Thursday, March 31, 2016

Have You Applied For ETSI, Yet?

Screenshot of last year's Get-to-Know-You Padlet.

Calling all Plano educators

Please consider attending this summer's Educational Technology Success Initiative, AKA "ETSI". It's August 1-4, 2016 at McMillan H.S. You MUST apply to attend. We can only take a few people from each campus. Do you know that your campus has a previous ETSI attendee? Ask your principal or us who it is, if you don't know. Read our previous blog post to learn more about ETSI:

ETSI Commercial

We interviewed ETSI members about their experience and here's what they said. Please share this video and help us spread the word on your campus about this great professional learning opportunity.

Give a shout out on Twitter to thank Ayanna Black, Laura Blankenship, Sonia Galceran, Craig McKinney, and Katherine Webb for sharing their ETSI story.

ETSI Updates

Remember to follow @pisdetsi on Twitter for ETSI updates. Applications are due on April 8 at 5:00 p.m. We will be notifying applicants after April 15.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Attend Plano ISD Summer Elementary Academy!

Plano ISD's Summer Elementary Academy (SEA) will take place July 26-28 at Vines High school. This Academy is a 3-day conference where Plano ISD teachers can share the outstanding things they do in their classroom to enhance student learning. We are encouraging teachers to send in proposals to present to their peers.  The catalog of courses will be released on April 29th, and registration for the conference through MyLearningPlan will begin on May 16th.  Teachers can register for as many classes as they would like to attend.  Classes will be in 90 or 180 minute sessions. A teacher attending SEA can apply up to 7.5 hours of the acquired professional development hours toward the June 2017 in-service date.  We will have a variety of topics offered from all areas of curriculum and pedagogy. The underlying theme of all sessions will focus on learning environment, planning and instruction. Representatives from Momentous Institute will present sessions on Social and Emotional Learning.

We hope to invite food trucks to Vines to offer lunch for sale so teachers can remain on campus and collaborate during lunch.  On July 26 Dr. Binggeli will be attending, and we have a themed “Brown Bag-it with Dr Binggeli”  lunch. He will be there to interact with and answer questions from teachers.

Interested in submitting a proposal and contributing to SEA? Click here for the details.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Get Googly!

Are you interested in becoming a Google Certified Educator Level 1 or Level 2? PISD Tech wants to help you reach this goal! Here are the steps with our tips on how to become a certified Google geek.

Certification Levels

The Google for Education Training Center explains the various levels of certifications which include Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 - This certification shows your proficiency in Google Docs, Classroom, Drive, Sites, Groups, Plus, Calendar, and other Google tools. If you use some of these already but would like to learn more, Google provides 13 free training units to help you study for the exam. It is highly recommended that you complete the 13 units before registering to take the Level 1 exam.

Level 2 - If you are proficient in Google Docs, Classroom, Drive, Sites, Groups, Plus, and Calendar at a higher level, including training others, you are ready for Level 2. Google provides 9 free training units to help you study for the Level 2 exam. It is highly recommended -but not required- that you complete Level 1 and all 9 study units before registering to take the Level 2 exam.

Study Units

All study units are broken up into a few lessons - some have more than others. In this example below, you see that unit 3 has four lessons and their estimate is 62 minutes to complete the entire unit.

Each lesson ends with a Lesson Check. Go directly to the end of a lesson and read the Lesson Check questions. If they look easy then answer the questions and, if you answer correctly, move on to the next lesson. If a question stumps you, that indicates you need a little review in that area. Go back and complete the lesson.

Each unit ends with a Unit Review. If the lessons seem easy to you, go directly to the Unit Review and read the questions. If the Unit Review stumps you, then you might need a little more study time. Go back and check out the lessons. However, if you can answer the Unit Review questions correctly, you can move on to the next unit.

Sign In

Google will require that you sign in to complete the free study units. You can work on a little at a time from any location with Internet access and Google will save your progress each time. Please remember to use your PISD email address and PISD network password to sign in to the Google training center.

Test Time

When you register for the exam, you'll be required to pay $10 for Level 1 or $25 for Level 2. After they receive payment, you will receive an email with a personalized link to the exam. It is important to note that your personalized link expires 7 days after it has been issued. Don't register for the exam unless you're sure you can take it within the next 7 days.

You have 180 minutes to complete one exam and there are NO pauses. Don't begin the exam unless you're sure you have at least 180 minutes to complete the entire exam. Also, the computer you use to take the exam will need the latest version of Chrome and a webcam.

Your scores are tabulated immediately and, if you pass, you'll get an email with your electronic badge. This certification expires in two years and you will need to recertify at that time. If you fail, you must wait 14 days to take it again and payment is required.

As always, contact PISD Tech if you have any questions! We are happy to help!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What Exactly is ETSI, Anyway?!

By now you may have received an email from your principal or a peer inviting you to apply for ETSI - Plano ISD's Educational Technology Success Initiative. ETSI 2016 will mark this third annual professional learning experience for Plano teachers, and your Instructional Technology team is already working to ensure that this will be another successful and meaningful event. But you may be wondering:

  • What will we do at ETSI - is it just playing with one cool app or website after another? 
  • I'd like to be better at technology, but I'm definitely not the most techie teacher on our campus. Could I still apply?
  • How will my students benefit if I attend ETSI?
  • How will my campus benefit if I attend ETSI?
  • How will *I* benefit if I attend ETSI?

Let's take a look at each of those questions!

  • ETSI is about way more than just what the next cool app is! Although you will have lots of time to play, the learning focuses on the best ways to integrate technology, not the best tools. So you will spend time discussing and learning more about technology integration models like SAMR, TIM, TPACK, and Trudacot. You'll have an opportunity to select from a variety of breakout sessions so you can learn more about what interests you, and you will have time to enhance your curriculum with technology. You'll also explore ways to be a teacher leader on your campus.
  • You definitely don't have to be the best technology user on your campus to attend ETSI! If you have a growth mindset and are willing to learn (and perhaps to fail a little in the bargain), and if you are willing to share what you've learned with others, then you'd be a great ETSI candidate.
  • Your students will benefit from your participation in ETSI because you will gain new ideas and insights into the technology integration process. You'll learn how to incorporate technology in your lessons in the ways that most positively impact student achievement.
  • Your campus will benefit from your participation in ETSI because you will be the new member of a team that is dedicated to making your school the best it can be. You will bring back to your school many suggestions for innovation, creativity, and global connections. Working in conjunction with ETSI team members who have attended in the past, you will grow your school's capacity and help other teachers learn the things that you did.
  • You will benefit from attending ETSI by becoming part of a wonderful group of like-minded educators. You will stretch your own understandings of what it means to be an ed tech leader, what is possible in a classroom when technology is used to its fullest potential, and what you and other change agents could potentially accomplish in a school. 
If you are a professional staff member in Plano ISD, you can apply to attend ETSI by completing this form. Still have questions about ETSI? Feel free to email your Instructional Technology team at

Friday, March 4, 2016

Recording Using Your Computer Webcam

As teachers explore ways to extend the learning to students beyond the school day, we have increasingly been asked this question, "How can I record myself using my computer webcam?" 


Why teachers might want to record using their webcam: 
  • teacher recording him/herself explaining instructions to an assignment and then posting the video to myPISD, Google Drive, YouTube, Google Classroom, Google Sites, PISD TV, etc.
  • a quick lesson for the substitute to show to the class 
  • recording student presentations or demonstrations
  • recording a guest speaker, who's connecting virtually through something like Google Hangouts, to show to other classes
  • explaining and demonstrating an assignment, recording both the computer screen and the video of the teacher in the corner of the screen (as shown in image below). 

Using Screencast-o-matic to record computer screen and small video of presenter/teacher.


There are several ways to do this. We have narrowed it down to two that are the easiest and most compatible with our school network computers. 


The Chrome Extension called Screencastify can be used to record the following: 1) a video of just yourself taking up the entire screen, 2) a recording of only your screen, 3) a recording of your screen including a small video of yourself. It works great on Chromebooks, too! Here's how to use it:
  • Open Google Chrome
  • Sign in to Chrome using your PISD email address & network password
  • Go to the Chrome Web Store and add Screencastify. You will be prompted to enable videos to be saved directly to your Google Drive. How convenient!
From the Chrome Web Store, search for the Screencastify extension and click the "Add to Chrome" button.
  • The extension will be added on your extension bar

  • Open Screencastify, click CAM, check Show Preview Window, and you can start the recording.

  • Here's a quick video on YouTube from 2015 demonstrating how to add and use Screencastify.


This recording tool is available for install from the App Depot! Here are the instructions for installation. It does all of the above except you cannot record a video of just yourself to take up the entire screen using this free version.

The video below shows you how to use this awesome tool. Skip to 40 seconds, ignoring the instructions for installing the launcher from the website, because you will have already installed it from the App Depot.

Start at 40 seconds. 

If either of these screen recording tools do not meet your needs, please contact us in the Instructional Technology department to brainstorm other options, like Google Hangouts on Air or Movenote. And we can help you navigate this excellent, yet potentially overwhelming, list of screencasting resources by the great Kathy Schrock: Screencasting in the Classroom