Tech Tip: Google Chrome Add-Ons for the Orchestra Classroom

Alison Holden, North Rockford Middle School

I recently discovered a few Google Chrome Add-On’s that have made my beginning string classes faster paced, more efficient and productive, and lots more fun to teach! Although I have mostly used these Add-Ons in my beginning orchestra classroom, I can imagine their potential in ensemble rehearsals, as well.

Each day in my classroom, the students will find the agenda for the day’s class, announcements, and reminders on the projector. My district began to ask that more information be readily available to my students on the board each day, and with limited whiteboard space, I began to use Google Slides. Google Slides allows one to easily loop the Slides for any amount of time, easily save and retrieve from Google Drive, as well as upload a “live” link of these Slides to my students’ classroom page. The following Google Chrome Add-Ons have transformed my teaching:

Remote for Slides

Remote for Slides is a very easy to use Google Chrome Add-On that turns your smartphone into a remote control. I have used this for keeping my beginning orchestra classes high energy and keeps student engagement levels up. Your phone/remote has the option to play or stop a video that you have inserted on your Google Slides. I’ve used this to insert YouTube videos of drum beats or back tracks while displaying the bowing rhythm that I want my students to perform (at right). When I tried to play back tracks for my students in the past, I was moving from the front of the room to my computer or metronome, leaving students to play, pluck, or talk in their wait (and I can only corral students with the command, “Bow Unicorn,” so many times in one class period!) Prior to using Remote for Slides, if I wanted to point out something in the music to my large classes of beginners, I used an ELMO, but now I can screenshot or scan pages from the method book to add to my Google Slides so it’s readily available to refer to. 

Slides Randomizer

Another great Google Chrome Add-On for Google Slides is Slides Randomizer. I have created Slides for note reading and rhythms for my beginning students and Randomizer shuffles the deck, keeping things unpredictable. This, along with Remote for Slides, makes “flashcards” on the projector simple to use and easy to assess student learning, since the teacher can move about the room instead of sitting at your computer, changing slides.

AdBlock Plus

This one won’t add creativity to your lessons, but it will save you time! If you’ve ever played a YouTube video for a class and encountered an awkward ad, lost kids who get distracted and start talking through an ad, or are just sick of hearing about Grammarly, you’ll appreciate this. AdBlock Plus will block advertisements on YouTube videos and those that come up along the side of web pages.

I hope these simple Google Chrome Add-Ons can be used in your classroom to keep your lessons engaging and keep your students on their toes! I would love to hear how you use Google Slides, these Add-Ons, and others in your orchestra classrooms!