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11 great chrome extensions for students

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In a student’s tech toolbox, Chrome extensions can be an invaluable player — expanding the capabilities of their browser to do everything from check their grammar to keep distractions at bay. 

Here are some expert-recommended Chrome extensions for students.

RescueTime, also a great app for iOS and Android, tells students exactly how much time they’re spending in the active tab or window of Chrome or a ChromeOS device. It categorizes the sites they visit and rates them from very productive to very distracting. “It tracks what you’re doing, and it will block sites that you don’t want to access, so it won’t distract you,” said Christine Elgersma, a former teacher and senior editor of social media and learning resources at Common Sense Media, which .

If your child has a hard time staying off social media when they should be studying, might be an answer. This one blocks all social media, Elgersma said. So, no more mindless scrolling on Instagram during their virtual English class.

DayBoard, a new tab and website blocker, lets students key in their priorities for the day and makes it more difficult to procrastinate. “You can create your own five item to-do list for the day,” Elgersma said. “Every time you open your tab, it will remind you … you’re opening Facebook, here are the things you wanted to do.” And then, hopefully, they’ll get back on track. 

Screencastify is popular with teachers, but it can be helpful for students too, Elgersma said. Older students, especially, who often are assigned presentations will find it handy. With it, students can record their screen, face and voice and do things like

Just Read, a reader viewer, gets rid of ads, pop-ups and comments from web pages, so when a student has to do some research, they won’t get sidetracked by clickbait. “This will strip all that business out, so it will be less distracting to be online,” Elgersma said.

A powerhouse extension that’s useful for anybody who writes, checks spelling and grammar so that essays and assignments are polished when they’re turned in. It also supports 25 other languages, including Spanish, French, German and Italian, some of the more popular foreign languages that U.S. students study.

Teachers often use to add questions or notes for students on a website. But it’s also a great extension for students, Elgersma said. “Kids can use it on web pages to make them more interactive,” she said. When they’re working on a project, for example, they can add annotations and digital sticky notes on web pages as they do their research. 

Save to Pocket bookmarks content and can be an essential tool for students who are working on a project and attempting to catalog research and content they’ve found online. With Pocket, they can store it all in one place, tag it based on the topic and read later.

“If a student is collecting information about a topic, he, she, they can easily just mark it in their Pocket and they also can share it easily out of the Pocket,” said Todd Cherner, director of the master of arts in educational innovation, technology and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-founder of , which reviews apps for educators.

Hypothesis lets users annotate and highlight information on web pages for their own private use, to share with a study group or post publicly. It’s popular with teachers, but students can use it too. “If I was limited to very few pieces of edtech, Hypothesis would make my short list,” Cherner said. “I’ve had great success with it on 98% of the websites that I’ve tried to use it with. It’s a nice tool.” 

StayFocusd is another productivity extension that blocks the websites that make it easy for students to waste time. “It’s really customizable,” said , a former teacher and long-time math tutor. “You can pick a time it locks stuff down or have it lock down certain websites.” So, if Twitter is the problem, a student can tell StayFocusd to turn off the app while it’s time to study.

When students encounter a word they don’t understand online, with , they can just double click the word and a pop-up bubble will appear with the definition. It saves students from opening another tab to get the definition (and the potential to go down a rabbit hole). It also supports languages beyond English, including French, German, Italian and Spanish. 

For kids who get distracted easily by noises, especially those around the house as they’re trying to do their virtual schoolwork, offers a solution. They can choose from a variety of background sounds that will help them stay focused.

Some apps offer similar capabilities, but Chrome extensions come with a big benefit — they don’t typically embed ads like some apps. Still, parents and students should pay attention to an extension’s privacy policies, especially the extensions that say they are tracking any tabs you open or to Gmail, Google Docs or other Google apps that you may want to keep private.

“See what they’re actually tracking and what they are storing,” Elgersma said. “If it’s down to keystrokes, then it’s probably not worth it. You don’t want to trade too much privacy for blocking tabs or something.” 

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