EdTech@Mapleton Blog

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  • Parent and Student Communication with Infinite Campus

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 5/3/2019

    girl texting by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

    Across the district, communicating with families is a major priority. In order to provide multiple avenues for parents and students to access the information they need, teachers are using a wide variety of apps, from Class Dojo to Remind. But did you know that Infinite Campus has the same text and email abilities as Remind? And, one benefit of using Infinite Campus for all of your communication needs is that it ensures that parents and students can access important communication without having to download or sign up for multiple apps.  

    To access this feature, go into Infinite Campus Instruction and select Message Center on the left toolbar. Click “New” and choose from a Class Message, Grades Message, or Missing Assignment message. Scroll down to customize the subject and text of your message. On the next screen you can choose to send it to parents or students, via text message or email. You can also select which students or parents you would like to receive the message. Whether you choose to send the message via text or email, it will use the information that is already stored in Infinite Campus. There is no need to get parents to install an app or to upload contact information into the system.  

    As this year comes to a close, and you begin to turn your mind toward next year, consider the time-saving step of using Infinite Campus to manage your family communication. Not only can it send texts and emails right to their phones, but it can also save you the step of setting up an additional app for communication. As always, if you need help implementing this or any other technology solution, shoot an email to the Help Desk 

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  • Read&Write Extension for Google Chrome

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 4/15/2019

     read&write logo

    Open Google Chrome and look at the top right side of your toolbar. See an icon that looks like a tiny purple puzzle piece? That is the Read&Write Extension for Google Chrome, and through the rest of this year, you can pilot it in your classroom! This extension allows you to use a variety of differentiation tools right in your browser. Most of these features are available in Google Docs as well.  

    Below I have selected several of the tools I believe will be most useful in a classroom setting. If you would like a document explaining the features of this extension in greater detail, if you have a specific functionality in mind that you wonder how to accomplish, or if you would like someone to come and walk you through the features, send an email to the Help Desk 

    Girl with a Pen by Les Anderson on Unsplash

     Text to Speech controls  Text to Speech

    Highlight the text you want to hear. If your Read&Write Toolbar is not already open, click the icon to open it. Then press the play button. The Read&Write plugin will highlight sentences and words as it reads the text aloud.  

    Text Prediction Icon Text Prediction

    This icon is at the far-left side of the toolbar and looks like a shiny head with stars on one side of it. This works best in Google Docs or on the web. Simply begin typing, and the text predictor will give you options for which word to put next. Hovering over each word allows you to hear how it is pronounced.  

     An example of text prediction

     Picture Dictionary icon  Picture Dictionary

    For students who are just learning to read, students with dyslexia, and English Language Learners, the Picture Dictionary feature can help clarify word meanings in written text. Highlight the unknown word and click the Picture Dictionary icon. For most nouns and verbs, a popup will display several pictures related to the word shown. Highlighting a new word will change the pictures.  

    Picture Dictionary Example

    Vocab Builder Icon Vocabulary List Builder

    This tool allows students or teachers to select and extract vocabulary words to a new Google Doc. From there, additional modifications can be added, such as translations, memory cues, examples, and more. Create vocabulary lists to aid in differentiation, extension, and test preparation, or use this feature to help your students become independent notetakers.  

     Translator Icon  Translator

    For students literate in Spanish, French, or Portugese, this tool can translate and read single words in a student’s home language. Highlighting and clicking on the Translator icon will bring up a list of words related to the unknown word. The play button to the left of each word will enable the user to hear the word spoken aloud in the target language.  

    Translator example

    These are just some of the features available with the Read&Write Extension for Google Chrome. Please try it out, experiment with the features, and let me know what you think!  

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  • Clever: A Powerful Tool for Teaching and Learning

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 3/1/2019

    By now, you probably know something about Clever. You may use it to log on to the Bridges Educator site, or to things like Lexia or Istation. You may even know how to personalize links for your class or for yourself. What you may not know is, why do we use Clever in the first place? And, how can Clever help us with teaching, learning, and classroom management? Let’s explore some of the features you may not know about Clever.  

    Clever login page

    Why We Use Clever

    Clever has many benefits. Chief among these is Single Sign-On (SSO) which allows users to log on to websites without needing to remember passwords for each one. It also helps to protect student and staff data, as websites don’t have access to sensitive information about users, including login information. It makes rostering easy as well. Instead of having to register each individual student or staff member for new applications, Clever imports this information from ICampus. However, in addition to the convenience that its rostering and SSO features provide, Clever can also streamline tasks in the classroom. 

    Clever Features for Teaching and Learning

    Clever Badges allow young students to log on to Clever using a QR code instead of having to type in a long username and password. If students lose their badges, no problem! Contact the HelpDesk to request that a new QR code be generated for your student.  

    Did you know you can launch apps for all students at once? After everyone is logged on to Clever, simply go to your Classes page, and select the current class or section. Then go to Launch Application, and you will see a list of applications available to your students. Click on the application you want everyone to use, and voila! It will launch for all of your students at the same time. When you are done, simply select “Log Class Out” to log everyone out. For more information, see Clever’s support page on Teacher Tools 

    On My Page, you can change the name of your class, add or change sections, add an icon for yourself, and add any resource you want to your students’ pages. Are you using an article or video for today’s lesson? Use the sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen to search for the resource and add it your students’ pages. When it’s time to teach the lesson, these resources can be launched for the whole class at the same time, just like any other application.  

    Clever SSO is available for every site you or your students log in to. Use the Saved Passwords feature to securely manage passwords for each site. Once you enter the password, Clever will remember it for you. Do you need access to a site Clever doesn’t have SSO for yet? Request it, and Clever will approve it in 48 hours or less 

    Are you worried about students wasting time clicking around or typing in long URLs to access different websites or applications? Make Clever your homepage in the browsers on your Chromebook or iPads and add links to frequently-used pages, including Google Drive.  

      Coming Soon to Clever

    At the end of the month, Clever SSO will become available to all staff, even those without instructional duties. This will provide a one-stop experience for employees of Mapleton to log in to all of the websites they use regularly.  

    There will be a new User Interface (UI) for adults and older students with smaller icons, so that more is visible above the fold.  

    There will also be a Messaging option in the portal so that staff and students can receive announcements inside their Clever portal.  

    In two weeks, Clever will release Content Mapping. If you teach several sections, or several classes, you will be able to assign resources to specific sections or classes.  

    Clever is not only a way to keep student and staff data secure, but it can also make class time run more smoothly. Do you need help implementing any of the ideas here, or do you have a question about what Clever can do? Email the HelpDesk and I will be happy to show you. 

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  • Microsoft Office Lens for Differentiation and Accessibility

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 1/25/2019

    In the past few weeks, you might have noticed a tomato-red icon show up on your Ipads. Maybe you opened it, or even played around with it a bit. That icon is for Office Lens, which can be a powerful tool for differentiation and accessibility. Here are some ways you can use Office Lens to create a classroom where everyone can succeed. 

    girl with sunglasses by Jamie Brown on Unsplash

     Distribute Anchor Charts 

    If you created a fantastic illustration on the board or an anchor chart that will help everyone, there’s no need to recreate it. Use Office Lens to capture it in either document or white board mode. From there you can send it to be printed and copied for each member of your class, or you can export it to your Class Notebook in OneNote. You can also project it onto the board using Apple TV to use in a future lesson. You can annotate it, or even edit it to add more information.  

    Did you make a spelling error, or is some of it a little hard to read? Office Lens can convert handwriting to typed text. You can save it as an editable Word document, an image file, or a PDF. As a bonus, both handwriting and typed text are searchable in Office Lens. 

    Make It Accessible 

    Printed materials can be hard for kids to read, particularly if there is a lot of text on one page. Kids with dyslexia or other learning disabilities can miss out on content that isn’t optimized for them.  

    With Office Lens, any printed material can be made accessible. Simply open the camera and scan the page as a document. Open Immersive Reader in the View menu, and you can change the font, background color, text size and word spacing. You can even turn on Text to Speech, and Immersive Reader will read the text to your students.

    Save Paper  

    Teachers are constantly receiving handouts containing information, some of which can be very important to keep on hand and reference later. If you want to keep the information but ditch the paper, scan it into Office Lens and send it to any of your Office 365 apps to use later. Save important PD information in a PD notebook in OneNote. Edit assessments in Office Word. Contact information from business cards can be added to Outlook. 

    Going paperless can help students stay organized as well. Many students have trouble keeping track of large amounts of paper, and using paper clips and binders can be a challenge for kids with certain fine motor disabilities. With Office Lens and OneNote, students can stay organized much more easily while still being able to access the information they need. 

    Other Apps for Differentiation 

    Do you need your documents translated to your student’s home language? Google Translate can translate printed materials and spoken conversations using an iPad or the student's mobile phone.  Request Google Translate for your iPads by sending an email to the Help Desk 

    For translating websites, you can download an add-on for Microsoft Edge from our Microsoft Educator store 

    Professional Development 

    You can learn more about Office Lens and differentiation with Office 365 by visiting the Microsoft Educator Community. It features hundreds of online Professional Development courses that you can complete in bite-sized chunks whenever you have 15 minutes to spare. Each completed course awards you badges, and you can print off a transcript of completed courses for recertification credit.  

    Increasingly, there are more and more ways to differentiate using mobile technology. Office Lens is just one of many tools available to Mapleton teachers to help all students access learning. How do you use mobile technology with Office Lens to differentiate? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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