that gives them the option to “Add to Drive.”

The blue button then changes to an “Open in Drive” option.
Open in Drive

Collaborators Add Files

Now that the collaborators have the folder in their Google Drive any files they add to the folder will automatically be shared with you and happily all in the same place.

Try It

CLICK HERE to try adding a file to my Google Drive folder.

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Gamify Your PD: Badges and Level Up

Alice Keeler Gamify PD Professional Development

If you are providing a professional development workshop you may want to consider trying to gamify the event. I have created a template using Google Sheets that allows you to create a list of activities the PD participants will engage in. Assign a difficulty level, XP points and a badge to each task. As the participants complete the activities they can check them off and level up!


CLICK HERE for the template

Set Up

Prior to the PD event you will want to make a copy of the template and rename the title to something specific for the event. Break down each of the agenda items that you want to cover into smaller tasks. This will help the participants to keep on task. Having more things to check off will help them to realize how much they are accomplishing.


One way to provide differentiation in a professional development session is to provide the participants choices. For each task rate the difficulty numerically; one for easy, three for difficult. Automatically this will be translated to difficulty stars. Providing a variety of tasks at different difficulty levels can allow participants to self select activities that will challenge them.


The badges tab of the template has some default badge images. If you would like to create your own badges try saving the images to a Google Sites page. After saving the page edits, right click on the image and choose “Copy image URL.” Paste that URL into the badges tab. You can add badges to the list or override the badges provided.

Badges Tab

Make sure each badge has an agenda number associated with it. If the badge is not being used, assign it agenda item zero.


By replacing the word edit in the URL with the word copy this will prompt each participant to create a copy of your PD gamify spreadsheet. Create a short URL using http://goo.gl or bit.ly or tinyurl.com. This short URL is what you want to share with participants. They will each have their own copy for them to mark off what they have accomplished.

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Change Your Twitter Handle


You set up your Twitter account without really understanding how Twitter works. Now that you are using Twitter to connect professionally with other educators you may be wishing you had chosen your Twitter handle differently. Perhaps you have changed your name and need your Twitter handle to reflect your new last name. If people are complaining about trying to remember the numbers you included in your Twitter handle or typing the underscore on their phones, you can change your Twitter handle.


Click on your profile image in the upper right hand corner and choose “Settings.”
Twitter Settings


The first option under settings is your username. This is your Twitter handle. Notice the box allows you to edit or completely change your Twitter handle. So long as the Twitter handle is available simply click “Save Changes” down at the bottom of the page and you have a new Twitter handle.
Twitter Handle


You do NOT lose your followers when you change your Twitter handle name. You may want to send out a few tweets over the next week to let your followers know that you’ve changed your Twitter handle.

Handle Squat

If you want to make sure no one takes the name you are abandoning, consider creating a new Twitter account immediately after changing your Twitter handle. When you change your Twitter handle, your old handle is now available for others to use. If you are relatively new to Twitter this is not an issue, however if people have known you for a long time as some other Twitter handle simply create a new account with your old name. In the bio section say this is your old handle and to please tweet you at your new one.

Twitter Handle Considerations

This is a list of tips, not hard and fast rules. There are a lot of good reasons to break these tips.

  • Shorter is Better: When someone replies to you the Twitter handle is part of the 140 character limit. You can have a maximum of 15 characters (which is actually 16 characters with the @ symbol). Suggestion to stay under 10 characters.
  • No Numbers: It is surprising how connected you feel with your Twitter PLN. People will call you by your Twitter handle like it is your nickname. It may not bother you to be introduced as @bob2384 but it is something you may want to consider. Numbers are also difficult for people to remember, especially if the numbers are only meaningful to you. This reduces the ability for people to engage with you if they can not remember your Twitter handle.
  • No Underscores: When typing Twitter handles on a mobile device the underscore is on a different keyboard screen. Try to avoid using underscores.
  • Think Spelling: Think about how easy it is to remember how to spell your Twitter handle. If you think people may make spelling mistakes, you may want to rethink what you are choosing.
  • Brand Yourself: You are trying to connect with educators on Twitter. If possible try to make your Twitter handle your name or something that indicates that you are an educator.
  • Memorable: If you are not using your name for your Twitter handle you may choose something clever, which is great, but consider if it might be hard for people to remember. Especially if you are being creative with the spelling.
  • Avoid Character Confusion: Is that a lower case L or an upper case I? An O or a Zero?

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No Attachments on Your Digital Haversack (Classroom Website)

No Attachments Digital Haversack

I advocate for EVERY teacher to have a really good classroom website (Digital Haversack) for students and parents. I like the site to be public in order to have transparency to the parents and the community as to what is going on in my classroom. Every day I post the agenda for the day that has the directions the students will need. This allows me to talk less and focus more on building relationships with students and working with students individually or in small groups. Text, images, short videos, animated GIF’s, etc… are great ways to communicate directions without you having to explicitly say them. This also ensures that any students who are absent, or tired, or having a bad day are able to access the directions and not get behind.

No Attachments

Research shows that when your website has a link to click on or an attachment to download the reader is likely not to click on the link. Rather than linking to documents or requiring a download it would be preferable, if possible, to embed the information so that the student can simply scroll down to see what they need to see. Keep the student in one place if possible. Downloading files requires bandwidth that may be an issue when the connection is low. It also takes time to download, locate the file on the computer and open the file. This gap in time causes some people to feel it is not worth it to download the attachment, thus they simply choose not to access the information. If the information is valuable, the best way to make sure parents and students see the information is to not give them the option to download, but rather to simply make the information available right there on the page.

Use Google Drive

If the information is in a Google Document it can be embedded within the page using the File->Publish to the Web option. If the document is not a Google Document it can still be saved to Google Drive and shared that way. If you have a PDF or Word Document you want to share, you can upload that to Google Drive as well. Drag the file into your Google Drive. Click on the file in Drive and click on the icon in the toolbar of a persons head with a plus sign. This will allow you to set the visibility of the document since it private by default. The chain link icon in the toolbar allows you to obtain a link to the document. Link to Word in Google Drive Example of a Word Document in my Google Drive: CLICK HERE The document should open in preview mode (accessible by clicking on the eye icon in the toolbar.)

Embed Code

From preview mode you are able to obtain the embed code. Click on the stacked dots icon at the top. Clicking on this will give you the option to “Embed item…” Copy the embed code to place on your classroom Digital Haversack. Embed a Word Document

 Embedded Word Document

Below is a Word document I uploaded to Google Drive, changed the viewing settings to anyone can view, and obtained the embed code to make it visible on my website without an attachment or link. Note that you can edit the embed code to make the document wider or longer on your site to reduce the scrolling the students and parents need to do in order to read it.  I recommend you ALSO provide the link to the document in your Google Drive as a hyperlink just in case the embed is not visible for some reason.  Unable to view the embedded document or wish to see it larger? CLICK HERE to link to the above resource.

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Mac Tip: Enable Voice Typing

Mac Voice Typing

Sometimes I feel like dictating my typing. Other times I can not figure out how to spell a word so I simply engage the voice dictation to help me to figure it out. Using voice dictation can be really handing when providing students feedback. I am able to look at student work and give my response to it as I am going through it.

System Preferences

Click on the apple in the upper left hand corner to get to “System Preferences.”
Mac System Preferences


Dictation and Speech

Locate the “Dictation and Speech” option.
Mac Dictation and Speech

Locate the “Dictation” tab and make sure that it is turned on.

Function Function

To enable voice dictation strike the function key twice. Note that voice dictation does NOT work in a comment box in a Google Doc, nor in Google Docs.
Mac Fn Fn function


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GameSalad – Creating Video Games Without Coding

Last week many classrooms are participating in the hour of code. Even Kindergarten teachers are doing the hour of code! Exposing students to programming provides them not only with a valuable skill but enhances their critical thinking skills. There are many ways you can get your students started with programming.  For younger students check out the hopscotch app for iOS. Scratch provides a drag and drop interface that allows students to develop quickly. Pencilcode.net is another drag and drop interface that is great for kids. For making Android apps with a drag and drop interface check out MIT App InventorCode.org gets older students into learning programming languages.

I am taking a class this semester on mobile game design for education. At the beginning of the semester we had to describe the game we were going to make for our final project. I thought it would be nice to create something that went along with my dissertation topic. I am going to study the effect to student motivation when you add a progress bar and gamified levels to the progress report. So for my game I thought I would create a situation where students get homework, do the homework and level up in the class. The goal to be a certain level before the end of the semester. After describing what I was going to do I thought I had no capability of doing something that advanced. I was thrilled to not only be able to make the game in a short period of time but to find that it was fairly easy!


The platform for game design that my class used was GameSalad (http://gamesalad.com/). This platform does not require knowing code but rather works on a drag and drop interface. I was surprised how easy it was to create a game using this interface.

One of the first practice games I made was a simple platformer game. Think Super Mario. Click Here for a tutorial by Jaime Cross on creating a platform game.

K12 Curriculum

Creating a game is one way that students can demonstrate their learning. The added bonus of students using games as their platform for demonstrating their understanding is that other students in the class will likely enjoy playing the games their classmates make. This gives additional practice and exposure to the content to the players.

Critical Thinking

Building games requires critical thinking skills. Having students use GameSalad is a great way to get them into the Common Core. Students need to devise a game that achieves the learning objective and they have to figure out how to make the game work.


While you may provide your students with an explicit step by step activity to get started in GameSalad, once students start making their own GameSalad games you are going to be surprised how creative they will be. Give students the learning objective and let them figure out what the game should look like. Chances are no two students games will be the same.


Very likely students will need to work together to make their games work. “Can you test out my game?” Other students in the class can act as beta testers to provide meaningful feedback for what improvements the game needs. A student will possibly get stuck on making something work that they are trying to do, encourage the students to share their challenges and have classmates suggest solutions.


Game designers do not make games for themselves, they make them for someone else to play. Tell your students that their classmates are their customer and they will need to make sure that the game appeals to those who are going to play the game. In order for an educational game to be successful it must clearly communicate the learning objective. When you have students play the games their classmates created, ask if they can identify the learning objective, if not, then it was not communicated clearly. Throughout the design process students should be communicating their ideas to classmates to ensure that the game addresses the learning objective and that it makes sense to who will ultimately be the end user.

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15 Twitter Tips

Twitter Bird

I have heard that educators are the #1 users of Twitter. Twitter acts as a PLN (Personal Learning Network) to connect educators together to share ideas, find ideas, provide moral support, make connections, engage in discussions, and to keep current on trends in teaching. Here are some tips to help you build your PLN on Twitter.

  1. Do Not Follow Your Friends: Twitter is not about following your friends, it is about making yourself a better educator. Follow people who share, provide resources and are willing to help you when you ask.
  2. Be a Rabid Unfollower: Do not be afraid to unfollow someone. If you are frequently seeing irrelevant tweets in your Twitter stream you’re going to be less likely to check Twitter often. It is not personal, you are simply customizing your stream.
  3. Do Not Read Everything: Twitter is in the moment. When you check Twitter scroll a little, but do not feel you need to “catch up.”
  4. Multiple Twitter Accounts: If you are into teaching and baseball create a Twitter handle for each. People who follow you follow you for a reason, they probably are not into both of your interests.
  5. Bio and a Picture: People will not follow the default egg picture. Post a picture of your face to help connect with your PLN. (Hint: Smile in the picture, even snarky things sound nice when you’re smiling.) You are trying to attract educators to your PLN, make sure your description says you’re a teacher and other information to attract people with like demographics.
  6. Keep it on Topic: Again, people follow you for a reason. The majority of your tweets should be about education.
  7. Use a Hashtag: Try to post a hashtag to almost every tweet. A hashtag is a topic. This helps you to connect with others interested in the same topic.
  8. Click on a Hashtag: Hashtags are live links in a tweet. Click on a hashtag someone used to see what others are saying on that same topic.
  9. Jump In: Twitter is public. People post on Twitter to engage with a public audience. Do not feel you are intruding on someone else’s conversation. Reply and retweet.
  10. Reply: Replying to a tweet is a great way to engage with and build your PLN. Just remember, if your tweet starts with the @ symbol, it is semi private. The tweet only publishes to the stream of tweeps who follow BOTH of you.
  11. Retweet: A retweet republishes the tweet to your followers.
  12. Recognize Others: Give others credit and lift others up. This is a great way to build your PLN.
  13. Join a Twitter Chat: Twitter chats are a scheduled discussion that takes place on Twitter for one hour. Each chat has a topic for the week, find a discussion that interests you. Check out bit.ly/educhatcalendar to locate a Twitter chat. Click Here for how to participate in a Twitter Chat.
  14. Allow Access: Allow others access into your day to day creative. When you share, others will share with you. Tweet pictures of what your students are working on. Take pictures of your classroom walls. Tweet out ideas you have so your PLN can help you develop them.
  15. Leave Twitter Open: Leave Twitter open on a tab in your browser all the time. This makes it quick and easy to check your Twitter stream really quick to get an idea.
Posted in Twitter | Tagged | 2 Comments

Google Forms: Create a Quiz from a Question Bank

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.51.32 AM

Google Forms is a survey tool, not a quiz generator. Many teachers utilize Google Forms for formative assessment since they are easy to administrate and the data is easily accessible in a Google spreadsheet. Using the Add-On Flubaroo will automatically grade the multiple choice questions and provide the student with their score. Google Forms allows you to scramble the answer choices and the questions, but it does not allow you to pull questions from a question bank. This is a work around to allow you to create dynamic quizzes.

Google Sheets

Go to Google Drive and create a new Google Spreadsheet. You will need 2 tabs. One tab to link to the quiz you create and one for the list of questions. Double click on the tabs to rename them. I named my tabs “quiz” and “questions.” This works for free response questions only. On the “questions” tab you will need to have a column for the question number and for the question. Optionally you can include a column for the answer.
two tabs


Look Up Formula

To keep this simple we will ask the spreadsheet to choose a random question from your list of questions for each question. This will allow for the same question to be asked twice. A more complicated formula can solve this, but for the purposes of this tutorial we will not worry about that.

On the “quiz” tab, create a column for the quiz hyperlink and a column for each question you are going to ask on your quiz. You will write a formula to look up a random question from your question list for each question.
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.29.24 AM

In the blank cell under the first question column write the formula



formula element explanation
 =vlookup  This looks up the random question from the table
 randbetween(  This generates a random number between 2 values
 1,max(questions!$A:$A)  You may want to add questions to your question list. Rather than having to rewrite all of your formulas have the spreadsheet check for the largest number in your question list in column A.
 questions!A$2:$B  The table of questions is on the “questions” tab and the range of values is from columns A and B. By omitting the number on column B the table values will be the entire column B.
 2  This number tells the lookup which column to return. Since the questions are in the 2nd column we use the number 2.
 false This field is not necessary, however it tells the lookup to search the entire table for the lookup value. If you included the column header in your table range you would need this field.

Paste Formula

You want this exact formula in all of the cells that will be choosing a random question. To obtain multiple versions of the quiz you will want to repeat this for multiple rows.
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.37.46 AM

Generic Google Form

Create a generic Google Form to use as the quiz. For the first few questions ask the students name and other student information you need. For each question create TWO paragraph text boxes.
Make 2 questions

Pre-Filled URL

In the Form edit screen use the “Responses” menu to choose “Get pre-filled URL.”
Get pre-filled URL Google Forms

Choosing “Get pre-filled URL” will open up a screen that looks like the live form. This screen allows you to fill out the parts of the form you want to pre-fill. In the question boxes type in capital letters “QUESTIONONE”, “QUESTIONTWO”, “QUESTIONTHREE”, etc…
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.15.05 AM
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.15.14 AM

Press the submit button at the bottom of the screen. Copy the pre-filled URL that is displayed.
Copy Pre-Filled URL

Hyperlink in Spreadsheet

Back in the spreadsheet on the “quiz” tab you will want to modify the URL to grab the questions from the spreadsheet. In the hyperlink column next to the random quiz questions type the formula

=hyperlink(“pre-filled URL”,”Click Here”)

Replace the pre-filled URL in the above formula with the URL you obtained from the Google Form. The URL does need to be in quotations. The “Click Here”, which also needs to be in quotations, can be any text you would like to be displayed in the spreadsheet.
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.40.26 AM


The key to creating a pre-filled URL from a spreadsheet is quotation ampersand ampersand quotation. Go through the pre-filled URL and replace all of the “QUESTIONONE”, “QUESTIONTWO” etc… with “&&”

In Between the &&

In between the ampersands you will want to write the name of the cell that contains that question. For example “&B2&” is where I will find question 1 and “&C2&” is where I will find question 2.
Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.44.59 AM

Copy the Formula

Copy the hyperlink formula down the column. This will give you multiple URL’s that each link to a unique quiz.

Distributing the Quizzes

To distribute the quizzes to the students you can create a QR code from each of the unique URL’s if the students have tablets. You can also HIDE the question tab and HIDE the columns that contain the random questions so that students only see the list of hyperlinks.
Hide Columns


CLICK HERE to see a sample spreadsheet. Make a copy to use this as your template. Note: You will need to replace the pre-filled URL in my formulas with the pre-filled URL from your own Google Form.




Posted in forms, Spreadsheet | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments