Friday, December 19, 2014

Blogging with Students

I am very passionate about blogging with students. I am sure this doesn't come as a surprise to any of you who know me. Teaching students to be proud of their writing, express themselves in an authentic way, agree/disagree respectfully, and have intelligent conversations are all benefits of teaching students to blog. Last February, I introduced a bit about how I blog with my students in this blog post, and this fall I presented about blogging with students at the miGoogle conference in Brighton.  You can view the presentation here.

This morning, I found these great little nuggets of insight from Kidblog.  Feel to add these great little articles to your files:

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's time to change your password!

It is always a good idea to change your password before going on break so that you do not get locked out of your computer, email or gradebook.  Here is how you change your password from the school computers.

On your Windows desktop computer, press the Alt, Ctrl and Delete buttons at the same time.
Click on "Change a Password" on the menu below:

Select your username and follow the directions on screen.

PPS Staff Password Guidelines

  • Passwords must have a minimum of 8 characters, containing both letters and numbers
  • Passwords expire after 80 days
  • Passwords should not be based on well-known or easily accessible personal information.
  • Passwords should not be trivial, predictable or obvious.
  • Passwords should not be based on the organizations's name or geographic location
  • Passwords should be treated as confidential information. No employee is to give, tell, or hint at their password to another person, including IT staff, administrators, superiors, other co-workers, friends, or family members, under any circumstances

Troubles with Chrome? Clear your browsing history.

Clearing the Chrome browsing history solves many issues you may experience in the web browser.  For example, if you change your network password, and store passwords in Chrome, you will want to clear your browsing history so that your new password can be "remembered" instead of the old one.

Here is a quick video on how to clear your browsing history. (If you see a puzzle piece below instead of the video, simply right-click over the puzzle and choose "Run this plugin".)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Looking for a fun video for coding?

In this PBS Cyberchase video, the CyberSquad must program a robot to rescue their friend and complete their mission. In order to get the robot to do what they want, they must program the robot so that it can follow their step-by-step directions.  This video really illustrates well the concept of needing to provide directions in the exact order you want the computer to do them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Technology in Education is Evolutionary, not Revolutionary

This morning our good friend, Ben Rimes (@techsavvyed) over at Mattawan Schools, shared a great, thought provoking post  that really cut to the heart of what Paul and I have been preaching about in regards to technology in education for some time.  When we go in to help teachers with technology, usually the first thing we ask them is "What is your goal?"  We do this because education is about learning, not technology.  Technology is an ever evolving tool for learning, but it is only a tool. If teachers are trying to use technology in a way that is not going to be seamless and enhance instruction, then it is not the right tool for the job. Exceptional teachers are what really engage students and inspire learning.  They may use the technology to challenge prior knowledge, enhance instruction, encourage collaboration, and expand the walls of the classroom, but the act of learning must happen inside the learner, not on the tool in front of them.  Check out this great video by Derek Muller, he effectively illustrates the idea that technology is not going to "revolutionize" learning, but it will help it evolve.  It is seven minutes of well spent time!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Code the lights on the Holiday Tree in Washington DC!

Looking for a fun, simple project for Hour of Code week next week?  Why not get festive and code the lights on the Christmas Trees in Washington, D.C.  Check it out at:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How To: Write Math Equations in Google Docs

As a math teachers, one of the problems we run in to is how to add math equations to our documents.  Often our fractions look wrong, and don't even try to add a square root!  Thankfully Google docs has an equation editor built in.

Check out this helpful video tutorial from Ben Rimes (@techsavvyed) at Mattawan Community Schools on how to add math equations to your Google Docs.  Thanks Ben for sharing this great resource.

The Hour of CODE is almost here!!!!

Mark your calendars for the hour of code week! 

Computer science is foundational for all students today. Yet 90% of schools don't teach it. Last December, 15 million students tried computer science in one week, thanks to educators like you! Since then, over 40 million students have tried the Hour of Code. Please help this grassroots, teacher-driven campaign reach 100 million students by the end of the year. Sign up to participate in Hour of Code 2014 during December 8-14, Computer Science Education Week.

I participated last year with my elementary students at St. Michael's.  I knew absolutely nothing about coding before we began.  Let's just say that my mind was blown!  The kids absolutely LOVE this stuff.  They learn to think critically, problem solve creatively, and provide exact step-by-step directions in order to accomplish a task.  The first day of class this year, the #1 question I got from my 2nd-5th graders was "Are we going to do the coding stuff again?".  Now that's an endorsement!

Check out these resources here:
  • - Block based coding that allows anyone from preschoolers to centurions learn the basics of coding while programing angry birds, plants vs. zombies, or even Elsa and Anna from Frozen to follow simple directions.  If your kids really get into it, feel free to explore the curriculum I discussed in this blog post
  • - If you teach older students, you may want to check out CodeAcademy.  With CodeAcademy, students are walked through the steps of actually typing out their own code and seeing the magic happen all on the same screen.  They also offer a 1 hour "Intro to Coding" course, perfect for the Hour of Code.
  • Scratch - Created by MIT, this program allows students to use building block programing to write code.  Great next steps!
All these program are free!  So check them out today.  You are never to young (or old) to learn to code.  Let's all learn together!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Going Google #4: I have all this data from my form...what do I do with it now? Part 2

Make it visual!

Paste information collected with a form into a Wordle to see what the most common responses were for the survey.

Graphing your Data!

In a few clicks, you can graph data in a google spreadsheet.  Google has a great help document on creating a graph.  Check it out here.

Add Ons: Flubaroo - Self Grading Quizzes

Have you given a quiz with a Google Form and wanted a quick way to grade it?  If so, then the flubaroo add on is just what you are looking for!  Not only can it grade multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions, it can also compute the average score for the assignment, compute the average score per question and flag low-scoring questions, show you a grade distribution graph, allow you to email each student their grade and the answer key (optional) or send individual feedback to each student.  Learn more at:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Skyward: The New Button and Transferring Grades

Perhaps you have seen the “New” button appear magically next to a student’s name. Wait...perhaps that student is new to your class or maybe they've transferred from your class in another hour.
By clicking on the “New” button next to the student’s name, you will be provided with five options. (Not all options will be available for your use.)

Option #1 - Auto-Transfer Scores from Dropped Section of this Course
Option #2 - Transfer Assignment/Term Scores From a Dropped Class
Option #3 - Manually Enter Term Scores
Option #4 - One-Click Transfer Term Percents from Dropped Section of this Course
Option #5 - Enter a Starting Grade Percentage for the Current Term

Should you wish not to make use of any of these options, but would like to no longer see the “New” button displayed next to the student’s name, then you may check the box for “Do not display NEW by this student’s name”.

For further explanation and instructions about how you might use the New Button, please follow the link below.

Skyward: The New Button and Transferring Grades Instructions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Going Google #3: I have all this data from my form...what do I do with it now? Part 1

It is no secret that I love Google Forms.  Paul Murray and I frequently share our love of this easy to use data collection tool with our teachers and others around the state, like in this presentation from miGoogle 2013.  One of the problems I have with data collection, however, is what to do with all the information, and make it manageable, once you have it collected.  I often look at spreadsheets full of Form responses and wonder, "There are 200 responses here!  How am I going to make sense of all this?"  Thankfully, there are some really amazing add-ons and tools that, with little effort on the users part, can make the data come alive.

Tool #1: Add-on - autoCrat

As a teacher, I collect information from my students/families every year.  Information such as names, parents/guardians names, preferred email address, preferred phone number, best way to contact parents/guardians, etc.  This information can be easily collected with a Form at open house, parent night, or on a classroom website.  Once the forms are filled out, all the information can be reviewed in a Google Spreadsheet.  Wouldn't it be nice, though, to take all that information and have it automatically create a document for each entry that lists all the information for that particular child in a way that would be easy to read and reference?  Of course it would be!  This is where autoCrat comes in.  autoCrat is a document merge tool that works as a add-on in Google Spreadsheets.  It allows you to create a Google Doc or PDF and have information from your spreadsheet automatically populate the document with the specific information.  Here is a video to explain more about how to use autoCrat.

Classroom Uses:
  • Formative Assessments - Have students take a quick formative assessment using a Google Form.  Share their answers back with them using autoCrat.  autoCrat will also auto-create the document and send it out as the forms are filled in.
  • Sign Up Sheets - Ski Club Adviser?  Coach?  Activity Leader?  Have students/families sign up using a google form and automatically send them confirmation of their registration via autoCrat
  • Open House Information Sheets - Yup, I already mentioned this one above.

Tool #2: Add-ons - Merge by Mail Chimp

Sometimes you don't need a fancy document, you just want to send out an email to the respondents of the form with the some (or all) of the information collected in the form.  If this is the case, then the Add-on Merge by Mail Chimp - found in documents, is the tool for you.  Check out this easy tool in the video below.

Classroom Uses:
  • Formative Assessments - Have students take a quick formative assessment using a Google Form.  Share their answers back with them via email with Merge.
  • Confirm responses to a survey or form via email
  • Send out a personalized email to a group

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let's Celebrate this November: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving

MISS 103's photo.
November has two very special holidays, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  It is important that we, as educators, help our students to understand the significance of these days and help foster an appreciation for the things we have and the people who help protect us and our nation.  In honor of these two very special holidays, here are a few resources highlighted this month on the FreeTech4Teachers blog.

To all the Vets out there, our family, our colleagues, our friends....Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Veterans Day: Bet You Didn't Know

Here is a short 2 minute video that does a great job highlighting what Veterans day is and why we celebrate it each November 11th.  To learn more about the video and to check out other lesson resources check out this blog post:

Thanksgiving: 5 Great ideas for teaching about Thanksgiving

  1. You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving
  2. Voyage on the Mayflower
  3. The First Thanksgiving: Daily Life
  4. The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings
  5. When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America
To learn more about these resources check out this article:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Going Google #2: Add Ons - A good thing that keeps getting better!

Back in March of 2014, I shared with you that Google expanded the functionality of docs and spreadsheets with the addition of Add Ons (Google Docs just got better! Google Docs introduces Add ons).  At the time, there were only a couple of Add Ons for each program since it was so new.  There are now numerous Add Ons and they have expanded it to Google Forms as well.  Over the next couple weeks,  I will be sharing with you some of my favorite Add Ons, along with how they can be used in the classroom.

Let's collaborate!  

Is there a add on that you can't live without?  Share your ideas and how you use it in the classroom and I will share it out for everyone!

Getting Started

Haven't checked out add ons yet?  Open a Google doc or sheet.  Click on the Add-ons menu and select Get add-ons.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Going Google #1: Search Directly in your Google Docs!

This week Paul Murray (@Paul_Murray6) and I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 miGoogle Summit in Brighton, MI.  This was a great opportunity for us to learn some new tips and tricks from our fellow educators, as well as share some of our own as speakers at the conference.  There's nothing quite like a good learning opportunity to renew your enthusiasm for education and the great tools out there to enhance teaching and learning.

Over the next month, my goal is to share some of the tips, tricks, and tools from miGoogle and open the door for discussion on the ways you all are using these tools in your classrooms.

Let's get started: Going Google #1: Search Directly in your Google Docs

This first tip comes from my presentation on Doing More with Google Docs.  One of my favorite features natively found in Google Docs in the Research Tool.  This great tool allows you to do a general Google search, or search specifically for images, videos, scholarly articles, quotes or tables, then insert that information right in to your document or presentation.  With images, you can even select to only allow images that are "Free to use,  share or modify...."  It also sites (MLA, APA, or Chicago Style) your source for you when you are in documents!

To get there, open up a Google document or presentation.  Click on Tools.  Select Research.  The search box will appear on the right side of your screen.

Classroom Uses:
Now students can drag and drop images, cite sources, and search for quotes that bring presentations and documents to life.  Before the research tool was available, it was very time consuming and challenging to teach my elementary students how to go out to the Internet, find images (free use, of course), copy the images, return to the document, paste the images, then cite where they found the images (and no, Google is not an acceptable answer for the source).  Now I have first graders adding pictures to research projects with only a couple clicks of a button.  Amazing!

To see this tool in action, check out this video:

Join the Conversation:

Have you used the research tool?  Share how you are using it in your classroom in the comments section!

Skyward: Viewing Individual Student Grades On Your Screen

Keeping the confidentiality of your student information is important, especially, when checking in with students during class or meeting with parents during conferences. Well, this quick Skyward tip will truly put your mind at ease.

Viewing Individual Student Grades/Assignments

From within the gradebook, click on a student's name and a screen tailored to each student appears. There are tabs for Assignments, Missing Assignments, Report Card Grades, and Comments.

See the animated image below.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Skyward: Elementary Trend Calculations

PPS Elementary Teaching Staff:

We have received a number of questions the last few days regarding how the Skyward gradebook calculates the M, P, and L proficiency levels. This, admittedly long, yet important read, addresses these questions.

The Skyward gradebook uses trend-based calculations when determining the M, P, or L for a student's level on any given skill in the gradebook. The theory is, we want to report out where a student is on a skill today, and not a simple average of their scores over time. However, there are cases where a trend calculation can produce a proficiency level that, while correct from a mathematical perspective, does not seem to make sense. ​As with any automatic grade calculation, we recommend you spot check gradebook.

Overriding a Trend Calculation

This is a simple process - if you click on a skill's title in the gradebook, you will see a view which shows all of the scores incorporated into the skill, the trend score the gradebook is reporting, along with the mean and median scores for your reference.

As you review these scores, you can quickly change any calculated value to one that makes more sense if needed. In the example below, I have highlighted the three scores and overwritten one that didn't seem correct. (The student has a calculated P due to the last assessment having an L, but perhaps an M makes more sense?)

What Causes Trend Calculations to Not Work Well

I have looked at a number of gradebooks where teachers have reported odd results. In most cases, the odd marks are caused by one of three things:
  1. Low Max Point Values  Trend-based calculations do not work well when assessments are scored with a point total of 10 or less. The lion share of the gradebooks I have reviewed where the trend calculation is not working have assessments scored on 4 points or less. A student earning a 1/4 on an assessment will have that score converted to a 25% on the back end and will have a hard time, mathematically, overcoming it. (This happens in traditional gradebooks as well.) Solution: Enter low point assessments into the gradebook using M, P, and L marks directly instead of using points. 
  2. Overuse of One Date  Trend calculations incorporate the date between assessments into the calculation. If you enter in several assessment scores, all on the same date, the gradebook cannot differentiate for the purposes of a trend. Solution: During assessment entry, use the actual date of the assessment on the date fields, and not the date you are entering in the score. (It is not a problem to wait to enter data, just make sure you set the event dates to match when you gave the assessment.​ 
  3. An Assessment with Scores Vastly Different than Others  If you have a situation where a lot of students receive an L on an assessment whereas the bulk of of previous assessments on the same skill were at the M or P level, you can see the scores drop significantly. Solution: Consider not counting assessments that are outliers from other scores.

Looking Forward

For what it is worth, our last gradebook also used trend calculations when calculating a P, D, or B. However, it used a different algorithm. For example, with three or less scores it used the mean score and not the trend. It is our goal to work closely with Skyward to see if changes can be made to the way the grades are calculated in order to produce a grade that more closely and consistently aligns with the student's performance over the quarter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Skyward Tech Tip: Secondary - Requesting a Grade Change

UPDATED Post: Visit this newer post as it may more clearly explain this process.

The deadlines set by each of your offices for grade entry cutoff are either quickly approaching or have past.  At that time, your grades for MP1 will be locked from changes. 

If you have incompletes or other grades to enter after the cutoff, you will need to request a grade change from the office.  

This document includes the instructions for requesting a grade change.


In order for your building office to receive an updated grade, please make sure you have completed the following...
  1. Update necessary assignment/assessment scores
  2. Remove Incompletes or other overwritten grade term scores (i.e. Q1, Q2, etc.)
Offices will not receive any information or updates if the marking period final grade has not changed. Therefore, verify that the updates you have made do, in fact, affect the grade as you expect. You may see a new column appear for the adjusted quarter such as "Q1 - Report Card". This column shows the score that was posted on the original report card. Make sure you complete your grade change per the above document. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Printing Reports in Skyward for any Marking Period (Term)

You may find yourself wishing to print a report from Skyward other than the current term. The method for doing so may or may not be necessary depending on the report you are choosing to run.

Let's say you wanted to print a Grade Sheet Report for the first quarter or marking period (Q1).
  1. Start by accessing the desired gradebook
  2. Hover over Reports
  3. Select "Grade Sheet Report"
  4. You will see that all the report templates say "Current Term" (Curr Term)
  5. In order to select the term you wish ,click the "Clone Template" button at the right
  6. Provide a new "Report Template Name". I would recommend including the quarter or term you are wishing to print in the name, such as Q1. (ex. "Grade Sheet Report (Q1)")
  7. Select the term you wish to print
  8. Click "Save" at the upper-right.

Now, you may run your new report at anytime you wish.

Skyward Tip: Viewing Previous Quarter

Now that we have officially switched to second quarter, your gradebooks now will automatically display second quarter (Q2).  If you have your gradebook set up to only display one quarter at a time, then you will only see Q2.  If you still need to enter grades in Q1, I am sure there are many elementary teachers who do, then you will want to go in to the display options and select the option to turn Q1 back on.

Step 1: Go to the gradebook for which you wish to enter grades.

Step 2: Select Display Options.

Step 3: Check the box for Q1.  Click Save.

If you wish to change back to only seeing Q2, then just repeat the above steps except uncheck Q1.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Skyward: Elementary Grading - Entering Grades Directly and Overriding Grades

Entering Report Card Grades Directly without Adding an Event

There are times when entering grades directly into the report card column is logical, or even necessary.  An example of this is the Learner Behaviors, but it can be done in any area on the report card.

Step 1: Click on the Gradebook for the class for which you want to enter report card grades.

Step 2: Click on the Skill (striped) header row.

Step 3: Type in the grades for each student, or use the autofill drop down menu to select a common grade for all students.

Step 4: Click Save when finished.

Overriding/Adjusting Report Card Grades

Sometimes the grade that is calculated by the gradebook using the trend grading does not accurately represent the child's true performance on the skill.  When this occurs, it is important to adjust the grade.

Step 1: Click on the Gradebook for the class you wish to adjust.

Step 2: Click on the M, P, or L in the report card grade column for the child whose score you wish to adjust.

Step 3: Change the score.

Step 4: Click Save.

You may see up or down arrows in a column in your gradebook now.  This is okay.  It is simply letting you know that you have adjusted the report card grade manually.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Skyward Tech Tip: Entering Discipline Referrals

One of the features in Skyward is the ability to input discipline referrals. Several of our buildings have begun to transition to this method for discipline referrals. Once inputted, the office will be notified of the referral and they will finalize the discipline information.

Here is how you enter a discipline referral from the teacher side of Skyward.  To view a printer-friendly version, click here.

There are two ways to get to the discipline entry screen, through your gradebook or through the student’s profile screen.

Entering and Viewing Referrals through your Gradebook

1. Click on the Other Access menu in the top left.
2. Click on Discipline.

3. Type the name of the student in the search box. Click on the student, then click select.

Entering and Viewing Referrals through the Student’s Profile Page

1. From your Home screen, click on the student’s name.

2. On the right side of the Profile screen you will see the word Discipline. Click on it. This will take you to the screen where you can view referrals and enter new ones.

Add a New Referral

1. This will bring you to a screen where you can see any referrals the student has entered in the system already. There will be an Add button in the top right corner. Click this to add a new referral.

2. This will bring you to the referral screen. Enter the appropriate information from the drop down boxes. The school and offense will be automatically selected. You will need to choose the location, motivation, date and time. If you contacted the parents, check the box that says Parent Notified. In the comment box you will describe, in narrative form, the details of the referral. If you are an elementary teacher, the first thing you should enter is whether the offense was a major or a minor offense. Once you have all the information entered, click Save.

3. The office will now be notified that you have entered a referral and they will be able to finish processing the incident.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week: Let's keep the learning going!

Well, today marks the end of Digital Citizenship Week 2014.  I hope you all learned a lot about what you can do as educators to foster digital citizenship in your students.  Technology is an amazing tool, but as educators we know it isn't the technology that teaches the students, it is the teachers.  We need to foster digital literacy skills in our students so that they can use the tool in a manner that is safe and enhances their education.

Below is a list of some great resources, curated by Edutopia, that you may want to check out in regards to Digital Citizenship.

To read a description of these resources head to

Remember, digital citizenship is not just a once a year activity.  It is a skill that we need to nurture each day in our students.  With teachers as their amazing guides and mentors, our students are off to a great start.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Skyward: Secondary Grade Adjustment and Credit/No Credit

As we approach the end of Quarter 1 (Q1) teachers may find it necessary to make slight adjustments in a student's grade or apply the use of Credit/No Credit. Below, we will cover how to accomplish both.

Adjusting Grades

In the scenario at the right, we have a student who is particularly close to the next grade mark. A 79.36% C+ could easily adjust to a B-. To make this adjustment, click on the letter grade in the quarter column in which you wish to enter a change (in this case, Q1).

The "Grade Adjustment" screen will appear. In that screen, locate the student's grade you wish to adjust. Here, under the Adjustment Column, in the Grade Field, I have entered a "B-" (1). In the Amount Field, an adjustment of 0.14 percentage points has automatically been calculated and entered by Skyward (2). And the new percentage applied to the gradebook as the student's new adjusted grade appears in the "Total Percent" column. A teacher may also adjust the number of points to add to a score in the Amount Field (2) and Skyward will calculate the new letter grade earned (1).
(Note: Score changes will appear in green until the save button is pressed.)

Credit/No Credit (Override)

The possibility to Override a student's grade also exists for reasons such as a student or course which requires a Credit/No Credit mark. In the Override column, click on the wedgie to activate the dropdown menu (below left). Select the override necessary for each student. When finished adjusting grades or choosing the proper override, be sure to click "Save" at the upper-right of the screen (below right).

Override Codes: CR (Credit), F (Fail), I (Incomplete), NC (No Credit), P (Pass)

After clicking save you will see your students' grade adjustments as pictured to the right. Additionally, you will notice a new column titled "Grade Adjust" for the quarter in which scores were adjusted.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that grade adjustments are visible to both students and parents through their web access portals.

Digital Citizenship Week: Partnering with Parents

DigitalEDTeaching digital citizenship is not something that we, as educators, can do alone.  We need to partner with parents and the community to help guide our students as they navigate their digital world.  With this knowledge in the front of our minds, last year we launched DigitalED.  DigitalED is a partnership with Portage Public Schools, parents, and the community to foster digital citizenship.  The DigitalED website offers resources like family contracts, family tip sheets, information on Internet filtering and lists of top social media applications and what you need to know about them.  DigitalED also offers workshops for parents and community members to help start conversations about digital citizenship with our students/children.  Our next workshop is coming up on November 18th at 7pm at Lake Center Elementary.  We topic will be: The Holiday Shoppers Guide - What you should know before you buy!  Check out the DigitalED website today to learn more, and head on over to one of our favorite resources - Common Sense Media - to check out their Parent Concerns section.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week - FBI Cyber Surf Island

Today's great Digital Citizenship/Internet Safety resource comes to us thanks to a tip past on from Jeanna Walker, Teacher Media Specialist at PNHS.  Thanks Jeanna!

The FBI has put together a wonderful interactive website, FBI Cyber Surf Islands, to help teach students in grades 3-8 about Internet safety.  The goal of the website is to promote cyber citizenship and help students learn about online safety while engaging in fun, interactive games.  The program was designed to address current Internet safety threats while keeping each grade level's Internet usage and knowledge in mind.

Check out this fun resource today and get your class set up and ready to play and learn about Internet safety and digital citizenship!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week: Oversharing - Think Before you Post

Brought to you by the fabulous people at Flocabulary and Common Sense Media, this great video/song teaches our students the 10 things to think about before they post something on social media or the Internet in general.  They include:
  1. Remember the Golden Rule
  2. Don't Brag
  3. Avoid TMI
  4. Think about the reader
  5. Keep relationship details to yourself
  6. Don't be cryptic
  7. Quit complaining
  8. Curate your photos
  9. Change your settings
  10. Post smart
Check out the video (3:35 min), download the posters and learn more at:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Skyward: Secondary Marking Period End

Entering Comments and Citizenship

It’s that time of year… It’s the end of the marking period and time to shore up your gradebooks.

In this tech tip we are discussing…
  • Citizenship
  • Entering Comments


Perhaps you have seen the column at the right in your gradebooks. You are looking at the column used to enter a student’s Citizenship mark (C1). Below you will find the steps necessary to enter a student’s citizenship mark.

  1. Click anywhere in the C1 column
  2. In the screen that appears 
    1. There is an option for Mass Assigning
    2. Individual Marks
    3. Viewing the mark table
  3. To the right, see the citizenship marks and the description of each.

Entering Comments

Now, let’s work on entering our marking period comments for the report card. From within a selected gradebook, next to the “Reports” menu, find and hover over the “Posting” menu. From that list choose “Post Comments” as shown to the right.

On the screen that appears, locate the quarter for which you intend to enter comments and click the “Post Comments” link on the right.

On the Comment Entry screen, you will find a list of all your students. You have the option to enter up to three comments for each student. If you need a refresher on what each comment code means, you may click on view comment codes to the left or refer to the last image in this document.

You may bulk enter comments by choosing from the drop-down list at the top of the column (recommended). Or comment codes can be entered individually, one at a time.

Make sure to finalize comments by clicking “Save” at the upper-right prior to exiting the Comment Entry Screen.

Digital Citizenship Week-October 19-25, 2014: Let's all help our students become positive digital citizens!

It's time for Digital Citizenship Week! October 19-25, 2014

Every day, your students are tested with each post, search, chat, text message, file download, and profile update. Do they connect with like minds or spill too much information? Do they behave creatively or borrow ideas recklessly? Do they respect relationships or inadvertently damage reputations?

Let's all get on board for Digital Citizenship Week and engage students, our fellow teachers, and families in our community in thinking critically, behaving safely, and participating responsibly online. Dive into the suggested activities and these helpful resources provided by Common Sense Media and start helping your students become digital citizens you and their family will be proud of.

Get connected: Be sure to post what you’re doing to the Connected Educator Month calendar and tag your plans as “DigitalCitizenshipWeek” to inspire others to get involved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Google Classroom: Great updates just released!

Google made some major updates to Google Classroom yesterday!

Teachers can now:

  • Invite students using Groups
  • Control permissions on the Classroom Stream
  • Sort students by first or last name
  • Export Grades

Students can now:

  • Mark assignments as "done"

Great updates!  To learn more check out this post from Google for Education.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Skyward Tech Tip: Elementary Gradebook - What do I do if I have a question/event linked to multiple standards?

As we figure out how the new math program and Skyward's standards-based gradebook work together, we have come across a few situations where you may want to attach multiple skills to one event and then give all the skills the same score. For example, in your mid-module, question #3 may be linked to three different standards. In this situation, you would add an event for mid-module question 3, then link it to three standards. (For directions on how to do this check out this tip: If you immediately click save and score it will take you to a screen that allows you to type in the score once and it fills across all the skills.

If you hit save and add another, or save and back you will not have this option to fill across unless you turn on Multiple event scoring. Here is how you do it:

Go to your mathematics grade book.
Click on Display options
Click on Event Display

Scroll down until you see "Event Score Entry". Select Use multiple skill event scoring screen. Click Save.

Click on the Event you want to score in your gradebook grid either by clicking at the top of the column, or by clicking the *.

Type the score for that event in the first white box. It will automatically fill across. Click Save when finished.

You can then go back in to your Event Display Options to change back to single event entry if you want to in order to be able to select the no count and missing options.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Skyward Tech Tip: PPS Elementary Report Cards

It is October and soon it will be time to run your elementary report cards to send home to parents. Below you will find some resources to help you work through the printing of your card, as well as the procedure for adding comments.  For a printer-friendly version, click here.

In this tip:

Entering Comments (Quarter 2 and 4)

Login to Skyward.

Go to your Learner Behavior Gradebook by clicking on the blue book.

Select comments from the menu at the top.

Click Post Comments for the quarter you wish to enter.

Click the icon at the right to get the larger editing window.

Enter in your comments. Click OK when finished.

  • There is NO FORMATTING!
  • To do a template, you can set up the basic information for one child, then apply to all. Then you can edit for individual students.

Running Report Cards

Go to reports menu and select Custom Report Card.


Select Add a new Template.

Give it a name (Ex: Marking Period 1, Marking Period 2, Marking Period 3, Marking Period 4).

Click Save.

Select your options:
  • Select term for that card (Ex: Q1).
  • Report Card: Select your grade level along with the current grad year (Ex: 2017 RC 3 (401).
  • Select For All Students.
  • Don’t check any of the boxes.
  • Print for All Families.
  • Print in English.
  • Save.
Repeat for the other three quarters.


To print, click print
To print for just select students click Select Different Students

The report will run, when it is complete click Display Report

You will now see a print preview of your report. Hover your mouse in the lower right corner of the screen. Click on the printer icon to print or the disc icon to save to print later.

If you are printing, choose your printer settings as usual and print.
If you are saving, choose where you want to save the document and click Save.