Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Don't be Held Ransom!

Online security is a serious topic in our digital society and we all need to be extremely diligent in order to protect our information and resources. As we all recently learned, just one accidental click on an attachment in an email can cause a lot of damage and loss of information. The virus that attacked our network was a "ransom virus" and was very intentional. We were asked to pay a ransom to recover the encrypted files, however our district was advised to not pay this ransom. Typically when organizations do pay the ransom there is no guarantee that all files will be recovered. After several hours of work, we were able to remove the virus and recover the majority of files on our network.

I recently attended an Internet Security session led by an FBI agent. It was a little overwhelming and unsettling, but he did provide some tips and information to help users protect themselves and their information.  While hardware and software can help protect you against many attacks, one of the most important tools to protect yourself is knowledge and diligence.

Things to look for in a Fraudulent or Phishing Email:
  • Incorrect date on the Email
  • No address in the "To" line
  • Misspelled words or grammar
  • It will ask you to click on a link to visit their website. 
    • Do not click on hyperlinks or links attached in the email, as it might direct you to a fraudulent website.
    • Type in the URL directly into your browser or use bookmarks / favorites if you want to go faster.
    • Only enter sensitive data on a secure website. (In order for a site to be ‘safe’, it must begin with ‘https://’ and your browser should show an icon of a closed lock.)
  • The sender is unknown, however many times these emails will falsely come from someone in your contact list.
  • If you suspect anything suspicious do not click on anything and delete the email!

NEVER provide the following information to anyone on the phone or in an email:
  • Your social security number
  • Your user name
  • Your password or pin number
  • Any personal or banking information
  • Credit card information

What Next?

If you suspect that you may have clicked on something questionable or downloaded an attachment in a Randsomware email, please do the following:  Power down...Unplug...Call!  This will isolate the attack to your computer and not affect the network. Check out this short video, Protecting yourself from Ransomware that Reginald Smith from the Wausau School District created to emphasize this.

Password Reminders
  • Use a mix of numbers, letters and symbols
  • Don't use common names or personal information
  • Do not save your passwords in your browser.
  • The longer the password, the harder it is to crack
  • Do not use the same password for every website
    • Take a sentence and turn it into a password.
      • Example: WOO!TPwontSB = Woohoo! The Packers won the Super Bowl!
    • Use a common "hard to crack" password and add something unique for each site. 
      • Example: c0ff33!APPLE and c0ff33!FACEBOOK
Did you know that one of the most common passwords that people use is "password123"? Take a look at this Jimmy Kimmel video to see how easy it can be for someone to get your password.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is Copyright a Little Fuzzy?

Image by Liene Karels, Copyright support postcard CC Attribution
While copyright is not always an exciting topic, it is important to be aware of what we can and can not do as educators. In addition we need to share this information with our students.
Copyright law is all about balance. Copyright is intended to protect original works, but it also ensures that people can access and re-use creative works in new ways. When students are working with digital resources online, they need to remember the following:
  • Check who owns it.
  • Get permission to use it.
  • Give credit to the creator
  • Buy it if necessary
  • Use it responsibly
This interactive website can help you learn how you can make full use of a variety of resources, such as books, television, music, films and websites. The website has organized the information into different uses of materials and then provides information on how you can use that material legally.

If you are looking for lessons to help teach copyright, Common Sense Media provides multiple resources for K-12 teachers.  They have a Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence that organizes their materials into grade bands by specific digital citizenship topics.  Check out the Creative Credit & Copyright section for lessons on copyright.

Here some additional online resources that can also be used in your classroom.

NetSmartz - Don’t Steal Like a Pirate Song (1-3)

BrainPop - Copyright - (4-8) (Subscription required)

BrainPop - Plagiarism (4-8) (Subscription required)

Copyright and Fair Uses - Common Sense Media (4-12)

Whose is it Anyway? (4-12)

A Fair(y) Use Tale (4-12)  A Fair(y) Use Tale - Transcript

Nicole's Story - Copyrighting Creative Work (Good for a writing class) (6-12)

Copyrights and Wrong (9-12) Recommend to show students in a class. Lesson Plan and Activities

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Collaboration and Technology - A Perfect Pair

Collaboration is a commonly used word in education that we throw out on a regular basis, but what does it really mean?  We hear the word "collaborate" when we have students work together in a Google Doc, but it means much more than that.

In the Partnership for 21st Skills Framework, collaboration falls under the area of Learning and Innovation Skills.  Collaboration is defined as being able to:
  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member
In addition, in the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines, teachers are encouraged to provide options to students to help foster collaboration and community which will in turn build engagement. In "UDL Now", Katie Novak defines collaboration as a necessary career and life skill.

When planning collaborative lessons, it's important to begin with your "Purpose".  What is the goal of collaboration and how does it fit in with your objectives?  After you have defined your purpose, you should then consider the following:

Scope - What will be the depth or length of ongoing collaboration? (One lesson, a unit or yearlong project)
Type - How will collaborators interact with each other? (In pairs, groups, online)
Collaborators - Who will participate in the collaboration? (Peers in or out of the classroom,experts, etc.)
Digital Tools - What online and other digital tools will support the collaboration purpose?

I've created a collection of collaborative digital tools that include tools for Writing, Communication, Visual and Audio Creation, Data Collection, Project Management & Teacher Productivity and Research and Searching.  I am currently updating this collection, but you can see the tools that I've added on my "Collaboration Tools on Symbaloo".  They are organized into the above categories and additional sub-categories. (These tools have also been tagged on our Diigo site. Look for the tag, "Collaborative")

I encourage you to look at collaboration at a deeper level and find ways to encourage this life skill in your classroom to engage and challenge your students.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Our Top Take Aways

During the month of March, our Digital Learning Coaches as well as our Library Media Specialists and myself attended a couple of conferences to continue our learning.  Over Spring Break four of our coaches attended the Midwest Google Summit and the following week others attended the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Conference (WEMTA).  While each conference had a different array of session choices, everyone came away from the events excited and ready to share what they learned!  Many of these topics will be shared in a variety of sessions at the Hodag Tech Fest this summer.  Here are some "take aways" from our Digital Learning Coaches...

Our Top Take Aways...

..learning about all different ways and activities to teach computer science, not just coding, and how important it is. I'm also super excited to try BreakoutEDU boxes!! called Spiral. This is another way to gather formative feedback using Chromebooks.

...the many varied resources our wonderful SDR and state of Wisconsin provide for us as educators.Some examples are (everything from author interviews, to author read alouds, to Reader's Theater scripts, and more); Wisconsin Media Labs (Wisconsin Biographies, Into the Books & Into the Map, Lesson plans on many Wisconsin topics, and more); & don't forget Wisconsin Public Television (documentaries, lesson plans, PBS Kids, and more).

...Envisioning a new way to set up a classroom and to teach by focusing on student inquiry has always been fascinating to me. David Jakes reminds us to use design to identify the desired student learning experience. He shared many creative ways to make learning more interactive, student driven and more applicable. Using his knowledge and having the opportunity to explore Makerspace activities, I plan to redesign my classroom, incorporating activities to promote curiosity and risk-taking as an everyday atmosphere. Some of the new activities I'd like add to my classroom: Bee-bots/coding, Green Screen, STEM activities and more formative assessments using Kahoot, Plickers and The Answer Pad.

...BreakoutEdu's, Bee-Bots, and learning about redesigning classrooms from David Jakes. Breakout Edu's are a great way to incorporate learning through teamwork building. I can't wait to incorporate these into Crescent classrooms and in staff meetings once the kits are purchased! David Jakes gave several examples on how to redesign your classroom to make the most desired learning space for students. I can't wait to share these wonderful ideas with my staff.

...Google Classroom: Using calendar for students organization skills. Adding parents and what their access looks like. Ideas for app smashing. My Maps: Utilizing google forms and my maps. How my maps can be utilized in all subject areas. Awesome Tables: Creation of an awesome table for our Hodag Tech Fest Website!

...Avenge your Gmail: great ideas for setting up Gmail and making it more personal. Coding: I tried to Code with Google and it was a bit challenging. We wrote Code the old fashion way and I got it to complete simple tasks.

...Google photos was a great session. Here I found a way to back up my student progress and pictures. This is an extremely nice way to have your photos stored in case the files become encrypted and you lose your images. Here is link to the presenters presentation.

...Conflict is essential for growing up, it is essential in life. Combat is a choice. When a child is in conflict with you they are seeing if you care enough about them to guide them and put up boundaries.

...Sometime we do things for kids that they should be doing for themselves. Stop answering questions for kids. Answer questions with questions.

If you are interested in personalizing your learning, please check out the conference resources online. You can access them at any time and if you have any questions please contact myself or the Digital Learning Coaches in your building.

WEMTA Conference Resources and Presentations

Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology AssociationTina Vannatter, Ellie Rumney, JoEllen Lieck, Heidi Catlin, Laura Tooke, Jesse Richter, Michelle Flohr

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Digital Learning Coaches

At the beginning of the school year we introduced our new Technology Coaches.  Since then, we have renamed this position to "Digital Learning Coaches"  This name better describes the goal of this position which is to focus on collaboration and integration.  So what are Digital Learning Coaches?

Digital Learning Coaches are classroom teachers identified as digital learning leaders for their schools. These coaches provide support and training for their colleagues. Digital Learning Coaches also work with their fellow teachers one-on-one to help them engage learners by using digital tools and resources.  Here are just a few words that I would use to describe a Digital Learning Coach:

It varies in each school, but all of our coaches are doing a variety of things to share information and resources with the staff in their buildings.  From a Google Classroom PLC, "See and Do" Learning Sessions, scheduled "office hours" and a variety of sessions on professional learning days, they are ready to work with teachers and support them with their digital learning goals.

Please reach out to myself and the Digital Learning Coaches in your building to begin working on your own digital learning goal.  We are all ready to help!

Central Intermediate School
Kyle Raleigh

Crescent Elementary School
Tina Vannatter & Jesse Richter

Pelican Elementary School
Megan Biscobing & JoEllen Lieck

Aaron Kraemer

Michelle Flohr


Adam Schmidt & Laura Tooke

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Think Before You Post

Cell phone
Our Digital Citizenship messages in March focus on texting.  There are many topics that we are sharing with our students and families related to texting depending on the grade level.  At the early elementary level, we are reminding our students to talk to a grown up when they are exposed to something online (or anywhere) that makes them uncomfortable. They will have the opportunity to watch the video called "It's Okay to Tell" and work through some activities in the classroom.

Principals will be sharing an email and video with all students in 4th grade - 9th grade that reminds them about some questions to keep in mind before they send a text or post online.  A rap from Flocabulary called "Oversharing" Think Before You Post" will remind them about the hazards of oversharing online and will emphasize a thoughtful approach to digital footprints.

In addition to messages and reminders about texting and digital footprints, students at the high school level will receive a separate email about texting and driving.  This is a critical message for students at this age and there is an infographic titled DWI: Driving While Intexticated that will be shared.  In addition there is a video called "Your Last Text" that you can share with your students, but because of the nature of the video it would be best to preview it and plan time to discuss it after viewing the video as a class.

Please use the following additional classroom resources with your students to remind them about their responsibilities when texting. These resources can be used in homerooms, class meetings, etc.

Student/Classroom Resources

It’s Okay to Tell (NetSmartz Video K-5)
Mindful Messaging (2-5) (NEW!)

Using Cell Phones Wisely (4-5)

TipSheets for Tweens (4-8)

Jostens - Pause Before you Post (4-12)

Tips to Prevent Sexting for Teens - Tip Sheet (6-12)

Texting and Driving Statistics - Infographic (6-12)

TipSheets for Teens (9-12)

Your Last Text (Video - Graphic) (9-12)

Ally's Story - Second Thoughts on Sexting Video (9-12)

Information Travels - How fast does information travel once it gets online? (9-12) (NEW!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Making Connections: UDL and Technology

It's time to "Gear Up" for the 4th Annual Hodag Tech Fest!   Each year when we plan for Hodag Tech Fest, we always focus on our District's goals and initiatives.  Our mission each year is to develop sessions that can help staff use technology to support these district goals.  This year we are excited to  plan our sessions around the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework.   Our district is embracing this framework for learning so each day will focus on a specific UDL Guideline and how a variety of digital learning tools and resources can be used when implementing the principles of UDL.

The "Why?" of Learning - Provide Multiple Means of Engagement and to encourage purposeful and motivated learners.

The "What?" of Learning - Provide Multiple Means of Representation to help development resourceful, knowledgeable learners.

Action and Expression
The "How?" of Learning - Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression to encourage strategic, goal-directed learners.

What You Need to Know...

Dates:  The Hodag Tech Fest will take place on August 1st - 3rd, 2017

Times:  Sessions will run from 8:00 am - 3:30 pm but you do not need to attend all day.  Select only the sessions that you want to attend.

Location:  James Williams Middle School

Reimbursement: Teachers will be paid curriculum in-service pay ($20 per hour) for sessions they attend. Support Staff will be paid their hourly rate of pay after pre-approval from their administrator.

Presenters:  All sessions are developed and facilitated by SDR staff.  We will be calling for presenters soon so if you have a topic that would fit into this year's framework, please let us know!!!

Check out the Hodag Tech Fest Flyer to get an idea of some session ideas that are being developed for this years event.
Gear Up for 2017 Hodag Tech Fest