IT Matters

September 2015

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting the 2015 edition of the Norton Public Schools Technology Department's IT (Instructional Technology) Matters online newsletter. We hope you find the resources useful and informative.

Online Resources

We have created a website for you to access professional learning resources related to technology. Having trouble using Google Drive and Gmail? Want to know more about the Chrome browser? Interested in a new presentation tool for your classroom? Explore the answers to these questions and more by visiting the PD resources page at your convenience. You can visit the website by clicking here.
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SchoolBrains

We are up and running with SchoolBrains as our new Student Information System. There have been some challenges with implementing the new program and we are working diligently to resolve user issues as well as the data conversion for all of our schools. We appreciate your willingness to jump into the program and begin utilizing its features.


Here are some things to keep in mind regarding SchoolBrains:


  • Elementary teachers are currently only taking attendance in SchoolBrains. We are working with the company to develop the Standards Based Report Card within the system. Training will be provided to staff once this is in place.
  • Middle School and High School teachers are using SchoolBrains to take attendance and record grades. Additional resources for using the gradebook can be found in the help section of SchoolBrains and on our NPS PD website.
  • Students and Parents/Guardians have access to a community portal where students schedules and assignments/grades can be found. Currently, all teachers do not have access to view the same things as families within the community portal. This is not a feature that SchoolBrains supports. Please know that we are advocating for teachers to receive this access but it hasn't been developed as yet. As soon as something changes, we will inform all staff. For now, the community portal will be shared during tech support building visits.
  • There have been data issues with contact information within the system. We are working hard to resolve these problems with the company.


Please don't hesitate to reach out to your building TTL or the technology department if you need further assistance. Email Karen directly with specific concerns.

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Now that we are fully a GAFE district, we know additional training and support is needed to help you use the tools successfully. Over the course of the school year, training sessions will be provided in each building on the different elements of Google: Email, Drive, Calendar, Classroom, Presentations, Forms, and more. Here are two online resources that may help you in the meantime: Google Apps and NPS GAFE website.


You might also want to explore the differentiated Thinglink "You Drive with Google Drive" to work your way through an understanding of what Google has to offer. Think of it as Choose Your Own Adventure Professional Development.

SchoolDude

Our new technology support resource, SchoolDude, is being used by all staff to request help with all things technology. The link to the support request form is here. The beginning of the year is always a busy time getting everyone set-up with the technology in their classrooms. Thank you for your patience as we address the tech support requests in a timely manner!

Tech Pic of the Week!

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Students in Margo Bridges STEM class figured out how to use a Makey Makey all on their own! Photo Courtesy @mbridgesnms via Twitter

Have a Tech Pic to Share?

We'd love to share photos of students and teachers using technology in our schools. Please share your tech pictures to be included in future newsletters! Email them to Karen and be sure to include some information describing the photo!

Let's Talk Technology

A new feature found on the Technology Department's district website is a topic specific Let's Talk page. Dr. Baeta has been using Let's Talk to encourage community feedback and we now have our own technology specific page. We encourage all community members and school employees to send feedback on the positives and negatives you're experiencing with district technology. Our goal is to continuously improve our efforts to support teaching and learning with technology in our district schools. Please visit Let's Talk Technology to share your voice.

Hardware Updates

  • 9 Carts of Chromebooks are now in place throughout HAY, NMS & NHS. 270 Chromebooks were set-up and distributed this summer. We have a total of 360 Chromebooks within grades 4-12.
  • Elementary iPads will be distributed by the end of the month. The management of iPads is more challenging and time consuming than Chromebooks. We are selecting apps appropriate for primary grades but are also open to adding apps once the devices are in place. We appreciate your patience!
  • Student machines in grades K-8 have been removed and are either being upgraded or have been recycled. There were so many obsolete machines in our schools! Our plan is to distribute viable machines to Sped classrooms first, then to grade 3, grade 2, and grade 1. We are looking for equitable distribution among these levels before we expand to other levels. Having available carts at both HAY and NMS should help provide access to those classrooms. HAY staff should remember there are COWs available for use in addition to the Chromebooks.
  • Labs A & B are still available for NMS staff to utilize with their students. Lab C is now designated for use only by those in C-Wing.
Have a great online resource you'd like to share with your NPS colleagues? Send it along to Karen via email or tag @kwinsper in a tweet!

PD Day Resources

PD day didn't go as planned. The internet wasn't cooperating for most of our morning PD session and the afternoon session didn't seem long enough. For those of you who might have missed the shared folder with resources, here's the link for you to access at your convenience.

Upcoming Technology Support Sessions

I will be spending time in our buildings throughout the year specifically to answer questions and provide support to staff regarding our new technology initiatives. Below are the first open sessions where staff can drop in as needed. Feel free to contact your building TTL for support as well.


**Times below are tentative and must be confirmed with each building.

LGN, HAY, NHS dates have been confirmed to have no conflicts!


JCS TECH

Tuesday, 9/22 from 8:00-9:00am in the computer lab

Thursday, 10/8 from 8:00-9:00am in the computer lab


LGN TECH

Thursday, 9/29 from 2:30-3:30 in the computer lab

Thursday, 10/15 from 2:30-3:30 in the computer lab


HAY TECH

Wednesday, 9/23 from 7:30-8:30am in the computer lab

Tuesday, 10/6 from 7:30-8:30am in the computer lab


NMS TECH

Thursday, 9/24 from 7:45-8:45 in Lab C

Thursday, 10/8 from 3:30-4:30 in Lab C


NHS TECH

Wednesday, 9/23 from 2:15-3:15 in Mr. Sumner's Lab

Wednesday, 10/7 6:30-7:30am in Mr. Sumner's Lab

Community Tech Night

Tuesday, Sep. 22nd, 6:30-7:30pm

NHS Library/Flex Lab

Students, families, community members and staff are invited to attend an informational session on new district technology initiatives.

Have a Professional Twitter Account?

If you'd like to share your Twitter handle with the technology department, we'll include you on our NPS Twitter list for future consideration to be included in NPS Tech Tweets! Just tag @kwinsper in a Tweet!
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Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter!