Thursday, December 17, 2015

Use Google Slides to Create Newsletters

As you know, Google Slides is a great tool for creating presentations.  But did you realize that Google Slides can be used to create professional looking publications?

As a layout editor, Google Slides makes it an excellent tool for creating school or classroom newsletters.  Quickly and easily, you can create multiple rows of text and insert images throughout.  There are even built in grid lines to make aligning your content simple.

The video below (by the Google Gooru) will take you through all the steps of creating your first Google Slide school newsletter.

Watch the video

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This week is the Hour of Code!

The Hour of Code is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and to introduce computer programming to K-12 students and encourage them to learn programming.  Last year, the Hour of Code reached tens of millions of students worldwide.

Last year, more than 1,500 Winchester Public School students participated in the Hour of Code. This was an increase from approximately 1,000 students the previous year.  This year, we are hoping to increase participation to even more WPS students!

At the Winchester High School, Instructional Technology Specialist, Kathy Grace, is working with 9th and 10th grade Algebra II and Geometry teachers and classes to introduce programming .  Computer Education teacher, Jim Moriarty, is showcasing his students work by having his students present their class projects.

At the McCall Middle School, Patricia DeVries completed the Hour of Code with many of her computer classses.

At all of the elementary schools, Instructional Technology Specialists (Phil Bellenoit, Lynne Peledge, and Diane Pierce) completed the Hour of Code with elementary students assisted by students from WHS's David Petty's AP Computer Science classes.

Last years student participants found the Hour of Code activities challenging, fun, and engaging.  Below is a word cloud that shows the one-word that they would use to describe their experience in the Hour of Code.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

If We Treated Teachers Like Football Stars (video)

Imagine if teachers were treated like football stars.  Buzzfeed did and made this video that was shared with the WHS faculty at our last faculty meeting.  

If We Treated Teachers Like Football Stars (video)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

WFEE Professional Development Grant Opportunities

From the desk of Jennifer Elineema:
Hello everyone!  Please see the important message below regarding a grant opportunity from WFEE.  Thank you!

Hoping to do some professional development this winter? Maybe WFEE can help!
On-line applications are now being accepted for the first WFEE grant cycle, professional development only.  Applications are due December 7th, grant awards will be made before the New Year. This cycle is meant for teachers interested in classwork or conferences that are scheduled in the winter and early spring. WFEE’s new grant form is shorter and easier! Apply now at . Questions? Email Caren Connelly at

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Microsoft Office 2013 Resources

Has your laptop been updated to the latest version of Microsoft Office?
Are you unsure how the new versions of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel work?

If the answer is yes to either of these questions, I have found a number of online resources that should help make your Office experience better.

Microsoft Office for Dummies Cheat Sheets

Also, don't forget that if you need any additional help or have questions using the new Office software, please seek out help from your school's Instructional Technology Specialist.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Takeaways from MassCUE Fall Technology Conference (part 1)

Last week, I attended the 2015 MassCUE Fall Technology Conference and I wanted to share some of my highlights from the conference.

I thoroughly appreciated Jonathon Werner,  Library & Instructional Technology Specialist (LITS) from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, who spoke on "The End of the Sit & Get Era: Applying Pedagogy to PD".  He spoke about the little time that was available each year for professional development and how it was important to use that time to provide effective professional development. 

The main ideas that I got out of Werner's talk were:

  • The amount of time each year that we have for PD is minimal, so make the time effective and PD worthwhile.
  • Create a Hub for Innovation.  
  • Teachers are adult students!  Teachers, just like students, have different learning styles and levels of accepting change.
  • Try. Try. Try.  Foster the idea that we shouldn't fear failure.
    We tell our students to try, when we are students - we need to try, too!
  • Mistakes are important to the learning process.
  • Effective PD must encourage and nurture your PLC's.
    Since we started PLC's last week, is there some PD that would help make your PLC more successful?  Suggest it to your principal or to the assistant superintendent.

Remember that change is a process. We are well into the 21st century and need to be using and fostering the skills that will make our students, and ourselves, successful.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Classroom App: Remind

Remind sends the text
Looking for a way to send your students text message reminders, but don't want to share your private cell phone number?  

Remind is a free, one-directional, opt-in text message application which teachers can use to communicate with their students.  With Remind, you can send one reminder to an entire group (parents or students) and even see who viewed the announcement.

    Confirmation code to Join
  • One-directional means students will not receive texts directly from your cell phone.  Instead, the texts are sent via a Remind phone number (notice the (469) phone number right). Your personal cell phone number hidden.  
  • Opt-In means that students and parents must enter a confirmation code and agree that they will be contacted by you via Remind.  
  • Remind keeps cell phone numbers hidden from each party.
  • Your messages may include images, text, and attachments.

Example of student text message to join
Getting started with the Remind app
To get started, setup an account at  You may also download the Remind application onto your smartphone via iTunes or Google Play
After creating an account, share the short registration code with students and parents. Students/Parents are not required to download the app on their phones. Rather, after registering, messages will automatically come to their device – smartphone or otherwise – as standard text messages. 
Invite students by email
Once students send the automatically generated code to the number provided, students will be asked to provide a name that will be added to your Remind online roster.  It's as simple as that.
You may also invite parents/students via email.  They are added to the roster as soon as they accept the request.
One possible drawback is that students are unable to respond to sent messages.  However, students can use the Chat function to respond to you or to ask questions.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Answers to commonly asked GradeQuick questions

As we near the halfway mark of the high school's first quarter, I thought I would share some answers to some commonly asked GradeQuick questions.

Weighting your Course

Weight Terms

  • WeightTerms-Year.jpgWhen changing the weight of TERM, remember to click Change.
  • Year Long
    • Each Term is worth 20%
    • MIDTERM is worth 10%
    • FINAL is worth 10%
  • Semester
    • Each Term is worth 40%
    • FINAL worth 20%
  • Courses with no Midterm or Final
    • Year Long - 25%/term
    • Semester - 50%/term

Weight Categories

  • Categories are teacher-defined groupings usually determined by your syllabus description of how you will grade your course.
  • Examples are Test, Quiz, Participation, Project, Attendance, or Preparation
  • As you add columns to your gradebook, you can define new categories.
  • After you define a new category, the weighting screen will appear and ask you to weight the category.
  • Categories can be reused for similar assignments.
  • Remember to click Change when adding a percentage.
  • For easier calculation, have your categories total to 100.

Weight Tests

There are very few instances where you would ever want to weight tests.  Weighting tests will tally for the entire year not resetting on new terms.  Please make sure that this box is not clicked.

Gradebook to Gradebook Copy

  1. Edit -> Gradebook to Gradebook Copy
  2. GradebookToGradebookCopy.jpgCopy From … Select the class that you have added Test columns and weights.
  3. Copy To… Select the classes you want to add the tests/weights.
  4. Copy What… Test Descriptions
  5. Redo steps 1-3, Copy What… Weights

Student Info Columns

Access via View -> Student Info
  • C1 - Comment field
  • GS - Grade Scale.  
    For most classes, this should be set to 1.  If you teach a Pass/Fail class then set this to 2.
  • Student Gmail - gives the students email address
  • Grade Level - student grade

Progress Reports

  • Remember to save file under the same name (e.g. Progress Report Q1) everytime you post grades to Edline for the quarter.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tech Tip: Need help with your Google Password?

If you have forgotten your Google Apps for Education (GAFE) password, there are a few people in your building who can help you out.

Each school librarian and Instructional Technology Specialist (ITS) have the ability to reset your (or your students) Google Apps for Education passwords.

Ambrose Elementary School
Jan Bernardi Librarian/Media Specialist
Diane Pierce Instructional Technology Specialist
Lincoln Elementary School
Lee Anne Toner Librarian/Media Specialist
Phil Bellenoit Instructional Technology Specialist
Lynch Elementary School
Jessica Callahan Librarian/Media Specialist
Phil Bellenoit Instructional Technology Specialist
Muraco Elementary School
Lori Stalteri Librarian/Media Specialist
Lynne Peledge Instructional Technology Specialist
Vinson-Owen Elementary
Barbara Kennedy Librarian/Media Specialist
Lynne Peledge Instructional Technology Specialist
McCall Middle School
Jane Henchey Librarian/Media Specialist
Anna Kerkorian Instructional Technology Specialist
Patricia DeVries Instructional Technology Specialist
Winchester High School
Andrea Zampitella Librarian/Media Specialist
Kathleen Grace Instructional Technology Specialist

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Creating a Desktop Shortcut for your School Gmail

A few teachers and staff members have asked me if there is an easy way to create a desktop shortcut to allow them to easily access their school gmail account.  

The answer is yes, there is.  The video below will show you how you can create a shortcut in less than a minute.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tech Help Desk Request Descriptions

When writing a Tech Help Desk Request (SchoolDude), please try to be as descriptive as possible.  This helps the computer technicians to quickly diagnose the problem.  

To further explain, the computer technicians do not receive a copy of your completed SchoolDude form.  Instead, they receive a shortened version that includes your room number, description, and request type. 

An example of what the computer technician receives is below.

The description states, "Printer says it is out of paper but there is paper", is not descriptive enough.  It is unclear what kind of printer is not working.  

A better description would include the model number of the printer and the tag number of the printer.  

For example,
The HP LaserJet CP1215 in the mods M A-4  is giving me the error that it is out of paper, but there is paper in it.  See teacher Jane Doe.  

How to find information for your description.

Model Number 
The model number is found on the device.  For example, HP printers usually have the model number on the front of the device.

Your laptop model number is located near the keyboard.

Tag Number
The Tag Number is a code that indicates the school, room number, grade or department of your computer or printer.  It is a printed label found above the keyboard on your laptop or on the front of the printer.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Reserve a School Laptop Cart or Computer Lab

A few teachers have asked me how they can book a computer lab in my school, so I thought I would repost the instructions for booking the lab - or laptop cart - at your school.  Booking a lab/cart is done through your Google Calendar.

The first step is to read the blog entry, how to add a Resource Calendar to Google Calendar.  This step is done one time.  It adds the district's resource list calendar to your calendar display.

In the second step below, you will learn to book the time and resource on your calendar.  When you book the time, the resource (or lab/cart) calendar will also get updated so that no one else can book it at the same time.

Book your time with the lab/cart
Booking a school resource is done by creating an event on your calendar and then adding the resource to your event.  Follow the steps below or watch this video.

  1. Create the event on your calendar.
    For example, a HS teacher may want to book the Integration Lab during C: Block on Tuesday.
    1. By adding the time at the beginning of your description, you can schedule the resource for the exact time that you will need the resource.
    2. Add the event to YOUR calendar.  Google Calendar will automatically also enter it to the resources calendar for you.
    3. Click on the Edit Event link to go to the next step.
  2. Add the Resource
    1. Notice the event name in the description box.  It does not include the time that you previously entered.
    2. The time appears in the To and From boxes (see 2 on image right).
    3. On the right side of the event details page, you will see 
      Add: Guests ! Rooms, etcClick on Rooms, etc. 
    4. Select the resource that you want to use.
      The teacher in our example would s
      elect WHS-A103-Lab 
    5. Click Save.
    6. Please note: If an existing resource is not listed then it has already been booked by another teacher.
Once you have completed these steps, you should see the event on your calendar.  
The event will automatically be generated in the Google Calendar for the Resource.  
Finally, anyone else who tries to book the resource during the same time period will not see the resource under the Rooms, etc. list.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

GradeQuick: Adding Photos to Seating Charts

As we start the school year, many high school teachers have asked me how to add photos to their GradeQuick class seating charts.  This is a great way to quickly learn names and also a great idea when you have a substitute for your class.

To create a Seating Chart with photos, 

  1. go to your gradebook for the class and select the Seating Chart icon (see right).
  2. In the Arrange Seats pop-up, select the arrangement that you would like to use.  Then click OK.
  3. After selecting the seat arrangement, select Options -> Seat Labels.
  4. On the Seat Label pop-up, select Full Name, Pictures, Scaled and then click OK.
If photos are not available for a student, you will receive a File Not Found message.  Click OK for any and each of these messages.

Students who do not have a photo in our school database will appear as only their name.  

Please note: freshmen photos will not appear until a couple of weeks after school photos have been taken.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is your classroom technology working?

Welcome back to the 2015-2016 school year!  During your classroom setup, please take some time to check to make sure that your classroom technology is working correctly.

If your classroom technology is not working.
please remember that the fastest way to get it fixed is by putting in
a Help Desk Request.  

This time of year is extremely busy for the IT staff. The tech department has been busy configuring and setting up new technology throughout the district as well as getting many Help Desk Requests.  Please be a little patient, and also take some time to thank them for the great job that they do!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Welcome to Winchester Public Schools!

The Instructional Technology Specialists and the Technology Department welcomes all new hires to Winchester Public Schools! 

5 Technology Tips

  1. Bookmark this blog!
    By bookmarking this blog, you will have access to relevant tips, links, and timely information regarding technology in Winchester.
  2. Put in a Help Desk Request when you need help with technology.The fastest way to get fixes to your technology is by putting in a Help Desk Request.  Your requests also help the technology department to keep track of what kind of problems are happening in the district.  Putting in a Help Desk Request is easy - just click the link on the TechEd blog!
  3. Try! Try! Try!
    As you start using the technology that the district has made available, don't be hesitant to try the new software and hardware and incorporate them into your teaching.  Take the advice that you give your students, try!
  4. Get to know your Instructional Technology Specialist!
    Your school's ITS is there to help you to incorporate technology into your lessons and classroom.  Take advantage of their knowledge and invite them into your class!  They also can help you to use any new hardware and software in your class!
  5. Take advantage of Professional Development offered by the district.We offer many workshops in Google Apps for Education (GAFE), iPads, Web 2.0, and more.  Please join us for these workshops!  If you have any suggestions for workshops, please let us know.

ITS Staff
Ambrose Elementary       - Diane Pierce (
Lincoln Elementary          - Phil Bellenoit (
Lynch Elementary            - Phil Bellenoit (
Muraco Elementary          - Lynne Peledge (
Vinson-Owen Elementary - Lynne Peledge (
McCall Middle School        - Patricia DeVries (
Winchester High School    - Kathleen Grace (

IT Technician Schedule

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Technology Workshops

This August, members of the Winchester Public Schools Instructional Technology staff will be offering a number of Technology workshops. 

These workshops include:

Intro to Google Sites Tuesday, August 11th 8:30 - 11:30
Intro to Google Drive
Location: Vinson-Owen computer room
Tuesday, August 11th 12:30 - 3:00
Advanced Google Sites Wednesday, August 12th
8:30 - 11:30
Advanced Google DriveLocation: Vinson-Owen computer room

Wednesday, August 12th 12:30 - 3:00
Winchester Core Apps for the iPad Monday, August 24th 9:00 - 11:00
Explain Everything app Monday, August 24th 11:15 - 12:15

If you are interested in a workshop, please sign up below. 

To see the entire list of Professional Development workshops, see the WPS PD Calendar at

Monday, June 22, 2015

Muting Audio from a Chrome Tab

If you are like me, you often have many tabs open at one time in Chrome.  While I love having the ability to multitask, there are times when I will be working in a tab and one of the other tabs will automatically start playing an ad or a video.  Because I have so many tabs open at one time, it can be time consuming to hunt for the offending video-playing tab.  

Search no more.  Google has created an experimental function to allow you to mute the audio on a tab.  

Google Chrome indicates when a audio is playing in a tab by a speaker icon on the tab.  When audio starts playing in your browser, you can look for this icon in your tabs, click on the tab, and you usually can stop the video fairly quickly.  However, sometimes, the playing video can be difficult to find.

Chrome Function to Enable Tab Audio Muting

To enable Tab audio muting, type
in your omnibar (as below).

The page below will appear:

Click on the Enable link under the Yellow highlighted words Enable tab audio muting UI control.  This will change the enable the functionality and the link will change to Disable (as below).

In order for the audio muting to work in Chrome, you need to restart chrome.  Do this by typing Chrome://restart in the omnibox.

Once Chrome restarts, you will be able to turn off the audio on a tab by clicking on the speaker icon.  

Turned off audio will be indicated by a red circle with a line drawn through it (as below). 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Setting an Automatic Response to Your Email

This post was originally posted in February, 2015.  
Vacation responder.  If you are not going to be available during vacation (or illness or family leave) consider setting the vacation responder in Gmail.  This is how you can let parents and others that you will have limited availability to your email.

To access the vacation responder, open Gmail and go to your settings by clicking on the gear icon (right).
Select the Settings option.

At the top of the Settings page is the navigation menu below:

Click on the General tab, and scroll down to the Vacation responder setting.

  1. Set the first day of your vaction.
  2. Set the last day of your vacation.
  3. Subject Line. Say that you will be out of the office/school.  
  4. Message.  Be brief.  State that you will be out of the office/school and when you will be again available.  If you plan on checking your emails occasionally during vacation, say that.
  5. Choose who you want to respond to.  Only your current contacts?  Only people with or accounts?  Check neither box and you will reply to everyone. 
  6. Turn the Vacation Responder ON by clicking the button at the top.
  7. Scroll down to the bottom of the General Settings and click Save Changes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Phishing 101

Recently, a teacher at the high school reported receiving a phone call alleging that her school computer was using too much bandwidth. She did not recognize the number and thought the call was suspicious. So she hung up on the caller and reported the incident to the technology department. She did the right thing.

This call was an example of Phishing and is becoming more prevalent on the internet in both our personal and work lives. Awareness is the key to not being Phished.

What is phishing?

  • an illegal attempt to acquire personal information (e.g., usernames, passwords, and credit card number) for malicious reasons. Wikipedia 

How does it happen?

  • May happen through email messages, websites, and phone calls. 
  • Cybercriminal pretends to be someone trustworthy (e.g., bank, tech department) Microsoft 
  • An attempt will be made to convince you to hand over your personal information (passwords, bank info, credit card) under false pretenses. 

Be aware, Be wary, Beware

Phishing attempts may
  • catch you off guard and get you to give personal information 
  • ask you to download files from a website. 
  • This malicious software is designed to steal your personal information, give control of your computer to the cybercriminal, and/or add viruses to your computer. 
  • Emails and web sites may look real. 
  • Never give out your password. 
  • Only give out personal information when you initiate the email/call. 

How to avoid being phished.

Check out Visa's Top 5 Tips to Avoid Email Phishing Scams.  Also see the resource guide below.

Your Work Email and Computer

The Winchester Public School tech department will 

  • never call you and ask for your username and/or password 
  • never ask for personal information via email 
  • never call you on weekends or after school hours 
  • asks that you never provide your school passwords to anyone 

Want to learn more?