Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Our district, Colonial Heights City Public Schools, is a member of the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium (SVRTC). SVRTC's mission is
"... to assist members with coordinating the acquisition and effective integration of viable and up to date and emerging technologies, valuable training for K-12 students, staff and other citizens in our communities to enhance learning at all levels and encourage economic development in Southside Virginia."

The consortium holds an Annual Awards Banquet to highlight and celebrate the work done in technology and educational technology in our partnering divisions. SVRTC hosts an annual awards banquet to celebrate the outstanding technology leadership in the 25 school divisions that the consortium is comprised of.

The Office of Technology and Learning for Colonial Heights Public Schools is pleased to announce the Colonial Heights Technology Teacher award recipient for 2020 is
Kristin Acchione.

Kristin regularly uses technology for teaching and learning. She is a participant in Colonial Heights Schools' Google Professional Learning Community. She was an active participant in our Shake Up Learning book study. She is eager to try new technology applications. She even communicated with her class through Google Classroom from a doctor's waiting room!

Please join us in congratulating Kristin on this achievement. If you want to know more about how Kristin uses technology in her classroom, reach out to her, she is always willing to help her colleagues.

Kristin Acchione, 5th Grade Teacher, Tussing Elementary School

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Classroom Screensavers

I found a great idea while reading teaching blogs last month. If you have a projection system or one of the new Promethean ActivPanels then you need to try this!

When it's a cold and dreary day, throw a crackling fire on your interactive board. It will warm up your classroom and provide a great atmosphere. Who doesn't like sitting quietly by the fire and reading or listening to the teacher read.

For more inspiration search YouTube for a crackling fireplace and be sure to read this article from We are Teachers, The Best Screensavers on YouTube.

We are teachers has curated a Classroom Screensavers playlist so you can easily find great screensavers to use in your classroom.

Free Classroom Screensavers

Promethean Palooza!

What is a Promethean Panel and why do we need it?

This fall we realized that our classroom audiovisual and presentation systems had begun to fail. The Office of Technology and Learning is excited about our new Promethean ActivPanels that were installed in our Middle and High Schools and a few elementary classrooms in December. Many thanks to Dr. Sroufe and our School Board members for providing funds for our district's newest  technology, Promethean ActivPanels.

The Promethean ActivPanels are fast, reliable and easy to use. Teachers are now free from tedious board calibration and the Promethean resources will save valuable prepration time. The Promethean Panels are a perfect addition to our Chromebook 1:1 classrooms. Using technology to boost engagement and increase collaboration are vital in increasing classroom interactivity and higher levels of engagement.

The Promethean ActivPanels were selected because of their enhanced interactivity. Teachers and students can collaborate with multi-device mirroring. Teachers can move freely and teach from anywhere in the classroom because the panel stands alone and does not need to be connected to a computer to operate.

The ActivPanel automatically warms up when someone enters the room - now that's cool!
Teachers can quickly get started with the touch of a button. These panels were designed with the teacher in mind and features an ergonomic angled control console. The speakers provide room-filling sound. Students who hear better, learn better.

Engaging, interactive lessons can be created by teachers with Activinspire software that was included with the purchase of the Promethean Panels. The included software, apps, and platform are designed for ongoing enhancements.

All teachers using Promethean ActivPanels have attended training sessions. The first sessions covered the basics. More professional development will be offered during teachers' professional days this school year.

If you are old enough to remember a classroom with blackboards, chalkboards or dry-erase boards, you might enjoy this article about blackboard history.

The History of the Classroom Blackboard

Friday, January 10, 2020

Use Different Passwords!

I'm sure you've heard that using different passwords for different services is best practice, and it is!

When hackers breach a corporation where you have an account, they likely steel your password and then try to use that password to gain entry into other accounts. If you are using the same password for multiple accounts, those accounts are vulnerable.

How to Manage

We have passwords for nearly every account we have, and we use our phone to subscribe to services, and we usually stay logged into those accounts, so how should we remember and keep track of all those passwords?!

The answer is a password manager app. These apps will generate encrypted passwords for you as you log into accounts via your phone. If you are on a computer, you can use the app on your phone to look up that password so that you can type it in.

Two good password managers are 1Password and LastPass

(My husband and I share a 1Password account so that we can securely log into our bank account and other shared accounts without having passwords written down everywhere. It is great piece of mind!)


At CHPS, we have installed ClassLink to help all of our users (students, teachers, and staff) log into programs that we frequently use.

As an adult user, you can use ClassLink to securely log into services that you frequently use at school. If frequently use sites that aid in your teaching, like Teachers pay Teachers, you can add that app to your "launchpad" on ClassLink.

You can even use the ClassLink app (for iOS or Android) on your phone to log you into accounts! After you download it, you would use the "Log in with Google" feature.

Stay Safe

The purpose of using multiple passwords and using strong passwords is to keep your and our students' data safe.

Password hygiene never seems to need our attention because it is not in front of us needing to tie its shoe, or clothe it, or feed it, or help it read, or talk to its parent, or prepare for an SOL test, and the list is endless. It does need our collective attention though so that you do not become a victim of hacked and irrecoverable data.

We're here to help!

As always, the Office of Technology and Learning is here to help students and staff with technology needs. If you need help with using ClassLink, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Shake Up Learning Book Study

Summer is an ideal time to relax and read a good book. This past summer the Office of Technology and Learning facilitated the Shake Up Learning book study. The author, Kasey Bell is a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer, Co-host of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast and an award winning blogger and social media influencer.

This book provided direction in lesson planning, creation of activities, dynamic learning, student choice, and integration of Google Applications for Education in the 1:1 learning environment. Twenty-four teachers in our district participated in the Shake Up Learning book study that took place online through Schoology, our learning management system. Participants were responsible for reading the book, answering questions, posting comments, and completing projects to use in their teaching practice.

Listening to Shake Up Learning podcasts was an optional activity. New episodes of the  podcasts are released every Tuesday, they are archived so you can pick and choose topics and learn by listening to her channel.  If you didn't participate in our book study, I recommend these podcasts to expand your knowledge and find new ideas for teaching with Google Apps and Chromebooks. Another podcast that I like is The Ditch That Textbook Podcast hosted by Matt Miller. There are 107 episodes on various topics about teaching with technology.

Choice Boards and Learning Menus are part of the dynamic learning experiences that teachers can facilitate using Google Applications. These strategies also help to differentiate activities for our students to meet their individual needs. Check out The Teacher's Guide to Digital Choice Boards by Shake Up Learning to find ideas for providing student choice activities to your students.

If you don't know how to do something chances are one of your students has the knowledge you need. Selecting students to be tech experts in your class can build their self esteem, provide for peer sharing and connecting, and help you and your students learn together. Some responsibilities for student tech experts that were discussed include

  • help other students log on to Chromebooks
  • troubleshoot an issue
  • guide a group to navigate to a website 
  • assist with technical issues (volume, settings, charging)
  • create review games for the class 

Our culminating activity for the book study was the creation of a Dynamic Learning Experience. Participants used the DLE template to create an experience they could implement in their classrooms. The Dynamic Learning Experiences had to include at least one of the 5 C's and integrate at least one of the ISTE Standards for students. The final experiences were shared in Schoology.

Teaching with technology requires teachers and students to learn new skills and understand risk taking in the classroom. As teachers we want our day to be valuable to our students. It is OK to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. The shift from teacher driven to student driven instruction was emphasized. Strategies for changing classrooms to make it less of a one-size-fits-all experience were discussed.

Our book study was fun and challenging. I have a few copies of Kasey Bell's Shake Up Learning book. If you would like to read it, contact me.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Creating Email Signatures

Many of us have created email signatures in Gmail so that we can distinguish ourselves when we are reaching out to parents or co-workers housed in another building. Have you considered adding your signature to the mail app in your phone?  This short video will show you how you can add a signature to Gmail on the web or in an app.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tech Tips 12: Clearing your Data in Google Chrome

If you see a "502" error, clearing your cache and cookies may help!

Our district, Colonial Heights City Public Schools, is a member of the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium (SVRTC). SVRTC'...