Get your students on the same (web)page, instantly

Editor's note:Today we’re launching a new Chrome extension, Share to Classroom, which solves a big pain point for teachers: getting all students to the same website during class. The Share to Classroom extension works on any laptop, including Chromebooks, Macs and PCs. Catherine Davis, former 4th grade teacher and Director of Academic Technology at Pilgrim School, piloted the Classroom extension with Mrs. Shorkey’s 3rd grade class, and here she describes her experience using this new extension and the impact on her students.

Sharing a website with my students is a great way to get them engaged. When we studied South America, I shared a video of Tierra del Fuego, and my students were able to view the coast, hear the wind and see the waves soar. But getting a class full of 4th graders on the same web page is a huge challenge. I typically write the URL on the board, then walk around to help each student who misses a capital or underscore or backslash. My students get frustrated, I get frustrated, and before I know it 10 minutes of precious teaching time is lost.

So I was thrilled to pilot the Share to Classroom extension. With the extension I can open a website and “push” it to my Google Classroom students, so the page opens immediately on all their devices. Our 3rd graders gasped when we tried it – the webpage instantaneously popped up on all of their screens.
The new extension lets me engage my students and help them drive their own learning on 1:1 devices at our school. When our 3rd graders were studying Native American culture, I pushed a website to the class so they could research traditional clothing and food. The students aren’t locked to the page I send, and one student navigated from there to an even better site. With the Classroom extension, the student was able to push the new site to me, and I reviewed and pushed to the entire class. She had a boost of confidence when her discovery drove class discussion.
Using the extension also lets me think on my feet. When discussing pioneers, a brave student raised his hand and asked “What’s a stage coach?” I realized my students hadn’t been exposed to the term. I immediately pulled up a definition and video and pushed it to the class. I also saved the webpage as a draft to post to my other Classroom students later. I could have projected on a screen, but the intimacy of having the webpage on each device allows students to explore on their own, hear clearly and watch repeatedly. It also levels the playing field for ELL and students of different backgrounds so everyone starts literally on the same page.

As teachers, we never feel we have enough time to do everything we want with our students. The new Share to Classroom extension gives us back those few minutes it takes to get students to the same place and makes learning about investigating, not about navigating.

*Note: Google Apps admins can install the extension for their entire domain so that it’s easiest for teachers and students to get started. Teachers and students both need the extension in order to push web pages to each other.