MCSD Ed Tech Review

Tools & Tips Worth Your Time

Issue 14, October 2019

Another school year has begun!

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Remember, the school year is a marathon, not a sprint. So stop, kick back, take a load off, and reward yourself for a successful start with some ed tech news, tools, and tricks!

In This Issue

  • Housekeeping
  • Husky Badges
  • Technology for Subs
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Resource Roundup
  • Hey, Watch This!


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Reminders for Students (FA & MMS)

If you could, FA & MMS teachers, please remind your students of the following:

  • Chromebooks must be kept in their cases while at school. The cases will protect them from damage from accidental drops, etc. But they only work while the Chromebooks are in them. If a Chromebook is damaged while not in a case, that isn't considered normal wear & tear or accidental damage.
  • Don't place anything in the case with the Chromebook. We have had numerous screens cracked by pens, pencils, earbuds, etc. being set on the keyboard and then having the Chromebook shut. There have also been instances of items placed behind the screen in the case, and then something like a book dropped on top creating enough of a stress point to crack the screen.
  • If their Chromebooks are damaged or lost, they should take them to the library (unless it's lost, of course) and report it. They will be given instructions at that point, and steps will be taken to start the process of replacement, if necessary.
  • If they have lost their charging cord, again, they should go to the library and report it so they can get a replacement.
  • On the subject of charging cords, they should be taking their Chromebooks home and charging them on a regular (nightly) basis. If there are extenuating circumstances which preclude a student from taking it home, feel free to make arrangements for the student to leave the Chromebook somewhere safe, in an inconspicuous spot in your classroom for instance, to charge.
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Digital Security

As discussed below, as technology becomes more pervasive, not just in our schools but in life in general, we are all teachers of digital citizenship, like it or not. One of the ways we can help instill those principals in our students is to model them.

So, a few things to consider:

  • Never leave your usernames and passwords for subs. Stop and think about what you are giving those people access to by doing so. In the case of SchoolTool, you are giving them access to confidential student information, not to mention your gradebook (at least at the secondary level). If you're a regular Chrome user and you take advantage of Chrome's built-in password manager, if you leave them your computer and/or Google log in information, you are giving them access to every site you have ever clicked the blue button on for it to remember your password. Keep reading in this issue for some tips on how to deal with the issue of technology and substitutes.
  • Never leave your room without locking your computer/Chromebook. Again, if you walk away from your computer, logged in, browser open with things like SchoolTool, Gmail, and Drive wide open, think of what anyone who walks in could do... It only takes a second to press the Windows key + L on a PC, or the lock button on a Chromebook, and another 10 seconds to put your password in when you get back. You pick right up where you left off, with everything the way you left it, but with the piece of mind that no one has been in your stuff.
  • Don't direct print anything that is confidential or in any way sensitive. The printers across this district are almost all in locations that are open and accessible to anyone, including students. Direct printing documents like IEPs, student accommodations, grades, or assessments to locations where they could be picked up by anyone other than you could be inconvenient or even illegal. Always choose Papercut from the printer list for these kinds of print jobs. That way it prints out while you're standing right there and there can't be an issue.
  • Be careful about attachments you open and links you follow. There have been several high-profile cases of school districts across the country, and in New York, being targeted by hackers, specifically using something called ransomware. Many of the precautions that need to be taken to protect our district happen at the network level. But, a surprising number of viruses and malware are introduced to school computers through email. Check out this phishing quiz from Google to see how easy it is to fall victim. Feel free to share this with your students as well.

Husky Badges

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This year we're trying something new for ed tech professional development, the Husky Badges. This PD program is 100% voluntary, and is focused on helping you, your colleagues, and your students master some of the hardware and software we have access to in the district.

Rather than the broader badges that you might be used to, like the Google Educator badges, that cover a lot of ground and potentially take a lot of time to earn, the majority of the Husky Badges are really more micro-credential. Most focus on a specific set of skills in a specific piece of software or hardware, and are designed to get you comfortable using them.

Fulfilling the requirement earns you a digital copy of the badge, as well as points toward rewards, not to mention the skills to more effectively integrate technology in your curriculum.

For more information, check out the Husky Badge section on the Malone Teacher Resource site.

Technology for Subs

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In the era of Chromebooks/G Suite for Education, technology can be a double-edged sword for a teacher who is absent. On the one hand, platforms like Google Classroom can offer you the chance to more easily ensure continuity of learning as you can get materials and activities to your students even when you're not there. On the other, it can sometimes be challenging to write lesson plans for substitutes with unknown levels of technical skill and access.

Network Access

One of the tricky things to explain to a substitute, or anyone, is that there is a difference between signing into a school PC and signing into a Chromebook/Chromebox. Signing into a PC at school requires a network username and password, which are generated and maintained by the NERIC IT staff. For teachers, this set of login credentials drive other things, like logging into SchoolTool, Service Now, etc. For substitutes, the network login only gets them into a school PC and able to use the internet; it does not function as a login for any other sites.

Each building has a network login specifically for substitute teachers. The building secretaries have that information, and it is perfectly acceptable to leave it with your sub plans.

If your plans include the sub using the presentation center to project something for the class, you might want to consider not only leaving the username and password, but being specific as to how and what that information will be used to log into.

G Suite Account

As said above, it can be confusing to substitutes that there are two different sets of login credentials. Each building has its own G Suite (Google) account for substitutes as well. In fact, there is an account for substitute teachers and another for substitute teaching assistants.

There are a couple of reasons that the info isn't the same. First, on the practical side, they are two different systems. The network login works through something called Microsoft Active Directory, while the G Suite account works through Google's login servers. Second, the G Suite password, unlike the network password, will be changed on a regular basis.

Again, building secretaries will have the G Suite login info and can give it to substitutes, but I will also be emailing it directly to the staff in each building each time the password is changed, so you can leave it with your sub plans yourself.

If you look in "Shared drives" in Google Drive, you will see a substitute Drive with your building's name on it. You can create a folder in that Drive with your name on it, and then leave any plans or materials you might want your substitute to use. The building substitute G Suite account gives them access to this shared drive as well, so they will be able to access anything you leave in it.

Making Use of Them

It might be worth your time to create a template for sub plans with directions on technology use that are specific to your room. Unfortunately, most rooms have some quirks or different pieces of hardware, so it would be just about impossible for me to put out a one-size-fits-all document that would be perfect for everyone. But here is an example of what such a document might look like, based on the setup in my last classroom. If it's a useful starting point for you, feel free to make a copy.

Creating a template can save you time in the long run as you can simply customize it when you're going to be out to take into account specific directions for the day, or changes in the passwords.

Using the shared drive is an easy way to be able to get handouts and other materials to your substitute. You could also include a Google doc in your folder with links to pages or videos you want projected. If you want to be able to give directions or instruction to your students yourself, you could even include a video file created by a screencasting extension, like Screencastify or Nimbus, and have them play the video for your students.

Digital Citizenship

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As mentioned above, technology is becoming more and more pervasive in modern life, whether you personally like it or not. You would be hard pressed to find too many careers today that do not require some level of technological proficiency, and the number shrinks every day.

Students are no more born knowing how to behave safely and ethically in the digital space than they are in the real world. If our goal is to produce human beings who are ready to join society as good and productive people, then it is just as much our responsibility to teach them the principles of digital citizenship as it is to teach them the fundamentals of the US Constitution, how to make sure their verbs and nouns agree, or what the scientific method is and why it's important.

What this means is that every one of us is a teacher of digital citizenship, especially, if you have your students use any piece of technology as part of your class.

This can be a bit overwhelming at first. It can easily feel like this is yet another example of the "one more thing" syndrome. But teaching the principles of digital citizenship does not necessarily mean whole units dedicated to the topic, weeks or months of teaching time, or starting from scratch yourself.

Teaching digital citizenship can happen organically, as topics or issues come up, and can be as simple as a classroom conversation lasting a few minutes. To help you prepare for this, though, it is necessary to be familiar with the principles yourself.

There are some great resources out there to help. Here are 2 to help you get started:

  • Common Sense Education's Digital Citizenship - Here you'll find free K-12 lessons covering all aspects of the topic, many with interactive resources.
  • Be Internet Awesome - Created by Google, this site focuses on teaching children the skills they need to safely use the internet. The cornerstone is a game that reinforces the ideas.

Resource Roundup

You can always find more information on the district licensed services on the Malone Teacher Resources site.

Below are a few free resources that you might find worth checking out.

Hey, Watch This!

Check out Issue 2 of the MCSD Ed Tech Review for tips on using YouTube in the classroom.

If you have a video that you think is worth checking out, send me the link and I'll include it in an upcoming issue.

6 Word Memoirs

This very cool video is a product of FA social studies teacher Amber Eells and her students. The students were tasked with using Adobe Spark to put a picture together with 6 words to tell their story. She then took all of their pictures and put them in WeVideo to create this. Compliments all around for an awesome and engaging project.
Six Word Memoirs 1

Chromebook Tricks

These two videos from Google for Education show you some features that you and your students might not have known about, and might find useful.

EDU in 90: Chromebook Tricks
EDU in 90: More Chromebook Tricks

Chrome Extensions to Save Time & Stay Organized

Time is probably the most precious (and rare) commodity teachers have. These videos from Google for Education showcases a few extensions that can help teachers save time and stay organized.
EDU in 90: Chrome Extensions to Save Time
EDU in 90: Chrome Extensions to Stay Organized

The intersection of high tech, music, and performance art.

In 2015, English recording artist, Imogen Heap, gave the Tedx talk below on a piece of technology she was working on, Mi.Mu Gloves. Using a variety of sensors, the gloves allow the user to, as she puts it, sculpt music.

Since the recording of the Tedx talk, work has continued and the design has been refined, as demonstrated in the last song in her recent NPR Tiny Desk Concert, this recent video which gives you a much more technical look at how the gloves work, and they recently went on the market for pre-order. So if you have a spare $6,400 (Macbook not included), treat yourself!

I have included the video in the newsletter because it's great to see a project that puts the A (Arts) firmly in STEAM...and, the whole concept is just so cool. Skip to 5:55 if you just want to see the gloves in action.

Sculpting music with Mi.Mu gloves | Imogen Heap | TEDxCERN

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

6 - September 2016 - Welcome Back

7- November 2016 - Situational Awareness & Review Tools

8 - February 2017 - The ISTE Student Standards Intro & Standard 1

9 - April 2017 - District Makerspaces & ISTE Student Standard 2

10 - September 2017 - Welcome Back

11 - November 2017 - One-to-One

12 - September 2018 - Back to School/1:1 Q & A

13 - February 2019 - Endless Winter Edition

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, Ed Tech Coordinator