IT Matters

February 2016

Welcome!

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.

Tech Department Updates

Technology Budget

The budget season is in full swing and there is much to be excited about relating to technology in the proposed budget.

  • Improvements and updates to the wireless network at NHS
  • A complete refresh of the NMS TechEd lab which currently has 17 year old equipment
  • 3 library media specialists for K-8
  • Increased time for our elementary technology teachers
  • A computer science teacher for NHS
  • A K-12 technology coach to assist with classroom technology integration

You might notice there isn't a lot of "hardware" requested in the budget. We firmly believe we need to provide the necessary infrastructure, including supports for teachers, before throwing more tech "at" teachers. We are well aware of the need to continue to build upon our technology resources throughout the district. Our future plans include moving to a 1to1 program at NMS, then NHS and then HAY. We plan to move towards using Chromebooks in the primary grades as well. We believe in providing a variety of tools to support teaching and learning. Our goals align with our district's Strategic Plan and Technology Plan.

Website Refresh

The tech department, with help from the district tech committee, is in the process of evaluating new website vendors to create a new online presence for the Norton Public Schools. Tech committee members include faculty and staff from throughout the district including classroom teachers, specialists and administrators.


You may be asking, "Why do we need a new website? Edline is just fine." There are many reasons we need to make this change. A district's website is the online face of its school department. It should be the hub for all things related to our schools. People go online to learn about a district and explore what it has to offer before considering a move to the community. Others who are considering NPS for school choice visit the web to learn about classes and programs offered. Of course, we also want our website and school pages to be user friendly for our staff and current NPS families. As we move forward with technology in the district, we need to have a website that meets our needs. Main areas of focus for a new website (as identified by the tech committee) include:


  • Easy updating for staff
  • Ease of use for students, families, community members
  • Social media integration
  • Blogs
  • Google Apps integration
  • Ease of posting images
  • Video posting and storage options
  • An App
  • Newsletter feature
  • Interactive forms feature
  • Single sign-on capability
  • Transfer of current website resources


Taking the above into consideration, the top three website vendor choices are Edlio, Schoolwires and Campus Suite. It is not recommended that we continue with Edline. They were acquired by Blackboard which has stated their flagship website product is Schoolwires. The tech committee will be making a recommendation to Dr. Baeta in early March and we will begin the transition for a July 1st launch. Training will take place prior to summer vacation for staff to learn the new product.


Please don't hesitate to contact Karen if you have any questions or concerns about the new website. Anyone is welcome to join the tech committee to assist with district tech planning!

SchoolBrains

We continue to work with Schoolbrains to improve functionality for teachers and administrative staff. We were successful in importing student email accounts and teachers can now send an email directly from within Schoolbrains. This feature is available to both Middle School and High School Teachers. Please notify the tech department if you notice a student is "not blue" when attempting to send an email. This means their email address did not link properly. An email was sent to all NHS and NMS teachers containing a document that explains the process. If you didn't get it, please contact Karen.


In addition to our ongoing requests and concerns, we are currently addressing:


  • NHS transcripts
  • NHS & NMS scheduling for 2016-2017
  • Community portal access to student grades
  • Gradebook set-up and functionality
  • Student GPAs



We know that Schoolbrains has been challenging this year. We continue to be optimistic that together we can work through the issues.

Online Resources for Staff

A few favorite websites that have a wealth of resources for teachers.

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Cool Tools for Schools

TONS of tools to use with your students! From video and image tools to mapping and graphing, there's something for every subject area.

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Free Technology for Teachers

Tech tips, tricks and resources appropriate for all teachers. Some of my favorites include his links to How to Make Writing Funnier and 21 Other Writing Lessons and Video Creation.

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!

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Have you ever shared a Google doc with someone and they've accidentally made edits to it? Instead of getting upset or having to re-do the entire document, you can actually revert back to a previous version! Nothing is ever permanently deleted in Google. Just click on FILE-->SEE REVISION HISTORY. A new column pops up on the right showing you all the edited versions. Simply click on a date/time to revert back to previous version! This is an awesome tool if you want to see what changes your students made to a document. It can also be useful when students collaborate on a document because you can actually see what each student contributed to it.


Another option to prevent changes being made to your original document is to force people to make a copy of a shared document.


Force a Copy in Google Docs

If you want to force someone to make a copy of a document you've shared, here's an easy way to do it.

  • First create and share the document with someone. When you click on share, type in the person’s email address but make sure to uncheck “notify people.” You can also choose "Anyone at norton.k12.ma.us" with the link can edit.
  • Click Copy Link.
  • Either create a new document or email and paste the link so you can see it.
  • Here's the important part!! Delete word EDIT at the end of the address and replace it with COPY.

Example:

https://docs.google.com/a/norton.k12.ma.us/document/d/1w1cG6hZTBuQ9iqo0IU6LBjRgwyqbHfk8QMneQek_z0Y/edit?usp=sharing

https://docs.google.com/a/norton.k12.ma.us/document/d/1w1cG6hZTBuQ9iqo0IU6LBjRgwyqbHfk8QMneQek_z0Y/copy?usp=sharing


  • Now you'll want to send this new link to the person or people you want to make a copy of the document. You could also shorten the link by using goo.gl
  • They'll receive this message when they open the link:
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When they click on Make a Copy, it will open as "Copy of______" whatever you named the document within their Google Drive account. No more worrying about someone changing your original!

Upcoming Events & Projects

Digital Learning Day--February 17th (celebrate after vacation!)

World Read Aloud Day--February 24th

Leap Year Project --February 29th

National Parks Project --Spring--Registration now open!

Read Across America Day--March 2nd

Global School Net--Ongoing

Skype in the Classroom --Ongoing


Please reach out to your building TTL or Karen if you'd like to participate in any of these events!

Tech Pic of the Month!

3D Prosthetic Hand Challenge

Students in Margo Bridges computer club at NMS are participating in the Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge with others from across the globe. Using the 3D printers purchased with a grant from Norton Media Center, students have completed the printing and assembly of their first hand and are beginning their second. Recently the students were able to chat with the creators of the Hand Challenge via Google Hangout! Students will be shipping their printed hands to the project creators who will then donate to children in need. Awesome way to pay it forward NMS!
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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!

Tech Committee Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, 3:30-4:30pm

NHS Flex Lab

The tech committee will meet for a WebEx to evaluate a third option to replace the district website.
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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!

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter!