Start Your Year With Google Chrome Basics for Kids

Google Chrome Basics For Kids

According to the New York Times, a reported 7 million Chromebooks were delivered to schools across the United States in 2016. So hopefully, you were one of those fortunate teachers that now have this amazing device available to you to transform your teaching.

Chromebooks are more than just an easy way for kids to have internet access. They can be used as powerful tools for efficient learning and creativity. My 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders that are well-seasoned members of my “Chrome Squad” are now sharing and collaborating on Google Slides, conducting surveys on Forms, voice-typing stories in Google Docs, developing work portfolios in Keep, collecting and sharing their favorite extensions and apps with classmates and teachers, editing images and creating their own videos! Amazing what they can do with the right tools and time to “Sandbox” what we teach them. If you are interested in reading more about my Chrome Squad, please see my previous Chrome Squad posts- Part 1 through Part 5.

So, now what can we do to begin training students to use Chromebooks more effectively? We can start with the basics! As elementary teachers, this thought process is in our DNA, right?

The diagram above is what I use to teach my students the basic functions of Chrome to visit websites, Drive used to store files, Docs, and Slides to collaborate and share work content. This diagram shows how the apps work together and is one of the pages from my ebook – “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad“. Available in July of 2017 on Amazon. Make sure that you sign up to your right – “BE NOTIFIED ABOUT MY NEW BOOK “CHROMEBOOKS FOR KIDS” if you are interested in receiving email notifications regarding my book. I start with Chrome basics on the second week of school with this lesson in the “Getting to know your Chromebook” Chapter. Most of our younger children come to us understanding how to “Swipe & Tap” on an iPad or their parents Android phone so building an understanding of a virtual, unseen workflow takes time, practice and patience. As an added barrier, we put a keyboard in front of them with very little training about using those keys. Nonetheless, they have all had experience being on the Internet in some capacity so, we start with using Chrome as their Internet portal and from there we begin talking about Digital Citizenship.

Most of our younger children come to us understanding how to “Swipe & Tap” on an iPad or their parents Android phone so building an understanding of a virtual, unseen workflow takes time, practice and patience. As an added barrier, we put a keyboard in front of them with very little training about using those keys. Nonetheless, they have all had experience being on the Internet in some capacity so, we start with using Chrome as their Internet portal and from there we begin talking about Digital Citizenship.

The first week of school is always filled with procedures and reminders to build upon the social skills they have already acquired. The second week of school is a great time to parallel good “Digital” decision making with those in-class procedures. We talk about “If it is not okay to do in class, it is not okay to do it online.”

Our sweet little “Digital Natives” understand more about navigating certain devices and sites than we do in many cases, that is for sure but they still need to be explicitly taught the proper use and expectations regarding their new devices, vocabulary necessary for effective communication and most importantly they need our ever-present moral guidance. According to Martine Oglethorpe, author of “Parenting in the Digital Age” and blog site The Modern Parent, it is critical that we help children build up a resilience to cope with the challenges that our 21st Century learners will face. Can they spot a scammer or a site that may be trying to gather personal information, known as “Phishing”? Can they identify false information, resist the temptation to post photos that they do not have permission to post or are not appropriate? These are just a few examples of the types of conversations we need to have with our kids and are addressed in my book.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding effort that Google is putting toward educating our students to be more resilient when it comes to interacting online. Google’s new- “Be Internet Awesome” was just recently released where students visit “Interland” using a highly “Gamefied” format to build online safety awareness. There are four lands to visit- Reality River, Mindful Mountain, Tower of Treasure and the Kind Kingdom. I am very impressed with the teacher lesson materials also included on this site. Check it out! My kids love it!

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How to Safely Play YouTube Videos in Your Classroom

How many times have you found a great video resource on YouTube to match a lesson you were teaching only to find that the suggested videos along the right-hand column and comments below the video were either inappropriate or just downright distracting?

Well, I found a great way to remedy this problem! ViewPure is free and basically, displays the video on a clean white background free of comments and suggested videos that typically appear next to the video you had selected. There have been instances that it has not worked with embedded videos but those times have been very rare in my experience. ViewPure is also a great workaround if your district blocks YouTube.

There are two easy ways to use ViewPure. You can either copy the URL of the Video you want to watch and paste it inside ViewPure or you can download a bookmark tab to use, which is quicker to access.

Here are three videos to show you how to use and install ViewPure:

ViewPure Video How To- Maria Kehres

ViewPure Example #1 by Brian Wise

ViewPure Example #2 by Brian Wise

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 5) Finally Coming Together- Using an Interactive Chromie Bootcamp Chart

Finally Coming Together- Using an Interactive Chromie Bootcamp Chart

My ebook/Hyperdoc– “Chromebooks for Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”  was created to better transition elementary students from iPads to the ever popular Chromebooks. It is a Step-By-Step comprehensive guide for teachers to share with their students learning to use Google tools on Chromebooks in a Personalized Environment. It was born out of my own need to have something to structure a “Google Apps Curriculum” of sorts to get my students more familiar with the new devices in our classrooms. For those of you that have been through the Google Educator Training, I modeled my book after that training process and hopefully, my material is a bit more simplistic for my younger students. 🙂 To best understand this process, go back and read posts #1-#4 about our Elementary Chrome Squad.

After months of revising and colleague input, I finally feel confident enough to post the final editions of the two main charts I used to get my “Chromies” to seamlessly work in their independent personalized Google lessons. Both charts are from my new eBook- “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad” coming out on Kindle at the end of June. Make sure that you sign up to your right – “BE NOTIFIED ABOUT MY NEW BOOK “CHROMEBOOKS FOR KIDS” if you are interested in receiving email notifications regarding my book.

This interactive “Chromie Boot Camp Chart” you see above, is the heart of my book and most commonly used by my students to stay on track. Each numbered step is interactive, meaning that the kids click on the step that links them to the Google App Lesson page they are working on. Each page has a series of videos to watch, assignments to try and followed up with a Google Form to see if they were ready to move on to the next app. Also on this chart, you can see what a Chromie badge looks like including the coveted gems they earn when they help others with the tech skills they have learned, which the kids absolutely love!

My second chart titled – “Independent Work Stations” is not interactive, however, it was also very helpful, especially at the beginning so students would know where to find help if they needed it, knowing where others were working at that same level.

In my book you will receive:

*Directions on How To Use “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”

*6 Chrome Squad Goals To Guide Action Plans

*2 Charts to Help Manage Learning Paths for Ability Groups

*60 of my “Suggested Apps and Extensions” that link directly to The Chrome Web Store so no searching required.

*A Google Form for each of the 8 steps to assess student mastery before progressing to the next step.

*2 Pages of Printable Name Badge Styles for Students to wear, along with the actual links used to purchase what I found were the best plastic badges.

*Instructional Material to best use 6 of Google’s most basic Apps- Chrome, Drive, Docs, Slides, Keep & Draw to Create, Collaborate and Communicate Student Work

*Over 68 Links to Carefully selected Video Lessons and Websites to teach young children how to use Google Tools using a  language they can actually understand!

*How to Find, Edit & Save Images to Google Drive using 6 Different Resources to find Copyright Safe Images

*5 Suggested Video Tools to use and Share Video on Chromebooks

*Printable Storyboard for Students to Use when organizing Video Projects

*And a few creative EXTRAS!

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 4) Skills to Begin, Name Badges & Earning Gems

Skills and Resources Necessary to Begin

Now that my small group of 10 3rd grade Chromies understand our goals and expectations, it was time for the fun part to begin! We needed to focus on the details of what skills we should start working on together based on our own observations and classroom teacher input. It was at this stage of our process that I realized that there was a huge need for structured content resources that our elementary teachers and students could efficiently use to understand G Suite basics that were relevant for kids without overwhelming them too much.  So, I began putting together Google Slides that had a slow and methodical progression to teach my Chromies all about using a simplified version of G-Suite. After a few weeks, I discovered that the kids needed to start with personalizing their Chrome logins before anything else made sense to them. Then we went on to Google Drive, Docs then Slides since a few of their teachers were beginning to ask them to produce work using both Docs and Slides. I had no idea at this time what I had gotten myself into, that I would invest so much time and energy into the product that evolved as a result. I am very proud and excited to share with you the resources I actually curated to use for myself with you in mind in my new ebook- “Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad” coming out in June of 2017.

I am sure that we can all agree that transitioning young children from the easy touch interface of iPads they are used to using, to the virtual workflow of Chromebooks is a huge challenge but is certainly deserving of the time spent putting together material that is presented in a way they can understand. Then, to take those newly found skills one step further and allow opportunities for these students to use those new found skills on purposeful Common Core work they are doing in their classrooms. This was my mindset moving forward.

Skills Peers Needed:

Our friends needed help, Chrome Squad to the rescue!

Our “Help List” continued to grow for peers.

  1. Logging in and personalizing their Google Chrome account
  2. Introducing students to various uses of Dictation Technology (Speech-to-Text) for lower level readers and writers
  3. K-2- Common Core Skills- Resources for Reading, Writing and Math

Those Famous Chromie Badges!

We were also setting up our badging system for our Chromies to wear in their classrooms. Having Chromie badges to wear really incentivized our program and other students in our building were asking about how to become a Chromie. We were more than happy to answer- “Of Course you can!” Knowing that there would be summer sessions of my class offered soon.

 The access link to the actual PDF copy of the Chromie Badge for you to print will be included in my upcoming ebook- “Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”.

Here is how I introduced our Chromie Badges~ “The Chromie name badge is awarded to you after you are trained in using the Chrome Browser and basic Google Drive skills.  Your name badge can then be worn to show others in your classroom, that you are able to help them on their Chromebooks.

Our goal is to help others with the skills we learn, so when you help someone to expand their tech skills, you will then come to our computer lab during Chrome Squad meetings and type out your “Chromie Act of Kindness” on our shared Google Doc. After that, you can proudly earn a Gem to stick on your badge, showing your accomplishments! As you continue to learn your “Chromie Ninja” skills, you will be able to help others even more!

In my next post, I will address how we stayed focused on our group & personal goals using two charts-

  1. Chromie Bootcamp Step Chart
  2. Independent Work Stations Chart.

Thank you so much for reading! This project has certainly been a labor of love for me.

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 3) Where to Begin With Students and Staff?


 Chrome Squad Selection Done, Now What?

As with any new initiative, there are many pieces to gather and then there’s finding the best working solution for each of those pieces. I knew I was on to something with this “Chrome Squad” idea when I saw the excitement on my students’ faces but overwhelmed expressions from the adults I worked with. The kids are fearless and totally unaware of the “Behind the Scenes” work that is necessary to get a new initiative up and running. I knew putting the fragmented pieces together would be a lot of work, but I also knew that it would be worth it! Now that the Chrome Squad selection was complete, I had to take care of a few other specific pieces: communication with my principal and staff, parents, students and then begin thinking about exactly what we needed to do in those first few meetings.

First, I needed to follow up with my principal and fellow teachers. I needed their support and for them to have a full understanding of my intentions since they were typically the ones fielding some of those awkward parent questions, like “Why isn’t this offered to my kid too?”. I also wanted a chance to make my purpose very clear. I not only wanted my staff to know that my purpose was to teach a small group of kids at first to use technology in purposeful ways, but I also wanted my students to develop an outward focus to help others with what they learn so that our Chrome Squad could continue to grow.

My principal had many other questions and concerns that often times we teachers are not aware of.

How would I select my Chromies? Student selection this year was easy, they were all my students from last year, so I knew which kids had the basic character traits I was looking for. I explained to my principal that next year I would ask teachers to help me by submitting recommendations after they are made aware of our goals and behaviors I was looking for. (In my last post, I listed those specific goals and character traits.)

How would I communicate with parents and kids?  I used my Gmail Contact list to communicate with parents. I was very careful to give the parents all the initial details necessary about our purpose, expectations and our schedule but I also let the parents know that I really wanted to push the content responsibility to the kids. I highly encouraged parents to help me hold my Little Chromies accountable for the content I put on Edmodo. Edmodo was the Learning Management System we were using. I ended up using Edmodo to post Chromie content to begin with because my kids already knew how to navigate through Edmodo since we used it in our classroom last year. Our building was just getting used to Google Classroom so we would transition to that later in the year as our learning management system.

Where to meet and scheduling? Initially, I had the kids meet me once a week, on Tuesdays in one of our two computer labs during their scheduled lunch and recess time. This block of time worked out best since no one reserved the labs during this time anyway and academic schedules would not be interrupted. We would clean off the tables and eat while we worked. Later on in the year, we met after school as well.

What tech resources would be used? My students either brought their own Chromebook or used one of the Chromebooks in the computer lab. We would use Google tools and basic keyboarding programs to get started.

The First Two Weeks- Goals & Skills to Build Upon

The basic plan for the first two weeks was to go over our “6 Chromie Goals” and to put together two lists, one list was a compilation of skills for us to work on as a group and the second list was of skills we noticed our friends needed help with. First, we went over expectations for our Chrome Squad and our “6 Chromie Goals” since we would refer to them frequently to justify our path and decisions to follow.

Goals and Focus

  1. Be kind, respectful and PRESENT (Be aware of what is going on around you!).  People First. Devices Second.
  1. Help others to learn more about using technology in meaningful ways.
  1. Have a “Growth Mindset” *Book by Carol Dweck
  1. Be diligent but understand when others have trouble.
  1. Be problem solvers and creators.
  1. Be awesome! 🙂

Secondly, since our main focus was to learn for ourselves so we could best teach others, we created one list of skills the Chromies wanted to work on for themselves and a second list of what peers were having difficulty with during the beginning of the year, which according to our observations, was a rather short and obvious list. It was mostly logging into devices and keyboarding skills.

In the weeks to follow, we took some time to review for ourselves, a few necessary basic skills, like logging into Edmodo, Digital Citizenship, Keyboarding & personalizing their Chrome browser for more efficient academic use. I posted the directions and links to videos that I wanted the kids to use for this assignment on our Chrome Squad Edmodo page so they could work on them at home and parents could see what we were doing. My ebook- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad coming out in June will have more specific charts, links and lists of resources, stating exactly what I found and used in my own teaching to be developmentally appropriate for our elementary students.

In my next post, I will share our next steps- setting up the procedures for “Chromie Acts of Kindness” earning Badges & Gems, revisit group & personal goals.


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Digital Citizenship Lesson and Assessment For Kids Using Brain Pop Jr. and Kahoot!

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet safety is a huge concern for parents when talking about integration of technology in our classrooms. As a result, this can cause a great deal of stress to us as teachers if we are not confident in our own understanding of utilizing new technology. In my own experience, I have spoken to many parents that come to me worried about their child’s “Screen Time”, which I plan to write more about soon in an upcoming post because I think this topic is one deserving of greater depth because we will be facing this topic for years to come. It is difficult for some parents to adjust to a new way of learning that differs from their own educational experience. Parents and teachers have a heavy responsibility in preparing our children to live in a world of easy access to an overwhelming amount of resources, some resources are healthy, making life better and convenient and other resources that can literally destroy lives. It is up to us to help them know how to protect themselves with our support and procedures in place.

As a mother myself, I consider this to be a cause worth our best effort, modeling self control and discretion just as we would in crossing the street or talking to strangers.

Using Brain Pop Jr. & Kahoot! for an Awesome Lesson & Formative Assessment Combination:

Brain Pop Jr.

In an effort to greater my Blended Learning repertoire, I have found a great lesson resource in Brain Pop jr. for “Internet Safety & Digital Etiquette and many other common core lessons. This web tool and app aligns perfectly across our curriculum from history to math concepts. I highly recommend the paid version, although the lessons I am suggesting here are free, thankfully. My students love the lessons that they can access and replay at their own pace on their iPads or laptop. After the lesson, students may choose an easy or harder quiz on the content of the lesson as they include their name for data collection.

Angela Watson, a highly acclaimed educational blogger, teacher, learning coach, and author of many teacher devotional books writes for Brain Pop so I have a great deal of confidence in the content as a result.

So, in your plans for introducing technology to your students, I am suggesting this Brain Pop Jr. Lesson and on this link you will also see a tab for a Bullying lesson for free (K-4).


To go with this Brain Pop jr. lesson, I found an awesome Kahoot  (Kahoot Video Tutorial) formative assessment that another teacher shared to go with the Brain Pop lesson. Kahoot is a “Gamified” webtool (Not an app yet) that allows teachers to administer a formative assessment in a fun and engaging way but the best part, which is a new feature to Kahoot, the option to see the test data in a spreadsheet format immediately after the “Kahoot” is finished! I know, so awesome! You can also edit an existing “Kahoot” that another teacher has created by finding a relevent Kahoot, hovering over the title, duplicating it so it shows up in the “Created By Me” tab, then you may alter it any way you like.

I hope you enjoy this resource as much as I have! Definately a “Wow Factor” for my kids this week. 🙂

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