NHS Technology Instructional Coach

Leave the chalk behind.

April 22, 2015
by cesteffen

April 2015 Newsletter

Put a Little Spring in Your Step

Now is not the time to rest on your laurels and cruise through the last seven weeks. Make this the best seven weeks of the year. Try a new tool, gain feedback from your students on how to improve, and create an amazing technology rich performance task to end the year on a positive note.

iBooks Author

Did you know you can create and publish your own iBook? Students can use Book Creator and or Keynotes to create the content. If you want to get really fancy, you can use widgets to add YouTube videos and ThingLinks as well. If you would like to learn more, set up a meeting with Christy.



Have you looked at Canvas Commons yet? February’s newsletter contained a video intro. You can read more about Canvas Commons here. This will alleviate the need to get into old courses and help to clean up every teacher’s course list. Save an entire course or individual pieces of a course. You can share with yourself, the district or the world. If you share to the world, make sure you are abiding by Copyright Fair Use for online images and other content. Don’t let that scare you though, because sharing is caring!


Respondus Lockdown Browser is the app for secure testing on the iPad. While it had a shaky start last semester, the company seems to have worked out the kinks. The Tech Team has been able to trouble shoot all issues this semester (unlike last). If you are considering using this tool for your final exam, please try a quiz a week or two before finals week. If you have students who cannot get it to work, send them to the Tech Office right away to get it fixed.

February 23, 2015
by cesteffen

February 2015 Newsletter

Creativity and Innovation

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

Creativity and innovation are definitely current buzzwords in education. Are they the same? Why are they important? What can a high school teacher do to promote creativity and/or innovation in the classroom?

Technology Evaluation

Last semester a team of teachers and administrators completed a technology evaluation at NHS and both middle schools. This evaluation consisted of classroom walk-throughs, teacher and student interviews as well as a survey that was administered by an outside vendor. The results of this evaluation were very positive. We should all be very proud of the progress we have made and living the #MillerShift in the classroom everyday. Even our areas of growth are not at a desperate level but we never want to stop the momentum. The areas of need at the high school include more prevalent instruction with digital citizenship and encouraging creativity with students. A committee is in the works to create a comprehensive plan for digital citizenship. If you would like to read the entire review, visit this link.

Creativity in the Classroom

Creativity is an important skill for students to hone because we are preparing them for careers that do not even exist. As we learned from Dave Burgess, creativity is not a gift but something that takes dedication and effort. To be successful in this ever changing world, students must be given ample opportunities to be creative. The Technology Evaluation Summary suggested that creativity should happen everyday and not be an “event” in the classroom. Teachers can start by giving students choice in how they show what they know. Trust that students can figure out new applications and you do not need to be the expert. They will surprise you and you won’t be bored evaluating 180 assignments that look exactly the same! Stacey Goodman suggests fueling creativity with divergent thinking. For “30 Ways to Promote Creativity in Your Classroom,” click on the picture below.




Creativity is vital and innovation takes it a step further. To be innovative is to take an idea and use it in a completely new way. While I am definitely not the expert on innovation, our very own Don Wettrick is! Visit him in the media center to learn more about how you can bring innovation to your classroom. His book, Pure Genius, is the book for the Indiana Department of eLearning’s Spring Book Club.

While he has many students doing creative and innovative projects, the one highlighted below includes a current and former student. Pete Freeman and Zack Baker have produced a podcast, Eduprenuership. While education podcasts are not a new concept, one from the perspective of two students is definitely innovative. Take a listen, you’ll be glad that you did!


PassWhiz Update

Thanks to all who are following the protocol and making PassWhiz a success. Zack continues to work on our peaking issue at the beginning of AL. You should have noticed an update that allows teachers to put a reason for denial. The students can see this denial by tapping on the pass. Please continue to send your questions to Christy Steffen, without feedback we cannot continue to make this the best it can be. If you have not read the previous update, you can find it here: PassWhiz Teacher Update 1/19/2015.


February 4, 2015
by cesteffen

Teach Like a Pirate Resources

January 26, 2015
by cesteffen

PassWhiz Teacher Update 1/19/2015

Thanks to all of you who are providing the much needed feedback, we are getting closer to perfection (or at least minimally effective). There is still a peak at 1:35pm on AL days causing crashes [read more here].  It is important that everyone follow the protocol in order for the app to work.

Here are reminders for AL:

  • Students must start the verified pass before leaving AL.
    • If it crashes, wait 2 minutes and have them try again.
    • Make sure the pass has the correct date and time.
  • If they were denied a pass to the LMC, it was because they are full.
    • Today alone the LMC verified 50 passes before 9am and have denied 20 more since.
  • The teacher accepting the students must watch them hit end.
    • The teacher then needs to verify student arrivals on PassWhiz Teacher.
      • This will give the teacher the ability to send a return pass.
  • When sending students back to AL, watch them begin the return pass.
  • When a student arrives in your AL, look at the return pass before they hit end.

Other PassWhiz features:

  • Create a Pass for teachers has been updated.
    • You can send a pass to a student if you need to send them to the nurse or the office.
    • You do not receive a verify arrival for this feature.
  • Administrators (and Christy Steffen) can search the database. If you suspect someone of abusing PassWhiz or being dishonest, please contact one of us to resolve the situation.

What Zack is currently working on:

  • Increasing our limit so that the app doesn’t crash when we peak.
  • Communicating a reason for denial to students.
  • Organizing Who is Coming to only show current passes and in chronological order.
  • Scaling the apps down so the iPhone can be used.


January 19, 2015
by cesteffen

January 2015 Newsletter

Blended Learning

“Blended learning is about engaging students in deeper learning,” says Ron Cramer, senior learning technology consultant. “It’s about blending online and face-to-face activities together in a thoughtful way.”

Many of you already engage in many aspects of blended learning, but we have never really defined what it is and how it can benefit our students. Blended learning is the combination of online and face-to-face instruction. Adding the #Blendedlearning list to my Tweetdeck has provided numerous articles and discussions. An article from Mindshift came through this week. This article discusses the benefits and drawbacks as well as providing other helpful links. The most interesting part of this particular article might be the comments. One of the teachers as well as Will Richardson have commented!

Blended Learning and the Teaching Profession


Helpful Tools for Blended Learning


An excellent tool to help with videos is EDpuzzle. Jessica Siebert brought this awesome FREE tool to my attention and is having success with it in her classroom. With EDpuzzle you can take a video off the web and add your own flair to it. It allows you to crop a video, add your voice, or even add questions in the middle! Your creation can then be embedded in Canvas. You can then monitor whether your students watched and/or took the quiz within the video.


16 of the Best Blended Learning Resources

This article from the Edudemic Staff was published January 5, 2015. It contains all you need to know to create a successful blended learning environment for your students.

From Math to Electives – Digital Learning Improves Student Outcomes

Nearly 75 percent of schools are currently using online or blended learning, according to a recent survey of principals and administrators conducted by Fuel Education and NASSP. Join us to learn more about the survey findings and hear from two principals who have successfully implemented digital learning in their schools. Sign up for the webinar on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 3:30-4:30PM.

Subscribe to this blog!

In an effort to reduce the amount of emails everyone receives, I will post updates on this blog. There is a specific category for PassWhiz updates, check it out! You can receive email notifications about this blog by subscribing or bookmark this blog and check back often.






January 15, 2015
by cesteffen

PassWhiz Update!

“We peaked!” Zack was so excited when I saw him at the end of the day Wednesday. Yes, it is exciting that a 17 year old has created an app with 2200+ users but the peak caused crashes. He is working to raise our limit and prevent crashing. Yesterday was our first Academic Lab of the semester and the first time we knew we would have hundreds (if not a thousand) students moving about the building at the exact same time. We knew it would be busy but never imagined we would hit our limit the first time.

I was helping our first sports callout meeting using the new app. While it was not perfect, it was pretty good! The students were required to request a pass from Coach Graham before AL. He approved all of them so the students could leave their class with the appropriate pass. Some experienced the crashing but when we waited 5 minutes, the process was able to work. When Coach Graham finished, he just had to watch the students hit start on the return pass. He didn’t have to run back to his office and send an all school email detailing the 40+ boys that attended the meeting. Meetings of this size provide a challenge but I was grateful Coach Graham was willing to try it. One thing we learned was to watch the students hit stop and then wait a few minutes before verifying arrivals. This should help the app to not crash if we are near the peak. The verification is not time stamped so it is okay to wait a few minutes. It just needs to be completed before the students return to class because they need the return pass sent to them through the arrival verification on the teacher app.

Other teachers reported the process really helped them let kids leave in a timely manner and didn’t require much on their part. Please remember to check the date and time to make sure the students are using the correct pass. Students didn’t need to write in a book and teachers didn’t need to sign every pass. Everything is logged in the database. Admins can search for the students using the PassWhiz admin app and shouldn’t need to call the room to find a student.

The library reported a little confusion with some students coming even though their passes had be denied (they were full). Students should only come with a verified pass and their ID. Most students did a great job following the procedures and it will only get more smooth as the year progresses.

Our teachers and students reminded me once again why I love working at NHS. This was a huge undertaking and something that has never been done before. Everyone was patient and helpful in our first big attempt. All inquiries were legitimate and provided the necessary information to improve the application. No where else could such a huge beta test occur with everyone still smiling at the end of the day.

Keep the feature requests and questions coming!


What Zack is currently working on with the app:

  • An update has already been sent to Apple to fix the Who is Coming not appearing in the Teacher app. Look for the update soon.
  • Increasing our limit so that the app doesn’t crash when we peak.
  • Fixing the teacher Create a Pass feature
  • Scaling the apps down so the iPhone can be used
  • There are many other feature requests, we will keep you updated!

January 6, 2015
by cesteffen


PassWhiz is our new digital hall pass. Please view the slideshow below for additional information. If you have suggestions for improvement, email Christy Steffen. Click the button below to download the app.


January 2, 2015
by cesteffen

Preparing for a New Semester in Canvas

In this New Year, let’s all resolve to make our Canvas Courses as student friendly as possible. After all, the point of the learning management system is to communicate with students.

A group of teachers met during the November eLearning day to discuss creating consistency in Canvas. While no one wants all Canvas courses to look exactly the same, the group realized we are too far apart at this point. It is difficult for parents to navigate their child’s courses when they are all significantly different. Many parents have students at a middle school as well as the high school. There needs to be more consistency across grades 6-12. The Tech Team will be creating more videos to help parents. If parents have difficulty, we have students that are having difficulty as well. Here are a few of the suggestions from the group:

  • Create a description as to how students/parents should navigate your course
    • Post it somewhere visible
    • Possibly post it in Powerschool as well as Canvas
  • Limit the number of navigation items on the left side

The Online PD Challenge has two modules that can help to create a better Canvas course. The Canvas 101 is a set of videos. In one of the videos there is a description on how to limit the navigation items. The Design Matters badge can help take your course to the next level, making it more visually appealing. We will continue to add more badging opportunities this semester. If you haven’t enrolled in the Online PD Challenge course, follow this link.

To help teachers with efficiency, you can combine several Canvas courses and then you have less to update throughout the semester. I found it easy to combine black days and gold days into separate courses. This helped with assigning eLearning assignments but meant that I was copying a lot of other content throughout the semester. This is up to each teacher to find the best workflow. For written instruction on combining courses go to Crosslisting in Canvas. If your learning style requires video:



For additional help, please visit your instructional coaches. If you would like to make an appointment with Christy Steffen, use this link to find a convenient time.


August 21, 2014
by cesteffen

Respondus Lockdown Browser

Teachers requested a secure way to allow students to test on the iPad. Respondus has come out with a solution. Through the Respondus App, the students will be locked into a test. They will not be able to take screen shots while in the quiz/test. If the student goes to the web, or access other applications, the teacher will be notified. The iPad version has limitations in that you cannot use embedded videos or weblinks yet. Hopefully they will allow this in the future. Please check back to this post for updates.

I created a video showing how to set up the test from the teacher’s perspective. I am also attaching the document iPad-Screens-Canvas that should help students. There is a bit of setup (3-5 minutes) for the students but once they have completed the instructions, tests should be easy to administer.

August 9, 2014
by cesteffen

Year Two, Week One

PianoWhat a week! As the title suggests, this is our second year of every student having an iPad. This year we added freshmen to our building and to our one-to-one initiative. My mantra for the past year has been that if technology teaches us nothing else, it teaches us patience and perseverance. This has never been more true than the last three weeks!

Planning for deploying 2700 iPads began back in January. At that time, we had no idea what shape the school would be since the freshman center and new offices would be added to our building. After about twelve iterations of the plan, we thought we were set to go. I stop in school in late July ready to iron out the details but ended up with sheer panic. The school did not look ready to have 2700 students and their parents traipsing through it in two weeks! Administration assured me it would be ready and I had no reason to doubt them so I tried to calm down (if you know me, that’s no easy feat).

The week before, the school looking much better. One could actually walk through the cafeteria and the LGI was cleared of all the band equipment it had been storing for the summer. I have always known that we have an amazing custodial and maintenance  staff but this was above and beyond. They worked weekends and twelve hour days to make sure the building was ready for students. Our district technology staff also put in numerous hours to make sure the iPads were ready for the students. I am still thinking of how to properly thank them for all the hard work but I don’t think there is any way to truly express my gratitude. The day before deployment, I was confident we would be able to host students and their parents.

Distributing schedules, ID, books, and iPads to 2700 students in two days takes a little bit of science, art, and a lot of human power! It was a beautiful two days that would not have been possible without our volunteer teachers, staff, and students. Everyone did an amazing job of helping the students prepare for another great year of school.

If I thought I was in a panic when I came to school two weeks before deployment, that was nothing compared to our learning management system not being ready for the teachers. It was supposed to be ready July 17th but there were still errors every time we did a test. Finally, the Sunday before school starts on Monday, it was ready to go! Through email, instant message, and Google Hangout, I was able to support the teachers so they would be ready to go on Monday.

Then our App Portal (the way students get apps paid for by the school) went down. Students would not have Notability, Keynote, Pages, or iMovie to start the year. We did not have this many technical difficulties in our first year!!! All of these problems were out of the control of our district. Services we pay for are trying to upgrade for ease of use. As Travis Penn said to me, “I hope all this pain is worth it.” Four days into school it seems to finally be working but with 6000 students (both middle schools are one-to-one as well) hitting the same server, it was a little slow to say the least. I’m hoping that by Monday, the second week of school, we will be past the major technical difficulties.

Even with all the difficulties, as I showed a visitor around our school on Thursday, one would never know. The teachers were teaching, the students were engaged and using the iPad when appropriate. It was business as usual in our classrooms. The new piano lab even connects to the iPad for an amazing new experience for the students taking Piano.

Patience and perseverance continue to be my mantra. I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I have the privilege of working with. Through all the difficulties, everyone has been patient and appreciative of the hard work we have all put in the last few weeks. I know that it will be a year for the record books because our teachers and students will continue to strive for greatness.



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