Saturday, October 29, 2016

PARCC Practice Tests & Released Items

Believe it or not, PARCC is already retiring old questions and making them available for public use & student practice.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Free PD Credits for Twitter EdChats

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Needing some quick PD Credits but just don’t have time for training workshops? ROE #33 now allows the awarding of PD Credit for participating in the Western Illinois EdChats (#wciledchat) on Twitter! All you have to do is…
  1. Create a Twitter Account (if you don’t already have one)
  2. Follow the #wciledchat, usually on the last Tuesday night of each month at 8pm CST
  3. Participate in the online discussion
    1. Introduce yourself using the hashtag #wciledchat
    2. Questions will be tagged with “Q1:” “Q2” and so on
    3. Provide your answers/opinions with a corresponding Tweet starting with “A1:” A2:” etc.
    4. End every Tweet with the #wciledchat hashtag
  4. Complete the Google Forms evaluation following the chat, which will be provided online following the chat. Your PD Credit Evidence form will be emailed to you.   

Q: Hey Matt - Can I get PD Credits for any edchat?
A: Not yet, but I’m working with the ROE to explore more options. Stay tuned & keep tweeting!

Q: Hey Matt - Can you show me how to use Twitter some time?
A: Sure! Just sign up for an upcoming class to learn how to Use Twitter & TweetDeck to Build YOUR PLN

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tech2017 Applications Available

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Applications to participate in TECH 2017 are now being accepted. Each year, hundreds of students and teachers from across the state come together at the State Capitol Building in Springfield to speak with legislators about the innovative ways in which they use technology to enhance student learning.
Galesburg classrooms have been represented frequently, and all educators are encouraged to give this a shot!

The window to submit an application is now open and closes on Feb. 3, 2017. Find out more information, including how your district can be one of the 100 schools representing Illinois' classrooms, at

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SAT Implementation Guides for Teachers

As noted on their website: “These guides were created to help teachers …
  • “Generate ideas about integrating SAT practice and skill development into challenging course work.
  • “Interpret student scores, monitor progress, and make connections between scores, curriculum, and instruction.”

Also on this website are links to sections within the guides Connecting SAT Content with Classroom Instruction

Also linked are sections on

Dealing with Cyberbullying

Sadly, bullying has been a part of the educational landscape for years. The avenues by which such behaviors occur have changed, but dealing with the behavior remains, at its core, essentially the same. Here are some basic tips to help kids deal with bullying in their digital lives.
STOP   Never respond to the bully. No comments, no reactions, no replies. The bully wants to control your behavior - when you respond, you give them the control they seek. When you react, you lose and the bully wins.
BLOCK Use the tools in the digital environment to block or hide the bully, the comments, or the behaviors. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, and other social media outlets all have methods built-in to help block or remove the unwanted posts.
TELL   Younger kids should tell a trusted adult, a teacher, etc., about the behavior and the posts. Older students can use online reporting features and Contact Us forms on the websites to report the inappropriate posts or behaviors and request they be removed. Many don’t realize that bullying via text message can be reported to cellular carriers, who can suspend the bully’s access to their network. In extreme cases, local law enforcement can get involved. Bullies often don’t understand that, because digital bullying can often be viewed anywhere in the world, cyberbullying can sometimes be considered a felony!

Of course, some of these actions are subject to investigation and may take time, but often these can yield positive results for the victim of the unwanted behavior. They key is to empower the victim to take appropriate actions to control the situation.

Resources on Cyberbullying

SAT Info from ISBE

The Illinois State Board of Education has developed a Website for SAT information for students, educators, and parents.
The new SAT is different from the “old” SAT. Learn more about changes and compare details about the SAT components.

SAT will be administered on April 5, 2017, using paper/pencil only this year. The make-up date is April 25, 2017. (We do not get to influence these dates locally.) SAT will include an essay component. Learn more at
Resources to Prepare for SAT are posted on the websites for District 205, GHS, and GHS North.  

PD Opportunities for Galesburg Teachers

See our PD Calendar for these and other upcoming opportunities.
Also visit ROEPD.NET for even more from Regional Office of Education #33

Click the blue links below to register.

NGSS Science Training

Wondering how to get started with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)? During this session, teachers will be asked to try the approach of developing scientific models in the classroom. In doing so many of the other 8 scientific practices will naturally flow into lessons. Student engagement and retention of content should increase as more of the 8 scientific practices become the heart of the science lessons. Facilitators: Bailey Cavacah & Heather Galbreath

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

Blended Learning Tools

Time to give it a try! Blended Learning is simply the joining of traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms with technology to deliver instruction. Join us as we learn one simple tool each evening that will propel your classroom into and engaging and innovative space for learning! We'll start with some very basic concepts to help support your technology integration and build your teaching repertoire with simple ways to use technology in your classroom. Facilitator: Matt Jacobson


Hapara Teacher Dashboard and Hapara Highlights (formerly "Interact") are powerful tools to help teachers manage student activities in digital learning environments. The addition of Hapara Workspaces can help teachers differentiate classroom activities to better meet the diverse learning needs of every student in your classroom. Facilitator: Tara Michels

Using Twitter & TweetDeck to Build Your PLN

Time to Tweet! Twitter is a great way to connect with other educators and build your skills and knowledge through your own Professional Learning Network (#PLN). This session will start with the basics of Twitter, succinct lingo, and using #hashtags. We'll also explore the world of #edchats and how to use TweetDeck to follow along and participate. Facilitator: Matt Jacobson

Performance Learning (Grad Class)

Contact Laurie Aten or Stu Schaafsma for details.

21st Century “Worksheets”

There’s a time & a place for worksheets, just not every time & every place. This 2-session series will help you learn to use a tool called “Wizer” to develop more interactive and dynamic practice activities for students utilizing technology tools. Facilitator: Stephanie Haney

New Teacher Learning Team

Fall Semester Meetings: 10/26, 11/16, 11/30, & 12/14  
Facilitator: Matt Jacobson

Teacher Tip: Retaining Evidence of PD Credits & Activities

Received a question from one of our colleagues this week. To paraphrase:

How do we provide evidence of attendance at a PD events if we’re audited?

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This is a GREAT question! In Illinois, it is the responsibility of the license-holder to retain evidence of attendance at any professional development activity. Such evidence would include agendas, handouts, etc. IN ADDITION, educators must also make sure they sign in and complete an evaluation of the activity. The educator must retain the PD Credit Evidence Form provided to them by the PD Provider, and enter that information manually in their ELIS account. You can read more about these requirements on the ISBE Licensure website and the ISBE License Renewal website.  
In the past, keeping track of all that paper evidence usually required keeping a big folder or binder somewhere safe. (Personally, I used to use a big shoebox.) And yes, I have heard a number of very unfortunate stories about fire and water damage destroying this documentation.

Many providers, like our school district, are moving increasingly toward paperless distribution of PD documentation. Many teachers contact me after local PD events saying that their PD Evidence forms appear fine on screen but don’t seem to print out correctly, and so we wrestle with file formats and clearing browser caches and what-not until the image prints out correctly.    

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Fortunately, Google Drive offers an opportunity to make a positive change and protect ourselves from the unfortunate situations mentioned above.

First of all: ISBE WILL ACCEPT ELECTRONIC COPIES OF PD EVIDENCE! So really you can skip the step of printing things out.
Next, here’s what I do, if you're interested...

Personally, I haven’t used a flash drive or a physical file cabinet since 2013. I created a folder in Google Drive called “My PD,” and inside it I have a separate folder for every school year. When I attend a PD activity, I create a new folder inside the current school year folder in My PD, and then I just scan any paper evidence I collect and save it in its new folder. When the electronic PD Credit forms roll in through GMail, I save those in the corresponding folder, too.
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When there are multi-page or bound booklets, I do retain the hard copy and just scan in the cover of the booklet and the title page inside (if there is one). Then I know exactly what the front cover of the booklet looks like & can pull it off the shelf with relative ease.
So, if I’m audited when I renew this summer, all I’ll have to do is share the Google Drive folder with the auditor and let them do all the hard work! Easy-Peasy!
It does take some practice and  a bit of a leap-of-faith to go all-digital. However, this is also an easy way to get more comfortable working in a paperless environment and using Google Drive on a regular basis.   

Monday, October 17, 2016

ICE Mini-Grants Due Nov 1

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Are you looking for a way to make your school or classroom Maker Space a reality, seeking a few more devices to facilitate an engaging and exciting classroom project, or wanting to try a cutting-edge innovation that is so new you missed your school's budget cycle? Apply for an ICE mini-grant!

We ask you to tell us:

  • what you want to do
  • how it is innovative for your school, what it will cost to implement
  • how many students will be impacted and 
  • some other necessary information

Your project must meet our guidelines and demonstrate innovation and the potential to benefit students.  All submissions will be reviewed by multiple readers based on criteria listed in our guidelines document, linked below. 

Mini-Grant Applications are due November 01, 2016! 

Not an ICE member yet? Membership is FREE! More info at 

Excerpt from direct email from Illinois Computing Educators

Friday, October 7, 2016

About Emails

Folks, I understand that we’re all incredibly busy and our inboxes are never empty for long. There’s a lot of information, both interesting and important, for us all to absorb. That’s why my once-a-week email documents are clickable - to help you decide what is important to you & the work you do, and filter out what isn’t.

This week's email (view on the web) is a bit long. It’s hard to reduce the amount of information, but I do make every effort to try to make it more manageable.

Some of the Assessment information is copied and pasted from last week's update, in case you missed it.

Just click on the entries in the Table of Contents to jump to that article. Skip the articles that don't apply to you. The page numbers are a new feature from Google Docs that I'm testing out & demonstrating for you - don't be alarmed.

Best wishes ~Matt
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2-hour early dismissal Oct 14

October 14th marks the end of our First Quarter. Galesburg CUSD 205 schools will dismiss 2 hours early. See the District Calendar for specific dismissal times.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Phishing Infographic, by Digital Guardian

Our Technology Director, Rick Lawsha, shared this excellent (albeit lengthy) infographic about phishing and how to recognize it, from Digital Guardian.

This is an excellent tool to help students and fellow teachers stay safe from malicious online attacks.

Tips for protecting oneself are found at the bottom of the infographic.

How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Attacks Infographic
Infographic by Digital Guardian

How to Change your ELN Password

If you are having difficulties access professional development via EdLeaders Network, try resetting your password: 
  • Go to 
  • Point to Account and choose Forgot Password 
  • Inline image 1
  • Enter your school email address on the next screen and they'll send you a link to reset your password.
Yep, it's that simple... 

Google Tip: Turn an Email Into a Calendar Event

Often times we’ll get an email inviting us to a meeting or other event. You can quickly and easily turn this email into a Google Calendar event right from GMail:
  • With GMail open, click on the message to open it
    • If you use the Preview Pane view, click the pop-out button above the reply button (above) to open the message in a new window.

  • Click the More button and choose Create event

This will open a new event in Google Calendar.  See screenshot below.
  • The subject of the email will be the Event Name - you can edit this as needed.
  • Set the date and time as needed
  • The body of the message will be included in the Description field below - this will likely help you set the time and date above.
  • You can also change Location, the calendar where the event will live (if you use multiple calendars) and remove the video call as you wish.
  • Anyone CC’d on the message will also be invited to the meeting - you can change this if needed to add or remove those invitations.
  • Remember that you can also save attachments to a calendar event so you’ll never forget an agenda or other materials when you go to a meeting!
  • Click the Save button when you’re done and the event will appear on the calendar you have indicated.  

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"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

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