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 https://www.pisd.edu/Domain/9188 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 https://www.pisd.edu/Page/15998 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 https://www.pisd.edu/Domain/9603

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 https://www.pisd.edu/Domain/10060.

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 https://www.pisd.edu/Page/17620.


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 https://www.pisd.edu/Domain/9799.

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. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What Does it Mean to Be "Digitally Literate"?

The Digital Learning Team works with teachers across our great district; these staff members are our students. And just like YOUR students, the employees we work with have different skills and different needs when it comes to understanding technology integration. Last week, we posted an infographic titled "Tech Tools Every Plano ISD Educator Should Have in Their Toolbox." This week, we're focusing a little more on the digital literacy those kinds of tools require.

If you are an English/Language Arts teacher, you know that your students are not going to start out reading Shakespeare on the first day of kindergarten. There are foundational skills - recognizing letters, associating those letters to sounds, developing oral vocabulary, reading a lot of Captain Underpants, getting instruction on close reading, and more - do you see the progression there? Digital literacy follows a path that is perhaps not quite so linear as that reading example, but there is a progression nonetheless. Some of the foundational digital skills users must now develop include identifying letters on the keyboard, learning what the Shift key does, memorizing passwords, typing a website correctly, opening various programs, and on up through coding and beyond.

Our Chromebook rollout has accelerated the pace of - and need for - the development of these digital literacy skills. Below are 10 crucial skills, in no particular order, that all teachers should possess and pass on to their students. How would you rate yourself on each of these skills?

Just as we want students to not only possess simple decoding skills but to become fluent readers, we also hope that all our students AND staff members are working past "point and click skills" and toward true digital fluency. We hope you will flex your "tech intuition" muscles so that you can have a better sense of what to do when you encounter an unfamiliar digital situation.

If your digital literacy/fluency is not where you would like it to be, our department can help! We can work with you individually, in small teams, or with an entire staff. We have experience with learners of all abilities - so whether you consider yourself a novice or an advanced tech user, we probably have some suggestions for improving your digital skills.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Amplify Student Creativity Using Adobe Spark

It's time for your students to present their take on what they have learned during the unit and you get to watch an endless stream of Powerpoint or Google Slides presentations (insert smirk here). While there is nothing inherently wrong with Powerpoint or Google Slides, ISTE Student Standards define a creative communicator as follows:
"Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals."
 The key phrase, "variety of purposes", indicates that students are to give careful thought to the purpose of their presentation. Who is their audience? What do they want the audience to know or feel after viewing their presentation? Are words enough or would music/video/narration deepen student understanding? Take a look at the following examples of student presentations using Adobe Spark:

Click on this link to view student creations in finding fractions (remember to scroll down once you click on the link)

This is just a very small example of what students can create using Adobe Spark. Here are some great ideas from our friend, Claudio Zavala, on more ways to use Adobe Spark to deepen student understanding of the learning objectives. This list also includes ideas to help teachers deliver their instruction in a way to reach different types of learners.

The good news is that our district has acquired access for all students in our district to use the premium features of Adobe Spark, which includes thousands of royalty free (and safe) images. Click here for instructions to help your students get started.

We didn't forget about you, teachers! You can log in to spark.adobe.com using Google for the free access or you can email your friendly digital learning team to request premium access. Have fun and "Spark" student creativity!