Jan 15, 2020

Keeping up with Google Docs...

Image result for google docsGoogle has made some great updates to Google Docs.  Take a look at this video on the following updates:

  • Word Count
  • Fonts
  • Spelling and Grammar
Did you also know that you can in any tab key in Docs.new, Sheets.new, Slides.new and Forms.new and it will bring up a new doc right in the tab.....   Lots of great ideas in the video below.

Nov 21, 2019

Google Classroom Student Selector

Did you know that on the Google Classroom App on Android and IOS you can use the student selector which allows educators to call on students randomly in class to participate.   Here is how you can get to it and use it in your classes....

  • Download the app from the Android or IOS app store.
  • Login with your e-mail and password
  • Select the class you want to use it with
  • Click on People 
  • Click on Student Selection Icon in upper right
  • Select the student "Next"
  • Call on Later, puts them back in the rotation.
  • Absent takes them out of rotation.
  • Reset will start it all over. 

Jul 29, 2019

New Year, New People, New Systems

Wow!  Another year is starting just around the corner and I can't believe how fast it goes.  This year will seem extremely fast as I  have a senior and a freshman in high school, which means college visits and applications and of course the FASFA.

We also had a change in leadership for an Instructional Technology Coach. I am sure you all heard Sean Mullins left the district, which was a loss to Unit 5 in general; but we are very excited to introduce to your our new Instructional Technology Coach, Ed Hafermann.  Ed has been in education for over 15 years, has been a Junior High Teacher for all of that time teaching Language Arts and Social Studies.  Ed is also the Head Basketball coach at Normal West High School.  Please take some time and send Ed a note to congratulate him.   If you want to read more about him, you can do that here.

This school year brings on many new items...

First, Infinite Campus will be our new Student Information System SIS).  Having a system in place which really works with the SBG philosophy is essential for our district and educators.   This means no more Skyward at the secondary level and no more TeacherEase at the elementary level.  Teachers, students and parents will all use the same system.   There are apps for IC you will want to download to your phone if you have students or are a parent in Unit 5.  Unfortunately there is not yet a teacher app for Infinite Campus.

Apple App Store  When searching for the district make sure to enter McLean and Illinois and it will pop up.

Google Play Store When searching for the district make sure to enter McLean and Illinois and it will pop up.

Next is Tyler Employee Access - This is where you will want to check your paycheck in September.  Remember September 15th is the first paycheck of the year with the 2nd year contract raises in it.  Remember it is also the first paycheck of the year which will also have your TRS and Union Dues will be taken out in Oct., so if it is less then your summer checks, that is the reason.  It is your responsibility to double check your check and to make sure any changes for the new year are correct.  The payroll department rolled out the first payroll from Tyler on July 15 and it looks like it was successful.  If you want to know what you will be making this year, check out the UFEA website for information on the contract and your years of service.   Make sure you also check your time off!  I looked at mine and found it was grossly off.  I took snapshots of the Skyward information and my information and sent it to the HR Department. They fixed it within the hour!!  That is fast service!  This could effect those who plan to retire in the near future and need all of their banked sick days.

If you are a staff member who WILL NOT need a SUB when you are out for a day, then you will need to enter your time off into Tyler.  It is really as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Last, if you are a teacher who will need a SUB when you are out for the day, you will use Frontline formally Aesop.  Once you enter your credentials into Frontline, you will be able to create an absence.  From my understanding, once this information is entered into Frontline, it will automatically go into Tyler and you will NOT have to enter it twice, like you did with Skyward; that is an added bonus.

If you would like to do videos for your classroom or subs, use Loom. It's what I used to create these easy screencast videos.

Amber ~

Nov 28, 2018

OCR - Optical Character Recognition in Google Docs

Google Drive and OCR.  I just learned about this little feature from Leslie Fisher.  She is amazing and always has a new trick she has learned about and shares out.

OCR or Optical Character Recognition is a technology which enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper docs, PDFs, and images into editable data.

So, I tried this, I opened my Google Drive app, took a picture which is automatically uploaded. Now watch the video for the rest of the instructions!  Worked like a charm!

Snap and Read Updated Color Overlays and Reading Line Guides

Wow!  They keep improving this wonderful tool.  If you have not read the previous post about Snap and Read and Co-Writer please do so.. Snap and Read just added a new tool to its list of arsenal.  The updated tool is the Color Overlay and Reading Line Guides.

Take a look at this video on the new updates.

Color Overlay and Reading Line Guides from DonJohnstonInc on Vimeo.

Nov 5, 2018

Read it to me! Help me write and Annotate it!

When you have students who struggle with reading and writing, it is important to have tools which support them.  We are very lucky in Unit 5 with our Assistive Technology and to have Ms. Nora Bardi.  She is amazing and works with teachers and students all over our district to ensure all our students have access to these amazing tools.

Read it to me! Snap and Read is an assistive technology software.  The one-button interface reads text aloud from any internet browser, Word, PDF files and other documents and programs.  Snap and Read can be loaded via our Unit 5 webstore and is available to ALL students and staff in our district.  We have also tested the program inside of Discovery Education and Amplify.  Both have reading capabilities, but with Snap and Read, students can slow down the pace of the reading.  Students can also go into their options and customize to personalize their experience.  Download now to create the ultimate reading experience.  You can also watch the following video to see how easy it is to use!

Did you also know that Snap and Read has a PDF editor within it?  This allows students to receive a PDF from the teacher and then annotate right on it.  Students will then be able to save it right back to their own Google Drive.  Here is a  video which shows you how to use it.

Help me write it! Co-Writer is an assistive technology software for writing.  This floating window predicts words, aides in phonetic spelling, grammar, and topic related vocabulary.  It can be used within Google Docs, Discovery Ed, Amplify and many more to help students construct meaningful sentences.  Co-Writer can be loaded via our Unit 5 webstore and is available to ALL students and staff in our district. Students have the availability to personalize their options to develop their best writing.

Do you know of a student who struggles with reading?  Students who struggle with decoding and processing words tend to hate reading... But what if you could give them the tools to make reading easier and more enjoyable?   Being a teacher of a children who have reading difficulty is hard because if the child could listen to the passage or book you know they would love it.  Learning Ally relieves the stress of a struggling readers and allows them to enjoy reading again.  Unit 5 is very lucky we have access to this program and our students are using it.  If you have never gotten students on Learning Ally here is a short video on how students get started.  Students must have a learning disability, low Map scores, or be in a reading intervention in order to qualify.

Sep 27, 2018

Takin Social Studies - Ideas, Lessons and strategies for the 21st Century Classroom,

If you have never heard of Takin Social Studies, now is the time to take notice.  This blog houses podcasts ranging from Music in the classroom, sticky current events, to primary sources.  After listening to it for a couple of days, I am hooked.

The four hosts each have their own witty personalities and provide tons of resources they use with their students. Listen to Episode 17 Got Rhythm.  Also take a look at the notes from the episode as well, they link some student work which is really good and hopefully will generate some ideas for your own classes!

Sep 26, 2018

Rubric Grading in Google Classroom: New for Fall 2018

I have many assignments that I deliver via Google Classroom that need to be graded by using a rubric.  I will have even more of these as we continue to move towards Standards-Based Grading.  I've heard people talk about Orange Slice or Goobric/Doctopus, but it sounds like a lot of technical up front work that I am not comfortable with.  I need something simple, quick, and efficient.
Attaching a Google Doc version of your rubric to an assignment and choosing to Make a Copy for each student will enable a form of rubric grading that is flexible, fast, and powerful.

Sep 10, 2018

Flipgrid Frenzy!

Flipgrid LogoThis summer, Flipgrid was bought out by Microsoft and has since given the pro version to teachers for FREE!  YES!  FREE!!!  Which means, you can make as many Grids as you want!!  
Last year the free version only allowed for one grid with multiple topics.  This year you can create as many grids as you would like with as many topics as you want under those grids. 

If you have never used Flipgrid, it is a video discussion platform where student's can video booktalks, reflections, practice speaking in a foreign language,and much more. Student's can access via their computer or the app on their phones.  Take a look at this video to get started.

Aug 31, 2018

It's the little things....

Here are several videos which will help when starting a new school year.  Many of these things we all know, but have "forgotten" about or don't remember how to do because we only do them once a year.  Take a look at the "little things" which can make life a little easier!

Downloads Nightmare!

Google Contacts 

YouTube Restrictive Mode