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
Inline image 1

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

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).
Inline image 3

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 (

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 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.

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