Friday, February 10, 2017

Google Comments on Steroids!!

If I had a top ten list of things that I love about Gsuite, the comment feature would be in the top 5 for within a document to an individual student or peer. It also allows you to track the suggestions (traditional comments) and items tagged for follow-up (assigned to) in your Google Drive! Check out the video below for a short overview of my new workflow!
sure. I have always used the comments feature for peer-to-peer feedback (and ensuring the peers are actually giving each other quality feedback) and to give student feedback myself. The fact that the comments can be resolved, but never leave the document, Slides, etc., makes this an amazing tool for the formative assessment feedback loop. Recently, Google introduced the ability to assign tasks

Be Awesome!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Going Google Siteseeing!

I know the new Google Sites has been out for awhile, but it has only been a few months that they have been available to all. While there are some elements not yet available on the new Sites, it is a huge improvement over the old Sites! As far as its missing elements, I have confidence they will be added soon. Google Sites a great tool for students, allowing them to begin to build a site that can act as a portfolio to showcase their work! I recorded a brief (okay, it went a bit long) video that can talk you through how to use this new tool! If you are one of my teachers and would like some support using Sites in your classroom, please contact me.

Be Awesome,

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Who Won the Presidential Debate. . .It's all About Perspective (and a smart Google search)!!

With the presidential election taking up so much time and airspace these days, I thought it might be a great opportunity to create a quick screencast on how to use Google search operators to easily find multiple perspectives on any topic. The presidential race is something that is clearly a great example of a topic that is contentious, and, depending on the perspective, the information we receive may not be as objective as we would hope for. Most people do simple Google searches to find information. If the alleged Google Search/Filter Bubble does exist, we may not be getting the most objective information. Here is my attempt to help students and adults search smarter! Enjoy.

Be Awesome,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day. . .

Well, here we are. It's the beginning of a new school year. I don't know about you, but my summer felt way too short. However, as this is the tech portion of the school program, I want to focus on some general information and a discussion of some changes for the upcoming year.

For the past two years, I have somewhat split my time between tech systems/operations management and tech support for teachers and students. I am hoping to make that more of an 80/20 or 90/10 proposition in favor of teacher/student support for the new year. As such, the configuration of Hapara, Haiku, GoGuardian, etc., will be temporarily handled by the Momentum Learning Operations/Data Team. This will also include the distribution and support of tech equipment/requests. I will still operate as an advisor/teacher advocate, but it was taking too much of my time to manage all of the back-end tech and systems. The specific details are not solidified, but they will be soon.

If you work at SOAR Academy, you know we have had some issues with the network security. We are working on this and hope to be more functional and secure very soon. We have reached out to Amplified IT for support. They are currently engaged in a GAFE audit of our domain. This has delayed the deployment of Hapara and a fully-updated GoGuardian. I apologize for the inconvenience, but we would really like to ensure that teachers can focus on teaching instead of being cyber security guards. It won't be easy, but we will make progress toward that end.

Requests for Tech Support
There is a new Momentum Learning Request Form to supplement the SDCOE Service Request procedure. Please see the updated Instructional Technology Flowchart Page for a breakdown of which request to submit. Links to both are included on the Flowchart Page and in the upper-right hand link section of this blog. . .Please try to utilize this as much as possible. It will expedite your request as specific people that can support you will be alerted when you complete the form.

There are many reasons I am an educator. Having the honor to work with your students is probably number one. I have always believed that it is our relationships with our students that make the greatest difference in their lives. Technology, while amazing, is but a medium of instruction. If I can help you or your students meaningfully integrate tech into your classrooms in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for support.

Be Awesome Today,

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Let Your (Google) Voice Be Heard . . .and Translated

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile. I ran across a blog post a few weeks ago: 5 Fantastic Fluency Tools for Teaching World Languages, that reminded me of the fact I really wanted to share some ideas around using the translate tool and Google voice typing with English learners. I was thinking more about the translate tool in Docs, but when I discovered that the voice tool was multilingual, well, "You had me at ¡hola!"

I created a short video about how to use both voice typing and translate in Google Docs. . .enjoy. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas you may have to help our students. If you are a Spanish speaker and you figured out how to speak the voice commands for grammar, please share in the comments area. Don't forget to make the video full screen for your viewing pleasure!

Be Awesome Today,

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Diigo Ate My Baby: Thoughts on Research Using Web Tools

Research. If I asked you to tell me the first word that popped into you head when hearing that term, what would it be? Words like blah, dislike, notes, citation, etc., were some of the words my eighth-grade daughter and her friend came up with when I asked them. I have been teaching high school and college students and educators for a little over twenty years. Whenever I ask for research I hear the similar groans from teens and adults. I tend to tell both audiences that no one I work with likes to do it. I think a large part of the fear/loathing of research is that people do not think they do it very well, which is often true. However, one of the great things about technology is that it often offer us solutions that allow us to work smarter, not harder. Research is no exception. While there are many tools that can help teachers and students with research, I want to share one of my favorites, Diigo. This tool has so many features that it is the one I recommend the most when asked. Besides being able to publicly bookmark and annotate web content, the user can add notes, screen captures, and share the results with an annotated link. Best of all, everything the user saves on Diigo is available to other Diigo users. In a sense, you are doing research in a community of others doing research, which makes it easy to find someone else's research on almost any topic. Oh, and did I mention that it can be connected to student GAFE accounts? Does this sound interesting? I have created a not-so-short video to review some of the awesome features of Diigo. Please watch and let me know if you have any questions or if you would like me to help introduce the tool to your students!
Note: It is much easier to see the tools I discuss if you watch the video in full screen, which is the squarish icon in the bottom-right of the video. Click. Enjoy.

Be Awesome Today,

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Our Digital Learning Platforms and Procedures

 As we think about new ways to meet the various curricular needs of our students, I want to remind everyone about the option to use PLATO and/or Compass Learning’s digital learning platforms (Don’t worry, I will address how to enroll students later in this post). What are digital learning platforms? They are online resources, usually from commercial content providers, that can offer supplemental support for student learning or include full course content delivered over the Internet. PLATO, now called Edmentum, is a digital content provider we have used in JCCS for a long time. A number of years ago, we used it to target CAHSEE improvement. There were (and still are) teachers using it to supplement their curriculum by creating assignments for their students in PLATO. It was used to supplement our instruction. It was never designed for JCCS teachers to use it as the only curriculum for a course. We still have access to PLATO for the purpose of supplementing our curriculum. Now, PLATO also offers CTE content that can stand alone as a full course. Additionally, Compass Learning gives us access to full courses that students can take online. They also have A-G approval on many of their courses (I will defer to Stephanie Austin for the final word on which courses are A-G). For example, one of the more popular courses is Economics, which is challenging for teachers to offer to an entire class when they only have a few seniors. I have a folder with the course lists for PLATO and Compass on the blog, or you can access it here. (Note: As with all many digital learning platforms, the courses that are offered may change without notice. Don’t worry, we have staff in place who can help troubleshoot any issues you might have.)
So, should you use a digital learning platform with your students? Well, it’s complicated. First, I would like to clarify some questions that often come up whenever the topic of digital curriculum is discussed. The two most common questions are about whether or not the course is self-contained and what level of supervision is required from the teacher. The issue of self-containment varies from course to course. When we used to use PLATO for CAHSEE math support, it was a fairly self-contained class with minimal supervision required from the teacher. Conversely, the English course we offered for CAHSEE support required more supervision from the teacher as there were writing assignments that needed to be graded. In my ten plus years of working with JCCS educational technology, I can say that I have never found a digital curriculum from a commercial provider that can replace quality, teacher-designed content. In addition, the diverse needs of JCCS students will test the efficacy of the best online curriculum. This does not mean that there are not quality resources or courses that would benefit our students, it means that we need to take an active role in evaluating and assigning content to our kids. I would strongly recommend that all teachers preview any digital curriculum before assigning it to a student. This preview should include a look at the flow of the content, its rigor, and its accessibility to your students. You should also plan time to meet with the students at fairly regular intervals to discuss their progress and answer any questions they might have. Much like the majority of our technology tools, the JCCS data superstars, Jacquie Mallard and Rodney Gast (with support from Robin Mosby) work very hard behind the scenes to create and manage accounts. Additionally, Greg Severson, the Technology Impact Teacher at Innovations, is your educator contact and support. My role in this process is more along the lines of a provider of information and someone who can find the answers to your questions about these tools. Here is a brief explanation of the flow (courtesy of Jacquie Mallard):
  • ​If a teacher is interested in a course that is offered in BOTH Compass Odyssey and Plato they should consult Greg Severson who can help guide that decision. See the Course List linked above and on the blog.
  • If the teacher would like to supplement instructions with PLATO, please contact Rodney Gast regarding setting up a class and making sure your students are in PLATO. Once you have a class, Greg can provide instructions for how to access your class, add a student to it, and then give a particular assignment. Note: While a teacher can create her own class in PLATO, we strongly recommend allowing Rm 216 staff to do it for ease of overall management. If the course is NOT a part of the PROMIS course catalog (it must indicate Plato or Odyssey) then contact Robin Mosby who will need to add that.
  • If you would like to use Compass Odyssey: Students are uploaded nightly to the Compass Odyssey profile and Greg Severson can assist you in finding your students and assigning courses.
  • If you are interested in CTE courses, you can discuss options with Marisol Rerucha or
Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you still have any questions. I would be happy to point you in the right direction! Be Awesome Today, jeff