Monday, August 1, 2016

News from the AAL Helpdesk

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It is our fourth year of deploying Chromebooks for our 1:1 program.  Close to 1116 incoming freshman will be issued a new device to use anywhere, anytime.  The Chromebook III is not only a nice upgrade to the sturdy Chromebook II model but its price of $191 makes it much more cost effective for our students.

As with our other models, the Chromebook III is available for purchase from the Student Help Desk.  If you are still carrying around an old netbook, it is probably a good time to purchase an upgrade.  You pay what we pay.  

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The Student Help Desk has many Tech Leaders to help with problems that may occur with student devices. While we can repair many types of damage with little or no cost to students and their families, we highly recommend to anyone with a school-issued device, to buy insurance.  The policy covers up to $200 with a $0 deductible for $32.60 for the year.
More information can be found here.  

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Incoming freshman will be working with their digital literacy coaches during study halls to reach our Board goal of engaging students, increasing their digital literacy skills, and helping them become digitally literate 21st-century citizens.   If you have students that are not assigned to a freshman study hall, please encourage them to start the program early and visit the coaches or student help desk for assistance in completing the program.  There is a nice Digital Literacy Program guide on our site for help.  More information can be found here.

2016: The Year of Ransomware

1 billion dollars is a lot of money to lose to Ransomware attacks.The infographic included here communicates the impact of these attacks in 2016 and why we should all be paying attention.
Viruses that destroy data and Malware that steal our data are familiar and have been around a long time but what is Ransomware? Ransomware holds your data hostage with the usual goal of extorting a ransom payment for its release. In the same way that viruses and malware find their way onto your computer, hackers use malicious code to encrypt your data and delete or destroy your backups.

We can mitigate the threat by using the common methods used to prevent viruses and malware with antivirus software, firewalls, and regular system updates.  It is also important as a community that we be careful with our online activities.  As we hear on the news the most prepared entities can still fall prey to cyber attacks. The second thing that must be done is preparation for potential data loss. Here at District 219 we have the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) which documents the necessary steps needed to recover from a disaster, including comprehensive backups onsite and offsite. This plan and other IT related district policies are regularly reviewed and updated to keep us ready and prepared.


Infinite Campus Updates

TEACHERS: Check out Campus Instruction’s Custom Links and Reports for various resources and district-developed tools!

Several items (that were previously accessed via the D219 Employee Portal)  have been moved here:
  • Chaperone Sign-Up
  • Student Data Export (pdf and .csv formats)
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • (For Physical Welfare teachers only)
    • Fitness Testing
    • PE Chart Admin

Watch this blog for more information about changes and improvements to the Infinite Campus system for the new school year!  

District's MS Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 Deployment Plan

It is no news to you that Microsoft released Windows 10 and Office 2016 over a year ago. However, you may be puzzled as to why District is still running older versions. As an update, we have started working on the future deployment of Windows 10. Deployment is a long process encompassing the creation of a master image (an image is a package that includes all the standard software that gets installed on your PC), bench testing, and field testing finalized by the final deployment. Additionally, we need to get your computer and you the user, ready for the changes. We are currently working on building the master image for testing. In conjunction, we are also testing other software and hardware that gets used by our faculty, staff, and students.This fall, we will work with beta testers to collect their data and feedback as they "kick the tires" of the new image. At the same time, we will also work with our Professional Development Centers to create training materials to introduce the new operating system to you. Next summer (2017), if everything satisfies all checks, we will be ready to deploy Windows 10 and Office 2016.

Project Details:

  • Our first task, currently in progress, is the creation of the master image. This takes into consideration not only driver and hardware compatibility (for the more than 10 computer models currently supported) but also other areas such as licensing, active directory integration, group policies, printing, virus protection etc. There is a lot to learn and we are going through this learning curve knowing that it is a prerequisite for us before we can start offering support to our users.
  • The second task will be testing. This will allow us to work the obvious bugs out of the system and allow us to refine integration into our current environment. This is where we will figure how ready we are for the new Operating System. For instance, by the end of this summer, only a little more than half of our desktops will have 4GB of memory, but by next summer, once we get more of the Dells 790 out of circulation, we should be better poised to run Win10. There are always new issues arising and we just keep on working on them as they pop up.  This fall, our plan is to include some end-users to help us do further testing and their feedback should validate our prep work and also help us refine the end product even more.
We are aiming to make this transition as seamless as possible, so we will work with the PDC's to disseminate the help and information that you may need. In the interim, we will keep you posted and we ask you to please stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First-Ever Student Technology Leadership Summit

The next generation of technology leaders will assemble on April 16, as Maine East High School hosts the first ever Student Technology Leadership Summit. Jaime Casap, Google’s Chief Education Evangelist, will present the keynote address. Mr. Casap works with schools and educational organizations to bring technological innovations into educational settings. He has worked with hundreds of school districts and built partnerships across the country.
For the remainder of the day, student technology leaders will take center stage. Making a series of presentations in 50-minute breakout sessions will be students who work technology help desks at their schools. All the sessions have been coordinated and planned by the students from Maine East, South and West High Schools, Evanston High School, Leyden High School and Niles North and West High Schools. Drawing from more than 30 schools, more than 130 students will be presenting sessions.
Our students will be presenting these sessions:
Creating an informative yet entertaining Orientation videoAnthony Lohan
(Niles West HS)
Making Android Apps with Android StudioJay Monga
(Niles West HS)
Video Tech Leading: To position your cameras to get the footage that everybody wantsJaime Gonzalez Vicker
(Niles North HS)
Garageband/Electronic Instrumental ProgramingThomas Novak
(Niles North HS)
Android Modding 101Mariusz Symkow
(Niles North HS)
3D Printing Printing: Where We’ve Come From, Where We’re GoingChristopher Scheithauer & Jaime Gonzalez Vicker
(Niles North HS)

For a complete listing of all the sessions follow this link. Google and CDW are Executive Sponsors of the event and will provide T-shirts and lunch for attendees. Other sponsors for the event include Follett and Hapara.

Notice to Graduating Seniors

With the school year coming to an end, the graduating seniors have been notified about archiving or migrating data from their ILP and their email accounts.  Here is what was already sent to all the seniors at Niles North and Niles West:

Dear Seniors,

Individual Learning Plan (ILP) 

After this summer, you'll no longer have access to your school's ILP record. 

If you'd like to save any information from your Individual Learning Plan (ILP):
Each page within the ILP has a button at the bottom titled "View PDF"Press this button and a PDF page will appear for you to print or save from your browser. You may want to download your grade reports or other documents from the ILP. Email account 

You will have access to your email account for JUST one more year after graduation. During that time please move your emails, Drive docs, calendar, etc to another account by following the instructions from this link:

If you are using your account on any third party sites or services (ie dropbox, pandora, twitter etc), please change or update them.  

You can click here to see what apps you are connected to with your account to change that as well.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact your AAL student help desk.

- District 219 Technology Department

If you have any seniors in your class, be sure to remind them as well, so that they don't wait too long before saving/migrating their important data.

Monday, April 18, 2016

End-of-Year tasks

Move locally saved documents to the server and tidy up J drive / Request software reinstalls.  

There are just a few weeks left in this school year and it is that time of the year where we ask you to clean up your computer's hard drive, and network J drive. Delete what you do not need, organize what you decide to keep and take home your personal stuff... you know? the pictures from your last family vacation.
Also, each summer all computers are wiped clean and a fresh copy of Windows and standard applications are reinstalled (re-imaged). It is important that you move any files you may have stored on your machine's hard drive to your J-drive, to a thumb drive, burn it to a CD or move it to your Google Drive.

Please do not wait until the last minute. Any files left in your local machine will be lost when we re-image it.

In a few days, you will receive an email with a link  to request software re-installs for next year. Please help us get your computers ready for School Year 2016-2017. Make sure that you complete the “Software Reinstall Request for 2016-2017" form to notify us of your software needs for 2016 -2017.

Is Apple ending support for QuickTime?

Apparently, but it is only for Windows. There is no official word from Apple as why and when they will stop supporting QuickTime  for Windows but there are enough rumors on the web that point to that end. The general consensus is, at this point, to remove the application before it becomes a liability. Remember, this only applies to your Windows computers.
As an end-user, this news may be important to you in two folds. 

First, if Apple is indeed ending support for QuickTime, they will stop developing fixes for security vulnerabilities, leaving your Windows computers exposed to future unknown risks.
Secondly, you may have some (older?)  applications that rely on QuickTime or some of your favorite websites are still using QuickTime. This move will render obsolete all those programs and sites that still rely on QuickTime.  

The Chicago Tribune, on its Fridays edition, had an article on this and  they went into more details. And if you decided to uninstall QuicTime, Apple has revised its uninstall  instructions earlier this month. 

IC Updates

New Gradebook Reports and Class Lists

New Gradebook Reports:

Two new reports have been added under Reports (Grade Book)

Flagged Assignments - This report returns a detailed list of assignments that have been flagged as Missing, Late, Excused, etc. for each student.

Grades Report - This report provides Marking Period grades and Progress Report details including grades and comments for each student.

Class Lists Report Moving from Portal to IC!

The Class List report accessed via the Portal will be moved to Infinite Campus Instruction.

It is now available from IC.

Select the Semester and class or classes, export the data as a pdf report or spreadsheet, and modify as necessary.

Tech Leader News and App Reviews by Franklin Moy

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Tech Leader News
App Reviews by Franklin Moy

Strict Workflow: Stop Side-Tracking While Doing Homework

All high schoolers are all guilty of distracting themselves with social media, YouTube, Netflix, and other online entertainment or social websites while in the middle of doing their homework. I myself am guilty of doing this. Spending hours upon hours of doing things that are not related to my homework tears through valuable time that I could use to either sleep, or even finish my homework so I can get it over with! But have no fear, there is a Google Chrome extension that lets you focus on your work, and give you a small break time that you can use to look at your other stuff.

This Chrome extension is named Strict Workflow. It allows you to set up a timer dedicated to finishing your work and a timer dedicated to time that you want to spend on a break before going back to work. It is very simple to set up, and hopefully it will help you study for school!

My Study Life: “Organise your classes, tasks and exams & never forget a lecture or assignment again.”

My Study Life is an application for iOS and Android phones, Chromebooks, and Windows devices that helps you organize your homework, exams, and lots more. My Study Life can help you keep track of all of your assignments, tests, and other reminders about your classes. You can even track the entire school calendar and see if a day is a school day, holiday, break, or even a teacher institute day! My Study Life isn’t just a to-do list. It is optimized for students in high school and college and has a lot of features tailored for those students who want to keep themselves organized. My Study Life can also remind you to do an assignment or even talk to your counselor while you go about your day. There are plenty of other features that can help you through your time in high school, and even when you start to prepare for college.

My Study Life also synchronizes what you put into it with all of your other devices, like your iOS, Android, Chromebook, and Windows devices, so that you can keep track of school whenever, wherever.

Video Tech Leader News

The VTLs have been working on Promos for events happening throughout the school to showcase to the public what is interesting and informational for Parents and Students. Here are few examples:

NROC Project Updates for English and Math

To help teachers easily access discrete collections from NROC English - our comprehensive, integrated reading and writing curriculum - NROC has created 48 remixable HippoCampus playlists that focus on specific skills in grammar, reading, and writing.
Teachers can assign playlists as homework, present them to supplement classroom instruction, offer them to learners who are struggling with a particular concept, or use them to help students refresh their knowledge prior to taking standardized tests, college placement or high school exit exams.
Registered users can create their own versions of the playlists on their personal HippoCampus accounts, in order to further customize playlists by re-arranging content or adding other web resources. NROC members can also request access to an Excel spreadsheet that includes the URL for each item within the playlists to readily link to objects in a preferred Learning Management System.
Bookmark the playlists below for ready reference or access them on the bottom of the English page at your HippoCampus site.
Set up your own account at NTHS 219 HippoCampus

Developmental English Course content available in Moodle (for access contact Phil Lacey)
The latest initiative from The NROC Project, Developmental English is designed to help learners striving to meet college entrance requirements. The course integrates and compresses the standard developmental English curriculum— reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary building, grammar, punctuation and usage skills—and allows learners to accelerate into college-credit courses. This sequence enables learners to make predictions about their reading, analyze rhetorical structures, build vocabulary, and improve writing mechanics.
Download a fact sheet, including program scope and sequence. 

Developmental Math Course content available in Moodle (for access contact Phil Lacey)
This program includes nineteen units comprised of 57 lessons and 103 topics. Flexible modules address concepts and skills for Arithmetic, Beginning Algebra and Intermediate Algebra, including basic Geometry, Statistics and Trigonometry topics.
Download a full Table of Contents.


Arithmetic with Geometry and Statistics Topics

Beginning Algebra

Intermediate Algebra with Trigonometry Topics

I.Whole Numbers
II.Fractions and Mixed Numbers
IV.Ratios, Rates and Proportions
IX.Real Numbers
X.Solving Equations and Inequalities
XI.Exponents and Polynomial
XIV.Systems of Equations and Inequalities
XV.Rational Expressions
XVI.Radical Expressions and Quadratic Equations
XVIII.  Exponential and Logarithmic Functions

Friday, January 29, 2016

Students, Are You Ready for PARCC?

This year, many of the freshman students will participate in the Spring PARCC Math and English Language Arts tests. Testing will be done online using your Chromebook.  Your Chromebook is the only device you are allowed to use. To make sure you and your Chromebook are ready to go, we recommend that you read the information and view the tutorials below:

  • Installing TestNav App - Chromebook app required for PARCC test
  • Pearson Tutorial- Familiarize yourself with the App before the tests: learn how to navigate, use special features, learn to use the equation editor and more...know before you go!
  • Pearson Practice Tests - Take practice tests for both the English and Math portion of the assessment so you are familiar and comfortable with the assessment

Remember that you can stop by the Student Help Desk if you are having problems with the installation:

Niles West
Mr. Craig Phillips
Room 2150

Niles North
 Mr. Abraham
Room 1015

PDC: Tech Talks Feb 2016 - Mastery Manager & Infinite Campus

Join us for Tech Talks in February covering Mastery Manager Reports and Infinite Campus

Click here to access the Tech Talks Blog for additional information and resources. Add the PDC Calendar to your account: copy this link and add by url into the Other Calendars in your Calendar.

Running Reports in Mastery Manager
Once assessments have been taken and scanned into the system, reports can be generated.  You may generate an alphabetical results report or combine several criteria to generate a detailed report. The Student Lookup feature allows you to generate a report based on one or several students.

Plan Your Semester with the Infinite campus planner!
Infinite Campus has a hidden secret--the Planner!  In addition to adding assignments and planning your curriculum in a calendar format, you can view attendance by day and copy assignments.  Stop in to see how easy and useful this feature is.


Send Messages with Infinite Campus

The IC Messenger tools allow teachers to communicate with students and/or parents or guardians.  Send a message to the whole class, send a missing assignment message or a grade message.  No groups to create, just click and send.

Reports for all your Needs
Use reports to view the following data about your sections:

  • Print forms for future use, including blank spreadsheets and roster labels.
  • View Portal Use by Students and Parents
  • View attendance events for a specific date range, for an entire term, or as term totals for a calendar.
  • Export your Grade Book for use in another program.
  • View score summaries for the section or individual students.