Monday, February 12, 2018

Common Sense Media

My weekend began with a text from my daughter:  "Can we get a PS4?  I wanna play Fortnight".  "Sure we can just run out and get a PS4!", I wanted to reply sarcastically, but I didn't (our household already has a myriad of other consoles, some which just collect dust, but...of course, we need a PS4).   "All of my friends are playing it.  It sound fun." was her reasoning behind the request.  While I doubt we will rush out to get a PS4, the request had sparked my curiosity.   What is up with this Fortnight?  It's is the constant topic of conversation in the middle school...both boys and girls alike.  What is it all about?  My middle schoolers have tried to explain it to me, but I wanted to look into it further...so I made my way to www.commonsensemedia.org.

If you have never to Common Sense Media, I can't recommend the site enough.  It contains reviews of apps, websites, video games and is full of informative articles which address many of the concerns of us parents have about our children living in the information age.  If you are looking for apps to monitor your students internet usage, or tips on what you should know about social media apps your children frequent, or ideas for conversations to have after seeing a movie...this site has it all.  Here at Saint Francis we use their Digital Citizen Curriculum in grades K-8.  It really is, in my opinion, THE site to go to when you have a question about your child and tech.

If you, too, have heard the term Fortnight and are curious to find out what it's all about, here is a direct link to the review page:  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/fortnite

Monday, December 4, 2017

This Week In Technology

This week is Computer Science Education Week.  Our students will be participating in the week by focusing on coding in the computer lab this week.  We will be learning about coding using a variety of websites.  Some students will be learning about the basics: creating algorithms to guide sprites through mazes, others will be creating art using the visual language of Processing, while some will be using Scratch to create a video game. While this week is used to highlight computer science and coding, our students are exposed to computer science throughout the year through a variety of activities.

Here are a variety of links where you can find resources you can visit at home to provide your children with additional outlets to exercise their coding skills.

Computer Science Education Website
Open Processing
Processing.org
Scratch

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This Week in Technology

This week the 6th graders are taking a break from learning about functions in Google Sheets, and using Sheets for something a little more creative.  Moving away from stuffy grids of data, 6th graders are converting their sheets into creative canvases. After learning how to format and color cells, students are creating pixel art from images they have found on the internet.   Images include digital doughnuts, video game heros, sports legends, and internet fixtures. It is amazing how a spreadsheet, something normally not associated with the word fun, has become all the buzz in 6th grade.
Nyan Cat by Noah E

3rd Grade was introduced to Google Slides.  They will be doing research about a Saint and creating a slide by importing a picture and adding 4 or 5 interesting facts.  In the process, they will be learning how to insert images, change fonts and colors of a slide, and create entrance animations.

2nd Grade is learning how to log into our Chromeboxes.  They have been given usernames and passwords which will allow them to begin using the Google Apps for Education (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings).  They also have learned to use and create bookmarks and will begin creating a cover for a story book they are working on in their classroom.

1st Grade created Halloween drawings using the website sketchpad.io.  Sketchpad.io is an online art creator.  Students learned how to use the different tools and how to select their options. They

Kindergarten focused on the keyboard this week.  We played the game "Ghost Typing" on www.abcya.com.  This game helps them to locate the keys of the keyboard while they race to keeps the ghosts at bay.  They continue to learn how to hold and control the mouse and their skills are getting stronger as each week passes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chomebooks for Christmas


It's about that time of year where we begin thinking about Christmas presents for our students.  Several forward thinking parents of 5th graders are already beginning to look ahead to the next school year and the need for a Chromebook for their future middle schooler who will participate in our 1:1 program.  With this in mind,we thought we would share the specs you should be looking for should you be hunting those Black Friday deals to get a jump on next year.

Specifications:
  • Chromebook
  • 11-14 inch screen
  • 16 GB of  Internal Storage (Hard Drive)
  • no less than 4 GB RAM
  • 8 or more hour battery life
  • Wireless: 802.11 AC capable
  • HDMI output
A case is not mandatory, but highly suggested for protection from damage. Computers purchased through school will have a case purchased.

Students in 5th grade who receive a Chromebook prior to their 6th grade year are more than welcome to bring their device to use in the classroom.

PowerSchool Mobile App

We have had several emails about issues with the district code and the Powerschool Mobile app. Users are finding that even after entering the proper district code found in the Parent Portal, the app isn't connecting correctly.  Below are the steps to follow to get the mobile app working.

The Powerschool Mobile app can be downloaded for Apple or Android devices.  Search for Powerschool Mobile in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store or click here for Apple or click here for Android.  Once installed on your device, open the app and you will start on the sign in screen.  To begin, you will need to click on "Where's my district code" on the sign in page. 

On the next screen, you will want to choose "Search for Your District".


After selecting "Search for Your District", you will want to enter ps-ddm.gwaea.org as our PowerSchool Server Address and then click "Submit".


Once this is done you should be taken back to the login screen, and the area for the district code will be filled in with 4 asterisks.  From here you should be able to login with your Powerschool Parent Portal credentials and access your information on the go.

If you have any questions or are in need of assistance with the Powerschool Mobile app, feel free to contact Jason Southward at jsouthward@saintfrancisschool.org


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Directory Spot

Here at Saint Francis, we have moved to a digital school family directory, Directory Spot, to share contact information with our school community.  We wanted to share a little bit about the why's and the how's behind the app, and hopefully provide you with some information that will be useful in the future as your addresses and phone numbers change.
One of the main reasons we chose Directory Spot was to save a bit of money, and a few trees as well.  We have dropped from printing 550-600 hard copies of our directory a year to 225 copies this year.  These copies are requested by families who still prefer a hard copy. Families pay for the copy they get, and Home and School pays for the costs not covered by families who purchased. Also, with access via the Android or Apple app, it’s one less thing for you to have to worry about.  Our phones these days have become an integral part of our lives, and as long as our phone is close, so is our SFA our directory. You can also access the directory, once you have your account and password set up, via the internet at https://www.directoryspot.net/ .
For your security, the directory is by invite only.  You should have received an email on how to setup your account.  The email detailed how you can download the app and directs you on setting up a password for your account.  Only SFA families can access our directory...keeping your contact information secure.  
Information for the directory is pulled directly from Powerschool.  If for some reason, information is missing or incorrect, you can fix the information in Powerschool yourself. Simply login to the Powerschool portal and click on E-Registration on the left hand menu to change your info.  Monthly updates will be pulled from Powerschool at the beginning of each month. (FYI...parental information is pulled from the “Contact 1” and “Contact 2” fields).  If you want to be sure of what information is going in the directory for your family look at those fields in your Powerschool account.
Directory Spot gives you the ability to see more than just contact information. You can look up class lists by teacher and find info that way. By clicking on a families address, one can open it in Google Maps and get directions, nice for play dates and birthday parties! You can also find our school calendar there. It really is a great little community tool, and if you haven't tried it...we suggest you give it a shot!
We hope that those of you who have used the Directory Spot app have enjoyed using it and have found it simple to use.  Those who have misplaced the registration email, or simply just haven’t set up an account yet...feel free to reach out if you need assistance.  Contact Jason Southward at jsouthward@saintfrancisschool.org to get connected.

Common Sense Media