Holiday shopping – keeping safe!

What follows are a few things to consider in keeping yourself safe when shopping online – holiday or anytime!

  1. Use familiar websites. Don’t just pull up any site that resulted from a search; you will be easily led astray.  Beware of misspellings or sites using different domain names (.net instead of .com).
  2. Think mobile. It’s no more risky to shop from your phone as it is online.  The trick to shopping from your phone is to use apps provided directly by retailers like Amazon, Target, etc.
  3. Look for the lock. Typically this is a green lock in the address bar.  Shen purchasing items online, you should always look for the HTTPS:// address instead of the HTTP://.  The S means is it a secure site.
  4. Don’t tell all. No online store needs your social security number, password or birthday to do business.
  5. Check your statements. Pull up your online credit card statement and look for anything suspicious.  Don’t get caught thinking that a suspicious purchase was just one more purchase you made.  Act on it quickly.  Some cards you only have 30 days to notify the bank or card company.
  6. Use strong passwords. In the same way we request this in the district, this is a great practice for any online account.  Secure passwords have numbers, letters, capital letters and symbols.
  7. Avoid public terminals. Hopefully you already know that it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases from.  Just remember to log out every time from every account when logging off a public computer.
  8. Don’t click on links in email. Hopefully this one sounds familiar after my visit to your buildings this year.  If you don’t know the sender, don’t click the links, don’t open the attachments, don’t keep the email!  This is tempting this time of year. An alternative is to go to the retailers website and search for the deal you saw.
  9. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably no good. Be aware of coupon scams, “free with purchase”, the UPS scam, and offers through social media.
  10. What’s your tip?  Leave a comment below and share with everyone!

Keeping Brains Turned On

Tech Tip: 5 Strategies To Keep Students From Turning Off Their Brains


And exactly who doesn’t need some strategies for this right around this time of the year?!? I found an article on Twitter this morning that I thought would make a great Tech Tip. (Actually, it was a click beyond the article I originally found – 3 Simple Strategies To Integrate Tech Into Any Lesson.) Here’s the summary of strategies:


  1. Use indirect signals rather than “telling”
    • Use visual signals – highlighting, etc.
    • Consider doing less “telling” in general; let the kids carry the conversations
  2. Make sure all students respond in some way
    • Some sort of response will engage the brain on some level
    • Consider partner discussions, show of hands, journals, exit slips
  3. Protect students from fear (e.g. the fear or mistakes or the fear of failure)
    • Put students in situations where they believe they can be successful
    • Develop situations where mistakes and failure can be embraced.
    • #FailForward!
  4. Resist placing students “on the spot”
    • Consider asking real world/complex questions but with given time for students to collect thoughts and develop a response
  5. Promote curiosity not as a thing, but the thing
    • Break your routine. It keeps students engaged and “activates” their brain
    • Curiosity activates background knowledge, promotes comfort and activity, engaged the brain and helps student persist in the face of failure
    • Consider brain breaks


Just a few thoughts as we all work to keep brains turned on the last two weeks of school. What else are you changing up with your kids to promote this? Join the discussion by adding a comment below.

Proximity and Awareness

Tech Tip: Proximity and Awareness  


As the year is getting closer to wrapping up, just a reminder of the importance of technology awareness through your proximity in our classrooms.


As you know, our Lightspeed system catches a lot of websites in blocking student access.  As you also know, there are a lot of sites that slip by our district filter.  While there are sites we need to know about, there is no way we can keep up with blocking every site, game and app that kids have found a loop hole to.


As a reminder from the Technology Department, YOU are the best firewall we have!  Looking over students’ shoulders, making them a bit uncomfortable if necessary, teaching around the entire room, and giving a purposeful eye to what students are doing is going to be our best Internet filter.  All it takes is a walk around the perimeter of the room, through the rows and around the groups.  Remember, too, your classroom protocols for technology management in your rooms. Closing lids, closing out of all tabs, 180 degree screens, and constructive downtime projects (not just free time online) are just a few of the suggestions shared in trainings. (Have you tried out the 2Eyes app? 😉 )


Please take a minute to refocus some of your classroom proximity…and get a few steps in as well!   🙂


And as a reminder, there are great resources at and many other sites for resources around digital citizenship, Internet safety, cyberbullying and many other tech-rich resources.  Robyn found a great resource called Where Are You Headed that is a choose-your-own-adventure interactive activity designed for grades 6 – 9.  Check it out – your kids will like it!

A few apps

Well, I’ve fallen way behind with tech tips. I was talking with a teacher yesterday in the hall and he was telling me about an app he was trying out. Come to find out, we have a level of YouTube security set to HS students, and his app wasn’t going to work. So I thought that would be the perfect time to share a few others that will work. So here it goes…


  1. EDpuzzle is a site I’ve heard a lot of CMS teachers are using. With this site, you can post videos, edit videos and enter questions around the videos. Students log into EDpuzzle, join your class through a class code, watch the video and answer the questions. You can see the results, grade the open ended questions and export them all to a spreadsheet. Videos can either be screen captures that you have made (maybe a place to post flipped content) or YouTube videos. And yes, even CAS and CMS students can see the YouTube video on a Chromebook.
  2. I want to remind you about edshelf, a comprehensive web/app searching tool. If you are looking for sites for audio, bookmarking, digital storybooks, infographics, timeline generators, among many others, be sure to check this site out!
  3. Bonus site! Are you familiar with iFakeText? This is a site where you can generate a text discussion and it will create a screenshot. The key to this is you have to copy and screenshot and do something with it – paste it to a Notebook file, make it a background, or embed it somewhere.


What else are you using successfully?  Have something to share?  Let us know below!

Google Searching Tips

Tech Tip: 5 Google Searching Tips


Are you teaching your students how to do effective Google searches? Want a few ideas of where to start? Here are some that will be beneficial for both you and your students.


Search using keywords

This would be a good main idea lesson for your kids! Use 4 to 6 key words in the Google search and not an entire question. Google is smart enough to list the resulting sites, where pages consisting of most of your keywords, are toward the top of your results. The more powerful your 4 to 6 keywords, the more powerful your results will be.


Search results from one trusted site

Sometimes you have several trusted go-to sites where you want to search for content. This feature will come in handy for your own research or even if you want to require certain websites to be a part of student research. To do this, enter your 4 to 6 keywords in the search field followed by For example: child labor laws Now the only results about child labor laws you will receive will only come from


Search results for a specific file type

It can be useful to find a PowerPoint or other such document online to reference for formatting, style or even content. Adding a filetype:ppt, or other extension for types of files, will result in only PowerPoints. For example: child labor law filetype:ppt. Now the only results about child labor laws will be PowerPoints that have been posted online.


Quotation marks

This is an oldie but goodie! Use quotation marks when looking for exact phrasing. “George and Martha Washington” will results in sites with that exact phrase. Just searching George and Martha Washington without the quotes will result in pages that have all of those four words anywhere on the page.


Search on a website

So not exactly a Google search tip, but don’t forget to search on the website itself. When starting to visit websites from the initial Google search, use the ctrl+f (find) command to search for specific information on an individual webpage. The idea is to do a quick search of needed information rather than reading the entire page.


What other Google searches do you use?  Share your tips and trick below!

Impact on Student Achievement

Impact on student achievement

I was fortunate enough to hear Eric Sheninger speak this past week with two reps from each of our secondary buildings. I want to share a few of my takeaways. The one that impacted me the most was the continual and never ceasing alignment we should have to standards, CLEs and outcomes in general with all tech-rich lessons. I walked away realizing I could put more of a training emphasis on that.

How does this impact student learning and achievement?

What purposeful and upfront thought are you giving to the purpose of tech integration and the outcome, through a rubric or other scoring guide, with every lesson you plan? It’s so easy to get caught up in the newest, flashiest, and trendy piece of technology. So when you integrate it, always ask yourself, how does it impact student learning and achievement?

A few other tools:

Secondly, not to contradict what I just stated, but he had several tools he suggested. I think you’ll know several of these. I’ll start with a tool I sent as a tech tip a few weeks back.

EdShelf – Finding the right educational tools for your needs
Verso – online, teacher-flexible, discussion forums (we discussed this in one of our sessions)
Graphite Common Core Explorer
– a favorite of Joe’s! – and one of mine – create infographics. (The very simple one I did…)

Build your PLN!

If you’re interested, check out the attendees on Twitter. Build your PLN; continue the conversation!

Eric Sheninger – @E_Sheninger
Joe Gunderson – @jgunderson_joe
Steve Parker – @parkersclasses
Melissa Dorris – @mdorris3
Chelsi Mawhirter – @MrsM_CAS
Rusty Boyle – @YellowjacketCMS
Nick Scheuerman
Robyn Holsman – @robynholsman
Sharon Nibbelink – @drnibbelink
Colleen McLain – @colleenmclain

Join the conversation!  What’s your thought?  Post it below.

Different Matters

Different matters.


As we are progressing through our year, trying to integrate technology while still preparing for “the season” (testing season) ahead, I just wanted to take a minute and reaffirm what you’re doing in your classroom.  You all are working hard to make your classroom student centered, develop new and various ways of hooking and engaging our kids, and integrate a variety of media.


Students need to have a sticking point when introducing new topics, concepts and skills.  Anything we do that’s different creates “mental Velcro”.  The different comes from digital tools, instructional hooks for all you #tlap pirates out there, and anything else you do that makes a sticking point.


Think about your 7th grade year.  What do you remember?  Entering a big school?  Your first dance?  Changing classes?  Dissecting frogs?  Creative lessons?  Even those these happened very rarely, maybe even only once, they were different.  Now, think about a particular worksheet?  Remember any?  Probably not.


The moral here?  Different matters.  What you do that’s different builds mental Velcro on which students have a sticking point for learned content.  Digital tools provide us with these opportunities. #tlap instructional hooks provide us with these opportunities.


Different matters.


What do you do that’s different in your classroom?  Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Twitter Hashtags

This is the final Twitter entry of a series.  We’re looking at hashtags.

First off, for Tuesday, feel free to lurk until you see what’s going on with Twitter.  How do you lurk?  Either open your app or go to  Search in the Twitter field for #CenterSD.  Make sure you have the option of viewing All Tweets selected.  Lurk away!


What is a hashtag?

Twitter hashtags are used for categorizing tweets.  You can search hashtags.  We searched #CenterSD above.  Try searching something like #MathChat, #KinderChat, #FACS, #FutureReady, #digcit or anything else you can think.  More educational hashtags.

Knowing the hashtags of our Center breakout sessions, you can easily find resources being shared from all our sessions.  While you are in your session tweeting ideas and resources, and hashtagging them, others hopefully are doing the same thing from their session.  Can you see how this is very handy when there were several sessions you wanted to attend?  Keep an eye on the session hashtags for resources coming out of other sessions.

When do you use a hashtag?

Use the hashtag with any tweet that needs it.  Not all tweets need a hashtag, but if you are sending out an idea or resource from one of your sessions, include the session hashtag!  Others will be looking for session resources!

I’m looking forward to learning and sharing with everyone Tuesday!



How to Tweet

This is the third in a series of Twitter emails.  We’ll look at what and how to tweet today.  Tomorrow is hashtags!

So, you have your Twitter account set up, you have followed a few people (or unfollowed!) and now you’re ready to tweet!  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Now, if you’ve made it this far and you’re thinking, “I’m not about to tweet anything just yet!”  Never fear!  And don’t get intimidated!  Lurk for a while.  The power in Twitter is who you follow; not how many are following you.  Those professionally worth following will be tweeting resources, classroom ideas, student projects, thoughts that stretch your thinking, applications you hadn’t thought of…  Lurk!  Soak it in!  Then when you’re ready to share something back, you’ll have an idea of how it works.  Just don’t wait too long.  The power in a PLN is sharing.  That means you’re giving back as well.

Next, tell me something you think I should know.  Not what you had for breakfast.  Not a self-promotion.  Not a rant.  Rather, something that is professionally worthy of my time.  Something that’s a new classroom resource.  A great article.  The great things happening with your students.  Building celebrations.  Something the Center community (teachers and patrons alike) would want to hear or see.  If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.  And it likely won’t be the story we want told.

Ready to Tweet?  Log into your account.  Either click the button with the quill or type into the What’s Happening? field.  But remember, it’s not just “what’s happening”; it’s “tell me something you think I should know”.  You are limited to 140 characters.  Choose them wisely.  Once you have your tweet developed, click the Tweet button.  That’s it!

Who sees your tweet?  As we should be educating our students, anything you post online is public and permanent.  Post wisely.  Always.  Whether it’s professional or not.  Intentionally, you just posted to everyone who follows you.  However, anyone who stumbles across your home page can see what you tweeted.  Try it out.  Do you follow @robynholsman yet?  If not, go to her home page.  Can you see what she has tweeted?  (Follow her while you’re there!)

Public and permanent.  Not to scare you.  To educate you.

Join the conversation.  How and what do you tweet?  Let us know at

Following/Unfollowing on Twitter

In light of setting up Twitter accounts for the 17th, I thought I’d send a series of short emails that explains the use of Twitter.

Yesterday, we set up a Twitter account.  Today I want to show you how to start building your Twitter PLN (Professional Learning Network).

First of all, we setting up your account, Twitter suggests you start building your PLN by providing people for you to follow.  People like Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne or Ellen Degeneres.  Isn’t that nice of Twitter?  But what, you don’t want to follow all 40 of those people?

To unfollow people:

Now or anytime, log into your Twitter account.  Click on the Following link.  Then click the blue Following button associated with those you no longer want to follow.  It will switch to a red Follow button, indicating you are no longer following that person.

To follow someone you know:

Search by Twitter handle:  Everyone on Twitter has a handle, or your Twitter username.  If you know the handle, just type it into the search field in Twitter.  Try it out by searching the district account – @CenterSD.  Selecting the account from the search field will take you to their Twitter page.  Once you are on their Twitter page, click the blue Follow button.

Search by a user’s full day:  Another option is to search Twitter for the person’s full name.  Let’s say I wanted to follow Mr. Leone.  I would log into my Twitter account and search for “David Leone”.  Again, you’ll select the person from the search results, which takes you to their home page, and then you click the blue Follow button.  By the way, Mr. Leone’s handle is @centerdaveleone.

Following from a website/blog:  A final option is following a person or organization from their website or blog.  Using as my example, you’ll notice in the upper right corner of the website is a small Twitter icon.  Clicking this icon will take you to Edutopia’s Twitter page where you can follow their organization.

Video tutorial:  Have a few more minutes?  Here’s a 12 minute video explanation of Twitter that @jasteffes recommended.