Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August / September Tech Talks


Resources for these, and all, TechTalks are available at the Tech Talks BlogThe schedule is posted on the Blog. To add the PDC Calendar to your account, copy this link and add by URL into the "Other Calendars" in your D219.org Calendar.



Week of August 26th - Setting Up Your Gradebook
Review your gradebook settings and learn how to improve communication with students and parents. Use the narrative features to include links to your class website, calendars and other resources, add links to handouts and additional information for assignments to reduce those excuses about how difficult it was to find the assignment. Add student specific feedback to grades to keep students and parents updated in an easy and timely on student progress.

Week of September 2nd - Update Your Class Website
Time for a New Year refresher? Dust off that old site...  Add presentations, documents, change the layout to make your site more inviting and easier to navigate. Modify the sidebar, hyperlink to google docs, embed videos and picture slideshows and insert gadgets.  

Week of September 9th - Class and Student Calendars

Leverage the power of Google calendars to improve student and parent access to assignments and events! Create new calendars for classes or clubs and embed or link to them on your website. Students will be able to subscribe to the calendar so they see it on their Calendars and can elect to receive email reminders to keep on top of their work!  We will review settings and notifications that will help you and your students stay on top of everything.   

Week of September 16th - Class Email Groups
Quickly and easily email your class or share Google docs with your students by creating class groups in a few easy steps:  Import your class lists from the Portal. Create groups in your gmail contacts. Share with your students.

Week of September 23th - Update Your Moodle SiteTime for some Moodle housekeeping! Un-enroll prior students, become better acquainted with Moodle’s new look and feel, refresh that site and make managing documents more efficient and accessing documents easier for your students.

Week of September 30th - Google Sites as a WikiMake student projects easy using Google Sites! Set up a website to use as a group Wiki. Create a class wiki by enabling editing specific pages for specific students using a Google site.

Things, They are a Changin

Sorry, Bob Dylan.  Here are a few tech changes that were instituted over the summer, or are coming real soon.

  1. We were forced to abandon PCA as an assessment delivery system and have moved to Mastery Manager. It is up and ready to go. With just a little training you can use it to deliver your formative assessments very easily. 
  2. Sharepoint has given way to Google Drive. We have moved all the document libraries from Sharepoint to Google in order to retire the old Sharepoint server. The District's Document repository now lives in the cloud. There is a little article that follows this explaining how to access this new site and its resources.
  3. Pinnacle will be replaced by Infinite Campus. Near the end of the last school year we were told that Pinnacle's SIS would be discontinued in a year and after looking at several alternatives, we have chosen Infinite Campus to replace it.  Over the course of this school year we will be making the transition.
  4. A new Gradebook is coming. Along with a new SIS comes Infinite Campus' version of the Gradebook. We plan to begin training sessions for the new Gradebook in the Spring 2014 with  deployment to take place over the summer. The program will be fully implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.
  5. Moodle got a new look and feel. It was upgraded over the summer from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.4.
  6. Bandwidth to the Internet was increased to 400 MB, and each classroom will be getting their own WIFI antenna to increase capacity.
  7. Our paper-based school enrollment method is going online. Starting in September, we will be using this new system to add incoming freshmen (NTHS class of 2018!) to the District's student information systems.
  8. The PDC at North has new digs. You can find Judy and Phil in room 1145.
  9. Freshmen received Samsung's Google Chromebooks this year rather than Netbooks.

HippoCampus Content Updates

New Content Collections!
(From hippocampus.org)

We're gearing up for the fall with all new content in Math, Social Science, and Humanities! Check out the latest collections from the following contributors:


  • Art of Problem Solving -Arithmetic, Algebra & Geometry, Probability. First, a little background: As a student, Richard Rusczyk was extraordinary in mathematics, participating in the National MATHCOUNTS academic competition and becoming a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner in 1989 before attending Princeton and eventually working on Wall Street. However, Richard was unsatisfied by the world of finance, so he left to create AoPS. This collection has loads of video presentations that break down a problem and delve into the mechanics of solving it. Richard explains the methodology behind finding the solution, demonstrating multiple pathways to do so. There are also test prep videos for the MATHCOUNTS and American Mathematics Competitions (AMC). Great for both math whizzes and students who struggle!
  • Dallas Learning Solutions - Economics, English, History & Government, Sociology. DLS is enriching HippoCampus with a variety of community college material in several different subjects. This material consists of video presentations and interactive simulations. The videos pair expert instructors and narration with high-quality clips to produce an engaging multimedia experience. The simulations prompt students as they learn, checking their knowledge as they progress.
  •  SIATech English. As an NROC Member, SIATech is fulfilling the mission of creating Everyone's Learning by contributing its in-depth English Language Arts videos to HippoCampus. These presentations cover the basics of grammar and writing, testing middle and high school knowledge in a fun and interactive way.




Moving from Sharepoint to Google Docs for the District's Document Repository

Over the summer we took the opportunity to move our Sharepoint content to the cloud. This means that Public (Policies, BOE minutes, etc) and Private (Intranet Files, etc) documents are now managed by D219Docs, a GoogleDrive-based repository providing a familiar and easy to manage system for end-users. In addition to being cloud-based and FREE it is backed-up in several locations, making it one of the most secure websites to store docments. 

There are two different ways to access the document repository.  You can access it through your Google Drive by clicking on the invite to Google Drive here. This works best in the Chrome browser.

Or you can access it through the public facing side of our website,  http://docs.niles219.org/docs/Public/  ​Please bookmark/favorite this site. 

The Private intranet requires you to login to your D219 account.  The login link is located on the upper right corner of the page.

​If there are resources that may be missing, or do not have access to, please contact dapwat@d219.org to correct the problem.​ If you have links to Sharepoint, please update these to the new site.

Here is a link to a Presentation that explains how Docs.niles219.org works

If you have any questions or need a little help, please do not hesitate
​to contact your buildings PDC.

AAL Update



Incoming freshmen will be given Chromebooks on August 15 (West), and August 16 (North). We’re excited about the Chromebooks’ many capabilities and think you will be excited too. A student can start working on a Google Doc within 35 seconds of starting a Chromebook.


Please regularly check the AAL website and the Tech Leaders’ blog to learn about all of the training opportunities for students. We’re also on Twitter. We’ll have a full complement of training opportunities and important news bulletins throughout the year.


And as always, please stress to your students the importance of buying the optional insurance for damage or theft. The rates have gone down, but the policy remains the same. Remember, teachers can buy this coverage as well.


Sophomore, juniors, and seniors should all have working netbooks and the expectation to bring the device to class when required remains true. Teachers should outline this fact to the incoming freshman. If you have students with netbook problems, send them to the Help Desk for repair. As usual, if we can’t repair a netbook within a class period, we’ll issue a loaner.


All juniors and seniors are encouraged to bring their netbooks to the Help Desk updates in order to have the latest software.


If you have students who have lost their netbook, you can work with the deans to make sure that these students complete the proper theft/loss report and  pick up their replacement netbooks from the Student Help Desk. There isn’t any reason a student should be without a netbook or a Chromebook in your class.


As always, feel free to contact the AAL Help Desk if you have questions.