Welcome to the latest snapshot. If you have a question for the superintendent, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the latest snapshot. If you have a question for the superintendent, email us at email@example.com.
Here is the latest superintendent snapshot discussing the future of textbooks. To submit a question to Superintendent Bates for his blog or snapshot, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question – Is there a way to have a counter on our Canvas sites so that we can tell how much students or parents are using them?
Response – There is currently no dashboard for viewing granular data on Canvas. We have voiced our desire to have an easy way to see what is being used and not being used on a macro and micro level. Canvas is working on developing Course Analytics which will show things like page views, participations, etc. by student. We have been told this will be released in January.
Thanks to our Educational Technology Department for their help in responding to this question.
We have received many questions regarding the new Gradebook system. Some common questions have been posted here along with responses.
I have been trying to pull up a simple missing work report for my class…
There is currently no single report for elementary schools that will print a single page of missing assignments for an entire class of students. There is a report that can be run for each student individually, but as was pointed out, this is a lot of work. This type of report is the single most requested item we have received for the new Gradebook. Our plan is to modify the report for single students and make it so that teachers can run it for an entire class list.
We know that in the old Gradebook, teachers would frequently print off a report and send it home with their students each week. While we think this should still be an option for teachers, we would encourage them to move towards using some of the other tools built into the Gradebook system. For example, a parent can opt in to receive email notification whenever their student misses an assignment. In the new system, teachers also have the ability to send attendance and assignment information to parents directly by email.
There is NOTHING simple about it…
The program does require some initial setup up front. Teachers need to create their own grade scales (or choose a district grade scale). They need to setup their own categories (or choose a district category). They need to select their preferences (or use the defaults). These items are one-time things that you can continue to use year-after-year. Once the one-time setup is done, a teacher needs to assign a category/grade scale to a course (this is no different from the old Gradebook) and elementary teachers need to setup their concepts (this is no different from the old Gradebook). The vendor has been very receptive to ideas on how to make the system easier to use, but in order to make improvements we need specific examples of how things could be done better from the people who use it.
I have yet to find even one thing that is positive about it…
· The old Gradebook did not provide teachers with a way to communicate directly with parents; everything had to be printed off and sent home with the student. Parent email accounts will become available as parents sign up for parent accounts in the new system.
· The old Gradebook had a one day time delay between when a student entered a class and when a student would show up in the teacher’s Gradebook.
· All reports in the old Gradebook were PDF’s. The new Gradebook allows a teacher to export any report to Excel, Word, PDF, etc.
· The old Gradebook did not integrate well with other systems in the district and was difficult to improve.
· The old Gradebook was unable to maintain information from one school year to the next. The new Gradebook does.
· The old Gradebook was limited to less-than-adequate hardware resulting in frequent system outages. The new Gradebook is compatible with newer server technology and can more easily be expanded to accommodate more users on the system.
Can we have the old program back? I don’t feel the move to a new Gradebook program was optional.
Here are some of the reasons why the old Gradebook was not an option for this school year:
· Elementary schools have moved to four quarters from three trimesters. The old Gradebook was designed specifically for three trimesters on the elementary level. Making this change would have required many changes to the old Gradebook, many of which would not fully be tested by the start of school.
· We would not be able to make the transition to a new Discovery system this year.
· Over the past couple of years, there has been a significant increase in the number of teachers, parents and students accessing information from the Gradebook. The old system was already having issues accommodating the increased load from last year.
While we understand that there is a lot of frustration involved with moving to a new Gradebook system, please remember that we are several weeks into a very significant change affecting thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of students and parents. We are still working on making the system really great for all users and we appreciate your patience.
Thanks to Information Systems for their assistance in responding to these questions.
Question – I find it such a challenge to lose the computer lab from the 16th of April until the end of May for CRT testing. Any suggestions?
Response – We feel this teacher’s pain as well as a number of you who submitted similar questions regarding lab use and other issues. We continually lobby the USOE to create tests that do NOT have to be administered exclusively in a computer lab setting. As such, the current testing model for CRT’s demands lab settings and prescribes the testing window. However, soon all of our schools will have student response devices (clickers) this year that will allow for Granite’s online assessments – quarterly benchmarks and the Acuity Progress Screener – to be administered in the classroom if the teacher so desires. We wish the same were true for the CRT’s, but we’re not in charge of them. We hope that with the rise of alternative technologies that more of these types of assessments can be performed directly in the classroom with a reduced need for computer labs overall.
Please know that the 5-Year Plan contemplates one-to-one student technology AND the infrastructure to support it. The superintendent considers computer labs an anachronism and we’re looking to build the research, production and assessment capacity of a lab into each classroom.
Thanks to the Teaching and Learning Department for their assistance in responding to this question.
Question – I was excited last year to hear that our district was making a push to get teachers on board with utilizing technology by creating and maintaining class web pages via Canvas. I was also excited for a new gradebook system that promised improvements. However, both have turned out to be major disappointments. Gradebook seems to be much more complicated with little payoff and doesn’t connect with Canvas. Why as a district are we spending so much money developing and maintaining two separate systems that can’t even integrate? As a secondary teacher, I have to upload and arrange files for 3 different courses that I teach. For two of those courses, I have to upload each item 3 times or import the content into the second and third course EVERY time I want to add something new. Are there any plans to simplify these systems and have integration between gradebook and Canvas? Also, are there any plans to make Canvas more teacher friendly? I embrace the idea of keeping our classrooms current and want to maintain an online course, but I can’t keep up with uploading the same files to multiple places every time I want to post a new resource or assignment.
Response – Thank you for your willingness and excitement in creating and maintaining a digital framework with resources and guidance for students to access beyond your face to face classroom!
Here’s some context and then I’ll respond to your question. The state passed a law requiring every school district to report its student data in a certain format – with a 2013 deadline. This forced us completely rework our Discovery system, effecively unhooking it from Gradebook. So, our programming resources have needed to be pulled away from the Canvas/Gradebook sync we were working on, as we believed the Discovery/Gradebook sync took priority. With the timeline we were given (don’t feel like the Lone Ranger out there when you go to work in the morning and think you know how you have a plan for the day and the world shifts out from under you :-), it happens to the district too), that sync isn’t done yet, as you know as you’ve tried to look up grades, or access the parent portal. As it is, I think we’ve found a work-around on the student access side, but the sync should be complete mid-November. At that point we’ll jump full bore back into the Canvas/Gradebook side. in the meantime we’re evaluating our legal options with the hardware providers for the servers that keep crashing. I was asked the other day why we didn’t wait to implement things until they’d been piloted and perfected. Actually, the Cyprus Network piloted the new Gradebook for most of last year, we thought the bugs were worked out, the Discovery requirements have complicated that process. In any event, if we wait until things are perfect to to implement, we’d still be riding horses to work. I’m dealing with a recurring car issue right now that make horses attractive… Anyway, enough context, now your questions.
The Learning Management System Canvas is a relatively new product that is has been willing to accept our feedback and try to make adjustments to their product to better serve K-12 face to face and blended learning teachers. We hope that continued work with this company will make the most user friendly product possible for Granite Teachers. Along those lines – Canvas offers assignment, quiz, and grading features that primarily center around Online and Higher Ed. Functionality.
We have been in discussion with Canvas to integrate our K-12/face to face/blended learning needs into a seamless LMS/Grade book system. They have not been quick to make changes to their structure. At this point we are working with them to develop functionality where assignment scores entered in Gradebook will also show in Canvas. Progress has been slow but they seem to see where changes to their product for K-12 purposes could be profitable.
Please know we continue to work with the vendor to find the best solution for our teachers.
Thanks to Instructional Technology Department for their assistance in responding to this question.
Question – There seems to be more blocked websites this year than in the past and I feel like it is hindering my teaching. I have submitted requests to the help desk to see if these sites can be unblocked and I have not received any response, and they have not been unblocked. The sites are very valid and useful educational websites.
Response – As a requirement to receive federal funds to help offset our district cost for internet connectivity to schools we are required to do internet content or web filtering. We also believe as a district it is in our best interest to protect our students from inappropriate content. To accomplish this we purchase a web filter along with the service from the company to categorize all the millions of web sites for us. We receive frequent updates automatically from the vendor on web sites as to their content on a subscription basis. The administration of the district has determined the categories the web filter provides us with of which to block. Obvious ones like Pornography are easy to categorize and block. There are some categories that are very broad in nature. Some of the web sites in these categories could be appropriate some not. We have been on the side of caution for those categories and blocked them. Two of the sites you mentioned are in that category those being the KQED and icebreaker. We did validate in our schools that they are blocked. We also checked the other two web sites at 3 separate schools and neither educemic nor YouTube were blocked at those sites. If you are still having problems at your site please contact your STS/LMETS or NE for help.
We understand that since we blocked a very general category that we need to make exceptions. Those exceptions should go through the Education Technology Department not information Systems and the help desk. ET is in charge of assessing the best tools to be used to deliver curriculum. They take under consideration the site that is asked to be opened and it’s educational value. Then they contact I.S. to ask them to allow the site. You should see in the near future a better method in requesting a site be allowed and or blocked in our schools.
Thanks to I.S. and Ed. Tech. for their help in responding to this question.
Question – Our school has been fortunate enough that a few teachers got to take an iPod training and then they received an iPad or iPod lab to use. As excited as I am for them, it has already created a feeling of “that’s not fair” in my classroom. And as a teacher who enjoys using technology, I would love the opportunity to create more learning opportunities for my students as well. Are there plans to increase the availability of IPods to other classrooms?
Response – Thank you for your email and interest in use of technology in the classroom! The iPod carts that have been provided has been a fairly large project in terms of cost and professional learning. Due to limits in resources (both in funding and in time), we have not been able to provide this opportunity to all teachers. We hope to continually add technology integration into all classrooms. The technology tools will obviously change over the years, but our vision and goals of always looking to provide as many opportunities to teachers will not change. This year we were able to modify restrictions on how textbook funds can be used – to include certain technologies. As you may have seen in our 5-Year Plan, we intend to have one-to-one technology with students and, just as importantly, the infrastructure to support it. Thanks again for your commitment!
Question – What if I wanted to show a carefully selected clip from a movie that was rated PG, PG13, or R. Would it be acceptable to show a 5 or 10 minute clip from a movie, that would ordinarily require permission. Perhaps the entirety of the movie wouldn’t be acceptable for classroom viewing, but a section of it would be illustrative for students who struggle with English. For example, I’m thinking of using a short, edited clip from the movie Amistad to show what the middle passage was like for slaves. If I did this without prior approval and without sending permission slips, would I be breaking policies (or laws)?
Answer – A link below outlines our full policy on movies in the classroom.
Question – As any good teacher, I realize and understand that movies cannot, and should not, be used to replace other teaching materials (textbooks, direct instruction, etc.). However, as an artistic person, I also realize that there can be great learning taking place while watching a movie with students. My understanding of district policy is that G-rated material is generally approved, so far as there is a curriculum connection. Any material that is PG or PG-13 needs a request to show form signed from the principal and parental permission for each student to view the content. Any R, X, or NC-17 material is strictly prohibited. As far as my understanding goes, this is a blanket statement for every classroom in the district, with no distinction between grade or school levels; elementary rules are the same as junior and senior high schools. I recently created what I think is a brilliant literacy activity that includes reading strategies, character development, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and persuasive writing all done by watching a movie made from a book that my students read. Wanting to follow proper channels, I looked up the policy, sent it to my principal, who then checked with her supervisor, and we were told we could not watch the movie in class. The reason we were given is because the supervisor felt that it was inappropriate to show PG material in an elementary school (5th grade, by the by).
My question, then, is three-fold: Is this really the district policy? Is the policy really the same for all grade levels? And, if this is the policy, then why, when I followed the correct procedure, was I not allowed to implement my brilliant lesson plan? I don’t want to ruffle feathers, make waves, nor get anyone mad at me, and I’m not just trying to get my own way (I’ve already made plans to show a different, if inferior, movie of the same book that is rated G, and adjusted the lesson plan accordingly), I only want to understand.
Response – First of all, thanks for planning engaging, relevant lessons! I’m confident you’re brilliant lesson plan isn’t to show movies as a reward or just for fun (Finding Nemo was on in a math classroom I visited recently, not quite sure how it fit into the curriculum) but that you’re teaching explicit learning objectives in a multisensory educational way. Different media and technologies present so many opportunities – please share what you’re doing with colleagues.
As far as movie use is concerned, you are correct, but let us flesh this out a bit. The district policy does not differentiate among elementary and secondary and the rules are the same for all. ANY movie shown (and it cannot be rented, you need proper licensure to show it – movies rented or bought at the store are typically licensed for home use only) must have an explicit instructional purpose and tie directly to concepts or objectives in the State Core Curriculum. Only G-rated movies can be selected unilaterally by the teacher. PG or PG-13 rated movies must be approved in writing (there’s a form attached to the policy) by the principal, and a parent permission slip (also a form attached to the policy) must be sent home with every student in the class. Obviously movies with ratings beyond PG-13 cannot be shown. Sounds like you have been working hard to create an engaging class activity. I hope this helps clarify the policy.
Thanks to the Teaching and Learning Department for their help in responding to this question.