Monday, March 27, 2017

3 Steps to Make Sure Chromebooks are Ready for Testing

In order to reduce possible technology issues during testing, it's important to check a few things on the students' Chromebooks to make sure that they are ready to go. There are three things to check; making sure that the Chromebooks are up to date, making sure the Pearson TestNav app is working, and making sure that the Chromebooks' headphone jacks are working. The steps are easy to follow, so you can absolutely work with your students and have them check their own Chromebooks. Here's how:

#1, Make sure that Chromebooks are up to date

Chromebooks typically update themselves automatically, however we have noticed that students (and staff) do not restart their Chromebooks very often which can delay the installation of an update. Here's how to manually check for updates:
  1. Login to the Chromebook
  2. Click the status area, where the clock and your user account picture appears
  3. Click the "Settings" option (the gear icon)
  4. Click on "About Chrome OS" at the top of the window
  5. Click "Check for and apply updates"
  6. If an update is available, it will begin downloading. When the update is downloading, you can let it continue in the background while you use the Chromebook (Drive, Classroom, Mail, etc.)
  7. When the update has finished downloading and is ready to install, an "Arrow" icon will appear in the status area next to the clock. Click the "Arrow"
  8. Click the "Restart to update" to install the update. The process will take 10-15 seconds and then you will be able to log back into the Chromebook
  9. Repeat this process until there aren't any more updates to install

#2, Make sure the Pearson TestNav app is working properly on each Chromebook

The Pearson TestNav should be automatically installed on each district Chromebook (it is not installed on a student's or staff member's personally owned Chromebook or device). However, it's important for each student to check to make sure that the app is working properly WELL BEFORE testing is scheduled to begin. Here's to how to check the Pearson TestNav app:
  1. Make sure that the Chromebook is at the login screen. If a student is logged in, they will need to sign out
  2. Click the “Apps” button at the very bottom of the screen and click “TestNav”
  3. If the Chromebook has NEVER been used for PARCC testing in the past or for the PARCC Practice Tests, the students will see a screen asking them to select their state. Students should click "Rhode Island"
  4. A “Sign In” screen will appear with "Rhode Island" at the top. The Chromebook is all set to use the Pearson TestNav app for PARCC testing. Skip to Section #3
  5. If the Chromebook has been used for PARCC testing in the past, the TestNav app MAY open directly to the "Rhode Island" Sign In screen. If the TestNav app opens directly to the "Rhode Island" Sign In screen, Chromebook is all set to use the Pearson TestNav app for PARCC testing. Skip to Section #3
  6. If the TestNav app opens to the "PARCC Training" Sign In screen OR opens to another state's Sign In screen, click on the “Person” icon at the top of the screen and select "Choose a different customer"
  7. Click on "Rhode Island"
  8. A “Sign In” screen will appear with "Rhode Island" at the top. The Chromebook is all set to use the Pearson TestNav app for PARCC testing

#3, Make sure that each Chromebook's headphone jack is working properly

Students will be required to use earbuds or headphones for portions of the PARCC test in order to hear audio and video passages. It's important for each student to check to make sure that the headphone jack of their Chromebook is working properly WELL BEFORE testing is scheduled to begin. Here's how each student can check the headphone jack of their Chromebook:
  1. Make sure that the Chromebook is at the login screen. If a student is logged in, they will need to sign out
  2. Click the “Apps” button at the very bottom of the screen and click “TestNav”
  3. The TestNav app should open to the Rhode Island Sign In screen
  4. Plug-in a pair of headphones or earbuds into the Chromebook headphone jack
  5. Click the "Test audio" link on the TestNav "Sign In" screen and listen in the headphones/earbuds for the test sound
  6. If the student is able to hear the test sound through the headphones/earbuds, the Chromebook's headphone jack is ready for PARCC testing
  7. If the student CANNOT hear the test sound, hold down the "Volume up" key on the keyboard to increase the volume and then click the "Test audio" link again
  8. If the student still CANNOT hear the test sound, try trying a set of headphones/earbuds that are known to be working with another Chromebook
  9. If the student still CANNOT hear the test sound with the second set of headphones/earbuds, please let the technology department know so we can address the issue

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Transfer Pictures and Videos from a GoPro Camera to Google Drive

One of the nice things about using a GoPro camera with your Chromebook is that it is very easy to transfer pictures and videos from the camera to your Google Drive. You don't need to install any special software. All you need is the GoPro camera, the USB cable that came with the camera, and a Chromebook.

Here are two methods on how to transfer pictures and videos. Choose whichever method works best for you and your students.

Using the Chromebook "Files" App

  1. Power on the GoPro camera
  2. Connect the GoPro camera to the Chromebook using the included USB cable
  3. The "Files" app on the Chromebook should open automatically and the GoPro camera will appear on the left side of the window. All of the pictures and videos are stored within the "100GOPRO" folder which is within the "DCIM" folder
  4. Highlight the pictures (JPG files) and the videos (MP4 files) that you would like to transfer to your Google Drive. If you hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard while you click, you can select multiple pictures and videos. Drag the highlighted pictures and videos to "My Drive" on the left side of the window
  5. On the left you will see the progress of the transfer of the files. Keep in mind that videos can be VERY large, so the transfer can take a while!
  6. Once the transfer is complete, you can open your Google Drive and see the pictures and videos that were transferred. You MAY want to consider creating a "GoPro" folder within your Google Drive to organize the pictures and videos


Uploading Pictures and Videos Directly into Google Drive

  1. Power on the GoPro camera
  2. Connect the GoPro camera to the Chromebook using the included USB cable
  3. The "Files" app on the Chromebook should open automatically and the GoPro camera will appear on the left side of the window. All of the pictures and videos are stored within the "100GOPRO" folder which is within the "DCIM" folder. You can safely close the Files app
  4. Open your Google Drive

    OR
  5. Click "New" and select "File upload"
  6. Select the GoPro camera on the left. Open the "DCIM" folder and open the "100GOPRO" folder to view the pictures and videos

  7. Highlight the pictures (JPG files) and the videos (MP4 files) that you would like to transfer to your Google Drive. If you hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard while you click, you can select multiple pictures and videos. Click "Open"
  8. On the lower right of the screem, you will see the progress of the transfer of the files. Keep in mind that videos can be VERY large, so the transfer can take a while!
  9. Once the transfer is complete, you should see the pictures and videos that were transferred. You MAY want to consider creating a "GoPro" folder within your Google Drive to organize the pictures and videos

Friday, March 24, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Manuals

Please find below links to the Quick Start Guide and the full User Manual for the GoPro Hero 5 cameras that are available at each school.
GoPro Hero 5 Quick Start Guide (PDF)
GoPro Hero 5 User Manual (PDF)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Read&Write, Basic Reading Tools


Using Read&Write within a Google Doc

  1. Open or create a Google Doc
  2. Click the Read&Write "purple puzzle piece" icon just above the document to enable the Read&Write toolbar
  3. Place your cursor in the document and click the Text to Speech controls to have Read&Write read the text out loud
  4. Select (highlight) a word in the document and click the Dictionary or Picture Dictionary tools to lookup the word
  5. Click the "Screen Mask" tool to enable the screen mask. Click the tool button again to disable the screen mask

Using Read&Write when Viewing a web page

  1. Open a website using Google Chrome
  2. Click the Read&Write "purple puzzle piece" icon at the top of Google Chrome
  3. Select (highlight) some text in the web page and click the Text to Speech controls to have Read&Write read the text out loud
  4. Select (highlight) a word in the web page and click the Dictionary or Picture Dictionary tools to lookup the word
  5. Click the "Screen Mask" tool to enable the screen mask. Click the tool button again to disable the screen mask
  6. Click the "Simplify Page" tool to view a simplified version of the web page

Monday, January 30, 2017

Read&Write for Chrome Free for Teachers

Read&Write for Chrome is a powerful literacy support app that provides a wide variety of reading and writing supports for all students. The Smithfield Public Schools has purchased a subscription to allow all students to have access to all of the features of Read&Write across all district devices.

Teachers can get access to all of the "premium" features of Read&Write for free simply by registering online on the TextHelp website. In order for Read&Write to work properly, you will need to register using your Smithfield email address/Google account. Here's how:

  1. Go to the Read&Write for Teachers website at https://rwchrome.texthelp.com/drive/home/registerteacher
  2. Fill out the online form making sure to enter the following information accurately;
    You MUST enter "Smithfield Public Schools" as the District/School/Organization AND your Smithfield email address as the Google ID

    You MUST enter "Paul Barrette" as the District/School Administrator Name AND "pbarrette@smithfield-ps.org" as the District/School Administrator Email
  3. Submit the form. You will receive an email from TextHelp when your free premium license to Read&Write has been activated

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Beware of Phishing, Increase the Security of your Google Account

As we use our Smithfield Google accounts for more applications (Google Drive, Google Classroom, etc.), it becomes even more important to keep that account secure. As a district, we have made Student Data Privacy a priority and we have discussed some ways that all staff can keep their accounts and student information more secure, http://staff.smithfield-ps.org/student-data-privacy

Unfortunately, there are always phishing attacks and scams that are trying to trick users into providing criminals and hackers with access to your accounts. You may have recently read about a particularly tricky and sophisticated phishing scheme that has fooled even tech savvy users. Forbes online has a good, easy to understand summary of the phishing attack, http://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2017/01/16/gmail-phishing-attack-targets-your-contacts/#3cc172e51f9d.

I wanted to share some tips and strategies with you to help increase the security of your Smithfield Google account. These strategies also apply to other types of online accounts that you may have and use in your professional and personal lives.

ALWAYS check the browser address bar for any site asking you to login!

Any time a website prompts you to login, and specifically a site that appears to be Google, check the the browser address bar to make sure of the following:
  1. The address of a Google login page should ALWAYS begin with https://accounts.google.com
  2. A GREEN lock symbol should ALWAYS appear indicating that the identity of the Google login page has been VERIFIED and that the connection is secure
If either of these things is missing, DO NOT enter your username or password!

Check to see if your account has been compromised

Google has a great security feature that allows any user to check to see their account activity; i.e. where, when, and how their account has been accessed; setup alerts if Google suspects unusual activity on your account; and a button to logout on any device if you think that you forgot. If you are ever concerned that your Google account may have been compromised, this is a terrific option. Here's how to access that tool:
  1. Open your Mail
  2. Scroll to the bottom of your list of messages and look for "Last account activity" on the right. Click "Details" to see more information and access additional options
  3. You can see a list of when, where, and how your account has been accessed. You can also choose to receive an alert if Google suspects unusual activity on your account and logout of any sessions if you forgot to logout

Consider turning on 2-Step Verification

Even if you use extremely secure passwords (and we all do, right?) and are really careful about checking the sites we use, there are additional steps that you can take to secure your Google account even further. One method is to use 2-Step Verification.

2-Step Verification essentially means that, in order to login to your account, you will need to know your password AND provide an additional way to verify your identity (e.g. a code sent to your phone, a code from an app, a physical security key). This means that, even if someone gets your password, they will not be able to login to your account if they do not have that second method to verify your identity. While 2-Step Verification adds an additional step each time you login, it makes your account MUCH more secure and I STRONGLY recommend giving it a try. I use 2-Step Verification on both my work and personal accounts to help keep them secure. While it is less convenient, once you get used to it, it just becomes part of your routine.

Here's how to enable 2-Step Verification. You will need to have a phone handy, preferably a cell phone. Google will ONLY use this phone number for account security; they will not share it or make it public.
  1. Go to the Google 2-Step Verification page, https://www.google.com/landing/2step
  2. Click "Get Started" at the top of the page
  3. Click "Get Started" again on the next page
  4. Login to your Google account (make sure to check that address bar!)
  5. Enter the phone number that you would like to use. I recommend using a cell phone and choosing the "Text Message" option. Click "Try It"
  6. Within a minute or so, you should receive a text message from Google that contains a verification code. The code expires in a few minutes and can only be used once. Enter the verification code on the page and click "Next"
  7. If everything works as it should, click "Turn On"
  8. You will see a page that displays the second step that you added for your account
  9. IMMEDIATELY scroll down the page and setup AT LEAST one alternative second step. This will serve as a backup in the event that you do not have access to your phone. There are a number of options. At a minimum, I would recommend setting up Backup Codes AND a second phone (it doesn't need to be a cell phone, just a phone that you can receive a voice call). I also use an inexpensive Security Key that I purchased on my own (https://www.yubico.com/products/yubikey-hardware/fido-u2f-security-key/) and the Google Authenticator app as additional 2-Step Verification options
  10. In the future, when you sign-in to your Google account, you will be prompted to enter a verification code from a new text message sent to your phone. These codes expire in a few minutes and cannot be used more than once. Also, as tempting as it may be, do NOT check the "Remember this computer for 30 days" option!

I hope that these strategies prove to be useful. While good security is not convenient, it is the responsibility of each and every Smithfield staff member to keep their accounts secure.