Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trust Me -- You ARE Doing Great Things with Tech

I have said it before, but it is worth repeating.

Hardly a day goes by without me hearing about something a teacher is doing with tech in their classroom that is both transformative and engaging for students. These are things that were not even possible without the use of technology (an "M" or "R" on the SAMR framework).

Yet, I often hear from teachers, "I'm not doing anything special with tech in my classroom."

What a wonderful sign for our growth as a staff. We predicted a few years back, "There will come a day when you will take the use of tech in your classroom for granted." The reality is many teachers across our system may have arrived at that point already.

However, we have to be careful here.  Not everybody is in that same place with their tech adoption. We have people who are just available to learn about how the tech might support instruction. We have new staff members.

For that reason, we must reflect on the things that we ARE doing with tech already. They are a big deal. There are teachers in our system that would be so thankful to be able to do what you already can. There are teachers who are unsure of what Google Classroom even is or how it could be used. There are teachers who don't know how to use Google Docs to have students collaborate. There are teachers who do not teach from their iPad or who are new to some of the core apps. These are just a few things that you may with ease that others would feel is a monumental task.

While the things you do with technology daily may feel small or insignificant to you, taking a moment to teach a colleague what you do just might be the support they need to try something new in their classroom.

So, if you have thought, I don't really do anything special enough to present at The One Conference, stop yourself and shift your thinking. Instead try, Maybe sharing the things that I do naturally in my classroom with technology would be beneficial to my colleagues.

While you are at it, congratulate yourself for your investment to learning and growing in your instructional practice to find new ways to engage your students with technology. It is an investment of time and energy that is paying dividends for your students.

Friday, December 9, 2016

It's that Time of Year Again!

This always feels like a strange time of year for me. I can't believe it is already December and I am once again encouraging staff members to present at the One Conference! Didn't we just do this? I LOVE the conference and the feel that our professional development has on that day. But it only happens when we as staff members are willing to share what we are doing in our own classroom/instruction with others!

In talking with staff and maybe trying to nudge a few into participating; I often hear, "It's nothing special," "Everyone knows how to do that,"  or the famed, "It's not techie enough for the conference." We do tend to be tougher on ourselves than anyone else would. No idea is too big or too small; we have staff at all levels of technology integration and you'd be surprised how many may not have experience with a tool or activity that you are using.

STEP Outside the Box! will be the theme for this year’s conference. We are asking presenters to explain how they have taken their technology practice to a new level.
  • What are you doing now in your classroom that you could not have accomplished without the technology?
  • What steps did you take to get here?
  • How has it transformed your instructional practice?
  • How are you meeting the needs of your learners through the use of technology?

It is through this open minded mentality of sharing and risk taking that we all grow and learn a little more. For some of you presenting would be a venture outside the box!  Help us make the One Conference a phenomenal day! Please submit a proposal to present at the One Conference, proposals are due by 12/19/16.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Thanks for Tech Tools in Waukesha Classrooms

For many educators across the School District of Waukesha, we can recall a time when the only way to do something meaningful with technology was to:

  • Schedule time in a computer lab (of course the most organized person in the building had already booked out the year before school even began, leaving the rest to fight for openings).
  • Plan a time in the computer lab, only to find out that your students were not quite ready to use the lab on the day you had it reserved (or an impromptu fire drill chewed up 20 minutes of your lab time).
Those missing keyboard keys on
school laptops often made it
difficult to efficiently type.
  • Waste five minutes walking to a computer lab, another seven logging in to the computers, and the last two encouraging students to save their work and log off.
  • Wait for somebody to physically arrive at your building to solve some tech problems they can now assess and fix virtually.
  • Await the use of a C.o.W (laptop cart on wheels), only for some of the computers to arrive with missing keyboard keys, interesting words spelled with re-arranged keyboard keys from a creative student, dead batteries, or entirely dead laptops, meaning some of your kids had nothing to work on.

While some of that is just a way of life with technology, the reality is that students and educators in our system are generally utilizing our devices/tech to be more efficient, more timely, to allow students to move through lessons at their own pace, and to extend learning beyond the school day.

In the past few weeks I have had several conversations in which educators have expressed their gratitude for the tools our students and staff have access to across Waukesha.

My Kids Can Literally Do Anything

A teacher shared with me that she truly feels like anything is possible for her students today, largely because of the availability of the technology in her classroom.  She was so excited that with the skills her students learn from using the technology, by having the tech in their hands, they could create anything, share their voice in a way that could be heard by the world, and solve any problem.  

"Imagine being this age [these are 4th grade students] and realizing that you can share your ideas with the whole world! Imagine what that does to your view of the world."

It Has Changed How I Teach

In an impromptu visit to one teacher's classroom, I noticed many of the students were using their iPads to document their research in science.  I asked if her students had any Book Creator projects to share with me, so I could show others the quality work they are doing. 

The teacher said, "We have so many." The teacher then went on to say, "We do such wonderful things on our iPads. I love them.  The iPads have truly changed how I teach science and social studies in my classroom."

We Don't Realize How Fortunate We Are

A few months ago I spoke with a former Waukesha teacher who had moved on to other opportunities. 

One of the points that the teacher made absolutely clear to me was that educators and students in Waukesha are truly fortunate to have such a wide range of technology/tools available to use in our classrooms. This particular teacher was in the process of encouraging his school district to adopt Google Apps for Education, as he had no way to share with students or have them collaborate with each other. He said, "You lack the perspective of what other schools really have when you are in a system like Waukesha." 

We have heard this sentiment repeatedly from former staff members who have experienced the availability of technology to students and to staff members in other districts.

Waukesha One Gratitude

As you reflect on how the tech tools Waukesha One made available have impacted you, your students, and your classroom, take a moment to share your thoughts with the world.  

If you are on Twitter, the #sdwone hashtag is a great way to express your thoughts and gratitude. That hashtag also works on Google+. Or just offer your comments in the comment box below.

Celebrating SDW's Growth in Technology Adoption

We want to pass along our most sincere gratitude for your continued willingness to help us understand how we are shifting in our thoughts and practices related to technology adoption in classrooms.  708 of our SDW staff members recently completed the Fall 2016 Technology Profile survey.

This data is meaningful and useful in many ways, from planning professional learning opportunities (at the building and district levels) to determining what technology skills and beliefs our staff already hold.

It also helps us to look at trends of professional practice and professional beliefs about the use of tech. And there is great news to share on that front.

Growth by the Numbers

Our staff's consistent investment of time and energy into learning how to best use these tools to support instruction is palpable across our system. Every day our Instructional Tech Coordinator team has opportunities to see growth in our staff, and to witness new approaches to teaching and learning that were not previously possible. While we can feel that shift, while we can see that shift, summing that growth up into hard data is difficult.  The responses from the SDW Technology Profile survey help us to do exactly that.

The great news is that the numbers show the growth that we can feel.  Below you will find an infographic that compares data from our first survey to our most recent survey.  The first Technology Profile was completed four year ago in Fall 2012. We had 724 respondents at that time. The most recent survey was in Fall of 2016 and we had 708 respondents.

Take a look for yourself. Help us to celebrate the professional growth! Share your key takeaways on Twitter using the #sdwone hashtag!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hear All Students' Thoughts: Recording Audio Using Your iPad and GarageBand

There are many ways we can assess student thinking and understanding. The use of technology provides additional ways to do this more efficiently and creatively.

A simple audio recording of student thinking is one way to easily capture your student's thinking.
While a teacher could just as easily speak to students to capture a glimpse of their thinking, there are some clear advantages to having your students record their audio responses.
  • Review Student Thinking at Your Convenience
    • Students audio record their thinking, share it with their teacher via Google Drive or Classroom, and the teachers can review those audio files at a time more convenient than taking precious time in class to do so.
  • Hear the Thinking of All Students
    • For those students less inclined to take intellectual risks and share their thinking in front of peers, audio recording is one way to make sure teachers hear the thoughts of all students in the class.
  • Record Small Group Conversations
    • Breakout groups and turn-and-talk shoulder partners are effective ways to have students share their thinking with others, but the teacher generally misses the conversation (and the opportunity to assess student understanding). Have small groups record audio of their conversations, as both an accountability tool (making sure kids are staying on topic) and as a way to listen in on the conversations of each group.
  • Student Review of Thinking from Previous Lessons
    • While hearing a student's thinking today is valuable to the teacher, having students reflect on their own thinking from an earlier conversation/lesson may give students an opportunity to consider their growth and reflect on their opinions. This review of earlier thoughts (in a student's own words) is made easy with audio recordings stored in Google Drive.

Using GarageBand for Simple Audio Recording

If we have hooked you and you want to learn more about how to have your students create audio recordings using their iPads, you'll be happy to hear that the steps to make it happen in your classroom are quick and simple.

Your students (and you) will use GarageBand. GarageBand is available to SDW students and staff in the Self Service app free of charge.

If GarageBand seems intimidating (there is a lot it can do), this short instructional video will show you (and your students) how to easily set GarageBand up for simple audio recording. It will also demonstrate how to send GarageBand audio files to Google Drive for easy sharing and playback

Tutorial in GarageBand for iOS 11

Same Tutorial for older versions of GarageBand

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Give Your Students Feedback with Google Forms

Recent additions to Google Forms will make grading Google Forms quizzes even easier for teachers. Additionally, the new tool can be used to quickly and easily send feedback from those quizzes directly to students.

For anybody familiar with creating Google Forms, this feature addition is going to be quite easy to adopt quickly. If you are new to Google Forms, it is a tool that is quite easy to use.

Chad Kafka has a wonderful introductory video that introduces how the Quizzes tool in Google Forms functions.

Once you have decided to dig in and give this teacher-friendly function a try, this support guide from Google should help.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Be an Advocate: Updating iPads

Across the district teachers are pleased with some of the newest additions to the Waukesha One program to further support teaching and learning.  Whether it is greater functionality and reliability with Casper Focus, new features available in Apple Classroom, increased controls over acceptable apps, or the ability to request apps to be pushed directly to students in Self Service, there have been some significant changes.

To take full advantage of these changes, though, student and staff iPads should be updated to the newest iOS operating system as soon as possible.

Be an Update Advocate

First, make sure you serve as an example and update your staff device.

Next, we ask that staff members encourage students to update their iOS operating system as well. Many students take care of updates on their own. However, mentioning to students that updating is important will encourage even more students to take care of this important process.

While we do not advocate being the first person to download an update of software (for fear of data loss or unexpected bugs), several weeks after a new operating system is released, it is fairly safe and generally advantageous to update. We recommend doing so at this point for any recent releases.

Updating an iPad

There are a few key steps to remember when updating an operating system.

Back Up the Data

1. Make an iCloud backup of your device. Specific directions are available here.
2. Back up all important school work within apps (such as Book Creator, Notability, Explain Everything, etc.) to Google Drive. Sending this work to Google Drive will make it available for re-download after the update if needed.

Check the Charge Level

iPads typically will not update unless they are charged to over 50% or plugged in.

Initiate the Update

1. This will take some time. Set aside at least 20 min. or more where the iPad will not be needed.
2. Tap Settings > General > Software Update.
3. Tap Download and Install.
4. Respond to any on-screen prompts or need for a passcode.

Complete directions are available here.

Push Apps to Your Students: Reviewing the New App Approval Process

A few weeks ago we announced that a new app approval process in the School District of Waukesha. The goal is to make it easier for students to get access to the apps they use in class without an Apple ID.  

Many staff members are already using this process to have apps pushed out to students. However, there are still many questions about the new process, so let's take a moment to review.

Before Requesting an App in Self Service

Just as teachers have always done, staff should check out the quality and safety of the app before submitting it for approval.  There is a helpful guide that can get you started as you explore an app that you would like to see students use in your classroom.

Additionally, we ask that teachers of similar grade levels or subjects within a building come to a consensus on which apps will be available to students. For instance, teachers at each building in Kindergarten and 1st Grade across our elementary schools started this process by calling meetings, discussing which apps would be on their approved list, and then submitting these apps for approval. We ask that you work with your colleagues to do the same before submitting an app request.

Request Apps to be Placed in Self Service

App requests must be entered into the 
SDW Self Service App Request Form available here:

Apps will be reviewed for key elements that include instructional value, terms of use, student privacy and data collection. This process may take some time depending on the volume of requests, so please plan ahead. Not all apps will be approved.  Whether approved or not, the person submitting an app approval to SDW Self Service App Request form will receive email notification of the determination made.

Installing the Apps to Student iPads

Once an app has been approved, students should visit Self Service to download the app. No Apple ID is required. Teachers will need to download the apps from the App Store with the professional Apple ID created when you received your district Mac and iPad. 

As students move through the system, these apps will come and go from their iPads automatically (within a reasonable amount of time). As  a student moves from one building to another, or to a new grade level (as indicated in Infinite Campus), new apps will become available to the student in Self Service while some previously assigned apps may leave the student's iPad.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple Teacher: Using the Powerful Tools Already in Your Hands

Rolling out a new app approval process in our district has many educators eager to easily share their favorite apps with their students. It is an exciting shift and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Attending an Apple event yesterday, I was reminded of the power of the tools and apps ALREADY on our district iPads. That stands for both students and teachers!

You can put these tools to work for you and your students today, whether it is:
  • using AirDrop to share files and project templates from any core app with students as they are ready for them, 
  • turning on and teaching ALL students to use the Accessibility features on the iPad to support every students unique abilities, 
  • utilizing free, high quality content from iTunes U to find personalized resources in all subjects, 
  • or putting the powerful suite of Apple Apps (iWork apps, iMovie, GarageBand, and Photos) already on the iPads to better use with students.
Recently Apple announced a new program that is intended to offer educators a leg up on better utilizing the iPad and the Mac within the classroom. It is called Apple Teacher. It is a FREE training and certification program that teaches in depth about the various Apple Apps and features on iPad and Mac, provides insight and ideas for utilizing the tools with your students, and offers a certification test for those interested in being recognized as an Apple Teacher.

Several teachers around the district have already completed their Apple Teacher certifications, but more importantly, are re-discovering how the power of these tools can be put to use in the classroom.

If you are interested in signing up for the Apple Teacher program, visit this link.

Even if you are not interested, it is worth taking a moment to look at Apple Education/Teacher page. Here are just a few articles worthy of your time that might spark some ideas for you.

  • How iBooks Author and iBooks on iPad transformed one school
  • Making things easier to see for some students by inverting colors on the iPad
  • Make data and charts interactive using Numbers on the iPad
  • View every student's screen at once with Apple Classroom
  • Teachers can take free workshops to learn Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc. at Apple Stores
  • Exploring the heart with an app
  • Making waves with Advanced Physics on the iPad

Consider reviewing some of the resources, but more importantly, pick up your iPad and start exploring app icons that have been sitting in Self Service or on your home screen for some time, but that you have yet to dig into. Maybe that spark of inspiration will strike you!

If you are already an Apple Teacher, let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 30, 2016

So, You've Lost Access to iMessage: The Responsibility to Speak Up!

Two apps that many students across our district have consistently used responsibly for communicating with friends, classmates, parents, and even distant relatives, have been blocked across our system: iMessage and FaceTime.

It leaves some students and parents asking a fair question: Why?

The simple answer is easy: 
Many of our students did NOT make wise decisions when using these apps.

The more important answer, though, is a larger life lesson.

Understanding the Decision to Remove Apps

When putting these tools into our student's hands, it is accompanied by an iPad Pledge agreement that each student signs. In that agreement students give their word to follow the rules outlined for appropriate use of the iPads.

Statement #3 on that pledge reads:
I will follow my teacher, or principal’s judgment as to appropriateness of an application, and understand they may ask me to discontinue use of an application that is not appropriate.

While FaceTime and iMessage have been removed from the iPads of individual students who have been distracted by these apps all along, the distraction from learning and general misuse related to the use of these apps at school has grown to the point that something larger had to be done. The decision to remove these apps was a collective decision encourage by educators and administrators across our system.

It is easy to be angry with SDW staff for removing the apps, but remember that the primary responsibility of teachers and administrators is to keep students focused on learning. It is no fault of these people that the privilege was abused by a growing number of students.

The Life Lesson

These apps, a privilege for all and a benefit to many, were removed from all student devices. Even if most students made the right choices with these apps, the growing problem caused all students to lose the privilege.

And that is a fairly consistent lesson to be learned about life. The inappropriate actions of the few can sometimes lead to unfair consequences for all. There are so many examples to point out.

Perhaps the company you work at has a loose policy on start times, but an increasing number of employees begin to abuse this privilege and show up later each day. What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a small, local charity offers their resources to as many as they can help, but an increasing number of people not in true need begin to take advantage of the resources, leaving those truly in need without the resources necessary? What do you think will happen?

Perhaps a community park is open to all, trusting that those using it will help maintain the park. When a few people stop cleaning up after themselves, stop taking ownership of the park, start vandalizing the park, what do you think will happen?

The list of examples is wide and real. It is the cause of frustration for many of us, young people and adults alike.

Take Action

There is always something we can do, though.

  • We can identify the privileges we are given. 
  • We can speak up when people take advantage of those privileges.

Take this small example of losing iMessage and FaceTime on student iPads.  

Did you ever use these apps inappropriately yourself? Did you ever remind a friend or a classmate that using iMessage inappropriately during school was not acceptable?  Did you ever support an adult or another classmate who was trying to send this message? 

The answer may be that you never had opportunities to speak up to encourage somebody to do the right thing. But then again, maybe that opportunity was there. Did you seize it?

Speaking up is not always easy, and it may not always be welcomed feedback. However, when we do own the responsibility to speak up, we remind others that the privileges we have are worth appreciating.

Revising the App Selection Process in Waukesha

One of the first lessons we learn about technology is that change is inevitable.

At the onset of Waukesha One (four years ago), we rolled out an app selection process that provided everybody with a stable, reliable, versatile set of apps called Core Apps. Layered atop core apps, parents, students, and teachers self-selected apps from the app store that would be beneficial to their specific situations.  Without question, this was a popular and successful method for introducing apps into our educational systems. 

As a system, we are at a point where we need to re-visit and revise our app selection and distribution process. We are learning from our teachers and students which apps are most ideal for the work staff and students do daily. We also have more tools available today that can make delivery of these apps more efficient and provide better service to all of you.

Apps and App Store Remain Available

To be clear, the App Store will continue to be accessible on SDW provided iPads. Apps purchased by students, teachers, and families will not be erased or removed. If an individual wishes to put an app from the app store on the iPad with their own regular Apple ID, they will still be able to do so.

Significant Apple ID Changes for Students

Apple's approved program and process for creating Apple IDs has shifted twice since our first rollout a few years ago. We now have a method for generating Managed Apple IDs that have the sole ability to back up content from the iPad. They cannot purchase apps from the app store.  These will be the SDW district-approved Apple IDs moving forward. It will take some time for these changes to be fully realized in a system our size. 

Previously we encouraged students and families to create their own Apple ID or an Under 13 Apple ID.  We will no longer encourage students or families to do this. We will now provide students an alternate method for accessing approved apps that does not require an Apple ID.

App Distribution to Students via Self Service

The Core Apps are not going anywhere. These apps are available district-wide, are widely used, and have been instrumental supports for many instructional transformations across the district.

Moving forward, instructors will be able to suggest apps they feel should be added to Self Service that will be available to students across their building, at their grade level, and eventually even for specific groups of students.  After the app has gone through a thorough vetting process, approved apps will be available to the identified students via Self Service without need for an Apple ID.

Vetting Apps for Use with Students

Just as teachers have always done, it remains the primary responsibility of the teacher to check out the quality and safety of the app before submitting it for approval.  There is a helpful guide that can get you started as you explore an app that you would like to see students use in your classroom.

Additionally, we ask that teachers of similar grade levels or subjects within a building come to a consensus on which apps will be available to students. For instance, teachers at each building in Kindergarten and 1st Grade across our elementary schools started this process by calling meetings, discussing which apps would be on their approved list, and then submitting these apps for approval. We ask that you work with your colleagues to do the same before submitting an app request.

Approval of Apps

App requests must be entered into the SDW Self Service App Request Form available here:

Apps will be reviewed for key elements that include instructional value, terms of use, student privacy and data collection. This process may take some time depending on the volume of requests. Allow sufficient time for review, approval, and distribution of the app in Self Service. Not all apps will be approved.  All submissions for a Self Service App Request will receive email notification of the determination made.

Using the Apps

Once an app has been approved, students should visit Self Service to download the app. No Apple ID is required. Teachers may need to download the apps from the App Store with the professional Apple ID created when you received your district Mac and iPad. 

As students move through the system, these apps will come and go from their iPads automatically (within a reasonable amount of time). As  a student moves from one building to another, or to a new grade level (as indicated in Infinite Campus), new apps will become available to the student in Self Service while some previously assigned apps may leave the student's iPad.

Supporting Our Instructional Goals

While any new process can shift how we do something we were previously comfortable with, we believe this new process is going to be a positive change that will continually support the instructional goals across our system.
As always, your Instructional technology team is willing and ready to help you navigate through technology to find what best suites your instructional outcomes. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Waukesha One SAIL Team: Working Theory of Action

This week the Waukesha One SAIL Team re-convened to discuss the state of Waukesha One within our district. Just as every other "big rock" in Waukesha has utilized the SAIL process to refine and solidify a vision moving forward, the Waukesha One team is working to do the same.

The team now has a working Theory of Action for Waukesha One and we would like to share it with the community. We encourage you to review and reflect upon how the Waukesha One Theory of Action impacts you, your students, and your school. Please feel free to offer your comments and suggestions as well. The team will continually use your feedback to improve the vision of Waukesha One.

Waukesha One Theory of Action

IF  each school identifies what technology can be infused in their high leverage practices based upon clearly identified model uses of the technology
IF  we have a vehicle to promote communication about our Waukesha One purpose and outcomes to individuals who can effectively interact with that information
IF instructional leaders have a foundational knowledge of the SAMR Framework and how it impacts instructional practices
THEN SAMR will become a part of coaching and feedback to teachers, become an intentional part of the instructional planning process, and provide a better understanding of the program vision/goals
IF we create a community that encourages dialogue where all parties can contribute information about the program
THEN all participants will benefit by having access to the most current information/ideas while better understanding the Waukesha One key tenets
IF we focus on promoting the benefits of employing the available tools
THEN we will shift understanding to value the contribution technology can provide
IF school-level, high-leverage practices are clearly identified and communicated
THEN technology can be infused to support and enhance instructional practices
IF model technology classroom look-fors are identified, modeled, and practiced
THEN instructional leaders can provide vision, feedback and coaching to further build practice
THEN we will encourage greater understanding among the stakeholders, and adoption of impactful high-leverage practices in classrooms that impact student engagement and achievement.

General Summary

In our SAIL team conversation, there were generally a few summarizing points that the team felt wrapped up the beliefs stated above.
  • Communication around Waukesha One needs to continually improve. Waukesha One is rooted in providing students and staff access to tools that will help them be more efficient and more successful in the efforts of teaching and learning. Focusing on improving communication will allow us avoid distractions from those goals, hone in on best practices to achieve those goals, and maintain our focus on the primary reasons we have "hired" these tools to support our work.
  • Clarifying for all stakeholders how technology can support teaching and learning must be a primary focus for Waukesha One. Key steps to achieve this are:
    •  developing a common, district-wide language for discussing how technology is utilized for teaching/learning (SAMR),
    • linking the instructional high leverage practices an educator utilizes with the tools that will allow them to be more efficient or will allow students to engage more deeply is critical, and
    • creating functioning classroom models within our system of best instructional practices that infuse technology will offer educators a functional vision of what is possible through the integration of technology.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Creating Class Rosters for Use with Casper Focus or Apple Classroom

Classroom management in a technology rich classroom continues to be a commonly asked question within our district. And rightfully so... there are a lot of changes in our learning environments as iPads are introduced.

While our traditional golden rules for classroom management (the tried-and-true ones that we used to successfully manage classrooms before the introduction of technology) are still critical in our learning environments, there are additional tools that can help teachers to take control of the technology in students' hands.

Last year teachers heavily relied on Casper Focus for this purpose.  This year, Apple Classroom steps in as another classroom management option. Apple Classroom has many of the features of Casper Focus, but it also allows teachers to take a "screen" view of their students while they are at school. This means you can get snapshots of what the students are doing on their screen right on your iPad, without looking over their shoulder.

The beauty is, once you've built your Casper Focus class rosters, you can use both tools! That means you can select the right tool to suit your needs and style.

(As of early September 2016, Apple Classroom is still in an early experimental stage within our district.)

Below are the first steps to getting started with using EITHER of these tools!

Further tutorials for use of Apple Classroom will be coming soon! 

If you are not already subscribed, a great place to be informed when our tutorials are posted is to subscribe to our YouTube channel (click the red "Subscribe" button when you land there).

Casper Focus Course Builder: 

Building a Class List for Classes Scheduled in Infinite Campus

Starting with the 2016/17 school year, if you are building a Casper Focus class list to use with Casper Focus, and if that list is made up of students already scheduled as a rostered class in Infinite Campus, you can use the SDW Intranet Casper Focus tool to automatically create class lists for you. The video below will demonstrate how to use this tool:

Building a Customized Casper Focus List

If you are building a customized Casper Focus class list to use with Casper Focus, but the students are not scheduled in a course in Infinite Campus already, you'll need to log in to Casper (click the name to get to the Casper link) with the following login credentials:

If you are not aware of the password to log in, it is available here. (This is a password protected site for SDW staff.)

This video tutorial will demonstrate how to create customized lists from there:

Editing Your Class List for Casper Focus

Once you have created your class list for use with Casper Focus (or Apple Classroom) you will likely need to change the roster from time-to-time (students leaving class, new students joining class, etc.).  This must be done manually in the Casper interface. The video below demonstrates how to  edit class rosters or add teachers to the roster.

Again, if you are not aware of the password to log in, it is available here. (This is a password protected site for SDW staff.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

SDW Technology Profile Results Available for Spring 2016 Survey

 A few weeks back we completed our Spring 2016 round of the SDW Technology Profile survey.  

This tool has been utilized within our district since mid-2012 and provides a snapshot of the growth and changes we have made related to our beliefs about and uses of technology within the classroom.

The Spring data is our most important data collection point as it provides a picture of our growth in our technology adoption and beliefs for the year.

Results are live now. We encourage you to explore the data and to compare to previous reports to understand the change that has taken place within our system.

You will find the Technology Profile Spring 2016 results for all buildings and for the district here.

Using the Data from the Technology Profile

The most important part of completing this survey is actually using the data that is collected.

This data can tell us an important story about our thoughts, beliefs, and uses of technology.   If we can use this data to help us understand what our strengths and struggles are with technology, we can make a wide variety of decisions. When selecting which technology to utilize to support an instructional practice, we can use this data to determine where a building's strengths and preferences are related to technology.

Why is that important?  

Well, if we determine that using a multimedia tool to support an instructional practice, we can look to our Technology Profile results to see what our building's beliefs and uses are around the Use of Media.  

Wondering about your staff's willingness to try something new or take a risk?  Hearing from some staff that they  feel the network isn't working as regularly as they would prefer, but you are not really sure? Maybe you are wondering if your staff is using the digital tools to collect student assessment data to make instructional planning decisions, but you don't have the data. Perhaps you are considering how to shift to a blended model of instruction, but you are wondering if your staff has a working understanding of Blackboard (the tool you would use to deliver instruction in this model).

All of this information (and more) is available within the SDW Technology Profile. Even better, you can track your progress in relation to this question and you can determine what lasting impact your professional development had on shifting staff beliefs and practices for staff.

As you can see, this information can definitely be useful for a wide variety of stakeholders.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tips for Avoiding Digital Distraction

Looking for a way to share this list with your students?

 Here it is:

Technology has had a profound impact on the way we learn. It impacts how we access information, communicate, and complete work. With the many advantages of having technology as part of our everyday lives, along with it comes the chance to multitask. Multitasking, while seeming to make us more productive, has been proven to be less effective. It is important to find a balance with technology, especially in the classroom. The following tips will aid users in balancing the digital distractions they face as they use technology.


It’s easy to get distracted when your device reminds you of everything else you could be doing. Try the following strategies to minimize tech distractions.

  • Clear your digital workspace
    • Organize apps into folders to help clear the clutter
  • Open only applications needed for the task-at-hand
    • Close out of all non-essential apps by swiping them away, make it more difficult to switch between tasks
  • Set a goal/make a list/set a timer
    • Determine a plan of attack for the task-at-hand, make a list of action steps, set a time frame in which those tasks can be completed, use a timer (already built into most devices) to sharpen your focus
  • Take a tech break
    • Once you reach your goal in the action plan/reached a set time period, take a short break to check in with the “world” (using the apps that distract you most often) -- then refocus your energy and get back to the task
  • Turn off notifications
    • Use the features on your iPad to turn off notifications that may pop up or distract you, including the sound
  • Be aware of your distractedness
    • Use an app to see how often you are checking your technology. Has it become an addiction?


Sometimes minimizing distraction is just not enough. Take these additional steps when you struggle to focus on the work that must be done.

  • Hide apps within folders
    • Put all social networking or games apps that prove to be most distracting in a folder furthest from your home screen
  • Know your ideal learning environment (sound, seating, surroundings)
    • Does having music help or distract you? What about white noise? Busy surroundings?
    • What type of seating and table space work best for the task-at-hand?
    • What triggers may distract you? What surrounding do you find that you are most productive in?
    • Swipe up from the bottom of your iPad to access settings for Do Not Disturb. This will silence all calls, alerts, and notifications based on the settings you have set. Change the preferences in your settings apps.
    • Restrictions can temporarily remove or disable features on the iPad, block specific websites, etc (making it annoying for you to multitask)
    • Guided access limits you to a single app to maintain focus
    • Make sure you remember the passcode for either of these options!


Still off task? It’s time for more drastic measures!

  • Delete distracting apps (specifically social networking and games)
    • If just staring at the app on your home screen causes you to focus on the messages you are missing, it’s time to consider removing the app from your device.  Tap and hold on the app icons until they “jiggle” and click the “x” to delete the app from your device.
  • Eliminate additional technology/devices
    • That phone sitting next to your laptop sitting next to your iPad might be one device too many. Put the device(s) that are not the primary one away (out of sight, out of mind).  And turn off the ringer and vibration, too!
  • Use apps to temporarily limit or block access
  • Ask somebody else to restrict you or set guided access
    • Find yourself cheating the restrictions you have set on yourself? It’s time to find a friend, parent, or teacher who will set a secret passcode on your restrictions. Make sure you trust this person and that they remember the passcode they set.
  • Go offline for a period of time
    • Download needed content to the app in use, use Google Apps offline, and turn off your wifi temporarily to remove your connection

Self-regulate your technology use and distractions now so that when it really counts (college or the workplace), you have found a system that works best for you. Work to find the balance now and ensure your success!