Tag Archives: technology

8 Google Chrome Extensions you “Add”solutely Need to Use if you are a Teacher

I have been struggling with the title of this post. I wanted to write it in capital letters and tried different angles, all with the same purpose, trying to entice you into reading it as I know for certain that, for some teachers out there, add-ons ( also known as extensions) are still unknown.





Working as a “free app” teacher trainer has taught me quite a lot of things. I have seen that, contrary to my initial belief, most teachers are not afraid of introducing technology in their classes, they just don’t know how to do it or where to get started. Once they realize how easy it is to create their own activities, how little effort it takes to create meaningful activities for their classes using the feared apps, there is no ending to their requests to learn more and more, which is just awesome! On this post, I am going to comply with a request from one of the teachers attending the workshops at CPR Cuencas. Carlota, this post is for you.

During these workshops, over the course of a conversation I mentioned, and probably showed, the add-ons I use on Google Chrome to make my work more productive.  Surprisingly, most of the teachers attending didn’t even know what I was talking about. I promised I would show them the ones I used. But, with so many things to teach, we didn’t have time. I’m sorry. It took me a while to write this post, but here it is.

First of all, the basics

What is an add-on or extension?

These little icons you see next to the address bar are called add-ons or extensions. They are small apps that add extra features to Chrome and can improve your productivity, for example by correcting your spelling or grammar mistakes.  Awesome, isn’t it?

How do I install an extension?

Just click here and write the name of the extension you want to install.

How do I manage my extensions?

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My favourite Google Chrome Extensions

The ones I cannot live without, and in no particular order, are the following:

1. Send from Gmail by Google

The easiest and quickest way to share links

Let’s imagine this scenario. You are on a website you very much would like to share with a colleague or just send to yourself to explore later.  There are many things you can do with this link. For me, the easiest is using the add-on above, which will open my Gmail account. To do it, just click on the extension, enter the recipient’s address and click Send.

2. Tab Resize- split screen layouts

The easiest way to split your screen into separate tabs

Very often, we need to see the content of two or even three windows in the same screen. For example, when doing a grammar exercise online we often need to refer to the grammar or when correcting a listening comprehension we might also want to display the transcript.  This is easy with Tab Resize. You just need to click on the icon and choose how to split your screen.

3. Grammarly for Chrome

To make sure you don’t send an important document or an email with spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes.
Isn’t it helpful? I don’ t know about you, but I am not perfect.

Look at the picture below. Writing this blog, I have made a spelling mistake. Immediately, my mistake is highlighted and an alternative suggested which, of course, you can choose to ignore. Wow!

4. Bit.ly

To shorten the links you want to share

Isn’t it true that very often we need to provide students with a URL that is impossible to write because of its length? When this happens, what do you? I use bit.ly, which is a URL shortener. Surely, you can go to their website and copy-paste the URL to obtain the shortened URL, but wouldn’t it be more productive to just click on the icon, copy the shortened URL and share with your students or colleagues? That’s what I do!

Once you get the shortened link, just write on the board for your students to copy. A piece of cake!

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5. Google Dictionary

With this extension installed, finding the meaning of a word and how to pronounce it couldn’t be easier. There are two ways to do it:

  1. Double click the word and you’ll see a little pop-up bubble showing a brief definition.
  2. Select the word and click on the add-on icon on the toolbar to get the complete definition of any word.

Note:  after installing the add-on, either reload your open tabs or restart Chrome.

6. Pinterest Save Button

To curate the web

I have been using Pinterest since it was first launched. I don’t think I could live without it. That’s the place where I store every inspiring idea that I see on the web, every activity I want to use in class, every blog that I want to read or every video I want to play in class.  Over the years I have tried other tools to organize and collect content but I have yet to find one that is as simple and as widely used as Pinterest to curate content. Suffice to say, I have about 150 boards and growing. See them here.

So, how does it work? Let’s say you see an interesting activity you want to use in your classes, but will you be able to remember where you read it?  I don’t know about you, but I read so many blogs that it’s impossible to remember who wrote what and where.

The extension Pinterest save Button has really saved my life. I see something I like, I click the Pin button and store it in one of my boards. See the video below. Obviously,  first you need to create an account on Pinterest.

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7. Google Drive New Tab

This is just a shortcut to opening my Google Drive.  If you don’t use Google Drive, then it’s not very useful to you but if you do,  it saves lots of time.

So, just click on the icon on the toolbar and a new tab will open on your Google Drive. Simple but effective.


8. Awesome Screenshot

An add-on that lives up to its name. It allows you to easily capture all or parts of any webpage. You can add comments and annotations and also blur some parts. It also allows you to record your screen in an easy way.

Thanks for reading! I know it is a long post, but hasn’t it been worth it?

Phones and Music: a Superb Combination

Funny thing! Every single year, no matter the level I’m teaching one of my lessons is  dedicated, without fail, to mobile phones.

This year, in November, I published a lesson for my B2 (upper-intermediate) students (lesson here) and now, it seems to be the turn of my B1 (intermediate) students.

This year my lessons about this topic seem to revolve around Adele’s hit “Hello”. Hey! What else did you expect? It’s not like every single year we have a song with
so many scenes where the leading actor is the mighty mobile phone. We certainly need to take advantage of this. Besides, I love Adele.

The lesson

This lesson is  aimed at students with a language level of B1 and focuses on discussing, reading and writing about mobile phones.There is also some general phone vocabulary and a song.


Warm-up: Speaking. Ask students as a whole class some of these questions.

  • What do you use your mobile phone for?
  • Have you ever lost your mobile phone?
  • How many text messages do you send every day?
  • Would you say you’re addicted to your mobile or the Internet?
  • Have you ever…?
  1. lost you phone?
  2. sent a message to the wrong person?
  3.  forgotten to turn your phone off/set to silent or vibrate mode (with embarrassing                      consequences)?

Teaching Vocabulary. You might want to show the slides twice to consolidate vocabulary. I would suggest doing it a third time at the end of the lesson.

Conjunto de Fichas creado con GoConqr por cristina.cabal

The song.
Warm-up. Students are going to listen to a song, so it may be a good idea to get them into the right mood by introducing the activity in a lively way.
Don’t tell students just yet we are going to listen to a song. After revising the vocabulary from the previous exercise, make a long pause until you have all the students staring at you, and say “hello”; I assume everybody should say “hello”. Pause again. Say “Adele”. I bet half the class would add “It’s me”. There you are! The perfect introduction!
(you might want to remind students that to introduce yourself over the phone “ It’s “ or “this is” are used ie. It’s Adele (speaking)/ this is Adele (speaking))

Task 1. Give students a list of words or expressions from the song. Give them some time to read them. If necessary, review how to pronounce the most difficult words. Depending on your class, you might want to keep the words in the order they are going to hear them or if you want a bigger challenge you can shuffle them and/or add some words that are not in the lyrics. Play the song and ask students to cross off the words as they hear them. Play the song once or twice depending on how challenging you want  the activity to be.
Handout here


Task 2.  Give students a photocopy with the lyrics of the song and ask them to sing/read along focusing on pronunciation.

Handout here

Reading and writing. Ask students to read online “7 strange stories of lost cell phones”  from the website mentalfloss.com and write a similar short story about something strange, funny or unusual that happened to them using their mobile phones.

Lesson Plan : Talking about Mobiles and Technology

Level : B1-B2

In this lesson we talk about mobiles and the Internet, about the use or overuse of this new technology in our lives. The lesson aims at developing their listening and speaking skills and also provides them with the vocabulary and expressions needed to talk about this increasing and, in some cases, worrying phenomenon. This Lesson Plan has two parts. In the first half of the lesson students are presented with two food- for- thought videos related  to the use or overuse of mobiles phones. In the second half students are asked to talk about their own experiences using mobiles and the Internet.

PDF here

PART  1.

Warm up: Do a quick survey to find how many students are carrying their mobile phones. Ask how many have them on their desks.

Video 1. I forgot my phone. (Lasts 2:10) Explain they are going to watch a video and after it, they’ll have to discuss in pairs their feelings and reactions to what they have seen. Get feedback. Follow-up questions: Are mobiles killing conversation? Are they replacing face-face communication?

Video 2Nomophobia. (lasts 1:00) Ask students if they have ever heard the term nomophobia. Ask them to predict what kind of phobia  it might refer to. Before playing the video pre-teach “feature phone” (a low-end mobile phone with limited capabilities). Play the video and ask students to make a summary of what it says and encourage students to discuss the question posed in the video:  What would you do a week if you didn’t have access to your mobile phone?


Working on Vocabulary. Introduce vocabulary by displaying the word cloud and ask students to make sentences with the words displayed. For a more interactive approach, we might want to ask students to first work in pairs  asking them to choose words from the word cloud to make sentences. Get feedback to solve doubts

Discussion Questions. Handout photocopy with the questions to be discussed. There are quite a number of questions on the hand-out. I’d suggest doing the first part, which is more mobile oriented, on the first session and the second part, which is more computer oriented, on the second session.  Hand-out here

Are you going to be my teacher?

When I first saw this video I thought: “Wow! Isn’t he cute?”

 At first, I could only see a cute little boy pulling faces and peering at the camera with inquisitive eyes but soon I realized that the message he wanted to send was crystal clear. Then, I got into the car and drove off to work but on my way to school, his words came back to me (as the echo in the video) Are you going to be my teacher? You can’t be my teacher! You can’t be my teacher if you don’t know how to use a computer or the Internet, if you don’t know how to teach me to be safe on the Internet, if you refuse to learn how to use technology.
And it dawned on me that he’s absolutely right. I’ve got two children and I realize now, more than ever, that what they need to learn is much more than I needed to because they have more opportunities and more easy access to the kind of information we could never get, and only at a click away.

Our children need teachers, and even parents who know how to teach them to get the best out  of new technologies, who know how to help their children in their never-ending quest for information, who know how to make them safe on the Internet because Internet is not a passing fad, it’s here to stay and our children, in every single school, everywhere in the world have to be ready for life, for the world they have to live in when they finally leave our classes. It’s our duty as educators to make an effort to keep up with the new technologies, to know how to help students use the Internet and the fact that our generation is not a digital native is a very lame excuse for, at least, not trying.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the traditional way of teaching is no longer valid. I don’t believe textbooks are a thing of the past, not yet, at least. I believe in a combination of the old and the new, of trying to achieve the right balance between what is useful in both methods.
If we can’t, at least, make the effort, we should maybe consider, making room for someone who wants to try.

This is what  our children need and I want to conclude with the last words in the video
” Do you really think it’s possible to be an educator in the information age and not understand and use the Internet? Continue to pretend the internet is just a fad.”

Photo by Cristóbal Cobo Romaní


What is Texting?
Texting is, according to dictionaries, the process of sending and receiving written messages using the mobile phone. But it is more than that, it has become a written language not only used when sending SMS messages but also when writing e-mails or in the popular chat rooms. So it is increasingly becoming necessary to know some of the basics of this particular language.
Acronyms such as CUL8R or PCM, standing for “see you later” or “please call me” as so popular now that it would seem you don’t know proper English unless you are able to understand them.
But it is not only being used in the conversational style of the Internet but these shortcuts are also being used in every possible piece of writing, especially by teenagers. I am aware that a lot of teachers are beginning to get seriously worried when they see assignments full of these shortened words and are warning their students that they will be taking points off if they use them. They are worried students won’t be able to draw the line between formal and informal conversational writing.
Have a look at this post- it and try to work out what it says.

In a way, it is quite funny. It is like solving an equation.
Here you have a list of the most popular acronyms

2 = To/Two/Too                             2DAY = Today
Continue reading Texting