Friday, August 31, 2012

Update Your Websites

Faculty: Please be sure to update your websites with your current class schedules and syllabi.

Also remember to change any references to Quarters in your Policies and Procedures and other places as the reporting for the school year has changed.

Be sure to notify the PDC and your Departmental secretary regarding any website address changes.

Departments: Verify that your pages and faculty lists are up to date.

The PDCs are open Mon – Fri, 7:30 – 4 PM to help

How to Speed up Your Login Times

Unless this is your first year at 219, you heard this before: Long login times are related to big roaming profiles.

First, a brief explanation. What is a Roaming Profile?
You probably have seen it. There is a folder in your J: drive named “Profile.V2” This folder contains your “roaming profile” (the things that follow you from computer to computer: your settings, desktop items, shortcuts, etc.). Every time you login, this folder is copied to your local hard drive. This behavior is normal and required by Windows 7 OS in a network structure.

The problem. 
Many of us, for convenience, will save documents, pictures or even whole directories right on the desktop. The desktop items are part of the roaming profile and get saved directly into the “PROFILE.V2” folder. Since this folder gets copied back and forth between the server and your computer every time that you log in and out... the larger the folder gets, the longer it takes for you to log in and out. By the way, shortcuts on your desktop are only 1 Kb, so you can have as many shortcuts as you need without any impact in your login times.

The Solution. 
It is very simple. Limit the number of files and folders left on your desktop and remembers that you can create as many shortcuts as you need. Keeping files and folders on the desktop may be  convenient but have the side effect of slowing you down. You can still enjoy the convenience of quickly getting to your files by creating shortcuts on the desktop but  leaving the originals in your J: drive.

Give it a try... I’m sure you’ll be glad you did it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Year 3 Netbook Deployment

Year 3 Netbook Deployment

The Freshman Class of 2016 received new Asus EeePC1011CX netbooks to use for the next four years. The Technology Department distributed 556 netbooks at West and 447 netbooks at North.  Netbook pickup is available for students who were unable to attend the sessions on August 16 &17, in addition to the many transfer students still registering.  Please contact the Student Help Desk (North x2201 or West x2721) at either school if you believe students did not pick up their netbook.

Each day we take a step closer to reaching our Anywhere Anytime Learning goal of every student using a mobile device, to have access to resources beyond the school walls and throughout the community.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tech Leaders: A Valuable AAL Resource

The Tech Leaders have been working nonstop to provide a high-quality student experience with the netbooks. This year, we have doubled our Tech Leader staff, and these students are eager to help answer your netbook questions.

Please check out the great resources on the new Tech Leader Notebook blog. This space is designed to give students an interactive space to get their tech questions answered. This space has an Ask A Tech Leader  form for students to submit questions; the tech leaders answer these questions rapidly. 

Check out Shutting Down Your Netbook, which shows freshmen how to handle a frozen netbook. This question was asked and answered in a single day. Other useful posts include Treat Your Power Cord Right and the critically important Restoring An Asus Netbook. 

Tech Leader Talha Ahmed talks about using online tools to track assignments in this video, He also discusses the use of images in online presentations--- a skill virtually every student needs to acquire. 

Keep your eye on the blog; follow our feed in your favorite reader. Also, we’re on Twitter so check it out. 

Please also know that the AAL Help Desk will soon roll out the Maintenance Certificate program for teachers. This program will provide teachers with a concrete procedure for determining the maintenance status of a student netbook. Teachers will be able to request a Maintenance Certificate, and the Help Desk will send an email report after the inspection of a specific netbook. No more mysteries! You’ll be able to tell if the student is keeping his/her machine in working order simply by asking for a certificate. 

Watch your email for this program to start. It should be a huge help for everyone.

2012-2013 Freshman Technology Survey Results

Netbook deployment took place at Niles West on Thursday, August 16 and at Niles North on Friday, August 17. Freshmen participated in workshops designed to educate them on best practices, care and maintenance, and expectations when using their netbooks in and out of school.

Students were given tasks to complete, one of which was to respond to the Technology Department’s annual survey. This survey asks freshmen about their access to and use of technology away from school. Answers are summarized below, a complete report is attached.

  • 99% of respondents have computer and Internet access at home, 47% of them have their own home computer that they do not share;
  • Computer use outside of school is between one and four hours per day (67% of responses), with 77% of that time spent on school work;
  • 94% of respondents believe it is beneficial to have device in class for note-taking;
  • 51% of students bring more than one Internet capable device to school each day to access the Internet; cell phones (50%) and WiFi-enabled music devices such as iPod Touch (26%) are the most common devices used.  

2012-2013 Freshman Technology Survey Results

Gradebook Updates: Attendance & Student Alerts

Attendance Emails – three types:
  • Emails will be automatically generated when a student has met a threshold of 4 unexcused or 10/15 total absences in your class.
  • Emails will also be automatically generated (weekly) when a student has met a threshold of 5,8,or 12 total absences.  In addition to the lists that are sent to teachers, two letters will be printed when these thresholds are reached – one is mailed home to parents and the other is sent to a student in their homeroom.  
  • Emails will also be automatically generated when a student's “open A” absence (for your class) is still in place after 24 hours.

Student Alerts – now visible in Teacher Gradebooks:
  • Medical, Discipline and Attendance alerts are now available through the Gradebook, as a read-only entry in the Student Notes area.
  • Attendance Alerts will identify  “Lockouts” for any unresolved “Open A” absence
  • Discipline Alerts will identify students on Social Probation   

  • To find out how to access these alerts, please click here.

Resources for Citation and Projects

Beginning the School Year on a Clean Note

Kate Hart has developed this succinct infographic titled Citing Sources: A Quick and Graphic Guide.

In addition, District 219 offers instructors access to, Turnitin's OriginalityCheck helps instructors check students' work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against the world's most accurate text comparison database.

To keep yourself and course content in the clear, check out Baruch College's Guide to Using Multimedia in Your Courses.

If you and your students need access to royalty free content, become familiar with CreativeCommons. Explore this list of CreativeCommons licensed material for current and future projects. Better yet, consider releasing some of your great material under CreativeCommons licensing so that others may benefit from your talent.

LibreOffice Help

Version Updating
The LibreOffice team is ever improving their product. If you wish to update to the newest version, follow these step by step instructions.

Speeding Up LibreOffice

Some setting changes may improve LibreOffice's loading time and responsiveness. However, some also increase RAM usage, so use them carefully. 
These setting changes will speed up the launch time for LO:
They can all be accessed under Tools > Options.
  • Under Memory:
    • Reduce the number of Undo steps to a figure lower than 100, to something like 20 or 30 steps.
    • Under Graphics cache, set Use for LibreOffice to 128 MB (up from the original 20MB).
    • Set Memory per object to 20MB (up from the default 5MB).
    • If you use LibreOffice often, check LibreOffice Quickstarter. 

Becoming proficient with a new program can be challenging, thankfully the good people behind LibreOffice have compiled dozens of easy-to-follow guides to help you along the way. These guides are broken down by component and range from simple “Getting Started” to exploring more dynamic features of the suite.

PDF and ODT versions of the complete guides are available by product along with smaller versions, broken out by chapter. Download just the sections that you need, or get the entire guide. Video tutorials are also available.

The PDC has pared down the LibreOffice documentation list to just the few, most commonly used components. Visit the PDC's Productivity Resources page for quick access to these in-depth tutorials.

Lucidchart Unveils New Features

Increasing the awesomeness that is GoogleApps for Education, Lucidchart has unveiled a number of new features to help make managing flow charts simplier. 

Move forward and backward one layer
Previously, ‘Bring to Front’ and ‘Send to Back’ options were available when right-clicking on a shape. For more fine-grained control of layers, ‘Bring Item Forward’ and ‘Send Item Backward’ options have been added to enable movement one layer at a time. We are confident this small change will make a big difference when creating wireframes and mockups

Commenting system
With features like real-time collaboration and built-in chat, Lucidchart has become known for collaborative diagramming. But we’ve heard from users that one piece was missing -- an easy way to leave comments for collaborators. We’re pleased to announce the new commenting system in Lucidchart, which is anchored by the Comments panel in the bottom-right corner of the editor.
While editing on the canvas, you can:
  • Right-click on any shape and select “Add Comment” to easily post a comment. A small icon in the corner of the shape will indicate there are open comments (this can be turned off in the Comments panel);
  • Select a shape to see all related comments in the Comments panel.
In the Comments panel, you can:
  • Select a comment to also select the commented-on shape;
  • Reply to comments in an easy-to-follow thread format;
  • View resolved comments by checking the ‘Show Resolved Comments’ box.

Flip and mirror shapes
When you have a shape selected in Lucidchart, you can now open the Metrics Panel to view the flip options. With one-click, easily flip the shape horizontally or vertically. Any connected lines will adjust accordingly.
Organize and manage your images
As Lucidchart has grown, so have users' image libraries. After uploading hundreds of images, some users found their image libraries to be somewhat unwieldy. The new image manager solves this problem by providing you complete control over the organization of your images.

*A tutorial is available under the "Image Manager" tab when you create or access a drawing.

Previously, ‘Bring to Front’ and ‘Send to Back’ options were available when right-clicking on a shape. For more fine-grained control of layers, ‘Bring Item Forward’ and ‘Send Item Backward’ options have been added to enable movement one layer at a time. We are confident this small change will make a big difference when creating wireframes and mockups.

Subscripts and superscripts
A common feature request has been the ability to use subscripts and superscripts. When editing text, you will now see this option in the properties bar. Simply select the text, press the subscript / superscript button and it will update accordingly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Clicker? No Problem.

If you want to ask a question of your class or just poll them for a response, you don't need to worry about passing out clickers. you can you a free tools called Naiku  The instructions are fairly simple, create an account, select a questions type, tell your students to direct their browser to the link provided, and ask your question.  Pretty cool!

Socrative is another free web app that allows students to use netbooks or other mobile devices in place of clickers. Students may download the app to the smartphone, access assessments over the web and also set up accounts to develop their own assessments.

Academic Resources in Google Chrome's Web Store

There are a ton of academic resources in Google Chrome's Web Store.  There is everything from typing tutorials to 3D body animations.  The best part is that all you have to have installed on your computer is the Google's Chrome browser.  That means that they work on all the students' netbooks as well as your desktops and laptops where Chrome is installed.

So have some fun and explore all the resources that Google and open-source resources have to offer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 Tests of Good Digital Citizenship

As the year begins it is time for students and teachers alike to reassess how they communicate online. Entrepreneur Matt Ivester, in his book lol…OMG! What every student needs to know about online reputation management, digital citizenship and cyberbullying, does a terrific job coaching students through the gray areas of communicating online.

Check out Ivester's Ten Measures that may help students judge their actions and make decisions about their digital future on their own.

Grading Made Easy with Diigo & Jing

Flipped Classrooms have been an increasingly valuable tool for teachers and students alike. Rebecca Johnson takes this to a different place by using the same concept to provide feedback to students on assessments. Check out her post on Grading Made Easy with Diigo & Jing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

News from the AAL Help Desk

Tech Leaders Boot Camp 2012

In preparation for Netbook Deployment Day, District 219 Tech Leaders held a Bootcamp. Veteran Tech Leaders guided new members of the program on the dynamics of the program. Students brainstormed on ways to improve the program and chatted about their summer. 

Tech Leaders have diverse interests in and out of school. Some students visited colleges and took family vacations and others put the skills they learned through the Tech Leaders program to use. Some students spent the summer interning at local tech firms - crediting their experience as a Tech Leader with edging out other applicants. 

Some Tech Leaders have transitioned into Tech Interns within District 219 and have provided valuable service to the Tech Department  this summer by assisting with computer upgrades and other tasks.


Are you waiting for Nature to make a backup copy of your files?

Using Google Apps online resources not only makes it convenient to create documents on the go, but they are automatically saved for you. Your netbook is a great mobile device that allows you easy access to cloud resources like Google.

Google Drive - their upgrade of “Documents” - allows you 5gb of storage space on their servers; which is separate from the 25gb of storage when converted to Google Docs format.  Even with that much space you can still use DropBox for a quick 2gb of storage on your netbook.

Don’t forget that you can separate out Photos and Videos.  Picasa allows you to upload tons of picture to create albums not only on your machine, but will sync with your online album.  It also makes it convenient to use them in your websites.  

Using YouTube through your D219 account, allows you to save those quick tutorials for students in an easy accessible place for anywhere, anytime usage.  If you still want a hard copy of stuff, don’t forget your netbooks have SD Card slots for quick backups of content from the netbook.

Bottom line; cloning isn't just for science so utilize these great backup resources

2012 - 13 Gradebook Updates

The gradebook has had some important changes over the summer:

Template Changes:

Grades will be based on total points.
The semester will be composed of two marking periods:
  • grading period  default weighted to 80% of the semester grade
  • final exam with a default weight 20% of the semester grade.

Teachers may determine categories and weights within courses.  

Progress reports will be available online at approximately weeks 5, 9, and 14
Semester grades will be calculated and sent home after week 18

The Narrative Tab in Options allows an instructor to enter information and links to sites such as the class website or class Google calendar. Students and parents can view this information in the Class Details window in Pinnacle Internet Viewer (PIV).

Terminology changes:

  • Note Pad (where Freeform comments were entered for progress reports and report cards) has been renamed to Freeform Comments.
  • Required Assessments (where progress report and report card comment codes are entered) is now Grading Comments.
  • Curriculum-PCA (where common assessment answers were reviewed) is Review CFA.

If you have any questions regarding the way grades are calculating or setting up your classes, contact your building’s Professional Development Center.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Teacher Workstation (TWS) Overhaul

This summer, the IS Department overhauled 50 TWSs at each High School. This was Phase One of a project that aims to repair, restore and update all our teacher workstations. 

With the new configuration, teachers have more desk space thanks to the computer being mounted on the side of the cart and a new flat panel monitor mounted on an arm that can be adjusted as needed. The speaker will sit free on the top shelf allowing the instructor to direct the sound according to the layout of the classroom.

Next summer will be Phase Two and another batch of TWSs will receive the same upgrades.   

Accessible on the top shelf are additional video and sound inputs and a USB cable that can be used to connect external devices (i.e. MP players, video cameras, scanners, etc). 

The TWS has an IPEVO camera that doubles as a document and video conferencing camera and sits free to be used on the top or middle shelf.

All 3 shelves have been adjusted to provide easy access and maximize work area. Additionally, the cart has new casters that allow for a better movement control and cable management to keep the cables out of the way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Using Technology | Electronic Portfolios in the K-12 Classroom

As the school year begins take some time to reflect on the potential of student portfolios. The use of personal portfolios for assessment and presentation long has been a component of higher education. In fact, personal portfolios are a graduation requirement at many colleges and universities. Now, electronic portfolios have begun to enter the world of K-12 education as well.

Learn what electronic portfolios are and discover how they can help you and benefit your students in this article from Education World.

Additional resources for using Google Apps for portfolios may be found at Dr. Helen Barrett's site ePortfilios with Google Apps.

Welcome to the ILP Dashboard

The ILP has undergone a few changes this summer - primarily that upon logging in, users are directed to a “Dashboard.”

Here users will find their student’s daily schedule. Important information that is relevant to all students will also be posted in this area. 
The "My Individual Reports" area provides access to forms that may need to be completed and pertinent reports. 

Student historical progress reports and report cards are available now under “Grade Reports” button. Additionally, juniors and seniors now have direct access to Naviance through a link on their ILP. 

Lunch balances and family contact information can still be found under the "Demographics" button.

New Employee Portal

The week of August 6 brings a new look and feel to the Employee Portal. You will find a new color scheme and an expanded layout.

In the center of the screen is an “Important Messages” box. Administration will use this section to share internal news with all Portal users.

Professional Development opportunities are now in their own section. There users will find links to register for NTHS219University courses and other professional development opportunities. Lane advancement progress can also be tracked in this area. Institute Day session submissions and registration will also be available here.

Employee Training Videos are housed in their own section but handled by a third party. Instructions of how to access the videos are available in this area.

The "Help" button directs users to the PDC website specific to the Portal. There users will find tutorials on how to complete common tasks.