Thursday, December 7, 2017

PLCs, Training, and PD Credits

(For Galesburg CUSD 205 only) 

I am often questioned about awarding PD Credit for department or team meetings, etc. My answer has been and continues to be "No." 

Long Story Short: 

A gathering of educators talking about stuff is NOT a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and will not be awarded PD Credit in our school district.

The Long Story:

  • School Districts are not allowed to give PD Credit for routine meetings and activities within the usual & expected duties of an educator's assignment. 
    • Such duties are determined by Principals or direct supervisors, not me. Talk to your Principal first.
  • We can give PD Credits for training and limited follow-up/implementation meetings IF those meetings are solely for improving upon the execution of skills taught in the training. 
    • By "limited" I'm going to stick to my previous guideline of "within the semester when the training was delivered," unless there are specific circumstances that require a different implementation timeline. 
      • Examples: Ongoing training conducted throughout the year, Training given near the end of a semester, As directed by the Superintendent, etc. 
  • Specific PLC meetings can be counted for PD Credit, but rebranding a staff or department meeting is NOT a PLC, as such meetings are often focused on the usual & expected duties of an educator's assignment. (see above)  
    • I will continue to say "no" to such requests until formal training in how to lead a PLC is conducted.
    • I will re-assess that decision after such training is delivered, provided the PLC meetings are led by a trained facilitator and conform to the intent & purpose of the true PLC model and are conducted with fidelity according the training delivered.
      • PLC training IS eligible for PD Credit, however.
Specific guidance for educators is available from ISBE
Both of these documents are freely available to the public, and have been provided to all educators in the past. These are the latest versions of such guidance (at the time of this publication) and supercede any/all previous/older documentsThis is not new information. 
 
PD Credits must be requested via internal email at least 2 weeks in advance, with clear training outcomes, training dates/locations, and anticipated agenda topics. PD Credits well never be awarded retroactively. The Illinois State Board of Education does not allow the awarding of PD Credits without a completed sign in and a completed evaluation form from each individual participating in the training.   

Questions from Galesburg CUSD 205 staff should be delivered via school email. 
Public commenting is turned off for this post.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping Up With Google

Recently I was asked, "How do you stay up-to-date with Google updates?"


Great question! First off, if you think I am going to take credit for being "up-to-date" on Google or anything else for that matter, or that I have some sort of magic crystal ball that lets me see things before anyone else, you're sadly mistaken. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite flattered, but there are lots of people who know lots more about this stuff than I do. I've always said, "Good teachers are great thieves." Well, I may not be in a classroom, but I still practice a little petty larceny when it comes to tech info and updates. 😉


But I was just getting used to that...!

One of the amazing things about Google is their responsiveness to teacher input. When you click the little ❓ button in most GSuite for Education applications, someone at Google really does actually read your feedback! In my opinion, I think that shows how committed they are to (1) making their products better, and (2) helping teachers and kids in classrooms. Now, is their timing perfect? Do they make every change that is suggested? The answer to both is, of course, "No." But I think it is undeniable that Google does make a conscious effort. 


  • Now, to be clear: I work in a Google for Education/GSuite school district. Do other product/service vendors, etc., have someone read & respond to user feedback as well? Perhaps. I really don't know. This is not intended to slight others - This is simply a response to a question I received specific to Google tools. 
An unfortunate consequence to such a service is the appearance that things change "all the time." Google - and most software/hardware vendors for that matter - update products on a regular schedule. They have to in order to stay relevant. If they don't, the product gets stale and "dies," and old, outdated products are just not good for business.


Innovate or die.

Teachers are really busy, but they understand the importance of remaining as up-to-date as possible on things related to their classroom pedagogy and content area(-s). It's hard just keeping up with current events related to their subject matter, much less with technology trends. So, often they prioritize their time by keeping up on the latest classroom management trends or advances in their content area instead. In other words, they tend to err on the side of keeping up with the kids' behaviors and questions, while gadgets and interwebs take a back seat.


So, how can we keep up? 

I am happy to share with you how I keep up. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you. Maybe you have better ideas than mine. Please feel free to share!


I have turned into a total Google-icious fanboy over the past couple of years. I do love many of Google's own resources, like
I also gather info in lots of other ways...
Full Disclosure: It also helps that I don't have kids in my house, and that I don't have papers to grade anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. But does that mean YOU can't stay in-the-know? Of course not! I didn't start all of these things overnight. This partial listing is a compilation of adding one little thing here and there over my 10 years in my current position, and approaching 25 years in education overall. Like integrating technology into your classroom, maybe you can just start slowly by modifying a single thing you are already doing:
  • Maybe your commute is shorter than mine, but you spend 45 minutes a day at the gym. (Bless you - You're amazing!) Before cranking up your workout playlist in your headphones, maybe you'll get #superexcited during your workout by listening to the Google Teacher Tribe this week. 
  • Postpone streaming one episode during your next binge-fest for a quick EDU in 90 fix. 
  • If Twitter moves too fast for you, try one weekly email from Practical Ed Tech
It isn't hard to keep up with Google updates - it's just developing a new habit. If I can do it, you can, too!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

First Look: Equatio

Equatio is a math tool that can be used with Google Docs and other word processing tools to insert "math language" into text. Equatio is now free for educators to use. I'll make no guarantees about student use at this time, as I simply haven't had time to look into it yet.

The video below shows a quick first look at Equatio, and I hope this will encourage you to explore it in more depth on your own.


H/T to Richard Byrne & Free Tech for Teachers, where I first learned about this. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Switching to the NEW Google Calendar

Google Calendar just got a facelift!

Don't be afraid to switch - you can always switch back if you don't like it. Please feel free to explore, as I'm sure I will.

Here's a brief video about how to switch over and what it will look like after you do.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Change Your EdLeaders Network Password

All users should change their EdLeaders Network password. If you receive an email from EdLeadersNetwork.org, ILPrincipals.org, or NetForum, your process should be very simple - click the link and go. However, ELN and IPA have been having some trouble getting things up and running for us this summer, so here's a quick tutorial to check the status of your account.

This video will explain the sign up & password change process:


Once you are in the new EdLeaders Network you'll find that you have been assigned an orientation "course" and you may also see a "program" (containing several courses) called IL Annual Mandated Training. You can work through the courses at your own pace, but you do NOT have to repeat any training that your building principal may conduct at your building in staff meeting sessions.

Here's how to navigate the new EdLeaders Network portal.






Saturday, August 19, 2017

Getting Your Tech Questions Answered in District 205


If you need assistance with technology tools, both formal policies and informal procedures are in place to help you use our District’s technology tools:
  • If you are having difficulties with classroom hardware or software, use the Tech Help Request link, which is found under the For Staff tab on the District website. These messages go directly to the Technology Department and will be routed to someone who can help you.
  • If you have questions about content displayed on school level websites or social media presences, contact your building principal.
    • Additionally, every school website has a Contact Us form that delivers an email directly to someone at your building who can help you.
  • If you have questions about content displayed on the District level website or social media presences, please contact me, Technology Director Rick Lawsha, or anyone in his Technology Department, in that order.
    • As with school websites, the District site also has a prominent Contact Us link that delivers messages directly and simultaneously to Technology Director Rick Lawsha and myself. Together, we will always be happy to work with you to address issues as best we can, route your concern to someone if we can’t help, and if needed, revisit the problem if it is not fixed on the first try.
  • If you would like help incorporating instructional technology into your lessons and other classroom activities, please contact Matt Jacobson via email (mjacobson) or phone (2108).
  • Visit the Technology and Learning Website to find LOTS of resources to help you with your day-to-day tech use.
    • How Do I…? pages will help you learn to use tools from Skyward to our school telephones.
    • Tech & PD Updates are archived on this page, too. Returning staff members can refresh their memories about tech they haven’t used for a while by browsing through this list. This page will be posted there, too!
    • Visit our Internet Safety Curriculum pages to find lots of good teaching tips to help keep kids safe online!

Finally, remember that I am always willing to receive your direct emails. Also know that I will try to respond as personally and as quickly as I can. If I am unable to help, I will tell you and I will route your concern to someone who can provide assistance. However, sometimes I may need your help in fully identifying where those specific problems exist.

Mentor & New Teacher Info Updated for 2017

Information for Mentors can be found on the Mentor Information web page.


New Teacher information can be found on the New Teachers web page


If you have any questions, please email mjacobsongalesburgorg




PLCs, Training, and PD Credits

(For Galesburg CUSD 205 only)   I am often questioned about awarding PD Credit for department or team meetings, etc. My answer has be...