Cool Tool: OneTab (Google Chrome Extension)

OneTab is a free browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Since Chrome is the primary browser for my district, this post will discuss OneTab for Chrome.

The main selling point for this extension is the ability to save memory by closing less needed tabs, while maintaining the ability to quickly reopen.  While it is possible to accomplish this same task by bookmarking pages or reviewing browsing history, OneTab saves all open links and closes all tabs in one click. This can be useful when sharing a list of resources with students, curating lesson ideas for an upcoming unit, or simply saving the many open tabs relating to various open projects or ideas.

How to:
  1. First, install OneTab.
  2. Browse the web, opening interesting pages in new tabs. 
  3. Click the OneTab icon to immediately save a link to all open tabs.
  4. As all tabs close, a new tab opens to the OneTab page showing a list of links.

At the review page you have the option to:
  • Remove individual links from the list.
  • Click individual links to reopen the page.
  • Click "Restore All" to open all links (each page opens in a new tab).
  • Click "More" to name, lock, or star the tab group.
  • Click "Share as web page" to generate a single page. This unique page can be bookmarked, shared digitally, or printed and quickly accessed using a custom QR code.
    • As an example: Visit this link to access the OneTab site, the help page, and the Chrome Store page. 

For more precise actions, right-click the OneTab icon to:
  • Send all tabs to OneTab
  • Display OneTab
  • Send only the current tab to OneTab
  • Send all but the current tab to OneTab

Tips for Success:
  • OneTab does not sync between devices. There are some workarounds, but they are a bit clunky (review the Import/Export option on the OneTab page).
  • Tabs sent to OneTab will automatically close. The pages will be opened as new -- form data will not be saved, nor will page position.
  • Once links are sent to OneTab they are saved, even when the browser is closed. 
  • Name the tab groups for easier browsing and sharing.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut Alt-Shift-1 to open the OneTab page.
  • Customize how OneTab handles duplicates, behaves at startup, and other features through the Options settings.
  • It is not possible to edit the page names or add descriptions using this tool. For a more detailed, annotated list, you may want to consider a social bookmarking site (delicious. diigo, pinboard)
  • Edits to a shared list will not appear on the generated page. It is possible to delete a shared list; the effect is immediate.
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Google Apps: New Chrome User Switcher

The latest Google Chrome update includes a small, but major change in the user interface.  This change makes it easier for different people to access their Google account on shared computers. It also makes it much easier to completely remove all personal data when done.

But this may not be idea in all situations. An example: My personal laptop is used at both home and work. I currently have 13 Google profiles that I frequently access.  I have grown accustomed to quickly accessing accounts by selecting a colorful icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

The new user identifier, which is the Google username, is less helpful as it requires reading. I know how this sounds: I am a librarian, an educator, and champion for literacy who wants pictures over words. (Graphic novels and wordless books are great to read.)  My personal account is a bright green head, my work account is a bright yellow happy face, and my test teacher account is a red pizza. These icons were chosen because they are visually dissimilar and quickly distinguishable.

In the new interface nearly all usernames are email addresses, many end with the same domain. Several of the email addresses have a near identical length. This will require more than a quick glance to ensure I am in the right account when browsing, bookmarking, or uploading documents. (Gmail is a non-issue, each account has its own customized theme).

So if you are like me and prefer the visual over the text, follow the steps below to bring back the icons:
  1. Open Chrome
  2. In the address bar, type: chrome://flags
  3. Search (Control-F) or browse for "Enable new profile management system"
  4. Choose "Disabled" in the drop down.
  5. Now search (Control-F) or browse for "Enable the new avatar menu"
  6. Choose "Default" in the drop down.
  7. To restart the browser, click "Relaunch Now" (found at bottom of screen)

Heed the warning at the top of flags page: 
We make absolutely no guarantees about what may happen if you turn one of these experiments on, and your browser may even spontaneously combust. Jokes aside, your browser may delete all your data, or your security and privacy could be compromised in unexpected ways.
Don't make changes to settings that you don't fully understand!

Learn more:
Manage multiple Chrome profiles (Google support site)
All About Chrome Flags (Adobe blog)

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Quick Tip: File Extensions

Every digital file has an extension, the part of the file name that is after the period, that determines which program will open the file. This is commonly referred to as file type. At the bottom of this post is a Quizlet containing some of the most common file types. The extension appears on the front of the card; a brief description of the file type appears on the back.

Different programs can handle different file types. For example, if you try to open a PowerPoint file using Microsoft Word, you will either receive an error message or see pages of unreadable characters. Some software can read multiple file types -- for example Microsoft Word allows users to view and edit files originally created in older versions of Word, Open Office, plain text editors, and several others.

Default Programs
Programs can be set as the default for specific file types. For example, iTunes can be set as the default software for all audio files, including MP3, MP4, and WAV). If your default internet browser is Chrome, any desktop website shortcuts will automatically open in Chrome. To view your default settings in Windows, visit the "Change which programs Windows uses by default" on the Windows support site.

Converting Files, or Changing File Types
It is not possible to change a file type by renaming the extension (there are some rare exceptions, such as converting a text file to HTML). Use the editing software's "Save as" function to convert a file type when necessary.

Hidden Extensions?
Windows operating system hides file extension by default, forcing users to rely on their knowledge of program icons. To change this setting follow the steps found at the "Show or hide file name extensions page" on the Windows support site.

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National Kazoo Day (January 28)

Thursday, January 28 is National Kazoo Day! Below are a few activities and resources to share this fun day with students.

  • Short inquiry activity: Share a blank Google Doc or note taking organizer with small groups or the whole class. Have students practice their database and web search skills to find and share information about kazoos. Remind students to cite their sources!
  • Note taking practice: Have students watch the video A Brief History of the Kazoo. Using a blank sheet of paper or a graphic organizer, students document important information as they watch the video. Take this a step further by having students note the video time when important ideas are stated.
  • How to: Have students work in pairs to generate step-by-step instructions for playing a kazoo. This diagram of a kazoo may be helpful. Share the instructions with another class, have this group evaluate and provide feedback. (Use Google Docs to facilitate sharing.)
  • Take a stand! After reviewing the material on Kazoo America, ask students to persuade others to vote for or against the Kazoo as the national instrument.  Students can write essays, draw posters, or create videos.
  • Patents: Explore the patent for the kazoo. What's a patent? How is it described? Are there any supporting materials? Are there any recent patents that reference this one?
  • Make a kazoo:
    • PBS Learning Media shares a simple straw kazoo activity and video guide. Zoom's Pitch: Straw Kazoo demonstrates how to make a kazoo and investigates how a kazoo makes sound.
    • How A Kazoo Makes Sounds activity at allows students to experiment with different materials in making a kazoo. 
    • Growing Sound shares how to make a Carrot Kazoo. This can lead to a discussion of what other foods might make good instruments!
    • Bill Nye (the Science Guy) shares how to make a Tube Kazoo.
    • The New York Philharmonic Kids website has a great activity to Make Your own Kazoos and Flazoots!

Additional Resources
  • Read this fun article from Mental Floss that explores the Great Moments in Kazoo History.
  • Visit the official website for the Kazoo Museum in Beaufort, South Carolina.
  • Enjoy this rendition of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" with shakers and kazoos:
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Middle School Grammar Resources

  • Grammar Girl: Transcripts of grammar based podcasts.
  • K12 Reader Worksheets: Documents suitable for printing or use with interactive boards, designed for for middle school practice.
  • Activity suggestion: Watch Weird Al's "Word Crimes" video, and then read Grammar Girl's response. Does Grammar Girl's position have merit? Or is she just overreacting?

Digital Games and Practice
  • Houghton Mifflin Grammar Blast: Text based quizzes that check students understanding. Students check their answers before moving on to the next question. Activities are grouped by grade and topic.
  • Exercises at Grammar Bytes: Text based questions with virtual prizes for correct answers. Each exercise has a related handout that includes all of the questions, which can be used without the website. Excercises are grouped by topic, which include: comma splices and fused sentences, fragments, apostrophes, pronoun agreement, subject-verb agreement, word choice, and more.
  • Fun Brain Grammar Gorillas: Parts of speech practice.
  • Grammar Ninja: Interactive game that challenges students to identify parts of speech. Feedback is instant, incorrect choice part of speech is shown.
  • Road to Grammar: Collection of text based quizzes covering parts of speech, vocabulary, commonly confused words, usage, and error correction.
  • Memes: Invite students to create memes to educate others on common grammatical errors. Browse the web or visit Pinterest to find examples. This can be a bit tricky as many memes are not school appropriate. imgflip has an easy to use meme generator, but may feature inappropriate content.

Tip: Organize links to your favorite videos using a social bookmarking tool or your class website. This will allow you to easily direct students to quick support materials.
  • Grammar Bytes: Collection of videos. The pacing is a bit slow, but the graphics are
  • Schoolhouse Rock: Yes they are a bit dated, but these catchy songs will have your students remembering important grammar concepts.
  • English Grammar videos at WatchKnowLearn: Fantastic collection of over 700 professional and school created videos. Narrow by topic or search by keyword to find just the right video for your lesson.

Apps (iPad)
  • Jumbled sentences: Series of free apps that helps young writers improve their writing. Definitely targeted for elementary, but may be useful to help older students who struggle with the basics. (installed on GTSD LMC iPads)
  • Sentence builder: Another app designed for younger students, but may be useful for some older students. (cost) (installed on GTSD LMC iPads)
  • Grammar Pop: Affiliated with Grammar Girl, this app provides parts of speech practice. (cost)
  • Buildit3D - Sentence Structure: Designed for middle school students, this free app focuses on sentence structure. (installed on GTSD LMC iPads)

Related posts:

While I don't recommend this for middle school classes, fans of grammar may enjoy this video:

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Google Apps: Classroom Tips

Google Classroom is making it easier for teachers to extend their classrooms into the digital realm. While I love Edmodo, My Big Campus, and Schoology, Classroom's direct connection to Google Apps for Education makes it the preferred tool for our district.

While working with my colleagues to integrate Classroom, we have learned a few things that might help your implementation of this great tool.

GTSD staff are encouraged to contact Mrs. Bond for assistance in setting up or utilizing Classroom.

Bookmark it. A common complaint that I hear from both students and teachers is that Classroom does not appear at the top of the App Launcher. A quick way to solve this problem is to simply bookmark Classroom. Bookmarks are stored as part of Google accounts, allowing users to access their bookmarks bar whenever they log in to Chrome, regardless of which computer they are using.

Organize classes. Create separate classrooms for each of your sections. You can still assign the same assignment to multiple sections.

The name matters. It matters to you, and your students. Keep names specific yet simple, for example: Typically the course name/subject will appear as the class name, with the period or section as the session.

Manage the discussion.  Teachers can determine how students are able to interact with the class discussion feed. On the Students section of the class, you may give students the ability to post and comment, comment on teacher posts, or read only. This does not impact the teacher-student discussion feature attached to assignments, it only effects the classroom feed visible to all members of the class. Know that you can also delete inappropriate posts and mute individual students.

Add a co-teacher. Invite the teacher to join the class, or have them join using the student code. Then, share the class folder (found in Drive) with them.

Share templates. After attaching a document from Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings), be sure to select the appropriate share option. Choose "Make a copy for each student" to give each student a unique copy of the document. Your templates can be as detailed as a project guide, or as simple as a blank file. Either way, you will be able to monitor student progress and provide feedback.

Share study guides. Create and share a study guide or other reference documents with students as view only. Alternatively, share a whole class document allowing students to collaboratively create a study guide.

Submit through Classroom or Drive. Students can submit their shared Google Drive file in one of two ways: through Classroom, or through the document. A unique file shared through Classroom will include a "Submit" button, making it easier for students to turn in assignments.

Share Forms as a link. It is not possible to attach a Google Form to an assignment, you must share it as a link. Concerned about deadlines? Set your form to automatically close at a specific time, or review the spreadsheet to see submission times.

Select a due date and time. Now that students can turn in assignments at any time, you may want to consider setting a specific time deadline.

Calendar integration. Unfortunately this is not yet available. Until Google makes the change, teachers will have to manually add deadlines to the class calendar. That said, upcoming deadlines do appear in the left sidebar of Classroom, making it possible for students to quickly verify expectations.

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PARCC: Informational Guides to the Summative Assessments in Mathematics

Another useful tool for understanding what students may expect on the PARCC math exams has just be posted to
Newly created Informational Guides to the Summative Assessments in Mathematics provide information about the design and structure of the PARCC mathematics assessments for each grade/course. These guides were created to assist educators in understanding the mathematics content, inform instruction, and provide information about the mathematics test administration policies. The guides were developed by the PARCC Mathematics Operational Working Group, a group of PARCC state content and assessment specialists who work together to make PARCC mathematics policy decisions and ensure the quality of the assessments.

This information was shared via the Updates from PARCC email list. View the archives or  visit this link to subscribe.
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