Thursday, October 4, 2018

"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

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After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illinois Assessments of Readiness. In their August 28 webinar & a subsequent email update, ISBE's Assessment Division announced that they will use PARCC question content to deliver a computer-adaptive annual assessment through Data Recognition Corporation (DRC). DRC is currently used in Illinois to deliver the ACCESS testing for English Language Learners. DRC also delivers statewide assessments in Louisiana, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Nevada. 
ISBE reports that the next round of Illinois testing will remain very similar to the assessments we have delivered at Grades 3-8 for the past several school years. DRC will use PARCC question content, at least initially, but will begin the transition to a more computer-adaptive platform over the next 3-4 years. Their vision is to deliver more relevant and timely results of machine-scored items within a week of the close of the testing window, and all results within a month of that date. 
Most of this information comes from the bi-weekly Assessment Webinars, and from this letter posted on the ISBE website. 
The next State Assessment Webinar is scheduled for 10-11:30 on Friday, October 12.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Switch to the New GMail

If you haven't already, you should really give the New GMail interface a try! It's super-easy to switch (see below) and once you do you'll have access to lots of new functionality.


  • Open Gmail 
  • Click the Gear icon (upper right) 
  • Click "Try the new Galesburg Community Unit School District #205 Mail"

And that's it! Once the browser reloads, you'll have access to tons of new tools, including the new right-hand sidebar. This contains three tools that you'll soon find invaluable: Calendar, Keep, and Tasks. This same sidebar will soon be rolling out to Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings over the next 2 weeks. Learn how to use these products side-by-side HERE

These tools will be a great help for students: 
  • Take notes in Keep and insert them into a Doc
  • Check their Calendar to schedule a study session without leaving GMail 
  • Make a collaborative To-Do List for a project and check off items from Docs, Sheets, or Slides
  • ...the possibilities are really almost endless...!  

Friday, August 17, 2018

How to Submit a Tech Help Request in District 205

If you need assistance with your computer, telephone, SMART board or Promethean panel setup, etc., please submit a Tech Help Request from a computer attached to our network at school. 

Here's how: 

Step 1: 

Step 2: 


  • Point to For Staff and select Tech Help Desk 
  • Click the Login button 
  • Click Choose One and then Create New Case  
  • Type a One Line Description 
  • Select the Problem Type 
  • Select the Building Name 
  • Type your Room Number or describe the location 
  • Type in the details of your request 
  • Click Submit

How To Reset Your District 205 Password

It is a very good idea for all staff to change their Galesburg 205 passwords on a frequent and regular basis. Here's how:  


  • Point to For Staff  & choose Password ChangeTool  
  • In the first field, type ghs\YourUsername 
    • use the backslash \ on the key that is found between the Enter & backspace keys on most keyboards 
    • your username is not case sensitive, and you do NOT need to include "" after it
  • Type your current password
  • Type your new password
  • Confirm your new password
  • Click Submit 

This will change your computer login password, your Google password, and your Skyward password. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hapara Use in CUSD205

This post is intended for teachers in our school district, but other Hapara users may find the links in this post helpful, too.

My big project today is setting up the daily sync between our student data system (Skyward) and Hapara. For teachers, our use of Hapara (in Grades 6-12) includes three modules: Dashboard, Highlights, and Workspace.

Welcome Hapara Teachers!





Self-Paced Hapara Workspaces Training Module
Hapara Workspaces Solutions Guide 
PRINTABLE Hapara Workspaces Cheat Sheet 

See the Hapara Solutions Guides to get started if you're new to Hapara, or to refresh your memory if you are a returning user

See Hapara's Customer First site with live and on-demand training resources and webinars to guide appropriate classroom use. 


This year, teachers in District 205 will have the ability to: 

Create classes manually. 

This year you can make a custom group if you wish. This will not be affected by the daily synchronization - you will have to add/remove students or delete the class manually. 

Add students manually. 

This year, if you don't want to wait for the front office to enter the student in Skyward and then wait until the next day for the sync to occur, you can enter a student by hand. This, too, will not be affected by the daily sync. When the sync adds the student's official record, you will be responsible for deleting the "student" you created. 


This may be kind of huge for us! This year you will also be able to synchronize the Google Classroom courses you create and use Hapara Highlights and Workspaces with the Classroom group. 
Here's how:
Introducing Google Classroom Sync for Hapara (Teacher Version) from Hapara Team on Vimeo.

Read more about Classroom/Hapara Sync & how to use it on the Hapara Support page


Pobody's Nerfect

The data sync will be set to occur daily after 4pm to catch each day's new additions & changes. THERE WILL BE A TROUBLESHOOTING PERIOD where Hapara courses and rosters may not look exactly the way you'd like, especially as student registration and assignment to courses, changes to teacher course assignments, etc., all settles out. Please try to be patient - most of these issues tend to sort themselves out during the first week or two as the changes in Skyward begin to stabilize. If kids & classes don't seem to "look" the way you'd like, try to add classes or students, or sync things with your Google Classroom, as noted above.


Teachers will soon see a number of folders created in Google Drive for the classes you teach.  This is normal, and you can use these folders to store & share any course materials you'd like. If you don't want to see or use these, you can just create a folder called "Hapara" and move all of those into there if you prefer a different organizational style. Just don't delete the folders, please.

Create Drive Folder (& nest it within other folders) from @JakeMillerTech


Teachers will also see a number of new Calendars appearing in Google Calendar. You are more than welcome to use these to help students stay organized throughout the school year, because they will see the same Calendars as well. Users can hide calendars from view by clicking the Gear Icon in Calendar, pointing to the calendar and clicking the Eye Icon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Access or Create Your IEIN (Illinois Teachers)

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Illinois Educators are required to enter their Illinois Educator Identification Number (IEIN) when signing into and evaluating professional development activities.

To find your IEIN, you'll need to either access or create your account in the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS)

Once you have your IEIN, there are a few tricks you can use to keep it handy so you can access it easily when needed.
  • I've seen several educators simply take a screenshot or snap a picture of the screen showing the IEIN and keep that on their phone or other personal portable device. 
  • Another way would be to copy it and paste it into a Google Document, and make the font large and bold. Next, you can save that into the top level of Drive or into a "My PD" folder, etc. If you use the Grid View in Google Drive, you will be able to see the number without even opening the file.
  • iOS users can copy/paste it into the Notes app to keep it handy (Thanks to Gyuchan Steele for this reminder)
  • Google Keep is an app that works in Chrome and is also available to iOS and Android users. Using Google Keep, you can copy/paste the number onto a note and keep it at your fingertips no matter what device you use! 
... or I guess you could just write it down... LOL! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Using Google Classroom for Staff Communications

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Earlier today I was asked by an administrator:
"Is there a way to use Google Classroom for staff communications?"
My answer: "yes, Yes, YES!!!"

Google Classroom is a GREAT tool to create a private school environment to share documents, ideas, and announcements with staff!

UPDATE: Google Classroom will be updating this summer. I'm told that if you create a Google Classroom environment prior to the rollout of the update you'll have to use the old version all year long. However, you can sign up to be a beta tester and gain early access to the new features. It takes about a week for approval, but it's worth it! The beta-test program has ended.

Ideas for using Classroom with staff

Here are some ideas you might consider:

  1. Enrolling Staff: Set up a Google Classroom environment and either enter all of the names of your staff, or email them the class code to self-enroll
    1. Create separate Classroom "classes" for each grade level, team or department, then post items to multiple "classes" ...OR... 
    2. Create a single Classroom "class" for the school, and post items to specific "students" if needed
  2. Add Assistants as Co-Teachers so they can post, too. This is a nice way to demonstrate shared leadership in larger schools. 
  3. Remember that each time you create a Classroom environment you also create 
    1. a shared Google Drive folder that holds all documents you post, 
    2. a shared Google Calendar that appears for all of your "students"
    3. an email every time you post something to the Stream
    4. a backchannel that allows your "students" to post comments and reply to others who comment
    5. an easy way to email staff from the Students page
  4. Use the About page to post documents that teachers will need to refer to all year long (Think permission slips, handbooks, etc.)
    1. UPDATE: The About page changed with the summer update (after this post was originally published). HOWEVER, we can now post RESOURCES related to any TOPIC on the Classwork page! This would be a great place for school forms, documents, etc.! 
  5. Use an Announcement to post weekly staff bulletins as a Google Doc - or even a YouTube video!  
    1. Staff will then receive an email with a link each time you post
    2. You can schedule the announcement to appear at a regular time, and just update the Google Doc as needed throughout the week
  6. Use an Assignment to distribute materials that staff must address
    1. This is a great way to flip your staff meetings! 
    2. You can instruct staff to "Turn In" an assignment by a due date you set as evidence of having viewed/read material prior to a meeting
  7. Use the Create Question feature to get quick feedback from staff
  8. Create different Topics for posts to allow for quick access to various posts, like...
    1. Weekly Bulletin
    2. Policy/Procedure
    3. Staff Meeting
    4. School Improvement Plan
    5. Climate & Culture
    6. ... etc... each school is different, so make topics to reflect your needs!


The amazing Alice Keeler has an extensive list of Google Classroom ideas, and has written a book that I highly recommend: 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.

Here's a great blog post entitled "Meet Your Staff Where They Are: Streamlining with Google Classroom" that looks at some other aspects of this idea.

Here's a great YouTube Video showing how a school principal in Kentucky implemented the concept. (screencast starts at about the 19 min 30 sec point)

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"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

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