Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Websites of the Week! Celebrating Thanksgiving 11/20/15

Here are more Thanksgiving links for teachers and students!

Talk Like a Pilgrim
(Warning: Might be a wee bit confusing for ELL kiddos.)

Thanksgiving on Promethean Planet

Student Portal Update 11/20/15

The Student Portal has some recent updates!

  • Chris Quinn, Network Systems Administrator, received a request to split the textbook links from the rest of the applications to make it easier for students to find the links they need.  This change also affects the staff and teacher portal views.  
  • Now when anyone connects to the portal they will see a new tab at the bottom titled “IM & Libraries” (see below), and in this tab rests the current LRC and textbook based links.  
  • Should anyone not be seeing this tab they should try refreshing the page or restarting the browser.  

BrainPOP's New Look! 11/20/15

BrainPOP is getting a "face lift"!

Learn more here:  video

  • BrainPOP site redesign, set to go live in the next few weeks. Developed with input from multiple educators, the new look will be fresh, appealing, tablet- and smartphone-ready, and even easier to navigate.
  • But while the site may look different, it’ll still be home to all the features you rely on - from Make-a-Map and GameUp to our topic pages and teacher resources. We’re even adding some new ones. 
  • This change is just part of our ongoing efforts to adapt to your evolving needs; we think you’ll be as excited about it as we are. 
  • We’ve put together an overview screencast (use link or hit PLAY below) to give you an idea of what to expect; 
  • You can also visit the BrainPOP Educators blog for additional information. 

FREE Coding Kits! 11/20/15

  • Bitsbox is donating completely free coding kits to teachers for Computer Science Education Week (December 7th-13th). 
  • Each kit is enough for thirty students, and they come with a teacher's guide to help run an Hour of Code.
  • 30 Nov  ·  Teachers  ·  Free coding kits for thirty students

Read more here and on the link provided above.
  • Bitsbox is a startup headquartered in Boulder, Colorado that teaches Javascript/HTML5 to children.  Kids practice writing Javascript into a free virtual tablet online in order to create their own apps, and they receive a subscription box in the mail with new apps to code each month.                                                                                             
  • Computer Science Education Week's signature event is Hour of Code, where students throughout the world practice computer science for one full hour.  While much of the world recognizes the importance of learning how to code, Bitsbox knows that many teachers do not always have the resources to ensure that their students can participate.  Hence, Bitsbox is donating free coding kits to teachers throughout the world so they can have their classes participate in an Hour of Code (educators in the US and Canada get a physical kit, and partners in the rest of the world receive a digital replica.)                             
  • The coding kits serve a dual purpose.  On the one hand, they help teachers guide the children through the activity, and this is particularly important because many teachers themselves are not familiar with code.  On the other hand, the kits introduce a coding language to students in a way that they can become coders in no time.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Plickers 11/20/15

Plickers allows you to conduct quick, formative assessments with your students using answer cards and your iOS or Android mobile device.  All you need is:

  • A Plickers teacher account 
  • An iPhone, iPad or Android device
  • A set of answer cards for each student

What is Plickers? Students display their answers to multiple choice and true/false questions by holding up answer cards.  The teacher scans the answers using his/her mobile device.  Results are displayed on the website for you and/or your students to view real time results.

Click here to find the following resources:
  • Teacher Instructions
  • Plicker Answer Cards for Students
  • And if you are considering training others on this application, a sample/demo class that you can quickly upload.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Update 11/20/15

Activities and Journals Live On!
......for a little while

Announcement from on November 10, 2015:

All the functionality that we have right now in as it relates specifically to creating Activities and Journals and sharing them within the district will remain in place through the end of this 2015-2016 school year.  As a result, we will have access to these features "as is" for the remainder of this school year.

Previous info from stated that this functionality (creating and sharing Activities and Journals) would end on December 31, 2015.

DreamBox Learning FAQ 11/06/15

According to training notes for DreamBox….
If teachers want to change the curricular grade level for a student, it can be done PRIOR to starting the curriculum…..afterwards, must be done by calling support. CORRECT any change in curricular level after a student logs into DreamBox needs to be handled by Customer Support.

Is it accurate that the teachers should never place a student UP in their curricular level, because the program will adjust their curriculum/lessons based on how they progress in the program? Correct, let the intelligent adaptive engine select and construct the individual path.  A teachers should see that advanced students will work through current grade level material quickly and start being enriched through standards above their physical grade level.

On the date of the training in Pasadena ISD, you referenced the Intervention column in the Classroom List of the old dashboard.  You indicated that, if checked, this would move the student back one grade level in the curricular level.  The dashboard has been update in early October, refer to the image below.

Is this still accurate?
And if so, where is the Intervention column?  I thought it was in the Classroom List area under Manage Tab of the old dashboard.  The intervention column, has been replaced with “curricular grade level” to simplify the process.  If a student needs to be assigned a grade level different than their physical level, use the drop down arrow and place the student into the curricular level that lesson will begin appearing in.  The image shows 2 such examples.

Technology Contests 11/06/15

Free technology-related contests for students, teachers, and other school staff. 
Who doesn’t like to win free stuff? Check out the following four no-cost opportunities!

Doodle for Google
K-12 students can submit their own Google Doodle for a chance to win scholarship money, a Google for Education grant for his or her school, a trip to Google, and MORE! This year’s theme is “What makes me . . .me.” Students create a doodle that represents them and what makes them unique! Contest entries are due by December 7, 2015 and must be submitted by a teacher or parent. For more information go to

Get Your Tech On
PBS Education is hosting a series of webinars providing support for digital learning. Fill out the one-time entry form on this site - for your chance of winning local PD, a trip to Austin to attend TCEA, or Chromebooks and a document camera for a classroom!

C-SPAN’s Student CAM 2016
Students create a short video about the issue they would most want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential campaign. This is open to students in grades 6-12 and can be individual or small-group entries. All entries are due by January 20, 16. Cash prizes for students and teacher advisors totaling $100,000! To find out more, go to

Thanksgiving Lessons and Videos 11/06/15

The First Thanksgiving is a fairly comprehensive set of resources for elementary school students and teachers. The site has five primary sections for students.
  1. Daily Life is a comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.
  2. The Feast is a slideshow, with audio support, about the foods eaten and other activities at early Thanksgiving dinners. 
  3. The Mayflower is a virtual tour of the ship. This section also has an interactive map through which students can learn about life aboard the ship as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean. 
  4. Historical Letters is a collection of historical fiction letters written from the perspectives of a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy living in the New World. In order to access these letters you need to register as a teacher by using your email address.
  5. The videos and photos section of The First Thanksgiving offers short videos (some as long as 20 minutes) about life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving. 

Websites of the Week! Celebrating Thanksgiving 11/06/15

Interactive Thanksgiving Sites

Interactive Pocohantas Site

Reminder of past Thanksgiving WOW's ....Websites Of the Week

Interactive Thanksgiving Websites (from November, 2014):

Thanksgiving Dinner Sequencing Activity (from November, 2014):

What is your favorite Thanksgiving recipe? (from November, 2014):

Free Home Internet Access 11/10/15

During the October 29 board meeting, the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees authorized the Office of Technology to proceed with a project that will ultimately provide complimentary home Internet access to students through a new broadband LTE wireless system.

The project calls for the installation of LTE towers at 15 sites in the district that will accommodate campus feeder patterns in the Pasadena, Houston and South Houston areas. These include Pasadena High School; Beverly Hills, Queens, San Jacinto, and Southmore Intermediate Schools; Roberts Middle School; Bush, Burnett, Freeman, Melillo, South Houston, Sparks, Turner and Young Elementary Schools; and the Transportation department.

Read more about it...Free Home Internet Access

Pasadena ISD will be the first school district in the state to provide complimentary home Internet service to students in need using a district built wireless system...

Shared Documents in Office 365 - Where Are They? 11/10/15

More and more often these days, teachers, administrators and curriculum specialists are sharing documents from OneDrive.  You may have received an email indicating that someone shared a document or folder with you.  But that email is probably long gone in the great email abyss!

Where are these documents located?  And more importantly, how can you find the document or folder now?

There are a variety of answers to these questions, but here is a simple way to find documents that have been shared with you.

NOTE:  It will require that you log into Office 365 and access your OneDrive library.
Instructions are located here:  Opening Shared Documents Part 1 - Shared With Me Folder

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Istation Update - Campus Managers...Did You Know? 11/10/15

Did you know that Istation Campus Managers can.......

  1. Remove students that are no longer enrolled in a teacher's class?  
    When students unenroll from a class and move to another class at the same campus or even a different campus, they are not removed from the previous class.  This is not only annoying for the teacher, but it can also skew the results of reports.  Campus managers can remove these students from the classes so they no longer appear on the "old" class roster.

    Here's how: Removing Students from a Class
  2. Add co-teachers to a class so that more than one teacher can see the results of the students in the class.  
    Adding a co-teacher is great for campuses that have co-teaching situations (departmentalized) or when another campus employee (Intervention Teacher, Campus Manager, etc.) wants to be added to a class to view their results.

    Here's how: Adding a Co-Teacher to a Class
  3. Be designated as Peer Managers which allows them to manage other Campus Managers.
    In the past, Campus Managers could ONLY be created by a District-Level Manager or Istation Support.  That wasn't very convenient, so now Campus Managers can be designated as Peer Managers.  This provides a higher level of of which includes adding or deleting Campus Managers.

    Here's how: Adding and Editing Campus Managers
  4. Be designated as teachers and assigned classrooms. By doing this, it allows Campus Managers and Peer Managers to create a class, add students, view reports, and/or be added as a co-teacher to view other class results. This would be particularly good for Intervention Teachers, Dyslexia Teachers, or other campus personnel that may be responsible for monitoring and/or tutoring small groups of students.....even though that person might not have an official reading class assigned to him or her.

    NOTE:  Peer Campus Managers or District-Level Managers are the only persons who can do this.

    Here's how:  Adding and Editing Campus Managers (See Adding Teacher Rights to a Campus Manager)
These and other instructions for Teachers, Campus Managers and Administrators are located here: Istation Handouts