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.

Image clipped from

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!

Image clipped from

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Google Takeout

Image clipped from
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

Image clipped from
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!  


Friday, December 9, 2016

Ditch That Textbook Book Study

Another book study option will be available to Galesburg CUSD 205 employees during Spring semester. DITCH That Textbook, by Matt Miller, describes dozens of tech-enabled ways to innovate in your class. DITCH isn't about getting rid of textbooks as much as it is a philosophy for teaching and learning:
  • Different: Switch things up to keep your classroom interesting and engaging
  • Innovative: Take risks and try new ideas, be they new, borrowed, or stolen
  • Tech-laden: Incorporate digital tools and resources when appropriate to encourage exploration
  • Creative: Access students’ amazing potential to produce meaningful and relevant outcomes.
  • Hands-on: Give kids the opportunity to get messy, try new things, and “fail-forward.”
This 14-week book study will also be facilitated using Google Classroom, so you can complete it as your schedule allows. Up to 7 PD Credits can be earned through thoughtful reflection on this information and discussing classroom applications of these ideas in the Book Club. This is also open to ANY employee using their email address.
Image used with permission of the author. Visit

Matt Miller is the Keynote Speaker at #WITcon17, June 14, 15, & 16! You can present your ideas and attend the entire conference for free! Learn how here.

Kids Deserve It! Book Study

Image from
Spring semester is always challenging, and often times professional learning falls by the wayside. To help out, we’re trying something different! During Spring Semester 2017, we’ll be reading and discussing Kids Deserve It! Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking, by Todd Nesloney & Adam Welcome. It’s a super-easy read and will challenge you to reconsider preconceived notions.
No face-to-face meetings will be required - we’ll use Google Classroom to facilitate our once-a-week discussions. This Book Study is open to ANY employee with a email address - teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians… anybody!!
District 205 educators who participate in this 14-week book study can earn up to 7 PD Credits. No fees, no registration, not even any meetings to attend! Just read the book, log into Google Classroom, and share your ideas and support.  What could be easier?  

Illinois License Renewal

Each holder of an Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) is responsible for keeping that license up-to-date by participating in regular professional development activities, logging those activities in the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS), and completing the renewal procedure every 5 years.
  1. Create an ELIS account -
  2. Log Professional Development Activities in ELIS
    1. If your last renewal was before 2015, you are considered “mid-cycle.” Old rules still apply to you as far as how many hours you must log. However, the new rules about what counts as training apply to all.
    2. If you renewed or received your PEL in 2015 or 2016:
      1. Log a minimum of 120 hours of Professional Development Credit every 5 years (24 hours/year), regardless of degree earned (NBPTS is different)
      2. Don’t stop at 120 hours! If some of your hours are rejected when you renew, you’ll need to have some extra hours to fall back on!
  3. Renew your PEL in ELIS between April & the end of July of your renewal year
  4. Keep all documentation for at least 6 years after each successful renewal

Supporting Documentation

Image clipped from

Update Chromebooks

It is vitally important to keep Chromebooks updated as frequently as possible. Chromebooks update about once every 6 weeks or so. As you monitor your classroom Chromebook activities, simply check the students’ screens. If you see an upward-pointing arrow in the lower-right corner of the screen (by the clock), instruct the student to click the arrow, click the words Restart to update, and the device will shutdown and reboot.  
Here’s a quick 1-minute video showing how to do that. It’s really simple.

Why is this important? First, this is how we keep the devices and network as secure as possible. If the devices seem to be running oddly, update them and restart. Next, we’ll need every device in Grades 3-8 updated before PARCC in order to install the newest version of TestNav software. Further, students often try to find ways around our filters and monitoring systems. Updating will often reset the Chromebooks back to the way they need to be running in order for you and the District’s Technology staff to monitor things properly.

Grading From the Inside Out EdChat

Image from
ROE33 is hosting a Twitter EdChat at 8pm on Tuesday, Dec 13. Tom Schimmer, author of Grading from the Inside Out, who was also the speaker at the Regional Institute in October, will be joining us. Simply follow #ROE33chat and join the conversation!
So, what’s a “Twitter EdChat” all about?
An #EdChat is simply a “virtual conversation” about education that you can read or participate in using Twitter. Simply log into Twitter at the appointed time, search for the hashtag - in this case #ROE33chat - and watch the conversation unfold. Tweets containing questions will start with “Q1” or “Q2,” etc., and their responses begin with “A1” or “A2,” and so on. And of course all the questions and responses should contain the hashtag, which is simply a search keyword to help keep everything straight.
Yes, there’s PD for this!
Since the #EdChat will run about an hour, ROE33 will provide 1 PD Credit for everyone who signs in, usually by just introducing yourself in a Tweet with the hashtag so people know you’re there, participating by responding to some of the questions so people know you’re still there, and by completing the required state evaluation form afterwards.   
In addition, I am offering a training earlier the same day, from 4-5 pm at Lincoln Ed Center, called Using Twitter and TweetDeck to Build Your PLN. We’ll start with the very basics of creating a Twitter account and end by learning how to use TweetDeck to participate in the #EdChat. As with all PD Academy Classes, you’ll earn 1 PD Credit for being a part of that training, too.

Monday, November 14, 2016

French for Educators

image from
French for Educators
Here is your chance to learn some basic French vocabulary and expressions to help you communicate with our French speaking students and their families! We’ll cover basic vocabulary and sentences, practicing oral communication. The course will build on the previous sessions we’ll spend our time practicing while having fun! Facilitator: Lisa Bourial

See the link above for registration and time/location info.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NGSS Science Training

Image from
Learn how to revolutionize your science instruction while incorporating Next Generation Science Standards! Join Bailey Cavanah (grade 2), Heather Galbreath (grade 6), and your colleagues from across the District at Nielson Elementary School from 4-5pm on the following dates:

  • Oct 19: Intro to NGSS standards and framework. 8 scientific practices, CCC’s, and 3-dimensional lessons.
  • Oct 26:Continuation of Day 1. Example lesson #1 (Collapsing Bottle) and anchoring phenomena. SEP of modeling.
  • Nov 2: Example lesson #2 (Biggest Sucker). Lesson #3 (Soap Bubbles). Air puppy explanation. SEP of modeling and including other practices & CCC’s.
  • Nov 9: Questions from lessons #2 and #3. Moving toward more student-led discussions.
  • Nov 14: EQuIP Rubric checklist with lesson. What does NGSS look like at each grade level? Making lessons more 3-dimensional?
  • Nov 21: Assessment tasks, rubrics, evidence statements. How can we develop new science assessment tasks aligned to NGSS?

Earn up to 6 PD Credits - Register HERE

This training is appropriate for all grade levels, but will focus on elementary examples.

Update: PARCC in IL

Image clipped from
Updates and resources about PARCC in Illinois

  • Number of units and unit times are same as 2015-2016
  • PARCC Test Window = 30 consecutive school days within the state window of March 6-April 26, 2017
  • Grades 3-8 only - NO Fall Block administration
  • All online unless IEP/504 accommodations are in place
  • Practice site may be available as early as next week
  • Manuals are now available for your reading pleasure at
  • ISBE’s PARCC Place includes information for parents, students and educators

    PLEASE NOTE: PARCC is a required assessment in Illinois. There is no "opt-out" clause that schools can observe because the test is not optional - it is required by law in the State of Illinois. District #205 teachers and administration will comply with the law and follow all requirements set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education. Questions or comments should be directed to the Illinois State Board of Education

Kids Hiding from Hapara?

image clipped from

This one came in recently, but I know from spot-checking that this is a widespread problem. One of the main things that teachers asked for when we piloted 1:1 devices was the ability to monitor what students were doing on devices remotely. To assist with this request, we use Hapara in Grades 6-12 - this feature is not currently available to our district's teachers in elementary grades.

Hapara Highlights, which lets teachers view what kids see on-screen, works as a browser extension. We experimented with disabling a student's abilities to modify the setting, but the unexpected consequences of doing so were (1) ELLs and Foreign Language students couldn't use international keyboards, and (2) special needs students couldn’t enable accessibility features. So, that means kids can disable & re-enable Hapara Highlights at will, resulting in students having the ability to “hide” their screens from their teachers’ abilities to view remotely.

Effective use of any technology relies on teachers' strong classroom management procedures. Hapara was never designed to eliminate that need, just assist with it. However, if disabling Hapara Highlights becomes a recurring problem, I would urge you to educate students that behavioral consequences can be activated. Notify building administration as needed, and lay the hammer down if necessary.

Here's how to fix it on an individual basis when you notice it - take just a few seconds once you know where to look...
  • Have the student log in to a Chromebook
  • First, make sure the Chromebook is updated. Look for the upward-pointing arrow near the time display, lower-right corner.
  • Open the Chrome browser
  • Click on the 3-dots, upper right corner
  • Point to More Tools & choose Extensions
  • Scroll down to find "Hapara Highlights Extension" and check the box next to Enabled

CRITICAL FINAL STEP: Inform the student that there can be behavioral consequences if the extension is disabled again.

Reference: Item 2.1 on Page 2 of the Chromebook Policy that all students and/or guardians agreed to at registration:

​"d. ... attempting​ to change the ​... ​D​istrict settings of or to the devic​e​ will subject the Student to discipline.​"​
​"​i. ​The District can and will locate, access, and modify Chromebooks remotely, even when in a Student’s possession. Modifying, disabling or attempting to disable the locator or any District​ ​software​ used for tracking or accessing a Chromebook​ ​is a violation of the Authorization for Student Internet Access and Acceptable Use of the Internet​ and grounds for disciplinary action​..."
See the District’s Chromebook Policy under the For Students or For Parents tabs on the CJHS, LMS, GHS, GHS-N, and District websites. 

Read the latest post!

"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

Image from After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illi...

What are people reading on this blog?