MCSD Ed Tech Review

Tools & Tips Worth Your Time

Issue 6, September 2016
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It's a new year! Subtitle: Help! My stuff isn't working!

There's always a few weeks at the start of a new year when some of the technology in our classrooms might not be working quite like it was (or at all) when we left in June. Rooms get dismantled for cleaning; hardware gets upgraded and swapped out; and sometimes, stuff just dies.

This summer was extremely busy for the IT staff. Because this is the start of a new Installment Purchase cycle, there was a massive influx of new technology to be deployed. They did a fantastic job. With the sheer amount that had to be done, it is only natural that there are still some loose ends. So your patience is appreciated, and if you see Steph Smythe, Tim Archetko, or Jim Beck out and about, feel free to let them know we appreciate their hard work over the summer. Also feel free to congratulate Travis Kench on the new addition to his family.

If there are still pieces of technology in your room that aren't working correctly, here are the steps you can take.

  1. Talk to your IT Building Assistant. These teachers applied for a stipended position that consists of helping you. They are the first line in troubleshooting. They are: Davis - Greg Fisher, Flanders - Bridget Schack, St. Joe's - Vanessa Reyome, MMS - Heather Garland, FA - Danielle Keating. Please be respectful of the fact, though, that they are teachers, just like you. So they won't necessarily be able to drop what they're doing and get to you right at that second.
  2. Use SysAid to put in a help ticket. You can do this when you aren't able to get help from your IT Building Assistant, and also when you know it's an issue they won't be able to take care of. For instance, those people cannot help with things like network accounts, network printing issues, etc.
  3. Get in touch with me. For help with software or web-based services, you can still use the methods above to get help, but you can also contact me directly. In some cases, you can skip right to this step. For example, if you have students who need accounts for things like Google or Castle Learning, let me know. Also, if you would like help integrating technology in a lesson or project, getting your kids started with a new piece of technology, or some one-on-one or small group PD, let me know.
    I'm often not in my office, so you will usually get a faster response from me if you email ( or - either will work).

District Resources

Time is something that is never in abundant supply during the day. You have a thousand things competing for your time and attention. With that in mind, it's very easy to lose track of the resources that are available to you and your students. Below is a list of the major services that the district licenses. More information on each, as well as information on how to access them, can be found on the District Resources page of the Malone Teacher Resources site.

I have only included resources below which are available in multiple buildings.

Technology and Getting Ready for a Substitute

We all know that very often it's more work getting ready to be out for a day than it would be to just be in your classroom. With who the sub will be often being an unknown, we have to weigh out what we want the kids to do for the day carefully. So unless you want to write a whole script for the sub, we often leave work that will be easiest for anyone to hand out and explain.

What if in less time than it would take you to write out instructions for a sub you could create a video and explain the day's assignment to the students yourself? Or, make a short video for your sub and explain how you would like a lesson taught? You can do just that with a free Chrome extension called Screencastify. This extension will enable you to record anything in a Chrome tab as a video, and, if you choose, add voice narration to it.

The video below walks you through the process of adding Screencastify to Chrome, getting the extension ready to use, recording your screencast, and how to get it to your sub.

In the video I make mention of a project that's in the works to give subs access to a Google Drive account so you'll be able to share materials, like plans, videos, handouts, etc., that way. There will be much more information given to you about that in the next couple of weeks. In addition, plans are underway to provide some basic technology training to subs, as well as a means to let you know which subs have been trained.

As always, if you'd like help with any part of this, please let me know. I'm happy to come by at a time that is good for you and work through it with you.

Using Screencastify for Chrome

Google Pro Tip - Shared with Me, or the Wild, Wild West of Google Drive

If you're part of an active team of Google Drive users, or use it often with your students, and like even a modicum of organization, you know that "Shared with me" might as well be renamed "Here there be monsters." It's a disorganized mess.

Unlike "My Drive," where you can create folders and sub folders, add a single document in multiple places so you'll always be able to find it no matter where you look, you have very little control over the appearance and structure of "Shared with me." My advice: don't go there. Well at least not any more often than you absolutely have to.

Tip 1:

Add files and/or folders that other share with you and that you know you will be using often to your Drive. You can do this, as with most things in Drive, in several ways. One is to simply find the file as soon as it's shared with you, left-click and hold on it, and then drag it over to "My Drive" in the vertical navigation bar on the left. Once you get over "My Drive," if you have folders, they will expand, and continue expanding if you have sub-folders, and you can then just drop it where you want it. The file doesn't disappear from "Shared with me;" it's still someone else's file after all. But now it will also show up wherever you choose in your Drive. No more hunting for it.

You can also find the file in "Shared with me," right-click on it, and choose "Add to My Drive" from the list. You'll then get a box that tells you it's been added. If you click "organize" in that box, you'll be able to select which folder you would like it to appear in.

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Tip 2:

How did Google become the Google of a thousand and one services, like Drive, that it is today? It became fantastically successful because of the strength of the algorithm making up its search engine. At the top of your Drive screen you have access to one of the world's most powerful search engines, and in this case, it just wants to do one thing: help you find stuff in your Drive account. Don't waste time trying to remember where something is, use the search bar. Even if you can think of one or two keywords in the title of the document, or in the body, this is often a much faster way to find what you need.

If you know it's a document from "Shared with me," Google makes it even easier. In the search bar, there is a downward triangle at the right end. Clicking on that brings up a menu of advanced search options. For instance, you can limit your search to only certain types of files, so if you know you're looking for an image, for instance, you can weed out all the rest automatically. But one of the choices is "Owner." If you don't do anything with that field, it will search all files. But you can specify that you only want to look at files that you do not own (thus in "Shared with me"), or you can even tell it that you only want to see files that are owned by a specific person.

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Tip 3:

One of the underused organizational features in Drive is the ability to add a star to a file or folder. By starring a file or folder it will appear in the "Starred" section that you'll see in the vertical navigation on the left side of the Drive screen, three down from "Shared with me."

Now, obviously, you don't just want to star everything in your Drive. But if you have files or a folder that you know you'll be needing during a lesson or meeting, put a star on it and save yourself the trouble of having to click through folders to find it. When you're done, just right-click on the file or folder and choose to remove the star.

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Back Issues

1 - December 2015 - Hour of Code, Living in Beta, Tools for Engagement

2 - January 2016 - YouTube: Channels, Playlists, Content Create, Classroom Integration

3 - February 2016 - Formative Assessment Principles and Tools

4 - March 2016 - Brain-Based Learning Techniques and Tools

5 - May 2016 - End of the Year Tips and Reminders

Get In Touch

My job is to be here as a resource for you and your students. If you want help learning how to integrate technology in your classroom, please let me know. For more information on the sorts of ways I might help you, look at this.

- Mark Dalton, IT Coordinator