Tech Tips


  1. 1 November 2017
    1. 1.1 Avoid Legit Voicemail or Scanned Docs Going to Spam
    2. 1.2 Adding Athletics Calendar to Your Google
  2. 2 October 2017
    1. 2.1 PowerSchool [Haiku] ePortfolios
    2. 2.2 "The Must-Have Tools in My Flipped Classroom"
    3. 2.3 FlipGrid of the UN SDG's
    4. 2.4 No-Nonsense Response to Racism
    5. 2.5 Google Docs "Team Drives"
    6. 2.6 Easily Trim YouTube Videos
  3. 3 October 2016
    1. 3.1 Haiku Tips Use Flexible Student Groupings
    2. 3.2 Consider using SmugMug for Photo Albums
    3. 3.3 Organizing Google Drive Files into Multiple Folders
    4. 3.4 Sustainability Focus: Turn off Projectors
    5. 3.5 Command-Tab to switch between applications on a Mac
    6. 3.6 Canned Responses in Gmail
    7. 3.7 On-the-Spot Assessment Tools
    8. 3.8 Replacement cycle for BB&N computers
  4. 4 May 2016
    1. 4.1 New features in Google: Reminders and Q&A in Slides
    2. 4.2 Shared Subscription Websites: SmugMug, SurveyMonkey, BrainPop, Evernote, Free MS Office, Zoom Video Conferencing
    3. 4.3 Free Telephone Conference Calling
    4. 4.4 Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?
  5. 5 February 2016
    1. 5.1 Create a Google Calendar Event from an Email Message
    2. 5.2 Create an easy way to lock your Mac from a padlock icon on the top of screen:
    3. 5.3 On the importance of giving students time to revise their work
    4. 5.4 Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life
    5. 5.5 My Bathroom Mirror Is Smarter Than Yours
  6. 6 November 2015
    1. 6.1 Blending Learning - 5 Rookie Mistakes From an Elementary Classroom
    2. 6.2 Dos and Don’ts for Screencasting:
    3. 6.3 Scanning with our Xerox copiers
    4. 6.4 Use Google Drawing app for collaborative concept mapping
    5. 6.5 Giving Voice Feedback on Student Writing Assignments in Google Docs with Kaizena
  7. 7 October 2015
    1. 7.1 Classroom discussion formats
    2. 7.2 Show date on Mac
    3. 7.3 Consider enabling 2-step verification to keep google secure
    4. 7.4 Server setting to speed up the voicemail auto-attendant
    5. 7.5 Speed Up or Slow Down the Playback of Voicemail on BB&N Phones
    6. 7.6 Use Google Forms for formative assessment
    7. 7.7 Nice NAIS blog post about the technology needed in classrooms
    8. 7.8 Rubrics are now a feature in Haiku!
  8. 8 May 2015
    1. 8.1 Video Calls in Calendar Events
    2. 8.2 Google Image Search
    3. 8.3 Set a Password on your Cell Phone Voicemail
    4. 8.4 Get Notified When Someone Fills Out Your Google Form
    5. 8.5 Organize your Google Docs
    6. 8.6 Speed Up or Slow Down the Playback of Voicemail on BB&N Phones
  9. 9 September 2014
    1. 9.1 Implementing blended learning
    2. 9.2 Be sure you're backing up!
    3. 9.3 BB&N IT Server Status Web Page
    4. 9.4 Emailing your Google Class Groups
    5. 9.5 NAIS Teacher Discussion Boards
  10. 10 February 2010
    1. 10.1 Clean it Up, Back it Up
    2. 10.2 911 Protocol
    3. 10.3 PLNS:
    4. 10.4 Add Google calendar events directly from an email message
    5. 10.5 Boomerang for Gmail
  11. 11 December 2013
    2. 11.2 PRINTING COSTS
    4. 11.4 New copiers - speeding up
    5. 11.5 Chrome stores passwords - Beware
  12. 12 October 2013
    1. 12.1 Google Drive advanced user storage tips:
    2. 12.2 Voicemail to Email
    3. 12.3 iTunesU as a Textbook
    4. 12.4 Organizing Google Docs
    5. 12.5 Expensive Projector Bulbs
    6. 12.6 Lock computer screens

November 2017

Avoid Legit Voicemail or Scanned Docs Going to Spam

A few people have reported finding legitimate voicemail or copier scans from our BB&N systems in their spam folder.  The legitimate sending email address of our voicemail server can be obtained by asking us. 

We recommend two steps to avoid this.
1) add the legit sending addresses to your contacts. When you have a message open, you can first hover over the sender's name then click on "Add to Contacts".

2) The second, and more important step is to create a gmail "Filter" that says "Never send to spam" for this address. Here are the steps to do this:

  1. with a voice message open, click on "More... Filter messages like this"
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  2. then click "Create filter with this search"
  3. Then check the box for "Never send to spam" and click the button to create the filter:

You can follow similar procedures to locate legitimate scanned documents, and/or create a filter to avoid having scanned documents go to your spam folder. However, please be aware that there are many phishing scams that pretend to be scanned documents, and they can spoof a email address, so you have to be careful with this. I avoid opening any "scanned document" emails unless I know that I or a colleague have specifically sent it.  Here is an example of a scanned document scam that looks pretty legit:
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This is a scam!  

Adding Athletics Calendar to Your Google

It's now possible to add the calendar of all BB&N athletic events to your list of calendars in Google, so you can see all upcoming games from within your own calendar. Here is how:
1) Go to your Google calendar, then click on "Add by URL" under the "Other calendars" heading on the left side:
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2) then copy this special URL:
(this URL above should be one continuous string, you need the whole thing)
and paste it into the box
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3) Click the button to "Add Calendar" as shown above
That's it! Now you can see all upcoming athletic events!

ps. If you want an individual athletic team you can also do it for just one team, by picking that team's Google calendar feed URL from the website page of athletic calendars

October 2017

PowerSchool [Haiku] ePortfolios

All teachers and students have access to a link labeled "My ePortfolio" under your PowerSchool account menu in the top right. Clicking this link brings you into your own personal portfolio site that can be edited, similar to any other PowerSchool site. The portfolio can then be shared with others in the community or published online. Portfolios under the guidance of a teacher are a powerful tool for building self-assessment skills. They can allow students to produce work for an authentic audience and make learning visible. 
Here's a recent blog post from Bullis School math teacher Stacey Roshan about two new tools in her flipped classroom repertoire (EdPuzzle and PearDeck) that give her greater insight into students' understanding, and enable more thoughtful feedback from students.

Global Challenge Project  (excerpted from the Marshall Memo)          
In this article in Educational Leadership, Mark Wise & Jay McTighe describe a project in which students graders grapple with some of the world’s most challenging problems. Working in five-person teams, students spend a week studying and making recommendations about a chosen topic. The project is backwards-designed from desired outcomes, among them: becoming a globally aware and responsible citizen, collaborative team member, and information-literate researcher. Students choose projects based on their interests, passions, and talents. During the project week, students have team time during social studies, math, science, and language arts classes. Each teacher involved in the program oversees teams using a detailed checklist, but students are “completely self-directed,” say Wise and McTighe, “fully in charge of their own time, and determine how they define and analyze the problem.” This level of independence was a deliberate decision after teachers concluded that in the early years of the program, educators were over-scaffolding students and depriving them of the learning that would come from making more decisions (and mistakes) themselves. On presentation day, evaluation teams are trained with criteria and exemplar videos, and each team watches student groups present for ten minutes each, using their chosen medium. Judges must reach consensus on the key criteria (Is the presentation clearly defined? Does it use sound reasoning? Is it feasible and likely to address the problem?) and give students feedback and the panel’s decision on whether the project is “funded.” The top-scoring third of teams are rewarded with a 30-minute Skype videoconference with international experts in their area. 
“Middle Schoolers Go Global” by Mark Wise and Jay McTighe in Educational Leadership, October 2017 (Vol. 75, #2, p. 12-18),; Here is the school's website for the Global Challenge project:

FlipGrid of the UN SDG's

A teacher named Mr. Mason from Texas recently set up a new FlipGrid of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is encouraging other teachers to use the site as a place to connect and/or have students collaborate in addressing the SDGs. It does not yet have content on it.  FlipGrid is a site that allows you to record brief videos and view others' videos. Mr. Mason writes, "Are you and/or your students incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Genius Hour, Design Thinking, Project-based Learning, or in any other academic setting? Let's connect and collaborate using this Flipgrid to share ideas, resources, and learning around the SDGs." 

No-Nonsense Response to Racism

Thanks to Gabby for sharing this link to an NPR story and video of Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, addressing the US Air Force Academy Prep School about an incident of racism on that campus.

Google Docs "Team Drives"

Last spring we enabled a new feature of Google Drive called "Team Drives". This feature is a good way for departments, committees, or other groups to store and share google docs without fear of losing files owned by an individual who leaves BB&N. Unlike files in "My Drive," files in "Team Drive" belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if department members leave, the files stay in the Google Team Drive.

Easily Trim YouTube Videos is an online tool that lets you trim a YouTube video so that your viewers will only see the part(s) of the video that you specify. If there's a YouTube video that you want to distill or condense you can use vibby to cut it down. For example, I wanted to share portions of a 9 minute video by Parker Thomas from the NAIS conference, but the most important part is the last minute. Using vibby I was able to pre-select certain portions throughout the video, and now I have a link to share that is just a one minute portion of the video with the parts that I found most salient. This is about having teachers plan a school's maker-space:

October 2016

Haiku Tips Use Flexible Student Groupings

In addition to the ability of using Haiku's "Sections" feature for multiple sections of a subject you can also use the student groups feature to create teams of students within a class to whom you can assign a Group WikiProject or Group Discussion. Learn how here:

Consider using SmugMug for Photo Albums

We have a shared account on which is a site for hosting photo albums. Its presentation of photos is much nicer than Haiku's photo album feature because it fills the whole screen allowing the photos to be much larger than what is possible in Haiku. If you would like to try out this site, please email Demetri for the site password.


Organizing Google Drive Files into Multiple Folders

All of us struggle with the explosive growth of the number of google docs and how to keep track of them. If you like to file all of your google docs into folders it is good to know that a single doc can be filed into multiple folders. This can be useful when using a shared folder as well as wanting the document within your own filing system. To add a google doc to multiple folders in Google Drive: open the folder that holds the document (don't open the document itself) then highlight the file (select it) in that folder's listing, then press the shift key and the Z key to get the “Add to” box to pop up, as shown here:
This will allow you to add the file to another folder in your drive while leaving it in the original folder.


Sustainability Focus: Turn off Projectors

Please turn off classroom projectors when not in use. Projector bulbs are expensive, ranging from $100 to $300, plus the staff time involved in changing out these bulbs. It breaks our heart when we walk past an empty classroom where the projector has been left on. If you will not be using your projector for 15 minutes please shut it down! Projector bulbs dim over time, so this is another good reason to shut them down when not in use. Unfortunately the projectors do not turn themselves off. They will stay on overnight if left running, severely diminishing the bulb's lifespan.

We have been working hard to ensure that all of our shared computers go into sleep mode when not in use, so the display screens don’t use electricity. We also set up shared computers to turn off at 6pm each day. Students can turn them back on by pressing the power button. If you are aware of any shared computers that do not go to sleep when they should, please email tech help.


Time Savers!!!

Command-Tab to switch between applications on a Mac

If you often need to switch between running applications, e.g. to use a spreadsheet or gradebook as your compose email, there is a nifty keyboard shortcut that can save you needing to use the mouse to switch between the applications. By holding down the "Command" key, and then pressing the "Tab" key you can cycle between open applications. Your simply press the two keys in quick succession to move back and forth between two apps, or you can hold the Command key and then press the Tab key multiple times to switch between more than two open apps. You'll see icons for all open apps as you perform this keyboard ninja move!

Canned Responses in Gmail

If you find yourself frequently re-typing similar messages to answer questions then you may be interested by Gmail's "Canned Responses" feature. This is one of Gmail's optional features that is in the "Labs" tab of Gmail settings. Settings are accessed by clicking the gear wheel cog icon in the upper right of Gmail. Then click the "Labs" tab, and search or locate "Canned Responses". Once you enable it, you access it in the bottom right corner of the email composition window. A drop-down arrow icon gives you access to Canned Responses options: Insert a response, Save an edit to a response, Create a new response, or Delete a response: 
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This feature can save a lot of time for those repetitive types of questions you may need to answer!


On-the-Spot Assessment Tools

Eight free digital tools to check for understanding and maximize student involvement*:

        • Padlet is a virtual wall on which students can express thoughts on a topic. It’s also possible to embed audio and video and have students join a threaded discussion.

        • Recap is a video-based assessment tool that allows teachers to pose a question, have students respond with a short video recorded on a cell phone, and then get feedback.

        • Today’s Meet allows students to engage in live “backchannelling” while a classroom activity or video is taking place.

        • Active Prompt allows teachers to upload any image and ask students a question about it; students move a dot on their device to indicate their answer.

        • Flubaroo is a plug-in for Google Sheets that allows teachers to quickly score student quizzes.

        • Zaption allows teachers to take already-made videos (like a YouTube clip), publish interactive lessons, and track student understanding.

        • Nearpod and Pear Deck and allow teachers to embed interactive assessments into a slide deck and get student responses via their cell phones.

        • Quizlet Live allows students to practice teamwork and communication skills while the teacher checks for understanding.

*8 Digital Formative Assessment Tools to Improve Motivation” by Bryan Drost inAMLE Magazine, September 2016 (Vol. 4, #2, p. 42-43)


Replacement cycle for BB&N computers

Teacher laptops are scheduled to be replaced after the 4th year of use. If you have any questions about where you are in the replacement cycle, please feel free to send a message to “tech help” to ask. Desktop computers are typically used for five years. We have also been able to extend the lives of many of our older computers by installing new "solid state drives" that dramatically improve the performance of these older computers and their lifespan. 

May 2016

New features in Google: Reminders and Q&A in Slides

"Reminders" is a new feature in calendar. In the past I would put to-do's onto my calendar knowing I needed to get them done, but ones I didn't get to in any given week would slip into the past, and I'd have to remember to move them into next week. No longer! Now you can create an item on your calendar but designate it as a reminder instead of a time-sensitive event! Just click anywhere on your calendar to bring up the event creation dialog, and simply choose "Reminder" on top and it will go into your reminders bucket and roll forward if you don't get to it. You can read more about this new feature on Google's blog.
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Q&A in Google Slides
Google has added new features to Google Slides that lets students or audience members submit questions from their device. This can be used live or remote (e.g. for a test prep presentation via google hangouts). Here's a short video that explains the concept:
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When you are in a google slide show there is a button to "Present" in the top right of screen. Going into presenter view has until now just meant that you go full screen. The new features now let you have a Presenter View to see speaker notes, a laser pointer feature, and the new "Q&A" feature that displays a unique URL at which students can type questions, see others questions, and vote them up or down. You can display the questions for all to see and choose to answer the most popular questions. Cool stuff! For a fuller description of this new feature visit: and for more help on how to use this feature visit:

Shared Subscription Websites: SmugMug, SurveyMonkey, BrainPop, Evernote, Free MS Office, Zoom Video Conferencing

We have several subscription websites that any teachers may use. If you would like more info or shared login credentials for any of the sites below please let me know. 

SmugMug is a website to which you can upload photos that display in an elegant full screen slide show. For example, here is a link to a BB&N photo gallery: (circus '15)  When you click the link to "slideshow" you can see the images full screen. SmugMug slide shows can be linked to from within a Haiku site, and look better than Haiku's slide-shows because Haiku slide shows have a smaller image size.

If google forms doesn't give you enough control over survey creation we can use our surveymonkey account. It is a "pro" account so that we can have unlimited numbers of questions and responses.

Our Lower School has a shared subscription to BrainPop, BrainPop Jr. and BrainPop Espanol.  This web site has animated movies, games, playful assessments, and activities covering Science, Math, History, English, and more. Any teachers are welcome to use this site.

Evernote Business
We have a paid Evernote account that allows for more space on Evernote and includes collaborative features. There is an annual cost for each user.

Free Microsoft Office
Employees and students at BB&N have access to download a free version of Microsoft Office software. More info at:

Zoom Video Conferencing
We are trying out a new video conference site called Zoom. It is what NAIS and other organizations seem to be using these days, and it may be more accessible than Google video hangouts. Our Zoom account is limited to one user, so I would have to set up any meeting requests, but if you want to try it out on your own it also has a free trial period.

Free Telephone Conference Calling

Our phone system has a built-in conferencing feature called "MeetMe" which allows anyone to establish a conference call by dialing a certain phone extension number. Then your participants can dial the same extension and anyone off-site can also call into it. If you would like more info on how to use this feature please let us know.

New Poster Printer
We recently acquired a poster printer that can print color images up to 2 feet x 3 feet. We are just getting this printer up and running and intend to offer it as a service in which you will send us your image and we will print it for you. Due to the cost of the ink, paper, and printer upkeep we will charge your budget $15 for each 2' x 3' poster that is printed (with some variance depending on whether it is a full photo image vs. mostly printed text. We will track costs during next year and adjust the price up or down depending on how much ink gets used per print. We'd love to see this new printer get used as a platform for motivating students to do their best work, and to display student creations in a large format whether informational or artistic...
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Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?

"About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, according to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council," as reported in this NY Times article
In previous years I've counseled to leave desktop PCs powered on overnight to allow things like antivirus scans and updates to run overnight, because of how much they slow down PCs when running, and how long they take to boot up. However, today's solid-state drives don't need this approach because they are so much faster. Therefore, we now recommend turning off all laptops at night to save power and for mother earth!

February 2016

Create a Google Calendar Event from an Email Message

Use the “More…. Create Event” menu item (see below) while in an email message to make the email message an event on your calendar! (or if there is time/date info in the message that is underlined/hyperlinked just click it!.) Just be sure to remove the guests that are added under “invite guests” otherwise the calendar will invite these people to the event.

Create an easy way to lock your Mac from a padlock icon on the top of screen:

This secret lock screen trick is part of Keychain, and it must be enabled through Keychain preferences. Let’s cover how to enable this great hidden locking feature for some added protection:

  1. Launch “Keychain Access”, which is located in /Applications/Utilities/ or you can launch it through Spotlight

  2. From the ‘Keychain Access’ menu, select and open Preferences

  3. Select the checkbox next to “Show Status in Menu Bar” so that it is checked

keychain lock screen menu

Now that the lock menubar item is enabled, you’ll find a little lock icon in your menu bar. Once the menu item is enabled, just click on the lock icon and drag down to “Lock Screen” to immediately lock your Mac OS X desktop.

lock mac desktop

To regain access to the Mac, you’ll need to enter your login credentials.

On the importance of giving students time to revise their work

Check out this article (Learning can’t be done in one draft)
 in the Globe about Renaissance School in Springfield which uses portfolios and focuses on the importance of producing excellent work. This school is affiliated with Expeditionary Learning Network-an organization led by Ron Berger author of An Ethic of Excellence. If anyone hasn't spent out their book grant I highly recommend picking up a copy of An Ethic of Excellence.

Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life

Check out this NY Times article for the full story, but here are the headlines:
1. Use auto-brightness for the screen.
2. Block power-sucking ads.
3. Tweak your email settings to Fetch not Push
4. Play downloaded music instead of streaming.
5. Turn off wireless when reception is poor.
6. Check the battery usage lists.
7. Disable unnecessary location tracking.
8. Shut off unnecessary push notifications.
1. Closing unused apps.
2. Don’t assume turning off Wi-Fi will always help.
3. Avoid disabling all location services.
4. Don’t always choose Wi-Fi over cellular.
5. Let Siri and Google listen for your commands.
6. Don’t forgo third-party chargers made by reputable vendors.
7. Calibrate only occasionally.
If all else fails …

My Bathroom Mirror Is Smarter Than Yours

For the extreme do-it-yourselfers out there, check out this blog post on how to hack your bathroom mirror...

November 2015

Design Thinking Explained at IBM
An article in today's Times has a good description of design thinking (in the context of being implemented at IBM). Design thinking is the pedagogy driving "maker-spaces" which BB&N and other schools are exploring, as we look for opportunities to give students experience in this arena. This Times article is helpful in understanding the importance of design thinking in the context of the business world. This pedagogy model aligns closely with global education, collaborative learning, engineering, problem-based learning, passion-based education and other ideas like this important to BB&N...

"Among other things, design thinking flips traditional product development on its head. The old way is that you come up with a new product idea and then try to sell it to customers. In the design thinking way, the idea is to identify users’ needs as a starting point.

Mr. Gilbert and his team talk a lot about “iteration cycles,” “lateral thinking,” “user journeys” and “empathy maps.” To the uninitiated, the canons of design thinking can sound mushy and self-evident. But across corporate America, there is a rising enthusiasm for design thinking not only to develop products but also to guide strategy and shape decisions of all kinds. The September cover article of the Harvard Business Review was “The Evolution of Design Thinking.”   Venture capital firms are hiring design experts, and so are companies in many industries.

Recognizing the importance of design is not new, certainly not at IBM... For many years, design meant creating eye-pleasing, functional products. Now design thinking has broader aims, as a faster, more productive way of organizing work: Look at problems first through the prism of users’ needs, research those needs with real people and then build prototype products quickly."

Source: IBM’s Design-Centered Strategy to Set Free the Squares By STEVE LOHR  NOV. 14, 2015

Blending Learning - 5 Rookie Mistakes From an Elementary Classroom

These are the voyages of a 5th grade Latin class and their teacher who decided to implement a blended learning model – station-rotation style – during the final month of the school year. 

Dos and Don’ts for Screencasting:

"Screencasting" refers to creating a video recording of activity on your computer, for example, manipulating a website or software or yourself talking. Mac laptops have a very easy built-in screen recording tool named QuickTime. Here is a link for how to use QuickTime to create screen recordings: and here are some Dos and Don'ts for screencasting:


  • Turn off your phone, seclude yourself in a quite space, and silence extraneous noises including fans.

  • Make sure you are actually recording (practice once or twice to verify).

  • Think about the video background if you're recording yourself as a talking head.

  • Chunk long videos into shorter segments.

  • Speak at a normal pace.

  • Enjoy yourself and use humor.

  • Collaborate.

  • Recognize it's okay to make mistakes, fix it, and move on, rather than re-record the whole thing.

  • Fast forward when you can.

  • Be creative.


  • Don’t ignore audio levels - speak towards the computer microphone at a consistent level.

  • Don’t be just a talking head - show your audience something interesting.

  • Don’t over-use transitions and effects - focus on content and clarity.

  • Don’t go on at length without any visual change - people absorb images quickly.

  • Don’t film in a windy or noisy location if you want to hear dialogue - pros use external mics.

  • Don’t have continuous background music.

Scanning with our Xerox copiers

If you use the nifty scanning feature of our xerox copiers (labeled as "Email" on the "Services Home" screen) it is best to email it to your BB&N email address first, and then forward it on to your intended recipient. This is because if you send to an external recipient directly from the copier and it does not go through, you will never know it. But if you send to yourself, and then forward it, you will get the bounce-back if it does not go through.

Use Google Drawing app for collaborative concept mapping

Google Drawing is one of the least appreciated forms of google docs. It is a fairly basic image editing program, but where it really shines is in its collaborative possibilities. As an idea, consider having small groups of students collaborate on a concept mapping exercise. For several free templates and to learn more about this app, check out Eric Curts’ links:

Giving Voice Feedback on Student Writing Assignments in Google Docs with Kaizena

If you and your students use Google Docs to compose and store student writing projects, there’s a tool built into that platform that will allow you to give feedback more easily, more quickly, and with much more depth. With Kaizena teachers can go into student documents and add written or voice comments. With voice, you can provide feedback with much more depth, in less time, and with more clarity: Compared with writing, there’s less chance of a student misinterpreting your meaning when you convey it with your voice. To learn more, read this in-depth discussion of Kaizena’s capabilities from John Hardison at Getting Smart, and this overview from Free Technology for Teachers. And watch this video to see how Kaizena works:

October 2015

Classroom discussion formats

Here's a nice list of classroom discussion formats:  Each one also has a linked video that shows it in action. Several of these will be familiar to participants of last June’s RBT workshop at BB&N.

Show date on Mac

If you want today’s date to show in the Mac menu bar (next to the time) just go to “System Preferences” under the Apple, click on “Date & Time” and check the box to “show date” on the bottom.

Consider enabling 2-step verification to keep google secure

Recent incidents illustrate how easy it is for scammers to get your google password by pretending to be sharing a file with you from a colleague. In the most recent case the scammer was even logged into the teacher’s account and responded when people replied to ask if the file was legit. The scammer wrote back to several people saying, “yes, this is safe and secure.” To keep your own account safe, please consider using 2 step verification. Please see our help page on how to enable 2-step verification. We also have a page to help with identity theft and what to do if your credentials have been compromised. For advice on picking passwords, please see our Password Policy page

Server setting to speed up the voicemail auto-attendant

If you have to go through a lot of voicemail on your BB&N phone it can seem agonizingly slow to listen to the “auto-attendant” announce the date and time of each message. We recently discovered an option on our phone server that allows us to speed up the voice of the auto-attendant, remove the date & time announcement, and play messages in chronological order (oldest first) instead of the default newest to oldest. If you would like any of these options set on your voice mailbox, please email “tech help” with your request(s). By the way, please remember that if you only listen to voicemail in your email on your computer, you still need to delete voicemail from the telephone.

Speed Up or Slow Down the Playback of Voicemail on BB&N Phones

Use the "6" key to speed up playback and the "4" key to slow it down.

Use Google Forms for formative assessment

Check out this great article by Alice Keeler that shows how to create a google form as a quick check of student understanding. If you create some google forms in advance you could also link to them from your Haiku site so students have an easy way to get to them.

Nice NAIS blog post about the technology needed in classrooms

“There’s reason to believe that the next generation of classrooms will house less technology than many do today, while enabling learning that is more compelling.The textbook and the lecture will merge. Content will be modular. The teacher will curate.”

Rubrics are now a feature in Haiku!

Easily create and use rubrics to give students guidelines for assignments. Here is a quick video that highlights some of the features. There's also a tutorial video for teachers that shows how to create rubrics and used them.

May 2015

Video Calls in Calendar Events

If you want to have a link to a google video call (aka "hangout") in a calendar event, please add it in the details section of your event. Previously these video links were included by default, but we have turned off this default behavior so that users can opt in rather than opt out.

Google Image Search

Did you know you can upload an image to google to search for where it exists on the internet? This can be useful when you need to cite sources or explore the veracity of an online article using an image. To search for the source of an image, you go to: then click the camera icon, then drag the image onto the box, and then click the search button to find websites where that image appears.

Set a Password on your Cell Phone Voicemail

In case you ever lose or damage your cell phone it's good to be able to get to your voicemail from another phone. You usually just call your own phone number from any phone and when your greeting plays you interrupt it by pressing the # key, then enter your password. The hitch is that you need to know you voicemail password. On an iPhone this is set by going into the Settings app, and then selecting "Phone" and clicking on "Voicemail Password."

Get Notified When Someone Fills Out Your Google Form

The link to get notified when someone submits a google form that you've created is in the "Responses" spreadsheet under the "Tools" menu item, and is the "Notification Rules" sub-menu item. For example, if you've created an RSVP form and you want to get an email each time someone fills it out, you can turn this on by going to the Notification rules.

Organize your Google Docs

1. Folder structure: create folders and subfolder to store google docs.
2. Add color to folder icons: right-click on a folder, then select "color"
3. Naming conventions: use standard conventions and abbreviations that are easily remembered so you can search more easily.
4. Add shared files to My Drive: if someone shares a file with you it will be easier to find it later if you add it to "My Drive".
Adapted from:

Speed Up or Slow Down the Playback of Voicemail on BB&N Phones

Use the "6" key to speed up playback and the "4" key to slow it down.

September 2014

Implementing blended learning

It's been wonderful to see the energy generated by the GOA project and summer discussion resulting in more blended learning within our regular classrooms -- putting some of your content, instructional materials, and assessment online and allowing students to have differentiated and self-paced interaction with those materials. One of the benefits of this approach is that classroom face-to-face time with students can be devoted to more higher-level instructional processes (vigorous discussion, problem solving, analysis of students' thinking, etc.) because the more mechanical stages of content distribution and assimilation have been accomplished online. Please let us know if you want any help getting going with Haiku or other online tools. By the way, if you're producing video lectures for students to watch, remember to "chunk" them into smaller pieces:

Be sure you're backing up!

Backing up simply means you either store your files on the file-server or you store them in at least two places, such as your computer's hard drive and an external hard drive. If you need help with that process, the tech department can show you how to copy your files to a second location.

BB&N IT Server Status Web Page

Whenever we have a system or server issue we post updates on, so if you are ever wondering, "Is it me, or is it the system?" you might want to check the Go site to see if anything's going on. Past problems are archived on a link under the Technology tab. We also link to Google and Haiku server status pages.

Emailing your Google Class Groups

If you want to send email to all students in your various classes, and if you have any confusion or problem finding the right google group email address, then a simpler way is to just go into your "My Groups" and "Post a message" from the group's web page. When you click into your google groups (via the little rubix cube "Apps" icon on the top right of email) you can be sure that the ones listed under "My Groups" are your current year classes.

NAIS Teacher Discussion Boards

One of my side projects is helping to facilitate the NAIS  "Teachers of the Future" (ToF) online discussion site which is just a group of teachers doing innovative things and talking about it. They have a discussion mail list in which any NAIS teachers can participate. Especially since NAIS is coming to town this February, you might consider subscribing yourself to the site. I've pasted one recent example post below.  If you want any help subscribing to the NAIS sites, let me know. The URL of the ToF site is:  
When you click on "Log In" you have the opportunity to "create an account" or you can just go directly to the Create Account page. Once you have an NAIS account, you go to your My Settings - NAIS Connect page to subscribe yourself to the ToF or other NAIS list-serves.

February 2010

Clean it Up, Back it Up

Today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day, so let's organize those desktops people! Seriously though, it's been on my mind to remind everyone to BACK UP YOUR FILES! If you only save files in one place and never move them to a server or external back-up drive you are living dangerously. The only automated backup we have in place is for teachers with Windows laptops, and these folks are in a serious minority. All Mac users, and staff with PCs need to manually back up files by moving them onto a server share, or onto a backup drive. Part of me believes that computers are equipped with a special sensory chip that notices: A) how important files are to the user, combined with B) whether or not they are backed up; and this chip is designed to fry files that reach a certain threshold of A + lack of B. So, if you need help learning how to back up your files please ask your friendly campus ATS. As long as your important files are saved on the file-server you all set.

911 Protocol

Please remember that if you make a 911 call from a school phone, certain key administrators (campus director, nurse, security, etc.) get an automated alert that a 911 call has been placed from that BB&N phone. It is important for you, or someone you designate, to follow a 911 call by calling key admins to let them know the details of the 911 call. If you can reach one of them, that admin will pass the info to the others who got the alert. Similarly, if you place a 911 call from a cell phone, there is no automated alert to administrators, and it is that much more important to let the key admins know. This is explained a bit more fully on our "Emergencies & After-hours Phone Numbers" page on the Go site under Faculty/Staff links.


Here is an nice collection of links to resources about Personal/Professional Learning Networks" which is all about having connections with peers, colleagues, experts, and further resources:
Here is a video that describes the value of the network:
The tech team encourages everyone to grow their professional learning networks and help students do the same, especially in the upper school.

Add Google calendar events directly from an email message

Did you know that google calendar can interpret dates that are merely mentioned in emails? And can offer you one-click "add to calendar" functionality? Next time you get an email that suggests something like meeting on Wednesday, February 12, at 2:00pm, just try hovering over that date and see it as a hyperlink to add to calendar! This works in Chrome; I'm not sure about other browsers.

Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang is a nifty add-on for Gmail that can be used to queue messages to be sent later, request read receipts, and bring messages back to your attention at a later date (hence the name.) For example, if you're sending a message to someone and want to bring your message back to your attention if no one replies, you can schedule that message to come back to the top of your inbox at a later date. Boomerang is free for 10 messages a month, or can be purchased if you need it more than that. Thanks to Elaine for bringing this to our attention! is the URL. It's a little bit scary to grant a third party app access to all of your email, but the functionality of being able to automate follow up on important emails is very useful.

December 2013


Have you tried using Google's video conferencing software? It's called "Google Hangout" and can bring together up to 15 participants in a live concurrent video chat. To enable this tool you have to upgrade your google account to include Google Plus. If you want to try out google hangouts, here is the link:

And here is a link to an article and six suggestions for using Google Hangouts for educational purposes:
1. Broadcast and archive live instructional sessions.
2. Share screens and create collaborative demonstrations.
3. Have students create live shows and talks for broadcast.
4. Create two-way conversations (think "Charlie Rose") in a digital format.
5. Develop rich online portfolios by including archived video chats.
6. Leverage the application for professional development.

And here is a post which discusses using hangout's new "Live Questions" feature for audience participation:


Last month I mentioned the importance of defaulting your copier printing preferences to black & white (B&W) instead of color. I neglected to mention that printing to the copiers is significantly cheaper than printing on office printers. We pay less than a penny per page for B&W on the copiers! When you print on a small office printer the cost is harder to estimate, but it can range from 3-8 cents per page for B&W and up to 30 cents for color. So it costs about three times as much to print on office printers than the copiers. Of course, it remains very important to default your copier setting to black & white, because if you end up printing unnecessarily in color on the copiers, it defeats the purpose.


Lastly, be aware of "phishing" attacks in which you receive a legitimate looking email, linking you to a site that asks you to log in (e.g. to log into google.) These sites are trying to steal your password. If they get your google password because you log in to their site, then they have access to all your email and will typically search for other passwords or financial site info that might be in your email archives. An example of a recent phishing email for google is shown below. One way to identify it as bogus is that when you hover your mouse over a supposedly legitimate URL link, you can see that the actual URL (displayed on the status bar on the bottom of the browser) is actually something much different (in this case the button below to view the google doc actually linked to ""). Unfortunately we are not able to filter out all these attacks. We need you to have good digital "street smarts" to know when it's okay or not okay to follow links you receive. Please feel free to make an appointment with your campus ATS if you want a personal lesson to develop your cyber security awareness!

New copiers - speeding up

We have slowly been getting used to our new copiers. Here is a good tip: if you are sending copying jobs from your computer you can increase the output speed by specifying black & white instead of the default "auto-detect" in the printer's "color" options. Click here for the directions. By the way, please (please) please print and copy in black & white not color unless you truly need the color. It costs us almost ten times more to print or copy in color than in B&W, even if there is only one tiny colored dot on your paper. If you don't know how to change between color and B&W please click here for directions or tell us and we'll show you how! This seems inconsequential, but as a school we produce more than 2 MILLION pages annually (just on our copiers), and the cost difference between color and B&W copying at this volume would be more than $100,000.00. (one hundred thousand dollars.) For example-- if you print this email, the blue hyperlinks would make it count as a color document. Please make sure your default printing behavior is B&W not auto-detect!

Chrome stores passwords - Beware

On another topic, I want to make you aware of the insecurity of passwords saved in Google Chrome when someone else has access to your computer when you are logged into ti. It is easy for anyone sitting down at your computer (if you are logged into the computer) to see your stored passwords in Chrome. This article illustrates the problem. Safari does better in this regard, as it requires a password to view saved passwords. I'm not sure on Firefox. Experts recommend using password management programs such as LastPass or Dashlaneif you want to save your passwords. These programs encrypt your passwords and allow you to use unique complex passwords on each different site. At the very least you need to be aware of the dangers of your password being exposed if anyone else has access to your computer. This is another good reason to lock your computer screen when you step away from it. On Windows the command is Windows-L. On Macs you need to enable a screen-saver password in your system preferences. Let us know if you want help.

October 2013

Google Drive advanced user storage tips:

Voicemail to Email

If you want copies of your BB&N voicemail sent to your email, just let us know. Each voicemail message is sent as an attachment in an email message to your BB&N email account. It also stays on your phone. If you want us to turn this on for you, please email

iTunesU as a Textbook

iTunesU hosts a variety of educational videos, PDFs, and audio. I came across an interesting set about the role of technology in education produced by Avenues the World School in NYC. Here is a link to their "course" in iTunesU: (this will open up your iTunes application.) If you haven't visited iTunesU, there is a lot of interesting content there, including some wood-working videos from our own Paul Ruhlmann! To get to iTunesU, open the iTunes application, click the link on the top right that says "iTunes Store" and then in the store you should see a link to iTunesU on the top bar. Then you can search for content. One of the cool features of iTunesU is the ability to "subscribe" to courses and download content. Avenues School hosts its MS and US school text content via iTunesU course sites (unfortunately those courses are not public so I can't link you to them), but the Technology course site gives you a peek into their world. They say, "We are all 100% [digital] for our textbooks in our middle and upper school grades. All of our courses have been developed by our curriculum specialists and we are currently hosting 57 iTunes U private courses. Many of our faculty also use iBook Author to create custom texts to share and deploy via iTunes U Course Manager."

Organizing Google Docs

When organizing your files in google drive if you want to put an item in multiple folders: hold down the command key (Mac) or Control key (PC) to select multiple folders. If someone has shared a document or folder with you you can move it into your "My Drive" listing by checking the box next to the item, and selecting "Move to My Drive" above it.

Expensive Projector Bulbs

Please turn off your projectors when not in use. Each bulb costs from $200 - $500 and has a limited life-span. We occasionally walk past classrooms that are empty and have the projector still on.

Lock computer screens

You should lock your computer screen when you walk away from it, and set your computer to lock itself when idle for a certain amount of time. Windows users press Windows-L to lock. Mac users must turn on the option to require a password to come out of screen-saver, and then use a hot corner to turn on the screen saver when stepping away. Both Mac and PC can be set to go to sleep after a certain amount of idle time, and require a password to come back to desktop. Please consider what data is on your computer and what would happen if the computer were lost or stolen, or if someone gained unauthorized access. It's normal to store automatic log-in to a variety of online accounts, so it becomes very important to have the computer screen be locked when you are not on it. Email us for help if you need it.