4/05/2018

Teacher-Driven YouTube Filtering

As a school, we filter our Internet to provide a safe environment for our students to learn to navigate the web for good. More on ISD 477 Internet filtering here.

YouTube is one site that has been a little difficult to filter consistently in the past. Google has added some features that allow teachers to better manage which sites students are unable to view using built-in filtering in YouTube. Per Google’s description, “We use community flagging, age restrictions and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content” (link).

YouTube has filtering features that now allows Teachers to have more control over what videos are available to their students.
Some videos may be filtered for students that teachers want to use. The easiest examples to find are history video clips that use primary source footage of war or violence.

If your students see a message that the video they are trying to watch is restricted, teachers can simply click on an Approve button below the video to allow their students to view the video.

Approve YouTube Video.png

Note: Students must be logged into their Google Account in YouTube, or be using a Chromebook, for these new filtering options to work. That makes the YouTube filtering has is a bigger impact for grades 4-12 right now, but we want to keep everyone informed in the event that students are seeing a restricted video message.
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4/03/2018

Digital Learning Grows Across Princeton Schools

Starting in September 2018, students in grades 3-12 will have access to 1:1 technology on a daily basis to support their individual learning. Students in grades PreK-2 are use technology in purposeful areas, with all classrooms having access to mobile devices when and where it can add to a lesson. The growth in technology, devices and support is part of the focus our community helped identify during strategic planning to ensure we are providing students with relevant and personalized learning opportunities.

The supports to develop digital-age learners continue to grow as our interactions with technology on a day-to-day basis has become more universal. The ability to navigate a website and the ads embedded in order to find information to solve a problem is a skill necessary at any age level today. For example, many regional news websites rely on advertisements to fund the writing, publishing, hosting and maintenance of their work so that it can be available to the public online. If you want to catch up on current events, you need to know how to navigate the network of ads across the site to find the information you want. Think of how student evidence of learning for this seventh-grade English standard in Minnesota has changed with online news sources, “...Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.” Anyone can publish a blog or story about events and it is up to you as the reader to decipher the intent and meaning based on the viewpoint of the author.

While that example highlights one of the skills necessary to consume information online today, harnessing each student’s ability to create, communicate, design, test and expand their understanding of content is where technology creates great opportunities. As digital learning grows, our classrooms will continue to focus on moving beyond basic consumption of information. With the basic recall of facts and figures at our fingertips, we can start to leverage our technology across PreK-12 to help students analyze content and create their own ideas using a variety of digital tools. The possibilities for individual student learning within our schools continues to grow along with the technology. It is exciting to see our students use technology too.

Photos from a @MrsJBurling from Lego WeDo lesson. 

3/27/2018

Primary School Introduces Robots for Learning

Teachers in grades K-2 have been learning the basics of coding with small robots to integrate the new technology into their classes. Starting in January 2018, robots that look like bees have been taking over Princeton Primary School.

Lead by Technology Coaches Annie Porttiin, Samantha Statz, Nicole Cook and Tonia Anderson, and district Technology Integration Specialist Jodi Burling, lesson plans are being created to support math, literacy, team building and social skills using robots at each grade level, K through 2. The Princeton Primary School K-2 Robots project was made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a Library Services and Technology Act (LS-00-17-0024-17) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The grant includes funds for the robots, as well as professional development time for staff to create authentic lessons that utilize the robots to support learning standards within each grade level. Three different types of robots that others schools have had success in the primary grade levels were purchased, called Bee-Bots, Blue-Bots and Pro-Bots. The Bee-Bot resembles a yellow bee and all of the robots are programmed using physical buttons on the robot itself; No additional hardware or software is needed. There are more than two classroom sets of each type of robot, so they can be shared to use with an entire class or as a learning station across multiple classrooms depending on the lesson topic. As some classes have already begun using the robots, students are quickly learning the basics and solving math and literacy challenges through coding.

11/22/2017

Career Crawl: Making Connections with Community Industry Partners

Today was a staff development day before the Thanksgiving holiday break. A team of school and community members have been working to create on-going connections between students, teachers and local area businesses. One outcome of the group's work was the development of a Career Crawl, where all teachers go on business tours within the community. With a Pre K-12 focus on career and college readiness, teachers chose to tour two businesses to learn more about industry.

As an outcome, we were to analyze how our role as educators can support the social and emotional learning competencies necessary to be successful now, and later within their career or college pathway. Secondary staff were also asked to determine the two most critical employability skills from the Career Crawl that we will focus on throughout their courses.

I had the opportunity to visit two locations today; The Princeton Police and Fire Departments, and a local manufacturer, Glenn Metalcraft.

Within my own role as a district leader, the ways that local businesses are leveraging technology to improve efficiency and personalization for their products stuck out to me as a takeaway. For example, a local manufacturer has many parts of their work automated, but the automation is an ongoing process that now requires more technical skills for the operator. What was welding and machining is now coding and maintaining a robotic welding machine that runs extremely high tolerances that were never before possible. My reflection of the social and emotional skills that were highlighted by business partners.

Communication: Students need to continue to focus on how they can effectively communicate, as well as listen and respond to those they are communicating with. Written communication is not dead, and neither is a face-to-face discussion throughout the day. 

Responsible Decision-Making: Developing an ownership of your work as a whole, and the ability to grow within the expectations of your role. 

School bus ride on the Career Crawl.

Princeton Fire Chief discussing how the community supports the volunteer fire department. 

Proximity to the nuclear power plant in Monticello, MN requires emergency preparedness across communities.  

Group photo of staff and our tour guides at Glenn Metalcraft. 

Princeton volunteer fire and rescue department. 

9/28/2017

Turn off Autoplay in YouTube

Are you sick of random YouTube videos automatically playing after you show a YouTube video in class?

Do you ever feel like you have to dive for your computer or SMART Board to stop a video from playing after you use a video?

You can fix that! Turn of Auto Play in YouTube. 


  1. Open a YouTube video. Here is an example video about the new Google Slides updates from 9/2017. 
  2. Find the Autoplay button on the top right of the page. 
  3. Turn it off! 


8/01/2017

Cultivating a Culture of Courageous Leadership with Pat Deklotz




Pat Deklots, Superintendent of Kettle Moraine School District in Wales, WI has been leading the same school district for twelve years. She lead a session at the Minnesota Personalized Learning Summit #mnpls17 on Cultivating a Culture of Courageous Leadership. Kettle Moraine has been focusing on providing personalized opportunities for their students and Pat shared some key elements that have helped their school system improve at a district level. 


“All too often, on the long road up, young leaders become servants of what is rather than shapers of what might be.” - John Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under President Lyndon Johnson.

Courageous leadership questions to ask yourself:  Why is this work important to you? 
How do you practice reflection? 
Who do you listen to and how do you seek them out? 

Open Door Policy: Her experiences were that people would only come to you when they had a problem during open door time in an office. Go out and talk with people instead. Go to classrooms. Go to community events. Go talk with teachers and you will be able to push your organization forward. 

Systemic initiatives will last longer than one powerful leader. Systemic change focuses on 
Processes, Structures, Expectations such as: 
  • Distributed leadership
  • Scorecards and benchmarking 
  • 100 day plans / Monitoring 
  • Standards of Service Excellence 
    • What does it mean to be an excellent employee? Learner? Leader? 
  • Performance conversations 
  • Rounding; 30/90 Day Check In 
  • Surveys and Results roll out
Pat's advice is for leaders to ask two basic questions: 
Why? 
and 
Why Not? 

Commitment to Innovation 
Develop a culture that allows teachers, students and leaders to take risks. You should tell stories about how you are experiencing risk and learning from those stories. Is is one example from Kettle Moraine students and Digital Promise of a story they are telling others about their schools. 

5/04/2017

Teaching with Google's new drawing tool: Autodraw

I am not a very great sketch artist, but my whiteboard skills are at a developing level.

Google just came out with a new drawing tool called Autodraw.com . It automatically turns your hand-drawn sketches into simple drawings. Here is what Autodraw does:

Turn this:
 Into this:
Ideas for using this in your classroom:

  • Graphic organizers 
  • Sketching stories 
  • Visualizing ideas 
  • Summarizing during a discussion 
  • Build quick connections between topics 
  • Try new ways to represent concepts 
  • ...Or just generally make your drawings better! 

I tried a few more difficult drawings to see if Autodraw would be able to understand my sketches. Here is my Eiffel Tower sketch (Some could argue rocket ship...): 
Autodraw gave me quite a few suggestions, with three of them much more Eiffel Tower-looking than my original rocket ship/elf hat version. 

Visit Autodraw.com to try it out, or watch the overview video below for more information. 

3/24/2017

Minnesota Broadband Day on the Hill

On March 15, I had the opportunity to join in on Broadband Day at the Hill, an event organized by the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. The day focused on discussing broadband issues and projects around greater Minnesota, as well as time to talk with a number of MN representatives about their work and perspective on the future of broadband expansion to reach those without access to high-speed Internet. It is not a new topic, but was definitely great to talk with representatives and others working on broadband around the state. 

Check out this map of 2016 broadband coverage around Minnesota, defined as 25M Upload/3M download. 

Coffee with Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith. 

Hearing from students and community experts around MN about regional broadband concerns. 

As an added bonus, I was able to sit in on a House Education Finance Committee meeting and heard testimony from a number of current proposals that would have a large impact on MN schools. 

1/11/2017

Assessing Google Classroom use in your School

You can now get Google Classroom reports in the Admin Console. Google Classroom use across the school district is something that I have had a hard time quantifying. The new reports in the G Suite Admin Console add a step in that direction for Google Classroom. There are three measures you can get; Active users, number of posts created and last logged in date.

To start, we have had ~29% of our staff and 44% of our students using Google Classroom in the past week. The number of our students using Classroom on a weekly basis is much higher than the four grade levels who have implemented 1:1 digital learning devices for the first time this fall.
Many other full-fledge LMSs have the ability to pull amazing statistics on assignments and interaction across the school system. I know that I am only pulling reports from a small sample of our staff, but I hypothesize digital assignment trends follow paper assignment trends for the number and day-of-the-week assignments. 

Mondays have been our biggest online posting day since November. Does anyone else see similar stats in their school? 



I did see @mebenson charting some homemade Google Classroom reports in the back of a session at #TIES16 that looked quite a bit more in-depth as far as user statistics and day-to-day interaction with Classroom and G Suite tools. Hopefully more reporting will come.

See Google's original post here, and their video below: