Sunday, October 15, 2017

Meet the Department of Technology & Innovation

On behalf of the entire Department of Technology & Innovation, I would like to welcome everyone back to school for the 2017–18 school year.

The district-level members of the Department of Technology & Innovation work throughout the summer and most of us consider the summer months our busiest time of year in terms of implementing, preparing, upgrading, and updating. However, when teachers and students return, we shift our focus to supporting and planning for the many systems we manage in learning, teaching, and operations across the district.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the entire Department of Technology & Innovation district-level staff. Below you will find the department listed in text, and the post concludes with an infographic-style image that depicts everyone in our group.

Instructional Technology
Joe Robinson, Director of Instructional Technology
Joann Fullman, Administrative Assistant
Shawndra Shelton, District Technology Assistant

Technology Support
Russ Vander Mey, Systems Administrator
Scott Moore, Network Operations Specialist
Mark Polzin, Technology Support Supervisor
District Technology Support Specialists
     Jason Bryant
     Justin Edge
      Kim Martinez
District Technology Support Technicians
      Josh Beatty
      Derrick Kovell
      Charlie Parkinson
District Technology Support Associates
      Adam Fajnor
      Kaitlyn Pankiewicz

Student Information
June Nilles, Director of Student Information
Saif Ali, Applications Software Administrator
Karen Jasonowicz, Central Registrar
Megan Polzin, Transportation Specialist
Violet Jackson, IC/Business Office Liaison
Andrew Solomon, Data Assistant
Yazmin Aceves, District Translator

Copy Center
Steve Underwood, Coordinator of Document Systems
Charles Wells, Copy Center Assistant

Department Leadership
Matt Fuller, Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Innovation
Hector Ontiveros, Technology & Innovation Department Coordinator


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Five Elements of a Perfect Tweet

The Barrington 220 response to using Twitter as a professional learning network (PLN) has exploded this school year!

Several schools have highlighted teachers using Twitter by adding posters or signs showing Twitter accounts outside of classrooms. Since more and more teachers are beginning to use Twitter regularly, I thought this would be a good time to review five elements of what makes the "perfect" tweet.

The perfect Twitter post has five key parts: the message, a hashtag, a tag, a link, and a photo or video.

The Message

Twitter is currently reviewing the number of characters allowed in a single tweet, but as of right now, you are allotted 140 characters per tweet. Therefore, word choice is a very important aspect of creating a tweet. Of the five elements, the most important aspect of a perfect tweet is the message.

The Hashtag

Hashtags serve as labels for tweets. Adding a hashtag allows others to search for and find your tweet. For example, adding the Barrington 220 hashtag #bsd220 to a tweet allows anyone searching for recent tweets from our district to find them easily. Searching the hashtag #sped would find tweets related to special education. Here is a list of educational hashtags as compiled by Jerry Blumengarten, @cybraryman1.

The Tag

Tagging someone in a post is like cc-ing (carbon-copying) them on email. It ensures that your tweet will trigger a notification for whomever you’ve tagged to see that tweet. Tagging someone with a tweet also allows those who are following you to learn about other accounts you might be connected with. For example, tagging @barrington220 in a tweet, would allow others to become aware of Barrington 220's Twitter account.

The Link

Most Twitter posts also include some sort of link. Examples of links include a resource, another person's post, or a link to a blog post. The link is the most optional of the five elements of the perfect tweet.

The Photo or Video

A really good tweet includes media. Adding a picture, video—or a GIF or Bitmoji—brings interest and intrigue to your tweet. Photos are great, but adding videos of 30 seconds or less allow followers to gain an even deeper understanding of your tweeted message. For example, this tweet, from Shilpa Vakayil, @shilpavakayil, shows a video of her class.

Fall 2017 Instructional Technology App Updates

We have several updates to share regarding software subscriptions and apps available for staff and students since our last update in August.

iOS and macOS Updates

Apple recently released new operating systems both for iPad and MacBook Air devices. 

iOS 11, the new operating system for our iPad devices, became available on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. You've most likely received onscreen prompts to upgrade. The upgrade is free and requires 50% battery, online access, and about 30–45 minutes of time to download and install. The iPad device is unusable during this time so we recommend completing the upgrade at home.

macOS High Sierra, the new operating system for our MacBook Air devices, became available Monday, September 25, 2017. If you haven't already, you will receive onscreen prompts to upgrade. The upgrade is free and requires 50% battery, online access, and about an hour of time to download and install. The MacBook Air device is unusable during this time so we recommend completing the upgrade at home.

For more information about when to upgrade recommendations, please take a look at the article, Upgrade Advice Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Newly Available iOS Apps

Touchcast Studio is a creation-based iOS app that allows users to add overlays for video. It has been scoped for all students in Grades K–12.

Goodreads is a book recommendations app for iOS that offers Netflix-like algorithms to help students find books they might enjoy. The app also allows students to connect safely and recommend books to each other. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 3–8.

Post-It Plus is an iOS app that allows users to take photos to digitize existing Post-It Notes for organization, sharing, and saving. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 1–2.

Abode Spark Page is a creation-based iOS app designed to allow users to create their own images, graphics, and text. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 3–8.

Requests for access to new or existing software and apps can be made using the Software and App Request Form (

Unblock Websites the Quick & Easy Way

I love hearing stories of teachers who find great, timely resources from their Twitter feeds. Occasionally, even the best laid plans for using a link to that perfect website go astray when that website is blocked for students.

We have an easy solution...make a request to have the website unblocked using a Google Form at this address:


After you complete the Google Form, the Technology Department immediately reviews the request, unblocks the website (if appropriate for students), and communicates the unblock back to the requesting teacher.

You may request websites to be unblocked using the link above beginning today.

Upgrade Advice Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

One of the most often-asked questions we get in the Department of Technology & Innovation is whether or not to update (or upgrade) software when it’s released. This question applies both to district-issued Macs and iPads, as well as personal devices.

The Good

Our advice is to update your device when an update or upgrade is released. While the purpose of upgrades (e.g., iOS 10 to iOS 11) is generally to add new features, upgrades also often fix lingering issues from previous versions of software. Updates (e.g., iOS 11 to iOS 11.0.1) generally deliver bug fixes and/or security updates.

Often, a major upgrade is soon followed by an update to address major issues experienced by many users. A recent example of this happened when iOS 11 was released on September 19, 2017, and an update to iOS 11.0.1 was released just a week later on September 26, 2017. The update pop-up message explains that it "includes bug fixes and improvements for your iPhone and iPad."

The Bad and the Ugly

Unfortunately, sometimes updates or upgrades cause unintended problems. When these issues occur that affect Barrington 220, our Department of Technology & Innovation will send a message—usually an email from our System Administrator Russ Vander Mey—to all district users with our recommendation. These situations are rare.

The Bottom Line

With the exception of rare unintended consequences, we recommend to upgrade or update as soon as it’s convenient after the upgrade/update is released. Due to the time upgrades and updates often take to download and install, we recommend that you begin them when you know you will not need device access for around 30 minutes. We recommend that our students upgrade/update at home so no potential instructional time is lost at school waiting for downloads and installs.

The Barrington 220 tech support team is available to help you with updates and upgrades every school day. While in the district, simply call x. 1500 to speak with a Tech Support Associate.

Google Drive for Teams

When team members retire, take a leave or move on, it can be difficult to access important content saved to their personal Google Drive.  However, Google has released an excellent solution.

Google Team Drives are an excellent option for sharing important documents, folders, and other materials between team members. Simply create a team drive for your group, add members, and watch the shared contents grow. When files are moved to the Team Drive, the ownership of those files transfers to the team. This will eliminate the loss of files and the time consuming process of copying and sharing when staff members retire or move on. At this time Folders cannot be moved directly from an individual Google Drive to the team drive (without the assistance of a district Google Super Admin).

To access Google Team Drives, simply login to your Google account and navigate to Google Drive. You will find the Team Drives option in the upper left corner of your Google Drive Homepage.

Here are a few tips regarding Google Team Drive:
  • When a folder is moved from a personal drive to a team drive, a copy is created and ownership is transferred to the team.  
  • Any files shared individually within a folder moved to the Team Drive, retain rights to view, edit, etc.  
  • Shared folders become property of the team and must be shared again from the team drive to ensure appropriate access.
  • You may find files that you saved with the team in your "Shared with Me" and "Recent Locations"
  • All files are deleted from "My Drive" and all other folder locations EXCEPT the Team Drive location.

Apps and Subscriptions Update

We have access to an incredible list of apps and subscriptions that enhance and supplement teaching and learning in Barrington 220.

In an effort to both inform and organize our current holdings, we need your help!

Please let us know if you, your grade level team, your department, or your school has access to apps or subscriptions in addition to these lists.

Barrington 220 iPad Apps (
Barrington 220 Subscriptions (

If you find an app or subscription not present in our records, please let us know by completing this Google Form: Missing Software and Apps (

Apple Teacher for PDH Credit in 2017-18

Last school year, Apple introduced Apple Teacher, “a free professional learning program designed to support and celebrate educators using Apple products for teaching and learning” (adapted from Teachers may learn and build skills on iPad and Mac that can be used in the classroom using a self-paced learning environment that provides tips, inspiration, news, and learning resources. Teachers can earn badges and an official Apple Teacher recognition.

Also last year, Barrington 220 created a method to allow teachers to earn official Professional Development Hour credits (PDHs, formerly known as CPDUs) that can be applied toward teaching certification renewal. Over 100 Barrington 220 teachers participated in this program for PDH credit already and many, many more earned Apple Teacher recognition without applying for PDHs.

In Barrington 220, we call our blended learning course Technology Integration Foundations for iPad and Mac. The online learning part of the course is the Apple Teacher program, comprised of online training sessions that can be completed over a period of time. The face-to-face part of the course is a meeting with a Barrington 220 facilitator and other teachers who have completed the training. During a one-hour final meeting, teachers share activities completed with students using the content learned in the online training modules.

iPad Online Activities
Each activity is credited 30 minutes:
  • iPad
  • Pages for iPad
  • Keynote for iPad
  • Numbers for iPad
  • iMovie for iPad
  • GarageBand for iPad
  • Productivity with iPad
  • Creativity with iPad
Mac Online Activities
Each activity is credited 30 minutes:
  • Mac
  • Pages for Mac
  • Keynote for Mac
  • Numbers for Mac
  • iMovie for Mac
  • GarageBand for Mac
  • Productivity with Mac
  • Creativity with Mac
Any teacher may sign up for and complete all or part of the Apple Teacher program and receive badges and/or Apple Teacher recognition from Apple.

Barrington 220 teachers can sign up for the Technology Integration Foundations for iPad and Mac course, which includes completing the Apple Teacher program, logging online hours, and attending a one-hour meeting. Teachers who successfully complete the Technology Integration Foundations for iPad and Mac may earn up to 10 Professional Development Hours (PDHs):
  • Complete 8 Apple Teacher iPad online sessions (30 minutes each) and attend a one-hour meeting = 5 PDHs. 
  • Complete 8 Apple Teacher Mac online sessions (30 minutes each) and attend a one-hour meeting = 5 PDHs.
  • If you complete both the iPad and Mac online sessions and attend one one-hour meeting, you will earn 9 PDHs. 
  • Participants who complete the iPad online sessions and attend a one-hour meeting, and later decide to complete the Mac online sessions and attend another one-hour meeting, can earn up to 10 PDHs.
Online Learning

Each online learning session delivered through the Apple Teacher program includes a multi-touch digital book that is downloaded from the iBooks Store. These books are written specifically for teachers and include ideas for using Apple apps and devices in the classroom.

Teachers demonstrate mastery by completing a summative evaluation at the end of each activity. Each successfully completed module results in the teacher earning a digital "badge." The successful completion of all eight digital badges in the iOS category also allows the teacher to earn an "Apple Teacher" recognition.

The summative quizzes at the end of each online session incude several types of questions, including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and drag-to-reorder questions. A few of the questions, especially in the productivity and creativity activities, suggest interesting ways of using apps in real-world situations.

This question presents potential uses for several iPad apps.

How to Earn PDHs in Barrington 220

Step 1: Sign up for the Apple Teacher program
Use your personal or Barrington 220 Apple ID to sign up for the Apple Teacher program.

Step 2: Log each of your Apple Teacher learning experiences
Sign in to log each module as you complete each digital badge.
(Educators outside of Barrington 220 may view a version of the non-interactive sign-in page here.)

Step 3: Sign up for one monthly face-to-face meeting
Using the log, sign up for one of the monthly face-to-face meetings with a Barrington 220 instructor and a group of your peers. Schedules meetings for 2017–18:
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:15 – 8:45 am, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, James Street Engleking Room
  • Thursday, January 25, 2018, 7:15 – 8:15 am, James Street Engleking Room
  • Thursday, February 22, 2018, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, March 22, 2018, 7:15 – 8:15 am, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, April 19, 2018, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, May 24, 2018, 7:15 – 8:15 am, James Street Main Conference Room
Step 4: Attend the face-to-face meeting
You may attend any face-to-face meeting after you have completed your online training to complete the course requirements to receive PDH credit.

Schoology Course

You may also sign up for the Barrington 220 Schoology course:
  1. Log in to Schoology.
  2. Select the Courses dropdown menu at the top.
  3. Click on the Join link in the Courses dropdown.
  4. Enter access code 8KCNX-48FV4
  5. Click the Join button.
Future Opportunities

Whether you plan to only participate in the Apple Teacher program or also pursue PDH credit through the blended learning course, best of luck!

Monday, October 2, 2017

iOS 11 Improves iPad Classroom Workflow

Each fall, Apple releases a new operating system for iPad. the latest upgrade to iOS 11 includes several features to improve classroom workflow and day-to-day teaching and learning tasks.

Screen Recording

iOS 11 comes complete with options for you to record your screen. This is a game changer. Previously, you had plug your iPad physically into your MacBook Air, use QuickTime, and save your recordings to your laptop. To activate screen recording, add the feature to Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, and enable Screen Recording. Then, from your iPad device, bring up the Control Center and tap the recording button to record your screen. When you’re finished, simply go back to the Control Center and press the record button to stop. The video will automatically be saved to your camera roll.


Annotating Screenshots

Another game changer in iOS 11 is the ability to annotate and send out screenshots directly from your screen, without accessing the camera roll. To take a screenshot simply press both the sleep/wake and the home button at the same time. Before iOS 11, the screenshot would automatically be added to your camera roll. However, in iOS 11, the screenshot is added to the lower-left side of your screen where you can tap it and use the on-screen tools to draw, add text, highlight, and share it.


Scanning QR Codes with the Camera App

In iOS 11, no special app is needed to view QR Codes. Just use the camera app and it will detect a QR code automatically.


Scanning Documents with the Notes App

Another app you can scrap is your document scanner. In iOS 11, the Notes app allows for scanning documents. You can then share the Notes document to any other app on your iPad device (or share with another user).


An Expanded Dock

iOS 11 includes an expanded dock. The dock will now hold 13 apps or folders, rather than 6 in iOS 10. The dock also includes your three most recently used apps. Maintaining the dock with the most frequently used apps is a great workflow for multitasking.

These changes allow for more robust use of the iPad device. If you've found more helpful workflows and updates in iOS 11, please let me know at, or add them in the Comments section below.

A more in-depth look at iOS 11 on iPad is available here.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Passwords Are Now Passé

Logging in to a computer system generally requires a username and a "memorized secret." Most people refer to this "memorized secret" as a password. If you are using a password, may I suggest ditching the password and instead using a passphrase in its place?

Federal NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) guidelines that cover computer and systems authentication have been recently revised and the use of complex passwords is no longer recommended. Digital Identity Guidelines now recommend the use of passphrases to authenticate to computer and electronic systems instead of passwords. A passphrase is the use of a group of words, preferably chosen at random, used to authenticate to a computer-based system. Here is an example of both a complex password and a passphrase:

A complex password: St48761!

A passphrase: special holding compound

Why the change?

Complex passwords are sometimes difficult for us to remember. Consequently, they may end up written on paper or stored in an insecure way. Different complexity requirements for different computer and electronic systems may require us to remember multiple complex passwords. Again, we end up writing them down or storing them in an insecure way.

Complex passwords are sometimes created by changing common characters and rendering them less secure than we might think. These passwords could be subject to a system “dictionary attack” that accounts for common letter substitutions. One example of a complex password that is not very secure is Passw0rd!

While not every system we work with will currently support the new federal recommendations (i.e., Apple IDs), your Barrington 220 network account will support their use, as will the Google G Suite system.

To revise a Barrington 220 network “memorized secret” (your password), click here.

To revise your Barrington 220 Google account password, follow these directions.

When creating your passphrase, make sure that your passphrase is a minimum of 8 characters in length. Use random words strung together, not a common phrase. While a passphrase let the dog out is still stronger than many traditional complex passwords, the randomness of a passphrase such as interview garage focus is stronger against a potential system "dictionary attack" and is greatly preferred over common phrases found in books or everyday language.

For some interesting additional reading, check out the NIST Digital Identity Guidelines. A remark at the end of the document sums things up: "Length and complexity requirements beyond those recommended here significantly increase the difficulty of memorized secrets and increase user frustration."

Translation/Interpretation Request Form

I hope that the start of a new school year finds you well! As things begin to pick up, I would like to share some great news that could come in handy throughout our different departments when it comes to requesting translating services.

As a part of coordinating technology and innovation within the District, we have made it possible to schedule all of your translating needs through a simple Google Form. The form can be accessed by either clicking here or by visiting our Barrington 220 website under Staff in the tab entitled Request Translation.

The form will allow us to receive and confirm appointment requests as well as manage uploads of documents that you need translated into Spanish. This simple yet effective process allows the translating team here at Barrington 220 to collaborate much more efficiently when it comes to meeting/document requests across our district.

We do ask that you keep the following in mind before submitting your request:

  • Please allow a minimum of 5–10 business days for written translation requests to be returned.
  • Please submit your meeting interpreter request 15 days in advance (minimum) in order to secure an interpreter. Note: It is likely that last-minute meeting requests will not be accommodated.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Our translating team is ready to provide assistance, so please send those timely requests!

Apple Clips, Your Custom Music Soundtrack Composer

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to learn about Apple’s new Clips app for iOS from the app’s product manager. Although Clips is very easy to use, I learned a few great tips and tricks, and I was fascinated to learn about a Clips-only feature, the Soundtracks tool.

Clips (currently) includes 47 different Soundtracks in seven different categories:
  • Pop
  • Playful
  • Chill
  • Sentimental
  • Retro
  • Action
  • Holidays & Events

Like other Apple apps with music soundtrack options, the tracks are high-quality, royalty-free, and may be uploaded to social media without infringing copyright. However, unlike other music soundtrack options, Clips soundtracks automatically adjust timing to create a perfectly synchronized music soundtrack for your Clips video.

In general, depending upon the Soundtrack selected, the track includes an intro, several varied sections (depending upon the length of your video), and an outro with an ending. Thus, the music doesn’t just cut off abruptly or fade at the end, it sounds like the soundtrack was composed with a beginning, middle, and ending—just for your video.

For a recent iMovie project, I found myself in my typical music predicament: I needed a royalty-free music selection in an appropriate style and at the appropriate length to play throughout the video. To make matters more challenging, I knew that I would be sharing a first revision of the video with several groups and that further edits would be imminent. It occurred to me...why not let Clips compose my music soundtrack for me?

After a bit of trial and error, I developed two methods for creating Clips music soundtracks for other video apps and created video tutorials for each. One method uses Clips for iPhone and iMovie on Mac, while the other method is an all-iPad solution (using Clips and iMovie for iPad). Using the ideas here, you may be able to adapt this idea for other video creation apps on other platforms.

Create a Soundtrack using Clips for iPhone and Use It in iMovie for Mac

Create a Soundtrack using Clips for iPad and Use It in iMovie for iPad

Google & Apple Service Outage Information

Like many districts, Barrington 220 uses the online services of several providers. Online systems occasionally experience service disruptions. Two of our primary providers, Google and Apple, provide very detailed web pages that list the status of their services that any user may check at any time.

Google currently provides status for 23 services, such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Maps, Blogger, Classroom, etc. Check Google status here:

Apple currently provides status for 53 services, such as various App Stores, Apple ID, iCloud Calendar, iCloud Drive, iCloud Notes, Documents in the Cloud, iMessage, Photos, etc. Check Apple status here:

The Barrington 220 tech staff will report catastrophic outages from our providers if they affect all users and are expected to last an extended time. For minor outages that do not affect the majority of users, you may check these status pages at any time.

Of course, you may always call x. 1500 for Technology Support in Barrington 220 at any time during the school day.

Campus Instruction Control Center Designed for Mobile Devices

Infinite Campus has updated the home page of Campus Instruction and renamed it “Control Center.” This enhancement allows teachers to quickly view current tasks at a glance without leaving the screen. In addition, Control Center is designed with a responsive design to allow teachers the same home screen on a tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer.

Open Campus Instruction 

To open Campus Instruction, click the app switcher and select Campus Instruction in the menu that opens. Use the app switcher to return to the rest of Campus as well by selecting Campus Tools or to access the Campus Community. Be sure to Log Off when finished.

The app switcher in Campus Instruction is located in the top left of the screen. Click Tools to return to the rest of Campus Tools.

In Campus Instruction, choose the Year and School in the toolbar.  Teachers in schools with multiple structures should choose the appropriate structure, i.e., BHS or Pathways; Grade 06, Grade 07, or Grade 08.

You'll only need to select a Section when that context is needed, such as in the Grade Book or Roster. Other tools, such as the Planner, are not section-specific.

The top right corner of the screen is also where you access the Campus Community and where you log off of Campus Instruction. Account Settings are also available from this user icon.

Visit the Control Center for Easy Access to Attendance and Scoring Assignments

The Control Center allows teachers to view current tasks at a glance. Current day attendance and assignments to be score are sorted by period.

This tool has been optimized for use on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets.

Use the Control Center to take attendance and score assignments easily.

Taking Attendance

Sections for which attendance needs to be taken are indicated with a red dot and outline once the period has ended. Prior to the end of the period, attendance that will need to be taken during the day is indicated with an empty grey circle. Completed attendance is indicated with a green check. Click Take to enter student attendance.

Indicate if students are Present, Absent, or Tardy.

Mark the Present, Absent, or Tardy buttons to record student attendance. Enter Comments for absences and tardies if applicable. Click Save when finished.

If attendance has been recorded by the attendance office, the attendance code displays.

Scoring Assignments

The Assignments column allows teachers to score assignments due on or before the current day. To display, an assignment's End Date must be within the current Term. The number in parenthesis indicates the number of unscored assignments. Click Score to record scores.

Unscored assignments are listed by default, with options for All and Missing assignments.

In the panel that opens, unscored assignments are listed by default. Click All to view all assignments in the section or Missing to view assignments flagged as missing.

Click on an assignment to view students. For a specific assignment, view All students (including those with scores), only Unscored, or those flagged as Missing using the buttons at the top.

Score and flag students assignments

Filling Scores

Fill options display at the top of the scoring panel. Mark all assignments as Turned In and score all assignments. Anything entered in the Fill Scores area overwrites data entered on the current panel.

Scoring Individuals

Scores and flags can also be recorded for individual students. Enter numeric scores or select a score from the dropdown for assignments scored using Marks or Rubrics.

Assignments with multiple alignments display with multiple score fields.


To flag the assignment, click the Turned In button or use the flag dropdown list to select a different flag. Once a flag is selected, click it to remove it. Keyboard shortcuts, such as typing 'M' to flag as missing, cannot be entered in the Control Center.

The Turned In and Missing flags cannot be marked at the same time. If a score is entered for an assignment flagged as missing, options display for resolving the flag.

Student Information

Click on a student's name to open the student information panel. Basic information about the student is listed at the top, with sections for Contact Information and Today's Schedule.

Visit Infinite Campus for Barrington 220 to learn more of what's new in Infinite Campus.

Introducing...the Apple Classroom App

Apple recently released the second version of Classroom. The app affords teachers numerous opportunities to improve instructional practices while using iPad devices. Several middle school teachers piloted the use of Classroom their iPad devices in their classrooms. We are ready to release this great tool for use in all of our PK–8 classrooms. Classroom is available for teachers to download in Self Service on the iPad. Students do not need to download any apps to their iPad device for Classroom to function.

Check out Apple's website to learn more about the Classroom app.

What can teachers do with Classroom?

With the Classroom app, teachers can:
  • create their own classes and easily add nearby students.
  • share documents and links directly to student devices and have them open automatically on their iPad devices.
  • mute audio playing on a student device.
  • view the entire class of student iPad screens or focus on an individual's iPad screen to gather formative assessment data and guide learning.
  • launch apps, websites, or iBooks on all or individual student iPad devices.
  • project student work from their teacher iPad.
  • lock all or individual student iPad devices.
  • create small groups within Classroom app and add/remove students.

How do teachers get started with Classroom?

To get started with Classroom, teachers may download Classroom from Self Service. Follow the steps in this guide from Apple, and/or view the video below from 9to5Mac.

Getting Started with Classroom 2.0 (Apple PDF Directions)

It should be noted that students can choose to leave a class via the Settings app, and students may change settings that are preferred by the teacher on their iPad. For example, students can choose to Always, Ask, or Never allow a teacher device to lock apps and the device, or to use AirPlay or Screen View features. Students can also turn off Bluetooth or restart their iPad and be disconnected from your class. However, after a student has joined your class and attempts leave the class, their avatar turns grey on the teacher iPad device. This makes it easy for the teacher to address this behavior.

Please see any LTA for more information on getting started with Classroom.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dealing with Digital Distraction Episode 1: How Technology Amplifies Student Engagement, Accountability, and On-Task Behavior with Heather Chvojka

This is the first installment in Barrington 220's Dealing with Digital Distraction series. The series will highlight how Barrington 220 teachers and students continue to learn and use strategies to manage digital distraction.

Digital Distraction Strategies

Heather Chvojka is a math teacher at Barrington Middle School—Station Campus. Her math lessons focus on on-demand, individualized learning experiences that offer student choice. Like many middle school classes, this class includes students who sometimes veer off task and feel attraction to apps, games, and notifications that could easily cause distractions and affect engagement during the entire class period.

How does Heather deal with potential digital distractions? She highlights three key strategies for managing digital distraction:
  • Set device expectations in advance
  • Engage students by engaging with students
  • Create a learning environment of freedom and mutual trust

Classroom Highlights

During the final full week of school during the 2016–2017 school year, I visited Heather Chvojka's math class of Grade 8 students at BMS Station Campus during the final period of the day. This class was similar to other classes in late May—students entered the room with lots of energy and at a high volume.


Within minutes the students engaged in the lesson and remained engaged until the final bell signifying the end of the school day. This short video clip demonstrates that Heather's math class certainly didn't resemble the math classes I remember that were characterized by direct instruction; straight rows of seated students; and a methodical, algorithm-based, step-by-step delivery.


A couple of strategies stood out. After Heather explains the lesson objective and gives the options for how students can choose to demonstrate learning, students select where they wish to sit and with whom they will work independently. Students chose to work with friends, classmates of a similar achievement level, or independently.


Students work to solve problems using multiple modes of media including personal or wall-mounted whiteboards with dry erase markers, calculators, iPad devices, and paper/pencil.


IXL and Classroom help Heather's students students engaged, accountable, and on task. Using these two tools, she can monitor student progress and catch opportunities to provide just-in-time guidance for her students.

Heather uses proximity to guide students toward on-task behavior while simultaneously providing specific, timely feedback and instruction to other students using Apple Classroom.


With Apple Classroom teachers can see all student iPad devices in the classroom and zero in onto specific screens to monitor progress in real-time. When a student raised his hand for help, Heather used Apple Classroom to look at that student's iPad screen so she could respond with the exact instruction needed at that moment, based upon the work she saw on the screen.


Using the online math subscription service IXL, Heather can monitor the live progress of each student; she may also choose to connect the IXL Classroom Dashboard (the "teacher view") to the projector display. The IXL Classroom Dashboard is organized on the screen by Common Core math standards and by the number of questions each student has answered during the time period—all updated and displayed in real-time.


In general, Heather chooses to give students some choice and control, allows them to be engaged, and then supports them when they need on-demand feedback to continue learning.

I would like to convey a special "thank you" to Heather for taking the courageous leap to allow us a glimpse into her classroom, and for sharing her time and insights through her reflections.

The Apple Classroom app is free and built into the iOS 10 operating system installed on our iPad devices. Check out this post about Classroom. The tools described and shown within the IXL program are also available to teachers using other online subscription math programs.

Please see your LTA, Teacher Librarian, or Instructional Digital Age Learning (iDAL) coach for more information.

Monday, July 3, 2017

2017-18 Instructional Technology Software Updates

We have several instructional technology service announcements to prepare for 2017–18!

PK–12 Teachers & Students

For our online technology tool training needs, we will be subscribing to this year (in place of Atomic Learning). provides users with video clips to help learn different technology tools, such as Schoology, iPad, Evernote, Keynote, and many more. You can access
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Teachers and students login using or email address and password
PK–8 Teachers & Students

Our subscription to Defined STEM ended on Friday, June 30, 2017, since the elementary Science Steering Committee has completed their work using these resources.

Due to a very low usage rate, we are discontinuing access to Gizmos, virtual science simulations, at BHS.

We are shifting from RAZ Kids to Epic! for students in Grades PK–2 and myON for students in Grades K–5. We will continue to have access to RAZ Kids for students in Grades K–1 or in literacy support classes. Read more about Barrington 220 digital texts here.

We are shifting away from Compass Learning and many other math software solutions for students in Grades PK–5 to Reflex Math and TenMarks. Read more about Barrington 220 math apps and services here.

The growth in use of KidBlog in Grade 3 spurred a decision to extend access to include students in Grades 3–5. Here's how you can access KidBlog after July 1, 2017:
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Click Login with Google and use your email. Your email will automatically add your account to the Barrington 220 subscription.
  3. Students will log in and join a classroom using a code provided by the teacher.
You can see an updated list of our subscriptions here:

Seesaw for Schools

Seesaw for Schools is new for 2017–18. If you use and love the free version of Seesaw, you will find this new option very exciting. While the look and function of Seesaw will be the same, the new subscription offers more features including: school-wide analytics and management, unified portfolios that follow students from class to class and grade level to grade level, a Seesaw for Schools dashboard which offers actionable data at a glance, and formative assessment tools.

All current Seesaw users will be connected to our paid subscription automatically. New users will be added in the next few weeks. Seesaw for Schools is scoped for all staff and students in Grades K–5.

Access Seesaw for Schools
  1. Navigate to (access teacher dashboard and classes).
  2. Existing Teacher accounts will be added to our subscription by domain ( New accounts will be uploaded by July 15, 2017. Each teacher will receive a notification when their individual account has been upgraded.
  3. Students will access Seesaw from the Seesaw App downloaded from Self Service. Student accounts will be uploaded and attached to their homeroom teacher by August 15, 2017.
  4. Teachers may also access their class by downloading the Seesaw App from Self Service on the iPad and logging in.

Get Amped for Schoology AMP

Schoology AMP is an Assessment Management Platform that is tied directly to Schoology. The tool encourages you to expand your usage of Schoology as a Learning Management System to include easy access to meaningful and aligned assessment data. Assessments can be created or added from an exterior source, and content can be aligned to standards or rubrics with a direct link to curriculum.  AMP offers easily accessible actionable data right at your fingertips. Schoology AMP will be available for all users 9-12 district-wide.

Schoology AMP includes these added functions:
  1. Collaborate and author assessments or import third-party item banks.
  2. Use new, technology-enhanced item types.
  3. Align assessments to standards and curriculum.
  4. Align assessments to rubrics giving teachers the ability to use the results for grading.
  5. Use a versioning tool for easy revisions and updates pushed to sections or courses.
  6. Improve student outcomes by analyzing individual scores, as well as aggregated data.

Access Schoology AMP

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 12.08.19 AM.png

Schoology AMP will be available within Schoology in the coming weeks. Teachers will add assessments and view analytics from their individual login.

New Math Apps and Services for Grades PK–5

At the start of the 2016–17 school year in Barrington 220, we subscribed to the following math software subscriptions throughout the district: FASTT Math, Xtra Math, Math in Focus, IXL, Compass, Quick Math, Dreambox, Splash Math, Reflex Math, and TenMarks. That's too many. We have amazing teachers and given the explosion of technology access and subsequent growth of digital math resources, we found many effective ways to engage students with more math practice.

As our district continues to focus on the best tools for learning, we have acknowledged the need to more closely vet the use of digital math resources to align to Barrington 220 math standards.

Our elementary Math Steering Committee formed a subcommittee including Bridgette Hurst (Grade 5 teacher at Grove), Lisa Christianson (teacher at Arnett Lines), Jeff Simon (Grade 1 teacher at Arnett Lines), George Vlasis (Kindergarten teacher at Hough), Shawndra Shelton (District Technology Assistant), Loretta Johnson (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Sunny Hill), Laura Meehan (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Arnett Lines and Hough), Joslyn Katz (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Grove and Roslyn Road), Becky Wiegel (Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning), and me (Director of Instructional Technology).

It was our goal to find the best resources for our teachers and students, particularly with an eye on two main teaching and learning needs: fact fluency and content supplementation. We focused on tools meeting our needs in the areas of access, engagement, connection to growth in skills (particularly with options of concrete, pictorial, and abstract representations), entertainment, and a positive iPad user experience. We also looked for tools to allow teachers to track student growth progress, group students for differentiation, and measure student time engaged in learning.

We researched the apps and services mentioned above and included several more options as part of our initial study. Ultimately, the group narrowed the list to just two options for students in Grades 1–5: Reflex Math for fact fluency and TenMarks for content supplementation. Given the reading level of TenMarks, the group agreed the tool best suited students in Grades 1–5, where we identified the greatest need for content supplementation. 

Here is a video highlighting some of the feedback from our teachers and students using Reflex Math and TenMarks:

A second subcommittee was formed to include all of the Kindergarten teachers on the Math Steering Committee. This group identified some apps to fill in the gaps. The apps selected include Math Number Rack, Number Frames, 10 Frame Fill, Number Pieces Basic, Math Doodles, Math Doodle Attributes, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Dexteria Dots, Osmo Numbers, Dragon Shapes, Geoboard, Pattern Shapes, Quick Math Jr., and Animal Math.

After this investigation, our subcommittee determined that, given the exponential growth in math resources, we must continually evaluate the programs available to our students; thus, we will continue our efforts next year. We also hope to grow this project to include middle school and high school.

Here are directions to access Reflex Math and TenMarks:

Reflex Math

Teachers will be invited to join our subscription via an email sent directly from Explore Learning.  Please be sure to check your spam folder if you do not receive an invitation by July 15, 2017.
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Teacher Login: Created by teacher via emailed directions from Explore Learning Email.
Students will access this math fact fluency program through an app downloaded from Self Service on the iPad.  On-boarding for students will be completed by August 15: all student information will be uploaded and the account will be tied to their homeroom teacher. Rosters and login cards can be printed from the teacher dashboard or from the building admin account held by the LTA.
  1. Students download the Reflex Student App from Self Service.
  2. Students login using a class name supplied by the teacher and a password provided by Explore Learning.

Students will access Tenmarks from the app downloaded from Self Service. Account set-up for teachers will be completed over the next couple of weeks, student accounts will be active by August 15. TenMarks is scoped for students in Grades 1–5.

Click here to see the log on process (directions contain a password)

Meet the Department of Technology & Innovation

On behalf of the entire Department of Technology & Innovation, I would like to welcome everyone back to school for the 2017–18 school ye...