Clearing your cache and your cookies

What is a cache and why are you always telling me to clear it? Why should I clear my cookies? Who doesn’t like cookies?

We’ve encountered a few weird things since starting this 1:1, but when educational websites that host our actual curriculum (Pearson, Discovery Education and Schoology) become blocked by our Chromebook security software, we know that something is not right. It took a couple of freak outs on my part and scrambling on the technicians’ end before the solution was finally reached.

Clear your cache… and your cookies.

A cache makes website load time faster by remembering all the stuff that’s on the page. But when a site rolls out new features or makes changes to how things function, your cache can get in the way.

Cookies are when a website gives your computer a file to store so that it can reuse your info next time you visit instead of having to ask you for it again (location, shopping cart info, form entries). Well, cookies go stale too.

So here’s how you clear your cache and cookies on your Chromebook:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings
  3. Scroll down and click Clear browsing data under Privacy
  4. Choose “the beginning of time” from the drop down
  5. Select “Cookies and other site plugin data” and “Cached images and files”
  6. Click Clear browsing data

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Google Classroom Opens the Door to All Learners

Google Classroom Opens the Door

Amazing news! Google Classroom is now open to all learners.

Does anyone else remember when we had to request an invite, even if we were members of a GAFE school? Oh, the anticipation!

Yesterday, Google announced that Google Classroom is now open for users with a personal Google account. This means that users can interact with current Google Classroom courses without having to have a school G Suite (new name for GAFE) account. Soon, Classroom will even allow personal Gmail users to create their own classes. This is where the game changes.

Home schools and virtual schools can now enjoy the benefits of Google Classroom. Bloggers, content creators, anyone with anything to teach and anyone who wants to learn will be able to connect and manage learning experiences within the digital walls of Google Classroom.

I can’t wait to see what the Internet does with this.

 

Another Week of Designs

Portfolio additions for the week of 10/24/16 & 10/31/16

I turn our school announcements into visual displays that showcase what’s happening in our building and alert students to upcoming events.

I also create graphics for the school, social media, newsletters, and websites.

These are examples of my work. Photos of students are contributed by staff members. I use Canva for most of my designs. I get images from Britannica Image Quest, Pexels, and Rawpixel.

Another Week of Designs

Portfolio additions for the week of 10/17/16

I turn our school announcements into visual displays that showcase what’s happening in our building and alert students to upcoming events.

I also create graphics for the school, social media, newsletters, and websites.

These are examples of my work. Photos of students are contributed by staff members. I use Canva for most of my designs. I get images from Britannica Image Quest, Pexels, and Rawpixel.

Back Pocket Apps

Have you ever been in a meeting with someone that you want to impress and they start asking you questions about what’s cool right now? Happens to me all the time! “What apps are you using right now, Laura?” Well, you know I’m always happy to share! I guess it’s wise to always keep a few apps in your back pocket so that when a situation like this arises, you are prepared with something valuable to say!

Well, just the other day I was collaborating with a building principal and she asked. We started off by talking about Google Keep (which we both LOVE) and all of the great features it has like collaboration, categorizing, reminders, checkboxes for lists, etc.

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We both agreed that the iPhone app for Google Keep is stellar and it’s so easy to add a voice note when you’re on the go or check what you have going for the day from your phone. It’s become my GO TO sticky notes app. google-keepI especially love the newest feature which allows you to pin your important notes to the top so you always have access to that key information instead of losing it in a sea of stickies. I may have let my Google Keep grow out of control a few times, but only over the summer!
I know that Google retired the app launcher for Windows so if you’re new to Google Keep you will never experience the fun of opening Keep as an app on your PC. It’s so clean, I love it and I dread the day I get a new machine and have to give up my Google Keep app for PC! If anyone knows a way to get it back, I’m all ears! Two additional features I would like to see come out of this app are email notifications when someone adds something to your list and more email integration in general. I would like to be able to take an email that needs addressing and add it to my Google Keep list with an easy click from the Gmail client.


Next, I brought up how helpful LastPass is. I love that I can store all of my passwords, organize them from within their vault, keep notes, give specific shared site access to specific people and access all of this on any device. LastPass is a secure website, an app, an extension, and a life saver!171883

You just have to remember your main password for the site and if you install their extension, it will run in your browser. LastPass even has an app for the phone, but you have to pay. However, I find that it’s worth the $12 a year to have all of my passwords at my fingertips. Oh, and the sharing. I can set it up so that the people who need access to my accounts can have access. I can organize my vault in so many ways. I can give access to some and none to others. It really is the last password you will ever need.


I get like, a gazillion emails a day and some of them are lists and lists of incredible articles that I  want to read but I never have the time when I am checking my email. I needed something that would allow me to save the articles I want to read and access them later. Bonus points if I can get them on my phone.pocket-logo-icon

Pocket is the extension that allows me to save that really interesting article from my email. I can even tag articles for organization. I can access Pocket through their website or an app on my phone. I like being able to save my favorite articles and keep an archive of everything I have read. I’m sure there is amazing functionality in their premium service, but for now I am getting everything I need for free.


Finally, have you ever heard of Plickers? I thought everyone had but I was wrong. Get ready for amazement. I thought our primary school principal would really love to introduce this to her teachers and student. Especially since the teachers in the primary schools have more iPads than we have at the middle school. The kids are not one-to-one so this is the perfect solution! The kids hold up a piece of paper with a code on it while the teacher scans the room with an iPad. The Plickers app reads data from the paper and correlates it into data the teacher can use! Check out this video and see for yourself.

You can see how wonderful Plickers is for schools that are not one-to-one or for anyone who is looking for something different or something with a kinesthetic approach.

So those are my back pocket apps for the moment. What are yours?

This Week’s Designs

Portfolio additions for the week of October 10th, 2016

I turn our school announcements into visual displays that showcase what’s happening in our building and alert students to upcoming events.

I also create graphics for the school, social media, newsletters, and websites.

These are examples of my work. Photos of students are contributed by staff members. I use Canva for most of my designs. I get images from Britannica Image Quest, Pexels, and Rawpixel.

Using Schoology as a Collaborative Blogging Platform

Every school year I go through the same action of scouring the web for a new, free blogging service for teachers to use with their students. It seems that everyone and their brother will offer a free blogging platform for individuals, but once you start wanting to add students to your blog you have to start shelling out the money.

We want to be able to involve all of our students in a blog that they can participate in through their ELA (English Language Arts) classes. Teachers will decide upon a theme for each month and students will contribute writing pieces for others in the school to view after teacher moderation. This gives students a chance to see what their classmates are writing and an opportunity to publish their own work.

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My solution is to create a Group in Schoology. We’re already using Schoology and we have the Enterprise edition so we could turn on blogs for our students as individuals, but that’s still not what we need. By creating a Group in Schoology, participating students can be invited to join the group and topics can be posted as Events and Discussions. Classes can be welcomed via Updates. Students can reply to the discussion topic with their final blog post (after rough drafts are reviewed and critiqued by teachers via Google Docs). Posting blogs in response to discussion topics will automatically categorize student writing by topic and teacher if necessary, keeping it very organized for readers.

Originally I wanted to have students posting their writing as Updates, but when I found out all students in the school could potentially be contributors, I changed my tune. I did not want every piece of student writing to end up in the Recent Activity section on the homepage. That area should be reserved for announcements and reminders we don’t want our students to miss.

We are getting started with blogging through Schoology this week. I’m excited to see how it goes and I’ll post an update soon!

The Tech Squad

For the first time in six years, I have a class!

It’s a real class too. Complete with pre and post assessments, assignments, a grade book and I actually take attendance and lunch count. What? Lunch count! It all came about when the school initiated an intervention block Tuesday through Friday during First period. If we’re not teaching interventions we get to teach enrichment courses. I am lucky enough to get to teach a new group of fantastic eighth-grade students each quarter. Of course, I call it the Tech Squad and here is my course description:

In this course, students experience technology in a variety of forms. After a self-study of their individual technology use, students develop the skills to coach others in their own area of interest (hardware, software, code, design, productivity, or communication.). Students also participate in identifying educational technology tools and practice procedural writing by creating tutorials that include visual elements such as screenshots and screencasts. Throughout the course, we also cover topics such as digital citizenship, technology trends, and social media.

It took a little bit getting used to the grade book/attendance part but I love the conversations we are having in this class and the experimentation with technology that is happening. When students ask how to do something, we figure it out. img_1836So far we have identified a variety of educational technology tools and their uses, learned all about Awesome Screenshot, created screencasts on Chromebooks using Screencastify, and designed badges using Canva. We are working on becoming Schoology, Google and Chromebook experts and I’m so proud of their budding technology coaching abilities as they teach each other skills and share their knowledge with their classmates and the school.img_1839

 

Square, Circle and Triangle

As you may or may not have read in my previous post, we went 1:1 here at the middle school a few weeks ago. Very exciting stuff. It’s been just over 30 days since our students got their Chromebooks and I’m celebrating in a couple of ways. First, a survey! I posted links where I knew students would find them and at the other end of the link is my Google Form Survey about the Chromebooks. I received some excellent data and I’m already planning my next few months from it. The second way I celebrated is by sending home an E-Newsletter via Smore.com. I focused on the last days to accept insurance and make a payment, results from the survey and how to tackle Chromebook challenges in the home, such as helping students remember to charge up every night.

However, the third and most important way that I am celebrating is by sending out a refresher E-mail to staff about the Wireless Device Guidelines we put in place this year. I also created a behavior T-chart since we are a PBIS district and put copies of both in everyone’s mailboxes. This way they can review the guidelines with students and post them in their classrooms. I am leaving it up to teachers to provide guidance and discipline on the matters of device readiness and student behavior. I just lend out school-day loaner Chromebooks if students show up with a pass from their teacher.

Two eighth-grade teachers decided to not only review the guidelines, but two days ago, they completed an activity on the topic as well. I was thrilled when one of them brought all of the activity handouts to me that afternoon to read through. What amazing feedback! It was very thrilling for me to get an opportunity to read what our students are thinking about the Chromebooks and the guidelines. The activity was Square, Circle and Triangle or Triangle-Square-Circle as it is outlined on the Teacher Toolkit website.

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I was so excited that I answered every one of the questions that were “going around” in the students’ minds. I kept a document open while I messaged each student in Schoology and I recorded my responses there so that if a similar question came up again I could easily copy and paste. I individualized every message though. Some of the answers I gave were as follows:

You asked why we can’t have iPads instead of Chromebooks. Great question! We wanted to be able to pay for the devices and provide them to our students instead of asking our families to pay. iPads are way more expensive, breakable, and you have to pay more for every app you install on them. At the high school you get iPads, but you have to pay for them yourself. Chromebooks are FREE for you and your family. I hope this information helps you.

Mrs. Scola

 

You asked why so many things are blocked. Great question. The reason things are blocked is because by accessing them you put you, your computer, or our bandwidth at risk. We need to be able to provide school resources to over 700 people, potentially all at one time. If everyone was streaming music, it would shut down our network. Sometimes we want to access fun apps and games but doing so is causing student Chromebooks to crash. We need to be more careful about what we access on the Chromebooks so things are blocked until they are proven useful in many cases. If there is EVER something that you need for school, you can ask for it and we will do our best to come up with a solution for you. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Mrs. Scola

 

You asked how you can be expelled because of the chromebook. You want an example.

An example would be cyberbullying and harassing someone, repeatedly accessing inappropriate content on the Chromebook by doing something to circumvent, or get around the filter. Also,  doing something illegal with it like selling narcotics or underage gambling. Those are just examples. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Mrs. Scola

 

The next morning I got an email from one of the teachers who gave me these handouts.

Kids are buzzing…

About how you messaged them yesterday and answered their questions! They were excited that you actually answered them. Thanks fo rmaking it meaningul for them so they don’t feel like they did something for no reason 🙂

That’s me! Making it meaningful since 2004…

It is my honor to be working with these kids. They deserve it.

Constitution Day 2016

Our Social Studies teachers are piloting Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook this year and in just the first few days of school I heard about a Virtual Field Trip opportunity. Discovery Education would be hosting a tour of the Library of Congress. I was not sure of what more would be going on, but I thought that even just getting together with the 7th Grade Social Studies classes in the school library that day would be a great opportunity to celebrate the US Constitution and create a memorable event for the students. Plus they were advertising a Twitter Chat and I can’t resist a Twitter Chat!

I contacted the LMC Director right away to see if she would want to collaborate (of course she would) and then we pitched it to the teachers. New Chromebooks, new learning management system, new online curriculum; these guys were up for anything. The excitement kept building as we got closer and our plans for the day started to take shape.

A few days before our event we actually took some time to get together to plan instead of just shouting our excitement through the hallways. Discovery Education had posted some resources for teachers so we looked at those first. We knew we would not have a lot of time for extra activities once we knew how long the “Live” Virtual Field trip would be. We came up with a couple of questions we wanted the students to answer and we decided on the right Kagan activities to accompany the activity.

We created Padlets for each question and put all of our resources into Schoology as a lesson and shared it with the teachers. Finally, we created a visual presentation to go along with the lesson. The teachers then shared our lessons in their Schoology courses. We were all ready to go.

On Friday, September 16th, students came straight to the LMC instead of going to their classroom. They brought their Chromebooks and something to write with. Our Constitution enthusiast even dressed up in a colonial style wig and outfit. This was definitely about to be an event our students will remember.

Students sat four to a table and began by discussing the purpose of the Federal Government, the US Constitution, and Libraries. Discovery Education had provided a handout that we asked students to complete as they watched the Virtual Field Trip to the Library of Congress. We quickly decided to ditch that in favor of pausing the video and discussing the content with our students to make the lesson more engaging and easier to follow. After the video, we used mini-Constitution pages our LMC Director had made for each student as talking chips for another Kagan activity.

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We were thrilled to see all the learning happening and we were even getting requests from other grade levels to host classes during our off periods. The more the merrier. We are looking forward to more exciting opportunities like this.

Photo Credits

CONSTITUTION. – Page one of the Constitution of the United States of America, 1787.. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016.
http://quest.eb.com/search/140_1642480/1/140_1642480/cite. Accessed 4 Oct 2016.

All other images are my own.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.