Monday, November 14, 2016

French for Educators

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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

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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

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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?

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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. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

SAT for IL Update

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Updates on the SAT in Illinois for 2017

Tech2017 Applications Available Now!

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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

Using Twitter & TweetDeck to Build Your PLN

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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.

This session will be repeated on each date below.

Dates: 11/22, 11/29, or 12/06

Danielson Domains Addressed by this session:
4d: Participating in the Professional Community
4e: Growing and Developing Professionally

Presenter: Matt Jacobson, District Technology Curriculum & Professional Development Coordinator


Google Forms can predict question types & responses

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Google Forms has also been updated with a nifty feature. After you type in your question, Google Forms may offer suggestions about:

  • What type of question (T/F, Text Response, Multiple Choice, Matrix, etc.) might fit your question stem the best, and
  • What common responses might be appropriate.

Read about it and watch it in action at Five new ways to reach your goals faster with G Suite, from The Keyword, Google's blog about Google 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Assigning Action Items in Google Docs

Earlier this week, Google updated Docs, Sheets, and Slides to allow increased collaboration. You can now assign action items to specific individuals for their attention/follow-up. This will be great for team or department meeting notes, or committee or cadre meeting minutes, etc.

There are 2 ways to use this new feature:
  • In Docs: Type the phrase Todo or AI (for Action Item) … OR …
  • In Docs, Sheets, and Slides: Highlight a phrase, cell, or slide, click the Comments button (upper right) to create a comment, and start typing the person’s email address - once the address pops up, select that person and you’ll have the option of assigning the task to them

Either method will notify that person that there is something needing their attention inside the file. It will also share the file with them so they can view & edit. When complete, that person can mark the task done as needed. 
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Read New time-saving features in G Suite for Education, from The Keyword - Google's blog about Google 

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tech Tuesday: Google Docs, Sheets, Forms

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This workshop will introduce you to the tools used by Google Apps for Education schools. You will explore the hidden tools that are found in Google Drive, investigate Google Apps , Extensions and addons, and be introduce to little known search tips that can make your Google searches more effective. 

Join Dr. John Closen at RAES East, 235 Main Street, Galesburg IL, on 11/29/2016, from 4-5:30pm. 

Register at

Dealing with Digital Distraction

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Phones and Tablets and Video Games - So many distractions are accessible to students today - how do we deal with them? Common Sense Education offers a number of ideas on how to deal with distractions, as well as templates for device contracts, a digital “cheat sheet,” and videos from experts on the topic.
Read more at Common Sense Education - Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom 
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What is OER?

What is OER?
"Open Educational Resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes." (from

Illinois joined the #GoOpen Initiative during the past summer, as the 16th state to announce an official policy on OER.  The Illinois Open Education Resources website is getting off the ground with dozens of schools beginning to participate in the collaboration & sharing of high-quality resources for instructional support. Galesburg schools will begin exploring iOER during the 2016-2017 school year to help provide teachers and learners with this support.

Ready to learn more?

We All Teach SEL - Inspiring Activities...

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Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a vitally-important component of education, but is often overlooked as an area of focus in schools. It is imperative that we understand SEL as an integrated part of what happens in every classroom every day, regardless of what subject area we may be assigned to teach.
Common Sense Education is publishing a weekly series of posts on the different components of SEL and offers ways to incorporate positive SEL activities into any classroom learning activity.

Read more about their activities on the Common Sense blog/site - new ideas updated weekly!
We All Teach SEL - Inspiring Activities for Every Classroom 

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What Can I Count for ISBE License Renewal?

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Questions about this topic come in every week. I’m happy to help, but please remember that license renewal is a process overseen by the State of Illinois through its Regional Offices of Education. School districts like ours, colleges and universities, etc., are Professional Development Providers, among others. We do not run the program or make the rules. We can help interpret the rules and communicate, but most issues surrounding certificate renewal and PD Credit will be best handled by ISBE's Licensure Division or the ROE (309-345-3828 or 309-734-6822). 

It is the responsibility of the holder of an Illinois Professional Educator License to read and understand ISBE’s Rules on License Renewal, which were updated during the 2014- 2015 school year. LICENSE HOLDERS SHOULD NEVER STOP COLLECTING AND RECORDING PD CREDITS IN ELIS, even after you have collected “enough” credits for your renewal cycle, in case some are denied! 

AFTER the rule change, a lot of the items that we were all used to counting for license renewal were removed by ISBE. Here are answers to the many questions I’ve received just this week regarding changes that have happened after the 2014-2015 changeover:   

  • District 205 can offer PD Credit for TRAINING activities only.
  • If District 205 doesn’t sponsor the activity, we will not issue credit for it.
  • District 205 will not issue credit retroactively for activities. Approval must be secured for the training activity a minimum of 2 weeks in advance, with a specific request for the awarding of PD Credits.  
  • College Coursework can be converted to PD Credits at the rate of 15 PD Credits per Semester Hour.  
  • Completing Mandated PD is an ISBE requirement. District 205 cannot issue PD Credit for ISBE-mandated PD.
  • Committee membership, work teams, etc., do not fall within the definition of the term “training.” Therefore, District 205 can not issue PD Credit for that. ISBE has expressly stated that PD Credit cannot be used as a reward for getting work done.
  • Being a Mentor is no longer an approvable activity. “Receiving Mentoring Services” can be, but this phrase refers to a teacher-remediation scenario, not being a new teacher in a School or District. PD Credit for such an activity in District 205 will only be issued by Human Resources - I am not involved in Teacher Evaluation or Remediation in any way.
  • “Supervising a Student Teacher” is approvable only if the institution that assigns the pre-service teacher provides training to the supervising teacher on their expectations prior to the assignment. At that point the college or university providing the training would issue the credit, not District 205. If you hosted a student teacher during the 2014-2015 school year or prior, see the document above. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the act of hosting a student teacher does not count for PD Credit.
If you have received PD Credit for the above activities under previous rules (before 2015) and are counting it during your current renewal cycle, you’re fine. It will not be allowable for any renewal cycle that starts over after April 2015. 

It has always been the license holder’s responsibility to enter PD Credit in the ELIS system. Someday that may be automatic, but for now that is an individual habit to develop and maintain. Additionally, evidence of your attendance at the training, etc., must be retained. Evidence includes any agendas and handouts that were provided during the training. Documentation can be paper or electronic (computer files or digital scans of paper documents). 
These items can all be confirmed on the ISBE License Renewal website or by calling the Regional Office of Education at 309-345-3828 or 309-734-6822. Further questions about what can/cannot be counted for License Renewal can also be answered by calling the ROE.   

Veterans Day Resources 2016

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Friday, Nov 11, is Veterans' Day in the U.S. While many schools across the nation will be closed, it is important to teach our children about the importance of honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they made to help preserve our freedoms.

The Library of Congress' Veterans History Project is a great way to promote research skills, learn about the valuable contributions of our nation's veterans, and help preserve veterans' stories for future generations.

The National Archives offers a great site for middle and high school learners to learn about Veterans Day through primary sources. 

Recently, Free Tech for Teachers posted some excellent videos and lesson plans on Veterans' Day.

Larry Ferlazzo maintains a list of The Best Websites to Learn About Veterans Day.

The History Channel offers a nice mini-site on The History of Veterans Day. It starts with a nice video overview and then offers more resources for students to explore.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a Veterans Day Frequently Asked Questions page. The VA also maintains a listing of Teacher Resources for Veterans Day.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Assessment update

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April 05, 2017 - Makeup Date: April 25, 2017

1-PAGE TEST DAY SCHEDULE has been posted!

Paper only, includes essay

All grade 11 students (unless they take DLM)

SAT Content Specifications & sample questions to help guide classroom instruction preparations have been published

Scoring Rubrics for the essay component have also been released

Math teachers & test proctors should also become familiar with the SAT Calculator Policy

A required Test Day Supervisor Training must be conducted Feb. 9 - March 17, 2017

Daily Practice for the New SAT is available for mobile devices (smartphones & tablets)

Full-length Practice Tests are available

Sample Questions for Math, Reading, Writing/Language & Essay are also available

The SAT Test is State-funded

ISBE SAT Web Page contains more information

Number of units & 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

IL Science Assessment
Hard-copy assessments have been scanned.

ISBE has begun scoring constructed response items. Anyone interested in being a scorer should contact Angela Box ( at SIU to learn more.

Standard Setting has not yet taken place.

Score data will not be released until all above items are completed & approved. When that might happen is not known.

2017 Dates: March 1-April 28

ISBE’s ISA website contains more detailed information
Updated: FAQ on ACCESS for ELLs and WIDA MODEL including information on training

2017 Dates: Jan 9 - Feb 10

DLM-AA website from ISBE

Includes updated manuals

Dates: March 15-May 1, 2017

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"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

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