Tech Tips/Tricks

Sign Up Genius for Parent/Teacher Conferences

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:23 AM by Matt Weld

It's Parent/Teacher Conference time of year - already!  Due to the Election in November, it's about a month earlier than usual: October 5th and 6th from 2:00 - 8:00 both days, with no school on Friday, October 7th (Columbus Day is the 10th, so no school Monday, either!).  See you building principal for exact times, and when your dinner break will be.

Most elementaries used SignUpGenius for scheduling last year, and at Moye the year before as well. Overall, I received positive feedback - parents liked being able to sign up for a time that fit their schedule, and teachers enjoyed having a significant reduction of time (elimination in some cases!) and energy spent on scheduling.

I created two videos: 
  1. The first (blue title slide) is for people who can edit last year's sign-up.
  2. The second (orange title slide) is for people who need to start from scratch. (written directions)

SignUpGenius Editing PT Conf..mp4

SignUpGenius New Confernces.mp4

Let me know if you need help or run into a snag!

Google Hangouts for Parent/Teacher Conferences

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:19 AM by Matt Weld

Hey All,

Many of you have your own kids in the district, and want to be able to attend their conference as a parent.  Instead of taking the time to drive over to your kids' building, why not just have a Google Hangout conference instead?  

Google Hangouts is the Google version of Skype or FaceTime, and can be accessed through your email:

Inline image 1

It's as easy as that, and will save you tons of driving time. 

Happy Conferencing, and have a great weekend!

5 Levels of Parental Control for the Internet

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:17 AM by Matt Weld


A question I am asked regularly is how can I control my kids' devices at home?  I wish the answer were that easy.  But there are too many apps and too many levels of possible control.  The Fall, 2016 Toilet Tech briefly touches on each of those levels.

Inline image 1

WARNING: PERSONAL OPINION > As a parent of a 15- and an 18-year-old, the best piece of advice I can give is to be present, and to talk with your kids.  There are apps that will work in spy mode letting you know what's happening on your kids' phone without them knowing.  To me, that is just asking for hacking and a huge attitude in return.  We (my wife and I) have been known to keep phones on our dresser at night and to turn off the wifi at night.  Also, for safety reasons, know their social media passwords.

That is all.

Have a great weekend!

Resources for November Skills - Presentation Tools, Agumentative Writing, Fact/Fiction

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:15 AM by Matt Weld

When you look at the Monthly Skills for November, you will notice that:
  • Technology = Presentation Tools
  • Literacy = Argument and Persuasive Writing
  • Information Literacy = Distinguish among Fact, Point of View, and Opinion
  • #OFD90Learns = Trying a NEW Presentation tool.
Here are some resources to peruse for each of them.

  • For Students - K-2 can start by making simple PowerPoint slides over something they have learned.  Science and Social Studies lend themselves well to this. Watch the Claims, Evidence and Reasoning video, below.  3-5 can use Google Slides on either the iPads or in the computer labs to co-create presentations and share them with other classes around the district for editing.  6-8 can also use Google Slides on the Chromebooks or labs.  Speaking and Listening Common Core Standards can be met by presenting in class.
  • For Teachers - Try something new, like Haiku DeckPowtoonSlide Rocket, or Prezi. If nothing else, find cool templates on SlidesCarnival to amp up your presentations.
  • I've worked with all of these. Let me know if you'd like me to come and do a lesson with your students!
  • In Standard 2 of the I-SAIL (Illinois Standards Aligned Instruction for Libraries) for all grades is 'Distinguish Among Fact, Point of View, and Opinion'.
  • I can't help but think tidbits from the Election Coverage would be perfect for distinguishing among the three.
  • If you would like specific texts, contact Alayna.  She loves projects!
Happy November!

Google Forms FAQ

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:14 AM by Matt Weld

Since the Teachers' Institute last week, several of you have jumped in to Google Forms for assessment, and for collecting data.  That makes me happy!

If you want to join the Google Forms party, check out this introductory video by Triad teacher Adam Geisen, who presented here last week.

In the course of learning about google Forms, several questions have come up, so I thought I would share them out so that everyone can benefit.

I teach K-2, so my kids aren't on Google Classroom.  Forms is of no use to me.
False.  I know of teachers who have behavior tracking forms on their iPads. The data is automatically put into a spreadsheet, which can then be manipulated for reporting.  Any time you are collecting the same data over and over (names, emails, needs, behaviors, etc.) you can use Google Forms.

I need to share my Form with another teacher.  Do I do it the same was as a Google Doc?
No.  Sharing is different with Forms.  If you want to give another person editing rights, you have to add them as a Collaborator.  'Sending' the form is putting it out there to collect the data, not for editing.

How do I have the kids access my form?
  1. QR Code.  Since all Google files are given a URL, a QR code can be made.  Go to 'Send' > Link > Copy the link > paste into favorite QR website (like
  2. On the iPad.  From the Drive app on your iPad : tap on form file > Open in Safari > Enter email (if necessary).  Once you see your Form:  View Live Form (if in the old version of forms) or tap the eyeball icon (if in the new version).  now tap the export icon (box with arrow coming out the top) in the upper right > Add to Home Screen > Add.
  3. Through GClassroom.  In Google Classroom, Create an assignment > tap the Drive icon in the lower left, find your form on your Drive > Add > Assign.
  4. Through Drive: If your students are grades 3 - 8, and have their Google login, but you are not using GClassroom, you can share the file with them. From your form > Send > Email (if you have all their emails in a group), or > Link.  Then paste the link onto a Google Doc and share that out to all your students.
I want to collect data and then have an email sent out automatically.
Great!  Use the Add-On FormMule.  You can send out up to 10 different email templates using the same data set.  You can sent out 1,499 emails/day.  For example:  Let's say you want to have kids check out a book from your classroom library.  Have them put in their name and the book title into a form, and it will send you an email letting you know they've checked it out.

What if I'm collecting data and want to fill out a report or a certificate or a letter?
Use the Add-on AutoCrat.  Kids complete a level of something or earn an award?  Put the information into a Google Form, and it will email you the completed certificate ready for printing.

Can a Google Form Quiz award partial credit?
No. For partial credit, you will have to use the add-on Flubaroo.

I've made a Google Quiz, and I want to share it with my teammates so that they can use it, too.
Fantastic!  Make sure you share across the district, too!  This is another case of adding a collaborator.  If you want to be able to assign it in their classroom for them, you have to be added as a teacher in their classroom.  At that point, you can go into their classes via your GClassroom, and assign it to their students just as you would to your own.

If you have any more questions, please let me know!

Coming up soon in Tech Tips:  Discovery Ed/Google Classroom, Adobe Spark, and EdPuzzle, as well as coding resources for December's TechSkill.

Happy Thanksgiving!

5th Annual D90 Tech Shopping Guide

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:11 AM by Matt Weld

District 90,

I've had many questions about recommendations for helping out Santa, and so with the help of Tech Guru Grady and Elf Espenschied (from OTHS) I've come up with recommendations for your Holiday tech shopping.  Instead of the comparison tables I used to create, I think it would be easier to go by age range.  The ranges represent my personal opinion, and as parents, you can shop as you wish.

Kindergarten - 2nd grade = TabletiPads are good but pricey.  If they want them to play games, an Android platform is just fine, such as a Kindle Fire.

3rd - 7th grade = Chromebook.  Now that they'll be doing homework on the computer, and (definitely in D90) have individual Google Accounts, the Dell Chromebook 13 ($430) comes highly recommended, although they are more expensive than the Lenovo n22 ($162.99 at Best Buy) we have in D90. As an in-between, I really like my Acer Chromebook 14 ($269 at Best Buy).  [The number after 'Chromebook' on Dell and Acer indicates the diagonal dimensions of the screen. For Lenovo, it's the generation number.]

8th - 11th grade = OTHS does not use Google Suite for Education, so this morning when I spoke with their tech director, Dwight Espenschied, he said he recommends the Lenovo n23 with Windows (see attached flyer for special OTHS offer of $301.59 (incl. tax) from Computype). Dwight has also negotiated deals with Experimac in Shiloh and the Microsoft Store in Richmond Heights - just mention you're from O'Fallon schools.  See the attached flyers for details.

12th - college = ?  When my daughter went to college in August, we checked with the University as to what they recommend.  Much of it depends on what they use in the classroom and for each major.  Engineering people tend to prefer Windows, while creative majors prefer Apple.  If they are a liberal arts student, a Chromebook would probably work just fine.  My daughter has found Google Slides very useful for group projects because people could work on the project from wherever whenever.  I would say the Lenovo 23 from OTHS would be a good entry device if their chosen school does not have a recommendation.

Resources and other nifty links:

Happy Shopping!

Using Advanced Search in Drive

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:10 AM by Matt Weld

Happy Friday Everyone!

For this week's tech tip, I've updated an oldie but goodie from September, 2015.  With SLO season here, some people are having trouble finding the folders they need to access worksheets, growth charts, etc.  The best bet is to use the Advanced Search Feature in your Drive and then add it to your Drive so you don't have to search for it again.

I updated the graphics to reflect the changes Google made in the last year, but the link is the same.

As always, let me know if you have questions.

Finding District 90 Assessment Folder

[to make this presentation, I created a folder in a completely different account, set the sharing permissions the same as the SLO and Assessments folders, then logged into my own account, and took screen shots as I searched for the folder and added it to My Drive.]

Have a great weekend!


Teaching Resources for January - Searches, Inferencing, Blogging

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:05 AM by Matt Weld

2017 is right around the corner, and the District 90 Skills for January include:

TECH:  Safe and Effective Searches
LITERACY:  Inferences
INFORMATION LITERACY:  Seeking information from diverse sources
D90LEARNS:  Find 5 websites/apps for a population in your class that needs differentiation, and video record your own teaching and reflect on your blog.


February's tech skill is Digital Citizenship, which is how to act online, and how to create your digital footprint. This month's Safe and Effective Searching has to do with using search engines to find exactly what you want and to not bring up the... ummm... unnecessary.


Safe (K-12 use magenta drop-down to differentiate)

Kid Search Engines:  Kids SearchKids.govKiddleKidtopiaKidInfo

If you would like me to come and and do a lesson plan with your kiddos, please let me know so I can put it on my calendar.


I went to Drive and typed 'inferences' in the search.  This is a very small snippet of what came up, most of them resources provided by Durrelene. Contact her directly for more ideas or to have her come to your class <> She and I will be revving up the Durrelene and Matt Roadshow, too, so be sure and contact us for training for you, or teaching for your students.

Inline image 1


Having just provided you with resources on how to effectively use Google and other such Internet Search Engines, it is important to reinforce with kids that there are more resources than just Google. Many classes at OTHS prohibit websites as sources for papers and projects, and will only accept information from databases.  District 90 has access to several databases through the library, including IL Share CatalogNoveList, EBSCO Full Text DatabasesScience in Context, and KidsInfoBits.  (Login information here)

Contact Alayna Davies-Smith, the D90 Media Specialist, if you have questions or would like her to come and and demo any of these for your students: <> Her webpage is also a treasure trove of resources.

First Semester PD Hours will be awarded in January for monthly challenges.  You can still submit your evidence here.

Badges will also be awarded for the Curator, Reflector, and/or Reflector. Signup or submit evidence for badges here

Amie Reed (Fulton Intervention) and I are going to commandeer the hashtag #12monthsblogging on Twitter and start a monthly Twitter challenge for 2017, since one of my goals for the new year is to write a new post to my blog every month.  I was looking at my stats yesterday, and while I have daily traffic thanks to Pinterest, I haven't posted anything new for 7 months. #shameonme There is a lot going on in D90 that needs to be shared with the world!  Who knows?  With enough people joining in, this could be another worldwide event, like #noworksheetweek (Feb 27 - Mar 3).  Stay tuned.  You don't need to be on Twitter to participate, although it would be helpful in finding an audience for your blog.  In January, I'll set up some times to help people start blogging.


As always, let me know how I can help.  I have a couple teachers already signed up to bring in classes for monthly computer lab lessons with me - email if you'd like to join in.  I'm not going to do keyboarding with them, since that takes regular practice.  However, I will do pretty much anything else:  word processing, spreadsheets, coding, internet searches, digital citizenship, Google Classroom (or anything Google), presentations, video production... anything that will help you meet the needs of your students and their learning.

Have a great Break!

Filing Insurance Claims with Cornerstone

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:04 AM by Matt Weld

District 90,

OK.  So at first blush this doesn't seem very techie, but this video all about how to download your Explanation of Benefit (EoB) sheets from Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS), and then how to upload them as you file a claim with Cornerstone Insurance Group (CIG).

In past years, Baugher (pronounced 'Boyer') Financial, which is now part of CIG, used to automatically process our EoBs and checks would just appear in our mail.  No longer.  We now have to process our own claims.  Cornerstone has tried to make it as easy as possible by enabling processing in any of 3 different ways:
  1. MAIL - You can mail paper copies of your Claim Form along with your Explanation of Benefits sheets to them: Cornerstone Insurance Group, Admin Division / 721 Emerson Road, Suite 500 / St. Louis, MO  63141
    1. WEBSITE - Use their online portal to upload EoBs and fill out Claim Forms (explained in this video)
    2. MOBILE - Use their mobile app (  Apple  |  Android  ) and your device's camera to scan and upload EoBs, as well as fill in the Claim Form.
    To be clear:
    1. BCBS and CIG are separate entities, and their websites do NOT talk to each other.
    2. There are several ways to file a claim.  This video highlights the desktop method using their website.

    D90 Insurance Claim Process.mp4

    Questions? Contact Kari Unterbrink <> 618.288.4900 or 800.645.2025

    Have a great Winter Break!

    [fyi - this video was made using Jing screenshot software on my desktop, uploaded to Drive, and then downloaded, manipulated, and recorded on my iPad using Explain Everything. Video was then exported to Drive and shared.]

    3 Hashtags Worth Your Time

    posted Nov 21, 2016, 9:40 AM by Matt Weld

    Happy Thanksgiving, District 90!

    Over the weekend, my Twitter feed reminded me about three hashtags that are worth your time:

    #HourofCode - (December 5 - 11) - No one is too young to learn the logic behind coding.  Join schools all over the world in introducing the mindset to your students. Email me with needs or questions! Resources include:
    • iPads
      • Tynker APP  WEBSITE
      • Kodable (grades K-5)  APP   WEBSITE
      • Hopscotch  APP   WEBSITE
      • Lightbot (newer - Trouble Ticket if you want it on all iPads)  APP   WEBSITE
      • Run Marco! (newer - Trouble Ticket if you want it on all iPads)  APP   WEBSITE
      • CodeSpark Academy with the Foos (ages 4-9)  APP   WEBSITE
      • Swifty (advanced, real coding tutorials. 3 chapters free, then purchased)  APP   WEBSITE
    • Chromebooks
      • Kodable (same as app - don't need to read to play.  Need to set up a class first)
      • Code Combat (lots to learn here! Can create classroom, but not necessary to play)
      • Pencil Code (reminds me of Hopscotch where you have to use actual language to solve puzzles)
      • Tynker
      • Scratch (when kids are ready to create something for real.  Can make games)
      • Code Monkey (actual text code, not the visual sort found in most other Hour of Code tutorials. Can create classrooms and track progress)
      • Run Marco
    #12DaysofTwitter - (December 1-12) - Take the challenge and post something on Twitter once a day for 12 days following the daily prompt/challenge.  This will be added to December's #D90Learns for an hour of PD time.
    • Day 1 (Thursday, 12/1/16) - Create Twitter account, update profile pic, intro yourself to #ofd90 and #12daysoftwitter.
    • Day 2 (Friday, 12/2) - Selfie Day! Take a picture with team or colleague and post one thing you value about them.
    • Day 3 (Monday, 12/5) - #edtech resource: Share your favorite tech resource for your classroom/position.
    • Day 4 (Tuesday, 12/6) - What's happening in your class today? Tweet a picture of your classroom and tell us what's going on. Use #ofd90 too!
    • Day 5 (Wednesday, 12/7) - Rewteet!  Retweet something from the hashtag #ofd90 that you found relevant, funny, or especially useful.
    • Day 6 (Thursday, 12/8) - Chat Challenge.  Join one of the MANY chats on schedule for tonight*.  My favorite, #moedchat, is at 9:00pm. #ditchbook is also at 9:00. KY, TN, & PA are also having their state-wide chats on Thursdays.
    • Day 7 (Friday, 12/9) - Follow Friday - (It's actually a thing > #FF) Recommend and find other people to follow.
    • Day 8 (Monday, 12/12) - Quote Day - Everyone needs motivation on Mondays.  Tweet out your favorite quote and retweet someone else's.
    • Day 9 (Tuesday, 12/13) - Question Day - Your PLN is a great resource.  Use them to answer a question you have about teaching, tech, school...
    • Day 10 (Wednesday, 12/14) - Favorite Book/Blog.  Everyone has one. Share it with others with a link to the site or a picture of the cover.
    • Day 11 (Thursday, 12/15) - Advice - Tweet out your #1 piece of advice for a new teacher.  Don't forget to include #ofd90 so we can all be better.
    • Day 12 (Friday, 12/16) - Set a Goal - Tweet out a goal you have for yourself, your students, or your school/district for the rest of the school year.
    #NoWorksheetWeek - (February 27 - March 3) - This will be the 4th annual! @RaeFearing and I are already planning an on-air/live/GoogleHangout panel discussion to talk about philosophy and teaching ideas.  This will happen after Winter Break.  We are looking for veteran #NoWorksheetWeek-ers to join our panel discussion. Any takers?  More details on events later.

    Have a great 2-day week, and I hope your Thanksgiving Break is filled with gratitude and laughter.

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