Friday, June 19, 2015

Taking your stuff with you

Over the last few days, and especially the last few hours, I helped a number of retirees archive their documents, email, and files. If you are leaving the district for retirement or other reasons, here are some suggestions to make the process smooth and painless.

  1. Plan ahead. You should not decide to archive gigabytes of content an hour before you plan a permanent exit. Archiving is going to take some time.
  2. Cull your files before you archive. Do you really need a curriculum template from 1996 or a vendor's PDF quote from 2001? Cull, cull, cull.
  3. Make one online archive. Choose a service like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, or the next big online file hosting company that you trust to store worksheets, reference letters, quizzes, and tests. Then back up to that one resource one time. You're not backing up state secrets, so multiple backups are simply overkill.
  4. If you are nervous about suggestion three, back up to a flash drive, too.
  5. Don't trust flash a flash drive for long term storage. Eventually, you will misplace it, static shock it, accidentally erase it, or send it through the laundry.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Print To Sharp Find Me From Your Phone Or Tablet

Around the year 2003, the printer in the 204 computer lab had an accident. I was overjoyed. I rarely printed then, and I print even less frequently now. Like you, though, I still occasionally wrestle with network printing, and this morning was one of those fun moments. I printed a document, trudged across the building, badged into the printer and released the print job. Right away, I noticed a typo in the first paragraph. Hike back and forth across the building to resend my print job? Not a chance; I'm far too lazy for that. While standing next to the printer, I opened the document from my phone, corrected the typo, and reprinted. Seconds later, and without a trip across the building, the corrected document was freshly printed.

Printing to the district's cloud printers with your mobile devices is here, it's real, and it works well. Yes, you can print to the Sharpe copiers from iPads, iPhones, and the entire Android family! Apple users need to make sure Google Drive is installed first. If you don't have Google Drive on your iPad or iPhone, get it here. Google Drive is already installed on Android devices. From your mobile device, sign in to your Google Drive account using your school credentials (first_last@ewg.k12...) Be sure to use your school account, not a home or consumer account, since only your school account has access to EWG's printers. If you are having trouble starting Google Drive on your iPad, this short video will help you get going.

The videos below show the rest of the printing process. The first video shows printing from Apple Devices, and the second demonstrates printing from Android devices. Cloud printing from mobile devices works, and works well. Give it a try!

Printing from Apple devices.

Printing from Android devices.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Exit Tickets and Online Assessment Tools

Last spring, principals were part of a workshop that focused on online formative assessment tools. If you are curious about using online tools for formative or summative assessment, the presentation includes a few tools for your consideration.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Backing Up Your Aspen Gradebook

I can't imagine the horror of losing even a single assignment to Aspen's digital whims, and really feel for anyone who lost an entire quarter's grades. The suggestion to backup your gradebook regularly is something I should have made long ago. For at least one colleague, backing up is too late. Did Aspen eat the grades? Was the wrong 'option' accidentally chosen? No one knows. But, understand that future loss of assignments and grades can be eliminated. The video below shows one simple, quick, solid method to backup your Aspen gradebook. Repeat after me:  "I will learn how to backup my gradebook today, and will backup my gradebook on a regular basis."

Aspen Average Errors

Aspen is presenting fuzzy numbers for some teachers in the semester 2 column of their Aspen gradebooks. I do not know why, and I am unable to offer a fix for the issue. Higher powers are going to have conjure a solution, or, perhaps, show us what we are doing wrong with our gradebooks. There is a view in Aspen, however, which will provide semester two averages using numbers that are in sharper focus. The settings you can use to display the correct semester 2 average are detailed in the video below.

On a related note, while researching the average calculation error issue, I discovered that not all teachers are sure about options for calculating quarter averages. Aspen does correctly calculate quarter averages, but uses one of four methods to do so. You need to choose the method(s) that make sense for your situation. This quick read highlights the various methods used by Aspen to calculate averages. You should review it to be certain that the averages are being calculated according to your preferred method. Understanding how quarter averages are calculated is important because order of operations differences between methods can sway quarter averages slightly. Again, you should review the quarter average calculation methods. The video below shows how the average calculation options can be set.