Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Google Grand Slam Part II

Full extension .gifHopefully you had time to fully digest all of the Google tools we showed you last week. As we continue our Google double header, we will explore some new and/or improved Google Extensions to help you score big in the classroom.

Share to Classroom
For those using Google Classroom, this is a must-have extension. It allows you to push websites to open instantly on your students' Chromebooks or computers. You can also post announcements, create assignments, or save webpages to post to Classroom at a later time. If you haven't tried Google Classroom yet, click here to see some of our past posts and learn about this great Google tool. Click here to get the Share to Classroom extension.
Floating for YouTube
Floating for YouTubeFloating for YouTube lets you watch any YouTube video in a hover-over window. This means that you can watch your favorite video(s) while working on other things, without having to keep YouTube open and focused in a separate browser tab/window all the time. This is great for class when you want students to take notes while watching a video. Or, at the elementary level, teachers can show a video while having a shared Google Doc of student questions in the background. Click here to get the Floating for YouTube app and extension.

ScreencastifyScreencastify is a simple video screen capture for Chrome. It allows users to add audio and video of themselves talking while showing the screen, so it's great if you want to create material to flip your classroom. Students can also create using Screencastify, so they could use it to show their thinking or learning to you and/or the whole class. Click here to get the Screencastify extension.

Google Keep

Google KeepIf you aren't familiar with Google Keep, click here to read our blog post about it and learn more about this great app. If you are already using Google Keep, then you will definitely want to check out their Chrome extension, so you can quickly save items you come across to Keep. Everything you add will sync across all devices and platforms.  You can add notes and labels to items you save quickly and easily with this extension. Click here to get the Google Keep app and extension.

Google Cardboard
We hope you enjoyed our double header of new and improved Google tools. Next week's post will cover one more amazing tool that Google recently released: Google Cardboard. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Google Grand Slam, Part I

As you are getting back into the swing of things at school, we would like to offer some ways to add depth to your technology lineup with some of Google's newest features.

Share Students' Screens with Google Cast for EDU

Now students can share their screens with the class wirelessly from anywhere in the classroom using Google Cast for EDU. It is a free Chrome app and works with 
Google Classroom so it�s easy to invite students. Teachers run and control the Cast for Education app, and students can share their screens using the Cast feature in Chrome. Click here to learn how it works. 

Create Quizzes in Google Forms
While we still suggest using Schoology to create a quiz when you want it graded or you want to track mastery, formative assessments and exit tickets are now easy to create using Google Forms. Go to http://forms.google.com. There you'll be able to see templates you can use to get started or create a quiz from a blank form. For those who have checked out the new Google Forms, you may be pleased to hear that you can now add pictures to the answer choices in multiple choice questions. For more info on types of questions and how to use Google Forms to create quizzes, click here.

Google Classroom Updates
Google Classroom just keeps getting better! Now, using the Classroom mobile app, teachers and students can draw on, highlight, and write notes on documents and PDFs. The video you see below from the Google for Education Blog shows how it works. Click here for step-by-step directions.

Google Slides Presenter View
When presenting using Google slides, you now have the ability to see your speaker notes and accept questions from your audience during the presentation. Click here to see how it works. To get there, go to the down arrow next to Present, as shown to the right.

Next week as part of this Google double header, we'll explore some new and/or improved Google Extensions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: 4 Handy Enhancements in Schoology for the '16-'17 School Year

As we start the beginning of any school year, we typically post things related to updates and/or good ideas for getting the year going.  We posted earlier this month about "7 Steps for Starting the Year in Schoology" and "Outlook Email Awesomeness," and this week, we're posting about a few noteworthy additions in Schoology.

If you're curious about other things coming down the road, you can view the Schoology NEXT keynote from Ryan Hwang, Co-founder and VP of Product (posted on the Schoology Exchange).

1.  Syncing to custom grading categories in Powerschool

This year, those using the PowerTeacher Gradebook will be able to map Schoology gradebook categories to the categories in the PowerTeacher Gradebook (even if they are custom made!).

While we could map to Powerschool's "default 4" last year (homework, test, quiz, and project), teachers with custom categories (like "essay," "peer review," "vocab," etc.) had to manually change the category in the PowerTeacher Gradebook after syncing. Now mapping to PowerTeacher custom categories is an option.

To see how to map your categories, check out the support article in Schoology's Help Center.

2.  Lots of New Apps in the App Center

If you're looking to add some interactive elements into your course from other providers, Schoology has added quite a few new integrated apps in the App Center.  A few are subscription based, but apps like Quizlet, OneNote Class Notebook, TedEd, & CollegeBoard are just a couple that you might want to check out.  They will be adding even more as the year goes on, so stay tuned.

To see how to add apps from the App Center, check out the support article in Schoology's Help Center.

3.  New User Login Page for Mobile Devices (coming soon)

We have a lot of mobile app users, but the login page can be a bit confusing since we use MyCherrycreekschools to log into Schoology in CCSD.  The login page for mobile devices will be getting new look, making logging into Schoology even easier.  Instead of having to choose between "username" or "email," the page will ask you to choose your school first.  This will take you directly to the single sign-on page (in our case, http://my.cherrycreekschools.org).

For schools with shared devices, the app will remember the school, so students will only need to log out.  The next student who logs in will be automatically taken to my.cherrycreekschools.org.

4.  Assessment Management Platform (AMP)

This is easily the biggest addition for the '16-'17 school year.  Schoology announced the addition of AMP in June, which lets PLCs, schools, or the district deploy common assessments across multiple sections and collect the data centrally.

Probably the most exciting part is the new question types that are now available as part of the assessment builder, including technology enhanced items.

These question types will be available in the "old School"-ogy  test/quiz builder later on this year, but here are the question types that are currently part of AMP.   

  • Multiple Choice (auto graded)
  • True/False (auto graded)
  • Matching (auto graded)
  • Ordering (auto graded)
  • Fill in the Blank Text (auto graded)
  • Fill in the Blank Dropdown (auto graded)
  • Short Answer/Essay (teacher graded)
  • Shared Passage (mixed)
  • Label Image (auto graded)
  • Highlight Hotspot (auto graded)
  • Highlight Image (teacher graded)
  • Highlight Text (teacher graded)
  • Math Short Answer (teacher graded)
  • Number Line (auto graded)
  • Chart (auto graded)
For more information, check the support article in Schoology's Help Center.  Our team will be working with schools who wish to use AMP.

We hope everyone has had a great start to the year.   And as always, feel free to reach out to our team if you have questions or need support. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tuesday (Monday?) Tech Tip: Outlook Email Awesomeness

Before all of the emails start rolling in for the beginning of the year (as if they already haven�t!), here are a few things to know about the great Microsoft Office 365 Outlook Email migration of 2016.

First and foremost, the benefit of this change is that users have 50GB of space in their mailbox, which is much more than in the regular Outlook Client. Hopefully this will help with that mid-March �Your Mailbox is almost full� message. Now it can hold even more messages!

A few things about the Web App 

  1. The web app is still available from my.cherrycreekschools.org under the �Productivity� tab. You will probably see two tiles. The orange tile that has typically been used will be going away on Aug. 31, and you will then only see the blue tile. Why not be ahead of the game and use that fun new blue tile? (See below) 
  2. Also, one of the newer awesome features is you can make sure that recipients know they're being asked for input or action by including the @ symbol followed by the person's name to the body of an email or calendar item. This will also automatically add them to the To line. Hooray for saving time in the Web App!

New to the table: Add-ins!

Add-ins are a third party plug-in that allows you to add some fun and functionality to your emails. You can add new ones by creating a new email and selecting the hexagon icon at the bottom.

Then, click on "Get more add-ins". A few add-in recommendations:
  1. Giphy: Bring the power of a GIF search engine right into Outlook, and respond to emails with GIFs. Who doesn't love a good GIF?
  2. Emma: This is your personal e-mail-mood-analyzer. Emma is an expert for sentiment analysis and text mining. As your personal assistant Emma will tell you if an email is positive or negative (either as a sender or receiver).
  3. Emojis: Adds an emoji task pane to Outlook using the EmojiOne emoji set. Includes a history of recent emojis used, categories, search, and more.

A few things about personalization in the Web App:

  1. Add your picture to your contact information. To do this, click on the box in the upper right corner. This should have your contact information. Under the circle monogram, click �Change�. This will allow you to add your photo and will subsequently show up for others next to your name when you send them an email. 
  2. Choose your theme! This isn�t a new feature, but it�s still awesome. To do this, click on the settings gear wheel on the top right. Scroll down until you see �Theme�. Click on the image and then choose one of the other options you see there. (Personal recommendation: Super Sparkle Happy) 

The Outlook Web App�s classy new makeover really is the highlight of the Microsoft Office 365 migration. If you are using the desktop version, make sure you are using Windows 7. For assistance with upgrading the operating system, please submit a Mojo ticket to the Help Desk.

And speaking of Mojo and the Help desk, if you are having any issues at all with your email (Web App or Desktop version), please contact the Help Desk(54357) or send an email to mojo@helpdesk.org. The information released by the Help Desk regarding the new Microsoft Outlook can be found HERE, or in the Backyard.

Overall, the Microsoft Office 365 Outlook upgrade is pretty awesome. Let us know in the comments below what some of your new favorite features and/or add-ins are!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: 7 Steps for Starting the Year in Schoology

Here in Cherry Creek Schools, most of our teachers will be returning from break this Friday (although we do have some schools already in session!).  So, we wanted to post some tips about getting the school year started in Schoology.

Before we list "the 7," it's worth a reminder that Schoology has a great Help Center with more information about these topics.  If you've got a question about how something works, be sure to check there first.  We've linked any Help Center articles that may be helpful for each step.

#1:  Check Privacy Settings

Each course in Schoology has its own settings, and it's worth taking a look at your settings before your students access to make sure everything is set the way you want.  Using the Course Options pull-down, choose "Edit Privacy/Course Settings."  

The privacy settings for the course are by default set at "Organization," with the exception of roster.  However, you can either make parts of your course more restricted or more open.  If you only want those enrolled in your course to see the items, change the settings (see below) to "Course."  If, however, you want to use your course like a website for posting events and information, you can change the privacy to "Everyone" for Profile, Updates & Calendar.

If you don't want students to post course updates, be sure to move the permission to "Course Admins."  In addition, you'll want to think about the parent settings.  We'd recommend having both Anonymous Member Names and Hide Comments/Posts checked.

#2: Choose Your Default Landing Page

In the same area above ("Course Privacy Settings"), you can also determine which page students land on when they first enter your course from their Courses pull-down.  If you will be using Schoology primarily for announcements and updates, it might be a good idea to choose "Updates."  If you will be utilizing Schoology as your digital learning space, you will probably want students to first land in the "Materials" area.  You can always change these later, if your needs change.
Also, don't forget that every place in Schoology is basically a link.  Want your students to end up somewhere other than the Updates page or the Materials page?  Grab the URL from where you want them to go and share that link with them.  If they bookmark it, they will have easy access to the place you designate.

#3: Upload an Image for Your Course or Section

Each course has a default image of a book in the upper left corner, but if you mouse over the picture, you'll see the option to "Edit Picture."  Upload an image from your hard drive so that you can both personalize the section and find it more easily in your course pull-down.

#4: Link Sections (Help Center Article)

You'll want to do this ONLY at the beginning of a term as it gets tricky with losing data.  If you teach several sections of the same course, you can link them together so that they get the same materials.  

Caveat:  if you will be using Schoology to give online assessments, be aware that currently, there's no way to set different availability for assessments for different sections.   If you don't want to open an assessment for all sections at the same time, don't link sections.

#5: Connect Google Apps and/or OneDrive (Help Center Article)

If you've already done this, you won't need to do it again for the new year; however, if you use Google Drive to store files or OneDrive, you'll want to connect them as "Resource Apps" so that you can easily add content directly into your course.  To connect your Schoology account to your Google account, go under the "Resources" area and choose "Apps."  You'll see Google Drive already there, and while you have to "Approve" the first time, after that you can use the Google Drive Resource app to get files stored there.  Use OneDrive?  Use the "Install Apps" button and add it here.

#6: Organize Your Course with Folders (Help Center Article)

When setting up your course, be thinking about how to best organize your materials, both for you and for your students.  (If you need some ideas for different ways to set up your class, check out Schoology's post on 5 Simple Ways to Set Up Your Courses.)  You're going to want to rely heavily on folders, but don't forget that you have visual options for folders that can help organize (and pace) your course.  Be sure to:
  • title your folder by unit, date, topic, etc.
  • color code your folders, 
  • add descriptions and images that help guide your students, 
  • determine visibility dates or hide until you're ready for students to access it 
Remember that you can drag & drop things into a different order, if you need to.

#7: Set Up the Gradebook in Schoology

Depending on your level (see below), you may be syncing with Powerschool.  Tip: create the same categories in Schoology as you have in Powerschool so that you can push assignments from Schoology to Powerschool into the correct category (this year, you will be able to map to custom categories).  

Suggested settings for elementary schools:

Suggested settings for secondary schools (or those schools syncing with Powerschool):

We hope everyone has a smooth and successful start to the school year!

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...