Tech Snacks

Byte-Sized Treats to Transform Learning 10.2.18

Adobe Spark

It's here! It's here! Adobe Spark is a creation suite that will make both teachers and students do cartwheels. The suite is comprised of Post, Page, and Video, giving users a choice when creating products. Adobe Spark is intuitive, challenging students to think critically about visual presentation and spending less time on learning just a tool. The best part - it is now FREE! With the enterprise edition, and being approved for the FCPS data sharing list, educators and students of all ages can safely use Adobe Spark. It works right in your web browser, even when on a Chromebook, and the series of apps can be downloaded for iPads. Check out an example of a page, a post, and a video.

Follow along with our step by step directions to begin your Adobe Spark journey today. Our next edition of Tech Snacks will include lots of ideas of how you can implement this engaging tool into your classroom. Share ideas and examples with your Digital Learning Coach so we can feature you!

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Google Slides for Agendas

Sharing Classroom News:

Classroom newsletters are an effective way to keep families updated on what’s happening inside the classroom. Instead of wasting copy numbers and time stuffing newsletters into folders every week, try creating an interactive newsletter using Google Docs & Slides. Add tasks, weekly announcements, photos of student activities, links for homework tutorials and enrichment, and even video clips. Check out this example by Patrice Burlew, 3rd Grade teacher at Veterans Park. Each day, she opens the same Google Doc and enters her newest content at the top. Here's another example by VPE teacher, Ashley Carter. Note that they both embedded their information directly into their Google Sites, making updates and parent communication even easier!

Sharing Daily Agendas/Homework:

Infinite Campus and email distribution lists are great for sending nightly homework assignments and reminders. However, a shared or published Google Slide deck can streamline your work. Check out this example by Macy Reed and the 6th grade SCAPA teachers. Ms. Reed created a Slide deck and shared it with the rest of her team. Each day, teachers add their own slide containing daily objectives, classwork, homework and other announcements as needed. The team has emailed the link out to parents, but for continuity, it is linked to their school webpage. Students and parents can go directly to the link as needed to access homework as a reminder or if they were absent. Want your own homework slide deck to get started? Open this link, choose FILE, and MAKE A COPY. Another option is to have your students create an online agenda that they are responsible for sharing with their parents. Caution: Make your documents “view only” before sharing so no one else can edit the newsletter.

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STEMulating Young Minds

STEM has become a buzzword in education, but do you know what STEM actually looks like in the classroom? In short, STEM teaches science, math, and engineering as a whole, using technology to relate learning to the real world. It is hands-on, minds-on and feeds students’ natural curiosity.

Ok great, one more thing to add to an already packed schedule. NO! STEM is not supposed to be just another thing. It is not just a special area, an after-school club, or an extension for gifted and talented students. It is something that should be embedded in everyday teaching. It may seem scary at first; however, if you start small you will come to find your students are more engaged, build a greater understanding of the content, and learn how to problem solve and think critically. Who doesn’t want that?

Here are some small changes you could make right now to make your classroom into a STEMulating learning environment:

  • Change your morning work or group work! Instead of doing a worksheet or a classic computer program, change it up with STEM Bins or with a Morning Maker Map. All you need to do is gather some common materials like popsicle sticks, legos, cardboard, tape, straws, etc., whatever you have laying around the room that a student could use to build something can be organized into a MakerSpace. Need some inspiration on possible projects? Click here!

  • Familiarize yourself and students with the Engineering Design Process. Pose a quick challenge to students and take them through the process of defining a problem/asking questions, researching and brainstorming solutions, creating a plan, designing and building, testing, improving/evaluating solutions, and communicating results. Some ideas could be building the tallest freestanding structure, designing a floating device, creating a habitat for a stuffed animal, etc.

  • Tech Tools. Try using a new technology tool to allow students to show what they know. Maybe have students use a teacher-created Padlet to create a bulletin board of what they learned, Google Drawings to design a poster to showcase their understanding, Flipgrid to create a quick book review or summary.

  • Click For More Ideas.
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Help Desk Tickets - Part II

In the previous edition of Tech Snacks, we covered how to include a screenshot with your Help Desk ticket to give your technician another clue in resolving your tech issue. Relaying historical data with exact information of the problem saves your tech time and back-and-forth emails with staff.

One of the Help Desk tools that our techs leverage is a Remote Control app. This app allows the technician to connect to your Windows desktop or laptop while working from another district school. If you are on your device while the tech is connected, you and the technician can both see the screen at the same moment and can also chat in a text window or on the phone. This is a great option to use when the technician can’t be onsite and also saves time and resources. For techs to be able to connect, they must know the name of your computer. This is a piece of information you can provide in the Help Desk ticket -- and this is how you find your computer name:

  1. Click inside the SEARCH BOX (Cortana) and type “PC NAME.”

  2. Click on “VIEW YOUR PC NAME.”

  3. At the top of the page you will see, “Device Name.” This is the name that you should include in your ticket.

  4. Yup, it was THAT easy. :)

Here’s a video to help out! Be sure to include available dates and times that are convenient for a technician to remote to your computer.

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Setting a Default Font in Google Docs

If you have a favorite font and font size to use with Google Docs, but it’s not the one Google has chosen, it’s easy to change the default. On any Google Doc, change the font to what you prefer and then follow these steps:

  1. Highlight (drag your mouse over) the text that is set the way you prefer (font and font size).

  2. On the toolbar, click the drop down box next to Normal text and select Normal Text > Update ‘Normal text’ to match.

  3. Again on the toolbar, click the drop down box next to Normal text and select Options > Save as my default styles.

And viola - you’re all set.

Video for demonstration: Change the Default Font in Google Docs by Kevin Brookhouser
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Technology Professional Development

Are you ready for engaging technology professional development? The Office of Instructional Technology can help you out with that as we have just listed over 30 new sessions for the Fall and Spring semesters! Find sessions for Canvas, Google Suite for Education, Minecraft, and more. Navigate to, click on ACTIVITY CATALOGS and DISTRICT CATALOG in the left hand menu. Type the word TECHNOLOGY in the search bar to locate and register for your choices.

NEW: Would you like to work toward your Google Educator Level 1 or Level 2 Certification? This year the Office of Instructional Technology will be offering a series of training for both Level 1 and Level 2 certifications to help prepare staff. Individuals can choose which sessions to attend, based on their individual needs. We will offer common testing opportunities at the end of each semester for those that want to test with the group. Visit this site for details.

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