Using Google Classroom to Differentiate/Personalize Instruction

This is a really brief video from the Google EDU in 90 team on how to differentiate and personalize learning using Google Classroom.  There are powerful and simple to use ideas in this two and a half minute video.  I strongly recommend all staff subscribe to the Google EDU in 90 YouTube channel for more really useful tutorials like this one.

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Google Updates Timeline on Removal of Old Version of Sites

It looks like Google is getting more serious about removing the old version of Sites.  Here’s the latest update from them.  It sounds like Google will be giving our technology team a preview of the tools that will be used to migrate from the old version to the new version in the first three months of 2018.  Depending on how that goes, they plan to roll these tools out all users in later in 2018. Based on that timeline, my guess would be that old Sites will be going away sometime in 2019, but again that’s just a guess.  While it’s still too early to know what this will look like and mean for content in old sites, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Most importantly: If you are creating new Google Sites, use the new version, not the old one.
  • As soon as I see the migration tool, I will do a screencast to demonstrate how to use it.  According to Google, I should see the migration tool before the end of March of 2018.
  • It sounds like only the “owner” (one of Google’s security roles) of the site will have the ability to migrate content from the old Sites to the new Sites tool.  So, if you have critical content in the old Sites tool and you wish to migrate it to new Sites — you will need to know who the “owner” of that Site is — they will need to be the one to run the migration when the tools become available.

I will share more information as it becomes available.  Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions in the meantime.

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Talk & Type with Read and Write for Google

I’m guessing that most people know that Read and Write had a builtin speech to text tool called — Talk&Type.  Even if you know about this tool, I strongly recommend watching this 5 minute tutorial on how to use it. This is a really strong tutorial in my opinion because it shows the tool “warts and all”.  While Talk&Type is really simple to use, there are some common pitfalls the video shows you how to avoid.  This type of teaching will really help teachers and kids get up to speed very quickly and should minimize frustration.  Enjoy!

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New Look Technology Office

This fall has been a time of rapid change for the CCSD Technology Department.  In addition to adding a new team member, we’ve re-envisioned, redesigned, and re-organized our office space.  The space is much more open, (and we hope) welcoming, and friendly.  This was a Herculean task and we purged a lot of old, useless gear — mainly cables and old, obsolete spare parts.

The technician workspaces are much cleaner and more efficient — both in terms of use of space and ease of work.

We spent a good deal of time organizing our parts inventory, too.  I need to give a big shout out to Doug Exline and Duan Carver (and the rest of his crew) for helping us mount the pegboard, the wall organizer, and our two large displays/monitors.

We also put together a museum space that has all sorts of interesting technology throughout the years.  The main attraction here is our 1980s Apple LISA computer with original documentation.  This was the project that Steve Jobs worked on before the Macintosh.  And, like most other museums, if you have a piece you’d like to donate to us, just let me know.

This is just the first redesign, too.  As the high school construction project progresses over the next three years, we will be making more changes and improvements to this space. We encourage everyone to stop down and visit us if you are in the neighborhood.






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Introducing Mary Corrigan — New CCSD Technology Team Member!

Mary Corrigan will begin work at CCSD on 12/28/17.

As almost everyone at Prairie now knows, we’ve had an open technician position for about the six weeks. We have such a small, tightly knit department that adding a new team member is both exciting and scary.  So, we took our time to do everything in our power to make the right hire.  During out posting period, we had applications from several strong candidates.  But, no one was a better fit than Mary Corrigan.

For the past ten months, Mary has worked for Cedar Rapids Schools as a technology helpdesk analyst.  Prior to that (from 2010-2016), she worked in the technology department for Whitnall CSD in suburban Milwaukee, WI.   In addition to years of experience within the public school sector, Mary has a Bachelor of Science in MIS (Management of Information Systems). She has an outstanding mix of technical expertise and practical experience within schools.  I was thrilled when she accepted our offer last week.

Here are a few of Mary’s thoughts on joining the Prairie technology team:

Since moving here from Wisconsin 18 months ago, I’ve heard such great things about College Community School District. I’m excited to be part of it now and look forward to supporting the students and staff!

Mary’s first day will be Thursday, December 28th.  She will be spending a week with each of our technicians before being assigned her own spot in our rotation plan.   We will be updating the technician rotation calendar with Mary’s information in early 2018.  In the meantime, we will keep all of our other technician rotation assignments as they were previously — we now plan to go back to having 1.0 FTE at the HS and Point and .5 FTE at Creek.  When you see Mary out and about our campus, please give her a warm welcome.

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New Student Online Registration Now Live!

As I announced at all of the building staff meetings I attended last summer, we are moving forward with Online Registration.  While it has taken us a little longer than I thought, we launched OLR for new to the district kids and families earlier this week.  We plan to use this online form for registration for all students next summer, too.  This does not mean that we won’t have a registration event in August.  That practice won’t change for next summer.   But, On-Line Registration will mean the end of most of the paper forms families will need to complete.  So, the days of the big, thick registration packet being mailed out to each student are over!

Becky O’Connell, Angela Sleeper, and Bill Paarmann put in a lot of work on this project, so if you see them — give each them big “Thank you!” for their efforts.  If you want to have a look at some of the process, you can go to the district homepage–>Registrar/Enrollment–>School Registration/Enrollment K-12.  Here’s the direct link to the Google Site Becky has constructed.   As with any project this large and complex, there will need to be refinements and improvements.  But, this process will ultimately save parents a lot of time.

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Friendly Disruption Episode 10 Is Now Live

A new episode of Friendly Disruption is now live.  Patrick, Maggie, and I visit with Prairie’s own Megan Sova-Tower about how to use tools like Padlet to engage reluctant learners.  We also discuss the new draft of the Iowa Digital Learning Plan.  If you enjoy podcasts, I encourage you to give us a listen.

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Google’s Classroom Hub

Google has setup a great resource for using Google Classroom — the Classroom Hub.  There are tons of great videos and other resources (PDFs) located here for all levels of users– beginners to advanced users.  So, whether you are just starting out with Classroom or you are a pro, give this site a look.

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Read and Write for Google Troubleshooting

I was delighted to hear that a lot of the learning that happened on last Monday’s PL day involved the use of Read and Write for Google.  I’m thrilled that this tool is getting used in this setting.  My hope is that everyone who uses it will see it’s incredible power and use it with their students.

However, I also heard that some people had some trouble with Read and Write on Monday.  While Read and Write works really well most of the time, there are some fast, simple thing everyone can do to troubleshoot to fix problems.  One quick and easy troubleshooting tip that will often clear up problems is to clear Chrome’s browsing cache — I know this sounds kind of technical, but it’s very simple to do and anyone can do it.  The  40-second video above demonstrates the process.

If this does not work, try other simple steps like fully quitting Chrome and restarting it.  And, of course, restarting the computer itself is always something to try as well.  Remember, too, that we have the full, paid version of Read and Write.  This means it will only work when teachers are logged into the Chrome browser with their account.  Being logged into multiple Chrome profiles can also cause problems.  So, it’s recommended that all teachers should only be logged in to Chrome with your account when using Read and Write.

Our teacher setup is more complex than our student configurations.  We try to keep things as simple as possible for kids — only allowing Chrome on our 10-12 MacBooks, and restricting our all of our student Chromebooks to only work with accounts.  So, many of the issues that teachers might experience are not issues with student devices and accounts.  As always, I strongly encourage everyone to use Read and Write with your students.  Don’t hesitate to let me or any member of the technology team know if you have trouble.

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CCSD Featured in IPTV Documentary

Earlier this fall, Iowa Public Television contacted Prairie to ask if we would like to be featured in a documentary on digital learning along with three other Iowa schools.  IPTV just released the final version this week.  There’s great content in this 30-minute video and lots of familiar faces and voices. This really does a great job of highlighting the great work going on here at Prairie.  I strongly encourage everyone to watch it!

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