Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The new Google Docs Add-ons featuring the Text Help Study Skills Highlighting Tool

Last week Google Docs and Spreadsheets received an update called Add-ons. This new Add-ons tab connects documents with third party tools that add new features or functionality to the document. The Add-ons Store looks and feels very similar to the Chrome Web Store.

One of the new Add-ons that I feel could have great benefit in the classroom is the Text Help Study Skills highlighter. This is a premium feature in the Text Help Read and Write for Google extension so the fact that it is being released for free in the Add-ons store is notable. 

The new Add-ons tab is easy to use. You'll find it located on the Google Docs or Spreadsheet toolbar. Click on Get Add-ons to browse the Add-ons store. 

The Study Skills highlighter could be very helpful for teachers who like to mark-up student work by denoting specified colors for certain errors. The Study Skills highlighter makes this much more convenient than in the past using the built-in highlighting. The clear highlights option makes removing these mark-ups much simpler as well.

But one of the more exciting features of the Study Skills highlighter is the ability to extract highlights into a new document. This feature could be used to structure close and critical reading activities where students identify vocabulary, main ideas, and supporting evidence from a text, and then using the extract highlights tool as notes and/or as a form of assessment. I demonstrate this scenario in the video below.

In the video I also feature the http://newsela.com (a website for leveled expository text and news) and the Clearly extension.

I'm looking forward to exploring the potential of the new Add-ons for Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Have you found a good Add-on? Please consider sharing by replying in the comments section.

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