Sunday, October 15, 2017

Meet the Department of Technology & Innovation

On behalf of the entire Department of Technology & Innovation, I would like to welcome everyone back to school for the 2017–18 school year.

The district-level members of the Department of Technology & Innovation work throughout the summer and most of us consider the summer months our busiest time of year in terms of implementing, preparing, upgrading, and updating. However, when teachers and students return, we shift our focus to supporting and planning for the many systems we manage in learning, teaching, and operations across the district.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the entire Department of Technology & Innovation district-level staff. Below you will find the department listed in text, and the post concludes with an infographic-style image that depicts everyone in our group.

Instructional Technology
Joe Robinson, Director of Instructional Technology
Joann Fullman, Administrative Assistant
Shawndra Shelton, District Technology Assistant

Technology Support
Russ Vander Mey, Systems Administrator
Scott Moore, Network Operations Specialist
Mark Polzin, Technology Support Supervisor
District Technology Support Specialists
     Jason Bryant
     Justin Edge
      Kim Martinez
District Technology Support Technicians
      Josh Beatty
      Derrick Kovell
      Charlie Parkinson
District Technology Support Associates
      Adam Fajnor
      Kaitlyn Pankiewicz

Student Information
June Nilles, Director of Student Information
Saif Ali, Applications Software Administrator
Karen Jasonowicz, Central Registrar
Megan Polzin, Transportation Specialist
Violet Jackson, IC/Business Office Liaison
Andrew Solomon, Data Assistant
Yazmin Aceves, District Translator

Copy Center
Steve Underwood, Coordinator of Document Systems
Charles Wells, Copy Center Assistant

Department Leadership
Matt Fuller, Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Innovation
Hector Ontiveros, Technology & Innovation Department Coordinator


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Five Elements of a Perfect Tweet

The Barrington 220 response to using Twitter as a professional learning network (PLN) has exploded this school year!

Several schools have highlighted teachers using Twitter by adding posters or signs showing Twitter accounts outside of classrooms. Since more and more teachers are beginning to use Twitter regularly, I thought this would be a good time to review five elements of what makes the "perfect" tweet.

The perfect Twitter post has five key parts: the message, a hashtag, a tag, a link, and a photo or video.

The Message

Twitter is currently reviewing the number of characters allowed in a single tweet, but as of right now, you are allotted 140 characters per tweet. Therefore, word choice is a very important aspect of creating a tweet. Of the five elements, the most important aspect of a perfect tweet is the message.

The Hashtag

Hashtags serve as labels for tweets. Adding a hashtag allows others to search for and find your tweet. For example, adding the Barrington 220 hashtag #bsd220 to a tweet allows anyone searching for recent tweets from our district to find them easily. Searching the hashtag #sped would find tweets related to special education. Here is a list of educational hashtags as compiled by Jerry Blumengarten, @cybraryman1.

The Tag

Tagging someone in a post is like cc-ing (carbon-copying) them on email. It ensures that your tweet will trigger a notification for whomever you’ve tagged to see that tweet. Tagging someone with a tweet also allows those who are following you to learn about other accounts you might be connected with. For example, tagging @barrington220 in a tweet, would allow others to become aware of Barrington 220's Twitter account.

The Link

Most Twitter posts also include some sort of link. Examples of links include a resource, another person's post, or a link to a blog post. The link is the most optional of the five elements of the perfect tweet.

The Photo or Video

A really good tweet includes media. Adding a picture, video—or a GIF or Bitmoji—brings interest and intrigue to your tweet. Photos are great, but adding videos of 30 seconds or less allow followers to gain an even deeper understanding of your tweeted message. For example, this tweet, from Shilpa Vakayil, @shilpavakayil, shows a video of her class.

Fall 2017 Instructional Technology App Updates

We have several updates to share regarding software subscriptions and apps available for staff and students since our last update in August.

iOS and macOS Updates

Apple recently released new operating systems both for iPad and MacBook Air devices. 

iOS 11, the new operating system for our iPad devices, became available on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. You've most likely received onscreen prompts to upgrade. The upgrade is free and requires 50% battery, online access, and about 30–45 minutes of time to download and install. The iPad device is unusable during this time so we recommend completing the upgrade at home.

macOS High Sierra, the new operating system for our MacBook Air devices, became available Monday, September 25, 2017. If you haven't already, you will receive onscreen prompts to upgrade. The upgrade is free and requires 50% battery, online access, and about an hour of time to download and install. The MacBook Air device is unusable during this time so we recommend completing the upgrade at home.

For more information about when to upgrade recommendations, please take a look at the article, Upgrade Advice Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Newly Available iOS Apps

Touchcast Studio is a creation-based iOS app that allows users to add overlays for video. It has been scoped for all students in Grades K–12.

Goodreads is a book recommendations app for iOS that offers Netflix-like algorithms to help students find books they might enjoy. The app also allows students to connect safely and recommend books to each other. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 3–8.

Post-It Plus is an iOS app that allows users to take photos to digitize existing Post-It Notes for organization, sharing, and saving. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 1–2.

Abode Spark Page is a creation-based iOS app designed to allow users to create their own images, graphics, and text. It has been scoped for all students in Grades 3–8.

Requests for access to new or existing software and apps can be made using the Software and App Request Form (

Unblock Websites the Quick & Easy Way

I love hearing stories of teachers who find great, timely resources from their Twitter feeds. Occasionally, even the best laid plans for using a link to that perfect website go astray when that website is blocked for students.

We have an easy solution...make a request to have the website unblocked using a Google Form at this address:


After you complete the Google Form, the Technology Department immediately reviews the request, unblocks the website (if appropriate for students), and communicates the unblock back to the requesting teacher.

You may request websites to be unblocked using the link above beginning today.

Upgrade Advice Part 3: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

One of the most often-asked questions we get in the Department of Technology & Innovation is whether or not to update (or upgrade) software when it’s released. This question applies both to district-issued Macs and iPads, as well as personal devices.

The Good

Our advice is to update your device when an update or upgrade is released. While the purpose of upgrades (e.g., iOS 10 to iOS 11) is generally to add new features, upgrades also often fix lingering issues from previous versions of software. Updates (e.g., iOS 11 to iOS 11.0.1) generally deliver bug fixes and/or security updates.

Often, a major upgrade is soon followed by an update to address major issues experienced by many users. A recent example of this happened when iOS 11 was released on September 19, 2017, and an update to iOS 11.0.1 was released just a week later on September 26, 2017. The update pop-up message explains that it "includes bug fixes and improvements for your iPhone and iPad."

The Bad and the Ugly

Unfortunately, sometimes updates or upgrades cause unintended problems. When these issues occur that affect Barrington 220, our Department of Technology & Innovation will send a message—usually an email from our System Administrator Russ Vander Mey—to all district users with our recommendation. These situations are rare.

The Bottom Line

With the exception of rare unintended consequences, we recommend to upgrade or update as soon as it’s convenient after the upgrade/update is released. Due to the time upgrades and updates often take to download and install, we recommend that you begin them when you know you will not need device access for around 30 minutes. We recommend that our students upgrade/update at home so no potential instructional time is lost at school waiting for downloads and installs.

The Barrington 220 tech support team is available to help you with updates and upgrades every school day. While in the district, simply call x. 1500 to speak with a Tech Support Associate.

Google Drive for Teams

When team members retire, take a leave or move on, it can be difficult to access important content saved to their personal Google Drive.  However, Google has released an excellent solution.

Google Team Drives are an excellent option for sharing important documents, folders, and other materials between team members. Simply create a team drive for your group, add members, and watch the shared contents grow. When files are moved to the Team Drive, the ownership of those files transfers to the team. This will eliminate the loss of files and the time consuming process of copying and sharing when staff members retire or move on. At this time Folders cannot be moved directly from an individual Google Drive to the team drive (without the assistance of a district Google Super Admin).

To access Google Team Drives, simply login to your Google account and navigate to Google Drive. You will find the Team Drives option in the upper left corner of your Google Drive Homepage.

Here are a few tips regarding Google Team Drive:
  • When a folder is moved from a personal drive to a team drive, a copy is created and ownership is transferred to the team.  
  • Any files shared individually within a folder moved to the Team Drive, retain rights to view, edit, etc.  
  • Shared folders become property of the team and must be shared again from the team drive to ensure appropriate access.
  • You may find files that you saved with the team in your "Shared with Me" and "Recent Locations"
  • All files are deleted from "My Drive" and all other folder locations EXCEPT the Team Drive location.

Apps and Subscriptions Update

We have access to an incredible list of apps and subscriptions that enhance and supplement teaching and learning in Barrington 220.

In an effort to both inform and organize our current holdings, we need your help!

Please let us know if you, your grade level team, your department, or your school has access to apps or subscriptions in addition to these lists.

Barrington 220 iPad Apps (
Barrington 220 Subscriptions (

If you find an app or subscription not present in our records, please let us know by completing this Google Form: Missing Software and Apps (

Meet the Department of Technology & Innovation

On behalf of the entire Department of Technology & Innovation, I would like to welcome everyone back to school for the 2017–18 school ye...