Resource Introduction: The Chromebook

Come on in to see learn the basics of Chromebooks and start to use your device like an expert.

Sure, it may seem a bit obvious, but do you know all there is to know about Chromebooks and how teachers and students use them in Sylvania Schools? Check out this visually-enhanced guide to explore everything from care and maintenance to keyboard shortcuts. The guide is designed in Google Slides, so for the best experience, open it fullscreen.

Teacher Showcase: Lisa Sobb Introduces her Students to Digital Spanish

Lisa Sobb delivers a simple and powerful digital orientation to Spanish students, featuring international keyboards and Google Translate.

On Friday of the first week of school, Spanish teacher Lisa Sobb opens her Spanish III class by addressing the elephant in the room. “Okay, so it’s time to be honest. How many of you have actually used Google Translate?” Every hand in the class shoots up, amid some laughs and more than a few comments. One student responds, “Only when I know what word to type in the first place.” More laughter. Lisa discusses the tool that many world language teachers abhor for a minute before surprising students with “I’m going to ask you to use Google Translate today.”

Lisa begins the activity with simple slide instructions.

This is part of the introduction to a class activity that will help students understand how to efficiently use technology not only in Lisa’s class, but in the study of world language generally. Lisa does not want merely to forbid her students from using a shortcut or to throw a Chromebook in front of them without guidance. She wants her students to understand the appropriateness of such tools, see their limitations, and realize why teachers feel as they do.

To accomplish all of this, Lisa has developed a self-guided, Google Slides-based activity where students complete a series of tasks, guided by tutorial videos and texts, all at their own pace. The tasks include using split screen views for increased efficiency, turning on the international keyboard for access to proper accent and punctuation marks, and exploring dictionaries and translators. Students must complete a Google form to report their findings.

The students dive into the work without incident, and initially, silence descends. After about five minutes of work, though, talk increases, students start helping each other, and hands shoot up for Lisa’s help. Some students pull out their phones, which may seem like distraction, but is actually an effort to increase efficiency. They are using their phones to access Spanish dictionaries while using the Chromebook to follow instructions and report results. Lisa floats around the room, assisting students stuck in problems and sometimes calling out answers to called out questions. The period ends all too soon, and some students ask how to finish the work outside of class. Of course, this is simple since the work is so portable.

As students explore, they come to a few important realizations. First, they can type Spanish with just a little practice on an international keyboard. At the beginning of class, only about half reported typing Spanish papers previously, but all now see how they can and how Lisa will expect them to. Second, when they use translators, they often write nearly nonsensical gibberish, which can be prevented by intelligent use of a dictionary. The forty-two minutes of class have accomplished quite a lot, setting a tone for the rest of the year.

Students work as Lisa circulates and provides one-on-one assistance.

Lisa’s work here is simple and straightforward, but it rests upon a couple of vital assumptions: students can critically reflect on the practicality of technology shortcuts and technology is a tool to be used, not shunned. Lisa observes, “One of the things I’ve personally noticed is that our kids NEED direct instruction about how to use the Chromebooks, however much it may take from our own classes.  Even though this generation is the ‘digital native’ generation, it’s turning out that they know much less about using computers than we have previously assumed, especially now that desktops/laptops are becoming less common than cell phones and tablets.” With those assumptions, Lisa will proceed to extend these students’ learning of Spanish language and culture for the world they live in, as well as the one they will.

Students follow Lisa’s directions as well as learning from neighbors.


Cool Trick: Typing Spanish on a Chromebook Keyboard

Join Northview Spanish teacher John Word as he instructs his students in how to type accents and symbols necessary for Spanish writing on a Chromebook.

Join Northview Spanish teacher John Word as he instructs his students in how to type accents and symbols necessary for Spanish writing on a Chromebook. The first video below teaches students how to install the Spanish keyboard on the Chromebook. The second shows how to use that keyboard to type the correct marks. Feel free to use these videos to instruct students in these functions and help them go digital in Spanish composition!



Cool Trick: Making Chromebooks Accessible

Check out the accessibility features on Chromebooks that make usage easier for people of all abilities!

Did you know that the Chrome OS comes with accessibility features that ease usage for people of different abilities? Watch the video below to see how to access the menu of options.


Check out these links for more information!

Google’s Help Page on Accessibility Features

ChromeVox User Guide

Cool Trick: Reading Web Mail Easily on a Chromebook

Are you frustrated with the light version of Outlook Web Mail that appears on Chromebooks? Let’s fix it!

Have you ever noticed that Outlook Web Access, our district email application, is different on a Chromebook? The preview window is gone, the folders are harder to manage, it takes more clicks to accomplish tasks, and you can’t even make a smooth hyperlink! Well, worry not! Here is the quick and simple solution.

Choose your lesson! Watch the tutorial video or read the text instructions to learn how to read Outlook Web Access in its full version on a Chromebook.


Text-Based Instructions

Cool Trick: Disable the Pop-Up Blocker on a Chromebook

Is the pop-up blocker on a Chromebook stopping your students from opening content? Show them this short video!

Have your students ever failed to open some sort of online content because of a pop-up blocker? Annoying, yes? Many online textbook publishers use pop-ups for content, but the blocker in Chrome prevents these from opening. But, a quick settings change can solve that problem for your students permanently. The best part is that the settings change will follow them from Chromebook to Chromebook.

Check out the video below to learn how!

Text Instructions on the Setting in Chrome on Other Devices

Resource Introduction: Chromebook Voice Recorders

Would you like students to record their voices? Read here about two excellent apps for that!

Would you like your students to record simple voice audio without video? That is certainly possible with the Chromebooks through two simple and popular applications. Your choice of these should be based on your need.

Let’s start with the simpler option: Voice Recorder. This web-based app can load into a student’s Google account quickly. When they access it, the screen immediately shows the red record button without any account login. The student presses record, speaks, and then presses stop. After that, the student can download the audio file directly to their Drive while on the Chromebook. If working on a desktop, they would download it to the hard drive. Once in Drive, a student can share the audio file with a teacher or peers or download it for editing software.

Voice Recorder Home Page

Voice Recorder App Download

The more sophisticated option is SoundCloud. This service is becoming increasingly popular as a combination of audio tool and social media site. A student can create an account by linking to their Google account to upload sound files, create their own sound files, share sound files, listen to others’ sound files, or engage in discussion. This service is more robust and offers the opportunity to create collaborative groups. If you wish to do much with sound files, this may be a cool opportunity for you and your students.

SoundCloud Home Page

SoundCloud App Download

“How to record your voice with soundcloud” (Video; 3:25)

Whichever approach you choose, you can record easily on a Chromebook. Beginning a recording will prompt for you to give the service permission to use the microphone. Do that, and you’re good. Chromebook microphones are fairly decent at picking up voice, even with background noise. If you are in tight quarters, consider staking out a larger space, like a cafeteria or library, to lessen the background noise.