Thursday, September 7, 2017

Passwords Are Now Passé

Logging in to a computer system generally requires a username and a "memorized secret." Most people refer to this "memorized secret" as a password. If you are using a password, may I suggest ditching the password and instead using a passphrase in its place?

Federal NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) guidelines that cover computer and systems authentication have been recently revised and the use of complex passwords is no longer recommended. Digital Identity Guidelines now recommend the use of passphrases to authenticate to computer and electronic systems instead of passwords. A passphrase is the use of a group of words, preferably chosen at random, used to authenticate to a computer-based system. Here is an example of both a complex password and a passphrase:

A complex password: St48761!

A passphrase: special holding compound

Why the change?

Complex passwords are sometimes difficult for us to remember. Consequently, they may end up written on paper or stored in an insecure way. Different complexity requirements for different computer and electronic systems may require us to remember multiple complex passwords. Again, we end up writing them down or storing them in an insecure way.

Complex passwords are sometimes created by changing common characters and rendering them less secure than we might think. These passwords could be subject to a system “dictionary attack” that accounts for common letter substitutions. One example of a complex password that is not very secure is Passw0rd!

While not every system we work with will currently support the new federal recommendations (i.e., Apple IDs), your Barrington 220 network account will support their use, as will the Google G Suite system.

To revise a Barrington 220 network “memorized secret” (your password), click here.

To revise your Barrington 220 Google account password, follow these directions.

When creating your passphrase, make sure that your passphrase is a minimum of 8 characters in length. Use random words strung together, not a common phrase. While a passphrase let the dog out is still stronger than many traditional complex passwords, the randomness of a passphrase such as interview garage focus is stronger against a potential system "dictionary attack" and is greatly preferred over common phrases found in books or everyday language.

For some interesting additional reading, check out the NIST Digital Identity Guidelines. A remark at the end of the document sums things up: "Length and complexity requirements beyond those recommended here significantly increase the difficulty of memorized secrets and increase user frustration."

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 this post concludes with an infographic-style image that depicts everyone in our group.

Instructional Technology
Joe Robinson, Director of Instructional Technology
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


Translation/Interpretation Request Form

I hope that the start of a new school year finds you well! As things begin to pick up, I would like to share some great news that could come in handy throughout our different departments when it comes to requesting translating services.

As a part of coordinating technology and innovation within the District, we have made it possible to schedule all of your translating needs through a simple Google Form. The form can be accessed by either clicking here or by visiting our Barrington 220 website under Staff in the tab entitled Request Translation.

The form will allow us to receive and confirm appointment requests as well as manage uploads of documents that you need translated into Spanish. This simple yet effective process allows the translating team here at Barrington 220 to collaborate much more efficiently when it comes to meeting/document requests across our district.

We do ask that you keep the following in mind before submitting your request:

  • Please allow a minimum of 5–10 business days for written translation requests to be returned.
  • Please submit your meeting interpreter request 15 days in advance (minimum) in order to secure an interpreter. Note: It is likely that last-minute meeting requests will not be accommodated.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Our translating team is ready to provide assistance, so please send those timely requests!

Apple Clips, Your Custom Music Soundtrack Composer

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to learn about Apple’s new Clips app for iOS from the app’s product manager. Although Clips is very easy to use, I learned a few great tips and tricks, and I was fascinated to learn about a Clips-only feature, the Soundtracks tool.

Clips (currently) includes 47 different Soundtracks in seven different categories:
  • Pop
  • Playful
  • Chill
  • Sentimental
  • Retro
  • Action
  • Holidays & Events

Like other Apple apps with music soundtrack options, the tracks are high-quality, royalty-free, and may be uploaded to social media without infringing copyright. However, unlike other music soundtrack options, Clips soundtracks automatically adjust timing to create a perfectly synchronized music soundtrack for your Clips video.

In general, depending upon the Soundtrack selected, the track includes an intro, several varied sections (depending upon the length of your video), and an outro with an ending. Thus, the music doesn’t just cut off abruptly or fade at the end, it sounds like the soundtrack was composed with a beginning, middle, and ending—just for your video.

For a recent iMovie project, I found myself in my typical music predicament: I needed a royalty-free music selection in an appropriate style and at the appropriate length to play throughout the video. To make matters more challenging, I knew that I would be sharing a first revision of the video with several groups and that further edits would be imminent. It occurred to me...why not let Clips compose my music soundtrack for me?

After a bit of trial and error, I developed two methods for creating Clips music soundtracks for other video apps and created video tutorials for each. One method uses Clips for iPhone and iMovie on Mac, while the other method is an all-iPad solution (using Clips and iMovie for iPad). Using the ideas here, you may be able to adapt this idea for other video creation apps on other platforms.

Create a Soundtrack using Clips for iPhone and Use It in iMovie for Mac

Create a Soundtrack using Clips for iPad and Use It in iMovie for iPad

Google & Apple Service Outage Information

Like many districts, Barrington 220 uses the online services of several providers. Online systems occasionally experience service disruptions. Two of our primary providers, Google and Apple, provide very detailed web pages that list the status of their services that any user may check at any time.

Google currently provides status for 23 services, such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Maps, Blogger, Classroom, etc. Check Google status here:

Apple currently provides status for 53 services, such as various App Stores, Apple ID, iCloud Calendar, iCloud Drive, iCloud Notes, Documents in the Cloud, iMessage, Photos, etc. Check Apple status here:

The Barrington 220 tech staff will report catastrophic outages from our providers if they affect all users and are expected to last an extended time. For minor outages that do not affect the majority of users, you may check these status pages at any time.

Of course, you may always call x. 1500 for Technology Support in Barrington 220 at any time during the school day.

Campus Instruction Control Center Designed for Mobile Devices

Infinite Campus has updated the home page of Campus Instruction and renamed it “Control Center.” This enhancement allows teachers to quickly view current tasks at a glance without leaving the screen. In addition, Control Center is designed with a responsive design to allow teachers the same home screen on a tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer.

Open Campus Instruction 

To open Campus Instruction, click the app switcher and select Campus Instruction in the menu that opens. Use the app switcher to return to the rest of Campus as well by selecting Campus Tools or to access the Campus Community. Be sure to Log Off when finished.

The app switcher in Campus Instruction is located in the top left of the screen. Click Tools to return to the rest of Campus Tools.

In Campus Instruction, choose the Year and School in the toolbar.  Teachers in schools with multiple structures should choose the appropriate structure, i.e., BHS or Pathways; Grade 06, Grade 07, or Grade 08.

You'll only need to select a Section when that context is needed, such as in the Grade Book or Roster. Other tools, such as the Planner, are not section-specific.

The top right corner of the screen is also where you access the Campus Community and where you log off of Campus Instruction. Account Settings are also available from this user icon.

Visit the Control Center for Easy Access to Attendance and Scoring Assignments

The Control Center allows teachers to view current tasks at a glance. Current day attendance and assignments to be score are sorted by period.

This tool has been optimized for use on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets.

Use the Control Center to take attendance and score assignments easily.

Taking Attendance

Sections for which attendance needs to be taken are indicated with a red dot and outline once the period has ended. Prior to the end of the period, attendance that will need to be taken during the day is indicated with an empty grey circle. Completed attendance is indicated with a green check. Click Take to enter student attendance.

Indicate if students are Present, Absent, or Tardy.

Mark the Present, Absent, or Tardy buttons to record student attendance. Enter Comments for absences and tardies if applicable. Click Save when finished.

If attendance has been recorded by the attendance office, the attendance code displays.

Scoring Assignments

The Assignments column allows teachers to score assignments due on or before the current day. To display, an assignment's End Date must be within the current Term. The number in parenthesis indicates the number of unscored assignments. Click Score to record scores.

Unscored assignments are listed by default, with options for All and Missing assignments.

In the panel that opens, unscored assignments are listed by default. Click All to view all assignments in the section or Missing to view assignments flagged as missing.

Click on an assignment to view students. For a specific assignment, view All students (including those with scores), only Unscored, or those flagged as Missing using the buttons at the top.

Score and flag students assignments

Filling Scores

Fill options display at the top of the scoring panel. Mark all assignments as Turned In and score all assignments. Anything entered in the Fill Scores area overwrites data entered on the current panel.

Scoring Individuals

Scores and flags can also be recorded for individual students. Enter numeric scores or select a score from the dropdown for assignments scored using Marks or Rubrics.

Assignments with multiple alignments display with multiple score fields.


To flag the assignment, click the Turned In button or use the flag dropdown list to select a different flag. Once a flag is selected, click it to remove it. Keyboard shortcuts, such as typing 'M' to flag as missing, cannot be entered in the Control Center.

The Turned In and Missing flags cannot be marked at the same time. If a score is entered for an assignment flagged as missing, options display for resolving the flag.

Student Information

Click on a student's name to open the student information panel. Basic information about the student is listed at the top, with sections for Contact Information and Today's Schedule.

Visit Infinite Campus for Barrington 220 to learn more of what's new in Infinite Campus.

Introducing...the Apple Classroom App

Apple recently released the second version of Classroom. The app affords teachers numerous opportunities to improve instructional practices while using iPad devices. Several middle school teachers piloted the use of Classroom their iPad devices in their classrooms. We are ready to release this great tool for use in all of our PK–8 classrooms. Classroom is available for teachers to download in Self Service on the iPad. Students do not need to download any apps to their iPad device for Classroom to function.

Check out Apple's website to learn more about the Classroom app.

What can teachers do with Classroom?

With the Classroom app, teachers can:
  • create their own classes and easily add nearby students.
  • share documents and links directly to student devices and have them open automatically on their iPad devices.
  • mute audio playing on a student device.
  • view the entire class of student iPad screens or focus on an individual's iPad screen to gather formative assessment data and guide learning.
  • launch apps, websites, or iBooks on all or individual student iPad devices.
  • project student work from their teacher iPad.
  • lock all or individual student iPad devices.
  • create small groups within Classroom app and add/remove students.

How do teachers get started with Classroom?

To get started with Classroom, teachers may download Classroom from Self Service. Follow the steps in this guide from Apple, and/or view the video below from 9to5Mac.

Getting Started with Classroom 2.0 (Apple PDF Directions)

It should be noted that students can choose to leave a class via the Settings app, and students may change settings that are preferred by the teacher on their iPad. For example, students can choose to Always, Ask, or Never allow a teacher device to lock apps and the device, or to use AirPlay or Screen View features. Students can also turn off Bluetooth or restart their iPad and be disconnected from your class. However, after a student has joined your class and attempts leave the class, their avatar turns grey on the teacher iPad device. This makes it easy for the teacher to address this behavior.

Please see any LTA for more information on getting started with Classroom.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dealing with Digital Distraction Episode 1: How Technology Amplifies Student Engagement, Accountability, and On-Task Behavior with Heather Chvojka

This is the first installment in Barrington 220's Dealing with Digital Distraction series. The series will highlight how Barrington 220 teachers and students continue to learn and use strategies to manage digital distraction.

Digital Distraction Strategies

Heather Chvojka is a math teacher at Barrington Middle School—Station Campus. Her math lessons focus on on-demand, individualized learning experiences that offer student choice. Like many middle school classes, this class includes students who sometimes veer off task and feel attraction to apps, games, and notifications that could easily cause distractions and affect engagement during the entire class period.

How does Heather deal with potential digital distractions? She highlights three key strategies for managing digital distraction:
  • Set device expectations in advance
  • Engage students by engaging with students
  • Create a learning environment of freedom and mutual trust

Classroom Highlights

During the final full week of school during the 2016–2017 school year, I visited Heather Chvojka's math class of Grade 8 students at BMS Station Campus during the final period of the day. This class was similar to other classes in late May—students entered the room with lots of energy and at a high volume.


Within minutes the students engaged in the lesson and remained engaged until the final bell signifying the end of the school day. This short video clip demonstrates that Heather's math class certainly didn't resemble the math classes I remember that were characterized by direct instruction; straight rows of seated students; and a methodical, algorithm-based, step-by-step delivery.


A couple of strategies stood out. After Heather explains the lesson objective and gives the options for how students can choose to demonstrate learning, students select where they wish to sit and with whom they will work independently. Students chose to work with friends, classmates of a similar achievement level, or independently.


Students work to solve problems using multiple modes of media including personal or wall-mounted whiteboards with dry erase markers, calculators, iPad devices, and paper/pencil.


IXL and Classroom help Heather's students students engaged, accountable, and on task. Using these two tools, she can monitor student progress and catch opportunities to provide just-in-time guidance for her students.

Heather uses proximity to guide students toward on-task behavior while simultaneously providing specific, timely feedback and instruction to other students using Apple Classroom.


With Apple Classroom teachers can see all student iPad devices in the classroom and zero in onto specific screens to monitor progress in real-time. When a student raised his hand for help, Heather used Apple Classroom to look at that student's iPad screen so she could respond with the exact instruction needed at that moment, based upon the work she saw on the screen.


Using the online math subscription service IXL, Heather can monitor the live progress of each student; she may also choose to connect the IXL Classroom Dashboard (the "teacher view") to the projector display. The IXL Classroom Dashboard is organized on the screen by Common Core math standards and by the number of questions each student has answered during the time period—all updated and displayed in real-time.


In general, Heather chooses to give students some choice and control, allows them to be engaged, and then supports them when they need on-demand feedback to continue learning.

I would like to convey a special "thank you" to Heather for taking the courageous leap to allow us a glimpse into her classroom, and for sharing her time and insights through her reflections.

The Apple Classroom app is free and built into the iOS 10 operating system installed on our iPad devices. Check out this post about Classroom. The tools described and shown within the IXL program are also available to teachers using other online subscription math programs.

Please see your LTA, Teacher Librarian, or Instructional Digital Age Learning (iDAL) coach for more information.

Monday, July 3, 2017

2017-18 Instructional Technology Software Updates

We have several instructional technology service announcements to prepare for 2017–18!

PK–12 Teachers & Students

For our online technology tool training needs, we will be subscribing to this year (in place of Atomic Learning). provides users with video clips to help learn different technology tools, such as Schoology, iPad, Evernote, Keynote, and many more. You can access
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Teachers and students login using or email address and password
PK–8 Teachers & Students

Our subscription to Defined STEM ended on Friday, June 30, 2017, since the elementary Science Steering Committee has completed their work using these resources.

Due to a very low usage rate, we are discontinuing access to Gizmos, virtual science simulations, at BHS.

We are shifting from RAZ Kids to Epic! for students in Grades PK–2 and myON for students in Grades K–5. We will continue to have access to RAZ Kids for students in Grades K–1 or in literacy support classes. Read more about Barrington 220 digital texts here.

We are shifting away from Compass Learning and many other math software solutions for students in Grades PK–5 to Reflex Math and TenMarks. Read more about Barrington 220 math apps and services here.

The growth in use of KidBlog in Grade 3 spurred a decision to extend access to include students in Grades 3–5. Here's how you can access KidBlog after July 1, 2017:
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Click Login with Google and use your email. Your email will automatically add your account to the Barrington 220 subscription.
  3. Students will log in and join a classroom using a code provided by the teacher.
You can see an updated list of our subscriptions here:

Seesaw for Schools

Seesaw for Schools is new for 2017–18. If you use and love the free version of Seesaw, you will find this new option very exciting. While the look and function of Seesaw will be the same, the new subscription offers more features including: school-wide analytics and management, unified portfolios that follow students from class to class and grade level to grade level, a Seesaw for Schools dashboard which offers actionable data at a glance, and formative assessment tools.

All current Seesaw users will be connected to our paid subscription automatically. New users will be added in the next few weeks. Seesaw for Schools is scoped for all staff and students in Grades K–5.

Access Seesaw for Schools
  1. Navigate to (access teacher dashboard and classes).
  2. Existing Teacher accounts will be added to our subscription by domain ( New accounts will be uploaded by July 15, 2017. Each teacher will receive a notification when their individual account has been upgraded.
  3. Students will access Seesaw from the Seesaw App downloaded from Self Service. Student accounts will be uploaded and attached to their homeroom teacher by August 15, 2017.
  4. Teachers may also access their class by downloading the Seesaw App from Self Service on the iPad and logging in.

Get Amped for Schoology AMP

Schoology AMP is an Assessment Management Platform that is tied directly to Schoology. The tool encourages you to expand your usage of Schoology as a Learning Management System to include easy access to meaningful and aligned assessment data. Assessments can be created or added from an exterior source, and content can be aligned to standards or rubrics with a direct link to curriculum.  AMP offers easily accessible actionable data right at your fingertips. Schoology AMP will be available for all users 9-12 district-wide.

Schoology AMP includes these added functions:
  1. Collaborate and author assessments or import third-party item banks.
  2. Use new, technology-enhanced item types.
  3. Align assessments to standards and curriculum.
  4. Align assessments to rubrics giving teachers the ability to use the results for grading.
  5. Use a versioning tool for easy revisions and updates pushed to sections or courses.
  6. Improve student outcomes by analyzing individual scores, as well as aggregated data.

Access Schoology AMP

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 12.08.19 AM.png

Schoology AMP will be available within Schoology in the coming weeks. Teachers will add assessments and view analytics from their individual login.

New Math Apps and Services for Grades PK–5

At the start of the 2016–17 school year in Barrington 220, we subscribed to the following math software subscriptions throughout the district: FASTT Math, Xtra Math, Math in Focus, IXL, Compass, Quick Math, Dreambox, Splash Math, Reflex Math, and TenMarks. That's too many. We have amazing teachers and given the explosion of technology access and subsequent growth of digital math resources, we found many effective ways to engage students with more math practice.

As our district continues to focus on the best tools for learning, we have acknowledged the need to more closely vet the use of digital math resources to align to Barrington 220 math standards.

Our elementary Math Steering Committee formed a subcommittee including Bridgette Hurst (Grade 5 teacher at Grove), Lisa Christianson (teacher at Arnett Lines), Jeff Simon (Grade 1 teacher at Arnett Lines), George Vlasis (Kindergarten teacher at Hough), Shawndra Shelton (District Technology Assistant), Loretta Johnson (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Sunny Hill), Laura Meehan (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Arnett Lines and Hough), Joslyn Katz (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Grove and Roslyn Road), Becky Wiegel (Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning), and me (Director of Instructional Technology).

It was our goal to find the best resources for our teachers and students, particularly with an eye on two main teaching and learning needs: fact fluency and content supplementation. We focused on tools meeting our needs in the areas of access, engagement, connection to growth in skills (particularly with options of concrete, pictorial, and abstract representations), entertainment, and a positive iPad user experience. We also looked for tools to allow teachers to track student growth progress, group students for differentiation, and measure student time engaged in learning.

We researched the apps and services mentioned above and included several more options as part of our initial study. Ultimately, the group narrowed the list to just two options for students in Grades 1–5: Reflex Math for fact fluency and TenMarks for content supplementation. Given the reading level of TenMarks, the group agreed the tool best suited students in Grades 1–5, where we identified the greatest need for content supplementation. 

Here is a video highlighting some of the feedback from our teachers and students using Reflex Math and TenMarks:

A second subcommittee was formed to include all of the Kindergarten teachers on the Math Steering Committee. This group identified some apps to fill in the gaps. The apps selected include Math Number Rack, Number Frames, 10 Frame Fill, Number Pieces Basic, Math Doodles, Math Doodle Attributes, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Dexteria Dots, Osmo Numbers, Dragon Shapes, Geoboard, Pattern Shapes, Quick Math Jr., and Animal Math.

After this investigation, our subcommittee determined that, given the exponential growth in math resources, we must continually evaluate the programs available to our students; thus, we will continue our efforts next year. We also hope to grow this project to include middle school and high school.

Here are directions to access Reflex Math and TenMarks:

Reflex Math

Teachers will be invited to join our subscription via an email sent directly from Explore Learning.  Please be sure to check your spam folder if you do not receive an invitation by July 15, 2017.
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Teacher Login: Created by teacher via emailed directions from Explore Learning Email.
Students will access this math fact fluency program through an app downloaded from Self Service on the iPad.  On-boarding for students will be completed by August 15: all student information will be uploaded and the account will be tied to their homeroom teacher. Rosters and login cards can be printed from the teacher dashboard or from the building admin account held by the LTA.
  1. Students download the Reflex Student App from Self Service.
  2. Students login using a class name supplied by the teacher and a password provided by Explore Learning.

Students will access Tenmarks from the app downloaded from Self Service. Account set-up for teachers will be completed over the next couple of weeks, student accounts will be active by August 15. TenMarks is scoped for students in Grades 1–5.

Click here to see the log on process (directions contain a password)

New eBook Services for Grades PK–5

This quote from Stacey Riedmiller (@literacybigkids) and tweeted by our very own Instructional Digital Age Learning Coach, Katie Muhtaris, explains the steps we took regarding access to digital texts for our elementary students.

Barrington 220 students love to read, and they read a staggering number of books. Students in our elementary schools can check out up to 5 books in a given week. Students ready voraciously in their English Language Arts class throughout their PK–12 experience. Thanks to the work of our amazing teacher librarians, students read traditional print books and they also access digital texts through services like OverDrive, Follett Shelf, and more.

Current research, best practice, and teachers across grade levels understand the common wisdom that surrounding students with nonfiction and fiction texts supports learning concepts in every content area. Need to understand a concept like symbiosis? A teacher might direct you read a nonfiction textbook explaining the definition and implication in biology and then recommend Black Beauty for a fictional insight into how people and horses interact.

This growth in reading across all content areas requires more access to nonfiction and fiction texts both in print and digitally. At the elementary level, the Reading Steering Committee volunteered Sarah Dowdy (Grade 3 teacher at Arnett Lines) and Melissa deBruin (Grade 2 teacher at Grove) to join a subcommittee with Shawndra Shelton (District Technology Assistant), Kelly Pinta (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Countryside), Kathy Hempel (District Library Liaison), Becky Wiegel (Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning), and me (Director of Instructional Technology).

We engaged in research on the best practices of reading with digital texts to create a vision of what our students need from a digital text provider. The list for students includes:
  • easy access to both fiction and nonfiction texts
  • ability to annotate, highlight, draw, listen to, and share text
  • display well on iPad
Teachers sought tools for managing student reading habits, such as recommending books, measuring time spent reading, pages turned, short assessments, and lists of texts that match the titles we currently value.

We then contacted the vendors as we researched the ever-growing crowd of digital text providers to find the best options for our students. Along the way, we realized no tool completely met the needs above. A couple of vendors met our requirements from a functionality perspective, but did not carry many titles. Some vendors did not have programs that worked well for students on iPad. Some vendors would only allow a certain numbers of texts to be checked out to students at a time. In short, no vendor has yet helped to bring order to the multitude of publishing companies for digital text industry in the same that Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora have organized and brought standardization to digital music industry.

The group reached out to their peers on the Literacy Steering Committee, and over the last six weeks of the school year, several teachers used trials of three programs to engage students in reading digital texts. The trials allowed us to evaluate the impact of celebrations and challenges of each tool and help guide our decision.

We tested three options that offer many features we are seeking: Epic!, myON, and Actively Learn. Epic! offers a Netflix-like user interface that students love. Epic!'s algorithms match student interests with texts and engage readers. In our experience so far, students routinely chose and completed more texts while using Epic!. The myON service offers the widest library of texts coupled with the functionality we sought. Although myON does not have an dedicated iPad app, it can be used in the Safari app. Actively Learn provided the best in-text functionality, allowing our students to best meet and exceed our standards for literacy skills, but the access to texts and overall cost of the program brought concerns.

Here is a video highlighting some of the feedback from our teachers and students piloting the use of Epic!, myON, and Actively Learn:

Ultimately, our subcommittee, the Literacy Steering Committee, and our students valued myON as a digital literacy resource above all others. Carefully considering all the facts—including cost—we decided to move forward with myON for students in Grades 1–5 and Epic! for students in Grades 1–2.

Epic! and myON will join (not replace) OverDrive and Follett Shelf. OverDrive draws from our district libraries and the Barrington Area Public Library, and Follett Shelf will continue to offer the many titles we already own on this platform. Also, Epic! and myON will not replace RAZ Kids for our Kindergarten students or literacy support classes.

After this investigation, our subcommittee determined that, given the exponential growth in the number of resources focused on digital reading, we must continually evaluate the programs available to our students. Further, we will continue these efforts next year. We also hope to grow this project to include middle school and high school.

Here are directions for accessing Epic! and myON:


A reading app scoped for grades PK-3.  Students can choose from a vast collection of books to read alone, or to have read aloud, there are a number of videos, audio files, and animations available as well.
  1. Navigate to
  2. Follow the steps to create a free Epic! teacher account.
  3. Students join via classroom code.
  4. Start Reading! 
  5. Epic! offsets the free teacher accounts by charging for home use by students, our Barrington 220 subscription will cover these costs.  

Account set-up for teachers will be completed over the next couple of weeks. Student accounts will be active by August 15. The myON service is scoped for students in Grades 1–5.

Click here to see the log on process (directions contain a password).

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Apps and Subscriptions in Barrington 220 Q & A

Barrington 220 manages well over 1.3 million app licenses and software subscriptions for our staff and students as of May 2017. We have made it easy for teachers to:
  • discover which apps and subscriptions we have (by grade level and topic).
  • learn about app and subscription options and access.
  • request new apps and subscriptions.

Please use this handy Q & A to learn more.

Q: How can I see which apps my students can download from Self-Service?

A: is a complete list of apps available in Self Service (an app on Mac and iPad Barrington 220 uses to make most apps available to students and staff). The list includes a brief description of each app. Apps can be sorted by categories such as grade level, video creation, science, ELL support, and more. This document is open for anyone in Barrington 220 to access and sort. Updates are made every two weeks when apps are approved to be "scoped" (made available for a specific group of users to download).


Q: How can I see which subscriptions we have access to?

A: is a complete list of subscriptions available in Barrington 220. The subscriptions listed include a brief description of each service, information about which grade levels have access, and teacher/student username/password information. This document is open to anyone in Barrington 220 to access and sort. Updates are made every two weeks when the subscriptions are approved.


Q: I see an app that I like, but it's not available for my grade level. How can I get access for my students?

A: It's easy. Complete this Google Form: Every two weeks, Becky Wiegel, the Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning, Kelly Hansen, the Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning, consider all requests. Our review includes input from the Instructional Digital Age Learning coaches (iDALs) and is completed with follow-up either with our Technology and Innovation Department (for apps that need to be scoped) or with the appropriate vendor (for subscriptions).

You can review the entire Subscription and App Request process by reviewing our previous blog post, Apps for Everyone, and by watching this presentation:

Barrington 220 "Storyboard That" Pilot

Have you been searching for an exciting new option to re-enforce English, history, special ed, STEM, ELL, & foreign languages; create graphic organizers; or create and deliver presentations? Storyboard That may have what you’re looking for. It’s a comic book, it’s a graphic organizer, it’s a versatile tool. Students can unleash their creativity, tell a story, create a visual representation, and model their thinking. Storyboard That is web-based, iPad-friendly, and great fun for teachers and students. 

Barrington 220 has been invited to participate in a pilot program that includes access to countless lesson plans and teacher guides for Grades K–12. Many of these have been created and shared by teachers just like you. Some examples include:
  • assess student understanding of concepts and vocabulary in the book, Sarah Plain and Tall
  • create a visual explaining math concepts

The user-friendly interface of Storyboard That makes it easy for students and teachers to get going immediately with virtually no learning curve. Every aspect of the pre-created scenes, characters, shapes, and text is fully editable and customizable to meet the needs of each individual. Click here for a sneak peek at the features available for teachers from Storyboard That.

Storyboard That has offered Barrington 220 an all-inclusive, 6-week trial. Once your account has been created, feel free to jump right in. Create classes, add students, create assignments, pull activity reports, access teacher guides and lesson plans or make a storyboard of your own, let your imagination guide you. 

If you are interested in joining the Barrington 220 trial of Storyboard That, please click here to complete a short form. This is a pilot program for the purpose of testing this service. Participation in the pilot program does not guarantee that Barrington 220 will use this service beyond the trial and/or pilot period.

Still Time to Complete Apple Teacher for PDH Credit

Barrington 220's Apple Teacher for PDH Credit program has been very well-received this year! We have had around 100 teachers participate in Apple Teacher for PDH Credit—but many, many more who completed the Apple Teacher program on their own or as part of a school-based initiative.

The Apple Teacher program includes excellent online, self-paced training that is specifically geared to classroom use for both iPad and Mac:

  • Pages for iPad
  • Keynote for iPad
  • Numbers for iPad
  • iMovie for iPad
  • GarageBand for iPad
  • Productivity with iPad
  • Creativity with iPad
  • Mac Online Activities
  • Pages for Mac
  • Keynote for Mac
  • Numbers for Mac
  • iMovie for Mac
  • GarageBand for Mac
  • Productivity with Mac
  • Creativity with Mac

There is still time to complete the Barrington 220 program for PDH Credit!

If you are finished with your Apple Teacher badges...

We have added an extra date in the summer for the final meeting; thus, you may select one of two remaining options:
  • Thursday, May 25, 2017, 7:30–8:30 AM, James Street Main Conference Room
  • Thursday, June 15, 2017, 1:00–2:00 PM, James Street Main Conference Room

If you have not completed your Apple Teacher badges...

There is still time! Please review the process here. To record your badge completion and/or to sign up for a final meeting, please visit Barrington 220’s system for recording Apple Teacher participation.

Finally, we plan to continue our Barrington 220 program as long as Apple continues Apple Teacher. If you cannot finish this year, you will likely have an opportunity in the future.

Online Registration is Open

It is the time of year parents of students planning to return to Barrington 220 schools are asked to complete the annual registration process and update student and family information, while reviewing and accepting annual requests for parent permission.

Barrington 220 transitioned to online registration at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year and has continued to incorporate additional data collection into one single step for district parents. Parents have expressed appreciation for bringing everything to one source for their review and input. Online registration also increases efficiency by automatically bringing student and family data into Infinite Campus. This eliminates not only reams and reams of paper, but also many hours of data entry.

We are happy to report registration was processed for 978 students during the first 48 hours of online registration this year. You might find it informative to consider the different data collected and available for reporting from Infinite Campus.

All Grade Levels

  • Updated parent contact information
  • Updated emergency contact information
  • Initial data entry for under-school-age children in the family
  • Parent permission to provide emergency medical treatment (Grades PK-12)
  • Annual Emergency Health Update (Grades PK-12)
  • Parent review of the Student Handbook
  • Parent review and acceptance of district Technology Agreements
  • Parent request for Alternate Transportation Form
  • Annual Emergency Health Update (Grades PK-12)
  • Parent permission to participate in athletics (Grades 4-12)
  • Health History for students new to Barrington 220 and Grades 1, 6, and 9

Grade 5

  • Parent permission to attend Camp Timber-Lee and administer medications listed

Grades 6-8

  • Parent permission for student to participate in sex education (Grades 7-8)
  • Parent permission to provide emergency medical treatment
  • Parent permission to administer Tylenol or Ibuprofen
  • Opportunity to volunteer for middle school PTO
  • Permission for staff and/or coaches to communicate electronically with student
  • Parent permission to participate in Co-Curricular Activities (Grades 4-12)
  • Parent permission to participate in athletics (Grades 4-12)

Grades 9-12

  • Request Senior Parking (Grade 12)
  • Parent permission for participating in the Harper College Promise Program (Grade 9)
  • Parent permission to administer Tylenol or Ibuprofen
  • Parent review and acceptance of the district FERPA policy
  • Opportunity to volunteer for BHS PTO
  • Opportunity to request a senior t-shirt
  • Parent permission for BHS students to participate in Community Service
  • Permission to share student data with the military or higher education institutions
  • Permission for staff and/or coaches to communicate electronically with student
  • Parent permission to participate in Co-Curricular Activities (Grades 4-12)
  • Parent permission to participate in athletics (Grades 4-12)

In addition to the annual enrollment process, online registration serves as the tool for collecting initial family and student information when a new family moves into the community.

Now that online registration is "live" for the 2017-18 school year, join us in exploring additional data collection tasks suitable for incorporating into online registration for 2018-19. Planning for 2018-19 begins now!

New Staff MacBook Air Laptops Have Arrived!

As mentioned in a previous post by Dr. Matt Fuller, staff members who currently have a MacBook Air laptop will be switching to a new MacBook Air laptop prior to the close of the school year.  These new MacBook Air laptops have an Intel I5 processor, 8MB RAM, and 120GB solid state drives. That's plenty of "horsepower" for any apps that come our way! The best news is that we can now spec apps and systems based on one MacBook Air model that is used by all staff members.

The exchange process is already underway and is nearly complete at several of our schools including Countryside, Hough, and Barrington High School. With the help of building LTAs and district Techs, the transition has been quite smooth so far. Laptops are exchanged, data is moved, and the older laptops are placed in storage for several weeks for any “just in case” circumstances.

Your MacBook Air swap will take place within your building and your email inbox contains an email message from Mark Polzin asking you to schedule an appointment. If you have not yet scheduled your exchange, I am including the appointment links so that you might take just a minute out of your schedule now and complete the request.

Did we already swap laptops at your building and somehow missed you?! No worries, call our tech support hotline at ext 1500 and we will schedule some time to make the switch.

Still hesitant about the exchange? Read these kind words from one of our staff members:

Hi Mark,
I wanted to send a quick email of appreciation to the team who worked on the MacBook Air swaps! They made the transfer so quick and painless. Please pass along my gratitude to the awesome team who helped all of the teachers at Countryside!

Schedule your appointment now!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flexible Learning Environments

Barrington 220 teachers have long used classroom funds, and sometimes even personal funds, to create comfortable and functional classroom spaces. More recently, flexible learning environments have become more of a focus in education. As adults, we understand how choices we make about where we work can influence our productivity and creativity. Now, more and more teachers are helping students learn to make the same choices.

Last week, Becky Wiegel, Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning, hosted a visit from Northbrook School District 28 at Barbara Rose with principal Derek Straight. The visit, organized by Instructional Digital Age Learning (iDAL) Coach Eliza Aliotta, featured a presentation about how flexible learning environments play a vital role in both our teaching and learning programs. In addition to our One to World program's focus on flexible learning environments, we are currently exploring the future of facility design through our current Blueprint 220 planning initiative.

The highlight of our Rose visit was highlighting many of our classrooms with flexible learning environments already in place. Shilpa Vakayil, Ilona Solymossy, Geneva Hillard, Kim Ryder, Heather Crandall, Kim Gillengerten, Mary Ryan, Pam Meiser, Xin Wang, Diana McKee, and Tonia Nowakowski all shared the philosophies behind their classroom spaces and allowed their students to reflect on their flexible learning environments.

Eliza Aliotta and several teachers from Rose, Heather Crandall, Kim Ryder, Geneva Hillard, and Shilpa Vakayil, showed off their classrooms and explained the reasons behind their arrangement, furniture, and other features.

Eliza's Video

Barbara Rose isn't the only school in Barrington 220 making great strides in flexible learning environments.

At Arnett Lines, iDAL Coaches helped their teachers curate and share flexible learning environment ideas through Padlet: Classroom Environment Ideas.

Kate Sokolowski, Grade 7 teacher and author at the Read, Write, and Reflect blog—and a great person to follow on Twitter @katsok—wrote a post about creating a flexible learning environment through flexible seating in her classroom: Flexible Seating in Middle School.

Kayla Delzer (@TopDogTeaching) was recently featured on Kelly Croy's (@KellyCroy) podcast, Wired Educator Podcast, for transforming her classroom with flexible seating. She shared how to provide different seating options for students on a budget and how to help students learn how to make good choices when choosing a seat—all with students in Grade 3. You can learn more by listening to the podcast, reading Kayla's article about flexible seating on Edutopia, and visiting Kayla's blog.

If you're working to create or enhance your flexible learning environment, share your ideas with your colleagues and the world on Twitter by using the hashtag, #flexiblelearningenvironment. Search that hashtag now to get started, or connect with others using #flexiblelearningenvironment and #flexibleseating.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Apple's Newest App: "Clips"

Apple recently released Clips, a new creation-based video app. Clips makes video creation and editing, SO easy. Teachers and students of all ages and levels of experience can use Clips to easily create short video clips.

Here's a quick introductory video about Clips (from MacRumors):

Here are some of my favorite features about Clips:
  • Allows users to create short videos (or take photos) by pressing a big, red button and holding it for the duration of the clip.
  • Overlays spoken text during a video clip recording on the screen. (This is amazing!)
  • Provides filters (similar to Instagram) for both videos and photos.
  • Allows the addition of stickers that can be resized and placed anywhere on the screen for taking photos or videos (similar to Snapchat).
  • Allows text-only title screens.
  • Easily allows deleting or reordering photos and video clips.
  • Shares videos to Explain Everything, Book Creator, Seesaw, Schoology, the Photos app, and many more.
Check out this awesome video, created by iDAL Coaches Laura Meehan and Katie Muhtaris:

Here is an in-depth video about all the functions of Clips (from 9to5Mac):

Clips is available for iOS and can be found in Self Service for all students and staff, Grades PK–8.

For more on using Clips in the classroom, check out this article from Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist, who is an excellent person to follow on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Assistive Technology Resources Site

Barrington 220 Assistive Technology Site Provides Resources for All Teachers
Kelly Key

Did you know you can take a picture of a worksheet with the iPad, have it read out loud, and then write, type, and highlight it? Are you familiar with all of the amazing accessibility features built into our iPad and MacBook Air devices? (i.e., clean up a website in Safari with a touch of a button, use your voice to write, read locked PDFs with the Snap & Read extension)?  Do you struggle with finding time to create core vocabulary materials for your students?

I have designed a Google Site full of resources to help you support your students that struggle with reading, writing, executive functioning, communication, and more. Visit the Assistive Technology website at to explore these resources!

On the Assistive Technology site, check out all of  the topics on the left. Click on any of the titles or subtitles to find valuable resources. I update the site regularly and would love to add any additional materials that you have to share. Please e-mail me if you would like to see something added to the site.

Type (it is case sensitive) into your browser and then go to Bookmarks > Add Bookmark... to bookmark it for quick and easy access!

Passwords Are Now Passé

Logging in to a computer system generally requires a username and a "memorized secret." Most people refer to this "memorized ...