2 Terrific Teacher Tech Tools

This week’s spotlight lands on a Chrome extension and a Docs/Slides add-on that I have been exploring recently. While they both can save time, which all teachers will appreciate since time is a very valuable commodity in this profession, they function very differently. At this point in my exploration, I am by no means an expert on either of them yet, but I am definitely an enthusiast of both. Introducing Text Blaze and Stickity! Both of these can save you time AND help students.

I thought love was only true in fairy tales

Tool 1: Text Blaze

Text Blaze is an extension that helps automate anything thing you do that requires text. This extension is an extremely flexible productivity tool that can be used by anyone in any profession, but there are a few templates ready for educators who want to hop on and Blaze a new time-saving trail. It works with any website you are accessing with Chrome once you install the extension. Like most things, there’s a freemium and a premium version (Pro), so keep that in mind as you try it out.

Meant for someone else but not for me

Anytime you need to send repetitive text, like emails, student feedback (they frequently make the same mistakes), form letters or emails, or anything else that crops up, Text Blaze is the extension you need. The best way to describe it is to start with the website. When you are logged in, you can browse templates, add them to your folders, adjust them as needed, or create completely new snippets. When I’m grading student work, I notice frequently that I’m constantly giving the same or very similar feedback. Creating, adding, or adjusting existing snippets will make the feedback a breeze and save me valuable time. Here’s what it looks like on the website end.

Love was out to get me

This may seem like a lot of feedback for one snippet, but it is generic enough to not only fit several students making the same mistake but also different assignments. Having even one snippet can save time by adjusting it to fit a particular student if you start with a generic one.

That’s the way it seemed

The slides below show the steps of my feedback that the Text Blaze Chrome extension helped me do in 30 seconds, Text Blaze helps me provide and tweak the feedback snippet for my PreAP ELA 10 class. I have a student sample in a Google Doc to demonstrate how the extension works.

Disappointment haunted all of my dreams

Here is the process in action:

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer

By creating different feedback snippets with Text Blaze, or adding pre-created ones that are available on the website, I now just have to click the extension, scroll to the snippet I want, and then click the down arrow that appears when I scroll over the one I want. It is just that easy and magical. To access the free offer given to my readers to try Text Blaze Pro for one month, click this link, Text Blaze, and get started exploring.

As an affiliate of this program, I receive a commission for every paid Pro enrollment that comes from my site.

Not a trace of doubt in my mind

Tool 2: Stickity

Stickity is a Google Docs and Google Slides add-on that can not only save time for teachers but is also an accessibility tool. (It is freakin’ cool.) This is an amazing tool for spicing up presentations and documents, while at the same time adding accommodations for teachers and students experiencing low vision, and every single sticker is designed for inclusivity.

I’m in love

These stickers will help teachers differentiate like pros. Whether the students are big or little, this is the add-on we didn’t know we needed. Stickity can transform classroom materials into accessible, inclusive, accessible, inclusive, and effective learning experiences. The only downside I see so far is that they are limited to just Docs and Slides. I want to use them everywhere, so of course, I figured out a workaround until the add-on becomes (hopefully someday) an extension. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried

All stickers have alt text which means students with screen readers won’t miss out on key information. Each sticker also meets WCAG 2.0 guidelines for accessible color contrast. These helpful stickers are bright, colorful, animated, and highly engaging. Their clear simple message helps students stay focused. There are a few different ones that are available for Slides that aren’t available for Docs, but they share a lot of the same stickers.

I love the timers available for Slides. These are adorable timers from YouTube but can be added with one click to a presentation and viewed without the distractions that YouTube has. These are so handy that I created a Slide deck with all of the timers so that I can be ready with timers for all occasions. Click on Stickity Timers to grab a copy of this presentation.

I thought love was more or less a giving thing

These stickers hit all the right marks, and I can’t wait to create with them. Hyperdocs, choice boards, group projects, and more will become so much more fun and engaging with these stickers. The animations alone will be engaging for students of all levels. As a high school teacher, I understand that there are sometimes programs, platforms, apps, extensions, and add-ons designed for elementary students. However, ease of use, engagement, and accessibility are hot commodities in my classroom. I evaluate all tools, have students try them, and provide feedback, and then I see how it elevates or doesn’t elevate their learning. The following are ways I see this add-on elevating student learning:

Seems the more I gave the less I got

  1. All stickers are automatically inserted with alt text, which assists students with readers.
  2. All stickers support students and adults experiencing low vision.
  3. The simple graphics reinforce the message you want to convey, which supports students and adults with hearing loss and multilingual students to understand what is expected.
  4. Stickers help students self-monitor and work independently.
  5. Stickers grab student attention, so the feedback stickers will capture attention, then any teacher comment attached to the sticker stands a better chance of being read.
  6. Hyperlinks attached to stickers can help students navigate quickly to resources used in the activity, which will allow more time for diving deep into the content.
  7. The button stickers cover more space than just using links, which helps students with movement disorders get engaged and focused.
  8. Stickers help teachers chunk information effectively. Chunking is a helpful practice that is also a culturally relevant pedagogical strategy. According to Zaretta Hammond, chunking is feeding the brain right-sized pieces of information (Hammond, 130).
  9. Several stickers assist teachers in differentiating activities with ease to help all learners.
  10. The animated stickers call attention to the most important information in your directions or information so that students know exactly what to do.

What’s the use in tryin’

No matter how you look at this, Stickity is a great add-on to aid our students in learning content, self-monitoring, getting the support they need, and engaging them during the learning process. Don’t discount the fun factor this add-on can bring to the classroom. Students appreciate all efforts to help their day be more fun-filled, and that helps increase engagement and classroom relationship building. Classrooms that incorporate fun in the learning and prioritize relationships typically experience fewer discipline problems overall.

All you get is pain?

Now back to my work around to use Stickity in other applications. Adding a non-animated sticker to a blank Google Slides and then downloading it means all I have to do is remove the background and then store the image in One Note (for Microsoft users) or Google Drive (for Google applications users) and then add it where needed for applications that handle images. For animated images, a screen recording and then turning it into a .gif, as I did for the images used in this post, works well too. I used the screed recording feature built into my Macbook and then Adobe Express to do this, but you can use whatever tools you are used to for this. Hopefully this amazing add-on will become an extension that can be used in more applications and webistes in the future, but for now, I will use it to ramp up engagement and learning in my classroom.

Hammond, Z. L. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain. Corwin Press.

Headings are partial lyrics of I’m a believer by smash mouth.

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