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Half-Term Tricks and Treats

Some fantastic CPD here from Daren White – teacher and Google for Education CPD expert. In this spooktacular post, Daren talks us through 5 G-Suite ‘trick and treats’ for you to explore this Autumn half term.

It’s been a crazy half-term with back to back Open Evenings, parent consultations, running an ESS Bootcamp in Aberdeen with Appsevents and leading lots of staff CPD as we’ve started to roll out Lenovo E500 Flip Chromebooks to staff at my schools.

I’ve got to say I love mine, it light, works as a tablet, has a garaged stylus that is very responsive and the key thing for me, I charge it every 3 days, not every 30 minutes like I did with my old laptop.

The ability to use apps like Squidnotes and Jamboard on my chromebook has been a godsend for me as a MFL specialist, eliminating the clunkiness of adding special characters when writing on screen. Now I just get on with it which keeps the pace high but also, I believe, develops students’ comprehension skills as they have to read handwriting rather than typed fonts.

As colleagues have come to me with questions, it’s been great fun trying to find resolutions to issues and it’s a work in progress at this stage.  We’re still looking at the best way to use Smart Notebook on our chromebooks as many staff, especially in maths and science, have a large bank of lessons they want to keep using.

Here are just a few tricks, treats and new features that I’m loving at the moment:


1. Tabcloud is a great little extension that enables you to build specific tab set up for different purposes.  I use it to create a tab cloud for each class. Each ‘cloud’ is customisable and when opened, will bring up all the tabs you’re going to need at once in a new window. As you will see from the screenshot you can preload any number of sites including classrooms, drive, website etc.
Find tabcloud here
2. Keep Awake extension is a great extension for chromebooks when using in class or for presenting.  It does what it says on the tin, preventing your chromebook from going to sleep when in 🌞mode and allowing sleep in 🌔mode. Get the extension here

3. Jamboard has come to web as well as devices now and the two make a great team. Projecting from a desktop on screen in class and then roaming the room with the Jamboard app on my chromebook, I can allow students to contribute and control what’s on screen.  Great for redrafting, peer assessment and organisational thinking. Jamboard has some amazing features.
Check out my video intro to Jamboard…

4. CC – Closed Captions in Slides is another terrific addition to Google Slides, enabling presenters to speak and have subtitles display almost immediately. Ok, so it’s not 100% perfect yet but if you speak clearly it’s pretty darn accurate. Great for presenting to groups who may have hearing difficulties and also for video recordings using Screencastify. This enable you to limit your slides to minimal information (as we all should) and then talk through the key points.

Just go to present and click the CC button in the control bar that appears at the bottom.

5. is another great tool for gathering quick information. Post a poll or question, display a code and get your audience to vote from their devices.  You and they will see results appear in real time. Here’s an example of what your audience would see.

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The author

Daren has been teaching for almost 20 years and has been a senior leader for 10. He is a MFL specialist and also a Google Certified Educator and Trainer. He regularly supports fellow teachers and support staff by delivering CPD in local schools. Daren writes his own blog and also runs a Facebook group for Education Support Staff using G Suite for Education -

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