Showing posts from 2014

Smile! Dealing with a Lost or Broken Staff ID

Staff members have been saying "cheese" for photographers this year, and those stunning portraits help to increase security in all of our buildings. Photos have been taken by school photographers or district staff and attached to the staff person's Infinite Campus record for use in printing the official Barrington 220 staff ID card. Beginning January 7, 2015, all district staff are asked to wear the official Barrington 220 lanyard and staff ID. Staff IDs are here to stay and we want to take this opportunity to provide helpful tips on what to do in case of loss or breakage of the ID card.

In the event a Staff ID is lost, it is important to notify the tech department by entering a tech ticket for the Infinite Campus Team and note that the ID is LOST. The tech team will immediately notify the Buildings and Grounds Department regarding the loss, and Buildings and Grounds will deactivate the key code. The IC team will then print a new Staff ID for the staff member. New Staff …

Taking a Hammer to SAMR: The SAMR Activity Scale

An earlier article defined Dr. Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model as a tool teachers can use to measure the opportunities afforded to students by technology integration. In this second article of the "Taking a Hammer to SAMR" series, we learn about the SAMR Activity Scale, designed to help teachers apply the SAMR Model to different classroom activities.

The SAMR Activity Scale:

The SAMR Activity Scale outlines how technology use affords students opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning. The second row of the scale defines each step of SAMR and offers a reason for why each example activity on the scale lands in its appropriate column. The dotted line separating the Substitution and Augmentation levels from the Modification and Redefinition levels designates the difference between Enhancement from Transformation in regard to technology integration.

Moving horizontally along the activities listed provides examples of technology-infused lessons aligned with the proper SAMR le…

Barrington 220 Students Participate in Hour of Code

During the week of December 8–14, 2014, all elementary schools in Barrington 220 participated in the annual "Hour of Code" event ( organized by According to the website, the Hour of Code is a "one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics."

The video below, created by Barrington 220 Communications Director Morgan Delack, features Hough School students participating in the Hour of Code. Even the youngest students found that coding is fun through's creative way of teaching. Puzzles, mazes, Angry Birds, and Frozen-themed games are all a part of the curriculum.

Did you know that Barrington High School has more AP Computer Science students enrolled this fall than any other school in the Midwest? Nearly 10 percent of the BHS population is taking some sort of "coding" class this semester.

Hough students master "Hour of Code" from Barringt…

Using iPads at BMS Station in Grade 6

I recently visited three Grade 6 classes using iPads at Barrington Middle School Station Campus and found students engaged in a variety of learning activities in language arts, science, and social studies. The language arts students of Mary Palarz were working on writing with language variety. Students had recently begun using the app Notability for writing and were both typing writing examples and then using Notability’s highlighting features to label parts of speech. Adam Musolf’s science students began the class period by consulting online graphs and charts and then made inferences based upon the data. Students then used iPads in small groups to discuss a lesson on the thermal properties of a liquid and they reported their findings to the class. Finally, social studies teacher Nita Hunter began her class by showing an original instructional video that she created to explain to her students how to label various map features of ancient Egypt using Notability. Throughout the mapping l…

Dr. Harris Visits The White House for #FutureReady Summit

Dr. Brian Harris attended a Superintendent Summit at The White House in Washington, DC, on November 19, 2014, that was attended by school leaders who were invited from districts engaged in exemplary technology-based learning initiatives. Dr. Harris was among around 100 superintendents nationwide who attended the summit.

In a speech during the event, President Obama said:
"In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, the least we can do is expect that our schools are properly wired...We’ve got to bring the world to every child’s fingertips." Watch the full speech:

Superintendents in attendance were asked to sign a #FutureReady Pledge to commit to work with “students, educators, families, and members of our community to become Future Ready by engaging in a wide range of activities,” including the following:
Fostering and Leading a Culture of Digital Learning Within Our Schools.Helping Schools and Families Transition to High-speed Connectivity.Empowering Educators th…

Taking a Hammer to SAMR

An earlier article defined Dr. Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model as a tool teachers can use to measure the effectiveness of technology integration in their lessons. In a "Taking a Hammer to SAMR" series, beginning with this post, we will unpack the specifics of the SAMR model in terms of best practices in instruction and assessment.

The SAMR Model: Image Rights Free
SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The SAMR Model resembles a ladder with a clearly delineated top and bottom half. The bottom half includes Substitution and Augmentation, labeled as instructional Enhancement. The top half includes Modification and Redefinition, labeled as instructional Transformation.

The lower Enhancement rungs of the ladder allow students and teachers to add small, useful benefits to the curriculum and instruction of daily lessons. The higher Transformation rungs of the ladder afford teachers the opportunity to empower students take ownership of the lea…

Technology Integration en Español (VIDEO)

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the Barrington High School Spanish classroom of Ms. Sheila Soss. In a single class period, I observed several great examples of technology integration and students who were constantly engaged. Since the classroom had a strict “no English” rule, I did my best to follow along (I am a native English speaker and had 4 years of high school French in the late 1980s).

The first activity was “interpersonal writing,” where students created shared Google Docs and shared them with a few of their peers and the teacher. Students wrote back and forth to each other in Spanish in the document while Ms. Soss viewed the conversations, added to the conversations, and made a few comments and corrections.

Students then assembled in groups of two and used one of the audio recording applications (Audacity or QuickTime Player) to record a conversation in Spanish. When the recording was finished, students listed to themsleves and then uploaded the recording to the class…

Use of Images Online

Copyright is the U.S. law that protects original written, artistic, musical, and other types of works. One common copyright issue is the posting of images on webpages found online. As educators we strive to engage our audience with words and images and we have learned how easy it is to find hundreds, if not thousands, of images online using tools such as Google image search and “stock” photography sites. Unfortunately, not all images that we find online are able to be legally re-posted on webpages.

Many images are perfectly fine to use on our webpages:
photos we have taken ourselvesgraphics we have created ourselvespublic domain imagesimages with certain Creative Commons licenses Unless you are positive that you may use a particular image you have found online, it is best not to use it and avoid the possibility of copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is illegal and may result in penalties in the form of "cease and desist letters" and/or fines that are assessed by th…

Self Service Password Resets, a Sneak Peek!

It was quite the short week last week, but we did get some things done in that 2-day stretch. Here is a sneak peek at some of the work we did...

Officially being released to staff and students (of higher grade levels) this month, we are offering a new way to change Barrington 220 network account passwords, as well as providing a way for you to recover forgotten passwords without the help of IT staff. This service will be provided through the new web-based Barrington 220 Self Service Password Reset system.  
You know we like our acronyms and abbreviations in technology; this one is "SSPR." Typing in SSPR along with our domain name "" into a web browser ( will bring you to a secure district web page. Once your Barrington 220 network username is entered along with your current password, you will be asked to pick a series of questions and provide answers to these questions. This allows us to confirm your identity should you ever lo…

Tech Integration Barrington 220 Elementary Classrooms (VIDEOS)

I had the opportunity to visit two elementary classes in two buildings recently, Heather Crandall’s Grade 2 class at Barbara Rose Elementary and Ted deBruin’s Grade 4 class at Arnett C. Lines Elementary.

During my visit, Heather Crandall's Grade 2 students were using iPads as part of their classroom "centers" for the day. As Ms. Crandall explained, when she selects potential activity center choices for her students, "it always starts at a need," such as spelling or reading.

Among the four students who selected iPads on this day, one student played a hangman-like game called Hangmouse (part of the SpellingCity app), a game to target the need for spelling practice.

Three other students used the Raz-Kids app, an online digital library with reading comprehension questions following each story. Using Raz-Kids, students log in to a pre-established classroom account and select from among an impressive library of age-appropriate electronic books (ebooks). Students read…

Infinite Campus Preparations Begin for 2015-2016

Welcome to year 4 of Infinite Campus! It is time to prepare the Infinite Campus system for the 2015-2016 school year. One major preparation item is increasing the IC hardware capacity. IC systems engineers have been working with the Barrington 220 tech team for several weeks in preparation for a server upgrade. Please be aware that a brief interruption of access to IC will occur at the end of the school day on Friday, November 14, 2014, as the final upgrade steps are completed.  
IC 2015-2016 calendars for Barrington High School summer school and BHS will be created early next week.  Existing students in Grades 8-11 will have 2015-2016 BHS enrollment records created, allowing counselors to begin the process of creating schedules for the coming school year. IC calendars and 2015-2016 enrollment records for middle schools will be created in January 2015 followed by elementary enrollment records in April 2015.

The Case of the Missing Google Storage Limits

Since sometime last week, you may have noticed a subtle change in the Google Drive interface. Way down in the lower-left corner, Google Drive used to report how much space you were using of a 30GB limit. Now, Google Drive only reports how much space you have used:

The reason for this change is that Google is now giving Google Apps for Education users unlimited storage in our accounts. In a recent communication from Google, they reported:
"Starting last week, all Google Apps for Education users now have free, unlimited storage for any file type in Drive. No more worrying about hitting your quota or deleting files to free up space." Thanks, Google. Case closed.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam...

Monty Python was a hit back when their off-beat style of humor was first introduced to the US. For my friends and me, it was a Sunday night ritual to catch the program on the local PBS station. They had one particular little skit about a local restaurant that included the canned meat "Spam" in every menu item. That one little skit gave the word Spam a whole new meaning years later as junk email is now commonly referred to as spam.
The technical terms for the junk email messages that hit your various email accounts are "Unsolicited Commercial Email" (UCE) or "Unsolicited Bulk Email" (UBE). Regardless of what it is called, it is annoying and can be used by the senders for nefarious purposes.
I had a few reports last week from users seeing some of these spam messages in their inboxes so I thought it may be worthwhile to provide a bit of information.
Here is a recent peak at one of our email message filters, which by the way is one of the best available filters…

Just Google It...or Not

In a recent meeting with district librarians, conversations centered around the topic of the many subscription services we have available to our school community. We all have an understanding that "just Google it" is a part of student's vernacular from early on and know its transformative power. Students have access to information anywhere, anytime. As a team of professionals trained in helping students and teachers become information literate and research ready, we also realize this level of access must be accompanied by sound educational practices that help students make good decisions about the sources they are citing and utilizing.
The video below, prepared by a Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona student, explains the benefits of using library databases for research over searching the web.

Librarians are here to partner, assist, and help teachers place the best source of information at the student's fingertips. At Barrington High School, the databases we use are …

All Atwitter in Barrington 220 (VIDEO)

At first glance, Twitter seems to be about glimpses into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The current top Twitter accounts include Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. But for educators, Twitter allows unparalleled connections among educational experts, resources, and colleagues.

Twitter functions in two ways: as a feed of information from a customizable list of Twitter accounts (think sharp educators like Rick Wormeli, strong systems like Google Apps for Education, and emerging colleagues like Tim O'Connor) and as a highly efficient search engine.

Adding Twitter to my reservoir of educational resources transformed how I operate. Twitter is the single-most important tool I have used to stay current in my practice and to develop as a professional.

Please consult our District 220 Twitter PD Google Doc to learn more about:

Why Use TwitterHow to Make an AccountTwitter Handles of BSD StaffTwitter Handles of Content-Specific Experts#s to Checkout Twitter Apps to CheckoutCuration Tools Twitter…

Seeking District Technology Committee Members

We are seeking interested Barrington 220 educators to form a District Technology Committee. The committee will meet monthly to discuss a variety of district-level technology issues related to instructional technology integration. Members of the committee will serve as representatives for their buildings and/or departments, report issues to the committee, report back to buildings and/or departments, and participate in current and future instructional technology decision making.

If you are interested in applying to be a part of this committee, please visit the District Technology Committee website. The site provides additional details about the committee and includes a link to apply:

Please apply by Friday, November 25, 2014.

Thank you for your interest!

Upgrading to Mac OS X, version 10.10, “Yosemite”

Since teachers of students in Grades 6–12 and students in Grades 9–12 are “administrators” of the MacBook Air laptop that has been issued to them, these users have the ability to open the App Store application and upgrade to the latest operating system. The new version of Mac OS X (pronounced Mac O S ten) is version 10.10 (ten point ten) and is referred to by Apple as “Yosemite,” named after the National Park known for its spectacular granite cliffs and wilderness areas.

Yosemite (the operating system) is the eleventh release of Mac OS X (the first version was 10.0) and represents a major overhaul of the look and feel of the software. Many of the features of the Mac operating system are designed to interact with and complement iOS 8, the new operating system that runs the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

While there is currently no requirement to upgrade to Mac OS X Yosemite, many users may wish to do so to take advantage of the new features. So far, the operating system has been very s…

Assistive Technology in Barrington 220 (VIDEO)

This post was contributed by Morgan Delack, Communications Specialist for Barrington 220. 

Barrington 220 is considered a leader when it comes to assistive technology both locally and across the nation. This video demonstrates just a few of the many ways technology devices, software and services are maximizing learning opportunities for our students. Special thanks to Kelly Key, Assistive Technology Coordinator, and Stephanie Giacchetti, Special Education Teacher at Station Campus.

You must be logged in to Google Drive with your account to view this video.

BHS Mobile Apps Class Featured on NBC5

The Mobile Apps coding class at Barrington High School (the topic of an article and video in the previous issue of bsd220tech) was featured on the NBC5 news that aired on Saturday, October 25, 2014, during the "Weekend Web" segment of the 8:30 AM local broadcast.

Students AJ Priola and Heather Nelson, along with BHS teacher Tom Bredemeir, represented our district well as they were interviewed by Art Norman about the Mobile Makers curriculum used in our Mobile Apps coding class.

Watch the segment.

Google Apps for Learning in Barrington 220 (VIDEO)

Google Apps deftly supplement stellar instruction and a wealth of curricular resources. Our teachers and students organize documents, collaborate on presentations, and give and provide timely feedback, thanks to the tools provided as part of the Google Apps for Education.

Google Apps offer a diverse group of applications, each with unique opportunities for teachers to design lessons, and for students to craft creative demonstrations of their learning. The basic Google Apps of Google Docs (for word processing documents), Google Sheets (for spreadsheets), and Google Slides (for presentations) give teachers and students three fundamental technology applications.
These three Google Apps have features that set them apart from similar applications that have been installed on your computer's hard drive for many years. First, Google Apps allow users to share, collaborate, give and receive feedback, research within the document, and more. Second, Google Apps offer offline options for users…

A Parent's View Into a Teacher's Gradebook

The Infinite Campus Parent Portal provides district parents with a gateway to their student’s school information from a computer or mobile device with a secure parent login. The Parent Portal is where parents update personal and emergency contact information; view absence records, assignments, and due dates; view grades in progress; and pay student fees and meal accounts. Many parents configure their personal mobile devices to send notifications immediately when an absence is reported, an assignment is added, or a behavior incident occurs. The Parent Portal is also the first step in setting up communications from teachers, principals, and the district office through Infinite Campus Messenger and Schoolwires.
Currently gradebook information is available only for students in grades 6-12, but a wide range of other student-specific information is available for all grades.
Parent Portal usage for October 1–29 is as follows:
Student Accounts: 8,336 (Grades 1-12); October Logins: 158,708 Parent…

Managing Mobile Devices

It seems like it was just a few years back when the first-generation Apple iPad tablets hit the market by storm. That was in 2010 and these tablets quickly found their way into the education market, including a small number of iPads at Barrington 220. Designed by Apple as well-crafted consumer devices, they offered few capabilities to deploy and manage in quantities.  
Since that initial release of iPads, corporations and educational organizations alike have looked towards Apple for ways to deploy, manage, and secure these devices and to do so in quantities.  Apple has listened to these requests and has responded, continuously providing more features to help manage growing numbers of iPad tablets within corporate and educational organizations.
This year, Barrington 220 has partnered with Dell Corporation, leveraging their cloud-based Mobile Device Management (MDM) system to remotely manage mobile devices, including Apple's iPad and iPhone. Through the use of a "third-party&quo…

Teacher Tech Toolkit includes SAMR

Barrington 220 teachers measure their technology integration using Dr. Puentedura's SAMR Model.

TPACK offers teachers an overarching philosophy for integrating technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge into daily lessons. Teachers use SAMR to measure how the technology aspect of TPACK is implemented.

The SAMR Model:

SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition and was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the Founder and President of Hippasus, a consulting firm focusing on transformative applications of information technologies in education.
The SAMR Model resembles a ladder with a clearly delineated top and bottom half. The bottom half includes Substitution and Augmentation, labeled as technological Enhancement. The top half includes Modification and Redefinition, labeled as technological Transformation.
The Enhancement rungs of the ladder allow students and teachers to add small, useful benefits to the curriculum and instruction of daily lessons. Subs…

Problem Solving and Resilience in Mobile Apps Class (VIDEO)

Last week I visited Barrington 220's new Mobile Apps class offered at Barrington High School. The class is taught both by Brian Mathien and Tom Bredemeier (“Mr. B.” to his students). I visited Mr. B.’s class on a Thursday morning. The class teaches students to “code” in a programming language called Swift that is used to create apps for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) and Mac. Like any language that is unknown to an observer, computer code can seem quite unfamiliar, and even a bit scary. But as two students explained to me, coding is just a way for a programmer to send instructions to a device—it’s a matter of learning the syntax a little at a time and combining several instructions together to make an app that does what you want it to do.

Students showed me examples of a recently completed app, a tip calculator (for calculating the gratuity for a waiter or other service). To create this app, students needed to write the code to allow a user to input cost, select the p…

Quick Tip: Zoom Your MacBook Air Screen

Disclaimer: My apologies to K-5 teachers currently without Mac laptops, this tip is aimed at 6-8 teachers. I promise to include future tips that are more inclusive (and maybe some just for K-5).

When I am presenting with my MacBook Air plugged into an LCD projector, especially during professional development, I sometimes need to zoom in to a particular part of my screen to allow the audience to easily see a detail. This is an easy task, but it requires a quick setting change. Here’s how to do it:
Launch System Preferences (in the Dock or under the Apple menu).Click Accessibility.Click Zoom in the left column.Click the checkbox Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom: (there is no need to change the modifier key from Control).Close System Preferences by clicking the red dot in the upper-left corner.
From now on you may press and hold the control key on the keyboard while using a 2-finger scroll up and down on the trackpad to zoom in and out of the screen. 2-finger scroll up zooms …

Communicate Using Teacher Messenger

Teachers work hard to communicate with parents and students. Sometimes the communication is a Facebook post or a tweet. Sometimes the communication is in the form of a blog (such as this one), and often during the school year thousands of email communications are delivered quickly and securely to parents from the Infinite Campus Grade Book.

Teachers use the Infinite Campus Teacher Messenger to communicate with parents regarding upcoming events, current grades, or missing assignments. The location of Teacher Messenger changed with the transition to the new grade book, but this feature-rich tool continues to provide the communication methods teachers depend on for quick and dependable communications with parents and/or students. 
Today is a great day to review how all this works.
Click the link below for a simple, step-by-step guide about how to use the Messenger feature for your class. This guide has been written for Barrington 220. Additional information regarding the Teacher Grade B…

Network Storage Increasing this Week

As a friend and colleague tells me, "no one has ever complained about having too much data storage." With that in mind, this week we are upgrading our Barrington 220 Storage Area Network (SAN) system, providing additional data storage capacity for many of our servers that connect to this SAN system.

Our original Barrington 220 Storage Area Network was put in place in the summer of 2008. The SAN system is used to provide common hard disk space to a multitude of servers, making management and deployment of systems easier and more reliable.

Back in 2008 we added up all of the server storage used throughout the district. We calculated a number of around 1.5 terabytes (1,500,000 megabytes) of data stored on all servers within the district. Armed with that information, we installed a 20-terabyte SAN system in our data center. We also dropped in a 15-terabyte SAN system at our disaster recovery location.

That original SAN system, as large as we thought it was, held for just severa…

Barrington 220 is TPACKed with Great Lessons!

If you need convincing about the impact technology has in education, you need only visit our classrooms in Barrington 220.

Outside of Barrington 220, most conversations regarding technology integration focus on device choice, number of devices, and the total cost. Inside the school district, we concentrate on how those devices transform how students learn and demonstrate learning in school.

Enter TPACK:
Image Rights Free
TPACK stands for Technological, Pedagogical, And Content Knowledge and was developed by Dr. Matthew Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra, both from Michigan State University. The TPACK model is a philosophical belief about the integration of technology in education. As the image above illustrates, technology, pedagogy (instruction), and content knowledge (curriculum) must work together in tandem to best serve students in the classroom.
When TPACK is implemented well, technology acts as the vehicle that drives the curriculum to the student, through best practice in instruction,…

iPad ON in Grade 6 (VIDEO)

This week I had the opportunity to visit BMS Prairie Campus and watch iPads being used in classrooms. Before entering the room, it was clear to me (and the students) that iPads would be needed in that class today from the “iPad ON” sign posted outside the door.

Students began a math class by responding to a teacher-created survey in Google Forms and later accessed a YouTube video as part of a flipped-classroom lesson. Students in another class had recently completed a project using the Educreations app that allowed them to create an annotated video to explain their thinking as they completed math operations.

Later I met Nicholas C. and one of his teachers, Ms. Heather Bressett. Nicholas had recently discovered the iMovie app while at home, created a movie trailer using the app’s built-in, template-based movie trailer builder, and brought it to school to show his teacher. Sensing her student’s obvious engagement, Ms. Bressett connected this out-of-school student creation to an upcomin…

Here to Help in the Library

Over the first six weeks of school, I have had the pleasure of visiting all of our school libraries. Although the physical spaces look different and the students span from preschool to twelfth grade, one thing remains the same, all of our library staff is focused on providing excellent resources to the school community. Students and teachers visit this space not only for physical books, but to gain knowledge of the many electronic resources, databases, and digital texts available.

Whether you are a first-time user of the Barrington 220 library system or someone who has partnered numerous times with library staff, we are happy to help! Did you know the following about your school libraries? Kindles are available for checkout in all our buildings. Through the generous donation of the friends of the library, our K–5 buildings are equipped with at least 30 Kindle devices.A wealth of databases and other online tools are accessible to enhance the learning experience.Librarians are available …

Doing More with the Teacher IC Grade Book

The number of parents and students across the district accessing Infinite Campus on a daily basis is growing quickly. Many students and parents access IC multiple times daily, often after receiving a notification on their mobile device that a new assignment, grade, or absence has been logged by a teacher. The increase in use of the IC portal has prompted teachers to ask, “Is there more I can do with the IC Grade Book?"

The answer is YES! 

The following Google Docs offer simple directions for teachers, students, and parents to do more with IC Grade Book:
Teachers may add more content to assignments, in advance of the due date using the guide, How to Add An Assignment with Details and File Attachments.Students Can Submit Assignments through the IC PortalTeachers View and Grade Submitted Assignments through the IC Grade Book.Students and Parents View Graded Assignments, including teacher feedback. Staff interested in knowing more may call 847-842-3503 or email me at jnilles@barringto…

“In the Air” - Barrington 220 Wireless

It doesn’t seem all that long ago (OK, it was truly a decade back) when some of the first wireless laptops were deployed in Barrington 220. Wireless connectivity to the Barrington 220 network was provided to these laptops via wireless access points that were mounted directly to laptop carts. Back then we had a whopping 7.7 Mbps (Megabits per second) connection to the Internet that seemed to meet the needs of all Barrington 220 users. 
Much has changed since then, and the changes in our wireless systems are coming at an exponential rate. With the deployment of our One to World program this school year, we have added over 100 additional wireless access points to our district network this past summer. We now manage a total of 388 access points district-wide, with 162 of these “APs” located at Barrington High School. That 7.7 Mbps access to the Internet ten years ago has now increased to 1,000 Mbps, doubling the bandwidth we had available last year.
I took a brief look at our wireless sy…