Monday, September 30, 2013

Looking for Your Google Apps?

Do you ever have a case of the "Mondays?" Like, you come into work and try to access your Google Drive by logging into Chrome and clicking on a blank tab to get a list of your apps and you come up with something that looks more like this:

Where are my Apps? Where is my Drive? You start to wonder if its just you or if Google has changed over the weekend?

Don't worry! Your apps are still there. See that tiny little button on the left side of your Bookmarks bar? That is how you access your apps. Click a blank tab, then click the Apps button on the left side of your Bookmark bar. These updates by Google are often pushed out over time, so you may have already experienced this change, or the change is yet to come!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip

I am in awe of some of the awesome things that teachers are working on using technology already this year. If you have been trying something new, please send me an email and let me know. You never know, you may be featured right here on the Tech Coach Blog!

Today's Tech Tip is one way to concentrate on technology integration, instead of just using technology in the classroom. Good frameworks of technology integration concentrate on not only the technology piece, but also the teaching piece and the student learning piece. One such framework is called TPACK (pronounced "tee-pack"). TPACK is a framework that imparts the importance of focusing on Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge as the pinnacles of a comprehensive teaching and learning plan. The areas where there is overlap are the places where the true magic happens. Here is a visual of the TPACK framework:

In the spotlight today for demonstrating one of these areas of 'magical overlap'* is Dan Loomis, high school science teacher. Dan used his knowledge of Google Forms along with his pedagogical knowledge that students need active reminders of their reading strategies and ways to reflect on using them while they do a reading assignment to create an online assignment. Another area of pedagogy Dan addresses with this Google Form is that it is important to collect student data across multiple teachers to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum. To that end, Dan and the rest of the science department plan to test this form out with students in different class periods with different teachers. Dan's efforts focus in the overlap between Technology and Pedagogy, Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK). Dan applied these principles creating a Google Form which asks students to use the SQ3R reading strategy to complete a summary of an assigned text. He reminds students that SQ3R stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review."

As you can see below, the Google Form utilizes an assigned reading to step students through the SQ3R process (pedagogy) while concentrating on the current chapter of study (content knowledge).

I asked Dan's permission to share this form. If you have questions about how to create a form like this yourself, contact Cara (x5208) or Sarah (x2216).

*obviously, the overlap is not magical, but a result of hard work and planning

Friday, September 20, 2013

Updating your iPad Operating System

Some people don't like change. Sometimes change is something we seek; sometimes change is thrust upon us. When technology changes, those who seek it are called early adopters. They are the ones who come right after the innovators - the guys who invented it in the first place. Whether or not you consider yourself an early adopter, excited to see what Apple has to offer this time, or a laggard waiting until your iPad no longer functions right to update your operating system, there are some benefits to keeping your device up to date.

First of all, your iPad will run better over time if you are updated to the newest operating system (iOS) and keep your apps up to date. Secondly, app and iOS updates provide cool new features for your iPad.

In our district, if you have a teacher iPad, you should be able to keep your iPad up to date on your own. Check Settings > General > Software Update and your iPad will let you know if there is an update ready for you. Keep in mind that it takes some time, generally a couple of hours, to download and then install a new operating system.

Updates to apps take only a few minutes. Click on your App Store icon and select Updates in the lower right-hand corner. If you have many apps to update, you may want to consider clicking "update" for 5-10 at a time. Otherwise, you can just click Update All.

The newest operating system, iOS 7 is supported by iPad 2, 3, and 4. Some of the new features will not be available on the iPads 2 & 3. Most of the iPads that we have in the district are iPad 2s.

iOS 7 looks completely different than the iOS's that precede it. The navigation is still generally the same, but the look and feel are different. iOS 7 gives you quick access to the most frequently used tools like wifi settings, bluetooth, screen brightness, the calculator and even a flashlight by flicking your finger up from the bottom of any home screen. If you pull down from the middle of any home screen, you will get a spotlight search to look for emails, apps, calendar appointments, etc. This use to require you to swipe to the right until you got to the spotlight search screen.

The Notification Center has changed as well. Now you can look at categories of notifications. In the Today category, you will find calendar events and reminders for today. In the All category, you will find regular notifications such as Twitter updates, Facebook notifications, etc. In the Missed category, you will find missed calls and text messages.

Other fun features of iOS 7 include a compass and level, using Safari bookmarks to see websites people you follow have posted to Twitter (click the @ symbol in Safari bookmarks), unlimited number of apps organized into folders on your home screen, and allow apps to update automatically when they're ready.

iPad carts are updated by Chris Perri at the middle school. Managers of special education iPad carts in each building should contact Chris to see when he'd like to update those devices. This may not be done for a while as Chris will be starting to get second carts of iPads ready for the elementary schools this week. If you have a small classroom set and wish to update your iPads yourself, you can do that as well.

*If you use the GOLD Documentation app, please wait at least 4 weeks before updating to iOS 7.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Questions of the Week

As we wind down with Week 2 of school, the dust is starting to settle. Students are getting more used to their schedules and routines, teachers are learning their students' names, and school buses are arriving on time with new students and new routes. 

Cara and I have been to a couple of different buildings, but have been quite busy with the high school. Freshman have received their Chromebooks and some upper classmen taking Freshman classes have been trickling in to get theirs as well. We have been continuing to work on our website to build a resource for teachers as well. Check back regularly for updates: Technology Coaching and be sure to subscribe to use your email address to subscribe to our blog.

Down in the Tech Training office in the HS Library, we often get questions from people who are stuck in the middle of a process or procedure using technology. Perhaps they have 'Googled' the problem or asked a colleague; perhaps they have spent way too much time trying to figure it out on their own; or perhaps they are stuck and their first instinct is to call Dara, or Cara or Sarah.

Regardless of what brings you in, we are happy to try and help. Remember what you tell your students about questions: If you have that question, chances are other students have the same question. We think the same thing goes for teachers.

Here are some of the questions and answers we have fielded this week:

Q: How do you put a hyperlink in a Google Spreadsheet?
A: Use the formula for hyperlinks, similarly to how you use a formula to add the numbers in a column. Type =hyperlink(web address; text). The "web address" is the URL or link. The "text" is what you want the cell to actually display. For example, if you wanted to link Google to your spreadsheet, but you wanted the cell to say "search here", this is what the formula would look like:

=hyperlink(; search here)

Q: How do I update Java on my MacBook? I have installed it a couple of times, but nothing gets fixed.
A: This question has come up several times in regards to Infinite Campus. First, we need a vocabulary lesson: download means to bring something from the cloud, or the internet, onto your computer. Install means to place that downloaded thing into place for use. Very crude, non-techie definitions, I know.

On a PC, generally the install happens somewhat automatically after the download is complete. On a Mac, they are two separate things: first you download something and then you install it. In Safari, you will find your downloaded items here under the little arrow in the top right corner of your screen:

If you click the arrow and then click the downloaded file, then you will be able to follow the prompts to install the download.

Q: What do I do if a Special Education student requires technology to be more successful?
A: Fill out a referral form for an Assistive Technology referral. Follow this link to the form and use File-> Make a Copy to create a copy for you to fill out for your student. Referral forms should be sent to PSC for approval from Chris McMasters.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Cool Stuff That Happened Today

Today we made history at Chi Hi. We rolled out the very first Chromebooks to half of the Freshman students in our 1:1 learning initiative. At first it seemed like just another thing we were doing today until the Techs, Scott, Cara and Becky started talking about where we've come from. When the students approached the auditorium, I started to get excited.

As the students entered, they were somewhat stoic - slightly awkward and quiet; Freshmen in their first week of school. They shuffled through the line, signing a student agreement, getting their Chromebook and scanning it into our database for checkout. 

The excitement built as they got through the line. Some of the things I heard them say:
"I got a laptop! I got a laptop!"
"This is like an early birthday present."
"That's it? Now this is mine?"

Dr. Saron looked on, noting how the students went from quietly leaning back in their chairs to excitedly leaning forward with the Chromebooks. 

Students assisted other students; they personalized their themes; began downloading apps and music; asked about video chats. Amid echoes of "did you see this?" and "I didn't know you could do that!" they chatted and dug right in. 

And just like that, the first batch of Chromebooks were deployed. I feel incredibly honored to have been part of this day where students, teachers, technicians, and administrators shared excitement in a very momentous occasion!