Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Google Drive Update: Merge Cells in a Google Document

If you are new to Google Drive, this may not seem like a big deal, but if you are a longtime user of Google Docs this feature has probably been on your wish list: merge cells in a Google Document (something you could previously only do in Google Sheets).

Why would you want to use a table in a document? Tables can enhance the quality of a document by presenting complex information in an easy to view and understand format. Here's an example of a simply formatted table with merged cells:

Example of a table with merged cells

Easy to do: Insert a table in your Google Doc, Highlight the cells in your table that you want to merge and look on the menu for Table > Merge cells

merge cells ina  Google Doc

Want to hear about new features when they are rolled out? Follow Google Drive on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+GoogleDrive/posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

Funding for E-rate increased by $1.5 Billion

Federal Communications Commission Votes to Increase Funding for E-rate by $1.5 Billion to Expand High-Speed Internet Access in Nation’s Schools and Libraries

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to increase funding for the federal E-rate program by $1.5 billion annually in order to help U.S. schools and libraries improve internet access. The decision will allow the United States to expand high-speed Wi-Fi access to 43.5 million additional students, over 101,000 additional schools, and nearly 16,000 additional libraries.

“The FCC’s decision is the best holiday gift possible for the nation’s students and teachers,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “With increased funding for high-speed internet connections, U.S. teachers and students will spend more classroom time teaching and learning rather than waiting for webpages and videos to load.”

E-rate has been a tremendous asset to the nation’s education system. When E-rate was first enacted in 1996, only 14 percent of the nation’s schools were connected to the internet. Today, nearly all schools and libraries are connected. Despite that success, E-rate struggled to meet the demand and many schools and libraries still do not have access to high-speed broadband.

To pay for the increase in funding, the FCC expects that a consumer or business will see their telephone bills increase by about 16 cents a month or $1.90 a year.

“Access to the internet is as important to learning today as traditional textbooks were fifty years ago,” said Wise. “For less than the cost of a holiday greeting card, the FCC’s decision will bring the American education system out of the internet dark ages of slow or non-existent internet connections and into a twenty-first-century learning environment of rich, rigorous, and engaging content that can be personalized for every student.”

To help school districts make this transition, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Department of Education launched the Future Ready Schools Initiative—an unprecedented coordination of public, nonprofit, and private resources to ensure that every student has access to the best learning opportunities through effective technology and quality teaching.

“The Future Ready Schools Initiative comes at a critical time as school districts embrace college and career readiness as the goal for all students and recognize the potential of digital tools to help teachers personalize learning for each student,” Wise said. “It will help districts avoid pitfalls that are sometimes associated with technology purchases and planning while ensuring that school leaders, teachers, and students receive the support and tools they need to implement technology effectively.”

To learn more about the Future Ready Schools Initiative and access the free resources available to support school districts, visit www.futurereadyschools.org.

For state-by-state information on how many students, schools, and libraries will benefit in each state from today’s FCC vote, visit http://99in5.org/resources-news/equity/.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Hour of Code is here!

Anybody can learn! 
Join millions of teachers and students around the world for an Hour of Code during Computer Education Week on December 8 - 12. Activities are available for ages 4 to 104! Check out the resources below and give your students the gift of discovering computer programming!

Susan Wojcicki

Marissa Mayer

Try a little or try a lot! Find fun one hour activities or a full course! Simple activities for kindergarten, too! Visit hourofcode.com from code.org. No computers? No problem - offline activities to support computational thinking are available. 

Khan Academy   Try an hour with Khan Academy - draw, create a web page, or explore javascript.

Made with Code  Girls from across the country are invited to light a tree in the nation's capital. Check outMade with Code!

Google Code-In
The Google Code-in is a contest to introduce students ages 13-17 to the many kinds of contributions that make open source software development possible. The contest runs from December 1, 2014 to January 19, 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today's T&L News: Beginning of the end for iPads?

Looks like it’s time to update the coolest classroom device tally! The techno blogs are abuzz today with news from IDC analysts that In Q3 2014, Google shipped 715,500 Chromebooks to U.S. schools while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads. Looks like LA Unified will push the Google lead even further with the plan to offer 27 schools the option to purchase Chromebooks instead of tablets. Anthony Wing Kosner goes deeper into the significance at forbes.com: “The lack of an integrated keyboard in the iPad makes it less and less useful as children get older and need to be able to type for longer periods of time.” Watching my own three-student focus group at home confirms this analysis. —Kevin Hogan, Content Director

No classroom required?

Everything changes - no more so than in the world of technology. As tablets and mobile devices outsell laptops and desktops the opportunities for education abound. Students and teachers have access to a bewildering array of devices and software applications are rapidly moving from a device based model to cloud based models. James Penny, solutions director at European Electronique, shares his insight into how cloud computing can have a positive impact on education.  Read More.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Invitation to Participate: Speak Up 2014

Invitation to Participate: Speak Up 2014

Calling all K-12 Students, Staff, Administrators & Parents
to share their ideas about the use of technology for learning

Speak Up is facilitated by Project Tomorrow a national education non-profit organization.

Visit trc.mansd.org/speakup2014 to get started and
preview student surveys

About Speak Up 2014:
  • Online surveys are now open through December 19th, 2014.
  • Surveys are available this year for: K-12 students, teachers, librarians, principals, district administrators, technology leaders, parents, business partners and community members.  The parent survey is also available in Spanish!
  • Elementary teachers have the option of administering a group survey.
  • All information is 100% confidential.
  • Project Tomorrow annually shares the nationally aggregated data with Congress, the US Department of Education, research organizations and many state governments.
  • Survey question topics include:  
learning and teaching with technology, 21st century skills, science/math instruction, STEM career exploration, online and blended learning, mobile devices, e-textbooks, flipped classrooms, professional development, school-to-home communications, digital citizenship and investment recommendations for 21st century schools.  

Choose a survey
Look up your school by state and then school
Inline image 1The secret word for students is: speaknow

Contact Liane St. Laurent at lstlaurent@mansd.org if you are not able to locate your school.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spotlight on Parkside

The Middle School at Parkside will be featured in a Spotlight Session at the 2014 Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

Principal Forrest Ransdell and teachers from Parkside will lead a panel discussion on how their school has focused on the use of technology as a tool to change both teacher and student experiences in the classroom.

Hear about what they discovered and how they made the transition from "device-based" planning with a focus on how to use specific devices in instruction to technology planning that is driven by learner and teacher needs to create efficiency, improve access to technology, and expand outcomes. They will also focus on Google Apps for Education and will share a variety of useful resources. Parkside Middle School is also a participating school in the Manchester School District T21 Teaching for the 21st Century program.

students prepare a cart of Chromebooks for classroom use
Students prepare a cart of Chromebooks for classroom use at Parkside

A student library assistant enrolls Chromebooks
A student library assistant enrolls Chromebooks 

A student assistant with library media specialist Robin Tafe and principal Forrest Ransdell
A student assistant with library media specialist Robin Tafe and principal Forrest Ransdell

Free Workshop and Save the Date for the Hour of Code

Hour of Code 2014

The 2014 Hour of Code will take place during Computer Science Education Week from December 8 - 14, 2014.  

The Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to Computer Science for students of all ages. You don't have to be a computer whiz to promote or host an Hour of Code. (But if you are, that's great!) There are options for all age and experience levels from kindergarten and up! Host an event at your school: hourofcode.com/us/resources

Here's what happened during last year's Hour of Code:
  • More girls tried computer science than in the last 70 years
  • 15 million students worldwide learned an Hour of Code
FREE Workshop for Elementary teachers: Code.org is offering a FREE 1-day teacher workshop for elementary teachers, library media specialists, administrators, technology teachers, after-school providers and home-school teachers. 

Attendees receive the free curriculum AND can register to receive supplies needed to run the "unplugged" lessons in the classroom. In addition, a light lunch will be provided and attendees will leave with a "swag bag".

Two workshops are currently scheduled:

10/25/2014 -- Maple Street School, Contoocook, NH (Click to Register)
11/15/2014 -- Maple Street School, Contoocook, NH (Click to Register)

For more information visit: https://sites.google.com/site/kidscodenh/

Questions? Comments? Can't make these dates? Please contact Karen Locke at  kidscodenh@gmail.com to be included in a mailing list for future workshops and locations.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why good ideas fail

In the classroom, just as in business and life, innovation and creativity is the key to success.

Why do good ideas fail?  This article from Victor W. Hwang in Forbes magazine is well worth the read.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reset Requests for Google/Gmail Passwords

Google/Gmail passwords must be reset by a district-level account administrator. Passwords cannot be reset via a "forgot password" link.

Staff who need their password reset should submit the Password Reset form which can be found on the left side menu at googleresources.mansd.org or go-gmail.mansd.org.

For security purposes we do not provide passwords over the phone or to email addresses outside of @mansd.org unless the alternate email address has been added to Aspen. Please update your personal information in Aspen.

If an alternate email address can be confirmed in Aspen the password will be sent to that email address. If there is no alternate email address in Aspen you must go to your school's office to retrieve your password. The Staff Password Reset sheet is shared to all Principals, Assistant principals, and Administrative Assistants via Google Drive.

  • Keep passwords PRIVATE (don't display, tape to your screen etc.)
  • LOG OFF when finished working - especially on shared or public devices
  • DO NOT save your passwords in your computer's web browser
Need help creating a secure password you can easily remember? Check out this web site: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-create-strong-password-that-you-can-remember-easily/

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Important information on changes in student Google accounts

In order to leverage new classroom tools that are being made available through district Google accounts - specifically Google Classroom - we are bringing all student Google accounts under the same domain as staff accounts. What this means is that student Google IDs under k12student.mansd.org will be phased out. Effective for the first day of school students should begin using their new accounts under mansd.org. Old accounts will remain open until mid-October for students who wish to "take out" items they wish to save.

Q: Who has a Google account?
A: All students.

Q: Do all students have access to email?
A: Only middle and high school students use email. But all students - including elementary - use their Google ID (in the form of an email address) to log in to their Google accounts.

NEW student IDs are based on students' LASSID. This provides a streamlined, neutral, and uniform ID for all students. Like their phone number, students should remember their LASSID. It is on their lunch ID and is also on their library ID.

OLD student IDs were based in students' name and year of graduation. We received numerous complaints from students and staff that the Google IDs were too long and difficult to predict because the name students used in the classroom was sometimes different than what was entered in Aspen. And, if a student's YOG  changed, the Google ID still contained the original YOG the student had when the account was created.

Q:How do I tell staff and students apart when sending email or sharing documents?
A:Staff email addresses are based on first inital + last name (unless there is a duplicate). Student IDs are based on their LASSID. As you begin to  type a name into the To: field of an email message names begin to appear that match what you are typing. You can also begin direct type a person's email address to more quickly narrow your choices.


NEW STUDENT PASSWORDS: In order to increase account security initial default passwords are no longer based on student birth dates. All students have been assigned a randomized initial default password that is stored in Aspen along with the student's Google ID. If a student changes and then forgets their password it will be reset to this default.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Teachers - start using Google Classroom!

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is available to anyone with a Google Apps for Education account. Visit classroom.google.com and sign in. Select whether you are a teacher or a student. Teachers: An MSD Google Apps administrator will receive your request and verify your status as a teacher. Students: receive a join code from your teacher. IMPORTANT: teachers will need to add students via their new mansd.org Google IDsLook for a link to the full Google Classroom Support site at googleresources.mansd.org/google-support.

Classroom is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. It also creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organized.

Students can keep track of what’s due on the Assignments page and begin working with just a click. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

Watch this video:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why some schools are selling their iPads

Four years after Apple introduced its popular tablet, many districts are switching to laptops.
Read More

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Federal ERate to focus on WiFi

FCC Chairman Wheeler held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the benefits of his E-rate modernization proposals — in part, we suspect, to put additional pressure on a couple of Commissioners who are balking at some of the proposed provisions. He provided the attached report to describe his proposals to increase funding for Wi-Fi. The report includes state-by-state projections of Wi-Fi funding expected to be provided over the next 5 years vs. a comparison of how much (or little) Internal Connections funding had been awarded over the past 5 years

Read the report.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hillside Middle School Teacher Sue Hannan on NH Chronicle Tonight, June 4 at 7 PM!

Tune in to NH Chronicle tonight, June 4th, at 7:00 PM to hear how Hillside Middle School language arts teacher Sue Hannan is using technology in her classroom. Read more: http://www.wmur.com/new-hampshire-chronicle/wednesday-june-4th-innovative-teacher-sue-hannan/26229112#ixzz33gAICkVc

Mrs. Hannan was named a State Winner in the 2014 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Her entry was chosen for its innovative approach to advancing interest in STEM among her students as well as making an impact in the Manchester community. In response to Samsung’s award notification, Mrs. Hannan, stated, “This is a unique opportunity for a Manchester school. We will be collaborating with students, colleagues, parents, community members and the media to create a project that spotlights the salmon release project, and will spotlight the health of the Merrimack River as well. While this will be a very involved project, it will assist students in concentrating their writing efforts into producing data analysis, integrating all subjects, and including many local and state standards for education. Students and community members will be involved in a service project that serves everyone.”

As a state winner, Ms. Hannan has earned $20,000 in Samsung technology for Hillside Middle School. Students in her classroom are already using their Samsung Chromebooks on a daily basis. They also received tablets, a document camera, and a large screen television.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back up and save data from Google Apps with Google Takeout

Google Takeout
Graduating? Moving to another school district? You can easily "take out" data you have created in your Google Apps for Education account with a tool called Google Takeout:

NOTE: you will be prompted to log in to your Google account when you access the above link. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions about removing your data from Google.

Google Sites are currently not included in Google Takeout, but there is a import/export tool that can be used to extract a Google web site along with all attached images, videos, pages, etc.: https://code.google.com/p/google-sites-liberation/.

Download the import/export tool. It will run directly from your computer's desktop (Windows or Mac). Here is an example of the information you will need to enter in the import/export tool:
liberate google site

Google Classroom coming this fall

Google Classroom
The new Google Classroom will be easy enough to use for teachers who are unfamiliar with using Google Docs in the classroom, but will be feature -rich enough for those who consider themselves Google power users.
What can you expect:
  • Easily create and collect assignments and see who has or hasn't turned in.
  • Improve classroom communication - make announcements, ask questions, leave comments
  • Stay organized - creation of folders for students is automated
Check out Google official announcement: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/previewing-new-classroom.html
Intrigued? Look for even more news on the new Google Classroom: http://blog.appsevents.com/2014/05/what-teachers-can-expect-from-classroom.html

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How TECH is transforming EDUCATION

This series from Marketplace is called Learning Curve and "Over the next year, we will explore the expanding role of technology in education; how the digital revolution is transforming teaching, learning and the business of the classroom, for better and for worse."

It seems technology has been going to change teaching for about the last hundred years, http://www.marketplace.org/learningcurve.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Changing of the Guard - from Scholastic Administrator Magazine

Afraid your tech-savvy students are outpacing their teachers? Don't be. Let them lead the way to excellence.
Read Article

Friday, March 7, 2014

Federal E-Rate program being revamped

The FCC released its Public Notice on E-Rate Modernization today. Initial comments are due April 7th. A copy of the notice is on our website at http://www.e-ratecentral.com/archive/bulletin_archive/2014-03-06-E-rate-Public-Notice.pdf.

Here’s a basic outline of the notice:

  • Focused Funding FOR High-Capacity Broadband
    • Broadband Deployment within Schools and Libraries
      • Scope of Services to Be Funded
      • Access to Funding
        • Five-Year Upgrade Cycle
        • Rotating Eligibility
        • Annual Allocation for Internal Connections
        • Other Methods to Prioritize Internal Connections Funding
    •  Broadband Deployment to Schools and Libraries
      • Scope of Services to Be Funded 
      • Ensuring Equitable Distribution
    • Encouraging Cost-Effective Purchasing 
    • Streamlining the Administrative Process
  • Reduced Support for Voice Services
    • Reduced E-rate Support for Voice Services
    • Alternatives
    • Other Issues Related to Voice Services
    • Easing Administrative Burdens
  • Demonstration Projects
A more detailed analysis will be provided in next Monday’s newsletter.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Student film festival promotes technology in the classroom.

Here's what happened at the Student Film Festival
White House

Last Friday, Washington hosted the first-ever White House Student Film Festival.
Students from all across the country created more than 2,500 short films illustrating the role that technology plays in their classrooms, why it's so important, and how it will change the educational experience for kids in the future.
More than 60 of the young filmmakers went to the White House for the festival, where they screened the 16 official selections. And, as the President said himself, "these movies are awesome."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Google Doodles are spontaneous changes made to the Google logo in celebration holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of those who have helped shape history. Since 1998 over 2,000 different doodles have delighted Googlers all over the world! This year Google asks students in grades K-12 to creat a doodle based on the theme “If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place...”. The deadline to submit your doodle is March 21, 2014. To find out more visit: http://www.google.com/doodle4google/

One talented young artist will see his or her artwork on the Google homepage and receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maryland transitioning 54,000 state employees to Google Apps for Government

Today Google and the state of Maryland announced in a blog post that all 54,000 state employees will be transitioning to the Google Apps for Government platform as a replacement for old Microsoft Exchange and Novell mail servers:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Save the Date: Digital Learning Day is February 5, 2014

digital learning day

WHATDigital Learning Day is about engaging students and recognizing great teachers who use digital tools to enhance student learning.

WHEN: February 5, 2014

WHOYou and your students, anyone can participate! Beginners and experts alike are encouraged to plan an activity. Plan big or start small - add your "event" to the Digital Learning Day web site.

RESOURCES: Look for tools, ideas and lesson plans on the Digital Learning Day web site at http://www.digitallearningday.org/. Look for local NH resources on the NH Dept. of Education Office of Educational Technology web site at http://www.nheon.org/digitallearningday/
Let us know if you plan on participating: 

Have a look at this slideshow for more information on great ideas for 

staff and students on how to participate including: 
  • OUTREACH - tech showcase, tours & workshops 
  • CONNECT - Try Skype or a Google Hangout. Connect with another classroom in your school, another school in the district...or a school in another state or country!
  • LET STUDENTS LEAD - student demonstrations, student created content, student created videos
  • TEACHERS - try something new, take an online course, host an "app party"
  • SHIFT LEARNING - Flip your classroom for a day, start a project-based challenge, start and after school tech club

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Boston completes move of 76,000 city employees, police, teachers and students to the cloud with Google Apps

Not only are all city departments, including the Boston Police Department, now on Google Apps, but every teacher and more than 50,000 public school students each has an individual Google Apps account.

Link to full article.