Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chromebooks a-Coming!

Plano ISD is in the midst of rolling out Chromebooks to its students and teachers! Currently there are 18 elementary campuses that have Chromebooks in all their classrooms, with the goal of 100% district-wide Chromebook integration within the next few years. All classroom teachers and librarians will soon be receiving a Chromebook to check out and use for the duration of their employment with PISD.

While at first glance a Chromebook looks like a "mini laptop," the Chromebook environment is actually very different from that of a traditional laptop. One major difference is that no software is ever installed on a Chromebook, so if you use specialized software that does not have a web-based component, you wouldn't be able to use that on a Chromebook. However, since most applications that most teachers use are now Internet-based, the Chromebook is a great tool for its portability and versatility.

Some advantages of Chromebooks are:

  • speed - boots up and connects to Internet within seconds
  • battery life - up to 7 hours without recharging
  • weight - lightweight and portable
  • access to email & H drive via Webdesk
When you log in to your Chromebook, you will also be automatically logged in to Webdesk. If you're not already a Webdesk user, you will soon become one! Webdesk offers one-click access to all the programs you use every day, such as your gradebook, TEAMS, and all the programs that are assigned to you. You can also create additional tiles to easily personalize your page and gain quick access to the sites you visit the most.

Your Instructional Technology Team has been hard at work for many weeks creating and curating the resources you will need for Chromebook success! Click the links below to learn more about making the most of your Chromebooks, both for personal use and for your students' learning.

Plano ISD Chromebook Academy Website

Plano ISD Chromebook YouTube Channel (check back often, as more videos are being added on a regular basis)

Plano ISD Webdesk | Webdesk Quick Start Guide



After you've reviewed the materials above, test your Chromebook knowledge by playing our fun Chromebook game. Just log in with your PISD Google account! (Want to know how we made this cool game? Contact us! )

Do you have feedback on our Chromebook Academy site? Suggestions for things we should include? Let us know!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Transitioning from Atomic Learning to Hoonuit

You have personalized Professional Development at your fingertips with Hoonuit–formerly known as Atomic Learning. If you had the opportunity to use Atomic Learning before, you know that this online tool provides you with personalized PD.

As an educator looking to grow your digital literacy and technology skills, you can choose from hundreds of online courses that YOU want to learn about. Hoonuit can be accessed from school or at home with your PISD credentials.

With Hoonuit's outcome-based learning model, applying what your learn to your classroom is a breeze. Also, Hoonuit can be access by students -at home or at school- with their PISD credentials.

Here's how to sign in:


  • Username for Staff: firstname.lastname (example: sue.smith)
  • Username for Students: firstname.lastname.# (example: alex.levine.2)

  • Password: PISD network password

Learn anywhere, anytime, about things that interest you in an easy and convenient way. Check out some of the many online tutorials here.

If you're looking for some videos to check out first, try some of these:

Note: these links only work after you have logged in at Hoonuit

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making It Real for All Students

Tech Inspiration--Making It Real For All Students

This week’s guest blog post is by Diana Thornbrugh, Bilingual Teacher at Sigler Elementary School

Yay! #B2S is around the corner! With that in mind, I would like to share with you one of the projects that my second grade students enjoyed the most last Spring. Please keep in mind that a lot of the project evolves around student choice. Before reading, please take a moment to connect with me and other wonderful educators using Twitter: @MrsTfollow. Let’s grow our PLN to share ideas for future collaboration. I look forward to connecting with you and your students during the coming school year!

Photo credit: Flinn Scientific

The Toy Company

The students were learning about Force and Motion in Science. They worked in teams for this project and researched how toys move while connecting their learning of gravity, motion, and magnetism.

Research Tools

The students used their Plano ISD Webdesk Apps to accomplish this task.
  • Articles from Discovery Education
  • Images from Google Scholar
  • Videos from EdPuzzle (preloaded a couple by teacher)
  • WeVideo (recorded sales pitch in iPads)
  • Google Suite for the creation of slides/diagrams (Google Slides) and notes/scripts (Google Docs)

Fostering Collaboration

Each company, or group, had to choose their own name and each member had an specific role in the company. They used Google Slides and Google Drawings to make a prototype of their toy, including a diagram showing us how it works.

Communication Is Key

The students used specific language in their projects, both orally and written. Each one was unique, and showcased their own writing voice. A Google Doc was created to write each sales pitch.The expectation was that they had to clearly explain with examples, in complete sentences, how their toy was the best at showcasing force and motion. They practiced with each other before the talk show was recorded.

Science Talk Show: On Air!

Each company member presented their sales pitch in our newly created “Science Talk Show”. Television inspired, directed and recorded by students using WeVideo with iPad cameras. The videos were edited on Chromebooks, to later be posted in our Google Classroom.

As you can see, the opportunities for students using technology while learning are endless! Have you tried a similar project? How would you change it to fit your students’ needs? Want to chat with me about how something like this might work for your classroom? Leave a comment, let me know what you think. Have a successful school year!

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Google Classroom Changed The Way I Teach


This week's guest blog post is by Priya Subramanian, Gifted Specialist/PACE at Andrews Elementary School. 



Get Rid of So. Much. Paper:
I now organize all assignments and lesson plans in folders in Google Drive (My Drive) by grade level and edit them as needed every year. Since they are Google Docs, it is pretty easy to track the changes I made. One could, if they saw benefit, even make notes of the purpose behind the edits. This renders most of my hard copy homes, binders, and folders, redundant. I haven’t really gotten rid of them yet. They are simply buried in that deep, dark section of the cabinet where only spiders fearlessly inhabit. 😊



Assignments and Feedback:

Assignments are digitally ‘handed out’ and ‘turned in’ saving time and paper. I did the digital feedback through Google Classroom the last couple of years and hand-wrote them this year. I must say I think this year worked better – I don’t think they quite got how to check comments and I was never sure if they saw the comments. Also, with the hard copy, I remembered to provide feedback more often and when I did forget, the students reminded me. We were not that diligent when I did it online. I am sure there are ways to work around this to eliminate even that bit of paper, but for now I think I will stay with paper feedback.

Also, for those who need to grade papers ( I don’t 😊) do check out Goobric and Doctopus – they are Google Add-ons and work with Google Classroom so you can attach the grade and the rubric to the assignment. Pretty cool feature which I used the first year.


Sharing Links is a Breeze
Whether it is a link to a Google Doc or a website or YouTube link or pretty much anything in the cyber world that I need them to access, I just send it to Google Classroom with the handy Share to Classroom extension. It is an extension that is already installed in Google Chrome - just check the upper right corner of your Chrome window and look for the small Google Classroom icon that looks like a little chalkboard. I haven’t heard the dreaded whine, "the link doesn’t work for me" for a while now. "I miss that whine"… said no teacher ever!


Communicating with Parents:
My goal next year is to open up Google Classroom for parents, too. A cool feature that was added this year is called Guardian Summaries. It allows parents to receive an email summary of the postings in Google Classroom. However, I never used it because I have flexibility with assignment deadlines which is kind of hard to explain to parents. But I am making some changes for next year where I wouldn’t mind help from parents.


The One Drawback:
The little ones (1st and 2nd graders especially) had a lot of issues remembering/ saving their Google accounts. But, thanks to WebDesk, even point is now moot. So yeah, if you were looking for that ‘catch’, there is none! Also, here's a handout explaining how to use WebDesk. 


I know there are so many more advantages to using Classroom and I am going to kick myself for not remembering them sooner. For now, these are the ones that really stand out in my it’s-summer-mode brain. Bottom line, if you haven’t started using Classroom yet, then there is no better time to start than now!  Also, you can watch free online tutorials of how to setup and use Google Classroom in Atomic Learning. Here's a handout explaining how to log in at Atomic Learning.

Thank you to our phenomenal tech support team for their trendy, innovative solutions. They are the best!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last Week...Treat Yo Self!


It's the last week of school. Time for packing it up, wrapping it up, and preparing yourself to be refreshed for a few precious weeks this summer. For secondary teachers, that means you're on finals schedule and giving countless pep talks for your kids to take it to the next level. For elementary teachers, it's difficult to let go of your babies that have grown up so very much over the last year. This week brings a whole host of emotions that we are not always equipped to deal with, but you can look back on this year with pride knowing you have made a difference in the life of a child.

What does this have to do with technology?  Nothing. We wanted to take the time to express how amazed we are at the level of educators in this district. Our group has logged about 800 hours of professional learning opportunities this school year and have interacted with every campus in this district. Your talent, drive, and ingenuity are what makes this district world class and our community thrive.

Summer learning is bigger and better this year! Here is a link to our summer catalog with enrollment instructions located on the last page. Times and dates are filling up very quickly, so don't miss out on some wonderful learning opportunities. Our district is committed to educating future ready students which means we support our future ready educators.

Have a fun, safe, and relaxing summer!

Your Instructional Technology Team,
Clara, Nancy, Leah, and Fern

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Create Animated Videos in Minutes with Biteable!

Have you ever wanted to create a video, but weren't sure how to get started or what tool to use? Animated videos work great as explainers, topic introductions, presentations, and more. If the phrase "create an animated video" seems like a daunting task, you need to give Biteable a try. Biteable bills itself as "The World's Simplest Video Maker," and it truly is super easy to learn and use. In just a few minutes, you can create and publish some very engaging and professional-looking animations.

To get started, go to https://biteable.com/ and click the "Sign Up - Free" button at the top right. Signing up with your PISD Google account is a great way to go because it's one less password for you to remember. I created this "Meta-Biteable" - a Biteable on how to make a Biteable - in 5-6 minutes, and it took about 10 minutes to be rendered. (You can walk away from your computer at this point - or enjoy the fun scrolling messages you'll see while the video "cooks.")



Click the graphic below to see how the video turned out, and to get a quick run-through of how to make your own:



The next time you think about putting a video together, try Biteable!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Create and Share Voice Recordings Easily

Check out this FREE and easy feedback tool!

Imagine grading your student's work online and wishing you could provide your feedback verbally rather than typing it. Let's say, for example, you're reading a student paper typed in a Google Doc. You can add written comments in the margin, right? With the help of SpeakPipe, you can also record your voice explaining your feedback and paste the URL to your voice recording directly into the Google Doc comment box!



Why not just use a voice recorder app that's on your mobile phone or on your computer? SpeakPipe lets you save to their server so all you have to deal with is a URL rather than an audio file. What that means is NO uploading/downloading files for you or your recipients.

Follow these simple steps:


  • Go to https://www.speakpipe.com/voicerecorder
  • Click "Start Recording"
  • Click "Save on Server" 
  • Name your recording (optional) and Save it
  • Copy the link to your recording and paste it where you'd like
It's that easy!



Copy the link to the recording. 

Ideas

This English teacher was looking for a way for her students to record their voice. 

We recommended SpeakPipe, of course! Here are Michelle's students using SpeakPipe.



Here are more ideas:



What can YOU do with SpeakPipe in your classroom/campus? Please share in the comments!