Bloomfield District Technology Newsletters

May / June 2017 - Vol II, Nos. 3 & 3.5

Artistry by Alisa Piacenza!

What's New Since May (NEW FOR JUNE)...

What's Happening

There is a lot of great things happening with technology at Bloomfield. As the artistry by Alicia Piacenza to the left suggests, you can enjoy the ride on the wave, or just get wet. But it is suggested that everybody learn to swim! Read below --please-- to learn more about what to expect:

  • Before the end of the year: Take the survey below on what types of courses should be offered in the Teacher Academy; propose a course to teach for the summer Academy; talk with your Supervisor or Principal and complete the Course Proposal form between Mon, 5/15 and Fri, May 26; or just register to take a course over the summer -register between Tue, 5/30 and Friday, June 23 for any summer course; create a web site on New Google Sites (like this Newsletter); practice the new HTML-based Gradebook in PowerSchool; indicate whether as a teacher you wish to (a)replace your current laptop with a Chromebook, or (b)re-image your existing laptop; and review the submission of a new Tech Plan for 2017-2022.
  • Over the summer: PowerSchool will be upgraded to version 10 and the new Gradebook; District email will move to Gmail; Academy courses will (hopefully) be offered throughout the summer on those and other topics; installation/replacement of classroom LCDs; purchase of Chromebooks for every elementary school.
  • Next year: all 7th through 9th grade students will have Chromebooks 24-hours/day; anticipated fall and spring semesters of the Teacher Academy will have more relevant courses; utilize powerful new software subscriptions to support your digital leadership in learning (Newsela, Defined STEM, Discovery Streaming, NY Times, etc.).

(Click here if you are a teacher or staff who have not yet activated your Google account in the secure Bloomfield domain.)

Proposed 'Curriculum Sequence' for Google Courses

Google affords an excellent platform for leading students in digital learning. Google Suite for Education (formerly, GAFE) allows students and teachers to collaborate on documents and projects, exchange assignments in a wholly online paper-free environment, and work anytime, anywhere. The Chromebooks that are being distributed to students as part of the District 1-to-1 program are fully integrated with the District's Google Domain.

As comparatively easy as it is to use, the power and possibilities of the Suite can be overwhelming. To assist teachers navigate the possible paths to mastery, we --the District Technology Committee-- recommend that teachers advance in this sequence, in order to take the fullest possible advantage of the collaborative learning platform as quickly as possible.

Level I Courses: Google Classroom, Google Docs and Google Forms (Including Microsoft Integration) Note: Microsoft programs will still be available. The theory here is that teachers can learn very quickly how to utilize Google Classroom in their teaching to conduct online discussions, collect papers digitally, and keep a permanent record of dates and events. All that they need to know to be successful with Classroom are Docs and Forms. Knowing these three apps can get you started: Classroom, Docs, and Forms.

Level II Courses: Google Sheets, Google Slides and Google Sites (Including Microsoft Integration) Note: Microsoft programs will still be available. Once the basics are grasped, these additional apps permit extensive collaboration for students and teachers. Sheets is the 'Excel' of Google, and allows for collaboration and sharing. Slides is the 'PowerPoint.' And 'Sites' is the web tool that allows for collaboration in web sites.

Level III Courses: Advanced Google Applications. There are numerous additional Google applications, extensions, and third-party programs to enhance the basic Google apps. After learning the basics above, these additional functionalities could be explored.

Level IV: Class, Grade or topic specific programs and apps to help expand student learning experiences.

Our goal is to help teachers reach a level of comfort with Google programs so they can use them with students in class. We encourage teachers who are going to teach classes with 1-to-1 implementation to take these courses to be ready for September roll out.

Faculty Laptop Selection for 2017-18

Next year, we would like to give teachers the option to exchange their laptop for a new Chromebook. We are planning to reduce the number of laptops that we purchase. So if you remain with a laptop, it will not be a new one.

Further, all laptops will have to be re-imaged (i.e., the hard drive wiped and new antivirus and malware programs installed) in order to be used next year.

Here are the options: Keep your current laptop; Replace your current laptop with an equivalent (not new) laptop; Exchange your laptop for a Chromebook. We have not settled on specific Chromebook models, but the likely choices will be (1)the current student model (i.e., 11" screen); (2)11" touch-sensitive screen; (3)14" screen, withOUT touch-sensitivity.

If you decide to keep using a laptop, we still must re-image it for use next year. Your choices in that case are to turn-in the laptop before you leave for the summer, so that we can work on it over the summer and you can have it back on the first day of school, or keep your laptop for the summer, and then turn it into the Library in September. It will take about two (2) weeks at that point to get it back to you.

Please take this survey by May 25 to let us know your preference.

Click here for a list of responses to selected questions posed by teachers from the above survey.

District Equipment

Next year the District will begin to enforce the expectation that all school and district work, at least within the buildings, should be completed on district-owned equipment or computers, not personal devices.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office, as well as local police officials, made very clear in a regional presentation in April that in the event that an issue of safety or security for staff or student is involved, or there is a reasonable suspicion that a law or Board Policy has been violated, it is incumbent upon the District to confiscate any computer or computing device, including personal cell phone or laptop, that might hold evidence. The District is expected to hold onto the device, securing the data, until the matter is resolved.

The safest path for all staff members --for their own protection-- is to use, within the school building, only district computers. In that way, if we have to confiscate the equipment, it will not be a personal loss.

Teachers and staff who require better or different computers from what they presently have should make a special request through their supervisor or principal, detailing the specific need. The District will make every effort to supply the employee with what they need to perform their job. But no one enjoys immunity from confiscation, if the District is reasonably pursuing a matter that concerns safety or security of students, staff, or the general public.

Teacher Academy Survey on Courses

Please take a few minutes to complete this anonymous survey on what courses should be offered in the Teacher Academy and any suggestions that you have to improve its offerings. (More information about the Teacher Academy is below.)

Teacher Web Sites

​Teacher web sites have to be off SchoolDesk by the end of July, at the latest.

Teachers: Please use this form to enter the URL and related information about your new Teacher Web site​. We will use this information to publish your web sites in September on the school web sites.

NY Times On-Line

Click here for information and directions for activating an online subscription to the NY Times, thanks to the initiative of Mrs. Angela Langan of the HS.

Discovery Streaming

Next year, the District intends to subscribe to Discovery Streaming for educational videos. We plan to have an in-district caching server that will update each night with the full Discovery library. Check with your school Librarian for a temporary account that should work until the end of the year for learning how the service operates.

PowerSchool Upgrade

Over the summer, probably early July, PowerSchool will be unavailable, as we upgrade to version 10 and the new HTML-Based Gradebook. See the links at the bottom of the page for trying out the new Gradebook before then.

You must be in District and have your password from October/November. Submit a Tech Help Desk ticket, if you have trouble. Be sure to specify that you want access to your account on the PowerSchool Version 10 Training Server.

One advantage to the upgrade is that in the fall teachers will be able to use Chromebooks to access their Gradebooks. They will no longer need Java and a Windows-based laptop. See below on the left how you can indicate that you want to exchange your laptop for a Chromebook. But be sure to try-out the new Gradebook before you leave for the summer. Or sign-up for a course over the summer in use of the new Gradebook.

Bloomfield Teacher Academy - Summer

  1. ​​Immediately begin discussing with Directors & Supervisors & Principals any course proposals for the summer. Discuss content, number of hours, curriculum, audience, and teaching improvement strategies.
  2. Beginning Mon, 5/15, when you can enter the course proposals, these are the specific information items that you will have to enter for each course:
    1. Title of Course
    2. Brief Description / Long Description of Course Topics, Objectives, Audience, Expected Outcome
    3. Instructor Last / First Name, Home School
    4. Target Audience of Course (e.g., Elementary Science Teachers, HS Social Studies)
    5. Dates / Times / Location of Course (Instructor must ensure or reserve availability of room at times and days of course (Regarding classrooms, please contact Carolyn Caggiano in the Assistant Superintendent's Office, if you want to use either the Tech Training Center, or the large Conference Room in the BOE Admin Building. If you want to offer the course at either the HS or the MS, please indicate that in the Room field (e.g., HS or MS) of the course proposal form. Be sure to indicate the PRECISE DAY(S) and TIME(S) of your course. You will be contacted directly by the school, once they schedule your class in a particular classroom.)
    6. Expected Outcome (e.g., Finished Lesson to Use in Instruction, web site for course/teacher)
    7. (Added June 2017) Per a District Tech Committee decision, for the summer, the maximum number of registrations for each teacher is ten (10). The most recently added registrations beyond that limit for any teacher will be deleted, prior to finalizing course lists for BOE submission.
  3. These are the new pieces of information that will have to be entered for each course:
    1. Level of course (See the item to the left on Google Curriculum.)
  4. Begin entering course proposals on Monday, May 15, 2017. Course proposal window ends Friday, May 26​​, 2017.
  5. Register for courses beginning on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 Thursday, June 1.. Final day for course registrations will be Friday, June 23, 2017 Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  6. First courses could begin on Monday, June 26, 2017. Last day for summer courses is Thursday, August 31, 2017.

By The Way -

Comment on Tech Plan for 2017-2022 - - -

Staff and students of Bloomfield School District are invited to comment on the draft of the Tech Plan tentatively scheduled to be presented to the Board of Education in June and sent to the Executive County Superintendent's Office over the summer. Click here for the sections of the Tech Plan. You must have an active account in the Bloomfield Google Domain.

Regarding Gmail - - -

We plan to migrate to Google Gmail on August 1, 2017. Email addresses will NOT change. But instead of logging into Microsoft Office 365 for email, you will log into Google as you currently do with your account (or, if you are a student) and click on Gmail. Office staff who want to continue using Outlook on their desktops will have to submit a Tech Help Desk to migrate that program to Gmail, after the migration. Everyone else will be expected to use the web version of Gmail, not Outlook. There will be some classes in Gmail in August, as part of the Teacher Academy, if interested. . . .Some realities to bear in mind as we transition to Gmail: we hope/expect/plan on migrating all mail currently in your Microsoft Outlook online mailbox into Gmail. This does NOT include messages stored in local .PST files on your computer. Moreover, all the 'Mail Groups' on the network, such as Principals, Supervisors, and Directors, will carry over to Gmail, but any groups that you yourself created in Office 365 will have to be recreated. Also, local 'Rules' for handling mail in Outlook will have to be recreated in Gmail. Further, Gmail works by "Labels" not "Folders" --as anyone who uses it for personal email knows-- so we believe that all mail in sub-folders of your Inbox will be brought over with a label in the name of the sub-folder that it used to be in. . . .As we learn more about the migration, we will let you know.

If you are considering migrating files from OneDrive to Google Drive - - -

You do NOT have to migrate your files from OneDrive to Google Drive. You can keep using OneDrive, if you wish. Office 365 is NOT going away and you can access it from a Chromebook. We are merely moving to Gmail for our email. However, if you wish to migrate from OneDrive, the simplest method is to (1)Download all your files, by folder, from OneDrive; and then (2)in Chrome browser, upload the files or an entire folder, to Google Drive. There are third party apps, if you are so inclined (MultCloud, Mover), but the bandwidth is so ample within District that you really do not need them. Just download from OneDrive (right click and download) and then upload to Google Drive (New, file or folder upload).

Regarding the process of migration, there are a few common sense considerations: Once migrated, you may want to delete the copies left behind in OneDrive, to avoid confusion with multiple copies. Further, to take full advantage of Google Suite, you should convert your migrated files to Google format, which you can do simply by right clicking on a file in Google Drive and choosing to open in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides --whichever is appropriate. Again, you will have two copies of the file after the conversion, the original in Microsoft format and the new one in the format of Google. Only the Google format allows full use of the collaboration features, etc.

Migrating files from the network P: or T: or other drives to Google Drive - - -

The easiest way to migrate files from a network drive to Google Drive is to download the Google Drive App for Windows by clicking on the Settings icon while in Google Drive and select "Download Drive." The program will install Google Drive in Windows Explorer as if it were another network drive. You can then click and drag or copy and paste files from your network drive to Google Drive folders.

However, all the above considerations about duplicate files and converting files in Google continue to apply.

Another path is for users to adopt one venue (Google or Microsoft) and work in that environment as their primary drive, using the other as backup, by uploading files from one to the other, per the directions above. Since Google has unlimited storage for education users, and the Chromebooks work seamlessly with Google Driver, users are urged to commit to the Google environment.

Resources To Help -

NEW Google Sites - Training & Resources

Links for the PowerSchool Version 10 Training Server and New Gradebook (PowerTeacher Pro)