Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday....taking a trip to the Lake.

I'll be heading to Lake Benton, Mn this morning.

Hopefully should be back some time this afternoon.

Thanks for all your help and patience so far this school year, everyone.

It's always tough being "the new guy" and even tougher when what the "new guy" is doing affects so many different people.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits: Flexbooks

Good Morning everyone, It's nice to see the rain fall this am.

I'll be leaving this morning to go to the Roland colony, they have some computer work they need done out there, but hopefully will be back for the afternoon.  (assuming things go well).

Today's topic for Teacher Tidbits is:  Flexbooks

The Flexbooks website is here:

Some of the subjects listed at the flexbooks website.

I first heard about Flexbooks about a year ago.

Basically, what they are, is a collection of online textbooks that you can use in your classroom.

Some of the neat features of flexbooks are as follows:
1.  You can create your own "online textbook" for students to go to.
2.  You can pick and choose what chapters and content you want to include in your textbook.
3.  You can attach worksheets, reading guides, etc, etc... materials to your flexbook.
4.  Individual chapters of Flexbooks can be downloaded as a pdf document, in a format that can be read as in a Kindle, and also for an Ipad.

I have personally never used them in the classroom.  But I do think they could be a wonderful resource for teachers who have older/outdated textbooks.  And a great alternative web resource for any classroom.

With the way society is going, with wireless devices, and e-Readers, I do think something like Flexbooks are the wave of the future.

In a similar vein, Apple's iTunes store carries a number of educational textbooks.

I hope your Tuesday goes well.  We've got a full week under our belts already.  Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you.  Things are starting to settle down, and I will have more time to help out in the classroom and with individual teachers.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday, August 27th Student Stuff

Busy Morning in the Tech Office this morning.

A few items of interest for students...


-For whatever reason the Printer drivers for the North Lab printer did not come through in the duplication process.  I have figured the problem out, and am able to install the North Lab printer on your computers, but I will have to do this one computer at a time.  If you have a time or a class where you won't leave your laptop, you can leave it with me and I'll get it installed for you.  It takes 5-10 minutes to do.

Sophomores - Microsoft Office

On the image for the Sophomore's computers, the Microsoft Office software was not installed.  I can install this for you, but like the printers, I have to do each computer individually, one at a time.  This takes about 20-25 for each computer.

Internet Connectivity

There are a few students who are struggling with internet connectivity.  If this is a problem for you, find a time when you do not have to use your computer, and come visit me.


-To the Boys CC Team for their victory last Saturday in Deubrook.
-To the Girls CC Team for their 3rd place finish at Deubroook.

Hope Everyone has a great second week of school!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Issues solved, and a big project coming.

The student netbooks have all been passed out, and most of them seem to be working well.

We did run into a few snags, in that some of the freshman computers were losing internet connectivity.  I have the solution to this problem, and it can be fixed fairly quickly.

The other problem, was that student computers were unable to connect to the North Lab network printer.  It took me a good portion of today to find the answer.  Basically, what happened was during the duplication process the drivers for that printer were not installed.

The good news, is that I have found the driver and will be able to install the printer on the student computers.

The bad news, is that I have to do this on each individual student's computer.  So, it is going to take some time to get through all of them.  But we will get them done.

Big Project:
The Touchscreens have arrived for the elementary computers.  I am hoping to start the process of installing the software on these computers soon, and I can actually place them in the classrooms once this is done.  The projectors for these computers are not here yet, and that will be another stage of installation, but we are getting closer.

I apologize wholeheartedly for the delay in getting these done.  We wanted to have them in before the school year started, but ran into a few snags along the way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits: Windows updates

Just a real, real, short "Tidbits" for today.

One thing that happens to computers, especially when they have not been used for a while, is that they haven't been "updated".  Microsoft Windows run frequent "updates" to their programs, and typically try to install them in your computer about once a week or so.  (It can vary)

You may have seen something like this pop up on your computer from time to time:

While you don't have to run the updates immediately, it is good practice to do them when you have time, or at least when you shut down for the day.

The reasons for the updates are multiple, but without going into too much detail...they help your computer run better and faster.

If you haven't run your computers for awhile, you may have several updates that need to be installed on your machine.  This can take as little as 10 minutes, or as long as several hours.

Sometimes you might see a little yellow exclamation point when you go to shutdown your computer.

This means that updates need to be installed, before the computer shuts down.  When you see this, it is important that you do NOT close the screen until the updates are complete.  It is not necessary to close the lid anyway, as the machine will shut down when finished.

So...things to remember:
1.  Run your windows updates (as often as you can)
2.  Restart your computer when you can..when you see the warning box.
3.  When you see an "update warning" when you shut down... DO NOT close the lid until the updates are complete.

Have a great school year everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday work day.

A long day in the books yesterday (worked til 7 pm).

Another long day today, with the Open House from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.

I'm working diligently on preparing the computers for imaging.  I thought I had the image ready, but then realized I need to add a few more programs.  Hopefully I can get rolling today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 16th

I'll be heading over to Lake Benton this morning.

When I return, I'll be doing lots of work on the student netbooks.

Busy, busy, busy in the tech office this week.  I feel like I'm spinning in circles.

Open House will be Thursday night, August 16th from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.  I'll be presenting on the netbooks and their usage to Freshmen and new students, and their parents.

Hope things are going better (faster) for everyone else.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits: Edmodo

Welcome back to another exciting edition of Teacher Tidbits!  I'm sure you've been eagerly waiting for the second installment.

Today's topic is Edmodo.  Link

I should mention that although I can see where elementary teachers and classes could use edmodo for certain classes, this is going to be mainly geared toward MS and HS students and classes.

What is Edmodo?

Well, to put it simply, Edmodo is a Course Management System (CMS) that allows you to give assignments, set the calendar, collect assignments, give quizes, etc, etc...

Here is a short Youtube video that goes over some of the basics.

Why use it?

First off all, it is very simple and easy to use.  I started using it last year in my High School PE classes for our Health/Assignment days, and was so happy with it, I started using it in all my MS Health classes.

Secondly, for me it was helpful in keeping all assignments, quizzes, discussions, in one central location.  Instead of having students turn in one assignment here, and one assignment there, I had everything turned in via edmodo.  There is even a quizmaker right on the edmodo site, so you can put your assessments on there.

Third, It looks like Facebook.  What better way to connect with students, than to use a format that they are familiar with.  In fact, that is what Edmodo calls itself, "an educational social network".

Edmodo's format is very similar to Facebook.

Fourth, Edmodo can be integrated throughout the school.  Students only need to remember one username and password to get into Edmodo.  Each class (or "group" in Edmodo terms) is assigned a specific code by Edmodo, the Teacher then shares that code with the students, and they join the group.  So once a student is logged in to Edmodo, they can simply switch classes by clicking on the appropriate group.  Multiple classes can be accessed with one simple log in.

Fifth, anything you want the students to do... visit a website, write a paper, listen to a podcast, can be linked to the class page.  Basically any web based activity can be accessed from their class page, and it will remain there, until you decide to take it off, or not.

Sixth, you are in control.  You can limit if the students can make public posts to the class.  You can set cut off dates for assignments.  You can re-set a student's password if they forget.  If a student withdraws from your class, you can remove them.

7th, Parental Involvement.  For each student, they have a code that can be given to their parents.  Their parents can then see every assignment that has been given them through Edmodo.  They can also see the assignment that their student has turned in.  Parents will need to have their own login and password, and you can provide them with the code for their student.  After that, it's easy.

8th Mobile Format.  Edmodo has a mobile app, that allows Teachers/Students/Parents to access their Edmodo over their Smart Phones.

I only used Edmodo in the classroom for one school year.  But only because I hadn't heard of it before then. I do see that the Elkton staff has been exposed to Edmodo (although I'm not sure as to how much), as it is a link included on the school's links page.

Before that I used the State's webct program (Which is now Blackboard).  That worked fine, but I much preferred Edmodo.  It was just easier to use, and the students enjoyed the edmodo format much more.  In addition, the longer I used it, the more I was able to integrate it into what I was doing.  It got to the point where my Health students were surprised and disappointed if we weren't working on Edmodo that day.

If you ever need help in getting started on Edmodo, send me an e-mail and I'd be glad to assist you.  It's a really neat tool, and something that can be used throughout the curriculum.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday, August 13th

Back at work this morning.  Taylor and Cameron came with me this trip, to start Cross Country practice today.

Hopefully Dad can convince them to come and help with getting some of the computers ready.

Continuing to place orders for toner, and other things.

Computer bags for the HS netbooks are in!

I'll be busy imaging some nettop computers this afternoon.  And doing a few other things.

Busy week ahead of me.  Probably a few late nights.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday, August 10th

Looking forward to heading home today and seeing my family.

We are progressing toward getting the student nettops ready.  Just have to get the authorization code for our Cyber Sitter program, and we will begin installing the image on this year's computers.

Most of the equipment has been ordered for the Teacher workstations with the touch screen set up.  We just need to get everything in, and we can begin installations.  I'm hopeful that we can get these done the first few weeks of school.

On the home front, our home loan is progressing nicely, and we are hoping to be able to move into Elkton in about a month.

Today, I'll be working on getting a computer working for Mr. Gebhart, that will be used on running our new scoreboard application.

Last night, I got to watch my San Diego Chargers defeat the Green Bay Packers in NFL preseason action.  Got to watch with my Dad, who is a huge Packers fan.

Also last night, the Los Angeles Lakers completed a 4 team trade that acquired Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.  As a Lakers fan, I'm very excited about the Lakers team for next season.  Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.  Wow.  What a line-up.

Today's Friday video is one of my favorite songs from Fleet Foxes.  Enjoy "Mykonos".

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Biorhythms - suffering

A Biorhythm is :  A recurring cycle in the physiology or functioning of an organism, such as the daily cycle of sleeping and waking.

And mine are suffering.

Running back and forth between Chamberlain and Elkton, staying at my parents house without my wife and children, I can't get "into the groove".

Things are going well, but my sleep schedule is off, which throws everything else off.  It's amazing how important a solid nights sleep is.

Looking forward to next week, when Taylor and Cameron get to come with me as they are starting CC practice.

Also looking forward to the Cross Country season.  It is possibly my favorite sport to watch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Headed to Lake Benton

I'm leaving to work at Lake Benton School in about 15 minutes or so.

If you need to get in touch with me, just send an e-mail to my state e-mail account:

I should be back in Elkton some time this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits: Blogging

Tuesday Teacher Tidbits? - not very original, I know.  If you think up a better title, let me know, and I'll change it.

Today's topic is blogging.

What is blogging?  Well according to a blog is - a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' ownexperiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often havingimages and links to other Web sites.

One thing I have learned in the short time that I've had my blog (about 2 years) is that there is a hesitance among teachers to post things on the Internet that can be seen by others.  A blog can be set up with many different privacy settings.

  • You can make your blog Public or Private.  
  • You can allow comments, you can allow comments only for followers of the blog, or you can eliminate comments, altogether. 
  • You can allow your blog to be found by search engines, or you can block it from search engines.
So there is no need to fear about your blog information "falling into the wrong hands" or having someone make rude or inappropriate comments on it.  Your Privacy settings are up to you, and you can adjust them however you like.

So, why blog?  What's the use or benefit in an educational setting?  I'll give some of my thoughts, but first, I thought I'd include this video from YouTube.

So why did I create my blog?  What do I use it for?

1.  Information

I used to tell my students and parents that my blog was like an "online billboard" and I just posted stuff on there about upcoming events and things of that nature.  "Chapter 5 Test on Friday"  "Late Start next Thursday"  

2.  Community Building

I also use the blog to wish good luck to other people and groups in the school community.  "Good Luck to the Girls Volleyball team as they host Duebrook tonight", that kind of thing.  Also, Congratulations to various groups, teams, clubs, etc...

3.  Recognizing Students

Everyone seems to like seeing their name, in a positive light, on the Internet.  If you have a student or two who are really doing some great things, you can call attention to it on your blog.  Depending on the material, you could also link to their work right off of the blog.  This is one thing I did not do enough of as a classroom teacher.  I should have done this more.

4.  Special Dates

This is probably more geared toward elementary students and teachers, but recognizing a student's birthday on your blog is quick, and easy, and makes them feel special.  I did this on my blog last year for my boys Marcus and Miles, and then I e-mailed the link to their classroom teachers, their teachers were kind enough to show the boys in school.  You can do this for many things, and yes I include my own children on my blog, it is after all "MY" blog.

5.  Recommendations

Are you using a new product that you love?  Or dislike?  Blog about it!  Have you read a good book lately? Tell people about it.  Find out about a new website for students?  Put it on your blog.  Anything and everything you want to share with the world is fair game.

If anyone is interested in blogging, starting a blog, etc, etc and would like some help in setting one up, just send me an e-mail and we'll set up a time to go over some things.  It's really quick and easy, and you'll be up and going in no time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Elementary Teachers: Maily

Saw this article, and I thought Elementary teachers may be interested in introducing something like this to their students.

Pretty neat.

Friday, August 3rd

In the office again today.

Hoping to finish some teacher laptops this morning.

Next week the plan is to get the teacher nettops running, and order some more equipment for the touchscreen setups.  Once all the orders are completed, and the equipment has arrived, we will begin installing.  Still hoping to get them up and running by the start of school, but if that doesn't happen it won't be long after the start of school.  The major holdup has been getting the correct projector to make the system work.  We have ordered two different ones that weren't capable of doing what we wanted.

I'm also working on Infinite Campus, learning how to get people logins and etc.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, I'll be heading back to the River City, and back in Elkton on Monday.

For the Friday video this week, let's go with something upbeat, enjoy Katrina and the Waves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back in Elkton today.

I'm back in Elkton today, and it's already been a busy morning.

I added a few more websites to the Delicious "Stack" that I created for Elkton School.

Finally got a working login and password for Campus!  Now I just gotta learn how to use all my rights and such.

Looks like a busy day.  I'll be working until noon tomorrow (Friday), and then heading back to Chamberlain.  I'm starting to miss my family.  Looking forward to the start of CC season, and I'll at least have Taylor and Cameron here with me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back to Benton (Lake style)

I'm headed back to Lake Benton today, will be preparing the netbooks for the upcoming year.

Keeping busy and meeting new people each day.  Hope everyone is getting prepared for the new school year.