Tech Tip Tuesday: Free Text to Speech w/ NaturalReader


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


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.


  • 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

Tech Tip Tuesday: End of Year Schoology Tips


Since we are getting close to the end of the year, I thought it would be fitting to remix an old post of best practices, tips, and tricks for ending your Schoology course and getting ready for the summer.

Now’s the time to begin taking a moment to make sure you have all of your Schoology materials/courses in order for the end of the year. Here are a few tips to consider to help make a smooth transition through the summer and into next year.

  1. Create and use folders: The method is simple- create a folder for every unit you teach, then within that folder consider using other folders to organize daily/weekly lesson, types of assignments, or self-paced activities. This is easier for students to manage, and makes it easier for you to save everything to your personal resources (to be discussed next). Pro Tip! Go to your personal resources (click resources –> personal –> then ADD new folder) Title the folder the name of your courses. This will help with step #2.
  2. Save all of your material/content to your resources: This is imperative! If you followed tip #1, this step becomes a cinch. Go into each of your courses, then next to the folder/material you want to save, click on the little gear icon to the right of it, then select SAVE TO RESOURCES from the drop-down menu. A pop-up window will appear. You can select a collection from the drop-down at the top (I recommend leaving this with HOME) and then underneath designate a folder to organize it to (select the course folder you just created if you followed the pro tip above). Do this with everything. This saves everything in case your courses get deleted. PLUS- next year you can just go to your personal resources, select the course folder, then copy entire folders/individual assignments over to your new courses! Even quiz questions stay.
  3. Check out this document/Schoology Help with more tips to end the year right!
  4. Update: Convert your Schoology tests and quizzes to Schoology Assessments: The long-term plan for Schoology is to phase out tests and quizzes and only utilize the new assessments feature. This could happen this following school year. With that, its important for you to consider converting. You can convert any test/quiz in your Schoology Resources to an assessment by using the test/quiz conversion tool. Converting a test/quiz to an assessment creates an assessment in a specified destination. The newly created assessment is a copy of the original test/quiz with the following information:
    • Instructions
    • Test-level settings
    • Question stimulus and responses
    • Embedded images and rich text content
    • Question-level settings
    • Text blocks
    • Question order
    • Rubrics (on Short Answer/Essay questions)
    • Aligned learning objectives

If your test or quiz is a current material and NOT in your Schoology resources, don’t fret. You can convert by doing the following: Locate the test/quiz in your Resources and perform the following steps:

  1. Click the gear icon to the right of the desired test/quiz.
  2. Select Convert to Assessment from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose a destination collection and/or folder for the assessment in your Resources.
  4. Click Convert.
  5. For larger tests, you can view progress in Transfer History.
  6. Click the title of the assessment from your Transfer History area to navigate to the new assessment template in the chosen Resources collection and folder.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Schedule an Email to Send Later


Ever want to write emails and have them send at a later date or time? Boomerang is a great Chrome extension that lets you do just that. However, you are limited to the amount of times you can use it, unless you want to pay for the premium. Recently, however, Google has decided to update Gmail ever so slightly, as to build-in its own “schedule send” option.

To do this, simply compose a Gmail message you normally would. At the bottom of the message window is a dropdown arrow next to “send”. See image below:

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 7.48.50 AM

Click that –> then “Schedule send”. A box will pop up where you can choose a date/time. To customize, click “Pick Date & Time” –> set when you want it to send (there is a minimum of 5 minutes out), then schedule it. When that time arrives, the email will be automatically sent out to your recipients.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Restore Your Accidentally Closed Browser


Have you ever accidentally closed a tab or worse yet… your entire Chrome browser, only to realize that you need all of the resources you had open? I’ve been there, and this is a tough pill to swallow. But what if it wasn’t? What if there was an easy way to restore ALL of your closed tabs in one click?

Very simply… on Chrome, click on the “more options” button (usually denoted by 3 circles stacked like a snowman). From here click “history”. Underneath should be a listing of all recent tabs/websites you have visited prefaced by an option that says ” restore x tabs”. This will allow you to bring ALL of your closed tabs back in one simple click. If you just want to bring back your most recent closed tab you can also open a blank tab –> right-click on it –> then select “reopen closed tab”. This will automatically open the last one that was closed.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Don’t Forget to Mark Complete in MLP


This is a repost

I’ve been asked for a reminder about what to do once a form has been pre-approved in MyLearningPlan. Regardless of what form you submitted (Field Trip, Professional Leave, PLC, Quarterly Assessment, SGO, etc) once your prior approvals are complete, the form will make its way back to you, before it can be final approved and award credit. The reason for this is so you can upload and attach any necessary documentation, certificates, etc. Here is what you will need to do:

  1. Click on the LearningPlan tab at the top right of the screen in MLP.
  2. Locate the form you submitted.
  3. Click on the blue MANAGE button directly to the left of the form.
  4. In the window that opens, click on MARK COMPLETE
  5. The form will open. Note: This is when you will attach any documents you need to. If this is for SGO/Quarterly then you can skip attaching anything.
  6. Scroll to the bottom and click SUBMIT.

That’s it! The form will make its way over to Maddy and I for approval and you will be awarded credit (if applicable) shortly after.

Quick Tip: To attach files to a form, first you need to click on your FILE LIBRARY. From there click UPLOAD, and find and open the file from your hard drive. It will save it in here. When you go to mark a form complete, there is a “files” section that will list all files in your file library. Check off the box next to the forms you want to attach and then proceed to submit.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Google Jamboard as a Digital Whiteboard


If you haven’t played around with the Google Jamboard, you are missing out. Not only is it a physical board found in the model classrooms, but it is also a free digital whiteboard that you can access from your Google apps in your own classroom at any time WITHOUT the need for the physical board! Even cooler? Students can use their personal devices (cellphones if they download the app) and their Macbook Airs to collaborate with you on it.

What can you do with it:

  • Brainstorm notes or create a classroom mind-map of something they are studying with you as the COO (Chief Operations Officer) at the helm, guiding it all.
  • Using phones, you can drop in files from individual Google Drive accounts into the “jam”.
  • Have groups collaborate and share individual slides/pages within the “jam”.
  • Map out essays, historical battles, drop in images/maps/emojis, etc.

To access the Jamboard app, simply open your Google Rubik’s cube (located in top right corner of your Google search window) –> click it and find the Jamboard app (“J” logo, you may need to scroll down the list a bit to find it) –> click to open –> Then just click the orange “+” sign in the bottom right corner to start a new “jam” –> then share it as you would any Google file.

Need some PD hours and want to learn more about the Jamboard app/physical board? Check out this blended learning style PD module here!

Hope this helps!