Online and homeschooled students need support to achieve their full potential. Although our programs offer many different embedded supports, having access to additional help on your computer or smartphone is a great way to help you feel more confident and independent. With this in mind, our staff put together a list of the best Google Chrome Extensions and educational apps for students. Check out our recommendations and decide for yourself what is best for you or your student.
Chrome Extensions for Students
Chrome offers many different extensions that can be used any time you want when using Chrome. These extensions can be added (and removed) very easily in the upper right-hand corner of your Chrome toolbar.
Here are our top recommendations for Chrome extensions:
Natural Reader is a very good text to speech reader. This extension allows you to highlight any page, and it will read it with highlighting for tracking. The highlighted text is a wonderful feature so that students can look away and take notes while still listening and then come right back to the text without missing a beat. This option offers students who have various learning challenges or issues with their vision a chance never to fall behind. It’s also a great way to be able to listen to the content while you read, providing your brain with two forms of input. When you stimulate your brain in two different ways, the learning is longer-term. However, if you’re not quite sure if this extension is right for you, check out this short video.
Google Web Annotations
Annotate: Web Annotations is another Chrome extension that will allow you to highlight, draw lines, and add text boxes straight to a web page. You can even save it and see it again later when returning to the page. Sadly, you do have to pay to get more color options for the annotations, but the base level is free and has a lot to offer. One of those impressive free features is the ability to add notes to a notebook page so that you can copy any important graphs, diagrams, or visuals to your digital notes, even after annotating the graphic. For students who learn better when they can interact with the text, this could be a wonderful option. This quick video shows you some of the special features of the free Annotate extension.
Grammarly is one of the most popular web extensions around. This extension goes beyond the typical word processing spell checker. The free version not only identifies your spelling errors, but it also picks up on commonly confused words and explains why the word choice is incorrect. It basically gives you a mini lesson to help you avoid making the mistake again. Grammarly will also pick up on issues you might have with the tone of your writing. That way, if you’re writing an academic essay and accidentally slip in some slang or casual language, it will help you remove that and provide suggestions for improvement. Although it also catches many punctuation errors, what is really exciting about this free extension is that it helps students write more concisely, helping students “get to the point” of the point they are trying to make.
The aspect of this extension that we really like is that whether you are using it to write an essay, post a comment on YouTube, or send an email, you have the option of keeping the Grammarly suggestions in a separate window to the right of the work you are doing. That way, you aren’t distracted by pop-up windows and can get your ideas written down before you work through the revisions. If this free extension sounds like something you might need, here’s an informative video about the free version of Grammarly so that you can decide for yourself.
Useful Apps for Students
Having access to helpful tools on your smartphone or tablet is one way to help you achieve academic success, but it’s hard to know what will really be helpful and what will just take up space on your device. Here are some suggestions for apps we have found useful for our students.
SpanishDict.com offers an app that is a great resource for students enrolled in Spanish. We especially recommend the grammar section. This app has improved over the years and has added the ability to search grammar concepts that you are learning about in your class. They have an impressive number of videos and practice questions to help you retain your language acquisition. The vocabulary section also has extra practice for different types of words. Overall, we think SpanishDict works better for students than apps like Duolingo since you can select the concepts you want to practice.
Google Docs and Google Drive mobile apps are great to have on the go. That way, whether you’re waiting in the dentist’s office or riding along in the passenger seat while someone else is driving, you have access to your digital notes, essays, and study guides.
Quizlet offers both an app and online access so that you can create your own flashcards for easy studying. It’s simple to use and offers another opportunity to study while you’re on the go. Although Quizlet does offer users the chance to access other people’s posted flashcards, we have found that making your own is the best use of this student tool. Making your own online flashcards gives you a chance to study while creating the cards, and it ensures that the information you’re studying is reliable and accurate. We’ve seen some study tools on this resource that miss the mark in those areas, so we do recommend this as a way to make your own study resource as opposed to finding someone else’s work.
Simple Mind is a Mind Mapping tool that helps you brainstorm and organize for writing assignments or as a study tool. With the basic, free version of this app, students can add, delete, edit, and move topics around. They can connect ideas on the mind-map or web and change the layout for their brainstorming. For visual learners who need to be able to manipulate topics and see their ideas in a web before they write, this application can be a valuable tool. To use this as a study tool, you can turn your notes into a graphic organizer by creating a web for the main concepts and specific details of the content you’re studying. Overall, this is a good option for learners who work best by visually manipulating their ideas when either writing and studying.
Improve English: Vocabulary, Grammar, Flashcards is an option for students who need a little extra help in both English and some basic math concepts. Its 4.5 rating in the Google Play Store really speaks for itself. This app offers English remediation and practice in vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and phrasal verbs. If you need a math review, Improve English offers a “tips and tricks” section, help with ratios and proportions, progression, averages, and percentages.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary
The Merriam Webster Dictionary App is an “oldie but goody.” It’s been around for a long time for a reason. For students who are reading independently, a reliable dictionary app is essential. You can download it to your phone and have it ready to go when you come across a word that you’re not quite sure of. Checking a dictionary when you come across challenging words is a wonderful way to understand what you are reading as well as interact with and gain more exposure to new vocabulary.
Google Calendar is a tried-and-true app that can help you keep track of your assignments, set reminders for any deadline you’ve set for yourself, and to help you remember to stop whatever you’re doing and spend some time reviewing and studying. The fact that you can share your deadlines within a group makes it easy for parents to help their students stay on track with their goals. You can set as many notifications as you want, so if you want to be reminded a month before, a week before, a few days before, and the day of a deadline you’ve set for yourself, go for it! Busy students and families can use this to make sure everyone is on the same page with a student’s schedule. That’s a valuable resource for an online student or their family members. Take a look at this video to see what the Google Calendar app can do for you.
In the end, we encourage you to use the resources available to you to ensure your success. Whether you’re sending us help desk tickets, chats from our webpage, or using our recommended Chrome Extensions and apps, our goal is for our students to stay on track, feel confident in their abilities, and of course, keep on learning.