New Features Coming to Gmail!

Gmail Logo

I recently got word that Google is planning some changes to Gmail in the near future.  While I’m not sure of the timeline, some of the new features sound pretty cool!  In addition to giving the interface an update, it sounds like they will be adding in Smart Reply to the web client.  Those of you who use the Gmail phone app may have seen this already.  I find it very helpful.  They will also be adding in a “snooze” feature allowing users to temporarily suspend incoming email to their inboxes.  I know that many principals already use 3rd party add-ons for this functionality.  I will send out word when I get more concrete information on when these features will be fully released.  As always, drop me a line with any questions.

Posted in Digital Literacy, For Teachers, Tech Tips | Leave a comment

Friendly Disruption — Episode 14: Daniel McNulty and Kelli Suding

Friendly Disruption Podcast Logo

There’s a new Friendly Disruption podcast available.  In this episode, we talked to Daniel McNulty and Kelli Suding from Indiana’s Patins Project.  There was great conversation about what it means to be a reader.  Patrick shared some Chrome extension to help distracted readers.  And, we were joined by special guest, CCSD’s own Lindsay Spears!  Please consider giving us a listen.

Posted in Features, For Teachers | Leave a comment

17-18 Staff Survey Results

17-18 Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who took the time to give the technology team feedback this year.  This type of input is really critical to helping our team improve.  When looking at the charts, here’s our methodology: we count “4s” and “5s” in the “agree” category.  We don’t count “3s” at all.  Along the same lines, we group “1s” and “2s” for disagree.  Here are a couple of highlights from my perspective.


Not that this is our main goal for giving the survey, but I’m frankly not sure if it’s realistically possible for the results to get any higher.

  • All seven questions showed an improvement.
  • There were only two “2s” scored on the entire survey and no “1s”.
  • Even more amazing, the first question regarding technician courtesy came back as 100% agree!

The comments about what the team is doing well were really affirming, too.  The Wordle shows what we like to see for this — big words for “communication”, “help”, “students”, “quick” etc…

glows wordle


Not a lot to grow on for the seven questions.  We’ll do our very best to maintain the high level of performance on all of these fronts.  We did get a lot of great feedback from the –“what can we improve” comment section.  Looking at Wordle for this, again much of the terms are what we like to see:  “none” was a big word as was “more” and “tech”.

Grow Wordle

Message received!  We talk about all of these comments as a team.  Here are some improvement trends we’ll work on for next year:

  • We’ll be working on plans to improve our communication around technician rotation.
  • We’ll also try to get more disciplined with our on-site protocols — letting people know when we are in and leaving buildings.
  • Projector issues lead the way in equipment complaints — so we’ll need to work on methods to better repair or replace problematic units.  T
  • here were several calls for student management systems for one to one devices.

We are always open to feedback at any time of year.  So, if you have ideas, questions, or concerns, don’t hesitate to let me or any member of the team know.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Iowa 1:1 Resources from GWAEA

GWEA 1:1 Presentations

I just ran across this awesome selection of curated resources that the Grant Wood team presented at the Iowa 1:1 conference yesterday.  There is a ton of great stuff here for all grades and contents.  I would strongly encourage you to spend some time browsing these presentations.  I guarantee you’ll find many good tools and ideas.

Posted in For Teachers, Tech Tips | Comments Off on Iowa 1:1 Resources from GWAEA

Staff MacBook Update for Summer 2018


It’s time to start planning for new certified staff MacBooks!  As I said in my previous post, we plan to update about 25% of the staff fleet each year.  When we started this back in 2014, all staff had computers that were all the same age.  So, as a starting point, we choose CCSD seniority as the fairest way we could think of to get the process rolling.  This is the last year of the model.  Next year, we’ll be looking at computer age, not your age with the district to determine who gets an update.

Here’s the list for this summer.  Please note, if you scroll down beyond the current year, the value in the “SenDate” column (column E) may not be correct.  This is because we are in the last year of looking at this from a seniority perspective.  We do have you ordered correctly, by computer age — so while the date in that column may not be correct, your placement in the replacement cohort is.  Next year’s Sheet will show only computer age, but we can’t have two values in the same column.  It will look better next year!  I know this a little confusing, but again, don’t worry about the date, just know your place in the cohort is where it should be.

If you are on the list to get an update this summer, Angela will be emailing you to setup a time this summer to get this done.  The email will share the dates and the process for this to happen.  Again, if you are on the list, please take some time to read and complete the Form in that email from Angela.  I would strongly suggest backing up everything you wish to transfer to Google Drive.  If you do that and use Chrome, this makes the process go a lot faster.  In fact, by doing these two things, we can usually just setup Chrome for and that’s all it takes.  As always, let me know if you have questions or comments.


Posted in Digital Literacy, For Teachers, Tech Tips | Comments Off on Staff MacBook Update for Summer 2018

Technology Department Summer Plans — What are we buying this summer?

WeVideo ScreenshotWhile there are still some questions marks, I can share some of the technology team’s plans for the summer.  We intend to stick to the device plan we started back in 2014.  This means around 60 Chromebooks for each elementary building — intended for 3rd grade.  We’ll update 25% of our student MacBook fleet as well as 25% of our staff MacBook fleet (more on that in another upcoming post).

One piece of feedback I’ve gotten quite often is that we don’t have great tools for kids that use Chromebooks to edit video.  So, I’m excited to announce we’ll be adding a district subscription to WeVideo this summer!  WeVideo is an easy to use web-based video editing tool.  I’ll share more detail and learning opportunities for it as we move into next summer and fall.  But, this will give all kids at Prairie a common tool they can use to create and edit video content.


Of course, one of the other main projects we’ll be working on is the ongoing update to Prairie High School, too.  We’ll be installing new network gear in all of the areas slated to open in the fall.  With our standard summer work, this projects to be a very productive summer season for the team.  As always, drop me a line or leave a comment here if you have questions.



Posted in Digital Literacy, For Teachers | Comments Off on Technology Department Summer Plans — What are we buying this summer?

Friendly Disruption Episode 13 — Ruth Ziolkowski

Friendly Disruption Podcast Logo

For those of you who enjoy podcasts (If you’ve not listened before this might be a good weekend to do so!), there’s a new episode of Friendly Disruption. In this episode, Maggie, Patrick, and I visit with Ruth Ziolkowski, president of Don Johnston Software.  The conversation focused on how digital tools can provide greater student agency and advocacy.


Posted in Digital Literacy, Features, For Teachers | Comments Off on Friendly Disruption Episode 13 — Ruth Ziolkowski

Read and Write Dictionary and Picture Dictionary

Read and Write has so many awesome features!  One that I haven’t shared here yet is the Dictionary and Picture Dictionary.  The brief video above gives a great description of what each tool does and how you might consider using them with kids.


Posted in Digital Literacy, For Teachers | Comments Off on Read and Write Dictionary and Picture Dictionary

Apps in Google Classroom

Here’s another excellent, short video from Google on app integration into Google Classroom.  The discuss how tools and apps like Khan Academy, Ed Puzzle, and Workbench nicely integrate into Classroom.  If you have questions, drop me a line.  I would also encourage you to add your favorite apps you integrate to both their YouTube channel and to this blog.



Posted in Digital Literacy, For Teachers | Comments Off on Apps in Google Classroom

Friendly Disruption Episode 12 — OCR and Noreen Bush

Friendly Disruption Podcast Logo

There is a new episode of Friendly Disruption now available for those of you who enjoy podcasts.  This month we talk in depth about optical text recognition (OCR) software — the tools teachers can use to make paper text into digital text.  We also have a great conversation about universal design for learning (UDL) and personalized learning with Noreen Bush.

Posted in Features, For Teachers | Comments Off on Friendly Disruption Episode 12 — OCR and Noreen Bush