IT Matters

December 2015


Thank you for visiting the 2015-2016 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

Watching videos and webinars is a great way to expand your professional learning at your convenience. There are many online resources that offer educators free access to on demand learning through videos. Here are a few to explore:

ASCD Webinar Archives

Upcoming EdTech Teacher Webinars

EdTech Teacher Archives - take a look at the calendar for previous and upcoming webinars on all curriculum topics. Consider joining the online community!

Library of Congress PD Webinars-2014/2015

Global Education Conference-Recordings

Browse these education channels of YouTube!

Google for Education

Google Gooru

YouTube Education


Buck Institute for Education

Want to share a YouTube video with your students but concerned about the ads or suggested videos? Try SafeShare.TV or ViewPure

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Middle School and High School staff made it through the first report card cycle using SchoolBrains. Hooray! Many thanks to all of the teachers, guidance counselors, TTLs, and support staff for working through the kinks in the program. We are still developing the standards based report cards for the elementary level. We'll keep you updated on the progress but you should plan to use the current report card system until you hear otherwise.

A Schoolbrains representative came to Norton on Wednesday 12/2 to provide training for guidance counselors, building and district secretaries, team chairs, TTLs, and academic coordinators. Overall, the day allowed staff the opportunity to learn more about the program, have questions answered, and share concerns. The next step is to meet with smaller groups to offer more specific, targeted training on building based or department issues. Please reach out to Karen or your building TTL if you need individual support with Schoolbrains.

We appreciate those of you who have taken the time to share your questions, concerns and suggestions regarding SchoolBrains. We forward all issues directly to their tech support staff. Often, the requests are not available in SchoolBrains but they are taken as "feature requests" for program improvements. SchoolBrains listens to our concerns and is working to improve the product for all educators.

These are feature requests we've asked for:

  • A "lives with" option to notify staff of which parent/guardian/contact a student resides with
  • Getting grades/comments on the same page in the main grade book
  • Community portal access for teachers to be able to view how things post
  • Numbering and sorting ability in grade book
  • A real SB app

Here are some things we're working on with Schoolbrains:

  • Importing historical MCAS data
  • Access to 504s
  • Importing middle school and high school students' email addresses in SB
  • Cleaning up all data transferred from Admin Plus
  • Elementary report cards, middle school & high school progress reports/report cards for each term
  • Adjusting user permissions to allow staff access to exactly what they need
  • User lists and custom reports for building based needs (attendance, bus lists, etc.)
  • Ongoing state reporting

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Since the beginning of the school year, we've had tremendous use of GAFE (Drive/Docs/Slides/Sheets/Email) tools across the district! To give you a sense of what that means, here is some data for you to consider:
  • 170 Google Drawings created
  • 456 Google Forms created
  • 4,200 Google Slides created
  • 2,572 Google Sheets created
  • 33,908 Google Docs created
  • 294,853 files uploaded to Drive
  • 1,000,000+ emails have been sent, received or transferred to our NPS Gmail!

Remember that anything created within Google doesn't count towards our storage use!

You may have heard concerns about student privacy and GAFE. Read Google's response: The facts about student data privacy in Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks.


We have been hearing good things about our use of SchoolDude for tech support requests! Thank you to everyone who has used the system this year and provided feedback. We have had 442 incidents to date. The link to the request form can be found here. Remember that the password is NOT your personal password but a district-wide password. Check with your building TTL or email Karen directly if you've forgotten it. It was included on the SchoolDude information sheet shared at the beginning of the year.

Tech Pic of Month!

District staff attended the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators Conference at Gillette Stadium at the end of October. For the two day event, Norton Public Schools sent over twenty staff members and was invited to take the field for a photo shot! Learn more about MassCUE and consider becoming a member. MassCUE offers technology grants to its members--deadline January 1st!
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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!

Hardware Updates

  • Student desktop machines were removed from classrooms, refurbished if viable, and redistributed to K-3 classrooms. We are looking for consistency in the district so we will re-evaluate numbers to be sure computers have been deployed equitably across grade levels. Every K-3 classroom should have desktop machines available for student use. If you don't, you will soon.
  • We understand the challenges of connecting and reconnecting teacher laptops to projectors in grades K-8. We are in the process of configuring desktop machines for "teacher stations" to be connected to projectors permanently. These will not be as quick as the new teacher laptops but they will alleviate the connecting/reconnecting issues.
  • iPads have been configured and deployed at LGN and JCS. If you are interested in using them but are not sure where to begin, check in with your building TTL or contact Karen directly.
  • District iPads are managed through the tech department. This means teachers are not able to download apps. Each building with iPads has put aside money for app purchases. Anyone or any grade level team interested in apps for the district iPads should complete the App Request Form. Please allow time for approval and processing.

Technology Links for Your Curriculum

Top 10 noteworthy resources to explore

  1. Tech for Teachers on Pearltrees
  2. Critical Evaluation of Websites from Kathy Schrock
  3. Hour of Code resources from -- Learn to code with Minecraft & Star Wars just in time for Hour of Code next week!!
  4. Donor's Choose- Create a project, post online, get funding-it's that easy.
  5. Biogen Grant-Teachers can apply for up to $2000 and schools up to $5000 to promote science literacy. Deadline 1/15/16. Contact Karen if interested.
  6. Storyboardthat- Digital storytelling resource
  7. PBS Learning Media-Tons of resources for all levels
  8. No Red Ink-Improve student writing and grammar skills
  9. iKeepSafe for Educators-Resources for digital citizenship and online safety/privacy
  10. NPS collective notes from the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators Conference (MassCUE)
Have a great online resource you'd like to share with your NPS colleagues? Send it along to Karen via email or tag @kwinsper or #technps in a tweet!

Tech Committee Meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 9th, 3:30-4:30pm

NMS Library

The tech committee will meet to discuss the strategic plan technology initiatives and begin to explore an upgrade to the district's website.

Community Tech Night

Tuesday, Dec. 15th, 6:30-7:30pm

NMS Auditorium

Community members are invited to attend an informational session on how to use Google Apps such as Docs, Slides, and Forms.

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!