Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bullying Prevention Center

Add caption provides many resources to help teachers understand bullies and their victims, and offers training in how to prevent bullying in their schools and classrooms.

Astronaut Scott Kelly Speaks Out Against Bullying

Find more video resources at the StopBullyingGov YouTube channel

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Digital Literacy in the Era of "Fake News"
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Lots of recent news stories have discussed the fear of "hacking" and "fake news." It seems like no place on the Internet is safe from nefarious malfeasances these days. Isn't there anything we can do to stay safe and appropriately informed in this digital age? 
Yes. It involves teaching Digital Literacy and Internet Safety. These are not topics that the Tech teacher or English teacher should address - every teacher should actively teach students how to be safe online at every possible opportunity. If you're not doing this yet, there's no better time to get started than right now!  
Yesterday an email appeared in my inbox from Education World involving this exact topic. Among other things, the message provided free ready-made lesson plans and resources to help teachers guard against the spreading of "fake news." 
In that message it was also revealed that the American Press Institute and Newsela have teamed up to improve media literacy instruction by focusing on 6 questions: 
  • TYPE: What kind of content is this? 
  • SOURCE: Who & what are the sources cited, & why should I believe them? 
  • EVIDENCE: What's the evidence & how was it vetted? 
  • INTERPRETATION: Is the main point of the piece proven by the evidence? 
  • COMPLETENESS: What's missing? 
  • KNOWLEDGE: Am I learning every day what I need? 
(See more resources in Newsela's Media Literacy Toolkit)
National Public Radio offers these tips to help us all be wary of potential fake-news from Melissa Zimdars, Assistant Professor of Communications at Merrimack College:   
  • Pay attention to the domain & URL 
  • Read the "About Us" section 
  • Look at the quotes in a story
  • Look at who said them
  • Check the comments
  • Reverse image search 

While I'm sure there are many more resources to help you teach Internet Safety and Digital Literacy, these new resources may help you get on your way to helping your students become active and critical consumers of information. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Using Google Classroom from Home

This week 3 or 4 people have relayed parent concerns about accessing Google Classroom from home using a personally owned device like a home computer or tablet.

There's a simple solution: Make sure the student (or parent) is logged into the student's school account.

Here's a quick video explaining the issue and demonstrating the solution.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

PARCC Resources

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The following resources are available to help prepare students for the upcoming 2017 PARCC assessment

PARCC Online Assessment Links:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Googleicious Podcasts for Educators

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Those who know me know that I commute about 35 minutes to and from work every day, each way. During the new year I'm also spending a little time on the stationary bike trying to be more active. (I'm definitely looking forward to warmer weather when I can get outside again!) Whether I'm in the car or on the bike, I generally listen to podcasts to brush up on my skills and learn new ideas.

Podcasts are simply audio recordings that are distributed via Internet. You don't have to have an iPod or other mp3 player to listen - most folks download via smartphone or computer/tablet. While there are lots of different ways to listen to podcasts, I generally choose Google Play Music and YouTube since these work nicely across my smartphone, Chromebook, and desktop.

Here are my current go-to podcasts for tech-enabled education topics, and the links I use to listen - I'm sure you can find these on other platforms, too!

Video Podcasts (for the workout) 

Audio Podcasts (for the commute) 

NOTE: Matt Miller will keynote the 2nd annual Whatever It Takes Conference in Galesburg, IL. Join us June 14-16, 2017!
Visit for details!

Other Podcasts I follow: 

  • Goin' Digital with Dr. Greg Goins is another non-Google podcast I follow. This southern Illinois superintendent conducts periodic hour-long interviews with some of the movers and shakers in the EdTech world 
  • I also listen to the TED Radio Hour from NPR when I need a break from tech topics. While not Google-centric, I simply do not have words to recommend this thought-inspiring podcast highly enough!

Happy Listening and Learning! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Using Google Hangouts in District 205

Google Hangouts (sometimes referred to as "GHO") is a great tool for helping your classes communicate with an authentic audience. Hangouts allows teachers to video chat with people outside of your school environment, allowing for virtual guest speakers, virtual field trips, and so on. And, since it's Google-icious, you can also share screens and Google Documents, etc., remotely as well!

This quick 1-min video will cover the basics of Google Hangouts if you've never used it before.

However, within our school domain, Google Hangouts is blocked from our student Chromebooks and also cannot be accessed via our public wifi connection, so using the combination of a desktop workstation & classroom display is your best way to access and use GHO in a whole-class environment. GHO may appear to behave a bit differently than some might expect at first, due to our filtering policies. So, here's a quick tutorial on using GHO to enrich your classroom.

Launch Hangouts

The easiest way to launch GHO is to type to open it directly. You might instead choose to go to the "waffle menu" in the upper right near your profile picture. If you don't see the Hangouts icon on the first screen (below left) click More at the bottom of the panel and check the next screen (below right). If it's still not there, click Even more from Google.

Start a video call 

Here's the first hurdle - when you start up you'll see "unable to sign in." IGNORE THIS - you can see your profile picture so you really ARE signed in - I don't know why this occurs but just ignore it and click the blue  Start Video Call  button.

Invite participants

Hangouts will load for a bit, then you'll see that you've started a Hangout that is restricted to "Community Unit School District #205 only..." But don't despair! Click the blue Change link to    Allow  people outside to join the Hangout!

Next, you can either type in an email address directly and click the green  Invite  button, or copy the link and email it to the other user(s) who will participate in the Hangout.

Going further 

This 5-minute video from The Google Gooru (now associated with BetterCloud Monitor) shows the basics of How to use Google Hangouts.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Self-grading Quizzes in Google Forms

Google Forms now allows teachers to create self-healing quizzes. The process for creating, sharing , & using these is very simple. Free Tech for Teachers posted a quick & simple tutorial video.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Stay Organized with Google Calendar

Google Calendar is an extremely useful tool to help keep your classes (and yourself) organized and up to date.

And, if you use Google Classroom or Hapara to help manage your classroom workflow, a Google Calendar is automatically generated for you and each of your students! All you have to do is learn how to use it...

If you're not using it yet, why not make a New Year's Resolution to get started? If you are using it, try incorporating it into your daily classroom activities more this year?

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Free 2016 Electoral College Poster from CSPAN

CSPAN Classroom offers teachers free classroom materials to help teach about the Electoral College and the 2016 Election.

Order yours here. The site also includes links to lesson plans and other downloadable resources.

Note: It may take a month or so for the classroom poster to arrive.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

17 for 17 by Adam Dovico

Here's a great list of things for every educator to consider for us all during 2017!

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PS: If you're looking for a way to achieve #12, visit

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Google Takeout

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Google offers a great data tool that lets users download almost any data attached to your Google Account.  It won’t pull data from third party services, but it is a whole lot easier than emailing things to a different account, etc. Here’s how it works…
Visit and select the data you would like to archive.
  • I’d suggest downloading most of your Drive files in their associated Microsoft formats. However, I tend to prefer Drawings files as PNG or JPG files. Both are easier to edit later than PDFs.

This video will walk you through how to use Google Takeout.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Attend #WITcon17 FREE!

Last year’s Whatever It Takes Conference was so successful, we’re doing it again! #WITcon17 will take place June 14-15-16, 2017, at both Carl Sandburg College and Lombard Middle School.
And YOU can attend for FREE: Simply PRESENT one innovative idea that is working great in your classroom to (a) integrate technology, (b) engage students in innovative or hands-on teaching techniques, or (c) all of the above!  

See the WITcon website for details.

Hapara Tip: Focused Browsing

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Hapara’s new interface, which we’ve been using in our Grades 6-12 schools since summertime, includes a feature that will be very helpful to the successful delivery of tech-enabled lessons in your classroom.
That’s code for: Use it and you’ll be a lot less frustrated.

Focused Browsing in Hapara gives you much more control over students’ use of internet resources on school-issued Chromebooks. Focused Browsing lets you to allow only certain websites to be used on student devices for a length of time that you can specify. In other words, you can lock students into the web sites or tools that you want them to use, and lock them out of random browsing in another tab while you’re trying to teach.
Here's a video showing Focused Browsing in action, from The Digital Learning Academy on YouTube...
Learn more about how to use the Focused Browsing feature in Hapara Highlights and other features by going through Hapara's Self-Paced Learning Modules:
Locally, training in the use of Hapara has been offered every semester for the past year and a half through our PD Academy. If you would like to participate in this training again, please let me know by emailing mjacobson<at>galesburg205<dot>org, and I"ll be happy to arrange it for you again!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New Teacher Learning Team Update

Historically speaking, Spring Semester's plan for New Teachers has always involved book club meetings. This year we're switching things up a bit...

All of our Year 1 teachers received a complimentary copy of Kids Deserve It! before leaving for winter break. We'd like to encourage all of our new teachers to read this book during our well-deserved break and participate in the online book study throughout second semester.

In the absence of special requests, we will not hold our previously-scheduled face-to-face Book Club meetings during Spring Semester. You can earn the same number of PD Credits by participating in the online Kids Deserve It! Book Study.

If you have any questions or would like to meet to discuss anything at all, please feel free to call me at 2108 or email me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Using GMail Filters

Recently an old email issue resurfaced. Some time ago, a student who wanted to share something of personal importance chose to send a mass email around our District. The building principal dealt with the issue appropriately at the time, but occasionally the message resurfaces. ...And as teachers' inboxes blow up, the questions also start rolling into my inbox...

Can't you do something to stop this?

No, I'm afraid not. If I had that much control over GMail, I wouldn't be driving a Honda Civic. Once it's out there, it's out there.

Well, what can be done about this? 

It's a teachable moment. Teach students that using "Reply All" is inappropriate in this situation. Teach them to simply delete the email and go on with their lives. Teaching kids - it's your Superpower!

What else can students and I do?  

You - and your students - can create a filter for this message. Here's a quick overview, from BetterCloud Monitor:
In our local case, 
  1. Copy the subject of the email in question and paste it in the Subject field when you create the filter. 
  2. When you define the action, simply have GMail "Skip the Inbox (Archive It)"
  3. Last, check the box to apply that filter to all the existing messages with that have the same Subject. 
You and your students will never see that annoying email again.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Filters can be wonderful time-savers, but use them with care. For example might be tempting to filter all messages from your Principal or your favorite local Tech Coordinator :-D However, if you don't read those emails when appropriate and miss out on something important, that's going to be on you. Likewise, if you teach kids to do this, they might be tempted to filter out messages from their teachers in the same way, too. Teach them when it's appropriate to filter and when it's not. 

Think it all the way through before you filter out work-related or school-related messages!