DISD Ed Tech News

March 11,2016

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Texas Gateway Online Resource Library Now Available

On February 17, 2016 Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced the launch of the Texas Gateway (www.texasgateway.org), a free online resource library for educators and parents provided by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The Texas Gateway not only builds upon the success of TEA’s online learning community Project Share but also expands access to resources—such as videos, interactives, formative assessments, professional development courses, and other classroom support materials—designed to strengthen classroom instruction to help every student succeed.

"The Texas Gateway reflects many months of work and collaboration with our educators who asked TEA for an avenue that promotes a Texas-specific approach to online resources," said Commissioner Morath. "And while teachers will no doubt find the resources on this site to be valuable tools, items found on the Texas Gateway are also available to parents, students, and all Texans at no cost."

Commissioner Morath noted that the Texas Gateway provides open access to instructional resources that align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state standards that describe what students should know and be able to do at every grade level. A majority of the current resources focus on middle school and high school subjects in English language arts and reading, math, science, and social studies. Each resource contains a lesson or series of lessons that introduce a new idea or skill and then give the learner opportunities to practice and apply what he or she has learned.

While Project Share relied heavily on the use of usernames and passwords, the Texas Gateway does not. Visitors to the Gateway are able to search and use resources by grade level, subject, TEKS, and keywords. Upon identifying resources that may be helpful in supporting students, parents and teachers can voluntarily create and manage personal accounts to save lists of resources. The saved lists can then be easily shared with other teachers, parents, and students.

Educators may also search and self-enroll in online professional development courses. Science Safety Training for High School and Career and Technical Education (CTE) 101 are the first two courses to go live in the new system. Other popular courses such as Science Safety Training for Middle School, Science Safety Training for Elementary School, professional development for CTE courses acceptable as math or science credits, and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Academies will go live during the spring semester. The self-paced courses allow educators to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits as they complete interactive lessons designed specifically for Texas educators.

The list of resources and courses, which were developed in response to teacher feedback and requests, will continue to grow and with the transition to the Texas Gateway, resources and courses will be easily shared with education service centers (ESCs) and districts through integration with local online learning solutions. Over the next few months, TEA will work with ESCs and school districts to share content and to gather feedback on future goals for the Texas Gateway.

To learn more about the Texas Gateway and the available resources, please visit www.texasgateway.org or contact TEA at txgateway@tea.texas.gov. Teachers can also attend a live training session on April 12 in the DISD Board Room.


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Favorite Google Chrome Extensions - Screencastify

Screencastify is a simple (and free) video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. You can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations etc.

It also supports desktop capturing, allowing you to record anything on your screen (not just tabs). Videos can be saved to disk or uploaded to Youtube or Google Drive with a single click. Screencastify does not depend on any external software (like Java, Flash or other plugins) so it also runs on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Video recording happens completely locally and your recordings are not transferred to any remote system unless you choose to upload them. When choose to store your recordings on Google Drive, they are uploaded to your Google Drive account after recording and removed from local storage. This helps to save local storage space, especially on Chromebooks and allows access your recordings from other devices.

Keyboard shortcuts can be configured in the Options. The free version allows to record videos that are 10 minutes long. To record longer videos, it can be upgraded to a paid version for $15/year. (see https://www.screencastify.com/buy for details).

Thoughts for classroom use: Using a site like BrainPop, Discovery Education, etc. a teacher can do a recording of their voice over a demonstration of what they would like for the student to do while on the website. Teachers can also open the Mobi Workspace software on their computer (yes, you can use the software without using the Mobi itself) and start a new blank whiteboard page where they can record their voice as they write math problems, etc.


Gmail Mini Tips

Did you know that you can access your Google Calendar from within your Gmail without having to open another tab to view your calendar? This can be a time-saver if you are answering emails about meetings, etc. and need to see quickly what is already on your calendar without leaving your Gmail.

The Gooru has done a nice little video clip on how to turn on this option and you can view it here. The written instructions are as follows:

1. In Gmail go into your settings (in the little gear icon in the upper right)

2. Find the tab at the top that says Labs.

3. Scroll down to the Google Calendar Gadget and click Enable, then go to the bottom of that page and click Save Changes.

4. Go back to your Inbox and at the bottom of the left-hand column you will see an icon of three dots next to the Chat icon. Click the three dots and your calendar will pop up in a small window. From here you can view a listing of dates on your calendar, add items to your calendar or select to open your full calendar from the Options at the bottom.

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"Shared With Me" Explained By Sarra Smith

Now that you have the collaborative capabilities of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Forms where you can share items with others perhaps you are a little confused as to what the "Shared With Me" area of your Google Drive actually means. How can you organize the items that others have shared with you? How can you safely file things without moving items where others can't view them any more?

I periodically share with you the names and websites of people who I "follow" on Google+ or via their newsletters. Sarra Smith is a teacher that I recently discovered who produces "Google Tip Tuesdays" short video tutorials. She posted a short little video about "Shared With Me Explained" that I thought some of you might want to view. She explains how to organize those files that people have shared with you while doing it without removing their access to the shared items. You can view her Tuesday, Feb 16 video here. Visit Sarra's blog at http://googletiptuesday.blogspot.com/.

While you are there you can also sign up for her mailing list or view some of the other short video explanations that she has produced. I love being able to build my PLN online where I can find and learn from other educators so check out Sarra's blog if you are interested.

More Tools to Share YouTube Videos without Distractions

In an earlier newsletter I told you about the Chrome Browser Extension called Turn Off The Lights. This extension allows you to black out the rest of the screen behind a YouTube video to focus student attention on the video. There are also other tools that you can use to accomplish much the same thing so below are three that you might want to consider.

1. YT Full Fill Extension - this Chrome Browser extension lets you share a YouTube video with students that will only be viewable on "full screen". Find a YouTube video you want to share with students and then click on the extension to display it. When they click the link they will go directly into a "full-screen" version of the video.

2. View Pure website - viewpure.com - Find a YouTube video you want to share, copy the URL and paste it into the box on the View Pure site.

3. Make a Google Slide and embed the YouTube video in it. Go to your Google Drive, find the folder where you want the video to be stored and click New (red button in the upper left), then Google Slides. Set your background to whatever color you like and then click Insert, then Video. Search for the video you want and select it to embed it in the slide.

Ed Tech Drawing

I will occasionally have technology items and/or tools to give away to teachers. These may range from iPad and Chromebook cases to webcams to ........whatever becomes available to me that I think a teacher might use. We're starting off with a big one. I have one (1) set of the Elementary Clickers (Student Response Systems) from eInstruction to give away. It would be my hope that whoever wins these will agree to share them occasionally with others on their team. DISD Elementary Teachers can fill out an entry form here and I will draw a name in a random drawing on March 31.

Reminder - Free and Sale iOS Apps and Kindle Books Lists

Just a reminder that if you would like to receive the (mostly) daily emails with lists of Free and Sale iOS Apps and Free and Sale Kindle Books you can sign up for either or both of those lists athttp://bit.ly/freeappslist.


Remember - trainings are open to anyone who would like to attend! They are not just for teachers. You can pre-register for any of these trainings in Eduphoria.

If you would like to arrange a training on your campus or a personal one-on-one session please email Rhonda Artho at rhonda.artho@dumasisd.org.

You can also find a listing of web-based professional development websites on the DISD Instructional Technology web pages at http://bit.ly/disdonlinepd. There are also three custom mini eCourses that you can register for in Eduphoria and complete on your own time. Links to those courses are on the same web page or you can register directly in Eduphoria by looking for eCourses.

March 2016

03/22/16 - Mobis - An Introduction or a Refresher

03/23/16 - Google Classroom

03/24/16 - What Can I Do With My Document Camera? (Samsung Doc Cams)

03/29/16 - Symbaloo in the Classroom

April 2016

04/05/16 - Video Creation in the Classroom

04/12/16 - Texas Gateway - Online Resources for Texas Teachers