Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Classic Lit Accessible through Schoology

Guest post written by Kathleen Hempel, BMS-Station Librarian

Many classic books are now in the Public Domain (copyright ends 70 years after creator’s death), allowing for us to release them to students as PDFs and in other formats. These books are available as ePubs through The Gutenberg Project and can be uploaded to Schoology and assigned to classes.

Audio of many of the classics have been recorded through Librivox, a great source for free public domain audiobooks. These, too, can be put in a folder in Schoology to provide students audio support for difficult and complex classic works.

In the middle school where we use the Notability app, we can merge the audio with the PDF. First, we download the PDF of the book from Gutenberg and export it to Notability. Then we download the MP3 audio files from Schoology and export them to Notability. When we open Notability, we attach the MP3 to an existing Note.

This allows for the microphone and play bar to appear while reading the book, and students to annotate the PDF in Notability. Here’s a video that walks you through the steps to merge the classics.

See your building librarian for assistance in finding resources to supplement your units.

Transforming Student Learning at ICE

A group of Barrington 220 Instructional Digital Age Learning (iDAL) coaches and administrators presented to a standing-room-only audience at the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference 2016 last week in St. Charles, Illinois. The session, Transforming Student Learning through the Use of Technology, was presented in a modified Ignite Talk format.

The Ignite format is a fast-paced, information-packed, and fun presentation style that can also be used in the classroom. In the “classic” Ignite format, each presenter gets 20 slides, each slide is on-screen for exactly 15 seconds, and the slides auto-advance; thus, the overall presentation is exactly 5 minutes in length. Of course, the format can be customized by changing the number of slides, duration of slides, and other factors. Another possible mod might include creating a structured content list or rubric. For more information about the Ignite format, visit

For the Barrington 220 Ignite-talk-style presentation, presenters showed how technology is used to create digital portfolios, blend math talk with problem solving, increase parent communication through social media, reflect and collaborate with colleagues, and more! Many Barrington 220 presenters shared their Twitter handles during their talks so audience members could easily connect with them:
Several resources were also shared throughout the presentation, including the following:
Congratulations to all Barrington 220 Ignite presenters at #ICE16!

PARCC Testing, Wireless Networks, & Kitchen Appliances

Your students were just about ready to finish their online PARCC testing for the day and “it” was turned on.  Immediately, most of your student’s tests locked up.  

“It” has as much chrome as the front end of a '56 Buick, and it still shines with all of its original glory. It sits in the classroom adjacent to yours.

In the classroom next door, Ms. Sally’s students finished PARCC testing just a bit early. Celebration of a job well done calls for popcorn...fresh microwave popcorn! Popcorn prep was handled in a vintage 1967, 1600 watt, Amana Radarange. It looks cool. It's old school. It's retro. But it certainly does not seal in the radiation like it used to.

Back in your classroom, it takes time to resume each PARCC test. You are frustrated, your students are frustrated, and the smell of fresh popcorn in the air is not helping the matter! Your immediate thought is that the school wireless has failed...when we needed it most!

Microwaves and Wi-Fi do not co-exist well. Here are some ideas to help with a successful PARCC test in your classroom (from a wireless network perspective):
  • Do not turn on any microwave in the vicinity of your testing areas! Many classroom microwaves were brought to school when the new one arrived at home. A good percentage of these older microwaves affect wireless networks in the immediate area when powered on.
  • Keep wireless speakers powered off.  They can potentially interfere with wireless systems.
  • Did you find that your old cordless phone works in your office or classroom? Please disconnect it and take it home—these are also culprits for disrupting Wi-Fi signals.
  • The hotspot on your phone? Turn it off.
  • Do not stream music or video in the same classroom where a test is underway. The wireless access point is already being taxed.
  • Are you ready to upload the 600 class pictures to Google Drive?  Save that for another day.
  • To be extra cautious, turn off as many Bluetooth devices as you can in your classroom. This goes for the unused Bluetooth system found on many of our classroom SMARTboards. Bluetooth is a frequency hopping protocol that also runs on the same frequency spectrum as one of the Wi-Fi bands. Normally it is not a major concern, but to be safe, shut it down!

The administration of online PARCC testing in 2015 was a relative success here at Barrington 220 (your mileage may vary). The situations mentioned above may cause the PARCC online test to hang or fail. 

The microwave issue above is absolutely real. We urge you to pitch the old ones. Has it caused mass test failures? You betcha! Just ask Tech Department member Scott Moore about NWEA MAP testing on Cinco de Mayo!

Watch this newsletter (and elsewhere) for more information about PARCC in the near future.

Your Key to District Digital Resource Access

As mentioned in other bsd220tech articles, many staff members had the opportunity to attend the ICE conference last week. Shawndra Shelton, TSA at Grove, and Janet Anderson, Librarian at BHS, attended a session on infographics. Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. 

During the session at ICE, Shawndra took the opportunity to create an infographic that represents some of the key district tools that your network login allows you to access. Overdrive and Destiny are essential library resources and give you access our catalog of print and electronic texts. See your building librarian for more information on how to download the Overdrive app to your device or access the Destiny catalog.

Barrington 220 Breaks the ICE

Last week, over 100 @barrington220 staff members attended the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference. The conference connects teachers from all grade levels and subject areas who are interested in becoming better at integrating technology into their instruction. ICE offers many opportunities to see how other teachers, students, and administrators seamlessly infuse technology to amplify the success of their lessons. Since the rise of Twitter as a professional development tool in education, ICE has also served as a meeting ground for face-to-face interactions to solidify the many online relationships developed on Twitter.

Several @barrington220 staff members also presented at ICE, including our elementary Instructional Digital Age Learning (iDAL) coaches, classroom teachers, and a couple of administrators. Dr. Matt Fuller (Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Innovation) sang with Big Data (The Band), a huge hit at ICE. Big Data (The Band) is comprised entirely of school technology leaders in the roles of administrator, teacher, or tech support professional.

Even if you didn't attend ICE, and you're interested in learning about some of the awesome ideas shared, you can still access those goodies on the ICE Presenter Resources webpage, or by searching #ICE16 on Twitter.

If you are interested in attending ICE next year, please look for the Google Form application in November/December 2016 and be sure to meet the deadline for applying.

Here are some of the tweets and photos shared from #ICE16:

Summer Tech Support In...and Out...of Barrington 220

Although our current weather may not belie this, summer is, indeed, coming! I just wanted to take a moment to remind you that our tech sup...