Thursday, December 19, 2013

Screencast: How to begin editing your state webspace

Here is a brief (very brief), screencast, on how you can log in to your state provided webspace.

Note:  I don't go into much detail here on web editing here.  Just how to log in, and that type of thing.

When it comes to web editing, I would recommend "playing".  It's ok to experiment and work on new things and ideas.

Another helpful hint, is to look at other staff members pages, and if you see something you like....ask them how they did that?

And of course you can always ask me specific questions on "how to" do this, or that.

There is so many things that could be covered in a vast subject like this a 5 minute screenr video, won't even come close to scratching the surface.
(Note:  My son Cameron, just took a Semester Long online course on Web Editing...So he worked on building a web page for an entire semester.)
Here is what his page looks like:

I hope this short video at least helps a few of you "get started" and be able to start doing some basic work.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some Interesting Reading - Malcolm Gladwell

Didn't get a Tuesday Technology Tips post out yesterday.

So heading into the Christmas break, I thought I'd recommend some reading material.

One thing you may or may not know about me, is that I am a very avid reader.

One of my favorite (nonfiction) authors is Malcolm Gladwell.

He has a new book that just came out a few weeks ago, called "David and Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants".

I haven't read it yet, but it is downloaded on my Kindle.

He's written some of my favorite non-fiction books, such as:

If the thought of reading a whole book of someone you haven't read is intimidating... you can find samples of some of his work on his website.  Go to the "Articles" section...and check his archives.  Many of these articles are actually included in the books.

Have a great holiday season, and hope you read some Gladwell and expand your mind!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013: The Year of Google?

According to it is.

Here is the Link to the article.

Tuesday Teacher Tip: LastPass

How many websites do you have to remember passwords for?

As a teacher, I would assume most of you would have:
State e-mail
Infinite Campus

at the very minimum.

Of course then you have(possibly):

  •  your personal e-mail accounts (google, yahoo, microsoft....etc, etc) 
  •  online banking account information 
  • Social Networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
  • Paypal account
  • Youtube
  • Photosharing sites
  • Shopping sites (amazon, ebay, etc...)
  • Fantasy Football or baseball 
Well, then you need to have a password for each of those accounts.  AND, although most people do should NOT have duplicate passwords (using the same password for everything).

You should have an original and creative password for every account you have.

But who can remember 10-20 separate, original, unique passwords?

This is where LastPass comes in.

LastPass is an online Password Manager that basically stores all your passwords for all your websites.
For more information how it works:  Read this LINK

I think a key point to remember here, is that LastPass uses encryption technology on your local computer, so that even they won't know what your password is.  It's encrypted before it's sent out to them.

If you are wondering if a program like this is right for you... consider this information I "snipped" from their webpage.

The frightening part there for me, is that it only takes about 3 minutes to crack the average password.  

-However, don't get too worried about that...remember that MOST people have simple and easy passwords to hack, like: their last name, their maiden name, their kids name, the word "password" simply using capital letters, and adding a strengthen your password greatly.

What a site like LastPass can do is actually pretty impressive.
  1. It remembers your passwords, so all you need to remember is ONE Password, to log in to LastPass.
  2. It allows you to "strengthen" all your passwords!  No more using the same thing for multiple sites!  You can make ALL your passwords, difficult and strong.
  3. LastPass has settings that will allow you to use different accounts for the same site...for Example, Infinite Campus.  Many people have Staff logins for Campus, but also parent logins for Parent Portal.  LastPass
  4. LastPass will allow you to "automatically" log in to certain once you log in to your LastPass click on a link to go somewhere, and it will automatically log you in, if you have chosen to do so.
LastPass is available for free.  Why?  Well, they offer use of a "premium" package, which offers more features, and better protection, and "unlimited" use of their mobile apps.  (Yep, they will protect your phone too, if you are willing to pay).

LastPass looks like an interesting product, and definitely something that the average computer user should look into using.

Hope this is something that can be used, and also, hope this is something that you can spread to other people...who couldn't use a bit more security in their "online presence"?

Today's Music Video:  Though I'd reach back to my college days, and break out a little Social Distortion.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Technology Tips: Shut down your computer!

Today's Technology Tips comes to you for all users...not just Teachers...but students Too!

One of the common questions people ask with their I need to shut down?

-Because of hibernate commands and stand by modes... people think they don't need to turn their computer off.

However, please read this:

From a software perspective, an operating system and the programs you run on it tend to accumulate all sorts of cruft over extended periods of use – temporary files, disk caches, page files, open file descriptors, pipes, sockets, zombie processes, memory leaks, etc. etc. etc. All that stuff can slow down the computer, but it all goes away when you shut down or restart the system. So shutting down your computer every once in a while – and I do mean actually shutting down, not just hibernating or putting it to sleep – can give it a “fresh start” of sorts and make it seem nice and zippy again.
However, different computers and OS’s are not all equally affected by this phenomenon. Generally, a computer with a lot of RAM can go for much longer than a computer with only a little RAM. A server, on which you just start up a few programs and then let them work, will be fine for much longer than a desktop computer, where you’re constantly opening and closing different programs and doing different things with them. Plus, server operating systems are optimized for long-term use. It’s also been said that Linux and Mac OS tend to run for longer than Windows systems, although in my experience that mostly depends on what programs you use on them, and not so much on any differences between the kernels of the operating systems themselves.
That came from an article LINKED HERE.
Think of it this way...computers are nothing but machinery.  All machinery breaks down eventually.  If you run something continually, all the time, never shutting it off, you are shortening it's useful lifespan.
In addition, with Windows computers (like our school machines)...Microsoft often releases updates that are installed when the computer shuts down.
Also, for student machines...the large majority of students take their netbooks home every day.  The computer should be shut off during this travel time.  If it is on, the hard drive...which is a physical piece of machinery, is still running.  
This is what a Hard Drive looks like.
I can't tell you how many student machines are brought to me to work on that are not powered off.  Even last summer, when I went to install new programs on all the existing machines... over half of the students machines were not shut off.
So, do yourself a favor, and give your computer a'll appreciate it.  At the end of the day...Shut Down!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Awesome Picture!

Awesome Picture from Google Plus today!

This was originally posted by

Harold little

Whenever I make a blog post, it goes onto Google Plus, so I usually look on there, when I that happens.

This picture is amazing!
Have a great day!

Tuesday Teacher Tips: Thinglink

First of all congratulations to both the Elkton-LB Football and Volleyball teams.

Both had great regular seasons, and enjoyed a post season victory before their seasons ended.  Each team should be proud of the way they played, and the way that they represented our community.

With the end of the fall season sports:  CC, VB, FB...that means we will begin the winter sports season...which means BB.

I have been working with the 5th graders for a few weeks now.  Coach Erickson started some of his open gyms yesterday, and the Girls BB team will have their first open gyms of the year tonight.  Let's hope the determination and success of the fall sports rub off on our basketball teams!

On to today's subject:  Thinglink

What is  Well, for the answer to that...let's see what the actual website says about that.

"ThingLink helps you create and discover rich images.
Be creative! Make your images come alive with music, video, text, images, shops and more!
Every image contains a story and ThingLink helps you tell your stories. Follow image channels from your favorite bands, bloggers and friends. Your ThingLink interactive images form a channel that other users can follow.
Share your channel with friends on Facebook and Twitter, and follow your friends. Touch and discover."
So basically, it is a way to make pictures and graphics interactive!
Could be a very interesting way to make assignments/projects "come to life".
For is a photo of the Wright Brothers that was posted on the Thinglink website.

As you can see (if the embed code worked in the blog), this picture has an audio clip attached to it, a video clip, and 3 text information boxes as well.
Much like previous subjects we covered like:  Instagrok, Simple Booklet, and Screenr... Thinglink is a web based application that you can use to "spice up" your assignments/projects and get your students creativity flowing!
As always... Thinglink, as well as the other sites mentioned here, are saved on my "Delicious" Social Bookmark.  You don't need to bookmark all of them (unless you really want to)...just bookmark my Delicious page.  
(An aside...a great way for you to keep all the links handy for all your classes in to create your own "Delicious" page...and then make your students save the link to your page in their favorites...that way they can always find the site you are pointing them to)
I will be out of the office Thursday and Friday this week.  My wife is attending a training in Rapid City and I will be taking some vacation time (before basketball starts).  So, for Elkton Staff, I will be gone Wednesday to Lake Benton like usual, but will be out of the office for the rest of the week.
Thanks for your attention, and I hope some of you decide to give "Thinglink" a shot!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day

To all who served, or are still serving...

Thank you for all your effort and sacrifice.

Have a safe and happy Veterans Day!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lake Benton School - Scan to Inbox

Lake Benton Staff, 

Evidently the scanner has been sending things to your Junk E-mail Folder.

We can change this so it goes to your inbox.

1.        Open your e-mail

    2.       Click on the “gear” symbol at the top right of your window:  

Select "Options" NOT "Office 365 settings
   3.  From the drop down list Select “options”

   4.       On the left side under the “options menu” select the link entitled “block or allow”  


   5.       In the text box located under “safe senders and recipients” write in this address:

6.       Then, click the + button next to the box to add it to your “safe senders” list.

7.       Finally, click the blue “save” button on the bottom left of the screen.

Click the Blue "Back Arrow" to return to inbox

8.       To return to your inbox, click the little blue “back” arrow, at the top left side of the Options menu.

This should hopefully stop this from occurring.

First Snow!

Our first real Snow of the school year.

I know most people hate snow, and all that comes with it.

I actually don't mind snow, as long as the roads are driveable, and it isn't below 0 temperature-wise.

Love this picture of a "first snow".

It may be cold, and sloppy, and make the roads slippery, but it sure is pretty.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips: Simple Booklet

Teachers and Educators,

Time for another Tuesday Teacher Tip!  (formerly Tuesday Teacher Technology Tidbits)

Looking for a simple and effective way for students to display their knowledge?

Tired of Powerpoints,  Bubble Charts, and Papers?

How about having your students make their own "online booklets"?


Pretty neat little website that allows to create online booklets, from scratch.  Insert videos, pictures, documents, whatever you want.

And you can publish the booklets, and embed them into a website or blog.

Pretty neat little idea.

You do have to register to use the site, and I believe you are limited to 3 sample booklets, but another new and neat tool that you can use to produce quality learning projects!

Like all my suggested sites, this is listed on my delicious bookmark page.

Have a good rest of the week Everyone!

Monday, November 4, 2013

State CC Video

I uploaded the state CC Meet video that I made to celebrate the boys Class B Championship!

Congratulations to the Elks!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Office 365 - logging in

Here is a short screencast on how to log in to Office 365 with your K12 login credentials.

The login screen for 365 is HERE.

I hope you find this informative and helpful.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Screencast: Change your state e-mail password.

I used Screenr to make a short "screencast" that shows you how to change your state e-mail password.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Update: October 11, 2013

First of all, Good Luck to all our Elk teams and organizations this weekend.

The Marching Band is marching today at Sioux Valley.
The Football team is playing tonight at Colman-Egan.
The Volleyball team is playing tomorrow at the Chester Classic.

Go Elks!
Reminder that there will be NO SCHOOL this coming Monday, October 14th for Native American Day.

Cross Country will participate in the Region meet this coming Wednesday in Howard.  Good Luck to all the athletes and parents involved.  Both the Head Coach and the Volunteer Assistant are excited to continue the excellent season.

Nate Wolters in Sioux Falls.

Last night, former SDSU Jackrabbit standout, Nate Wolters, played in the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD for the Milwaukee Bucks.  Wolters got a "ceremonial" start for the game, and acquitted himself well, scoring 10 points.  For more info, see Argus Leader writer Terry Vandrovec's Excellent Coverage.

Did anyone see the PBS Frontline Special "League of Denial"?  It aired on Tuesday, and I watched it (streaming and online) on Wednesday evening.  Really shocking information on there, and it really makes you stop and think what the future of football is.  If you are interested, it is available for online streaming for free, just click on this link.

As far as weekend plans go... the Harmings will be painting some bedrooms.  If anyone is interested in coming over and grabbing a brush or roller, you are more than welcome!  :)

The rest of the weekend?  Well the SDSU Jackrabbits will be traveling to Macomb, Illinois to take on the Leathernecks in Football action.  The Jackrabbits need a win, in a big way.  Got to end the 3 game losing streak.
Go Big.  Go Blue.  Go Jacks!
Go Bolts!

The Chargers don't play until Monday night this week.  Taking on the Colts.  The way the two teams have been playing this year, it looks like it could be a tough one for the Lightning Bolts.  But, I'll keep cheering anyway.

For the Friday Video.... Next Week Pearl Jam is releasing their new album, so here is one of the songs from that....

Enjoy, "Sirens"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Geology Funny

Saw this funny picture today...thought I'd share.

Tuesday Teacher Tips: Screenr

It's Back!  Tuesday Teacher Technology Tips!

(don't roll your eyes at me... I saw that!)

Today's Website for your consideration is:  Screenr

What Screenr is, is basically a Screen Recording Application....similar to things like Camtasia and Adobe's Captivate program.

So why use Screenr?'s a web based program and application.... you don't need to install ANYTHING on your computer.

For Example, here is a short video on "How To Flip Images within Powerpoint"

So, What are some possible uses for screenr in the classroom?

  1. Demonstration of "How To" do something on your computer.
  2. Long Term instructions of "How To" do things that are often repeated
    (I should do one of these for changing your state e-mail password)
  3. Going over expectations for an assignment.... Show the students exactly what you want the final product to look like, how they should turn it in, etc, etc.  Send the link of the screenr video to them, and they always have them.
  4. Have the Students Use Screenr! - have them make a short video showing how they do something, or showing how they got their answer, or explaining their sources, or...???
Screenr is a very simple and easy program/application to use... take some time and play around with it.

Make your assignments and instructions lively by including videos!

Note:  Screenr and Other Websites of Note are located on my Delicious Bookmark Page.

-If you find a neat site that you would like others to know about... send me the link, and I will add it to the Delicious page.

And Just for the heck of about a little Rock and Roll on this Tuesday Morning.

The Gaslight Anthem is one of the greatest bands in the world, that most people don't know about.

Enjoy "The '59 Sound"

Monday, October 7, 2013

School Podcast #5

School Podcast #5 is done.

I talk with Long Term Sub Jean Gunderson and Instrumental Music Teacher Nicole Perry.

Click the link: HERE

Some neat photos and inspiration

I updated the school's photo slideshow this morning, and since they are stored on the Picasa Google+ Feed, I scrolled down Google Plus feed, and in just a few moments I saw some really neat photos and words of inspiration I thought I'd share.

Cool Quote from Ghandi

I just thought this was cool.

Neat picture and quote from the "Coz".

I love this saying.

I just thought this was a neat picture.
OK, Back to Work!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tech Office Update

I thought I would type up a short update with the goings on in the Technology Office, since I have been neglectful in my Technology Tips posts that I usually do on Tuesdays.

Chromebook Mobile Lab - Has been up and functioning.  Students really seem to enjoy using them.  We had one chromebook that the mousepad started malfunctioning on(it just stopped working, for no real worked when I set it up, but stopped working VERY early on in the school year)...this has been returned to Samsung, and they will be either repairing or replacing it.

Windows 7 Lab - The Windows 7 lab is also up and running.  Keep in mind that the machines in this lab are 4 years old, and have been re-imaged multiple times.  So far, the machines that have "had troubles" have been able to start running again.  It's VERY Important, that students who use these machines take care of them and shut them down correctly.  (2 of the 3 that "had troubles" were NOT shut down correctly)

Broken Screens  - We have had our first 4 broken screens of the school year already.  One of them was cause by a student dropping their machine.  Another was stepped on.  The other 2 did not know why their screen broke....but I DO see students often walking around with the screen open on their laptops.  This doesn't cause the screen to break...but if they are holding it open by putting pressure on the screen (thumb on the front...hand kind of on the back of the screen), it just makes it possible....the screens aren't very strong.

Broken Screen Repairs- Instead of returning the screens for repairs this year, I have found a business that sends me the appropriate part (replacement screen), and they send it to me and I do the repair here at the school.  This is a much more cost efficient solution (screens so far have been $67, in comparison to the $100 to have it repaired).

School Podcast - So far, I have completed 4 podcasts... although haven't done one since Homecoming week.  We had a few issues with guests who didn't want to be on the podcast, and/or trouble arranging a time to get an interview.  If you have an event or activity coming up that you would like to discuss on the podcast please let me know...  It does not take long to put one together, and I really enjoy doing them.  I record the interviews on my phone, so no special equipment needed, just some time set aside.

Forticlient/Symantec Issues - earlier in the year we had some issues with some student computers not being able to access sites at home.  This was a state issue with the Forticlient software that was installed on the student computers.  I believe this issue has been solved.  If a student is having trouble getting on a website that they need, they should contact me and I'll see what I can do.  Also, if a teacher has a site they need opened up for students...please contact me and I'll work with the DDN and get it opened up.

Colony Computers - I recently completed installing 4 new machines out at Roland Colony.  These computers have internet capability (although very restricted), and have Microsoft Office installed on them.  I also ordered some external DVD Drives for them, so that they can use some programs that they have on CD ROM.  I also need to install the printer on new machines (which I neglected to do when I brought them out there).

Microsoft Surfaces in Lake Benton - The Lake Benton Elementary school just ordered a bunch of Microsoft Surfaces for their "Upper" Elementary grades... they just came in (I think yesterday).  So I will be inventorying them, and begin setting them up for their students and staff.  With the growth of the Windows 8 Apps, and also Google Apps for will be interesting to see how they can use these in their classrooms.

Teacher Computer work - Most staff computers have been doing quite well, however there are a few "problem children" out there, that we need to look at replacing their machines.  Otherwise, it has mostly been installing programs that are needed on machines.  There were a few staff machines that were not functioning well, and they had a bunch of junk programs installed on them...these usually happen as "add-ons" when people are installing other programs on their machines.... for staff member had 4 different toolbars installed on their internet explorer:  google, yahoo, ask, and avg!

Office 365 - I did a presentation on Office 365 to the staff a few weeks back on our Wednesday inservice time.  As we move forward, I'm continuing to wonder at what a valuable tool this is for our staff and students, and that if the State K12 Data Center is going to continue to provide this service to us... the possiblity of moving to chromebooks for our HS students is more of a possibilty than ever.

Server Power Back-Up - Earlier this fall, we had some problems with our back up power source on our Server.  It was just old equipment, and it would "overload" and it would shut down the server.  I replaced this and we haven't had any problems since.

Projector Bulbs - We have had a few projector bulbs already go out this fall.  When this happens, I have to order a new one...we don't keep them "on hand" as they are very expensive (over $100 for each of them).  However, I do have a projector in my office that I can "loan out" while we wait for the new bulb to come in.

I'm sure I'm leaving many things out...but just wanted to "highlight" some of the things I have been doing so far this school year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sorry everyone

The Blog has been suffering.

The absolute truth of the matter is, I've been too busy to continue my weekly "Technology Tips" column.

However, this doesn't mean they are going away...just means I haven't gotten to them lately.

If there is an update or something of importance to be discussed, I will put it on here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Update for September 6th, 2013

Well, it's been another busy week in the Technology Office.

The new machines for Roland Colony are almost completed (I am working on the last one, right now).

The Smarter Balance Technology Readiness Tool is completed.  This is something all schools in SD have to complete as the testing moves to online this year.  It was actually quite a lengthy process and complicated...took me a long time to get it figured out.

We've had a few staff computers with some issues, I've been able to solve most of them so far, although there are a few still giving me some trouble.

The images for all the student machines have been updated for duplication.  There are a few students who had trouble with their machines in the first couple days who were issued loaners...Their machines are being imaged as I type this.

Chromebooks are off and running with grades 5-8.  All students 5-8 have learned how to log in to the network, and into their chromebooks with their state e-mail credentials.  This is really going to benefit them down the road, especially judging by the number of Freshmen who are struggling with their logins and passwords already... they were used to just logging in with the general "student" credentials...the younger students are developing skills at an earlier age.

Completed the 2nd School Podcast yesterday... that link is available HERE.  These have been pretty fun to do, and that I have the program set up, and the intro and outtro music done...they don't take very long to put together.  I have also been in talks with Mr. Farnham about his communications class doing their own podcast... a student version, I guess you would call it.  Still working out the details, but that could be a really cool opportunity for our students


Good Luck to the Elk Football Team tonight as they take on the O-R-R Raiders in Rutland.

Go Elks!

First Cross Country Meet of the season tomorrow at White.  I'm excited to see what the Elks and Lady Elks can do.  Could be the start of a special season.

Saturday afternoon the SDSU Jackrabbits Football team will take the field against the University of North Dakota.  The game will be broadcast on Midco Sports Net and Fox College Sports Pacific.

Go Big, Go Blue, Go Jacks!

Sunday, the NFL season kicks off for most of the teams.  Hope it is a fun and exciting season for all the fans.

Today's Friday Video is from 3 Doors Down... Enjoy "Kryptonite"!

Elkton School Podcast #2

Yesterday, we completed Elkton School Podcast #2.

This Week's episode includes interviews with:  K-12 Principal Kelly Neill, "Meet the New Staff" Kelsey Beckman, and 7-12 Social Studies Cheryl Harming.

The link to the podcast is HERE.

The file is uploaded as a Windows Media Audio (WMA) File, so it is best opened with Windows Media Player.

Hope you Enjoy the Podcast, and don't forget to let me know if you have an upcoming event or topic you'd like to discuss on the podcast.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

School Podcast - now online

Today, I finished something I've been meaning to do since last year.... record and complete the Elkton School podcast.

In our first episode, I interview the Head Coaches for the our Fall Sports:  Melissa Erickson in Volleyball, Tal Farnham in Football, and Ervin Gebhart in Cross County.

The link to the podcast is HERE.

Take a listen, and I hope you enjoy it.

Remember, if you have any subjects, topics, or people of interest that we could include on a future podcast, don't be afraid to let me know.

Now that I have the program up and running functionally, and I've figured out how to transfer audio files from my phone...and have the procedures all figured out... I can whip one out pretty quickly.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Nothing much today

OK, so I'm changing the name of my weekly blogpost to Tuesday Tips!

Instead of Tuesday Technology Tidbits.

And, of course...this week... I'm super busy, and haven't had much time to sit and write anything.'s a good reminder....

Run windows update when you shut down your computer.

You know how, you're working along and see this warning?

You don't have to immediately shutdown and restart the computer...but as soon as you can.

Updates are little "fixes" that microsoft makes to it's programming to help windows run smoother, prevent viruses, that kind of stuff.

When you go to shutdown your computer...if there are updates that need to be installed, you will see an exclamation point on the shutdown screen...

When you see this, you need to be patient, and allow windows to install the updates before it shuts down...If you close the lid, and unplug it while these are still running...depending on the update, you could actually hurt your machine...because if an update is partially could be damaging to have it stop in the middle.

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23, 2013 Weekend Update!

Since Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers are now both going to be gone from SNL, I should probably find another picture.
Wow!  What a week it has been!

I was joking with a few staff members yesterday that if you struggled with making friends as a teenage, you should become a Technology Director at a school, because the first week or'll never be more popular in your entire life!

I great majority of the student netbooks have been issued.  There are a few that have not, for various reasons, but most of the students should be good to go for the year.

We had an issue early on with the Forticlient software blocking all websites, however I believe we have this issue resolved.

Anyone who needs a website opened up through the Fortinet Firewall should contact me.  If it's for a legitimate educational purpose, I can't see why we can't open it up.

Next week, I'll continue to work on getting staff all the things they need .... there are a few things that need to be done for a few staff members.

Don't know if you've checked out the School's webpage lately...but I put a very short little video of our Elkton Fall Sports Athletes in action.  You should check it out...please use Windows Media Player to watch the video.

Also hoping to record a conversation with our coaches next week, and put the files into a podcast.  Of course that is only time permitting, but something I'd really like to get done.

For today's Friday Video...thought I'd go with something different than the usual stuff.

I heard this guy a couple days ago on the Adam Carolla Podcast, and he was really good.  So I thought I'd include this video here, enjoy "The White Buffalo"...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Welcome Back!

Wecome Back to Elkton School for the 2013-2014 Year!

I hope everyone has a great year this year.

No real Blog post information today... I'll be trying to get things running for everyone for the first week or so.

Reminder:  If you need me to do something this first week or so, and I say I'll get to it, but I forget because I a have alot of that type of thing going on...please don't hesitate to send me a reminder.  Just say... "hey, were you gonnna come do ..... whatever it is?"  Chances are, I've forgotten, more than anything.

I try to write stuff down on my computer, but alot of times, I'm walking in the hallway to do something, and I'll get pulled aside by a staff person ( or two) and they'll say "when you get time, can you do this?"...and it may slip my mind.

Wecome to our school!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Preperations are underway!

The new school year is bearing down on us. (Can't believe it will be here in a week!)

Tech office has been very busy.

Sophomore through Senior computers are all loaded and ready to go, except for the installation of forticlient.  We will be installing this on those machines this week.

Freshman computers are in, and I am working on completing the image for the new machines.  As soon as that is done, we will start duplicating and deploying them.

The incoming freshmen will be issued new HP laptops...HP 3125 machines.  We hope they will be a bit more dependable and sturdy than the older Acer machines, which are a good machine for the cost, but they have had some issues with screens cracking, and keyboards losing keys, and things of that nature.

Students no longer has Smart Synch program on their machines.  The program was out of date, and unsupported by the developer.

All student machine will have Google Chrome installed on their machines this year.

All student machines will be joined to the domain, and log in to the server as a user.  In the past few years, they were technically "guests" on the system.  This should be helpful, as changes can be made easier to the machines.

All student machines will run the State's recommended "Symantec" anti-virus protection program.  This is a better, and more up to date antivirus program.  It also updates frequently, and will do a better job of protecting the machines from viruses.

All student machines will have "Forticlient" software installed for off-site filtering.  Previously, we had a separate program called "Cybersitter" that we ran on the machines.  Forticlient will be a good change, as it connects automatically with the schools Fortinet Web Filter.  So essentially the students will have the same filtering on the machines when away from the school, that they have at the school.

Mobile Labs
-We will have 2 functioning mobile labs in the school this year.  1 will be a standard laptop cart, with 26 machines running Windows 7.  The second mobile lab will be a mobile Chromebook lab.  We have ordered two new carts for the mobile labs, which will be nice.

I'm excited to see how the students respond to the chromebooks.  They operate on a solid state drive, meaning that the hard drive doesn't "spin".  This allows them to run at a lower temperature, and ensures a much longer battery life.  I'm sure many have heard that the Sioux Falls School District is moving to Chromebooks for all it's High School students.  If we have positive results and issues with mandatory state testing are worked out, this could be a possibility for Elkton students in the future.

-Another change we will make with the mobile labs is that grades 5 through 8 will be assigned a specific machine.  Each user in these grades will always use the same machine number.  Be it number 5, or 13, or 26... That way, we will save memory on the machines (by not having multiple 'users' log in to each machine), and also we will be able to know who was using what machine.  The number will be the same for each lab, so if a student is assigned #5...they will get the #5 from the Windows 7 lab, and the #5 from the chromebook lab.

Student Log-ins
-All students grades 5-12 will have their own network ID and state e-mail account.  This will give them access not only to e-mail, but also to be able access and use google drive and Microsoft 365.  Both of which are provided by the State.

-Students K-4 will continue to be able to use a general "student" log in.  If a staff member would like their students to be on the state e-mail system, this is something I can do for them, but it is not required.

Other than that, we need to install Windows 7 on 4 new machines for the Roland Colony and we are ready to go.

We have a great school year ahead of us!  I'm looking forward to working with you all, and also getting to know our new staff members.

A reminder, if you ever would like me to help learn how to use a new product or device, or anything of that nature, I would be glad to help you out.  (assuming I'm familiar with it, and if I'm not, I'm willing to learn)

Thanks for all your help and patience in the past year (and it the coming year).

Friday, July 26, 2013

July Update from the Tech Office

Most of the technology equipment has been ordered, and we will continue to see new arrivals come in the next few weeks.

In fact, the new student netbooks for this year's incoming Freshmen just arrived today.

Been keeping busy, with ordering things and getting a few new laptops ready for staff members.

Also have recieved the new computers for the Roland Colony school, and will be working on getting them ready as well, however, I will complete all the student machines first.

Chromebooks and Carts should be coming in at anytime.

The next few weeks will be very busy, hopeful that I will have everything ready in time.  Although, I'm sure I will... but sometimes unexpected problems come up.

And What's a Friday blog post without a Friday Video?

Here's the new single from an old band... Toad the Wet Sprockets "New Constellation"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Update from the Tech Office

Staff laptops have been ordered and should be in shortly.

Laptops for the Roland Colony School have been ordered and will also arrive in a few moments.

Narrowing down on a vendor on our student netbooks we are ordering for the freshmen.  Should be ordered hopefully by the end of the week.

Also looking at ordering a new laptop cart for the "mobile lab".

Narrowing in on ordering 30 chromebooks with a mobile cart for them as well.

So we'll have a mobile chromebook lab, and a mobile windows 7 lab.

Working on getting the Symantec antivirus program up and running on our windows machines.

Also will be installing the Forticlient management system installed on the student machines.

Things will be coming together for the new school year in the next 3 or 4 weeks.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.  I've been busy attending alot of Basketball camps, and watching alot of little league baseball this summer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tech Guy Training at DSU this week

I'll be out of the office for this week, Monday through Friday.

I'm attending the Technology Training for Tech Directors at DSU all week.  8 am to 5 pm.

If you need to contact me... you can send an e-mail:

or text me at 605-680-9817.

Thank you much!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just some pictures from G+

Found these on Google+.

Feel free to share.

Have a Great Day!  Almost there! ... this calls for some music

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teacher Technology Tools: Socrative

Another Tuesday...another Teacher Techology Tidbits!

However, this is the last one of the school year!

I still plan to post some informational websites on here during the summer... (especially the ones I learned about at TIE that are "new to me")  but I'll probably not do it as often.  Just remember to check the blog from time to time... you may find something of interest that you can use next year.

In the meantime... this is the last week with students....

I love this picture.  Reminds me of Rutland Elementary school.
Today's new helpful website is:  Socrative.

Ripped Directly from their website:
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

What Socrative does, is allows teachers to interact with their students online, in any number of different formats.  You can ask the following kinds of questions:
-Multiple Choice
-True and False
-Short Answer
-Quick Quiz
and more...

It's really a neat tool...because you can limit the people who can interact with the data by "Creating a room" and then you get a code that you send to your students for that room.

This would be a great tool for "icebreakers" at the beginning of class... "Was the President's State of the Union Address succesful or not?"

One of our Presenters at TIE used it during his presentation...gave us a code and asked..."What was the best thing you learned at TIE this week?"  And as people responded...their answers would appear on the screen.

Here is an example of socrative working on a smart phone.
Very engaging tool for the students, and a great way to see realtime results in your classroom.

Another way this could be useful could be outside of class assignments... you could assign your students to watch something... (maybe a congressional hearing or something)...and you could ask them questions about the hearing over Socrative.  You could send out the code via e-mail or twitter or any number of methods.

Also... in case you are having trouble remembering... or don't know where to save all these websites.

I have saved them all in my delicious social bookmarking page:

There are 49 sites there tagged under "Elkton School links" on there.  So, there is no need to save all these sites...just the ones you think you'll use...and my delicious site...which will take you to the others.

Have a great week everyone!

The end is in sight!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Neat Website: Tagboard

I was thinking, that there's no way I can get all of these neat sites I learned about at TIE out to all the Teachers before the end of the school year.

So, I decided just to make a few posts on them over the next couple weeks, and you can just remember to look at my blog sometime, and try to "catch up" on some of these when you have time.

Today's site is:  Tagboard

What Tagboard does... is it searches for things that are trending in social media, by searching the "hashtags".

Simply enter a hashtag and click search...tagboard will display your results.

I think this would be an amazing tool for studying current events.  Say you want the kids to write a reaction paper to something that happened in the news, or you just want to have a class discussion on can use tagboard to pull up links to articles, and also see what people are saying out on the various social media about the subject at hand.

As you can see on the bottom of that picture, Tagboard will search: Twitter, InstaGram, Facebook,, Vine, and Google+.

For instance, this is a screen capture I did this morning for #BostonBombing.

If you click on the picture to make it full size... you can see that the tweet in the top left was posted by "Justice for Jahar" and links to an article about how some men were framed in 1965.

And there are of course, photos of the memorial (from instagram), and if you were able to scroll down... you would see that there are links to multiple articles about the bombing, the suspects, and the handling of the case.

What a cool tool to use, for real time discussion of real life events!

Here is another example.  I went to Google News, and saw that the "Internal Revenue Service was one of the "Top Stories".  So, I went to Tagboard, and searched for "#IRS".  Here is my result:

Again, you may have to click on the picture to read the postings... but you have real time discussion of real events.  I did that search at 9:39 am, and every posting on this screen capture was posted at 9:38 am.  This was as the Congressional Hearing was going on... people were posting what was said, and who said it.

Can you imagine the discussions that you can get over Current Events?  And you won't be limited to "one side" of issues, because you will have people posting from around the world with different viewpoints and different ideas.

Some possible ways to use in the classroom:

  • Social Studies - discussion of current events  (Both High School and elementary for that matter)
  • Social Studies - use tagboard for research...finding links to current articles, blogs, etc, etc...
  • Language Arts - writing a reaction paper on a current event
  • Science - for instance maybe you're study "weather patterns" or something, and there is a major weather event in the news.
  • Compare and Contrast - you could find opposing viewpoints on different issues, and have students look at the arguments and reasoning for both sides.
Lots of critical thinking activities could go on with this one.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Tagboard, please let me know.  If you want ideas, come and discuss with me.  Also, if you use tagboard, and want to share about your successes and/or failures please let me know.

Each of the examples I showed above, were done without having an account.  So, you don't need an account to use it.  Why would you need or want an account?  To see "protected" messages.

For Example:  I tried to do a search for #ElktonSchool to see if anything from our twitter account came across.  I normally use the hashtag #ElktonSchool on our twitter postings.  It did not.  

This is because the school's twitter account is "protected" and since I wasn't signed up and approved as a "follower" on Tagboard.  But, if I signed up for tagboard... I could link my personal twitter account to it, and since I am an approved follower, I would then be able to see those posts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits: IE and IC not 'playing nice'

Hi everyone!  Hope your Tuesday is going well!

Lately, I've been getting a number of teachers who are having trouble saving their assignments in Infinite Campus.  They put the assignment in, and the details, and the points and everything else, and then they click "Save" and.... nothing.

A few months ago.... there was a message that came across the Tech Director Listserv that addressed this problem, and while no one had a real solution.  Several people mentioned that they were having similar problems.

It was also discovered that this problem was limited to Internet Explorer.  If a staff member had Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox installed, Infinite Campus worked fine.

About a month ago (give or take a week or two)... Mrs. Hemmen was our first staff member to go through this.  We couldn't get Internet Explorer to work no matter what, so I installed Google Chrome on hers and away we went.

A few weeks ago, I e-mailed the Tech Guy who had started the question and asked if he ever got an answer.  He said he did not, and that he just installed Chrome whenever someone had a problem.

Today, I helped a couple other teachers with this... and decided to send my own message over the Listserv. The answer.... "It's an Internet Explorer problem".  One tech person said they talked to Campus and they(Campus) claimed that Firefox and Chrome were fully supported, but Internet Explorer not so much.

So.... You have 2 options

1.  Have me install  Google Chrome on your computer.  You can use it to basically "replace" Internet Explorer if you like (it is faster).  Note:  I use Chrome almost exlusively at home and at work.  It's faster, more secure, and it works better with more websites.  I plan on installing the Chrome browser on all computers in the school next year.

Or, if you don't want to mess with it that much... just use Chrome for running Campus, and keep your IE for your other bookmarks.

2.  I can teach you a "Work Around" in which you can add assignments through the gradebook itself.  It works just's just a different way to enter the information.

One of Microsoft's current "updates" is "Internet Explorer 10" and it's causing lots of trouble across the web.  So, if you would like to have Chrome installed...just give me a only takes a few minutes, and you'll be good to go.

Eventually, I imagine that Campus will solve their compatability issues...but for now, we will have to go with another option!

Lastly.... have you ever heard of Jake Bugg?  I subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine, and I read an article that compared him to Bob Dylan.

So I was intrigued...and he's pretty darn good!  Enjoy Lightning Bolt...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 18th Anniversary to my Shana!

18 years is a long time to be married.
(If you're not a Seinfeld fan, you won't get that reference).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits: instaGrok

Getting this up and online late today!
(Very Busy Morning)

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a few new tools and websites that I learned about at the TIE Conference.

First off, got to give credit where credit is due:  Richard Byrne is the presenter I got most of these sites from. (That is the link to his twitter account)

He runs the educational blog:  Free Technology for Teachers
-It's a really wonderful site where he breaks down numerous tools and tips and ideas.  Give it a browse, I can pretty much guarantee that you can find something useful.

Today's Site is:  instaGrok

instaGrok is a really neat tool for research.  It sort of makes "interactive" customized bubble charts.

Here is a screen capture from the "Example" of "Earthquakes" on the instaGrok site:

Definitions for the key terms are given.
You can add notes, to each item in the bubble chart
On the right hand side, there are links to Websites, videos, images, and can even put quizzes on there.

I haven't played around with it enough yet, to consider myself any sort of "expert", but it really seems like a great tool for students....get them interacting with your material.

I know, we are coming to a close for this school year...but I always liked to be introduced to new tools in the Spring, so I could kind of plan out some possible things to use them on for the following year.

If you try instaGrok and like it, or dislike it.... let me know!  I would love to share your experience.