See You Later

This post is for all the staff at my current school. I’ve been with you for seven wonderful years and I can’t imagine ever working with a better group of people. Thank you so much for the opportunity. Today is my last day before moving on to my new position at the new high school. While I am excited to by all the potential opening a new school presents, I am also very sad to be leaving such an inspired group of educators. It has truly been an honor.

I will miss you. (If you can’t get to YouTube, click here to download the video)

PWCS on YouTube!

It’s amazing! It’s incredible! Prince William County Schools has an instructional YouTube channel!

The Department of Information Technology Services and their horribly understaffed IT Security group has been working for years on coming up with a way for teachers to use the great, free, instructional videos available on YouTube, and now they’ve done it!

YouTube_PWCSTo have videos added to the favorites list on the PWCS instructional YouTube channel, just complete a Help Request.

Of course, you still can only review the videos you would like added at home, on your own time. One day, we might actually see special logins for educators so that they can do their jobs while still at their jobs, but this is definitely a step in the right direction!

Mini-Byte: Piles of Passwords

Can you count the number of passwords you have on one hand? Or, like me, do you run out of appendages long before you reach the end of the count? And how many of us are guilty of using the same password, again and again, for everything?

In today’s digital world there is a password required for every corner of our lives – from work, to banking, and even to shopping. Because these password requirements are so commonplace, it is very easy to become lackadaisical about their security. It’s not until our identities have been stolen or our credit cards misused that we realize the danger of password security ambivalence.

Don’t let this happen to you! Please make sure your passwords are difficult to guess and be sure to keep them secure. This includes all your school passwords. There is a reason why our Department of Information Technology Services is “upping” our Novell password requirements – we have A LOT of stuff out on our network that folks with malicious intent might want to mess with, including student records and grades. We may understandably groan when trying to come up with a password that includes:

  • at least one special character
  • UPPER and lowercase letters
  • at least one number, and
  • is at least 8 characters long

but it’s for a really good reason that we are doing this.

Time to Exercise!

Today is a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the winter jackets have been left hanging. With the warmer weather upon us, some of you may be considering finally fulfilling those New Year’s resolutions — breaking out the running shoes, donning your exercise gear, and endeavoring to sculpt an even better YOU! Here is some motivation for you. If Wally the Walrus can do it, so can you! (Thanks to Leann S. for providing this week’s video!)

Click to download – Exercise

SMART Exchange

Are you looking for lesson ideas to use with your SMARTBoard? Well, as every frugal educator knows, free resources are always a great place to start! From SMART Technologies comes the “SMART Exchange“, a wonderful storehouse of ready-made SMART notebook files and lesson plans for your free download! You can search by subject, grade, and/or standard. How many of you like using Jeopardy for review? You can find it on the SMART Exchange along with lots of other nice resources! For those of you who are fast-becoming SMART experts, I encourage you to create an account and share the resources you’ve created, too!

SMART Exchange

Mini-Byte: Don’t be SOL on the SOLs

Yes, that’s right. Our favorite time of year is just around the corner. SOL Testing will begin in, and last most of, the month of May. No matter what your beliefs are regarding the SOLs and the NCLB legislation that perpetuates this enforced standardized testing, we need to do what we can to ensure that our students are prepared for and successful on these tests.

With that in mind, there are a couple of resources/ideas that will make sure that you and your students are not “SOL on the SOLs”:

  • On the Novell Desktop, there is a fun little icon called SOL_ePat. This icon is your friend! This is your link to all previously released SOL tests. You can pull the tests up in class for demonstrations or have your students take these tests in a computer lab to practice for the SOLs.
  • We have tons of digital resources for the SOLs bookmarked at Some of my favorites are from Jefferson Labs (Science and Math), Interactive Quizzes (All Subjects), and SOLPass (All Subjects), but there are many more there. Check them out!
  • Be sure to sign up for computer lab time NOW to use these electronic resources. The labs fill up fast!
  • Student Response Systems (aka “clickers”) are great tools to check for understanding on SOL-related topics. We have several sets throughout the building. And the kids seem to really like using them!
  • If you have any questions or need any assistance during what can be a very high-stress time of year, remember your ITRT is a resource for you! I am here to help!

Who Needs a Hug?

Browsing through my collection of videos I came across this “Free Hugs” video. This was the very first video I ever posted for one of our “Feel Good Friday” posts. Can you believe that we’ve been having “Feel Good Fridays” since September of 2007?!?!?

For those of you who can’t get to YouTube, download the video from here — Free Hugs Campaign

So…are you feeling good, yet? 🙂

PS. I still LOVE the idea behind this movement!

PowerTeacher Demo

As all of you know, our district will be adopting a new Student Management System (SMS) called Chancery next year. This is a GREAT thing! Our current system, SASI,  is old and outdated and will no longer even be supported by the vendor we purchased it from. The biggest impact this will have on teachers is with the gradebook. We will no longer use IGPro. That’s right! No more exports needed! The gradebook associated with Chancery is called PowerTeacher and it is entirely web-based! Much of the time during the teacher work-week at the end of summer vacation will be dedicated to training everyone on these new systems.

In preparation for this change, Jason F. from our Tech Team made a great suggestion about sharing the vendor’s demo video–just click the picture below. As more information becomes available, I’ll be sure to share it on our Instructional Technology Web page.

Pearson Website

Mini-Byte: The Faculty Calendar

Did you know that every important event that a faculty member might need to know about is posted online on our faculty calendar? You can find all this information by logging in to SchoolFusion and clicking My Calendar. For those of you who still like a printed copy of these events, just click the “printer-friendly” link at the bottom of the page.

AND for your convenience, you also receive daily email reminders about all these important dates. These notices list all the upcoming events as well as all your homework assignments from your class webpages.

Daily Notices

Star Wars: A Three Year Old’s Perspective

As I sit home today with a sick little five-year old, trying to keep him settled and happy while resting and mending, another Star Wars themed “Feel Good Friday” post seems appropriate. I imagine that quite a bit of my time today will be spent listening to or watching Star Wars inspired entertainment.

Enjoy! (For those of you in school who can’t get to YouTube, you can download the video from here —  Star Wars: A Three Year Old’s Perspective)

Mini-Byte: Checking for Transfer Grades

The end of a semester inevitably marks some movement of students between classes and courses. As students move from course to course or class to class, if you have a student who transfers out of your class and goes to another teacher’s class, please be sure to forward that student’s grade to his/her new teacher. If you are no longer seeing that student’s average in IGPro, here’s what you do:

  1. In IGPro, in the Show drop-down list, choose Tasks/Students/Notes.
  2. At the bottom of the spreadsheet window, make sure Show Inactive Students IS checked.
  3. Click the transfer student’s name. The date the student transferred out of your class and his/her average at the time displays in the Notes window at the bottom of the screen.

If a student has come to your class from another school, please check with guidance for that student’s grades.

The Power of the Force

We are definitely going through a Star Wars phase in our household. Last week’s snow days prompted a marathon showing of ALL SIX Star Wars movies and Lego Star Wars is currently the Xbox game of choice for the entire family. It’s nice that the things that I enjoyed as a kid I can still share with my son and not come across as just another nerdy parent. Of course, it IS Star Wars, so I suppose the “nerdy” status is a foregone conclusion.

To make a long story even longer, this situation prompted my choice for this week’s Feel Good Friday Post. May the Force be with you!

Download from here — The Power of the Force

Or view on YouTube below:

Mini-Byte: Shortcuts Are Good!

F1Back during my days as an IT consultant I had the opportunity to teach some federal employees how to use the new windows-based software that my company had designed for them. In a windows world, it’s all about “clicking here” and “clicking there” which I assumed would make their jobs easier. Well, they were quick to enlighten me otherwise. They could work like lightning using keyboard commands–having to reach for the mouse and “click” actually slowed them down. So, I modified my training to incorporate windows keyboard shortcuts and became a convert. Here are some of the shortcuts I find most useful these days:

  • [Ctrl] + [x] = Cut
  • [Ctrl] + [v] = Paste
  • [Ctrl] + [z] = Undo
  • [Ctrl] + [b] = Bold
  • [Ctrl] + [i] = Italics
  • [Ctrl] + [u] = Underline
  • [Ctrl] + [n] = New
  • [Ctrl] + [o] = Open
  • [Ctrl] + [s] = Save
  • [Ctrl] + [Prt Scr] = Print Screen
  • [F1] = Help!

Online Study Tools

Exam review starts today! There are many free online study tools available for teachers and students to use to prepare for exams and SOLs. We’ve bookmarked over 100 of them on Hylton’s Delicious site! So, if you are looking for a good way to help your students prepare for these very important tests, check out Delicious! (Also, if you know of a good study tool that is not listed, let your friendly ITRT know and we’ll get it added in a blink of an eye!)