Talkin' Tech

with Dianna

February 2019

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Device Tips and Tricks

Our world revolves around devices whether it be a smartphone, a tablet, a desktop, a laptop, a Chromebook, or a gaming system. The list goes on! However, some basic things apply to any device. From time to time, it is wise to shut it completely down and restart it. For devices that run through a network filter like our CCS devices, this is even more helpful to have a smooth experience with the products and programs we use. I'm guilty of this myself--I get lots of things going and hate to stop midstream, so I just lock my computer and return to it later. Eventually, this bad habit catches up with me and my logins don't work right or the program doesn't work as it should.


I remember sometimes being annoyed when the first thing our technician would ask is "have you restarted", but I cannot tell you how many problems this does fix. I would say it is problem-solving tip #1--restart once or twice before contacting anyone about the issue. If that doesn't fix it, then proceed with the protocol to get the issue addressed. We are finding with the filtering for the Chromebooks this seems to be especially important. Often, just logging out and logging back in fixes the issue. However, before beginning any test or major project I would recommend making sure students restart to "reset" the connection to the filter.

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Edulastic

Since December, I have had a lot of time to explore Edulastic and all I can say is WOW! The ability is there to start with Kindergarten and go all the way to 12th grade in various subjects. I think the greatest resource for questions is currently on ELA and Math, but the library is constantly growing. Since questions can be chosen directly from the Indiana standards list, this is a great tool to help teachers and school and district leaders identify learning gaps and differentiate their instruction.


Free for teachers and affordable for schools and districts, Edulastic offers more than 30 technology-enhanced item types that mimic the end of year state tests, along with 35K high-quality questions to choose from and syncs effortlessly with Google Classroom. Check out this video link for more information. And did I mention it is FREE!!!


Website: https://edulastic.com/


Contact me if you'd like some guidance on exploring this fabulous tool!

Tech Toolbox

These are some of the tools, websites, apps, etc. that your fellow teachers here at CCS are successfully using in their classes and have recommended them for you. I know we can't possibly get all the tools we're using, but any we can add would be great. I know teachers are hungry for fresh and exciting tools to bring into their classrooms. If you have a fun one you want to share, add it to our list here.
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Wakelet is so awesome it is getting TWO mentions in this month's newsletter! I have fallen in love with this way to curate and share resources and information. Visually it is more pleasant than just sharing a document with links and descriptions. I have taken steps to ensure that Wakelet and the shorteners it uses are accessible to students. Also, account creation is very easy--simply set it up to log in via Google and voila! -- it's done!


Also, this link will take you to an educator's guide to setting up and using Wakelet. You don't have to try to figure it out on your own.


Here are some examples of Wakelet's that I have curated and have ready to share with teachers and students.

Request to Unblock a Website

Unblocking websites has become a large component of my job since our Chromebooks are filtered through a new system called Relay. It is under the umbrella of Lightspeed, the filtering service we use for our Windows-based devices. Sites that worked in the past may now have to be unblocked.


YouTube as a whole is not blocked to our students, but any content not classified by YouTube as educational, is blocked. Ironically, a LOT of educational content is not classified as such, therefore it is blocked. The good news is that YouTubes are very easy to unblock. Currently, I have to pass these along to someone else to handle, because my account settings don't seem to work with YouTube links, but we can quickly and easily unblock individual videos or entire channels.


Several sites popular in the elementary level, that we've used for years, are updating and therefore need some attention to work. A lot of times the site will load, but the images or content is linked to a third party that may not be open.


Please don't hesitate to send them to me to work on. I don't mind helping you out at all! Below is the form I'm using to unblock websites. You are welcome to share this with students as well. Several teachers have done that and it is working quite well for research processes. Please don't forget that advance notice is appreciated. I can usually work on something within 24 hours, but 48 hours is ideal as my schedule is quite unpredictable some weeks. Once I have been able to address a request, I always send an email to let you know it should be working. In the case of student requests, a lot of times I cc the teacher because a lot of students don't check their messages daily.

Blocking Websites?

We are working to create easier access to beneficial sites for our students. This school year we have opened up a few more "categories" in our filters. And as teachers request certain sites, the Chromebook filtering system, by proxy opens up more than just that one site sometimes. We're striving not to block too many sites from our students and to focus on teaching the students responsible digital citizenship. However, one thing I'll block without question are sites that contain games with violence or inappropriate names / content. If you see sites like this, please send them my way and I'll check them out and act accordingly.
This labor of love is constantly growing and evolving. It's the best place for me to curate information that teachers might find helpful and make it accessible to you even when I'm not physically present to help. There are links to help both students and teachers and the link to request a site be unblocked (hint--save the link to your favorites or your desktop). There is information on Canvas, Google, email, and Chromebooks. It's always a work in progress.


Recent additions and updates include Classroom Relay information, SchoolWires tutorials, expanded information on Google products. I've also worked on the content specific resources. Many are still blank, but as items cross my path or are sent to me, I am diligently trying to get them added. Check it out if you have time.

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SchoolWires is LIVE and thriving!

Teacher pages are live and the new websites are thriving! Thanks to Noah Coley and his students in the dual credit Web Design Class for all their work. They are working daily to make our website the best it can be. This is a new venture for CCS and a new course being offered so, of course, there are growing pains and learning curves. Each day there are new, colorful, creative additions to the pages and they are working to make navigation as simple as possible. What an opportunity for our students!


Teachers, if you need a refresher on the information you were given for updating your pages, the button below will take you to all the SchoolWires information.

Just a note from me...

January has felt like it is 67 days long! And this cold--YIKES! However, the cold weather that has sent me deep into hibernation mode has also been good for me to explore more ways that technology can benefit our students, "play" with creating a few best-practice examples in Canvas, catch up on some professional reading, and study eLearning Days. As CCS explores applying for and using eLearning days in the future, there is a lot to consider and prepare.


As we turn the calendar page to February and thoughts go to Valentine's Day and love, I find myself evaluating all the things in my life that I love and appreciate. The people that enrich my life are more precious to me than they may know and I'm so thankful I have people in my life to keep me balanced and check me when needed. I'm also reflecting on a job I love that challenges me and always teaches me something new. When the days get stressful and the negatives attempt to dominate me, I always try to focus on how lucky I am.


Please let me know if there is a way that I can support you in your classroom. I enjoy brainstorming, troubleshooting or co-teaching. I love getting out and visiting the schools to see all of the creative and engaging things going on! You are doing some amazing things! Stay warm!