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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Analyze the Results: Spring 2017 Technology Profile Data Reports Available

The response to the Spring 2017 Staff Technology Survey was once again overwhelming with 758 staff members completing the survey.  Thank you!

This data, which is available in the SDW Staff Tech Survey Data Center, 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. Spring data is important because it helps us determine what professional learning steps moved the needle, and where we need to focus for the upcoming year.

It also helps us to look at trends of professional practice and professional beliefs about the use of tech.

Using The Data

Leaders across the district will find this data informative and useful. With sections that focus on culture, learning preferences, skills, dispositions, and SDW-specific tools, there is a lot we can take from the data in the reports.  This video demonstrates where you can find some of this data in the report.

Comparing the Data

Laying out reports side-by-side to compare data is one way of comparing data. While we are working on some new ways to look at the data in the future, we have created a Google Sheet that you can easily type data into to make side-by-side comparisons over time.

The Technology Survey Growth Template Google Sheet is available here. Make a copy, enter your data and start determining your building's data story.

Finally, below you can see the SDW District Data Story in the infographic below. This may give you another comparison to determine how your building is doing compared to the district

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Saved in a "Flash"-Puffin Academy App

As a teacher, you brainstorm a lesson plan, find a great resource for your students, test it on your teacher iPad to make sure it works...and it doesn't :( We have all been there.
We have come a long way with technology in terms of iPads now being able to access much of the web content teachers would like. Websites have changed over to html5, making them mobile compatible. Yet, some still sit in Flash versions, ever awaiting the mobile browser capabilities.  Well, there may be a solution for you.

Puffin Academy is a Mobile Flash Browser for K-12 students, parents, and teachers that enables Adobe Flash based educational websites on the iOS platform/iPads. Puffin Academy always enforces site filtering by only allowing whitelisted educational websites. Many sites are already listed for students to use, like Scholastic Study Jams or Pearson's eBooks. All students have Puffin Academy app in Self Service for download. From there, students can access flash-based websites. 

However, in order for students to have access to many of the flash-based sites that you may want to use, a member of the ITC team needs to add and publish the content. You can do that by submitting the site here ( Once you have submitted your request, you will be notified when it is published and accessible by your students through the app. 
*In addition, as the teacher, you should check the functionality of the site through the Puffin Browser App to see if it works properly (some do not). Teachers can download the Puffin Academy app via the App store on your iPad.  
Directions on how to navigate students through the app can be found here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Participate in a Free Book Creator Webinar This Summer

The beauty of Book Creator, one of our core apps in the School District of Waukesha, is that it is dead simple to use.  The strength of Book Creator, though, is that it is so widely adaptable to a wide range of projects, uses, age and grade levels, and subject matter.
If you have not used Book Creator yet, it is a platform that allows the creator to compile a variety of media types (text, images, drawings, videos, and audio) onto a page to form an eBook.

However, don't let the term eBook limit you. Students across our district are using it to recount their take-away messages and lessons from field trips, to build a glossary of key vocabulary terms, to compile resources and record their thinking in digital thoughtful logs, to write stories and share them with others, to dig into text and demonstrate their analysis of that text, to create graphic novels, and more. This is happening at our earliest grade levels and extending up from there.

As with anything that is simple to use and widely adaptable, learning to USE the tool is not the tough part. The tough part is being imaginative enough to finding new and interesting ways to use that tool. And that's where hearing what others are doing with the tool can be powerful.

Book Creator has announced a Summer 2017 Book Creator Webinar series for teachers. These hands-on trainings may be just the spark and inspiration you need to start exploring how you can more creatively use Book Creator in your classroom next year.

Here is the lineup for this summer:

  • Using Book Creator in a One iPad Classroom  (June 7 - 1:00 PM)
    • We have more than one iPad in our classrooms, but this webinar will focus on collaborative projects with Book Creator and demonstrate combine different books (from different students) into a single book
  • Checking for Understanding with Book Creator (June 30 - 12:00 PM)
    • An exploration of how students can use Book Creator to show what they know and how teachers can offer feedback
  • Creating eBooks to Document Field Trips and Special Events (July 17 - 2:00 PM)
    •  From capturing media during an event, to structuring a book to include reflection, and generating an authentic audience for student writers, this webinar will share ways to help students record special events int he classroom
  • Creating Comics in the Classroom (August 15 - 3:00 PM)
    • This webinar will demonstrate how to use the comics features in Book Creator to have students creating comics in the classroom, and the presenter will share ideas for how to use this text type in the classroom as well.
If you are interested in exploring these webinars (they are free, after all!), visit the Book Creator Webinars page and get more details on how to attend.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

TDP 101 &; 102 &; 103...

This past week a record setting 26 participants, showcasing 33 completed classes gathered to share their learning!

One of the things that the ITC team has been able to develop and make available to staff over the past two years are the Self-Paced TDP Technology Classes. These are professional learning courses designed to fit the busy lives of staff by delivering opportunities to learn wherever staff members are, on demand.  In addition, it showcases the possibilities of blended learning that could be made possible to our students using Blackboard. There are currently seven active classes with additional offerings in the planning stages. These classes have been taken over 100 times since September to meet staff needs for professional development! Classes can be taken for Viterbo credit or audit and help meet new teacher credit requirements.

Each month, when the completion showcase is held (the only face-to-face component of the class), we are amazed by the willingness of staff to share their discoveries as they navigated the classes. Fabulous conversations are held, ideas exchanged, new friends and collaborators made, and an overall "I can do this..." attitude shared. It is impressive to see the growth in our staff's ability to learn in an online environment and to direct their own growth. The wealth of learning and ideas shared is a fabulous enhancement to the actual class content. We truly learn from each other and walk away with additional ideas for implementation in our own instruction!

Consider registering for a Technology TDP class and continue your learning this summer! We hope to have you join us at an upcoming showcase session!

Begin your new adventure here:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Streamline Communications with Yet Another Mail Merge

One of the things that we love about Google Apps (Forms, Sheets, Docs, Gmail, etc.) is that it provides a platform of tools that can work together. Guest blogger Jean Wohlers from Hawthorne STEM shares one way that she uses these tools to streamline communication.
Yet Another Mail Merge is an add-on
that needs to be installed by users.

Jean showcases what she is doing with the Yet Another Mail Merge add-on for Google Sheets in her guest blog.

Yet Another Mail Merge to Streamline Communication

Jean Wohlers
Administrative Assistant
Guest blogger Jean Wohlers

Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM) is an email merge utility that works with Google Sheets and Gmail. This add-on to Google Sheets works great for sending out personalized emails with information that is specific to each recipient!  The School District has a subscription to YAMM that will allow you to send up to 1500 personalized email messages per day.

The options for the use of Yet Another Mail Merge is endless!  We use YAMM in the main office to send out homeroom assignments before school starts in the fall, to send out YouCanBook.Me (another awesome tool we have access to in the SDW!) links for parents to sign up for Fall and Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences, etc.  

YAMM is available from the Add-ons
tab in Google Sheets. If you do not
see it in your list, click "Get Add-ons"
Teachers can use YAMM in the classroom to send out personalized messages to families/students.  YAMM will even keep track of the status of your email messages, showing if they are Sent/Opened/Bounced.  

All you need to use Yet Another Mail Merge is your information in a Google Sheet and an Email draft. (Or you can use a predesigned template). For teachers that use Google Forms, your data is already in a Google Sheet, or can easily be placed in a Google Sheet,. Imagine how easy it would be send students feedback from data you have collected using Google Forms using YAMM.  See this website for more information.

Learn to Use Yet Another Mail Merge

Jean has created this tutorial to help users get started with YAMM. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spotlight on Digital Conferring Notes

Teachers have forever jotted notes on student progress. Notes on paper, notes in planning books, notes in journals. And this have served us well -- they are a way to document what we are seeing at any given time so we can come back to the notes when working with students or planning lessons.

The hard part, though, is obvious. Data collection is not necessarily the strong suit for most people. Notes collected on paper need to be organized, summarized, and then analyzed to become meaningful data that we can utilize to drive instruction.  And while humans are not generally that good at this task, this is something that machines do very well!

Several teachers participating in the Model Tech Classroom work in the School District of Waukesha have been engaging in conversation around creating really meaningful digital conferring notes. This has definitely been a process, but some exciting outcomes are starting to emerge.

Quickly See How Many Times You Have Conferred with a Student

A simple count of how many times a teacher has conferred with a student does not seem that valuable, but when teachers begin to identify their patterns over time, they can take corrective actions to be sure all students are receiving the right amount of opportunities to confer with the teacher. 

Formulas built into the digital conferring notes give these teachers a "dashboard" view of who they have and have not met with to help them guide their decisions moving forward.

Determine Which Conferring Data is Most Important to Guide Instruction

There are many notes we can take on student growth and skills. Not all of those notes, though, lead us to meaningful data that will allow us to determine clear next steps for growth. 

The teachers who have been collecting digital data on students are learning that when they can identify exactly which information will help them determine next instructional steps to support student growth, then they can more efficiently look for and record that data and eliminate data that is not as useful/meaningful.
This process happens over time and it can be difficult to let some of things we traditionally look for with students go, but as the mountain of student conferring data grows, it becomes obvious that we can only utilize so much data meaningfully.

Record and Report Growth to Students

Determining a student's proficiency in various skills is one of the key reasons we confer with students. 

Paper notes require the teacher to look back in the notes to determine which skills they have noted as proficient. Digital conferring notes, though, can automatically tabulate how many times a teacher has identified the student as proficient in a skill. This allows teachers to make small group instruction decisions, helps the teacher to more accurately mark growth on the continuum, and can even be used to help students see their growth and determine next-step growth goals.

But My Paper Notes Already Do This For Me!

If you are already doing these things with notes taken in a journal, log, or notebook, that is amazing! Stick with it! Technology is intended to help us do those things that we cannot do with ease, or to do these things better. If you are already making instructional decisions based on your paper notes, then use your paper notes.

However, if the paper notes are not giving you the level of detail you need to make instructional decisions, or if analyzing your paper notes is taking you more time than it seems like you even have (and we know the main shortage of any teacher's life is time), consider how technology might be able to automate this task for you. For some of the teachers trying this now, they are either not using conferring notes to do this level of analysis already, or they are finding that they have gained additional time to invest back into conferring or other teaching tasks!

VoiceThread Now Available to SDW Students and Staff

Looking for a way to hear every student's thought on a topic or idea, but having trouble getting every student to speak up? Maybe you are looking for a way of having student's express their thinking verbally outside of class, or as they work in small groups where you cannot always be present?

A tool is newly available to Waukesha students and staff to give students a way to speak their thoughts around topics chosen by the teacher: VoiceThread. We are excited about all of the ways this could support instruction!

VoiceThread has been made available in our district as a result of our partnership with Blackboard. You will need to use Blackboard to access VoiceThread.

What is VoiceThread?

VoiceThread is a tool that allows users to share their thoughts and ideas around topics presented to them. The topics are selected by the teacher, presented through various types of media (slides, videos, photos, etc.) and then each participant/student can share their spoken or written response while annotating over the top of the various media types.

This video provides a quick summary of what VoiceThreads look like and do.

Try Out VoiceThread

To give you an opportunity to experience VoiceThread, we have created a VoiceThread that you can comment on. The topic for the VoiceThread is, "How can teachers and students utilize VoiceThread in different subject areas?"  We encourage you to share your ideas with others while trying out the tool.

How do students and teachers access VoiceThread?

VoiceThread is available in Waukesha because of our partnership with Blackboard. It is integrated into Blackboard and tied into the same accounts as Blackboard.

Teachers will need to log into their Blackboard accounts, and then head into one of the classes where they are designated as a teacher.  From there, it's pretty straight forward.

  1. In a Content Area, click "Tools" on the build bar. Select "VoiceThread" from the list
  2. Write a brief description if needed in the available Text Box. Then select "Submit and Launch."
  3. A new window will open. If it requests your username and password, you will use the same username and password that you use to log into Blackboard.
  4. You will select the appropriate view for your needs. For the first time, select Course View. (Tutorial on the ways different views are used is available here.)
  5. In the far upper right, click "Add Your Own"
  6. You are now ready to create your first VoiceThread. Students will use the link created in Blackboard to access the VoiceThread.

Is VoiceThread iPad Friendly?

VoiceThread has a useful app called VoiceThread Mobile. It is available for download now in Self Service on all student iPads in the Communications category.  This app makes it incredibly easy for students to upload and annotate while recording their thoughts to VoiceThread. The app opens with ease from Blackboard.

You can learn more about VoiceThread, gett step-by-step tutorials for bringing VoiceThread into your Blackboard course,  and answer troubleshooting questions at the SDW Help Site

Friday, March 24, 2017

Side-by-Side Browser Windows on Mac

Adding five seconds to your work time as you fumble around your Mac desktop looking for the right browser window may not seem like a major distraction, but over time those five seconds, accumulated many times a day/week can add up. 

Your computer has tools to make your work more efficient, and that's what we are highlighting today.

So, if your desktop has ever looked like the photo at right, and you've had to move and minimize and dig through windows to find the right window on your Mac, try this tip out to make your work a little more efficient.

You can easily set two browser windows side-by-side so you can see both at the same time. Here's how.

Click Command + hold on Green Ball
Step 1.  Hold down the Command key, and click and hold on the green ball (maximize) in the upper left of the window.  (You'll have to hold for about two seconds.)

Step 2: If done correctly, you will see a light blue box appear on the left side of the screen. Let go of the Command key and mouse and it will snap to the light blue window.

Side-by-side browser windows
Step 3: Any other browser windows will appear in the right. Click on the other browser window you want to see and it will snap to the right side of the screen.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rockstar Stage Presentations - Brandon Egnarski - Building an eSports Clubs In Your School

Presentations from The Rockstar Stage

The One Conference 2017

The Rockstar Stage has become a favorite element of The One Conference for many as the focal point is on hearing directly from teachers and students regarding tips, tools, and inspirational messages about how they use technology in their classrooms. It is a celebration of our staff and students, giving them a few minutes in the spotlight to share their very best ideas!

Rockstar Stage Presenter: Brandon Egnarski

Brandon Egnarski
Waukesha West High School

Brandon Egnarski is a business teacher at Waukesha West High School. He is also the founding advisor to West's eSports club.

In the talk Brandon talks about his personal and professional experiences with gaming, and he identifies why eSports might just be a value add at other schools. eSports is becoming a legitimate, funded, possibly even NCAA recognized activity that is of high interest to students. It is also a way to introduce and create bonds for students who otherwise might not connect at schools.

Brandon's group at West High School has over 100 students and is an active way for kids to connect, relax, and have fun. He hopes to connect with others who might be interested in building an eSports team at their schools.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Creator: The cloud might save you!

Why iCloud might matter in a Book Creator Publisher's world...

In a previous post, our team shared some information about backups for iPad apps like Book Creator, Notability, and iMovie. We were seeing learners lose months worth of digital work in these apps if something would happen to their iPad and they had not backed up. While some apps have a backup feature built in that can be enabled, others required the user to "publish" their work to Google Drive.

One app that caused the most headaches due to the "digital dog" eating work was Book Creator. However, thanks to a recent update, it now has the ability to backup books to iCloud Drive! While this exciting news may only SEEM exciting to me,  I promise, its really good news.

The ITC team tested this by ensuring a recent iCloud backup. Then we deleted the Book Creator App. After reinstalling from Self Service, the books that were in the original copy of the app slowly started to load in the Book Creator App and were available to download and continue being edited. So cool!

What does this mean? If a learner's iPad is logged into an iCloud account (under settings-iCloud) and have auto-backup turned on and working (this also means they need to have enough storage space), the iCloud Drive now includes the Book Creator App. Even learners in kindergarten, first,  and second grade, who fall under the managed Apple IDs, can be logged into iCloud for backups.

If you have not added your learners iCloud accounts, please contact your ITC team member for assistance.

(AND if you are seeing backups of Book Creator projects from other students in your classroom, it means that its time to move those devices over to a managed Apple ID. See your ITC team member for that as well!)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Getting App-roval and Parent Permission

You may have seen or heard that there is 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. The indirect goal is to ensure that we are protecting our student's data privacy and safety.  A previous blog post outlined the details of this process; you can read that here.

Before we place anything in front of our students, whether it is a book, text, website or video, we should be making sure that is appropriate for use in an educational setting.

Keys to Selecting Safe, Appropriate Apps

When it comes to Apps, there are some key things to look for and understand (this can help you to be sure the app you wish to use is approved for use):

Look for links to this information in the
iTunes app store for easy access.
  • Age range in iTunes - This is a recommended age range from iTunes but does not always line up with the terms of use. This is only one of the things we look at when vetting an app.
  • In app purchases, advertising or limited use without purchase - Apps that only allow users to interact with a small percentage of the app, offer or require purchases, or contain advertising that could contain inappropriate material should be a red flag.
  • Privacy: These can usually be found on the app developer website. What information are they collecting and what will they do with the data? Look for apps that comply with COPPA (Children Online Privacy Protection Act). This is typically outlined within the privacy statements, which can often be found in the app store.
  • Terms of Use/Service: These can usually be found on the app developer website as well. Often, they will give specific details on the information the app collects on the users and who they share it with. It may also contain an age range of use or the need for parent permission. 
An example from SeeSaw: 
Seesaw only collects personal information through the Services from a child under 13 where their school, district, and/or teacher has agreed (via the terms described in more detail below) to obtain parental consent to use the Services and disclose personal information to us for the use and benefit of the learning environment.
    • Parent Permission can come in many forms. Some developers require it for all users under the age of 18, while others are for 13 and under. Either way, it is up to the classroom teacher who wishes to use the app to obtain that parent permission for EACH student before they download the app from Self Service. These apps will be in a category called "Parent Permission." 
    • A sample Parent Permission letter template has been designed to help classroom teachers. You can find it here. Make a copy of it in Google Docs and tweak to fit your app request. Make sure to include the app name, link to the terms of use and privacy, and share how you will be using the app with your students. 
So now, how do you get into the App-proval game? App requests must be entered into the SDW Self Service App Request Form available here: all apps will be approved. And plan ahead. It can take some time to track down these items and review them. 

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. As of today, we have reviewed 470 apps! 

Protecting App Data

What an amazing journey we are on in the world of technology!  We are a few years into this "thing" we call Waukesha One, and instead of wondering if students are using their devices, we are now in a place where we are concerned about losing student created content on their devices.

If you have ever worried that the work your students create in the various core apps could just up and disappear, the reality is it could happen. BUT, don't fear! There are ways we can help our students backup, archive, and safe-guard their work. Teaching them these critical skills now will help them be safer, more aware students and employees in an increasingly digital world.

Avoiding the Digital Version of "The Dog Ate My Homework" 

Do your students know how to back up their data from an iPad? Most likely not.

Consider taking a few minutes to walk your classes through the backup of one app a week, repeat once or twice, and empower the students to continue good backups regularly. Add "Export your project to Google Drive" as the publishing step before students finish a lesson. If you are regular user of a core app with your students, this should become part of the routine.

The infographic below outlines some of the key steps students can take to back up their work. It can be printed and posted in your classroom, media center, or added to a parent newsletter. In addition to the infographic, there is a series of short video tutorials that you can use for your own learning or even to share with your students ( As always, your ITC team is ready and willing to help with this process or answer any questions you may have.

iPad Backup by mheilber

Quick Fixes to Try with a Cranky Apple TV

When Apple TVs work they can positively change the way teaching happens in our classroom.  And when they don't -- well, it can be frustrating.

If you cannot project to an Apple TV in your classroom, there are a few things you can try before submitting a ticket for support. 

Turn Off Bluetooth on Your Device

Bluetooth does not need to be on for Apple TVs to work at school. Turning it off eliminates one possible issue that may exist.

Here's how:

Turn Wireless Off and Back On on Your Device

If your Apple TV isn't appearing in the list, turning the wireless off on the device, then turning it back on forces your device to search for Apple TVs nearby again. This will often allow the Apple TV to re-appear in your list when you want to AirPlay.

Here's how:

Restart Your Device

Sometimes our tech needs a reset. While it may hurt to close down your browser with all of your critical tabs, it is important that we regularly restart our devices. Power them down. Power them back up. Check to see if AirPlay works.

Update Your Device

Technology updates are a part of our lives. If your device has not been updated recently, take some time after school or on a weekend to update the device. It can take some time, so be sure to do this when you do not need your device immediately. Updating overnight is an excellent idea!  

Pro Tip: 
Before updating, always be sure to make sure your CRITICAL files are backed up. We typically recommend putting them in Google Drive!

Here's how:

The Apple TV is STILL Not Working!

Okay, on to the Apple TV for just a few tweaks before we submit a help ticket.

Turn Bluetooth Off on Apple TV

Just like your device, your Apple TV does NOT need Bluetooth turned on to find devices. In fact, it can get in the way and cause problems. Turning Bluetooth off on your Apple TV is an important step that may solve the issue.

Here's how:

With the Apple TV remote:

1. Go to Settings
2. Click on General
3. Click on Bluetooth
4. Click "Off"

Restart Your Apple TV

Grab an Apple TV remote (any Apple TV remote...they work for all models) and restart your Apple TV.  Some people say unplug the Apple TV, but this restart should do about the same thing.

Here's how:

Check for Hanging Wires
It may be hard to believe, but sometimes students (and sometimes adults) pull apart connections for varying reasons. And they do not always leave things as they found them!  Just take a look at the back of your projector/tv. Is there anything hanging there that seems like it should be plugged in?
Is this unplugged? (It's an HDMI cable.)
Or is this unplugged? (It's a VGA cable.)

If you see these cables hanging from the projector or Apple TV and not connected, this may be the root of the problem. You can try plugging them in, or you can file a Help Desk ticket if you are unsure if this is the issue or require assistance.

Time for a Help Desk Ticket

You have done what you can. It's time to submit a Help Desk ticket. It is worth mentioning anything that you tried from the above list. This may speed the process along and helps the tech assigned to the ticket to know what steps to take next.

And Remember...

Your Apple TV should work! Do not accept it not working properly. The SDW Technology Department wants to help you get your Apple TV working reliably.  If you are unable to get your Apple TV to work, don't just avoid using it. Put in a ticket and let somebody know. The SDW Technology Department cannot fix issues that they do not know about.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Removing Background Noise When Recording on an iPad

By request, we are bringing back an older post written by SDW Teacher Wendy Anderson. Thanks Wendy for your clear and practical solution!

 Hopefully we all have discovered the power of the audio recording feature on the iPad. This feature gives students’ the ability to reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they reached an answer verbally. Many applications require this record feature.  In my first grade classroom this has been game changing for students who have a hard time communicating their thoughts in written words. But, we have also all discovered the poor recording quality of the built in microphone if there is any type of background noise in the classroom.  During playback, the background noise sounds just as loud as the person’s recorded voice. This can become frustrating for the student and their audience.

 After trying different microphones and recording locations, our solution was simple; mini-recording studios. Our mini-recording studios are inexpensive storage stools from Target. As you can see in the picture, students place their iPad in the back of the storage stool. They then lay with their head in the mini-recording studio. This set-up helps prevent unwanted sounds and room chatter from ruining students’ recordings. You can still hear the background noise, but it is truly muffled and the recorded voice stands out more clearly. Egg-crate foam or acoustic foam can also be attached to the inside walls of the stool to increase the sound blocking effect.

 There are many other advantage of these mini-recording studios. The provide privacy for students who are wary of recording in front of other people. We have heard much better audio “performances” from students who were once shy to record. Also, before using the mini-recording studios, students would seek a quiet place to record in the hall. This was challenging because  for a short time these students were not under direct teacher supervision. Also, the hall would  have unexpected noise occur as a student was recording. Now, because we already had several storage stools in the class many students can record IN the classroom at the same time. Students really feel professional having their own recording studio just like Justin Bieber.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rockstar Stage Presentations - Joey Kovnesky - Gamify Your Classroom to Increase Motivation

Presentations from The Rockstar Stage

The One Conference 2017

The Rockstar Stage has become a favorite element of The One Conference for many as the focal point is on hearing directly from teachers and students regarding tips, tools, and inspirational messages about how they use technology in their classrooms. It is a celebration of our staff and students, giving them a few minutes in the spotlight to share their very best ideas!

Joey Kovnesky
Butler Middle School Teacher

Rockstar Stage Presenter: Joey Kovnesky

Joey Kovnesky is a first-year teacher at Butler Middle School in the School District of Waukesha.

Joey identifies a harsh reality many teachers continually struggle with daily. Regardless of the design of the lesson, some students find it particularly difficult to be engaged by school. While there can be many reasons for this, one he pointedly identifies is that these same students can find the motivation to spend hours playing video games.  Joey has used that observation and turned it into a positive, meaningful way to engage students in his classroom using a strategy called gamification.

Gamification of learning outlines and utilizes some of the same game design principles that real-world game designers utilize to engage players. In his talk, Joey talks about what his version of classroom gamification looks like, how students have responded, and why it is a platform that could be adopted by other teachers to engage their students.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rockstar Stage Presentations - Marlene Figueroa - Incorporating Student Voice Using iBooks Author

Presentations from The Rockstar Stage

The One Conference 2017

The Rockstar Stage has become a favorite element of The One Conference for many as the focal point is on hearing directly from teachers and students regarding tips, tools, and inspirational messages about how they use technology in their classrooms. It is a celebration of our staff and students, giving them a few minutes in the spotlight to share their very best ideas!

Rockstar Stage Presenter: Marlene Figueroa

Marlene Figueroa
Banting Elementary Teacher
Marlene Figueroa is a 3rd grade Dual Language classroom teacher at Banting Elementary in the School District of Waukesha.

In this talk, Marlene shares how she turned the Waukesha history unit and bus tour, something that her students take part in each year, into a tour that featured their voices and research. Student research and writing was featured in the book and students tapped on the location markers in their iBooks as they reached the destinations on the bus tour.

Marlene did this using iBooks Author (available for the Mac) and had students share their research on assigned topics using Google Docs. Once students submitted their work, Marlene compiled all of the work into an iBook and shared it with students on their iPads. Once on the iPad, the iBook could go offline on the bus tour and students could still access the writing of their peers to gain a deeper understanding of Waukesha's unique history.