Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mi219 Mobile App Android Version

The Mi219 mobile app is now available on the Google Play Store and should soon be accessible through the Apple App Store.

To locate the app, simply search in the Play Store for "mi219" or use the QR Code here: 
Google Play Store 
This tool provides authorized users with access to student and staff directories through a simple search feature. Choose the best terms such as ID number or name. The more precise information provided, the more concise the results will be.

The data returned is pulled directly from the student and employee management systems. Please verify, through your Portal, that your information is accurate and up-to-date.

Student info consists of family contact information, demographics (counselor, home room teacher, etc), and their daily schedule, along with access to important medical information such as allergies or required accommodations.

Staff info displays location, department, title, contact information, and teacher schedules.
If there are any questions or concerns, please email

Google+ Profile Customization

Google has now given users the ability to customize the way their name appears in their Google+ profile. This change allows D219 users to utilize their more commonly used name instead of their six-letter username or a formal name that is pulled from employee records. For example; Alexia Smith may prefer to be called "Alex". She can change her Google profile to read “Alex Smith”.

To enable this change users must activate Google+. Once the user name has been customized it will be adjusted throughout your Google profile, including the staff directory

Policies and guidelines have been put in place by Google to verify that the user is who they claim to be. Visit this page for more details:

If the name chosen is rejected your Google+ account will be suspended and you must either change the name or make an appeal.  The suspension or deactivation of a Google+ account will not hinder any other services such as ability to send and receive emails, Google Drive, etc.  

AAL Help Desk Seeks New Class of Tech Leaders

Anywhere, Anytime Learning

We're on the lookout for new Tech Leaders!

As the senior Tech Leaders graduate and move on to life beyond high school, the Student Help Desk finds itself in need of bright, new Tech Leaders for next school year.  

Teachers, do you have a go-to, tech savvy student who is always eager to lend a hand?  Please speak with Tim Furman (W-x2721) or Abraham Sihweil (N-x2207) and recommend a few talented students for the program.

Encourage students to stop by the AAL Student Help Desk for more information.  Feel free to share the links below with your classes.

Creative Commons Announces “School of Open” with Courses to Focus on Digital Openness

Just in time to celebrate Open Education Week, here comes a new initiative, the School of Open, a learning environment focused on increasing our understanding of “openness” and the benefits it brings to creativity and education in the digital age.

Chromebooks to Try-out

The Board of Education has approved the recommendation to purchase Google Chromebooks for the next class of in-coming Freshman. 

If you're not familiar with Chromebooks we hope that you will take some time to check one out for a few days. We have two in both buildings available for check-out.  

If you're inpatient and want to have the same browsing experience on your desktop, then the Google Chrome Browser has the same functionality. You can load the same applications and extensions that are available on the Chromebook right to your desktop computer through the Chrome Browser.

Student netbooks can also mimic the Chrome OS experience by using the Chrome browser. All users can share the same Chrome Experience no matter what computer they use. 

You may reserve a time to check-out a Chromebook from the PDC.  We only ask you that you limit your time to one week so others may have ample opportunity to test out the device.  

April PDC Tech Talks

Resources for these and all TechTalks are available at the Tech Talks BlogThe schedule is posted here, to add the PDC Calendar to your account, copy this link and add by url into the Other Calendars in your Calendar.

Week of April 1st - Google+
Google+ is Google's social networking tool. Google+ profiles and interactions have a much more professional appearance than other social networking tools.  It also integrates all Google services. Google's Circles can make the process of limiting sharing to select groups much simpler. Take a tour of all the features and customize your profile and settings.

Week of April 8th - Google Circles and Hangouts
Create Circles in Google +  to make sharing with the appropriate groups of people much simpler. Once you have created a circle, post information for certain circles or make them public.  Hangouts allow you to video chat, IM chat, watch YouTube videos together and collaborate live in Google Docs.  

Week of April 15th - Grademaster Datalink 
Tests can be scanning into the Datalink application using the Grademaster scoring machines. There are several reports available within Datalink. The data collected can also be exported into Excel. Grademaster forms can also be scanned in Datalink for data collection purposes only.

Week of April 22nd -  Gmail - Archive &Tasks
Get organized and de-clutter your inbox.  Go from hundreds of messages to zero in minutes!  Google allows you to archive--not delete--messages to keep your inbox tidy.  Task Lists keep you organized with simple to-do lists.  Create multiple lists, add tasks and email messages, add them to your calendar or delegate with email.

Week of April 29th - Diigo - Online Bookmarking
Diigo is a powerful online research tool and collaborative research platform that integrates with key technologies, including social bookmarking, web annotation, tagging, and group-based collaboration. Diigo allows you to bookmark a web page and share your bookmarks online with one click with your peers either in group or individually!

Week of May 6th - Google Blogger
Create blogs using Google’s Blogger. Blogs are a great tool to use in the classroom to encourage online journaling, discussions and collaboration. Set up a blog and explore the various features.

Week of May 13th - Screencast-O-Matic
A screencast captures what is displayed on a computer screen accompanied by commentary from someone explaining what is happening on the screen as it unfolds. Screencasts can be done in a range of styles, from the very formal narrated powerpoint presentation to a more informal software coaching. Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool, easy to use with nothing to download!

Week of May 20th -Picasa Web Albums/PicMonkey
Picasa Web Albums make it easy to organize and edit your digital photos, then create online albums to share with your classes and the community.  PicMonkey is a fun and easy to use web based photo editor.

Week of May 27th - Reviewing Scores and Examining CFA Data
Review the common final assessment process. Use Pinnacle Instruction (PI) to assess your students' performance. You can easily generate a variety of reports for each class to determine how your students performed on each question, Learning Target, etc.

Security Timeout on Desktops

You may have noticed that we have recently changed the time-out on computer desktops. The time-outs occur after 30 minutes of inactivity which then you are required to login.

With single-sign on capabilities, once you login to the desktop you also have access to the portal where sensitive information about you and your students is stored.  Therefore, we thought it prudent to decrease the timeout from 1 hour to 30 minutes to safeguard your personal information.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Log In to the Portal with D219 Accounts

The employee Portal now can be authenticated using your D219 credentials.

Navigate to the Portal and click on the link above the log-in fields that says “Please enter your user name and password. Or Click here to authenticate through your account.”

Upon clicking the link, users will be directed to a page asking to authorize to share information with your D219 account. If the user checks the box to “Remember this approval” and allows the connection they will no longer need to log in to both the Portal AND their D219 account. Logging in to either interface will provide access to the accounts.

In the future the single sign-on may be available for other District 219 resources.

COMING SOON - My 219 Mobile App

The Technology Dept has developed a mobile app which provides faculty and staff with instant access to pertinent staff and student information. 

This app will be available through the App and Play stores for Apple and Android. Watch your email and the Technology Newsletter for the official launch date.

Student info consists of family contact information, demographics (counselor, home room teacher, lunch balance, etc), and their daily schedule, along with access to important medical information such as allergies or required accommodations.

Staff info displays location, department, title, contact information, manager’s info, bargaining unit, and teacher schedules.

Retrieving information on students and staff is easy using the search feature. Choose the best terms such as ID number or name. The more precise information provided, the more concise the results will be.

The data returned is pulled directly from the student and employee management systems. Please verify, through your Portal, that your information is accurate and up-to-date.

If there are any questions or concerns, please email

Useful Chrome Web Apps and Extensions for Teachers and Students

As was reported by numerous news outlets, at the end of 2011 Google's Chrome surpassed Mozilla's Firefox to become the second most-used web browser. If you're one of the people that made the switch to Chrome in 2011, here are some extensions and Chrome web apps that you and your students should find handy.

Image Dictionary is a Chrome extension that enables users to right-click on a word and quickly find an image that is representative of that word. To use the Image Dictionary extension just highlight a word on a webpage, right-click, and select "image search." The images that are shown come from Wikipedia.

Read & Write for Google Docs adds accessibility features to Google Docs such as Text To Speech with Dual Synchronized Highlighting and Study Skills tools.
Use Google Docs with all of your students including those with dyslexia, learning disabilities, struggling readers, and English Language Learners. This Chrome Extension makes any Google document accessible.   
Read & Write for Google Docs adds many of the popular support features of Read & Write GOLD to Google Docs documents including:
- Text To Speech with Dual Synchronized Highlighting.
- Talking Dictionary
- Picture Dictionary
- Vocabulary Tool
- Study Skills tools to capture Google highlights
Speech Recognizer offline speech recognizer for chrome. This app uses the new built in speech feature in chrome 11+ to create a useful powerful tool to use voice to do the normal typing jobs.
The app is essentially an in the browser speech recognizer using which you can dictate sentences, edit the output and add them together to form paragraphs. 
This app is best used along with Voice In chrome extension.

If you believe you know all there is to know about the Chrome Browser, test your knowledge with this quiz: How Much Do You Know about Chrome?


It’s All About the Circle!
5 W’s for Google+
Use this interactive document as your guide to Google+.




  • YOU!
  • Peer collaboration across offices/buildings
  • Professional PLCs (local and at large)
  • Student / teacher or Student / Student
  • Local Experts


  • Anywhere


  • Anytime

Google+ for Students

Faculty and Staff have been putting Google+ through its paces for a few months. It has proven to be a useful tool in and out of the classroom. The Administration has decided to turn on Google+ for students. 

Here is a video that the Tech Leaders created to share with students and explains why they might use Google+ to develop learning network. Check this out.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Recap of SIT 2013 Conference

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, AAl Tech Leaders from Niles West and Niles North gave workshops at the Students In Technology Conference at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. The conference brings together students working in, or simply enthusiastic about technology from around the region.

Aziz Aziz and Alec Hinh, from Niles North, presented Code Academy, an online coding platform that students around the world are using to teach themselves computer languages. They spoke to a packed room and answered dozens of questions about coding and how the Academy works. Audience members were eager to get started with their own lessons.

Aliza Malyani, also from Niles North, gave a presentation called Web Applications For Teens, and gave a detailed Prezi about a variety of Web 2.0 resources offering platforms for teens to participate in social media and online publication. As an avid user of all of these platforms, she was able to counsel her audience about which specific applications would be most useful to them.

The Niles West team--- Farzin Rezvani Najafabadi, Areian Zarrieneh, Sunny Bharucha, Tezen Mathew, and Talha Ahmed--- gave five interactive workshops on computer hardware concepts. The Tech Leaders guided students through an exercise in which they all replaced the hard drive of a netbook. The participants all received a certificate of completion in a ceremony conducted by the Tech Leaders after the workshop. It was a popular workshop--- students lined up in advance in order to get one of the seats.

CK-12 announces the Get Real Competition!

A chance to win devices for the whole class just by making things real? Yes!

CK-12 Foundation is providing a chance for students and teachers to win devices of their choice (iPads, Kindles, Nooks, or Chromebooks) for their entire classroom! The “Get-Real” competition is designed to stimulate creativity and critical thinking. Real world applications
can make a difference in the way we learn and teach and understand our world.
Students need to create practical examples (multiple submission formats allowed) using
STEM K-12 concepts that demonstrate how those concepts can be applied to our world.
Think: How did the Egyptians build pyramids made up of perfect congruent triangles?
Learn more

Conducted over a period of six week and judged on several relevant criteria, this is the first competition of its kind that allows students to apply their creativity to make concepts a reality and to contribute to their own curriculum. 

Netbook User Software Survey Report

The following report was shared with TCSI on January 31, 2013.

AAL Netbook User Survey Results

The AAL Student Help Desk recently conducted a district-wide survey focusing on students’ use of netbooks. This survey asked students to compare their use of online/cloud-based applications to the software pre-installed on their netbook.

As of January 2013, there were nearly 4,600 students who have been issued a netbook. Of those students, 917 responded; a nearly 20% response rate.

Students were asked how often they used each component of OpenOffice and Google Drive. The most popular responses are compared below:

Google Docs51% Frequently UseOpenOffice Writer33% Frequently Use
Google Presentation37% Sometimes UseOpenOffice Presentation53% Never Use
Google Spreadsheets31% Rarely UseOpenOffice Spreadsheets56% Never use
Google Draw57% Never UseOpenOffice Draw74% Never Use

There was a dramatic difference in the number of respondents who always store their work in the cloud; Google Drive, Dropbox, etc (64%), to those who sometimes utilize cloud storage (19%). Students were asked to choose one reason why they chose to use online applications. The number one response (50%)  was convenience—they are available anytime, anywhere. Speed was the next most popular response (15%) followed by safety and collaboration (14%).

The chief complaint regarding the use of online applications was connectivity issues at school (59%). Netbooks are not the only wireless devices attempting to access the District’s WiFi; there are tablets, laptops, and cellphones which also tax the network. The Technology Department has made great efforts to increase bandwidth and the number of access points available throughout the schools. Students are also regularly reminded to restart their device in order to resolve most connection problems.

The AAL Help Desk staff has investigated cloud-based alternatives to pre-installed software titles. Staff was unable to find an alternative web-based product with equivalent functionality for the titles listed below and asked students about their usage.
  • Logger Pro - 83% Never used
  • Skype - 32% Never Used
  • Stellarium - 84% Never Used
  • Kturtle Programming - 87% Never Used
  • STEP - 87% Never Used

Students were given the opportunity to identify other programs that their teachers have directed them to install. The most common responses were Geogebra and Adobe Reader.

These results will be used to develop the image for the next class of netbooks. Student and faculty feedback is integral to providing the best possible software solutions for the District.

Full survey results are available here.