Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Poor Man's Chromebook

Is it possible and practical to revitalize aging netbooks or laptops, creating a reasonable stand-in for a commercial chromebook, with minimal time and expense?

That is the basic question.

The question stems from the situation we have at our school.  We have a number of basic laptops and netbooks which are showing their age.  For us, the targets of this question are:

  • A fleet of 100 Lenovo x-120e laptops purchased in 2011, equipped with the AMD Fusion E-350 1.6 GHz processor and 3 GB of RAM.  These currently run Windows 7 reasonably well, but take a long time to authenticate to the network and obviously don't run bloated software like MS Office very well.  Once up and running, they are relatively capable browsing machines, though they do struggle with streaming video.

  • A fleet of 48 Dell Latitude 2100 netbooks with atom processors and 1.5 GB of RAM, purchased in 2009.  Again, seem to be capable browsing machines, but the overhead of network login and Windows loading makes them less and less practical.

In my experiments with Windows, both types of machines actually perform pretty well, even on Windows 7, once you get them logged in and running and if you can avoid a bunch of background tasks like java and windows updates.  They're not great at MS Office or video, but they do pretty well with most Google apps.  I've tried various login methods and stripping all but the essentials out of the image, but boot times are still unacceptably slow, even with local, automatic login.  I think this could be improved if you take the device off of the domain, but then what's the point of using Windows?

The goal is not to try to turn these into newly capable laptops... they are old machines and will never perform as acceptable laptops.  However, we are a GAFE school as well as a 1-1 iPad district.  The iPads work great, but we find ourselves needing a tool which makes the basic Google apps more accessible to our students, particularly those above grade 8.

Obviously we'd love to have a fleet of Chromebooks.  Unfortunately, our budget is dedicated to iPads, and while we may switch to Chromebooks in the future, I currently have these laptops deployed but not being used because of the slowness issues mentioned above.

Here's what I've tried so far:

  • Chromium OS - Just couldn't get it to work.  I'm sure there are smarter geeks out there who could find the right build and maybe get things up and running, but I just don't have the desire, energy, or time to do this much trial and error experimenting.
  • "Stripped down" Windows.  See above.
  • "Lite" linux distros - Including Debian live, Elementary OS, Mint, Linux Lite, Precise, Ubuntu and Zorin.  I can get all of these to install and run.  Each has their little glitches and gotchas, but can be made to work.  Again, time and energy.  Currently, I've sort of settled on Mint and have added the chrome browser, which may not even be necessary because firefox does a decent job with basic google apps.

Some success and I've learned some things, but this is only part of the battle.  If this Mint prototype is practical, then I need to image or replicate, deploy, and manage.  All new experiments.  It's fun, but I don't have the time to reinvent or research all of these processes.

My original thought was to develop a "build" that locked the computer into the chrome browser and functioned as an ersatz Chromebook.  But as I've played with Linux, it occurs to me that it would be much more educational to simply provide a basic, Linux-based computer to students, and make them responsible for dealing with any problems beyond the initial set up.  

This is the sort of thing I get excited about.  Let the student be the admin and learn their way around Linux if they want more value from the device than simply using chrome.  I've even imagined letting students sign up, and then walking them through the install and initial config (about 30 minutes).  Perhaps start a computer club or something based on this.  

So, I see some potential, but of course a group is always smarter than an individual (particularly this individual).  I'd be interested in what the rest of you think or have tried.  Please feel free to leave comments or we can start a discussion on the list-serve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Future of Learning Technologies at Cozad High School.

As we will soon turn the corner into 2015, we approach the close of year three in our 1-1 student iPad implementation.  Several issues loom ahead.  Some are strictly technology-management items:

  • The iPad 2, while still supported, has been discontinued by Apple.
  • Its current replacement, the iPad Air, is a much more capable device.  (You can see the current iPad options here).  The iPad Air sells for the same price we have always paid for the iPad 2.
  • With our focus on iPads, our current fleet of teacher and student computers are showing their age and approaching their practical end of life.
  • Reasonable alternatives to the iPad as a learning device have become much higher in quality and are more affordable (Chromebooks, in particular).  
  • Many (but certainly not all) students carry a personal device which replicates much of the functionality provided by the iPad.
While these are practical and important issues for administrators and technology managers, they should NOT be the driving force behind our future goals and implementation plans.  As always, we need to base our decisions on student learning and outcomes.  While we must live with certain financial realities, within those parameters our goal is always to do what is best for our students and their learning.

This leads us to a necessary conversation.  Where do we go from here?  This conversation must involve high school teachers and students.  As technology managers and administrators, we can imagine several options, but we as managers do not do the teaching or the learning.

For your consideration, we can see several possible strategies for 2015-16:
  1. Continue with our current system of 1-1 iPads.  
  2. Adopt a different school-provided device (Chromebooks being the only reasonable alternative from a financial standpoint).
  3. Maintain the iPad program, but try to provide Chromebooks for certain departments or student checkout.
  4. Adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model and use our financial resources to help students who need it.
There are likely other options which we have simply not imagined, and of course technology changes very rapidly, so there may be alternatives available in the future which we cannot presently foresee. Each of these strategies has inherent advantages and disadvantages.  

We feel our school has done an excellent job in taking the first steps in providing quality 21st century learning opportunities for our students.  However, we will never "arrive" and we must constantly strive to grow and improve.  

In the months ahead, please take the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about these issues with your colleagues and fellow students.  Any and all feedback you can provide to us is desired and appreciated!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Updating your iPad to iOS 8

Make sure you have a recent backup of your iPad before you update!

The easiest way to update your iPad is to simply install the update "over the air".  Here are instructions for how to update wirelessly.  You must have 5.1 GB of space available on your iPad, or this will not work.

Here is a video tutorial which shows how to update your iPad via wireless.

To see how much space you have on your iPad, tap Settings > General > About.  On this screen you can see how much storage space is available.

If you don't have 5.1 GB available, you can still update over the air if you delete some things.  To see what each app is using, follow these instructions.

Please do not update wirelessly during the school day!  (after school is fine)

If you can't create enough room, you will need to connect your iPad to a computer which has the latest iTunes installed.  Check the "Update Your Device Using iTunes" of the previous instructions to see how to do this.

You may do this on a school computer in the library, please bring your usb sync cable or ask for one at the desk.

You can also do this at home, if you have a computer with iTunes available.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CMS School Service Projects

CMS Students in Ms. Sprimont's Yearbook class have been working hard to create CMS school-service videos.  These short videos are meant to inform and educate fellow CMS students and parents in all sorts of topics related to school life.

Topics so far include:

This talented group of kids will continue to build our CMS School-service library as the year goes on.  I'm sure they would appreciate any suggestions for topics you might have!

Look for new releases periodically on the school website and via social media and email updates.  You can always check out the Howmakers site where we have videos about all sorts of topics...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple Device Updates

Apple has announced many new updates recently, both for mobile devices (iPads and iPhones) and Mac computers.

iOS 8 was released with the new iPhone 6 several weeks ago, and version 8.1 (which should be much more stable) will be released on Monday, October 20.  To read more, check out this post from MacWorld and this one from Engaget.

If you have not yet updated your iPad or iPhone to iOS 8 here are some tips:

  • You need 5.8 GB of free space if you are planning to upgrade directly from the cloud (the regular system update method on your device).  If you don't have that much space, it will probably be easier to connect your device to a computer and upgrade via iTunes.  You can get more information on how to update here.
  • If this is your school device and you don't have access to a computer with iTunes, you may not be able to update without clearing a lot of music, pictures and apps.  There is nothing wrong with sticking to iOS 7!  
  • Most of the school iPads are iPad 2 models with 16 GB of storage.  iOS 8 MAY make your iPad run slower.  I have talked to several students who have upgraded though, and they seem pretty satisfied.  For more information regarding the question of whether you should upgrade or not, check out this article.
  • If you haven't already updated your iPad, we recommend you wait until iOS 8.1 is released on Monday.
  • If you do update, you cannot easily go back!
  • Make sure you have a current backup of your device in iCloud before you upgrade!

If you have a mac computer, the new Yosemite OSX was released yesterday (October 16, 2014).  This is a free update available through the app store or your system update.  Early reviews are positive, but keep in mind it is EARLY!  You may want to wait a few weeks before you apply this update.

Here is an early review, and here is an article to help answer the question of if you want to upgrade right now.

As always, make sure you have your data saved in the cloud or backed up before you make any major system changes on any of your devices.

Have you updated your device(s) yet?  Do you have any advice or stories to share?  Feel free to comment below.

Monday, August 18, 2014

CCS Staff Technology Intro for 2014-15

Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) and Acceptable Use

  • As a public school employee, you are not allowed to make use of school resources for personal gain (political, financial, etc).  This includes the use of school-owned devices, networks, or accounts.  
  • Please complete RUA form (sent in email to you or use the link here).
  • Monitoring - All network activity is recorded.  While we don’t have the resources to actively monitor this activity, we do have the ability to follow the history of any device connected to the school network.  

Social Media Guidelines

  • Don’t share secrets.
  • Protect your own privacy.
  • Be honest.
  • Respect copyright laws.
  • Be the first person to admit your mistakes.
  • Think about the consequences.
  • Don’t neglect your day job.
  • Remember that quality matters.
  • Don’t vent online!


Please note that legally the district owns these accounts and all content generated by them!
  • is your Google domain account.  Use for all Google tools and email.
  • first.last is Active Directory account (PC and computer network login).
    • used for PowerSchool, PowerTeacher, and eBackpack.
    • must log on to a school PC to change password, or request through email or helpdesk.
  • You may certainly use personal accounts at school (following responsible use).

BYOD Program

  • 7 staff are participating in the 14-15 program.
  • We plan to provide this opportunity again next year.
  • Click here for details about the program.

Printing Policies and Publication of Use

Not counting paper, printing and copying costs the district over $40,000 per year.
  • Printers - $0.0065 per page
  • Copiers - BW = $0.01 per page  Color = $0.04 per page
  • Scanning = free
  • Personal printing/copying rates posted at each copier.
PaperCut client shows the $ amount you have printed/copied for the year based on the above rates.

Monthly report will be sent which includes 10 highest users.

  • Use eBackpack and Google drive to avoid student printing
  • Use email or twitter for student notifications
  • Create a class blog or site 
  • Use scan to email to send copies to others
  • Make "going paperless" a class or personal goal

Student Information and Privacy

  • Do not release or expose personally identifiable student information to the public without permission from parents and administrators.

Resources for staff and students

  • School website 
  • School Facebook page
  • Twitter - #CozadMakers #Cozad21
  • Tech Cafe Blog - News and updates related to technology at CCS.
  • HowMakers website - How-to videos and posts for managing and integrating technology.
  • Help Desk - System for submitting technology assistance requests.
  • STaR assistants - Paraprofessional workers in libraries can provide student and staff assistance for basic tech and research questions.
  • Google search, YouTube, etc.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cozad Schools Staff Summer Share

Announcing the first annual Cozad Community Schools Summer Share!

Over the summer, many of you attended some really excellent conferences, visited other schools, or perhaps took some interesting classes or even a great vacation.  We'd like to create a chance for everyone to share some of their experiences and what they learned!

If you are interested in sharing or just hearing what other staff have done this summer, please join us at 9 AM on Wednesday, August 6th in the high school library.  Sharing is strictly voluntary and will be very informal.  We will turn over the projector to you for 5 to 15 minutes and you can show us something you learned!

If you'd rather just see what others have to share, that's fine too, we'd love to have you!  The only goal is to get together, have some conversations, and have some fun.  We are a very talented and dedicated staff and we have a lot to offer each other.

If you would like to attend or are willing to share, please complete this very short, voluntary, non-binding form so we can have an idea of what to plan for.

We would especially like to invite those who attended conferences or visited other schools to share what they learned.  If you will be sharing on the Community Learning Day on the 15th, this would be a great time to run your thoughts and ideas past a group of supportive educators.

All staff are welcome!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Great Plains Google Summit 2014

Our final Professional Development conference of the summer is quickly approaching.  We have 17 staff registered to attend the Great Plains Summit featuring Google for Education, held at Lincoln Southwest High School in Lincoln, NE.  The conference dates are Thursday and Friday, July 17-18, 2014.   Those attending the conference are:

Tech Team

Karen Berreckman
Keely Reinert
Kyle Vincent
Marcie Kostrunek
Patty Wolfe
Dave Evertson

English Department

Beth Carver
Logan Morris
Jann Kloepping
Joy Sprimont

High School

Nick Auwerda
Alisa Favinger
Dustin Favinger
Chris Weddel


Bill Beckenhauer
Jill Beckenhauer
Cory Spotanski

Travel Information

School transportation will depart from the West parking lot of the high school at 6 PM on Wednesday, July 16.  

School vehicles will depart for Cozad immediately following the last session of the conference on Friday, July 18.  ETA for arrival back in Cozad is between 7 & 8 PM.

Information for Attendees

ALL attendees, please complete this form by Thursday, July 10!

Holiday Inn, Downtown in the Lincoln Haymarket

We will plan to eat as a group on Wednesday evening after hotel check-in.  Each attendee will receive a stipend for three evening meals (W, Th, F).  Breakfast and lunch are provided at the conference.

Please dress professionally for both conference days.

Conference Schedule & Map
They have not released the final schedule, but they have provided a sneak peek.

Here is the schedule from last year, which will give you a good idea of how it works.

There is a stadium reception at Memorial Stadium with a meal provided for $10 if you are interested.  Details are here, click on "Stadium Reception" and follow the red link if you would like to order tickets.

What to bring:
While the iPad is great for notes, some google apps work best on a computer.  You may want to bring your laptop instead of your iPad, but you don't have to.


We ask that each attendee post a reflection or summary of their conference experience here as a way to share thoughts and resources with others.  Please have this done by Friday, May 2nd.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PowerSchool EOY, Summer, and SOY Procedures

I will perform the EOY process the week of July 7-11.  Please do not plan on major work in PowerSchool for that week.  

I need to know all retentions BEFORE EOY please!

After EOY, all students will be in their correct 2014-15 grade level and the HS and MS schedules will be finalized.  Elementary scheduling can be done any time after EOY, but I still need to know the retentions before EOY.

If enrolling new students during the summer, please use 8/1/2014 as the school enrollment date and the 2014-15 grade level.  Course enrollment dates will be the first day the class meets, which is determined by the course set up during scheduling.  You will only need to enter that date if you are enrolling a student in specific classes.

If you enroll a student for 2014-15 during the summer using 8/1/14 as the enrollment date, they will be pre-registered and will not be active in the system until 8/1.  If you need to find the student you will need to use the "/" character.

Please DO NOT transfer students out during the summer unless they left BEFORE the end of the 2013-14 school year.  Even if you know a student will not be back, they need to be transferred out AFTER the EOY process is run and the school year starts, unless they are actually attending another school in the summer.  Summer transfer dates mess up state reporting.

Click here If you want to look ahead to the tasks that will need to be done in August before school starts.

I will update this post as needed, you may want to bookmark it in your browser.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ISTE 2014

Updated Itinerary

Flight info:
Depart: +June 27( +Friday)
LV: Denver at 11:10A ARR: Atlanta at 4:05P (non stop)

Return: +July 2 ( +Wednesday)
LV: Atlanta at 9:35A ARR: Denver at 10:55A

Friday, June 27:
  • Depart from West HS parking lot (2 vans) no later than 4:45 AM.
  • Rest stop at Big Springs at truck stop.
  • Arrive Denver airport approximately 9 AM MDT.
  • Arrive Atlanta 4:05 PM EDT
  • Check in to hotel, attend conference registration (closes at 6 PM), return to hotel for manager social, group meal TBD.
  • If you haven't already, please sign up for a workshop for Saturday morning or afternoon (or all day).  Technology will pay the workshop fees.
  • Please take notes, pictures, etc. and be prepared to share your workshop & conference experiences and resources with other staff when we return!
  • Breakfast 6 AM - 8 AM  provided by the hotel.  We don't set a time, but usually we all see each other at breakfast.  Great time to coordinate and plan the day
  • Most sessions end at 5:15, though there are evening sessions for some SIGs as well.  We will meet at the manager's social for cocktails and snacks.  This is when we'll plan our evening activities.

Sunday - Tuesday:
  • Breakfast 6 AM - 7:30 AM  This is a good time to coordinate with your grade/building level cohorts in terms of the sessions you plan to attend.
  • Meet at the manager's social to relax, reflect, and enjoy the group camaraderie.  We will plan our evening activities at this time.
  • We'll arrange group transportation to the airport.  We'll need to leave the hotel by 7:30 AM, so take advantage of the hotel breakfast and be packed and ready by this time.
  • We'll arrive in Denver around 11 AM MDT (Noon, Cozad time).  We'll grab lunch somewhere on the way home, plan on being back in Cozad by 5 or 6 PM.
  • We ask that each attendee post a reflection or summary of their conference experience here as a way to share thoughts and resources with others.  Please have this done by Friday, July 11.  Links to other resources are welcome!

ISTE 2014 Conference Program

We are excited to have 15 staff members attending the ISTE conference in Atlanta!  Those attending the conference are:


  • Joel Applegate
  • Bill Beckenhauer
  • Cory Spotaski


  • Karen Berreckman
  • Anngie Love

Middle School

  • Barry Mraz
  • Patty Margritz

High School

  • Nick Auwerda
  • Alisa Favinger
  • Kyle Vincent
  • Dustin Favinger
  • Chris Tvrdy
  • Keely Reinert


  • Patty Wolfe
  • Dave Evertson

Information for Attendees

ISTE is a large conference and there will thousands of attendees from all across the world.  We will be staying at the Embassy Suites Atlanta - at Centennial Olympic Park.  Contact information is:

267 Marietta Street,  Atlanta,  Georgia,  30313,  USA
TEL: 1-404-223-2300
FAX: 1-404-223-0925


  • ALL attendees, please complete this contact & travel plans form by Friday, June 13th!

Departure & Return

  • We will depart at approximately 4:45 AM from the West parking lot of the High School on Friday, June 27.  We will be traveling as a group in two large school vans.  You may arrange your own travel to the Denver airport if you wish, but the district will not reimburse travel expenses.
  • We will return the day after the conference ends (flight departs Atlanta at 9:35 AM EDT) on Wednesday, July 2.  We should arrive back in Cozad by 5 or 6 PM.


  • All attendees will receive a $120 cash meal per Diem at departure time.  That probably won't cover all of your meals, so you may want to bring some extra cash.  No other meal expenses will be covered by the district.
  • For those traveling with the group in school vehicles, we will stop in Big Springs for a restroom break on the way to Denver.  You will be able to grab a bite for breakfast at this time.  
  • Embassy Suites provides a very good complimentary breakfast.  We usually try to gather in the commons for breakfast together.  Early risers (before 7 AM) generally get through the lines pretty quickly.  This is a full breakfast with a wide selection.  I try to eat a large breakfast and then skip lunch.  The food is very good.  Hint:  fill your coffee here for free, you will have to pay for coffee and other snacks in the conference center.
  • Lunch - There are many options available in the convention center or you may leave to find some place close for lunch.
  • At the end of the day Embassy Suites hosts a manager's social from 4 to 6 PM with complimentary hors d' oeuvres and cocktails.  Please join us in the common area for socializing!
  • Dinner - We will go to dinner together as a group each evening (optional).  All are welcome!  We will not be stopping for a formal dinner on the return trip, but will likely stop for gas some place where you can get a meal or snack.  


  • While you will see some people dressed in jeans and shorts at the conference, we ask that you dress professionally, as you would at school.  Please remember that you are representing our entire school district.
  • While the weather in Atlanta will likely be warm and muggy, it will be cool in the convention center, and sometimes downright cold!  You may want to carry a light jacket.
  • Evening activities are very casual, feel free to pack shorts and t-shirts.  You may also dress casually but tastefully for travel days.

Keynotes and sessions

  • Conference Schedule.  A map of the convention center will be included in your registration packet.
  • Saturday you will attend the workshop you signed up for, followed by the opening keynote at 5:45.  They keynote fills up fast so be early!
  • There is an optional keynote presentation on Monday morning at 9 AM.  The closing keynote is on Tuesday at 2:45.  We ask that everyone attend the closing keynote.
  • ISTE provides an on-line planner called My Favorites where you can save the sessions you are interested in and build your schedule.  
  • Please look over the session descriptions ahead of time and plan which you might like to attend.  This conference is large and can be overwhelming at first, so take the time ahead of time to look at the program and plan ahead!


  • The vendor expo is huge and you can attend vendor sessions there as well.  This is also a good place to grab a snack or refreshment.  Many vendors give freebies and hold drawings for prizes.  Visiting the expo is well worth your time.


  •  You may bring your iPad, computer, phone or all three.  You will receive a bag during registration with the conference guide and many other flyers and goodies, but I usually carry a backpack.  Note that charging a device during the day is difficult, so you may want to leave your computer at home.
  • Some prefer paper and pen for notes.  If you are looking for good note-taking apps, I personally recommend Evernote, but there are many others.  Whatever your preference, you should plan on being able to take notes without a WiFi connection (so a google doc is probably not the best choice).
  • WiFi is available in the common area of the Embassy Suites but it is not provided in the rooms.  If you need WiFi in your room, you will have to pay for it.  WiFi is available in the conference center all day, but there are thousands of people connecting multiple devices, so don't plan on speedy internet!
  • Etiquette dictates that each person limit the number of devices they connect to the WiFi.  Please stick with just a single device on the WiFi network.


  • We ask that each attendee post a reflection or summary of their conference experience here as a way to share thoughts and resources with others.  Please have this done by Friday, July 11th.  
  • We expect all of our ISTE attendees to share their experiences and ideas with other staff through various channels.  This may include PLCs, staff meetings, or by helping to provide leadership through various staff groups and organizations.  
We look forward to spending an exciting and educational week together!

Friday, May 23, 2014

CCS Teacher Computer Preference

As we prepare the technology budget and plan for staff computer replacements in the coming school year, we'd like to have your input in terms of the computer you would most prefer to use for the next cycle of upgrades.

We feel we can offer 5 basic choices to you.  Please keep in mind that we are only in the planning stage and the budget may not allow for upgrading all teacher computers next year.

Option 1 would be to keep using a PC with Windows 7 installed.  This is what most teachers have had for the past few years.

Option 2 would be to upgrade to a new PC with Windows 8.  There is a learning curve going to Windows 8, but it is a more capable and modern OS than Windows 7.

Option 3 would be a basic Macbook Pro.  This would not be the retina-display version.  This would be the only option with an optical (DVD) drive.  Most laptops no longer come with this.

Option 4 would be a basic Macbook Air.  The Air is a thin, light laptop with about 8-10 hours of battery life.  It would be slightly less powerful than the Pro, but more mobile.  We would probably go with the 13 inch display version with 256 GB SSD.

Option 5 has not been finalized, but if we have enough interest I think we can get a staff BYOD program with reimbursement started.  I posted the original idea here.  There may be some modification of the upper limit (probably $1400).

Please take a minute to look these options over and complete this one-question survey to let us know your preferences.

Look for more information throughout the summer on the Tech Cafe blog at

Friday, May 16, 2014

CCS Summer Staff Development

The end of the school year is almost here and I am sure you are not thinking about professional development right now! However, I wanted to give you some dates and topics that I will be offering for technology professional development this summer. All sessions will be in the morning from 9 to 12 at the district office. I am hoping these sessions will be casual and be a sharing session. Information of the Summer PD schedule can be found at: In addition to the scheduled sessions, I am going to offer this summer "Tech On Demand". These will be scheduled times that I will be available over the summer in the High School Tech office and you can just drop in or schedule a "spot" to come see me and have me help you on whatever you are needing. It will be a relaxed time to set down together and work 1 on 1 or in a small group if you wish. The website will show the Tech on Demand available dates and times.

Here are the planned sessions and topics:
Mark Your Calendars!

June 10 - Getting Reacquainted with Your iPad
June 11 - iCreate (Using the iPad for creative student projects & app smashing)
June 18 - Production & Assessment
June 19 - iConnect, iCommunicate, iCollaborate
August 5 - Going Google (hopefully I will have more info by this time on Google Classrooms)
August 6 - Create a Google Classroom Website

Sessions for Summer 2014 will be from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the District Office.In addition to these sessions, I will be offering "Tech on Demand".

Please visit my Summer PD Website for more information. The website will be updated throughout the summer. (

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What is your #digcit SPF?

We all love summer--the relaxing times at the lake, at the pool, camping, playing ball, and socializing. We all know we must protect ourselves from the sun's rays. Just as we protect ourselves from the sun, we need to protect our online presence. Summer is a great time to examine your online digital presence and take the time to protect it and clean it up! May's CHS STOPiT class focuses on examining our online selfies, hashtags, photos, and posts and taking the time for some "digital dusting"!

Even though this information was designed for our STOPiT class, all CHS students should take the time this summer to organize and clean up your digital presence so you will be ready to start off the new school year with a POSITIVE social media identity.


This presentation was used for May STOPiT. The original presentation was created by Mrs. Heather Callihan, GINW Tech Integration, for a presentation for York Middle School.

Monday, May 5, 2014

NETA 2014 Staff Reflections

Cozad Community Schools Staff Reflections - NETA 2014

Cozad Community Schools has been fortunate over the past several years in that we've been able to send multiple staff to several professional conferences, including NETA and ISTE.  I cannot overstate the positive effect this has had on our staff and our school.  Twitter and Facebook are great tools, but if you want your staff to truly get connected and inspired, they need to see other educators and what they are doing in person.  They also need a chance to visit, and especially a chance to reflect.

We sent a record number of staff (18) to NETA this year.  The sub list was stretched the breaking point and we really appreciate the support of our administrators in allowing this to happen!  We asked the staff to take a few minutes to reflect on their experiences the week after the conference.  The result was a remarkable document which clearly illustrates the power of collaboration and reflection.  We tend to forget that most of our teachers WANT to be excited and revitalized, and that they can be easily inspired by others.

I was planning to post something with just excerpts, but the google document has so many great ideas and observations that we decided to just present the entire document as our teachers created it.  Please feel free to share or comment!  We did check with the participants first to make sure it was alright with them for us to share with the public using their names.  These teachers range from early elementary to high school.  Several of them presented at NETA as well.

I would especially encourage you to share this document with your administrators as an example of the return a district can receive on the investment of sending staff to professional conferences.  With a group this large, there was also the added benefit of socialization and conversation within our own staff.  What a great investment in our teachers and our students!

Make-up Date for Parent Take-home Meeting

Students grades 8-11, you will have ONE more chance to attend a parent meeting if you want to take your iPad home for the summer but were not able to get to one of our previous meetings.  If you miss this meeting, you will have to turn your iPad in at check-in and wait until August to get it back.  You will STILL have to attend a parent meeting in August to renew your take-home privileges if you want to be able to take your iPad home during the 2014-15 school year!

The make-up date for the FINAL parent meeting will be Wednesday, May 21, at 7 PM in the auditorium.  Both the student and a parent must attend, and you MUST bring your iPad.  You can get all of the details for the meeting and the summer take-home program here.

Make sure you tell your parent!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April STOPiT--Are you a Good Googler?

April STOPiT for CHS students will be held on Wednesday, April 9th, at 2:30 pm in Room 121. This month's theme is "Information Literacy".  Information Literacy is the set of skills students need to find, retrieve and analyze information. This month's STOPiT is focused around "Are you a Good Googler?"

Students will complete a project using SMORE ( to create an online flier to share googling tips with other students. CHS Students will be collaborating with GINW STOPiT students and share projects. The April STOPiT project assignment can be found at:

For more information visit our STOPiT website at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gradebook install fix for Mac users

When installing the PowerTeacher gradebook on a Mac, the install may fail with a message about the download being damaged and that it should be moved to the trash.  This is due to a setting in OSX that prevents downloads from anywhere other than the Apple Store from being installed.

Luckily the fix is very simple and has been provided by another school techie here:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Student Printing from Autocad LT in the Wellness Center DL Lab

If you need to print from Auto cad LT 2004 in the distance learning lab in the wellness center, please follow these instructions:

Choose File - Plot
To print directly to the HS library, choose Default Windows System Printer as the plotter.  Your plot will print in the HS library.  You should have your name on the plot.


To save your plot as a PDF file so you can print it later, upload it to ebackpack or google drive, or email it to your instructor, choose Adobe PDF as the plotter.

If the "Save file" dialog box does not pop up, click on the dialog in the system tray at the bottom of your screen...

In the left pane, choose computer, then your home drive.  Type a name for the file and choose save.

Now the PDF file can be accessed from any student computer and can be printed, saved to eBackpack or google drive, or it may be emailed to the instructor.

Friday, April 4, 2014

iPad Printing

When we updated the printers and printing program at CCS over the summer, a new feature that was available was printing from iPads.  Since one of our main goals was to use mobile devices to REDUCE printing, we did not enable or publicize this feature.

However, many of our students and staff have been clever enough to discover a "loophole" that was left in place to make it easier for Mac users to print, and this loophole has allowed some people to print from their iPads.  My observation is that people who have been printing from their iPads have been pretty responsible and it has not been a large volume, and I actually commend those of you who figured out how to do it.

While it is convenient to be able to print from your mobile device, as a 1-1 district we rely entirely too much on printing and we must all work together to reduce this expense.  While our "loophole" is still open, it will be shut in a few weeks, and we will continue to work with everyone in helping them to find alternatives to paper printouts.  We also do not officially support printing from iPads (unless you get specific permission from your building principal).

We know that you will still have printing needs, we just want to encourage everything to think of and use alternatives when possible. Here are some suggestions which will help avoid printing, or if you must have a printout, to make it easier for the student:

  1. Use eBackpack for assignment submission and grade the work online.  You can actually mark assignments on your computer or iPad and turn them back to the student without ever printing.
  2. Have the students save their documents in google drive and share them with you.  You can easily add comments to google docs.  You could even create a folder in your google drive and share it with students so they can save their work to this location.  This can get complicated since you have many students and classes, which is really why we pay for eBackpack to automate this.
  3. Ask the student to email the work to you (the teacher) and print it for them if you must have a printout.
  4. Students can log into a computer in the lab or library and open files from either eBackpack or google drive and print from the computer.

If we could all cut our printing in half, we would save the district nearly $20,000 per year, and would be helping the environment at the same time!

Thanks for your cooperation!

Mr. E

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Graduating Seniors - iPad Announcement

CHS graduating seniors:

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!  As your final year at CHS comes to a close, you will soon have to part with your iPad.  We want to remind you that you will not be allowed to check out unless you turn in your iPad, and that it must be in good condition.  All buttons and ports should work, the screen must not be cracked or broken, and there should be no major defects to the aluminum body.  In addition, you must return your charger and your case/cover.  We understand that these will be worn.

If you have NOT had a repair this year, we will repair your iPad for you.  If you have already used your repair, we will get it repaired for you, but YOU are responsible for the cost and you will not be checked out or released from school until you have paid for that repair.

In either case, it is to your advantage to have your iPad repaired or at least the damage reported to us BEFORE May 1st.

So, if you iPad needs to be repaired, PLEASE let us know by May 1st!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Welcome to the Haymaker Tech Cafe!

This is the place for student, staff and parent tech announcements and information.  Check our posts for the latest news regarding all things tech, including iPads, school computers, network and account updates, and anything else related to technology use in our schools.