Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Call For Presenters!

Avast, Ye Mateys!

It is time to submit your proposals for a One Conference session. We are calling for "All Hands on Deck!" Less than 2 weeks left,  proposals due by 12/18.

Join us on January 22nd and share how you are implementing technology in your classroom.  The waters are calm and shark-free.  Come and share your experiences with fellow staff members as we become a stronger crew rowing in the same direction.

Set sail for our pirating future and submit your proposal here!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Learn what's new in Google Calendar - Calendar Help


Google Calendar Launches a New Interface!

Have you clicked that Use new Calendar button on your Google Calendar? Wonder how to manage your schedule in the new interface?

The "New" Google Calendar was designed to give you more information about your meetings and appointments right from your calendar. With just a glance you can see who has responded with their availability, where the event is being held, and even respond to the invite. Save clicks by not having to dig into every event to get the pertinent information! You can even create events much faster in the new interface.

Learn more about the new calendar and how to configure your settings here:
Learn what's new in Google Calendar - Calendar Help

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Teaching Academic Honesty: SafeAssign Plagiarism Checker in Blackboard

Teaching students the importance of ethics and academic honesty is an important part of what we must teach students when we work with them. One topic in this universe of academic ethics is a focus on giving credit to others when citing somebody's ideas, work, or writing in our own work.

While there are many tools you can use to check for plagiarism, in our district we use Blackboard as a platform. One wonderful feature built into Blackboard is the SafeAssign plagiarism checker.

Teach Academic Honesty; Don't Just Punish Dishonesty!

Let me first say this: no automated plagiarism checking tool is perfect. With just a few tweaks and changes to text, a savvy student can outwit a computer algorithm if they want to do so. For this reason, I encourage teachers to trust your teaching instinct first. After teaching writing for many years, I can tell you -- if it looks, feels, and sounds like the work a student submitted is not in the style your student typically writes in, have that tough conversation.

Additionally, I will caution against using the results of ANY plagiarism checking tool as "evidence" for investigating the "crime" of plagiarism. Stealing others ideas without giving proper credit is inappropriate, offensive, unethical, and dishonest. That is at the root of plagiarism, and that is a big deal.  However, using a plagiarism checker as our foolproof personal plagiarism detection service to catch students who are passing other's ideas off as their own is the start of the work with students, not the end! We must teach and re-teach these critical skills to students to help them avoid making this mistake in the future when the stakes may be much higher (loss of a scholarship, expulsion from college, fired from a job, lawsuit for patent infringement, etc.). Consequences for students who submit plagiarized work are appropriate, but just make sure you have considered the teaching aspect in helping students better understand and navigate academic honesty.

Using Safe Assign in Blackboard

SafeAssign is a tool we have available to teachers as a result of using Blackboard in our district. It is a built in service that looks at submitted work and compares the work against a library of online and academic resources to determine the originality of the work.

To use SafeAssign, you must use Blackboard. Here are the steps for utilizing SafeAssign in a Blackboard Assignment. If you prefer a video tutorial, a Setting Up a SafeAssign Assignment video is available.

Step 1: Create an Assignment

While in Edit mode in Blackboard, you will need to create an Assignment that students will submit the work to for SafeAssign to check.  In the "Build Bar" click "Assessments" and then select "Assignment" from the list.


Step 2: Select SafeAssign

Provide an assignment name and description as you built the assignment in Blackboard.  Within the assignment options, scroll down to the "Submission Details" tab and click it to open.  Select "Check submissions for plagiarism using SafeAssign" to turn on the SafeAssign plagiarism checker. You can also determine if students should see the SafeAssign report or not within these options.

Step 3: Assign Points to Assignment

Blackboard has its own grade book. You do not have to use it to utilize SafeAssign. However, to create an assignment in Blackboard you will need to assign points to each assignment. Any point value will do, but scroll up into the Assignment window you are editing and be sure to include a value in the Points Possible field.

Step 5: Click Submit

Once you click Submit, your assignment is ready for students to begin posting their work for SafeAssign to check the authenticity of their work.


Student Submissions to SafeAssign Assignments

SafeAssign is not designed to check work in Google Docs. The best format for students to submit their work for SafeAssign checking is in Word format. 

Fear not! This conversion from Google Docs to Word is super easy for students in the Docs app on iPad.  This video demonstrates how students will make a Word format copy of their paper to submit to the Blackboard Assignment.


Once a student has shifted their Google Doc to a Word format, it's time to submit the work to the Assignment in Blackboard. This video tutorial below will show the basics of submitting our newly converted file (stored in Google Drive) to an assignment in SafeAssign.


While it may seem as if there are many directions to follow to make this process work, in reality, the student directions are very straight forward and direct. Once students have done this a few times they will become very comfortable with the steps needed to submit their work to a SafeAssign assignment in Blackboard.


Viewing SafeAssign "Reports" in Blackboard

Once a student has submitted their work to a SafeAssign assignment, SafeAssign will do the plagiarism checking for the teacher and student. SafeAssign generates an "originality report" that highlights the content it suspects has been copied from another source and provides a link to the other source. SafeAssign works in percentages, suggesting how much of a paper is original content from the student, and how much is copied from other sources. Remember, if a student properly cites their work, it is not plagiarism. However, even if they properly cite the source, if 40% or more of a paper is directly copied from other sources, that is still a critical conversation to have with the student about the originality of their work and the depth of their thought and research.

In this last video, you will see how a teacher checks the originality report generated by SafeAssign.  This is done in the Grade Center in Blackboard. While many SDW teachers may not be comfortable using the Grade Center, it is fairly easy to use and will be something teachers gain comfort with as they use it more regularly. 

Remember to Teach Academic Honesty

One last reminder on our responsibility as an educator when dealing with academic honesty and plagiarized content.

Checking a student's paper for plagiarized content should not be viewed as an equivalent to catching a criminal in the act of doing a crime. Academic dishonesty is serious and should be treated as such, but educators are responsible for teaching academic honesty and how to avoid plagiarism when we witness it. It is not enough to just punish students for engaging in plagiarism.

Additionally, make sure you are setting a proper example. Stealing the work of others without citing your source is never okay, and if educators wish to hold students to a high standard regarding academic honesty (and we must!), then we must hold ourselves to an equally high standard regarding our use of others resources. Fair use for educational purposes generally does not hold up as a "pass" for plagiarizing or stealing the work of others for use in your classroom. Be sure you are setting that example for students in your work with them and the resources you provide to them.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Using Photos to Edit a Photo on the iPad

Visual media is an important part of our lives in a world where cameras are literally everywhere.  As such, our expectations regarding the quality of visual media is much higher than it once was even a decade ago. While a large part of creating great images is taking great pictures, there is also a growing expectation that we are able to edit our photos to make them look even better.

The good news is that your iPad already has a very powerful image editor built in without having to install another app.  The image editing and markup tools are built into your Photos app (some of us still call this the Camera Roll where our photos are stored).

Editing Images with Photos

In the Photos app on your iPad, select an image you would like to alter.  When you do the image will go full screen on your iPad.

In the far upper right of your iPad screen you will see the "Edit Images" icon, which is pictured at left.

Users can do a lot of basic and even some more advanced edits of images in their iPads camera roll simply by using this Edit Images feature.  Let's take a look at a screenshot of what is possible within the Edit Images toolbar.


Pictured at left is a screenshot of the Image Edit toolbar.

From cropping and rotating to adding basic filters, and more, users can make a wide array of adjustments to their photos.

The good news is that these adjustments will result in a COPY of the original photo, not an edit of the original.






Markup Tool

Another powerful tool that shows up when you click the "..." icon at the bottom of the "Edit Image" toolbar is Markup.

Pictured at right are the options within the Markup toolbar. This tool allows users to add text, lines, arrows, and drawings as a layer over the top of an image. Again, this tool creates a COPY of the original image; it does not replace the original.

Even if students are doing work on a non-digital surface (whiteboard, piece of paper, visual art, 3d construction), students can take photos of these non-digital works and use the Markup and image edit tools to reflect and document key elements of their thinking as they completed the work.

Below is a short tutorial video showing how to use the image editing and Markup tools in Apple's Photos app.



Thursday, November 2, 2017

Basically Transformative: Using Book Creator to Level Up Learning

I value depth.  For that reason, I am always wary of people who boast about all of the different tools they know how to use. Variety is great, but give me one tool with fifty different possible uses and I am thrilled.

One tool that we are fortunate to have available as a core app in our district is Book Creator.

This handy app is easy to learn, easy to use, and incredibly versatile. Let me show you how.

Tools in Book Creator

Opening a new book in Book Creator sets you on a journey to developing many diverse products. However, the tools to use are incredibly limited. Let's take a look. Here are the limits of the tools you can use to build in Book Creator.

So, as you see, we start by clicking on the "+" button in Book Creator.

The drop-down menu that appears shows you the tools available for content creation.






If you swing over on the bottom and click the "Shapes" button, you see some pre-made shapes that are available for your use in Book Creator.

Tapping on these shapes will drop them onto your Book Creator pages.




You should know that most items dropped onto a Book Creator page can be "edited" or changed in one of three ways.
2. Tap and long press on an object to show the "Edit" menu bar
  1. Dragged and re-shaped with handles
  2. Tap and long-press (1-2 seconds) to pull up edit menu bar 
  3. Use the "i" button at the top with the item selected.











Transforming Learning with Book Creator

This is where this app shines for me.  Using the SAMR framework, let's explore Book Creator as an instructional tool.

Substitution

If we simply used Book Creator to have students consolidate their thinking into a text-based format, maybe even including some images, we would be using Book Creator at a Substitution level. This means that the learning task has not changed in a significant way from what the students would have done with paper/pencil alone.

An example might be that a student builds a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning argument in Book Creator rather than on paper.  All they include is text, just as they would have without the use of technology.

And there is nothing inherently wrong with using Book Creator in this way. However, it begs the question -- "If you could do the same thing on paper, why aren't you just doing it on paper?"

Augmentation

Links to websites to support research, graphs with markup
using the pen tool, and audio feedback icon recorded by
the instructor take this page to the Augmentation level.
Augmentation is the level where the learning task stays the same for the student, but the technology is providing some benefits to the task.  Let's continue with our example of a Claims-Evidence-Reasoning argument in a Book Creator project.

In this example, students are now being asked to include more than just text to support their argument.  In this example, students are being asked to hyperlink their research resources in the Evidence section of the book so the audience can go out and explore the research themselves with the click of a button.  Additionally, students are required to incorporate images, graphs, and visual evidence to demonstrate support for their claim with new or clearer sources than text alone. This might include tables, research graphs, or side-by-side compare/contrast images.

Additionally, the teacher is using the audio recording feature on Book Creator to record her conversations with students as she moves about and discusses the project with students.  This offers the students a lasting recording of formative feedback that they can reflect upon as they continue working on their final Book Creator project.


Modification

Reaching Modification means that the teacher has structured the task differently to take full advantage of the benefits and opportunities that technology provides.  The learning task changes at the Modification level, encouraging greater depth of thinking and higher levels of questioning on Bloom's or Depth of Knowledge frameworks.


The same look as Augmentation, but the learning task has
changed. Students are now responsible for verbally explaining
their rationale/reasoning, deepening their level of understanding.
In this case, the teacher recognizes that the students may be able to develop a question, create a claim, and back it up with researched evidence.  The teacher decides, though, that the reasoning needs to move beyond reframing sentences into a written paragraph, and instead the student needs to develop a verbal "pitch" that explains the reasoning component of the assignment.  Instead of only writing a reasoning paragraph, the students must deliver a two minute audio speech where they explain their reasoning portion of the assignment. They cannot simply read the paragraph or paraphrase the paragraph. They will need to find (or create) a key graphic that best illustrates their reasoning and they need to explain their thinking and connections to an audience member in their own words.

This requires the student to synthesize their thinking, own their thinking, and explain their thinking to another using a different skill than writing alone. The task has shifted and the student is developing new skills simply by restructuring how the student will share their thinking.

Redefinition

Export a Book Creator project as Video and the pages become
slides in a video presentation while the audio recording serve
as a "voice over" of the video. This becomes a multimedia
presentation that is easy to share with any audience.
Redefinition is never the aim of technology use, but technology use makes Redefinition possible. At this level, teachers and students are able to do something in the classroom that was not otherwise possible!  Let's take the example of our Claims-Evidence-Reasoning book we've been developing.

At the Modification level, we decided that students would need to record their thinking using the Audio Record feature in Book Creator.  Now, we are going to take full advantage of that to share with our parents. 

We will have the students Export the Book Creator project as a movie and share that movie with the teacher.  The teacher will upload the content to YouTube and will assemble the final group projects for this C-E-R assignment into a YouTube playlist.  

This idea from Claire Jones, an educator in England,
demonstrates how a project made in Book Creator can
be shared with an authentic audience easily using televisions
typically used for announcements/slideshows during the
school day. This makes sharing of student ideas easy and efficient.
Finally, using the television next to the office which displays digital slides during the school day, instead student research, images, and voices will play throughout the next Parent/Teacher conference so that parents can hear the deep thinking the students are doing as they approach research and scientific thinking.

Students are sharing their thinking with an authentic audience and will need to put their best explanation forward if they want their thinking to make sense to their audience. We have Redefined what is possible through the use of technology.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Google Drive just got easier!

Google has launched "Drive File Stream", a new application for your Mac or PC. The Google Drive app on the iPad is not changing. Drive File Stream allows you to access all your Google Drive files from your computer while using less disk space and decreasing sync time. For those of you that have synced your Google Drive to your MacBook and found that you are running out of space on your hard drive, this is the solution. 
How does it work?
With Drive File Stream, you can:
  • Quickly see all your Google Drive files in Finder/Explorer (including Team Drives).
  • Browse and organize Google Drive files without downloading all of them to your computer.
  • Choose which files or folders you'd like to make available offline.
How do I get started?

  • Read more about this update to Google Drive!
  • Visit the Drive Help Center to install Drive File Stream and get started.
  • Installing Drive File stream will add the new icon to your desktop, show in Finder/Explorer, and the toolbar on your MacBook. 
  • Always access your Drive in an internet browser? No need for offline files? Then you do not need to do this at all!

Opening Drive File Stream

You can open your Drive by clicking on the desktop shortcut, or by clicking the icon in the toolbar and selecting the Drive folder. If you open your Finder you will see Google as a connected drive opening this will show your My Drive folder. When opened you have the ability to sort those files just like you would your My Documents.

Do you have a personal Gmail account?

Find out more about Backup & Sync for personal accounts.

Do I have to change?

You don't need to make this change immediately, but Google Drive as we know it is scheduled to be shut down completely in March 2018. So be thinking about moving forward and saving some disk space on your device!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Basic troubleshooting for a Mac disconnecting from the SDW network

Most of our Macs do an excellent job of staying consistently connected to the district wireless network. However, if you are using a Mac that is just not behaving as it should and is disconnecting from the SDW-Secure network, there are some things you can do to resolve the issue.

Here are some things to check in your settings. These steps may or may not resolve the issue for you, but they are worth a try.

First, on an SDW issued Mac, you want to make sure you are always connecting to SDW Secure network. Other networks will cause connectivity issues while in district.

The other thing you will want to do is get rid of any other network in your list from SDW. 

Here's how.

1. Click the wireless icon and select "Open Network Preferences


2.When this box opens, click "Advanced" in lower right


3. In the box that opens, you will see all wireless networks you have connected to. You want to make sure that SDW-Secure is at the top of the list (you can drag and drop the items in the list... drag SDW-Secure to the top).

4. Also, you will want to get rid of certain networks. SDW-Guest should NOT be in your list. Get rid of it. SDW-ATV should not either.  To get rid of it, click on the one you want to delete, and then click the "-" underneath the box to delete it.



5. When you are done cleaning this up and re-ordering, click Ok.


I use my Mac every day, all day. I literally never find my computer going offline unless we are having known networking issues (Steve usually announces those when they do happen or have happened).  

A few tips on that front.

  • Update your Mac when they are available. I regularly talk to teachers who are having issues with their Mac, but then they do the update and the issues are resolved. It's a good habit, and it's a good thing to recommend to others.
  • Shut down your computer. Some of us use our computers so often that we never shut them down. Powering them all the way off and turning them back on actually resolves many issues.
  • Finally, do not accept that it just doesn't work. Our computers and iPads are quality machines in a very robust wireless network. If you are having connectivity issues, submit a Help Desk ticket. The Tech Department wants to fix these issues, but they cannot fix issues they do not know about.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I ❤ WebEx -Thoughts from Effectiveness Coach Courtney Konieczka


Courtney Konieczka is an
Effectiveness Coach at
Hillcrest and Lowell Elementary
in the School District of Waukesha
During the last two years as an Elementary Effectiveness Coach, I have found myself putting quite a few miles on my car driving back and forth to each of my two buildings, which are not particularly close together.  Some days last year, I found myself making a 4 to 5 trips back and forth from building to building for SST meetings, PST meetings, Coach/principal meetings, and planning meetings.  Over the summer, I was reflecting on my year (and looked at my odometer) I realized that there had to be a better use of my time.  I realized I was sometimes spending an hour in my car each day! 

Then, I heard from my principals that SDW has a subscription to WebEx, which is an online video conferencing/collaboration tool.  After talking to the IT team, I heard that I could get my own login and create a personal room in which I could invite others to come and collaborate. With a few easy steps, I had my own room and I was ready to begin. I have currently been using WebEx to connect to others across town for the past month.  It has totally changed the way I do my work, and for the better.  

This easy to use tool has been a reliable way to connect with others, even if they don't have a login themselves.  The internet connection at school has been great and the quality of the video is impressive.  There have been times at the end of a meeting where I have had to remind myself that I wasn't actually in the room with the people with which I met!  This week, I began to dig into more advanced features like how I can share my screen and use the "whiteboard" on WebEx.  This is another way to make videoconferencing even easier and more seamless. 

So, I would encourage EVERYONE who thinks that this may help improve their practice to connect with the IT team and ask about getting a login. I could see how this tool could benefit a classroom teacher wanting to connect with another class across town, or across the country.  It could benefit a psychologist who is unable to meet with a family face-to-face, but wants to have a more intimate conversation.  It could benefit an art, music or physical education specialist wanting to connect with another teacher around planning.  The possibilities are endless!  I think everyone should consider taking a risk and trying out this incredible tool! 

If you are an SDW employee would like to find out more about having your own WebEx account, submit a tech support ticket or contacting the SDW Help Desk directly (ITHelpDesk@waukesha.k12.wi.us).

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Who ya' going to call? (for fresh ideas for instructional tech use)

The ITC Team!

  • Kristin Brouchoud - West Region
  • Wendy Liska - North Region
  • Brian Yearling - South Region

Seriously, we are usually just a phone call or email away! It seems like everyone knows that when they are troubleshooting or working on a technology issue. But what about when you are just:

  •  Trying to figure out a workflow for assignments in your classroom? 
  • Trying to find an app that will help your students explain/show their thinking? 
  • Wondering how you can take a lesson and move it up the SAMR scale? 
  • Or wondering how to integrate technology in your content area?

Integrating technology in the classroom, troubleshooting what works best to meet a curricular or student need, or finding an iPad accessibility feature to help a learner is what we LOVE to do best. Often times, it gets shuffled to the background with other needs that seem to arise and take front row.

Lately, privacy policies, app approval, conference planning, and device refresh, among other things have taken us away from the things we like to do most. While all these tasks are important and necessary for the safety of our students they are not our "main thing". 

Helping teachers and students have amazing learning opportunities -- that's our main thing!

As you continue into the new school year, make a call (or chat or email) to your tech integration specialists for assistance with curricular support! We love to collaborate and problem-solve to best meet the classroom needs of our schools. This is where we love to spend our time!

Not sure which of us is your regional support person? Just email itc@waukesha.k12.wi.us and we'll let you know.

#StudentChallenge: Build a Better Doc Camera Stand

Teachers that have access to document cameras love what these devices offer to the classroom. It helps students to key in on specific examples within a document, to see a physical example on the printed page, or to explore a real-world object that is too small to be seen by the whole class at once.


When document cameras first emerged, they were incredibly expensive, large, and cumbersome. While these devices have gotten smaller and the price  has decreased, they are still cumbersome, often require cabling, access to power, and added hardware to make them work with a computer.


Thankfully, as a part of our Waukesha One work, we have put a high-quality document camera in every teacher's hands with the iPad.


Moving forward, we are not recommending the purchase of a separate document camera for classrooms. If one of our existing document cameras fails, we will not be replacing it. If there is a need for a new document camera, we will not be purchasing new hardware.


The document camera of choice in our district is the teacher’s iPad. The camera that is built into the iPad is of high quality, is easy to use, and can easily project to a Macbook, or to an Apple TV (using AirServer). The iPad is portable and can be moved around the room (and to locations outside of the room). Even students can use their iPads as a document camera for sharing their work and ideas with others.


Stands for the iPad



The biggest challenge is finding an appropriate stand to mount the iPad on to serve as a document camera. There is no shortage of options if a school or teacher wishes to purchase pre-made document camera stands.  Obviously these options are generally more polished and attractive than other options, but they are cost-prohibitive.


We recommend thinking about how your students could help you to design, build, or find a suitable doc camera stand for use in your classroom. There are really only a few requirements for a document camera stand.


  1. stability so the iPad does not tip over or wiggle
  2. sturdiness so the document camera stand holds up to use over time
  3. a hole or space  on the stand to allow the camera to look through
  4. an open space below the camera to place objects, papers, or to be able to write


There are other features that make for an even more useful doc camera stand, such as the ability to raise or lower the iPad, to tilt the iPad, or including added lights to better view the subject below the iPad. However, none of these are essential.


Student and Teacher Challenge



We know you are creative and thoughtful, always looking for ways to innovate and try new things. We issue a challenge to all SDW Students and Teachers to make the very best document camera stand you can create. This will require design thinking.


Then go public with your creation.  We invite teachers and students to share their doc camera stand prototypes with us, sharing the process they went through to design it, the goals of their design, and the end product.

Use the VoiceThread below to share your project with educators, leaders, students, and the world!


If you cannot view or contribute to the VoiceThread, you may need the VoiceThread app (available in Self Service), or you can go to this link.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Document Outline Tool in Google Docs (for Mac and iPad)

Thanks to Dan Keyser for originally sharing today's tech tip 
with groups, and thanks to Cynthia Gannon for recommending 
we document the tip on this blog for a wider audience.

If you have ever experienced that moment of frustration when pointing somebody (or following somebody) to a specific part of a long document, you will appreciate this today's Google Doc tech tip.

The Document Outline tool in Google Docs, used in conjunction with the Styles menu in Google Docs, can help document creators to develop Google Docs that are graphically appealing, well organized, and easy to navigate digitally.

Styles Menu

To begin, an editor within the document must use the Styles menu. Most of us have bumped into the Styles menu in a variety of word processing tools, but few actually meaningfully use this tool.

Simply by selecting a portion of the text, the editor  can easily assign a style to the text (i.e. "Title", "Header 1", etc.).  While this has an immediate benefit on the look of the document, it has an added value when viewed digitally.


Document Outline tool

Once Styles have been defined within the document, viewers can now easily navigate the document.

By opening the Document Outline tool in Google Docs (Tools --> Document Outline), an outline of the document, based upon the selected styles, will appear with hot links to the various sections of the document. These hot links can be clicked by viewers, moving them around the document without needing to scroll to find content.


"Document Outline" Works on iPad

Our students' experience with instructional content centers on an iPad. Educators will be pleased to know that this tool is available on the iPad and makes it even easier to navigate long Google Docs.  When sharing resources with students in Google Docs, teaching students to use this tool will improve their ability to quickly and easily follow along with you in class.

Teaching Students Document Organization

Not only is this a great tool for teachers, but on an iPad (using the Google Docs app) students have access to the Style menu and Document Outline tool as well.

As graphics and layout have become central elements in digital documents and print, helping students to organize their own documents using subheadings and varying styles is an essential skill. In fact, understanding document design and layout are key elements of literacy.  This is something that we can teach students to help them better understand the text they encounter throughout their lives.

Tutorial Video

Below is the tutorial video that demonstrates how to change styles on a Mac and on an iPad, and how to view the Document Outline tool on both.






Friday, September 22, 2017

Zoom in on your Mac (with ease)

If you present from your Mac regularly, you have definitely needed to zoom in on a particular portion of the screen for the audience.

Thankfully, there is a super easy tool built into the Mac that allows you to zoom in with ease on any portion of the screen without having to use Command + to zoom in and Command - to zoom back out.

Zoom on a Mac

Within the System Preferences of your Mac, under the Accessibility settings, you will find the Zoom option. Turning on the Zoom option, and then selecting "Use scroll with modifier key" option will let you quickly, easily zoom into anything on your screen, and just as quickly zoom back out.

Once you've learned how to use this feature, you will use it constantly! See the video tutorial below to set this up on your Mac.



What a start! How has technology transformed your classroom?

Teaching and learning across our buildings looks and feels vastly different in many SDW classrooms this year! Many educators across our system have turned a corner, with the focus being on how they (and their students) can meaningfully leverage technology, not just focusing on how it works.

Unrivaled by any other year, the depth of the conversations our instructional tech team has had (with educators this fall), regarding the use of technology to meaningfully impact teaching and learning,
have been rich and innovative. It is a sign that we are truly moving toward higher levels of the SAMR framework.

Some Examples of Tech Integration Conversations This Fall


The Groups tool in Blackboard
offers one way that teachers
can release customized
content to specific students.

Blackboard to Differentiate Resources for Students

An instructional team at one of our elementary schools has asked, "How can Blackboard be used to customize the resources students have access to to fit their exact need and skill level?" The follow-up question has been, "Can new resources easily shift into view for students as they grow or as an instructor determines they need scaffolded supports?"

While this team is early in its adoption of the Blackboard platform, the vision is not focused on how to use Blackboard, but instead on how Blackboard can help them to provide an innovative learning experience for students.

Students as Technology Support

Students at another elementary school are starting their first full year of providing timely, helpful, needed technical support to other students and teachers across their building. From helping to implement the Managed Apple ID process to supporting app and Google use, these students are learning technical skills and putting them to use to support others. More importantly, though, these students are learning a wide variety of critical soft skills, such as speaking and listening, and are growing in their ability to comfortably communicate with others they may not know well.

After receiving conferring feedback from their teacher, these students are
sent a link to a Google Form where they can record their weekly goals.

Feedback and Goal-Setting Through Conferring Forms

Teachers at several schools have invested time and energy into developing a digital form that will aid them in collecting and analyzing data gathered during conferring sessions with students (a practice widely used across our system). The development of these digital conferring forms alone is a practice to be celebrated, as these educators move the data from a static paper-based system to a dynamic digital system that can be easily manipulated, analyzed, and shared.

Further, though, some teachers have determined that the archiving of the conferring session conversations should find its way back to students in order to inform student goal setting. Teachers at both the middle and elementary level have inquired about methods for sending conferring form data back to students, and in some cases even allowing students to complete goal setting within a Google Form so the goals are also archived and visible to the teacher. This use of Google Forms far exceeds basic data collection and begins to focus more deeply on the impact that immediate feedback can have on students.

Connecting to Other Students Using Digital Tools

Several teachers have asked how they can more easily connect their students with a wider audience, while still working within the confines of protecting student privacy and data.  Whether through the Global Read Aloud which uses Twitter to connect readers across the world, or to using Gmail and Google Hangouts to connect with classrooms across the country and within our district, SDW teachers are looking for ways to develop an awareness for students that we live in a world that is far larger than our own classrooms, buildings, and communities.

Coding Skills, Publishing Student Apps, and Making

New computer science and coding opportunities have been offered at all high schools this year to further develop the available classes for students exploring that skill set or career pathway. Teachers in these classes have extended their skill sets through extensive training over the summer, and are now beginning to teach students how to code and develop apps. 

As an extension of that, these high school teachers have started to ask how student developed apps could eventually make their way onto the iPads of other students at the individual high school, across the district, and possibly even into the Apple App Store. The focus has been on developing student skills initially, but these questions/conversations have demonstrated that these educators already have an eye on extending the audience for students beyond the walls of the classroom.

To further this mindset, elementary schools throughout the district are beginning to offer students opportunities to focus on the design process, encouraging collaboration and creativity through maker spaces. The goal for educators that aim to utilize these spaces is that learning becomes an active, hands-on experience for students within the existing units of study (not an additional curriculum). Some interested teachers are beginning to ask how they can marry their existing curriculum with the newly available tools within these maker spaces.


How has technology transformed your classroom?

None of these conversations or practices simply happen without the investment of thought and

professional learning on behalf of an educator. Waukesha One began to shift the landscape of SDW classrooms in Wave One schools in the Fall of 2013. All schools have been 1:1 for at least two years (starting the third year this year), and some schools have been 1:1 for four years (starting the fifth year this year). We have now experienced three One Conferences and countless other learning opportunities where learning around how to meaningfully integrate technology into teaching and learning has been a focal point.

So where are you? How have these tools impacted what you are able to do in your classroom? What opportunities have come to be for your students to really show what they know? What evolution of thought and practice have you undergone as you have learned what is possible through the use of these digital tools?

We invite you to comment and share your stories, your evolution (and your students' evolution), and your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Clarifying the Vision of the Waukesha One Theory of Action

Waukesha One is wrapping up its fourth year in our Wave One schools (the first iPads were introduced in these schools in Fall 2013).  Notable changes in teaching, learning and technology use are visible across our district since the devices were first introduced.

The Waukesha One SAIL Team has re-convened this year to explore the vision of Waukesha One moving forward, and to engage in the same long-term strategic planning work that was done before the iPads first arrived in our district. The Waukesha One Theory of Action has recently been published. This guide/post is intended to provide leaders and staff members with a rationale for the decisions made by the Waukesha One SAIL Team in developing the Theory of Action.



Exploring the Theory of Action

IF SDW staff are committed to transforming teaching and learning through the use of technology THEN learners will be exposed to engaging and meaningful learning opportunities that positively impact their achievement, teach them to utilize technology in productive and creative ways, and prepare them for college, career, and life.

Rationale:
There is a strong research base that describes how technology strengthens student engagement. We know that engagement is one of the key factors connected to student achievement.  If staff can utilize technology to transform teaching and learning to increasingly engage students, an opportunity exists where students may learn more and learn more meaningfully. 

Additionally, there is no shortage of ways to prove that technology is having a considerable impact on every aspect of our lives, from school, to work, to our interactions with family, friends, and strangers. Yet, we know from observation, from experience, and from working with students that using technology to be productive, collaborative, and creative is not something students know how to do inherently. It has to be taught and practiced, and educators can teach this to students (and give students opportunities to practice) when they make technology use a central part of their instructional plans.

IF we proactively communicate both why and how technology use will benefit students THEN all stakeholders can clearly understand the purpose and value of technology in teaching and learning.

 Rationale:
The decision to integrate technology within our educational system is not a decision that is made without serious consideration of the purpose and value that technology can add to instruction. When stakeholders (parents, students, educators, leaders, and community members) understand the rationale, purpose, and how technology can be utilized to allow all learners to demonstrate what they know, there can be a more genuine acknowledgement of the goals. This will often lead to more genuine adoption of the tools and more meaningful use of the tools for the benefit of our students. This is best accomplished through clear and consistent communication with all stakeholders focused on these topics. That clear, concise, and consistent communication will increasingly shift the disposition of all stakeholders to better understand, support, and utilize technology for teaching and learning purposes.

IF we provide high quality, focused, and flexible professional development aligned to the site's high leverage practices THEN all staff can develop a clear understanding for how they will utilize, plan, and implement technology to transform teaching and learning.

 Rationale:
A significant shift across our district is our collective disposition toward the integration of technology in teaching and learning. Leaders, teachers, students, and families are increasingly seeing that technology is a tool that makes incredible opportunities possible for students. This awareness and acceptance of technology stems from our personal experiences with technology, but it also is promoted when we learn from others who have had positive experiences using technology. The disconnect we sometimes experience, though, is when the technology is viewed as "another thing" teachers and students need to do. Within our SAIL planning processes across the district, we must marry the highest leverage strategies that are to be used in each building with the technology that can support, benefit, or improve these strategies.  We then need to provide high quality, focused, and flexible professional learning opportunities so staff can learn from others, sense their genuine sentiment about the benefit the technology has provided, and then determine how they will personally transfer their learning about the tools to their classroom practice utilizing the tools.



We hope this overview helps to provide some depth of understanding around the decision-making and conversations that took place as the Waukesha One Theory of Action was developed by the Waukesha One SAIL Committee.





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Keep It Easy: Linking to Google Classroom Assignments in Blackboard

Google Classroom simplifies so many tasks for teachers and students in a 1:1 classroom. It immediately saves teachers time and headaches in all that it does to support digital teaching and learning.

Using Blackboard simplifies for parents, students, and teachers where content, announcements, and coursework is located. One web address can takes everybody to exactly the courses and information they are looking for related to school.

These two tools can work in compliment of each other, and today's shortcut makes it EVEN EASIER for students to navigate between Blackboard and Google Classroom.

Placing a Link to Google Classroom Assignment in Blackboard

In order to collect digital work from students in Google Classroom, teachers must first create assignments (tutorial available here). Once they have that assignment created, some teachers wonder, "How do I get my students to this assignment in Google Classroom from Blackboard?"

Good news!  Google Classroom makes this very easy for teachers.

In Blackboard:

Use either the Web Link or Item tools. Both will work and it depends on which you prefer to use for creating links in Blackboard.


In Classroom:

In another window or tab on your browser open Google Classroom.  
  1. Identify the assignment you wish to link into Blackboard.
  2. Click the three dots located in the upper right of the assignment
  3. Click "Copy Link" from the drop-down menu that appears

This will copy the link to this specific Google Classroom assignment to your clipboard.

Back In Blackboard:

Use either right click or Command+V (Control+V on a PC) to paste the Google Classroom assignment link right into your Web Link or Item in Blackboard.  Then add any other information to your Web Link or Item, and click "Submit" to save it in Blackboard.

Now, when your students come to the assignment in your Blackboard course, they can click on the link and it will open the assignment in Google Classroom (and yes, it works on an iPad well, opening in the Google Classroom app).

This is a wonderful way to keep Blackboard your primary "launch point" for students (and parents/guardians) and still get all of the functionality and use out of Google Classroom.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Google Classroom: A Tool to Aid the Digital Workflow with Google Apps

[Update as of June 6, 2017. Post originally published on August 30, 2015.]

If you have said to yourself at least once in the past year, "There has to be an easier way to assign work to students and collect work from students digitally," then Google Classroom is likely the tool of which you have dreamed.

Starting this school year, staff members in the School District of Waukesha will be able to utilize Google Classroom to communicate with students, to assign work and resources to students, to collect that completed work from students, and to easily manage and access assignments submitted to them via Google Drive.

Google Classroom is functioning today and ready for use.  The learning curve is not very steep on this tool and most teachers will find themselves up and running in no time.  Unfortunately, Google Classroom is limited in what it can do, but what it does for teachers it does very well.

With that said, we do want to make one very clear point.  Google Classroom is amazing and powerful, but it is NOT a replacement for Blackboard.  Google Classroom is good for communicating with students and for organizing the digital workflow of handing out docs/sheets/slides from Google Apps (and collecting them).  Google Classroom is not good for organizing and presenting information to students in a lesson format.  It is also cumbersome to enroll parents into Google Classroom


For this reason, Google Classroom does NOT replace Blackboard.  Blackboard is still our primary learning management system. Staff should still initially post resources and information in Blackboard, and then link out to Google Classroom as necessary.



Resources for Learning to Use Google Classroom

There are plenty of resources out there to help staff members learn to use Google Classroom.  Here are the two most notable resources, though, to help you to get started.

This resource from Google is an excellent (and constantly updated) text tutorial.  It is well organized and makes it easy to find the answers you seek.

Video tutorials hand-selected (and created) to assist you in learning about and setting up your Google Classroom courses are available.  These videos are custom tailored (in many cases) to provide information relevant to SDW staff.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Growth Takes a Vision

My wife is an enthusiastic gardener. I am happily her helper! Each year, in April, the plans she has
cultivated in her head start springing into action at our house. The pots are placed, the garden is tilled, seeds move from their position on the map to their position in the ground. And things start to grow. And once they begin to grow, the whole family gets excited and eagerly joins in the process of garden. But, gardens don't grow without the vision of a gardener.

 That formula for growth carries into our schools and classrooms! Each of us has an opportunity each year to foster growth of some kind. For leaders that growth might be watching a specific practice take shape in learning spaces across the building. For educators, that may be honing a skill, perfecting a practice, or developing a mindset that will positively impact learners.

A Team with a Vision

One example of growth that stemmed from setting a clear vision is work happening at Horning Middle School this year. (I am highlighting Horning because it is a school I am closely connected with; I know that there are many similar examples across the district.)

Horning saw a change in leadership this year. For many schools surviving that level of change and coming out the other end of the school year would be growth enough. However, in addition to that, through the SAIL process Horning identified several key high leverage practices. I'll highlight one of those: a focus on Blackboard (our learning management system in Waukesha).

The SAIL team identified in their vision that Blackboard was a key tool that will help move other work forward at Horning in the future. Part of the vision for Horning was set. And this was a new direction for Horning, not part of a previous vision. Everything from that point forward centered around that vision. From leadership team discussions and planning meetings to Vanguard conversations and focused professional learning, the vision developed into a plan and clear action steps.

Has it worked? Are we seeing growth? Well, let's take a look at the numbers.

Growth in the Staff Technology Profile Survey Results at Horning

Below is a summary for the District Staff Technology Survey results at Horning. We have given this survey since Fall 2012, allowing us to view change over time. To evaluate results, we look at positive responses of Agree and Strongly Agree, summing those responses. To give us a general temperature on the non-positive responses, we also like to identify what percentage of staff gave the least  positive response possible (Strongly Disagree).

In just one semester of focused professional learning around Blackboard use (in early stages of learning for most staff members), Horning witnessed a 7% gain in positive responses from last spring. Additionally, we saw a drop of 9% in the Strongly Disagree response, meaning perspectives of staff members have shifted. We also know that many professionals in our district have established a preference for using Google Apps for their professional collaboration, so that does skew this data point some.
Staff member's comfort in their ability to post resources to Blackboard grew by 14% since last spring (spring data is typically marked as our growth data for this survey). Just as important, though, is the reduction of Strongly Disagree responses by 18% (from 36% to 18%). This shows a significant shift in the staff's comfort with the tool, and that was the focal point of the professional development plan at Horning around Blackboard.
This data is a surprising data point, but encouraging. The Horning staff is not yet expected to actively use Blackboard with students. Despite this, the hard work the staff is doing in learning to use Blackboard is also impacting their understanding of how Blackboard can favorably enhance instruction for their students. While we did not expect to see this growth, it points to the reality that educators are always making connections between what they know how to use and what those tools can do for the learners.


Vision and Growth Build Enthusiasm

Once those first vegetables start showing up in our garden, suddenly our daughters start becoming eager helpers. Growth builds enthusiasm for those who may not hold the initial vision/passion.

The hard work the Horning staff has done to dig in and learn how to meaningfully use Blackboard has been obvious all semester. The shift in perceptions about Blackboard (highlighted in the data above) is truly palpable when you talk with educators across the building. And that has led to some really thoughtful, deep, and innovative conversations around how the tool could be leveraged to promote learning at Horning. New ideas are popping up thinking about how Blackboard might have a positive impact on students, on families, on PLCs, and even on organizations/clubs. This is evidence that vision and growth help to build enthusiasm and contribute to the momentum that makes meaningful shifts happen. (It is also clear evidence that the staff at Horning is incredibly hard-working and dedicated to their learners.)


Do you have a vision yet for how technology will meaningfully impact your high leverage strategies, building culture, or engagement and opportunities for learners? With the summer SAIL work around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about what that vision is so you can begin planning today to witness the growth you want to see.