Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Switch from Mac to Chromebook Puts Acclaimed Philly High School at Center of Ed-Tech Debates

Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy, one of the country's most prominent technology-infused high schools and the subject of our year-long "Innovation Gamble" series, will be the first school in the nation to roll out Dell's newly unveiled Chromebook 11.
The switch—SLA has used Mac laptops for the past seven years, winning awards and national recognition along the way—sends interesting signals about both the business and pedagogical battles taking place in the world of educational technology.
Read Full Article here:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Simple Tools for Classroom Workflow!

Using Google Tools in the classroom allows you to easily share and collect assignments from your students. But - proper workflow training with your students will help you keep your Google Drive organized. There's nothing worse than a Drive full of untitled or poorly titles assignments.
Learn how to use an Assignment Collector or how to automate the task of folder creation with the correct edit/view permissions for teacher and students.
Look on the left menu under Classroom Resources or Tutorials for more on Classroom Workflow.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where Can I Find District Forms and Shared Documents?

Many shared resources have been moved to new areas and are available on school district and school web sites. Look on the district web site for Quick Links > For Employees or on a school web site under Quick Links > For Staff.
Items that have been moved include:
  • Curriculum Documents:
  • District Forms including Elementary Report Card Templates. NOTE: You will need to be logged in to your distriuct Google account to access the Google Drive with shared documents.
  • Professional development forms including school goals and district master plan:
Please note that we are in the process of working with schools to develop school-level "intranets" for the purpose of communication, collaboration and document sharing. As we work to build out these shared resources you will still ahve full access to items in FirstClass which have not been moved yet.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Google Black Bar to be replaced with Chrome Style Apps Menu

Published on September 19, 2013 by Mohamed Rafiq under Googl

Almost all Google products have gone through a make over in the past one year or so. But this Black Google Bar that appears on the top of every product remained the same.

Now it is time for this black bar to go through design changes. Interestingly they have removed this Google bar altogether and replaced with an all new Chrome OS Style Apps launcher menu.

Here is how the Google Bar looks before change:

black bar

New Design with Google Bar gone and a new Chrome Style Apps Launcher Icon

apps launcher

More details about the announcement is available here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Back to School in Canada with Chromebooks and Google Apps

Last week all across Canada, students started a new school year. Educators everywhere have been getting ready for that first bell to ring and for classrooms to fill up. In the spirit of kicking off a new year, we talked with teachers in several provinces who are empowering their students with Chromebooks and Google Apps. We discovered some really inspiring work going on, so we’re sharing a few of our favorite stories here with you.

Link to full article.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Countdown to Gmail - Frequently Asked Questions

Gmail is coming! Countdown to October 1.
We are excited to announce that the Manchester School District will finalize the move from FirstClass to the Gmail-powered interface in your district Google Apps for Education accounts on October 1.

Some common questions and answers:

QUESTION: Will my email address change?

ANSWER: No. Your email will still be The interface will be powered by Gmail in your district Google Apps account.

QUESTION: I keep hearing about “redirecting”. Do I have to do that now? What if I do nothing?

ANSWER: Redirecting email through a FirstClass “rule” is for early adopters who want to switch to Gmail prior to a full district migration. If you do nothing, you will automatically receive all NEW email in your Google account on October 1.

QUESTION: What happens to my old email in FirstClass? Will everything disappear?

ANSWER: FirstClass users will still have access to old email in 2013/14. Staff who wish to save old email for documentation purposes should create a backup. Please review this tutorial:

QUESTION: I’m not familiar with the Gmail interface. Where can I go for more information.

ANSWER: Visit Look on the upper left menu for Getting Started and Tips and Tricks.

QUESTION: Help! I lost/forgot my password.

ANSWER: Due to the high volume of requests, password reset requests should be entered here:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Race to the Top - District Grants Favor Blended Learning Environments

By Leila Meyer 08/28/13

School districts may be more likely to receive Race to the Top - District (RTT-D) grants if their plans include implementing blended learning environments, individualized learning plans, competency-based models, and community involvement, according to an issue paper released by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Google's CIO on How to Make Your IT Department Great

Running an IT department is hard enough under any circumstances, but imagine doing it at one of the world's preeminent technology companies. Your customers aren't haplessly trying to set up their voicemail; they're experts in technology and expect it to work.

In that sense, you might think Ben Fried, Google's CIO, has one of the toughest jobs in existence. On the other hand, few CIOs can boast a company culture as supportive of technology.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The National Archives and Google

National Archives
The National Archives have partnered with Google to make a selection of historically significant video available on its YouTube channel. History buffs can read more about Google and the national archives here:

Just as significant is the National Archives and Records Administration's choice of Google for its cloud-based email solution where all 4,500 employees were successfully migrated to Google Apps for Government:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bill Gates invests in site for learning content

Friday, August 23, 2013

There are all kinds of geeky ways teachers can use technology to help their students perform better and learn more. One big problem, however, is that often times instructors either don’t know where to find these tools or just don’t understand how to use them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More Summer PD Opportunities

Looking for a few new ideas for integrating technology in the classroom? Check out this list of free professional development opportunities through the EasyBib web site. Although some of the sessions have already taken place, sessions are still available in August.

What's EasyBib you may ask? Easy Bib is a free bibliography and citation generator that is available for you to use in your classroom. Staff and Students have easy access to  EasyBib through your organizational Google accounts. When logged in to Google look on the Apps menu for "More" and then EasyBib. You can read about EasyBib at

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gmail Migration Update: New Date

After receiving feedback from Principals at the June 19 meeting, the timing of the Gmail migration schedule and plan has changed as follows:
July 1st
We will begin the transition by confirming staff google account logins and passwords.

In the last several weeks we have been busy identifying district staff who did not already have MSD Google accounts. Many of you have received or will soon receive an informational email with your user ID and temporary password. If you do not remember your login credentials please contact Liane St. Laurent, ASAP.

July 1-30
All district office staff will be converted to Gmail.

August 21-22
We will hold a Google Apps training for Principals and Assistant principals at MST in the quad. Exact time to be determined.
Sessions will also be scheduled for school secretaries before school begins.

September 9-30
We will provide Gmail training for all school staff. Additional training on the full Google Apps For Education suite will be ongoing throughout the year.

October 1st
Email delivery will switch from FirstClass to Gmail for all users.

QUESTIONS ABOUT GMAIL: Several schools in the district have already "Gone Google" and are using Gmail-powered email for their email address. As of October 1, 2013 all NEW email will be received in your MSD Google account. Your OLD email will remain on the FirstClass server and once the switch is made you will still have access to FirstClass to download old messages or download your contacts at your convenience. The FC server will remain available throughout the entire upcoming school year.

Gmail is intuitive and easy to use. Please see the attached "Getting Started" info sheet. This information will also be compiled on a new web site for Manchester School District -- stay tuned! Resources will be put in place for staff who need assistance at the beginning of the school year in September. When you log in to Gmail for the very first time, you will also see two messages from Google with additional "Getting Started" tips.

Google also offers many tools for communication and collaboration including:

Google Sites, a collaborative space for shared information and resources
Google Drive, a productivity suite that allows for both synchronous and asynchronous collaborative creation of documents, spreadsheets and presentations
Google Calendar and many more!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Getting Started with Gmail

On Monday, June 10, the Board of School Committee voted unanimously to adopt Google Apps for Education as a district-wide communication and collaboration platform. This service includes a Gmail-powered interface for your email address. NOTE: Your email address will NOT change. It will still be

QUESTIONS ABOUT GMAIL: Several schools in the district have already "Gone Google" and are using Gmail-powered email for their email address. As of July 1, 2013 all NEW email will be received in your MSD Google account. Your OLD email will remain on the FirstClass server and once the switch is made you will still have access to FirstClass to download old messages or download your contacts at your convenience. The FC server will remain available throughout the entire upcoming school year.

Gmail is intuitive and easy to use. Look on the left menu for "Getting Started" Gmail topics as well as Tips & Tricks for more advanced tasks. You can also browse the Google Training video library that is embedded in the home page of this site. Resources will be put in place for staff who need assistance at the beginning of the school year in September and for district office staff throughout the summer. When you log in to Gmail for the very first time, you will also see two messages from Google with additional "Getting Started" tips.

Google also offers many tools for communication and collaboration including:
Google Sites, a collaborative space for shared information and resources
Google Drive, a productivity suite that allows for both synchronous and asynchronous collaborative creation of documents, spreadsheets and presentations
Google Calendar and many more!

Although the official Gmail start date is July 1, the above service are available for you to use as soon as your receive your login information. Look for additional resources and links to support pages at

Monday, June 10, 2013

President Obama Visits Mooresville Graded School District

Gov. Bob Wise Comments on President Obama’s “ConnectED” Plan to Provide Schools with High-Speed Internet Access

Last week, President Obama announced “ConnectED,” a plan to provide 99 percent of the nation’s students with next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in schools and libraries within five years. The plan would also ensure that every educator in America receives support and training to use technology to help improve student outcomes. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:

“The effective use of technology is the only way to put every student in the fast lane to college and career readiness. That is why it is appropriate that President Obama chose Mooresville, North Carolina—located just 30 minutes north of NASCAR Hall of Fame—to announce his ConnectED initiative. It is also why the Alliance featured Mooresville in the first-ever Digital Learning Day and included Scott Smith, Mooresville’s chief technology officer on the Alliance’s Project 24 Team of Experts.

“In today’s ultra-fast, super-competitive global economy, all students and teachers need to be up to speed and connected to the information superhighway. Currently, however, far too many are stuck in proverbial traffic jams or idling at on-ramps because they lack access to high-speed internet connections.

“With today’s announcement, President Obama makes it possible for every school to build on the ‘Mooresville momentum’ and ensures that all students are on the same track, moving at the fastest possible speed, and heading toward higher standards and better learning outcomes.”

More details on President Obama’s ConnectED initiative is available at

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Current and Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

From Edcamp to Cloud Camp to Google Hangouts On Air and MOOC Ed numerous online and face-to-face professional development opportunities are available from now throughout the fall.

Mix it up and learn something new...then share your learning and experience with your colleagues! Visit the Google Resources web site for a listing of sessions taking place throughout New Hampshire, greater New England...and the world! See:

$2.8M Technology Bond paves the way to improvement in Manchester's schools

Technology in the Manchester School District will undergo a major upgrade through the recently approved technology bond supplement. The plan met with approval by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in an 11- 3 vote on May 7, 2013. This funding will help close the technology gap in our schools and will target the highest priority needs of: providing a cost-effective wireless infrastructure to support staff and student use of web-based resources in Manchester's classrooms; telephone and intercom upgrade to ensure for the safety of staff and students; professional development to support and move best practices in learning with and through embedded technology across the curriculum; an upgrade to library resources management system. Review details on the District Technology Plan and the Technology Bond Executive Summary:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Boston Selects Google Apps for Government & Education

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Chief Information Officer Bill Oates announced that the City has selected the team of Google and Appirio to move all City workers and schools to a unified messaging and collaboration platform later this year. This single system, based on Google Apps, will replace multiple aging on-premises email systems currently in use by City employees.

Read full article.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Manchester School District Digital Learning Network - Update 5/14/2013

We are entering our 5th week and there has been good participation so far. We expect to have a lot of good information from this course for our Strategic Technology Plan.

Update 4/18/2013

The TRC is heading up an initiative to foster digital learning in the classroom. We have gathered stakeholders from across the district including Principals, Teachers, and Library Media Specialists. We are organizing stakeholders into two groups, Core and Advisory. The core members will participate in a 7 week free course (which began on April 8th) called Digital Learning Transitions, with the objective of developing a set of goals as well as an action plan for digital learning in the district. The core group consists of 12 members plus myself and Liane St Laurent. The advisory group consists of 42 members. A full description of the course can be accessed online at We hope to establish the MSD Digital Learning Network as a standards consortium and support group to the district as well as a springboard to student ELO engagement opportunities such as student led help desk.

Smarter Balanced Testing Pilot - Parker Varney - Update 5/14/2013

We completed a very successful live test of the Smarter Balanced online assessments at Parker Varney elementary. Multiple computer platforms were tested including MacBooks, Chromebooks, ipads and Windows PC’s. It included computer administered items, a performance task, and a classroom activity. The test was given in two testing periods. We utilized our upgraded building Wifi and Internet bandwidth and all devices performed without a hitch. I am pleased with the computer density that we achieved with as many as 60 students testing simultaneously. We will document what we learned relative to the administration of the tests and model this process for all schools grades 3-8 and 11.
A HUGE thank you to teacher and technology mastermind Kelly Jobel whose dedication to excellence is second to none. 
I also want to recognize that successful technology projects like these require the collaboration of dedicated teams of individuals.
We want to recognize:
- The fifth grade teachers, paras and special education staff
who administered the tests and attended all the meetings to prepare for the test.
- Parker Varney Principal Amy Allen and Assistant Principal Kevin Henry.
- Paula Greenspan and Brian Demers from the School IT department
- Tim Powell from the School IT department for all his help with setting up the ipads, chrome books and more.
- Smyth Road School for letting us borrow the Chromebooks.
- UNH intern Mike who connected the ipads using bluetooth to the keyboards.
- District Data Analyst, Donna Crook for adding the students to the system.
- Mrs. Stone for printing labels.
- Jenn Lowton, SIG tech integration consultant for your help with the ipads the first testing day ...
- Superintendent Brennan and district administrative staff for your continued support for technology as well as working with the NH Dept of Education.

THANK YOU !!!!! We couldn't have done it without you !

Update 4/18/2013

We have chosen Parker Varney to host a controlled testing of the online assessment Smarter Balanced, currently scheduled for the end of April. Multiple computer platforms using live testing environments will be qualified including MacBooks, Chromebooks, ipads and Windows PC’s. This will provide a better understanding of the technical challenges that we may face when the testing goes live in 2015.

Teacher Computer Refresh Update - 5/14/13

We have installed all of the teacher refresh computers except 20 for Mclaughlin Middle school which are in progress. I want to comment that by spreading the purchase out over several months (as opposed to purchasing all at once) we were able to acquire an additional 99 computers beyond the original 800 projected due to price drops over time. Those additional 99 computers were deployed in ICT labs at Central, West and Parkside.

Update 4/18/2013

Of the 190 computers remaining to be installed district wide, 110 have been installed. 60 at West, 50 at Central and Memorial and McLaughlin are in process. All other schools are all complete. By the end of the month our team will have rolled out over 1000 new computers for teachers. Yeah!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WiFi RFP Update - 5/14/2013

Cisco\Meraki, Aerohive and Aruba have been installed at MST high school, Southside middle school and Parker Varney elementary. So far all systems are performing as expected. I am in the process of further price negotiations and will begin scheduling the wiring installs in all schools.

Update April 18, 2013
We have evaluated the bids and out of 8 vendors who responded we have chosen 3 finalists. Cisco\Meraki, Aerohive and Aruba Instant. We will be providing the opportunity for each vendor to install in one of our schools to demonstrate their solution as proposed. This will allow us to further evaluate each solution in a production environment. We feel confident that all three are viable solution offerings and we would like the opportunity to choose any one of the three based on further negotiation of price and options available. We would like to thank all of the vendors that responded. Free vendor evaluations will be conducted at South Side Middle School and Parker Varney Elementary through the month of May.

Initial Post March 20, 2013

Round 2 of our Wifi RFP closed on March 18th. I want to thank all participants who submitted bids. We received responses from 8 vendors. We will begin the process of evaluating the bid responses, compiling the information and reaching out to vendors with questions. We will then bring a recommendation to our school board IT committee in April.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Obsolete Tech Director

In a recent article in District Administrator magazine, Tom Murray talks about strategy to ensure that the Tech Director does not become obsolete. I couldn't agree more....
Link to full article

How Teachers are Using Technology

A survey of teachers who instruct American middle and secondary school students finds that digital technologies have become central to their teaching and professionalization.
Link to the full article..

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Got Mail?

We are starting to begin the migration away from FirstClass email to Gmail powered Google Mail for email addresses for staff. (Student accounts with email access are already using Google Mail.)
Due to the number of users that need to be moved we are migrating schools one at a time. Several important tutorials are now available in the "How To" section of of the Google Resources web site under tutorials. Look for

Any individuals who wish to follow these steps themselves are welcome to review the tutorials and follow the instructions.

First Steps: Set up a redirect rule in FirstClass so that you can receive email in your Google account.

Next Steps: You will still have access to FirstClass after moving to Google Mail for active sending and receiving of email in your Google account. This is a great time to clean up your old mailbox! Get rid of things you no longer need and transfer items you must keep to Google mail.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

February 6, 2013: Save the Date!

Digital Learning Day is a nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology that engages students and provides them with a rich, personalized, educational experience. The first Digital Learning Day held in February 2012 highlighted successful models and effective uses of technology to improve learning for all students. The 2012 event was supported by:
  • nearly 2 million students and 20,000 teachers
  • more than 40,000 people, who watched the 2012 National Town Hall meeting online
  • viewers with more than 4,000 tweets
  • 25 national membership organizations
  • 39 states and the District of Columbia, who hosted their own Digital Learning Day celebrations 
  • 18 states, whose governors officially proclaimed February 1, 2012 as Digital Learning Day.
What will you do on Digital Learning Day 2013? Read more and take the challenge at: