Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Online Substitute Evaluation Form

We have created an on-line sub evaluation form that will aid us in the selection and evaluation of subs for sub assignments.  Each time your class is supervised by a substitute teacher you will receive and e-mail with a link to the form to fill-out with your evaluation of the performance.  These directions explain the process.

Google G-Mail Keyboard Shortcuts has developed a number of useful “cheat sheets” for popular web-based products. To download any of them, use the password “makeuseof” where indicated. It is best to right click on the download link and hit “Save As.”

Did you know that pressing “C” is the command to compose a new message and Tab+Enter sends the message? This short document provides many useful ways to create and send email without so much as one click of the mouse.

The PDC has developed a more comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts, located here:

Niles West is Hosting D219’s 2nd Technology Conference on April 21, 2012

D219 is planning a tech conference at Niles West for April 21, 2012. The conference allows us an opportunity to share with colleagues what we have learned in the first years of the AAL roll-out and the chance to highlight engaging activities and lessons.  No matter what new tools you have learned about and/or incorporated in your classrooms, we can all benefit from your experiences.  

The conference will feature a luncheon presentation from Jeff Havens, an accomplished motivational speaker. His thoughts on How to Uncrapify Your Life”  promises to be  enlightening and thought-provoking.

Please consider presenting during one of the concurrent sessions throughout the day. Follow this link,, to the short form.

Thanks in advance for making this a memorable day for all involved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

December PDC Quick Classes

Please check out the list of December's Quick Classes offered during lunch periods.  

Click on the link for the workshop description and schedule:

The Professional Development Centers are located at North in room 1405 and at West in room 2153. We are here to help you, please feel free to set up an individual appointment if you need  help on additional topics.

Entering Assignment Comments for Students in the Gradebook

Many teachers have been employing the "Comments" feature on Pinnacle gradebook.  This feature has the capability to make such comments regarding students "Public" or "Private."  Unfortunately, simple and understandable error has resulted in comments that should be private and confidential unintentionally being made public to other teachers, parents, or the students themselves.  Therefore, the IS department is switching the "Public" feature OFF completely, meaning that teachers can continue to make comments, but for their own note-taking purposes only.  

Check out how to use Quick Grades to easily enter grades or individual comments for students tied to specific assignments that appear in PIV. Entering Assignment Comments and Quick Grades

Need help setting up that grab bag name drawing?

Draw names from a virtual hat. Over the Holidays, avoid those awkward moments when the last person to get the hat draws his/her own name from the grab bag. Use this Web2.0 app to generate about 21 trillion ways to draw 17 names from a hat (for you math types, it's n-1!) Check out Virtual Hat.

Mentoring Your Students in Social Media or Vice Versa

Generation Z is moving so fast we can only track their contrails. They have advertisers, marketers, and educators flummoxed with how they operate. What makes the Zs so different from the Boomers, Xs, and Ys? Quite simply, the Internet. 
Check out this blog post from GETTING SMART for more details.

Social Networking Sites and Our Lives

Questions have been raised about the social impact of widespread use of social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. Do these technologies isolate people and truncate their relationships? Or are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way? The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PDC November Quick Classes

Quick Classes are back! Your PDC will run mini workshops during lunch periods in November. This month’s offerings will cover topics in Open Office and Google Forms and Calendar. Bring your lunch in and join us. 

Check out the schedule and full descriptions for classes on Open Office Batch Conversions, Fluberoo quizzes in Google Docs, Open Office Settings/Formatting and Google Calendar Settings/Appointment Slots on the PDC Courses Site.

Host Virtual Student Meetings

District 219 has acquired Adobe Connect, it is a web enabled video conferencing tool which teachers can use to host virtual meetings with students or peers. It works great to hold virtual review sessions and enhance collaboration and synchronous communication in cases where meeting face to face, just isn't feasible. Adobe connect allows presenters to share resources such as pdf documents, presentations and the presenter's desktop. Stop by the PDC for a demo and details on setting up your first session.

QR Codes

QR codes (quick response) are similar to the barcodes you see in stores when you purchase an item, the big difference is that these are designed to be used with smart phones and can be used to direct users to a website, a geolocation (place on map), contact information, or even trigger an sms (text message). Unitags Costomized QR Code Generator allows users to generate a full color QR code with an embedded logo. Check out the example below.

Use a barcode reader program on your smart phone to scan the QR code and see what happens. Barcode Scanner for Android or Pic2Shop for iPhone (both are free) are two great starting points. You can include these codes on flyers posted in the buildings to have students or parents go to a web resource or have an event added to their calendars or even have students incorporate QR codes into projects to take an audience to an explanation or reflection on a piece of art, project or other display.

Chrome Extensions

Google's browser named Chrome is a great tool, not only for working with apps, but also its many features. Use extension to help you and your students quickly access “add-in” features without having to leave the internet...

The Picnik Extension for Chrome lets you easily edit the images you come across while browsing the web. With a click you can create a snapshot of your current web page and open it in Picnik for easy editing, annotation and sharing. Do the same for all the images on your current browser page -- just pick one from the image list that pops up and then edit, embellish, then share with Picnik.

Picnik is an award winning photo editing application that lives online, in your browser. Do basic editing fixes with easy but powerful editing tools. Tweak to your heart’s content, then get creative with oodles of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames, plus an advanced set of professional-quality tools It's fast, easy, and fun.

Get a button on your browser toolbar that you can easily click to see upcoming events from Google Calendar, without ever leaving your page. And if you're on sites like Facebook or Evite, you can click the button to instantly add events to your calendar. The button shows a green plus sign whenever there are events on the page you're viewing that can be added to your calendar. The extension detects events on any site that uses the hCalendar microformat or derivative microformats like hResume.

The Desmos calculator just got way better! Now with:
  • slider bars for variables
  • trace, intercepts, roots, and even intersections
  • support for polar inequalities
  • dashed lines for strict inequalities
  • full, multi-language support-- works on any keyboard!

IE Tab
Use Internet Explorer to display web pages in a Chrome tab. Some sites can only be displayed using IE, and with this extension you can now see those sites without leaving Chrome.---- WINDOWS ONLY

Easily add and manage your tasks from Chrome in one of three ways:
Simply type "t Your new task" into the Chrome Omnibar to easily add a task from whatever web page you're on. Click the Tasks icon to add a task, see your tasks and task lists and mark a task as completed.   Highlight text on any web page, right click and add that text to a new task. Tasks are visible everywhere that you can see your Google Tasks - in Gmail, Calendar, iGoogle, Mobile and via the Google Tasks API.

Working with intricately formatted text documents in OpenOffice?

Usually there are no issues when opening Word documents in OpenOffice (OO) or saving them back out as a .doc. To save an OO document as a MS Office Word document (.doc) go to File, Save As and select Microsoft Word 97/200Xp doc. (2007 and 2010 home users take note: .docx files cause issues)

When editing an intricately formatted MS Office document in Open Office, it is important to save the working copy as an OO document. Often, new users will open a .doc (Word file), format it in OO and then save it back out as a .doc. This may effectively undo all of the formatting changes that were just made in Open Office. The process of opening a .doc in OO, converting the .doc to an .odt (OO format for a word processor document), making the changes in OO and then saving it back out as an MS Document  "re-converts" the OO formatting back to the MS version - which are often different. 

So....if you are editing a document made in MS Word, open it in Open Office and save in ODF format. This will make a new copy (not overwrite your original) and maintain the formatting. If you need to get OpenOffice for home use, use this link and download a copy, it works on Windows, Mac and Linux.

If you are still having issues with documents, contact the Professional Development Center in your building, they are happy to help convert your documents. 

Portal Login Improvements

Following the district's plan to give all employees simplified, yet secure, way to access services and information, the login process has been improved within the Employee Portal.  

Along with your five-digit employee ID and password, the Portal can now be accessed using your Active Directory (computer login) username and password.  Keep in mind that your passwords using your employee ID may not be the same as your active directory password. This will be the case if you have changed one of the passwords without changing the other.  

Also, when requesting to recover your password via the portal login, the password that is sent to your email address will be the password associated to your employee ID and not your active directory username if both happen to be different.  

If you have any questions or issues regarding your ability to login to the portal, please contact Help Desk support.

Improved Naviance Access

The Naviance login links are now accessible through the Niles West and Niles North sites.  There are two areas where you can now find the links to login to Naviance as a faculty member, student or parent.  

Depending on who you are, go to your school’s homepage, then click on the orange tab that pertains to you (Faculty and Staff, Parents, or Students).  From there, you will find the "Naviance" link and that will then take you to the login screen.  

Another way to find it would be to go to your school’s homepage, then click on "Web Links" in the upper right corner of the site.  If you are a faculty member be sure to click the "Naviance" link that is in the Faculty/Staff column.  Faculty, students, and parents have a different login screen so be sure to click on the correct "Naviance" link that pertains to you.

Pinnacle Web Custom Reports

As you know, many reports are available in Pinnacle Web.  In both the Administrative and Other categories, there are 219Niles reports at the top of the list - these are customized, or "District 219 specific", reports that the IS team has developed to supplement the system-provided reports. Currently there are 7-8 of these reports, but others will be added in the future. Check it out!

Internet Bandwidth Adjustments

We are working on a plan to double the internet bandwidth by January 1, 2012. In the meantime, we have taken steps to limit the bandwidth for non-instructional purposes, particularly on the wireless network
Here are the details;
  • anyone ( wired or wireless) going to Google will get guaranteed egress of  50MB with a maximum of 90MB
  • wireless minis going to Pandora will get guaranteed egress of  2MB with a maximum of 10MB
  • anyone (wired or wireless BUT not minis) going to Pandora get a "medium" priority... no guarantees
  • wireless minis going to YouTube will get guaranteed egress of  10MB with a maximum of 30MB
  • anyone (wired or wireless BUT not minis) going to YouTube get a "medium" priority... no guarantees
  • all other traffic get medium priority... no guarantees - it may be fast, it may  be slow, it all depends as to how much bandwidth is been used.
Just to clarify:
Wireless minis and any other device using  NTHS-STUDENT (the one that bypasses the portal) will be affected by these new rate-limits.  NTHS-FACULTY falls under wireless that are exempt of the rate limits applied to Pandora and Youtube.

10-20-11TCSIMinutes.doc (

Technology Committee for School Improvement
Thursday, October  20, 2011 4:00-5:30pm
 District Office Board Room

The Niles Township High Schools District 219’s Technology Committee for School Improvement met on Thursday, October 20, 2011 in the District 219 Technology Center Conference Room. In attendance were: Matt Fahrenbacher, Josef Neumayer, Mike Beeftink, David Ruth, Liz Shay, Toby Greenwalt, Kubrat Vrachanski, Chris Powell, Phil Lacey, Mike Utter, Judy Duesenberg, Keith Shaffer, Dr. Sheri Doniger, Florence Yun, Carol Rahim, and Guy Ballard. Absent were: Angie Condon and Joseph Edwards.

All materials are posted at
Mr. Ballard took a moment to introduce Liz Shay, Special Education teacher at Niles North; Florence Yun and Carol Rahim, Niles West parents; and Sara Beladi and Sarah Benjamin, Niles North Student Government representatives, to the group.
April 21, 2012 has been set at the date for the District 219 Technology Conference. Last year’s conference at Niles North was very successful. This year’s conference will be held at Niles West. Planning is still in the early stages.
Mr. Ballard informed the group that a new procedure was in development to address the rise in iOS devices in use throughout the district. This procedure was drafted in response to the large number of requests for iPads during the 2011-2012 Technology Innovations grants.
The procedure states that the Technology Department is not responsible for the support or maintenance of any portable iOS devices, such as iPads and iPod/iTouch. Any such devices issued will be that department’s responsibility, including creating an iTunes account ( which will be connected to the authorized user(s) d219 email address) and adding funds to that iTunes account for purchasing of apps. Maintenance, such as system updates and any repairs, will be the responsibility of the end-user as agreed upon by their department chief. Accessories, data plans, etc. are the responsibility of the authorized user(s).
Mrs. Yun suggested that iOS devices issued for communal use should not be allowed to sync their D219 accounts with those devices.
Each year District 219 sponsors the Technology Innovations Grant which provides $25,000 in competitive funding at Niles North and Niles West/Central for teachers to be more innovative in the classroom. The application process closed on Friday, October 14, 2011 and all submissions were presented to the committee to decide upon.
All members present broke into groups based, upon building,  to decide on funding. All requester will be notified by a TCSI representative of the committee’s decisions.
As a general rule; requests for classroom printers were not approved. The Technology Department will assess the walk-up print kiosks and install additional printers in common areas for student use.
There were several requests for document cameras. Mr. Ballard suggested evaluating various makes and models to determine one device that will meet the requester’s needs.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6pm.
Respectfully submitted,
Daphne Watson
Secretary for the Committee