Monday, January 22, 2018

Get Ready for Digital Learning Day!

Digital Learning Day 2018 will be on February 22! Digital Learning Day is an annual event that began in 2012, and the purpose is to "highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders, and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes" using technology. But as all great teachers who use technology know, our work is never about any particular tech tool; it's about LEARNING!

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created Standards for Students that are designed to help students thrive in a constantly-changing world. These standards provide a wonderful starting point for understanding how technology can impact learning. As you consider how you and your students might become involved in Digital Learning Day, start with these standards, think about how they apply to your curricular goals, and focus on how technology impacts your learners. In other words, don't use technology just for technology's sake.

Are your students Empowered Learners who "leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals"? Are you helping your students to be outstanding Digital Citizens who "recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world"? When you think of a Knowledge Constructor as a student who "critically curates a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others" - what students come to mind? Celebrate these students - as well as those Innovative Designers, Computational Thinkers, Creative Communicators, and Global Collaborators - not just on Digital Learning Day, but every day!

If your classroom or school would like to participate in Digital Learning Day, just head on over to their website to see the list of resources. You can see examples of what other schools are doing and add your school's name to the #DLDay Map. Be sure to follow Digital Learning Day on Twitter and Facebook.

Regardless of whether you choose to officially participate in the 2018 Digital Learning Day, be sure that you are integrating technology seamlessly, always starting with your learners and learning goals and then selecting the best tool to help you meet those goals. Sometimes that tool will be a pencil or a calculator; other times it will be a creating a greenscreen presentation or participating in a videoconference with a scientist. If you're not sure how best to accomplish a digital learning goal, your Instructional Technology team would love to help you! Please reach out to Clara, Fern, Leah, or Nancy - we love to assist you in implementing just the right tool.

And let us know if you decide to put your name on that Digital Learning Day map!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Student Password Change for 2018

Are your students having trouble logging in?

Student passwords were reset to Tx(studentID)# for 2018. To access Google accounts outside of the network, just type in the username and this password. See the example below of signing into Webdesk.


For more detailed instructions, visit our Hotspot website:

For questions or assistance, call the Help Desk: 469-752-8767.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to Use PowerPoint's Presenter View

Don't Hate on PPT

Hey, there is nothing wrong with PowerPoint, if you use it WISELY. Many textbook companies provide PowerPoints for teachers to deliver instruction and, since it has been around for years, many of us feel very comfortable using PowerPoint. I used to teach Business Information Management (BIM) in which we'd cover the Microsoft Suite. In our PowerPoint unit, I taught my students that they themselves are the presentation and that the PowerPoint should enhance it with visuals and main points. I also stressed "less text, more pics" and the use of graphs/tables when presenting visual data. (I was also a Marketing teacher). :)

A teacher recently asked me how he could present his PowerPoint on the screen to his class while he viewed the behind-the-scenes version on his computer. Specifically, he wanted access to the slide notes and to preview and select slides on his end while the audience viewed what he wanted them to see. So I gathered some instructionals on how to use "Presenter View" to present a PowerPoint to an audience on one screen while privately viewing your presenter notes, annotation tools, and more on another screen.


These three short videos on the MS Office support site are very helpful in walking you through the steps of presenting to an audience.

Watch the videos here.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Check out these detailed step-by-step instructions on the MS Office support site on how to "Present on multiple monitors (and view speaker notes privately)".

Getting Started

Here's the gist of it. In your PowerPoint, click on the Slideshow menu on the top and check the box next to "Use Presenter View". 

To preview what your slideshow will look like on two screens, press Alt + F5 on your keyboard. 

I encourage you to watch the videos above and sift through the step-by-step instructions to dig deeper into how to make it work for your situation. Hope this helps!

As always, please contact any Instructional Technology Specialist (Clara, Fern, Leah, or Nancy) to help with your ed tech needs. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Digital Citizenship in Two Minutes or Less

This post originally appeared at

In the #digcit community, most of us are working to move the narrative of kids’ technology use to one of positive norms, focusing on the opportunities inherent in social media rather than just the dangers. We often talk about how digital citizenship is not a curriculum or program and that digital citizenship should just be woven in to the fabric of what you’re doing anyway. Many people still think that means that you have to set aside time during your week for a discrete lesson on “How You Should Behave Online.” I submit that you can do a pretty good job teaching digital citizenship in just a couple of minutes per day or per class period. My mantra about how digital citizenship should be taught is “Every Teacher, Every Classroom, Every Day” – think how a lifetime of messages like these from teachers might shape a student’s online behavior:

I saw something on Twitter last night that made me really mad. I’m glad I put my phone down and thought about my response for a minute. Last week I did that and I ended up not responding at all, but last night I thought it was important to supply a different point of view.

I just noticed what a kind thing you did for your classmate. Do you mind if I share that on our class Twitter account?

What’s the most positive thing you’ve seen/posted on social media lately?

I was explaining to my mom last night how important it is to always read the privacy policies when you sign up on a new website. And then I wondered if that was something my students do. So before we start class, I just want to give you an example of what you agree to when you click that “Sign up” button.

Here is something I saw on my Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat this morning that really made me aware of the good in the world.

You will not believe what I LEARNED from my PLN last night!

Before we open up this online discussion, I want you to take a minute and think to yourself what we’ve discussed about school talk vs. peer talk, and remind yourself about what our posts should look like.

Your exit ticket on Friday will be to explain one thing you learned on social media this week, so be on the lookout – and don’t forget to fact-check!

How will you make the world a better place today?

It really doesn’t take a huge amount time to make responsible and proactive digital citizenship the normative, expected behavior in your classroom or school. And get your students involved in setting those norms!

Let’s all practice SHOWING students what great digital citizens do, and let’s start by giving them bite-size examples, every day. And when kids show US what great digital citizenship looks like, we need to celebrate that too – and learn from them when we can! What are your thoughts? Do you have other ideas on two-minute digital citizenship?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hour of Code - Computer Science For All!

*excerpt from

It's that time of year again for the annual Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week (December 4 - 10). Students all over the world are discovering and celebrating the wonderful world of coding and computer science. Watch the video below for a short introduction.

Every student should have the opportunity to be introduced to basic coding principles as it helps with problem solving skills, perseverance, logic, and creativity. The following infographics highlights the reasoning behind the importance of introducing K-12 students to computer science.

 Empirical Research

Education has always been the key to a better future and introducing computer science to students of ALL backgrounds might change their life trajectory to a financially secure future. Want to get started? Click this link for an easy how-to-guide. If you have a 1:1 classroom, this would be a wonderful whole class activity! Have fun!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tools to Support All Kinds of Learners

Instructional Technology tools have remarkable power to level the playing field for diverse learners! Here are a few that might provide beneficial support to students with learning disabilities, limited English proficiency, visual impairments, and more.

Learning Ally - Improve reading comprehension and boost confidence with the wide selection of human-read audiobooks from Learning Ally. Plano ISD has a subscription thanks to generous funding from the state. If you would like for your students to have access to audiobooks on any device, please contact Nancy Watson ( for information.

Read & Write - the desktop version is available in the App Depot; use this toolbar with any material on your computer screen. The toolbar contains icons that provide word prediction, text-to-speech, screen masking, and more. There is a Read & Write extension for Chrome and an iPad app that works with the Safari browser. All icons on the Chrome extension are free to teachers; for students, the TextHelp company offers a 30-day free trial of the premium features. View free and premium features at

Kindle app for iPad - press and hold on unfamiliar words to take advantage of the Kindle's built-in dictionary. Use the translate feature to hear the text in a different language or to hear the pronunciation of a word.

Prizmo Go - an amazing iPad app! Take a picture of the page of any book. The app will convert the text to a machine-readable form and will read it aloud to you.

Reader Pen - use the pen to "highlight" the text in a book and it will read the text aloud. It frees up teachers' time and helps students be more independent learners. The district does not provide funds to purchase these devices.

Readability - a Chrome extension that removes clutter on a website and makes text easier to read.

Google Docs Voice Typing - fantastic Speech-to-Text app built right in to Google Docs. Click Tools > Voice Typing, enable the microphone, and dictate what you want to say. You can even change the language of dication!

Co:Writer - Chrome extension; word prediction tool that works in Google Docs. Recognizes and accommodates for common spelling errors/inventive spelling.

MindMeister - terrific mind mapping tool; you can create organizational charts like the one below and even insert images.

Do you have other apps or websites that you've found are helpful to your students? We'd love to know about them! Email us at with any suggestions.

Have a great Thanksgiving week, everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ziteboard - Web Based, Real Time Interactive Whiteboard

Fellow Teachers,

I have a confession to make...I LOVE dry erase markers and whiteboards! This simple resource can be used in unlimited ways for my students to show what they know and practice essential problem solving skills. Not only that, but they can collaborate with their peers and have fun moving around the classroom. That being said, I get irritated for the following reasons:

  • The markers get dried out because one my sweeties didn't close the cap all the way.
  • I don't have enough working dry erase markers for everyone. (See above)
  • The erasers turn into projectiles because hey...why not?
  • The wasted time it takes for everyone to get out a board, grab a working marker, get a projectile (I mean eraser), and wait patiently for me to give the prompt.
If any of this sounds familiar, get ready to be amazed by this new to me tool called Ziteboard. Watch this video for a short introduction.

Ziteboard is a web based, real time, interactive whiteboard. If you have a device and wi-fi, then you and your students can use this remarkably easy tool.  Uses in the classroom include:
  • Annotating documents to create teacher notes that will never get lost.
  • Student group or individual work that can be turned into the teacher's Google Classroom.
  • Quickly launch whiteboards and save precious instruction time.

Most more buying markers, erasers, or whiteboards!!!  For more information, check out their website ( ) and have one of your eager instructional technology specialists help you get started.