Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Digital Natives and Digital Literacy

Almost every time I have the honor to lead professional learning in our esteemed district, I hear the following two comments, "These kids know so much more about technology than I do." and "I don't have to teach my students about technology because they already know what to do."

It's perfectly understandable why many teachers feel this way and I have to admit that I felt the same way when I started my technology integration journey. The term "Digital Natives" has been etched in our minds about this current generation we are teaching and all the assumptions that come with that term. As I started integrating authentic technology layers into my daily routine, several questions kept circling around in my head:
  • If the keyboard isn't obsolete, why aren't I teaching keyboarding skills? And is that my responsibility?
  • Why don't some of my students know how to highlight text, insert pictures, use the shift key, type a web address into the web address bar, insert data into a spreadsheet, understand the importance of locking their screens, etc?
  • Why are their digital research skills so poor? Does anyone know how to properly cite a source or evaluate the credibility of websites?
  • Privacy settings? Who talks to them about the importance of creating strong passwords and respecting the online privacy of others? Do they know that commenting online could potentially be viewed by anyone?
  • Why are some of my students inappropriate in an online environment and/or have difficulty staying on task when using digital tools?
It finally dawned on me that social media skills do not necessarily translate into digital literacy or computational skills. My point was proven when I came across this video on Facebook about two 17-year-old kids figuring out how a rotary telephone works.

This could very well be staged, but the point is that students need guidance when using technology for educational purposes which translates into self-assuredness when they enter the workforce. You are not obsolete!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Teachers Can Approve Educationally Appropriate YouTube Videos For Students in Plano ISD

A Direct Message From Our Executive Director of Instructional Technology (Matt Frey):

You may have noticed a change we made recently to PISD’s YouTube video approval process.  Teachers now have the ability to independently and immediately approve videos for students to view during the school day.  

Should you choose to take advantage of this opportunity, please know that every video you approve will subsequently be available to all students in the district.  Generally speaking, you don’t have to “approve” a Youtube video to watch it yourself; that button is only necessary to make content available to students.

In the spirit of full disclosure, be aware that all video approvals are logged (title and approver’s PISD user ID) and available for review.  From time to time, we may unapprove select videos and/or purge the entire list. The decision to broaden the pool of YouTube video approvers was made for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we want teachers who are publishing their own instructional content to be able to share with students more easily and efficiently.  Secondly, this new capability more closely aligns with, and complements, the granular classroom-based filtering opportunities available within GoGuardian. At his or her own discretion, a classroom teacher can completely block YouTube on student Chromebooks or permit access to only a select few videos.

To learn more about GoGuardian or the YouTube approval process, feel free to contact me ( or any member of the Digital Learning Team (

While we’re optimistic that PISD will be able to keep this new configuration available for the foreseeable future, please know that circumstances could arise that justify a return to the previous approval process.  

Video Instructions on How to Approve YouTube Videos for Students in Plano ISD

Friday, November 30, 2018

Please Help Me Use GoGuardian Effectively!

In August of this year, Plano ISD's Technology department introduced a Chromebook monitoring program called GoGuardian. It's been a great hit with our educators and administrators as we continue to look for ways to positively support digital learning experiences in the classroom.

Why Do I Want To Use This?

Do you teach your students classroom norms, procedures, routines, and rules?
Do you positively reinforce your classroom management techniques?
Do you expect your students to stay on task and minimize distractions?

Plano ISD teachers are world class and their expectations are high regarding a student's educational experience. The same considerations are also given to digital learning and GoGuardian is an effective tool to help students manage their digital distractions and encourage acceptable use in the 1:1 Chromebook classroom.

As with any new technology tool, there are opportunities to fine-tune options and preferences to suit your specific needs. Our team supports educators daily and we want to help clear up some confusions that might be circulating around using GoGuardian with your learners.

I Can't See My Students in GoGuardian!

  • If you added your students from Google Classroom, you might have a student (or two) who used their personal Gmail account to access your Google Classroom. Remove those students from your Google Classroom and ask them to please join using their PISD account. Once that is done, you can Sync them in GoGuardian and life should be good.
  • Refresh your page or restart GoGuardian to see if that solves the problem.
  • Another issue might be if your student has a lot of letters in their name. Please contact your digital learning team and we can help you fix that issue in GoGuardian.
  • For further help, please contact the digital learning team.

Set Your Class Schedule

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), you have the ability to set a class schedule which will automatically start a GG session according to your preset times. Please take the time to set your schedule correctly so that GG is only in use when you have students in your classroom. Doing so will eliminate multiple teachers trying to control one student's screen. Also, you don't want to lock a student's screen that is not currently in your classroom. Instructions on how to set up/manage class schedules.

I Want to Push Out a Website to All (Or Some) of My Students at the Same Time

Sometimes we just want our students to be all on the same page without wasting valuable classroom instruction time.  GG has an open tab feature that allows you to push out a URL to all students at the same time or just specific students. Remember that any Google Doc, Slides, or Sheets is a URL. Click on the gif below for instructions.

I Want to Opt Out of All Session Summary Emails

If you would rather not receive an email every time your sessions end, follow the instructions below.
  1. From the GG Teacher dashboard, open the left sidebar by clicking the menu icon (three horizontal lines on the left side of the screen).
  2. Scroll down to Account
  3. Click Preferences
  4. Click the toggle switch to enable or disable

I Want to Lock My Students' Screens

Need to get everyone's attention quickly? Lock their screens and you will immediately have everyone's undivided attention. Click on the gif below to find out how.

If you have any specific issues using GG or want to find out more about this incredible tool, please contact your Digital Learning Team anytime. We offer on-site training and consultations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Updated Chromebook Academy Website

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Take a break from eating for a minute to check out the updates made to our Chromebook Academy website.

The Plano ISD Chromebook Academy website is now:

  • More organized
  • Easier to read
  • Easier to navigate
  • and has always been made FOR educators BY educators with student success being priority #1.
Happy reading! And remember that your PISD Digital Learning Team is here to support you 100% with your instructional technology needs. Invite us out to work with you today! Read about us on our pages: Clara Alaniz, Leah Heerema, Fern Johnson, and Nancy Watson

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Twitter Chat November 15

Join us Thursday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. for a Twitter chat about technology integration! The chat will be led by members of the Digital Learning Team and the Professional Learning Department. Watch for tweets from @PISDLearns and  @PISDTech. Not sure how a Twitter chat works? Here are 6 Easy Steps to Join a Twitter Chat. The questions we'll discuss are:

  1. What are some hallmarks of “good technology integration”?
  2. What are some tools you’ve used that help to deepen students’ thinking? How did you measure that tool’s success?
  3. What do your students NOT KNOW about technology that you wish they knew? How can we help them learn those things?
  4. How have you talked about digital citizenship with your students since the Chromebook rollout began? Are your conversations about #digcit different now than they were two years ago?
  5. How have you used a student’s “digital infraction” as a teachable moment rather than as a punitive event?
  6. What do you wish you knew about technology? How can the Digital Learning Team help?

Still have questions? Contact any member of the Digital Learning Team:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We have a license for that? Thanks Plano ISD!!


     An exclamation we hear many times as we deliver professional learning is, "I didn't know that we had a license for that!" Here is a current list of district-wide licenses we have for all educators (and in most cases students) in our district that have been vetted for innovative technology integration. Please share the great news with your team, students, and parents.


This tool has taken our district by storm! The ability for staff and students to access all of their online resources with a click of the mouse is a super productivity booster. A new feature for this school year is the Digital Backpack. Go to for more details about Webdesk.


Create your own interactive lessons in minutes, observe real-time informal assessments, increase student participation, and much more. Go to for more information about how to use, create, and integrate your own PISD Nearpod lessons.


Yes! Minecraft EDU is available in our district on a Windows desktop or laptop. All educators and students have access to a license and the instructions can be found at

Adobe Spark

Students as young as Kindergarten have the ability to create visually stunning artifacts to show what they know as well as narrate their own stories. This powerful tool used to be only available for students 13 and older, but our district now has access to a premium version that allows our youngest students safe access. Instructions on getting your students started on this creation tool are located at

Office @Home

Did you know that Plano ISD staff and students may download Office 2016 for free on up to five devices? The instructions can be found at


Looking for audio clips for your students to use in projects? Add the PISD Soundzabound app in Webdesk! Search for sound clips from a wide variety of genres and lengths to use in classroom projects. Great for presentations, podcasts, and more! Files can also be downloaded on Chromebooks. More details can be found at

Monday, October 22, 2018

Teachers, turn off your email alert pop-up

Has this ever happened to you? You're projecting an activity on the screen while teaching and suddenly an email alert appears on the bottom right of the screen for all to see. It's no big deal if the email is about cookies in the lounge. Distracting, but harmless. But an email about a student could be not only embarrassing for the child but also in violation of his/her privacy. Side note: This reminds me, we shouldn't be including student names in email subject lines anyway!

So let's turn off that pop-up message and save everyone from potential mortification.

How to turn off Outlook email alert

  1. Open Outlook. 
  2. Click on File, Options, Mail.
  3. Scroll down to the "Message arrival" section. 
  4. Uncheck the box next to Display a Desktop Alert. Click OK to save it.
  5. Done!

Now you can rely on the sound and/or the Outlook icon on your taskbar to notify you of emails received.