Tech Tip Tuesday: Calm App for Mindfulness and Wellness

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If you haven’t checked out Calm App, it is worth pursuing. Calm is an app for your iPhone or Android device that helps with sleep, relaxation, and meditation but you can also use it on your computer through the browser version. It is free to use (although there is a paid premium version with more themes and options), and includes a variety of features such as a 10-minute meditation called, ‘The Daily Calm”. Their library of themes come set with music, images, and other features. It’s a simple program with guided exercises so even a novice meditator (such as myself) can make it through a sitting.

They are currently partnering with schools to offer the premium version of the app for free for educators and/or students but are currently revamping the program. Once it gets updated I will be sure to let you know!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Free Text to Speech w/ NaturalReader

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We are always looking for tools to help our ESL/ELL/special needs population and this free tool can help bridge the gap for them but can also be used by anyone needing voice-to-text features

NaturalReader is a text-to-speech program that coverts written text into spoken words. What is great, is unlike most other tools of this nature, it uses natural sounding voices and can read both ONLINE and OFFLINE files. This app can be used in the web browser, or by adding the Chrome Extension here.  Natural reader can read Google Docs, webpages, PDF’s, email, and Microsoft Word.

All students, regardless of just ESL/ELL/Special Needs, can benefit from an app like this. Listening to books and other texts as they read can be powerful for students and can help them process what they are reading while making sense of unfamiliar words. Students who are hesitant to read their own writing aloud, could also use this tool coupled with Google Docs, to hear their writing read back to them in a natural voice.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Welcome Back and Frontline PD Procedures

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And we are off on another school year. With that, I wanted to start the year by getting the logistics and housekeeping out of the way.

First…

  • Registering for PD Workshops – In order to see what workshops are available you need to access the activity list in Frontline PD. Click on Activity Catalogs –> then click District Catalog –> and search the list for something you want to register for. Once you see it click on it –> then click Sign Up Now to register.
  • Submitting Forms and Marking Complete– This one is extremely important. When working with forms, after it has been approved, the form will make its way back to you. This means that you are able to attend the event. If the form has been denied or an approver has requested “more information” you should seen an asterisk next to your form and it will be back at your level to read and make the necessary changes.
    • Once the date of the event on your form passes, you will be able to “mark complete” your form and submit for final approval. IMPORTANT: You need to make sure that you upload and attach any and all forms to your file library BEFORE you mark it complete.  To do this: access your file library by clicking “My Info” –> then clicking My File Library –> then uploading any files (these can be certificates for Out of District PD, or receipts and transcripts for Tuition Reimbursement.
    • To mark complete, simply click the “Manage” button next to the form –> then click Mark Complete –> scroll down the form to the FILES section and checkmark any files you want to attach (the form will find everything added to your file library –> then scroll to bottom to submit.
  • The PD Proposal Form- This form is only used if you want to lead a professional development workshop for our district. When using this form, you need a title, description of the workshop, date, who can attend, and in the comment section leave a note saying whether you would like to take payment of professional development hours. (You get 2 prep hours for each 1 hour of the workshops. So a 1 hour PD workshop nets you 3 PD hours OR 3 hours of pay).
    • Please note: In the who can attend section of the form, do no click district. District does not mean everyone in the district can attend. Instead, it mean only people who work in BOTH buildings can attend. If you want to leave your workshop open for any and everyone, do not check off any boxes in this area.

Hope this helps!

~ Nick