Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The L.D. Batchelder Imagination Studio

Chris Lindsay
Digital Learning Specialist, L.D. Batchelder School, North Reading Public Schools

The L.D. Batchelder School's Makerspace (named The Imagination Studio by a fifth grade student) officially opened in the fall of 2017. This initiative was spearheaded by a team of Batch teachers, who are passionate about the maker movement and bringing additional engineering challenges to our students. They, along with all the faculty members, feel it is so important to prepare children for their future careers by giving them additional opportunities to think outside the box, to work as a team, and to experience the engineering design process, as they attempt to solve real world problems. We are so appreciative of the Batch BPO for funding many items, such as the 3D printer, in this space.

During the current school year every K-5 student will have the opportunity to experience at least three different challenges in The Imagination Studio during their weekly Digital Learning time. The first challenge took place in October. Ms. Nancy Boudreau, first grade teacher, came up with a real world problem relating to giant pumpkin contests. The challenge was to design a lift for the farmers to get their giant pumpkins to the fair. Here are two designs created by 2nd and 3rd grade students:

This was not an easy challenge. Teams needed to use the design thinking process, as they brainstormed with their partner. They developed a prototype, tested this prototype and made improvements to their design. The classroom teachers and I were so impressed with the creativity and the perseverance that the students demonstrated. With every challenge, students are becoming more confident and capable and we look forward to seeing their original designs during the winter and spring challenges.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mrs. Jolibert's Academic Biology class investigating how glucose is used to make energy during cellular respiration through clay modeling.

Mrs. Jolibert's Academic Biology class investigating how glucose is used to make energy during cellular respiration through clay modeling. #Science #FutureReady #SkillsForTomorrow

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Best Google Search Tips and Tricks

Dan Grabham and Libby Plummer | 1 November 2018 
GOOGLE 10 best VPN services for use in the UK - How to get more from Google 

Google has come a long way since it was first founded back in 1998 and has become a byword for internet searches. But, beyond chucking a couple of words into the main search box, do you really know how to get the best out of it? We've done some research and put together a few tips on how to get Google to do even more of the work for you.

Google search basics 
If you've got no intention of spending hours studying the ins and outs of every search option on Google then don't worry. As long as you know the basics, then you should be able to save yourself a lot of time without having to delve too deeply.

Even if you're not the world's best speller, it doesn't matter as clever old Google will do the hard work for you. If you don't spell a word correctly, Google will automatically switch to the most common spelling for the jumble of letter that you've typed in.

Web history 
For many, the idea of anyone having access to their search history may well be enough to bring them out in a cold sweat and cause them to hit the 'delete history' option at the first available opportunity. But, unless you have anything truly incriminating on your browser cache, it's wise not to be too hasty. Giving Google access to your web history means that Google will spot trends in your web history and offer tailored results according to what you searched for and which sites you've visited before. This will also help you to find any good websites that you've previously stumbled upon but are now unable to find again. If in doubt, keep in general - As with many things in life, the best advice is to keep things simple. If you're looking for a stationery shop that you know of, but you're not exactly sure what's it's called, then you're better off just typing stationery shop and the town or road name, rather than trying to guess at the name. Chances are this will bring up what you're looking for or give you a list of shops in that area and you can go from there, whereas misspelling (or 'misremembering') the name of the shop might not get you very far.

Web-friendly words 
Try to use web-friendly words where possible, by thinking about how the information you're looking for would be written on the web. If you use a word that's correct but not the most commonly used term for what you're looking for then you might not get as many results as you'd expect. So, searching for fish and chip shop in your area is likely to get you more results than if you typed in takeaway cod, while searching for celebrity gossip will get you better results than typing in news about famous people.

Keep it short
Start off using as few words as possible, then add words to refine your search if need be. If you add more words than you need to, then your results may prove to be too narrow and you might miss what you're looking for. No punctuation needed - If the use of apostrophes and commas isn't your strong point, then don't panic; Google doesn't recognise punctionation marks so even if you do type them in, they'll be ignored. Similarly, the search function isn't case sensitive so there's no need to worry about whether you should be using upper or lower case letters.

Get Fast Facts Moving on from the basics brings us to Fast Facts - a very useful aspect of the Google search offering but possibly the least well known. The idea is that you can type certain search criteria into the box and the results will be displayed instantly at the top of the page, as well as all the usual pages below which you can click through to if you choose.

Conversions - Google will convert pretty much any unit of measurement - all you need to do is type in the unit and measurement, such as 5 km to miles, saving you from having to search for a conversion site and type the info in there.

Stock information - You can also search for real-time stock information using ticker symbols - such as APPL for Apple - and click through to Google Finance for more detailed information.

Calculator - Number crunchers can also use Google to work out maths equations by typing them into the box - Google can cope with anything from simple sums like 2+2 to more complicated equations. It's also easy to convert currency by just typing 10 dollars in british pounds, or whatever it is you want to convert.

Dictionary - Possibly the most useful Fast Fact option is the dictionary function. Rather than digging out your copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, you can simply add define: in front of any word in the search box and Google will automatically tell you the definition.

Track packages - You can also track parcels from UPS and FedEx by typing the tracking number into Google.

Advanced Google Search tricks
There are lots of extra parameters that you can use in the search box to narrow down your search. It's worth taking the time to see what's available as it could end up saving you a lot of time in the long run.

Filetype - If you're after a specific document then it's worth knowing that you can search for PDFs, PPTs, or XLS files, by adding filetype: and the 3-letter file abbreviation after the title - for example searching for Declaration of Independence filetype:pdf will find you a handy, printable document of one of US history's most important documents, saving you a trip to the local library or the National Archives.

Missing words or letters - If you're searching for something that you don't know all the words for then Google will help you to fill in the blanks. All you need to do is use an asterisk (*) in place of any missing words or letters and the search engine will find the answer for you - a godsend for working out pesky song lyrics and completing especially challenging crosswords.

Exact quotes - If you do know exactly the words you're looking for then putting them within quote marks will refine the search. For example typing a direct quote from a book "it was a bright cold day in april, and the clocks were striking thirteen" will only bring up pages where it's written exactly the same, missing out sites where it's misquoted. However, there is a danger of being too precise and accidentally excluding relevant results. For example, if you type "george orwell", then your results may miss out pages where the author is referred to by just his surname.

Related sites - If you find a website that you like, then typing related: followed by the website URL should locate some relevant sites for you, saving you from repeatedly googling the same thing over and over. You can also search something within a specific site, or type of site, which is good news as many site's own search functions are very clunky. To do this, just type site: followed by the type of site (such as .org .biz) or the site name. For example, site: org or site: washingtonpost.com followed by your search term.

Highlight essential words - Google will usually ignore words like 'and', but if they're essential to your seach then you can highlight them by putting a + sign in front of them. Using + and - signs, you can also highlight specific words that you do or don't want to feature in your results. For example, you could search for a recipe for chicken caesar salad without anchovies by typing caesar salad recipe +chicken -anchovies.

Search within a range - You can look for numbers within a certain range by putting ... between amounts, for example, Samsung Blu-ray player £100...£150. This is particularly handy if you're on a limited budget and you don't want to waste time searching through items that are way too expensive. You can also just type £100... to look for anything above that amount with no top limit. Words meaning the same thing - You can include synonyms in your search results by placing the ~ sign in front of your search term. For example, best Christmas ~gifts will return results for presents and tokens as well as 'gifts'.

Filter your image search - You probably already know that you can also search for images, but trawling through millions of pictures can be tedious. Google lets you refine your search. As well as filtering by colour and image size, you can also whittle the selection down by only including photos including certain elements such as faces.

Instant results - Google Instant is the feature that brings up possible results while you're still typing your query. Fill your schedule with nearby events - Simply search for [events near me] or for a specific event type ([dog meetup], perhaps?) and you’ll see listings for local activities from around the web.

Movie Showtimes and Tickets - When you’re in the mood for a movie, Search brings together showtimes, cinema locations, and ratings all in one place.

Recipe Search - If you’re looking for a recipe in a pinch, just search on mobile for whatever you’re craving (say, chicken parmesan) and you’ll see a carousel of recipe suggestions.

Live sports scores - For everyone from the fervent fantasy football aficionado to the casual fan, Search makes it easy to stay up on the latest scores. Type in the name of your favourite team or league, and get relevant real-time scores and recaps from recent games.

Styling and shopping help from Google Images - When you're exploring style ideas or browsing for your next buy with Google Images, images of products that are available to purchase are marked with "product" in the Google app on Android and in your mobile browser. These include price, reviews and availability, making it easier and faster to visually research and shop.

Find your next job - Now available in more than 100 countries around the world, you can search for jobs right on Google. For example, you can search for [jobs near me] or [retail jobs] to get relevant positions that match your skills. Jobs come directly from employers and career sites across the web, and you can save jobs, map your potential commute and click through to a third party website to apply.

Calculate the tip and split the bill - You can use Google to calculate your tip when you’re in a restaurant. Simply search for [tip calculator], enter the cost of your meal, and the percentage you want to tip. You can even ask Google to help you split the bill evenly with your friends.

Convert cash - If you’re heading out on a trip, here’s a tool that makes a ton of cents - you can get real-time currency conversions right on Google. Search for something like [£500 in euros] and you’ll get a box with the current exchange rate and an interactive graph of change over time.

Quick access to appointments, flights and more - Search can help you find information about your upcoming plans in a snap. If you’re logged into your Google account, searching for “my trips” or “my appointments” will show you (and only you!) relevant results about upcoming flights, hotel reservations and your schedule from Gmail and Google Calendar.

Get the numbers about your food - You can search for nutritional information and find out the number of calories in your everyday foods. For example, you can ask “how much fat is there in chocolate cake?” and Google will break down the nutritional stats for you.

Ask complex multi-part questions - You can ask Google “compositional queries” that require us to solve the first piece of the question before addressing the second part. For example, if you search [when were the members of NSYNC born], you will (feel old and) see the birthdates of Justin, JC, Chris, Lance and Joey.

Search with an image - Upload a photo to Google Images to find the same or similar photos on the web. Click on the camera icon in Google Image search and Google will also tell you the origin and other details about the photo.

Advanced Search - If all of these tricks still don’t get you what you need, you can use Advanced Search to specify terms you want to exclude or only find pages that are in the languages, regions, sites, or file formats you want.
The best Google UK Search Easter eggs

Flip a coin - (query [flip a coin]) - Google flips a coin for you

Pacman - (query [pacman]) - Play the Pacman Doodle

Roll a dice - (query [roll a dice]) - Google rolls a dice for you

Barrel Roll - (query [do a barrel roll]) - browser does a flip

Zerg Rush - (query [zerg rush]) - play the game, click the dots before they destroy results

Once in a blue moon - (query [once in a blue moon]) - formula for the frequency with which a blue moon occurs

Askew - (query [askew])

Results are tilted - (also works for [tilt])

Atari Breakout in Image Search - (query [atari breakout]) - play Breakout it in Image Search

Google Gravity - (query [google gravity] into search bar and then “I’m feeling lucky”)

See what Google looked like in 1998 - (query [google in 1998])

Blink HTML - (query [blink html]) - the words blink

Bletchley Park - (query [bletchley park]) - the name of the place appears as a series of letters as a nod to this being the location of British codebreakers

Conway’s Game of Life - (query [Conway's Game of Life] - yields a life simulation. Conway's Game of Life is a zero-player game that uses a set of rules to evolve from its initial state.
Google's Game of Life evolves to spell Google (if you watch it for a while)

Solitaire - (query [solitaire]) - play computer favourite Solitaire

Tic Tac Toe - (query [tic tac toe]) - play Tic Tac Toe

Snake - (query [play snake]) - play the classic mobile game Snake

Animal Sounds - (query [animal sounds]) - play different animal sounds

Spin a Dreidel - (query [spin a dreidel]) - spin a dreidel in the homepage

Spinner - (query [spinner]) - spin a number wheel

Fidget Spinner - (query [fidget spinner]) - spin a fidget spinner

I’m Feeling Curious - (query [i’m feeling curious]) - find out the answer to a random question

Color Picker - (query [color picker]) - find the details of an exact colour

Random Number Generator - (query [random number generator]) - generate a random number

Breathing Exercise - (query [breathing exercise]) - regulate your breathing

Internet Speed Test - (query [internet speed test]) - find out how fast your internet is

Festivus pole - (query [festivus]) - pole appears on the left hand side of the screen

Is Google down? - (query [is Google down?]) - Google will tell you if it’s down

I’m a teapot - google.com/teapot leads you to a short and stout error page

Marquee HTML - (query [marquee HTML]) - the results bar will scroll

Anagram - (we say “did you mean: nag a ram”) Define Anagram - (we say “did you mean: nerd fame again”) What is the answer to life the universe and everything? - (we say “answer is “42”) Number of Horns on a Unicorn - (we say “answer is 1”) What is the loneliest number - (we say “answer is 1”)

How to Insert Symbols into Google Docs and Slides 

BRADY GAVIN @bradyjgavin NOVEMBER 13, 2018, 3:00PM EDT 

You can insert special characters in your documents and presentations without having to remember all those Alt-codes by using Google Docs and Slides easy-to-use character insertion tool. It offers a myriad of symbols, characters, symbols, languages, and more. Here’s how you can insert special characters into your documents. Note: You can’t insert characters directly into Google Sheets, but you can copy and paste them into a cell on the spreadsheet.

How to Insert Special Characters into Google Docs and Slides

Inserting symbols into your file is a straightforward process that you can perform in several ways. Whether you want some silly emojis, arrows, or a different language’s scripts you can achieve this by manually selecting a category, typing in the search bar, or by drawing what you’re looking for.

The first thing you’ll need to do is open up a new Google Docs or Slides file to get started. Alternatively, if you’re using the latest version of Chrome, you can type “docs.new” or “slides.new” into a new tab’s address bar.
In your document, open the “Insert” menu and then click the “Special Characters” command.

Manually Search for Symbols 

If you don’t have a particular character in mind (or you’re not sure how to search for what you do have in mind), you can use the drop-down menus to browse through the plethora of available symbols.

Click the second drop-down menu to choose a category. You can choose from symbols, punctuation, emojis, different language’s scripts, and even different whitespace characters. There are a lot, so be prepared to spend some time browsing.

Next, click on the other drop-down menu to refine the characters even further.

Once you’ve chosen the categories, all you need to do is click the character you want to insert it into your file.

Use the Search Bar

If you know what you’re looking for you can use the search bar located to the right of the pop-up window. You can search by keyword, description, or by Unicode value–if you know it.

Using the search bar can prove a bit troublesome as searching for an emoji with a smile didn’t produce the intended results. This is because it uses the word to match the description of the character.

If you search “Smiling” instead, you get more results. Still, searching for a symbol is usually faster than browsing all the menus to find one manually.

Draw a Your Character to Search

Finally, if both your attempts to find the correct character or symbol have turned up dry, you can try the draw feature that lets you sketch whatever you want.
Start drawing/writing in the box to the right of the window, and similar characters will appear in the pane to the left.

You don’t have to draw it all in one stroke, and you can keep adding to your drawing if it requires multiple gestures. Once you’re done, click the arrow in the bottom right corner to reset the box and start drawing the next one.

 If you regularly use any these characters, you’ll find them first drop-down menu under “Recent Characters.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Building a Mindset for STEAM

Let's fast forward to an education in the year 2025. Most of what we currently consider modern day education will be even more infused with virtual learning experiences for students and a higher dependency on a student’s ability to translate their understandings through digital formats and blended learning both online and in person. The experiences which will separate students from each other will be their willingness to build, create and design their futures based on their hands-on experiences. Opportunities and capabilities for students to show what you know and understand has been quickly enhanced by the use of technology. STEAM learning is the common term which encapsulates the subject areas related to Science, Technology, Engineering, The Arts and Math.

I am passionate about STEAM education because it supports student’s natural innate desire to connect their understandings across disciplines and also encourages educators to collaborate outside their safe zone. Whenever you can bring educators together around a common theme or topic, amazing things can happen. STEAM learning drives student engagement and watching students experience authentic learning in areas like robotics, programming, scientific inquiry and analysis of data is an encouraging direction of how education is shifting to provide more tangible real-world skills in these areas.

In my own opinion educators are the most inspired when they recognize that learning is not measured just solely by a test but it when all students have enabled the opportunity to demonstrate a unique part of their own learning and experience. Empowering students to synthesize subject areas, connect concepts and explore the freedom to express themselves keeps the excitement for learning alive.

Technology’s role has completely shifted how all of our core subject area learning happens. It reflects not only what's happening in the real world in science labs, engineering, and design processes, but also in the skills of communicating, collaborating and thinking critically. Technology enhances our ability to communicate across the world and to bring together unique skill-set that can create new products and experiences. These Innovations are part of the new economy and STEAM represents the opportunity for cross-curriculum collaboration and communication around the topics driving education today.

As the world continually gets smaller and the demand to provide students the core skills, opportunities, and understandings that will give them an essential groundwork for the future job market it is extremely important that a school culture and curriculum support the changes evident in the real world.

STEAM Night Brochure & Information-North Reading Public Schools 2018

Chromebook Repair Links & Reosurces

Fix hardware and system problems


Fix Chromebook problems


Friday, November 9, 2018

North Reading Public Schools Seesaw Portfolio Use 2018

Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate. Students “show what they know” using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. It’s simple to get student work in one place and share with families, and nothing is shared without teacher approval.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

November Tech Buzz Session List 2018

The Digital Learning Team is happy to announce our current session list for Tech Buzz Professional Development. Please visit and subscribe to this blog for updates.

Any combination of 12 hours of participation in the "TechBuzz" Training contributes to an in-service credit through "North Reading University" for advancement on the salary scale. If you plan on participating "For-Credit" please be sure to sign-up for the "Tech Buzz Credit" in My Learning Plan. 

Our goal is to support you with a range of entry points with the use of technology to enhance instruction. This year we will also be introducing the Schoology Learning Platform to deliver our resources and session materials and feedback. The Digital Learning Specialists will support you with providing you access. Please connect with your building Digital Learning Specialist about these options available in your school!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Kathy Dasho, North Reading District Digital Learning Specialist K-12

Kathy Dasho
  North Reading District Digital Learning Specialist K-12

Masscue 2018 Change Team
The 2018 Change Team presented their project "Green Programming: Developing A Vision For Sustainable Agriculture With Computing Systems" at the Masscue 2018 Technology Conference. Using Raspberry Pi technology, programming skills and a range of sensors to measure horticulturally significant factors, students talked about the value and benefits of gardening while learning about sustainability issues, programming, single board computing systems and global ecology. North Reading High School students demonstrated Raspberry Pi sensors, python commands and handed out an infographic containing Raspberry Pi common commands along with information on 

Michael Tyrrell explaining Python Programming to an attendee at the Masscue Conference.

We were using a microcomputer platform, (Raspberry Pi) practicing IT skills and sensors to support measuring the conditions of indoor gardening:

- Raspberry Pi Microcomputer
- DHT11 heat/humidity sensor
- Soil Moisture sensor
- Photoresistor
- Raspberry Pi Programming Commands


Kathy Dasho presented CoderZ: An Update 2018 along with Graham Celine of Intellitek. Kathy talked about using the new version "Crash Course" with her high school class and their results and collaborations, while Graham highlighted new updates and plans for the product.


Robotics Academy and Web Design

October 24, 2018 was North Reading's first STEAM night, and Kathy presented both of her high school classes, Robotics Academy and Web Design. Tables were on display showing student projects, and students demonstrated and explained their robotic programming, challenges and coding for websites.

Kathy Dasho
District Digital Learning Specialist K-12
North Reading Public Schools

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Message From Our New Middle/High School Digital Learning Specialist: James Sgroi

James Sgroi
Digital Learning Specialist- North Reading Middle & High Schools


I hope everyone has had an enjoyable and productive start to this new school year. Now that some of the beginning of the year “dust” has settled, and we have grown acclimatized to our classes, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is James Sgroi and I am the new Digital Learning Specialist for the Middle and High School. Prior to joining the North Reading team, I taught Computer Education at Timberlane Regional Middle school and during that time I completed my M.Ed in Technology Integration from Southern New Hampshire University. My goal here at North Reading is to assist and encourage you, the educational community, with all of your technology integration needs.

As educators, we all have varying and well-informed views towards integrating technology into our classrooms. To me, technology integration is much more than just infusing technology into the curriculum. Technology integration is about motivation, building relationships, collaboration, professional development, evaluation, budgeting and creating methods and practices that align with our standards. I share in the belief that before technology integration can take place, we need to get to know our students, understand where their interests lie, and learn how to best support their needs. This support can change from lesson to lesson, grade to grade, and class to class.

I also believe that this same approach applies to training teachers as well. We all come from various backgrounds, have numerous needs and different goals we all want to achieve. Determining and listening to educator needs lays the groundwork for positive collaboration and communication. More importantly, it allows the integrator, teachers and administrators to set their integration goals and enables these groups to create a framework that empowers them to not only achieve their objectives, but to continuously improve upon them.

I believe it is also important to continue to perfect the technology integration craft and develop authentic professional development to support this because, quite simply, the evolution of education both today and in the future is technology driven. Today’s society depends on 21st century learning skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, innovation and the ability to analyze to succeed in its global environment. Technology has become the vehicle behind this movement and will continue to be the standard in which advancement is measured. We as educators, must continually adapt to meet the technological needs of our community in order to grow and prosper. We must also continuously update the tools in our toolbox, maintain an eye that focuses on trends and current research, and, most importantly, continue to develop collaborative relationships within the school community. All of these processes will not only keep our school community, teaching practices and goals valid and up-to-date, but it also allows us to adapt to changes more fluidly and effortlessly. This approach will strengthen us to take positive risks in our classrooms and encourage us to continually confront our comfort zones.

When it comes to integrating technology, we are all in this together. Thank you for welcoming me into this special community. I am looking forward to working with you all.

James Sgroi

James Sgroi
Digital Learning Specialist
 North Reading Middle & High Schools