Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merge Table Cells In Google Docs Now Available

I've been waiting for this one for a long time and it's finally available.  You can now merge cells inside tables in Google Docs.  After inserting a table, simply highlight the cells you want to merge, right-click on the selected cells (2-finger click on Chromebooks) or choose the Table menu, and choose Merge Cells.  Let the custom formatting begin!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

No Tech Can Revolutionize Education, Just Relationships

Earlier this morning, while reading a post on the te@chthought blog, I learned about the video This Will Revolutionize Education recently posted on the Veritasium YouTube channel.  I really enjoyed the video and agree with most of the points made, especially the statement "The job of a teacher is not to deliver information. It is to guide the social process of learning. The job of a teacher is to inspire, to challenge, to excite their students to want to learn."

There is no single tool, application, or other technology that will ever revolutionize education.  It will always be about relationships.  The relationships between the students and their teachers, between students and their peers, between the educators and their colleagues, and between all the stakeholders and the leadership.  I wholeheartedly believe that the district I work for gets this and that is one of the many reasons that moving to a 1:1 teaching and learning environment over two years ago has found so much success at Leyden.  Because it's not about the tools.  It's about relationships.

One topic not covered in the video, that I have certainly witnessed at Leyden over the past 2+ years, is how effectively used technology can foster those ever important relationships and improve the guidance of the "social process of learning".  Our 1:1 environment has connected everyone far beyond what can be accomplished in a single 50-minute class period or 7-hour school day.  From the always available digital presence of a class in our content learning system to simple email communications, everyone is connected to information, resources, and each other.  In addition, the synchronous and asynchronous collaborative tools that we all use provides an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the process of learning and working instead of evaluators and reviewers of products.

While no single technology can revolutionize education, the collection of effectively integrated technologies can certainly strengthen relationships and maybe, just maybe, that will lead to a revolution.

Here's the video:


Friday, November 7, 2014

Proud To Be A Public District On The List




It was a real honor to find Leyden High School District 212 on Tom Vander Ark's (@tvanderark) 100 Schools Worth Visiting post on GettingSmart.com today.  What I am most proud of is that Leyden is one of the few truly public school districts on this list.  That is a huge testament to the Leyden Board of Education, the administration, the faculty, staff, community, and most certainly the student body.  We are now in our third year being fully 1:1 with all 3.400 students getting issued Dell Chromebooks and have been happy to share our story with thousands of educators around the country by way of opening our doors for site visits, hosting a 3-day 1:1 summer symposium each of the last two summers (and doing it again next summer), participating in webinars, sharing at conferences, and much more.

I have been attempting to archive as many resources as I can remember to add to the 1:1 at Leyden page on this blog.  You can also access this list using bit.ly/Leyden1to1Resources.  I hope you find something there that helps and please feel free to reach out with questions.  I am always happy to share and learn from others, as well.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Shade Alternate Rows in Google Sheets

A few days ago I learned about shading alternate rows in a Google Sheet using the =ISEVEN(ROW()) formula in the Conditional Formatting tool from the Digital Inspiration blog: How to Color Alternate Rows in Google Sheets.



I followed the steps and put together a screencast:




Friday, September 19, 2014

Tech Orientation for New/Transfer Students During the Year




There are so many positive components to our Tech Support Internship (TSI) class here at Leyden.  Those of you following our 1:1 digital evolution over the past 2+ years may already know that TSI is our Level 1 tech support for the entire district and all of the students work on learning pathways when they are not actively engaged with a support ticket.  Yet another way that TSI is used is to provide a tech orientation for every new/transfer student that arrives throughout the school year.  Here's a list of what gets covered:
  • Proper Chromebook Usage & Care
    • Storing/carrying the Chromebook (case usage)
    • Preventing screen damage
    • Preventing charging port damage
  • Introduction to the Chromebook
    • Logging into the Chromebook
    • Capabilities of the Chromebook
    • Finding files/downloads
  • E-Mail
    • Sending, replying to, and forwarding emails
    • Organizing emails into folders/labels
    • Using tasks to stay organized
  • Google Drive
    • Creating a document, spreadsheet, and presentation
    • Sharing Docs (view vs. edit permissions)
    • Creating new folders
    • Using/accessing automatic class folders (set up by Teacher Dashboard)
  • Google Calendar
    • Creating new calendars
    • Accessing automatic class calendars (set up by Teacher Dashboard)
    • Adding events to a calendar
  • Chrome Apps & Extensions
    • Accessing the Chrome Web Store
    • Extensions vs. Apps
    • Adding extensions and apps
    • Common educational extensions and apps
  • Chromebook Troubleshooting
    • Shutdown vs. sleep mode
    • Clearing the history/cache
    • Deleting extensions
    • Accessing the Internet at home
  • Home Access System (our student management portal)
    • Logging into HAC
    • Grade checking and other features
  • OpenClass (our content/learning management system)
    • Purpose of OpenClass
    • Accessing classes in OpenClass
Sure, this may take an entire period to complete, but the new/transfer students walk out of TSI connected to our critical systems and with a general understanding of how we operate in our 1:1 environment.  It's an invaluable service offered by our TSI students and it provides them with additional ownership over what we're doing here at Leyden.  The best part of all... this service was completely thought up, designed, presented, and implemented by the students and teachers!

Leyden TSI rocks!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Leyden at ISTE 2014 = The Recharge I Need

photo credit: thetechbuzz via photopin cc

Every year at this time I need a recharge.  While most are enjoying their summer break, I am submersed in closing out/rolling over about half a dozen of our systems; putting together and uploading files into our state database; setting up and managing systems for summer school; managing big summer projects like getting new Chromebooks for all of our students and setting up a new VOIP phone system; preparing for our 1:1 Summer Symposium; running a multi-day technology orientation for our new teachers; overseeing new laptops being set up for about one fifth of our faculty and summer maintenance for the rest; planning for and executing the upgrade to a few of our curriculum specific computer labs; and trying to find time to write evaluations for my team members.  I often find myself staring at my extensive to-do list, or adding to it, and not knowing where to begin.  I need a recharge!

Enter stage right, the ISTE conference.

I enjoy lots of conferences from the perspective of both presenter and learner, but there is something special about ISTE.  Yes, the keynotes and sessions can be informative and inspiring.  Yes, the workshops provide some great takeaways.  Yes, you can connect with members of your PLN in person to create lasting memories.  Yes, you can even expand your PLN with new contacts.  Yes, you can feel like a kid in a candy store in the exhibit hall.  Yes, you can get a rush from delivering a presentation that others find helpful.  Yes, yes, and yes.  But for me, honestly, ISTE is special because I get to bring teachers from my district with me.  Some of them have never even attended a conference.  Hands down, my biggest thrill comes from seeing the excitement in their eyes, witnessing them connect with others, watching them present, and learning about the fires that get lit under them.  That is exactly the recharge I need!

Here is the Leyden group that will be attending ISTE 2014 and a few of the places you can find them.  I hope some of you that are reading this and attending the conference will get a chance to connect with them.

The Group:

  • Mike Fumagalli (@mfumagalliELHS) - Science teacher
  • Maura Gavin (@MauraGavin) - Social Studies teacher
  • Marisa Kapinos (@KapinosELHS) - Science teacher
  • Michelle Marchese (@MsMarchese1)- English teacher
  • Justin McCabe - Special Education teacher (hopeful that a Twitter account is in the near future)
  • Stephanie Zeppetello (@SZeppetello) - Math teacher
  • Todd Veltman (@leydenateam) - Instructional Technology Coach
  • Mikkel Storaasli (@LeydenASCI) - Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
  • Jason Markey (@JasonMMarkey) - East Leyden Principal
  • Anita Huffman (@MsAHuffman) - New East Leyden Assistant Principal starting July 1
  • Me, Bryan Weinert (@LeydenTechy) - Director of Technology

The Presentations:

  • Student empowerment, choice and voice: Authentic learning, making and leadership
    Poster session by Anita Huffman
    Sunday, June 20, 8:00-10:00 am
    GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 29
  • Principal leadership for digital age schools
    Listen and Learn Panel including Jason Markey
    Monday, June 30, 10:45-11:45 am
    GWCC B303
  • Writing in the Cloud: Best Practices for Student Feedback/Virtual Writing Conferences
    Google Playground Presentation by Jason Markey and Michelle Marchese
    Monday, June 30, 2:00-2:30 pm
    GWCC Building A, Level 3 (near Room A313) - Stage B
  • Teacher Dashboard: The Missing Piece to Our 1:1 Puzzle
    Booth Presentation by Bryan Weinert and TBD
    Monday, June 30, 2:30-3:00 pm
    Exhibit Hall booth #3014
  • Using Google Apps to implement Next GSS in 1:1 environment
    Poster session by Mike Fumagalli
    Monday, June 30, 4:00-6:00 pm
    GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 20

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our End-of-Year Chromebook Procedures

I still can't believe it!  It's May 15 and today is the last day for our seniors.  This year, like most, has just flown by.  I thought I'd share how we are ending our year and transitioning to new Dell Chromebooks for the 2014-2015 school year.  If you've been following my blog, you may recall that at this time last year we were gearing up to collect the Chromebooks from all 3,400 of our students (Chromebook Check In at Leyden - 5/23/13).  Things have certainly changed this year.  Here's an overview of what we're doing:

  • All students are being given the opportunity to purchase their assigned Samsung Series 5 Chromebook (and only their assigned device) for the low price of $25.00.
  • Seniors are being required to stop by a designated location at their home campus after their last final exam today to check-in their Chromebook and charger (we're letting them keep their cases) and either purchase their device or turn it in.
  • All Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors are being allowed to keep their Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks over the summer.  When the new Dell Chromebooks arrive, we'll send out some mass communications and allow the students to stop by our summer school Tech Support Intern (TSI) room to either purchase or turn in their Samsung and check-out their new Dell.  If students don't stop by over the summer, they will complete this process the week before school begins during our traditional registration/book pick-up event.
  • We set up a web-based system for students to access in order to verify the serial numbers of the Chromebook and charger that are assigned to them or look-up the owner of the equipment they may have in their possession if it's not theirs.
  • We put together the following check-in form for our students:


  • Any Samsung Series 5 devices that are not purchases will either become loaner devices next year, put on our district bid-list for community members to purchase, or sold off for parts.

Well, it's 9:00 a.m. and I've got to go start the training for our staff that is going to run the senior check-in.  And so it begins... or ends.