Schoology Calendar

calendar-schoology

The Google Calendar export and Schoology Calendar Import process could not be easier. I sweetly added over 400 events to our school calendar in under 2 minutes. That’s the kind of speedy I’m looking for.

From my Google Calendar, I went to Calendar Settings>Export Calendar. Then in Schoology, I went to the calendar page and chose Import. I navigated to my exported file and that was it. I got the details from the Schoology Help Center, my new best friend.

Yes, a two-way sync with my Google Calendar would be even sweeter and this is a much requested feature in the community forum. I can’t complain though. This was much simpler than calendars I’ve used in the past and it nicely color codes the types of calendars for you. So students can see the difference between school events and course events, personal events, and group events.

 

 

Team Pages on Schoology

It was mid-summer when I got an email from our new middle school principal. He explained that he wants grade-level teams of teachers to have a team web page so that parents can look in one place and know what the students are doing. I immediately realized that I had not even gotten the opportunity to show him Schoology, the amazing all-in-one that is going to revolutionize our school! Once we have our parents looking at Schoology, they won’t need to go to any teacher web pages to see what’s going on. They will be able to see all assignments, class updates, grades, events, groups and comments and everything else that their student is seeing and interacting with without creating double work for teachers. Even better, parents can set email notifications so that the news will come directly to them instead of having to remember to go check themselves. Genius!

So what do we do until parents can see what’s going on? We had decided to wait until the first set of parent conferences before we rollout Schoology Parent Accounts. Why? We want to make sure all of our teachers are good and comfortable with the Schoology grade book and the whole new digital classroom thing we’re going for this year. I got invited to a team leader meeting so we could talk about what the principal wanted for these team web pages and I showed everyone Schoology. Our big official intro-to-Schoology training would be taking place the very next day and everyone in the room was already invited to attend. So I just gave a small preview to set up my next suggestion:

Let’s use public Schoology group pages for each team to introduce the teachers on the team and post the weekly assignments until we get parents their own accounts. This will give parents the chance to see Schoology, even if they don’t know that’s how they’re getting a peek into daily student activities. Then, once the parents have their own accounts and are connected to their students, these team pages can transfer into teacher-student grade level team pages. Teams can post about everything going on. Reminders about field trips, testing events, award ceremonies, students of the month, homework clubs, etc.

The whole idea of the public team pages was well received so I ran home and created these team pages right away. I linked them on our website under a new link… Teams!

Teams   Glenside Middle School.png

I made each team leader an administrator of their group page and asked them to send group invitations to each member of their grade-level team. Then, at our very first staff meeting on August 23rd, when I introduced Schoology to the whole staff,  I asked everyone to join their groups if they had not already done so. I gave the instruction that everyone was to go to their team page and post an update that included a welcome message with their name, what they teach and what they are looking forward to this school year. Every teacher in the room learned at least one thing about Schoology in that activity and in the process of doing so they communicated and made connections with students and their parents/guardians.

The Glenside Raider

I would like to introduce you to the Glenside Raider!

pirate-guy-with-steering-wheel

Of course, THE Glenside Raider has been our mascot since I don’t know when, but I created a Glenside Raider account in Schoology for posting school-wide updates.

I didn’t think these types of updates should come from me. I’m the technology coach and I have my own updates that are technology related (more on that in a later post). I want a way to keep things separate for our students and I also want to promote school spirit and culture. We’ve been using these cool graphics that Aaron, another coach in the district had made for our Digital Citizenship Agreement and I thought it would be perfect to use one of these images along with our mascot name to represent the school.

The Glenside Raider posts updates on Schoology that mirror the announcements that run on our digital displays, but he also attaches files and more detailed information when necessary. Students know to look out for updates from the Glenside Raider and so far he’s gotten a very positive response.

Some of our grade-level teams have followed suit by asking me to create similar generic accounts for their teams so that their team updates do not come from one specific teacher. By linking these accounts to their teacher account, they can easily toggle back and forth between users when posting. They have even used some of the other mascot graphics to which we have access. It’s really gaining a lot of momentum and unity while creating a buzz of school spirit!

The Day I Made History

I’m a wife and a mom to two fabulous little girls. So anyone could probably guess that I have had at least three life-changing days in my life. Graduating middle school, high school, and college were all big days too. Becoming a big sister was pretty epic as well, and even though I was only a month away from turning four, I do have my own memories from that day.

I had another day worth remembering this week. It was the day all my hard work was realized. Hard work that started with a vision and continued with research. I visited schools that were early adopters, noting their successes but also their missteps. I pitched and waited. I waited patiently and when my bosses picked up the bat, it was a home run. I shared my findings to stakeholders and created presentations full of plans. I collaborated with experts, developing a system for success. Then there was paperwork. Writing and revising packets of information, narrowing all of it down to something our families could (and would) digest. I recruited amazingly hard workers who took the reigns on translating every word for our Spanish speaking community. I was lucky to have a colleague who bent over backwards to produce instructional videos that our students could view to learn about our new initiative. I am blessed to be teamed up with a driven crew of teachers and staff who have delivered this content to our students. The whole process took over five years. Now, every student in our middle school is showing up to class with a personal, school-issued Chromebook.

Thursday, August 25, 2016 is the day that Glenside Middle School began its 1:1 Technology Initiative. I am honored to say that they believed in me and my dreams for our students.

chromebooks

Brave

Black and white illustration of Roman goddess Diana holding a bow and arrow

Black and white illustration of Roman goddess Diana holding a bow and arrow

What does it mean to be brave? Is it going for what you want? Is it going beyond that? In our house, we love the movie Brave. Having daughters I worry sometimes that they are going to miss the message of bravery in the movie and instead just learn to defy their mother every chance they get. For now, though, they just love Merida’s bouncy red hair and the look she gets on her face when she’s focusing in on a target. They’re still very young.

I came across this video today. It spoke to me. I was shocked to hear the statistics about women, bravery, and believing in oneself. I want to leave this link here so that I can return to it now and then as a reminder to be brave and to raise my daughters to be truly brave.

Watch now: Reshma’s TED Talk

Girls Who Code Founder & CEO Reshma Saujani took to the TED 2016 stage to outline her vision for why we need to socialize girls to be comfortable with imperfection.
“For the American economy, for any economy to grow, to TRULY innovate, we cannot leave behind half our population! We have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfection and we need to do it now.” Reshma Saujani

Retelling Greek Myths via ThingLink

Our 6th graders are studying Greek Mythology in Social Studies and I was trying to come up with a new idea for retelling myths. I know our students enjoy searching for images in Britannica Image Quest and learning from the information they find there so I wondered if ThingLink would be a good application to use in this project. I heard about it at the ICE Conference last week and it was all the rage, so I knew I had to at least take a look at it. Just kidding, I emailed a teacher about it the second I heard it mentioned. Interactive images? Uh… YES!!

So for this project, I anticipate having students read articles in Britannica School to get background knowledge before searching for artwork that will help them retell their assigned myth in ThingLink. The application has a free Education Basic option that would be more than enough for this one class of students to use with their teacher this year. The possibilities that I can imagine for this app are endless, though, so it might be something worth exploring a subscription for in the future.

I like to provide alternates to any project I plan and in this case,  Padlet could be used in similar ways. Students could upload an image as a background and add content to the page. However, ThingLink is unique because each link or annotation pops up from a dot on the page so it is not overrun by information and the viewer can better enjoy the image they are interacting with.

Other student artifacts that could be produced with this app include:

  • Annotating a photo of self
  • Labeling a map
  • Summarizing an event
  • Demonstrating knowledge of a biome
  • Other

Oh, and look at this! I found a Thinglink Rubric on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything.