Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Digital Citizenship...It's Just Common Sense

Let's face it, our students have impressive knowledge when it comes to using technology. They are the first ones to tell us about the newest and greatest apps and creative websites. However, these digital natives still have a lot to learn regarding digital literacy and citizenship. Are our students able to access and cite online sources? Are they acting safe and kind online? It is our job as educators to support students in being outstanding digital citizens.

The Cherry Creek School District has partnered with Common Sense Media to support K-12 digital literacy and citizenship. Parents may also be interested in materials, reviews and videos available on the site. Common Sense Media has created engaging cross curricular content connected to the eight categories listed below:

  1. Internet Safety
  2. Privacy and Security
  3. Relationships & Communication
  4. Cyberbullying
  5. Digital Footprint & Reputation
  6. Self-image & Identity
  7. Information Literacy
  8. Creative Credit & Copyright

How to Access Digital Citizenship Lessons:
Each lesson from Common Sense has been adapted to work within Schoology.  The content has already been created and is ready for teachers to roll out to their students. To access the curriculum, teachers will need to go to My.CherryCreekSchools.org and click on the MyTech tile on the bottom right. Then, click on the tile for Digital Citizenship.
This tile will link teachers to the Digital Literacy Schoology Group that houses lessons for all grade levels. Check out the resources for the group to see what lessons are available.
Each lesson is broken down into two folders: Teacher Resources and Student Activities. Teachers are able to read through the lesson to prepare and gather tips and insights before teaching the lesson. Teachers can share the student folder with their courses so that students can participate in the lesson. The student folder is filled with resources, activities, discussions and more. To copy the student folder, click on the gear icon on the right and select "Add to course". 
Are you interested in becoming a Common Sense Certified School?
There is a great opportunity to have your school be recognize as a Common Sense Education Certified School. There is no cost. As of now, only three schools in Colorado have been recognized. We would love to see all of Cherry Creek Schools receive this recognition for their work with digital citizenship. For additional information contact your Technology and Learning Coaches.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Parent Communication in Schoology

noun: communication

the imparting or exchanging of information or news."direct communication between the two countries will produce greater understanding"

Communication is essential.  Lack of communication can lead to disaster.  Organizing communications can be frustrating.  Did you know Schoology has built in tools to help with this task?  Specifically, we are talking about communicating with parents.  Among the advantages of using Schoology for a communication vehicle is the fact that you do not have to worry about building emails lists. (Silent cheer, right?) Parents are connected to their students� courses through online forms.  

To start with, we suggest that you make certain that parents know how to log in to their parent account which is different than logging in as their student.  

Below is some verbiage that you may want to use for a letter to your parents:
This year we will be using Schoology for students as well communicating with you.  Please make certain that you can login to Schoology by doing the following:

  • Log on to http://my.cherrycreekschools.org. Use the same log-in information that you used to register your student.
  • Click on the tile that says COLE 3.0.  This will take you to Schoology.

  • Set your notifications in Schoology by:
    • Click on the drop down arrow next to your name to set your notifications preferences. (Choose to receive notifications daily or weekly)

Schoology also has a help page:  http://help.schoology.com.  

If you require assistance adding emails or logging in to your parent accounts, please contact the Cherry Creek School�s Help Desk at 720 554-4357.

Here is a link to a pdf that you may want to send home to parents.  

You may wish to consider using Schoology to communicate with families in these ways:  

  • Send a message to all the parents at once
To do this click on course options under the picture for your course then click send message.  Follow the prompts to create the message.  This will send to all members, admins, members or parents.  This message will remain in an individual�s message section.  

  • Post an update to your course
To do this click on updates on the left side of your Schoology course.  Follow the prompts to create an update.  This update will remain associated with your course and will be found when parents and students click on updates.  

  • Post in the calendar
To do this click on Add Event.  Follow the prompts to add an event to the calendar. This will show up in the calendar and the calendar feed area.  

For additional information on this topic, please consider this past blog post.  

We hope that this information will help you make the lines of communication clearer this school year.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Digital Classroom Tools (Schoology, Google Classroom, and gScholar)

Cherry Creek Schools provides many digital tools for the classroom teacher.  Yet, it can sometimes be confusing to figure out which one to use and why.  With the recent release of Google Classroom, our beta testing of gScholar, and our implementation of Schoology, teachers will undoubtedly have questions about what options are available and how these tools support learning.  All three have their place, so let's take a look at how each would best fit into the CCSD classroom.

We are extremely fortunate to have Schoology (COLE 3.0) as our comprehensive Learning Management System or LMS.  For most of our digital learning needs, Schoology more than fits the bill.  As a CCSD teacher, Schoology is your best option for:
  • Organizing your digital classroom (differentiation, customization, and pacing)
  • Posting class-wide announcements or updates
  • Using online discussion boards
  • Posting links, files, images/video, and pages for units and lessons (including audio support)
  • Communicating with parents
  • Giving online tests/quizzes
  • Embedding interactive learning activities
  • Assessing both digital and non-digital student work (including alignment to standards)
  • Creating digital assignments (work or files can be submitted by students or done off-line)
  • Tracking student mastery with specific standards and learning outcomes
  • Collaborating and sharing with other teachers on lessons, assessments, and class resources
Because Schoology syncs with PowerSchool, all classes are built automatically and students are added and removed automatically.  

Google Classroom was released to K-12 Google Apps domains during the week of August 11th. A good supplement to an existing LMS like Schoology, Classroom helps teachers share and organize Google Drive files with classes or groups of students.  (While students can turn in assignments in Classroom, submitting student work in Schoology has many more options for feedback and assessment.)  As a CCSD teacher, Classroom is your best option for:
  • sending a Google Doc to students for individual editing (like sending out a Thinking Map or another template for students to edit individually which is automatically shared with you)
  • sharing a Google file (presentation, spreadsheet, document or drawing) that you want all students to collaborate on as a group 
Because Google Classroom isn't syncing courses or class rosters, teachers need to create their own classes and manually manage student enrollment and enrollment changes (students can join with a course code or be invited via email).

gScholar is a tool we've been beta testing to help with classroom management when using Chrome and Chromebooks with students.  (gScholar also has a GoogleDrive management aspect, but with the release of Classroom, it will soon be integrating its services with Google Classroom.)  As a CCSD teacher, gScholar is your best option for:
  • sending messages to students using Chromebooks or Chrome
  • "pushing" a website to all students using Chromebooks or Chrome
  • viewing tabs open on devices using Chromebooks and Chrome (and closing tabs remotely, if necessary)
  • taking screen shots of a student Chrome tab (helpful if you want to gather individual student progress on an interactive web site or capture what a student is doing in Chrome or on a Chromebook)
Because gScholar isn't syncing user roles, courses or class rosters, teachers need to have a teacher account created for them (typically by a technology coordinator or other support personnel) and will need to create their own classes and manually manage student enrollment (teachers can add and delete students from their class rosters).

Ultimately, it's up to teachers to decide how and when to utilize these instructional tools in the classroom.  Want to know more about any of these?  Please contact the Office of Instructional Technology -- we'd be happy to work with you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Starting the School Year Right with Schoology

As we embark on a new school year filled with new students, new adventures, and new gradebooks, don't forget about the tools and resources available to you in Schoology. Here are 3 helpful tips to support you as you get back into the swing of things.

1. Schoology Course Setup 

One of the best and easiest ways to personalize your course is to change the profile image. To do this, hover over the image in the upper left hand corner of your course and click "Edit Image". This will allow you to add a new image by selecting it from a place you have previously saved it. Google images is a great place to start, just be sure to use the image "Search Tools" to change the usage rights to something other than the default which is "Not filtered by license". You can also use a picture of your classroom, your pet, your favorite sports team, or some other image that helps parents and students get a sense of you, your course, and the year ahead.

You may also want to consider having your syllabus posted for the students and parents who are already familiar with Schoology, or those who happen to fall into it by accident. As with most things, the more places you can make this available the more likely it will be seen. Updates are a great place to share a syllabus, welcome letter, or newsletter for parents. To do this, type your update, select "Add a link" or "Add a file" and find the document you'd like to share. Then click "Post".

Another place to add your syllabus would be in the materials section of your course. You can either add the document directly by going to "Add Materials" and then "Add file/link/external tool", add a folder to house other like items by "Add Materials" and then "Add folder" and naming it, or embedding the document if it is a GoogleDoc. (In your GDoc, click "File", "Publish", and then copy the embed code. In Schoology, "Add Materials", "Add a Page", "Insert Image/Media", "From the Web", "Media", paste the embed code, and click "Upload Media".)

2. Schoology Gradebook Setup

In order to get the most bang for your teacher buck, you'll want to set up your gradebook in Schoology before you start creating assignments and assessments. To set up your gradebook, click "Gradebook", and then "Grade Setup" underneath. This is where you can add your categories (homework, assessments, classwork, awesomeness, etc.). The benefit of this set up is that a teacher can then narrow their gradebook view to a specific category and time period. See the image below.

Grading terms for courses (quarters, trimesters, and semesters) are already attached. Teachers who also utilize PowerSchool for their gradebook may want to consider hiding the overall grade columns so that students can still get feedback for assignments in Schoology without being confused about an overall grade in Schoology vs. an overall grade in PowerSchool. Teachers can also customize their syncing categories using the PowerSchool App (or even create a category for assignments that will not sync with PowerSchool). For more information on using the PowerSchool app in Schoology, check out this video.

3. Schoology Notifications 

As your students and parents begin to access Schoology, you may find yourself buried in more email than usual. One way to help manage the email explosion is to change your notifications in Schoology. Each user can set notifications for the types of information they would like to receive from the groups and courses they are enrolled in. To edit your notification settings for your course(s) and or group(s), click "Notifications" and select the updates you would like to receive. To change your general notifications, click on the dropdown arrow next to your name and select "Notifications". This will give you the option to change your general settings. Check out this article from Schoology for more information.

And there you have it: three (hopefully) helpful tips to get you started with Schoology for the year ahead!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#CCSDTech: An Award-Winning School Year

The Cherry Creek School District's Department of Instructional Technology ended our year with a bang at Schoology's NEXT 2014 conference held here in Denver at The Curtis Hotel on June 24 and 25.  The conference was a fabulous way to reflect on the successes of this school year.  It was also a perfect way to get geared up for next school year at the same time.  From finally meeting the people at Schoology who we had connected with virtually during the year, to hearing AMAZING keynotes from Schoology's CEO and co-founder Jeremy FriedmanAlan November, and Jennie Magiera, to presenting, representing, and learning throughout the conference, and connecting with other Schoology users from throughout the world NEXT 2014 was a powerful experience to say the least.

And I haven't even mentioned the really good part yet.

Schoology gave some awards to a handful of select educators for their efforts in using and creating capacity with Schoology.  Our favorite learning management system also gave a District of the Year award.  That district was Cherry Creek Schools.

Photo courtesy of fellow CCSD Tech colleague, Sherri Clemens.

We were so excited, proud, and humbled to receive this honor from a learning management system that has 5,000,000+ current users and projects they'll have 9,000,000+ by the end of 2014.  We also recognized the amount of work and passion so many talented and passionate CCSD people put in to help make this happen as well.  From our school board (who approved the purchase of  18,000+ Chromebooks so CCSD students could access Schoology) to our network admins (who made sure our teachers and students had a network designed for seamless Internet access throughout each and every day) to our PowerSchool administrative team (who ensured the information gathered in Schoology goes directly to our student information system) to our teachers and district instructional leadership (who were willing to try out yet another way to make their learning environments more dynamic) to so many others.  This was a total team effort.  There is absolutely no doubt that we made this happen together.

So what's next?  More (4,000+) Chromebooks for our elementary schools, diving deeper into our current Schoology use, and much, much more.  The work is always far from "done."  

The 2013-2014 school year was a successful one.  We're looking to make the 2014-2015 even bigger and better than last year.  This is going to be a pretty large challenge, but we like challenges.  It's part of what we do.

Schoology highlighted their award winners in a blog post here.

Check out Schoology's Storify from the NEXT 2014 conference here

Follow our ongoing CCSD Tech journey via Google+ and Twitter on Tagboard here

This post is cross-posted in Jay's personal blog.  Click here to visit Jay's blog.

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