Welcome to The Pirate D.L. Blog! We hope you find a lot of great resources for digital learning that you can use in your classroom.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Take a Brain Break

Take a Brain Break

Image result for brain breaks

Go Noodle is a great free tool that has tons of appropriate music videos with coordination activities for your students. From yoga to The Sid Shuffle, these short videos will help students take their mind off testing and get the wiggles out!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


This week we are sharing a wonderful new web tool that allows you to create standards based formative assessments with instant access to mastery grading.

To get started, go to: https://www.edulastic.com/

Click on the "Join for Free" button and you can create a free teacher account by linking your Google account.

Once you have created your account and entered your school information, create your classes. Edulastic allows you to import student rosters from Google Classroom.

On the left side of the screen, you can see the menu to create an assessment, visit the assessment library, view student reports, or manage classes.

Edulastic has a fantastic library of assessments already made and tied to standards.

In this example, I searched for "fractions" in the assessment library. I can search assessments by grade level, topic, or standards. You can click on an assessment in the library to preview it or assign it to a class.

Here is an example of what an assessment question looks like.

When you give an assessment in Edulastic, you have several options for dates, scoring, and mastery thresholds. This is an exciting feature for our teachers who are using standards based grading!

Under the reports section, Edulastic will track which standards you have assessed and mastery by standard.

I hope you explore Edulastic with your students!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wrapping Up 2016-17!

This week, we are sharing strategies for wrapping up your Google Classroom for the year.

Clean Up Your Google Drive

Google Classroom creates a "Classroom" folder in your Google Drive. In the folder is a sub-folder for each class you have created. You can move the folders and I recommend making a new favorites folder and moving any favorite assignments or project examples to this folder. It will make it easy to add assignments or handouts next year to your new classes.

Another good idea is to create a 2016-2017 sub-folder in your "Classroom" folder and move all your current courses into the folder. This will make it clean and ready to go for next year.

Archive 2016-2017 Classes

Google has an archive tool to save your completed classes and remove them from your home screen. Note that you cannot add new assignments and students can no longer turn in assignments once a class is archived.

To archive a class, login to Google Classroom and click on the three dots next to the class you wish to archive.

To see a list of your archived classes, click on the  button and scroll to the bottom, then click on "archived classes".

Start Planning Ahead

It is not too early to go ahead and create your new classes for next year. I recommend creating new classes each semester or year, depending on how often you get new students.  Google Classroom has the ability to save assignments and announcements as drafts and reuse assignments, you can use this time to pre-populate your classes as well as add your syllabus and resource documents.

Don't forget that you can now schedule posts to appear for your students on the first day of 2017-2018!

Also, use Google Takeout to backup your Google Drive! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Google Password Change

It is a good practice to frequently change your password in your google account.  Here are the steps to change your password:

Step 1: From your Gmail account - access your “My Account” settings.myaccount.png

Step 2: Once in your settings click on Personal Info and privacy to find these settings:

Step 3: Using the Personal Info section find your password and sign in method, it will tell you when you last changed your password.

Step 4: Once you click on your password area - you will be prompted to verify your current password and then select a new password as shown. Click “Change Password” to save.


Monday, April 17, 2017


Image result for newsela logo

Newsela now allows you to import your classes from Google Classroom. This allows you to get started using Newsela quickly with your students.

To get started, go to: https://newsela.com/

Login or Sign-Up with your Google Account

Click on your name in the top right corner of the page and click on the "Classes" tab:

Click on the "Import Google Classroom" button.

You will need to authorize Newsela to have access to your Google Classroom account. I had to close and refresh the page to see my classes.

Check the box(es) next to the class(es) you wish to import:

Your students will now have their own accounts created and added to your classes. You can immediately assign them articles and text sets!

I hope this new feature saves you time and helps you use Newsela more effectively with your students!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Capitalization in Google Docs

Capitalizing a large portion of text or an especially long title can be a pain. Doing the opposite—converting capital letters to lowercase—is equally a waste of time.

Simply choose “Capitalization” from the Format menu in Docs, and select one of the following:

lowercase, to make all the letters in your selection lowercase.
UPPERCASE, to capitalize all the letters in your selection.
Title Case, to capitalize the first letter of each word in your selection.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Volume Control on Desktops/Laptops

Our clever students have figured out how to change the name and settings on the PC/Laptop Volume Controls task bar button.  We have had to make adjustments to the tool rights or policies.  The icon on the task bar will no longer work.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Microsoft HOME Agreement

As a Johnston County Schools employee, you can now buy both the Macintosh home version AND the Windows home version.  You no longer need a code to verify your employment you will only need to use your JCS email account!  Still the low price of $9.95 each.

Here is the link to take advantage of this change: https://www.microsofthup.com/hupus/home.aspx

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Canvas Live Webinar Training

For a limited time, Canvas has made Live Webinar Training available to Johnston County Staff. This training, which is normally a service that they charge for, is available from February 14th to May 14 so make sure to take advantage of it while you can!

There are a variety of topics to learn, ranging from beginner to advanced, so there is something for everyone. 

NOTE: This training is intended for teachers who are interested in learning more about Canvas. This is not training for students. 

Click here for instructions on how to create an account and sign up for trainings.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Students Tab (NCEdCloud)

We have reports of teachers no longer having the My Students Tab in the state NCEdCloud Portal.  We have not been able to determine the issue with NCEdCloud staff but we do know relates to flagging staff with specific job codes.  We have verified with a few of the teachers who no longer have the My Students Tab that they do have the correct job code.  The NCEdCloud support staff have advised the teachers missing the My Student Tab to request the My Students for Non-teachers role to reinstate access to change student passwords. 

The “My Students for Non-teachers” exception role in the IAM Service can optionally be requested by teachers and staff that don't have one of the specific jobs the system flags (or system issues not recognizing correct codes) but do have students assigned to them. When granted, this role allows teachers and staff who are teaching classes but do not fall within the previous job codes, to see their assigned students via the "My Students for Non-teachers" tab in the IAM service.  This role must be requested each school year, as it will expire on June 30th of the school year in which it is granted.
To request this role, the teacher would do the following after logging into my.ncedcloud.org:
Workflow tab -> Requests -> Check "My Students for non-Teachers" box -> click "Submit Request" button
The request would then go to a JCS employee with the LEA Administrator role for Approval. NOTE:  Requests for LEA Student Help Desk will not be approved so be sure they are requesting the "My Students for non-Teachers"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SchoolNet Resource Center

Mrs. Pam Batchelor, JCS Instructional Technology Facilitator Specialist, has created three very informative videos on the new Student Accommodation feature for SchoolNet! Check it out by visiting: http://jcsschoolnet.weebly.com/student-accommodations.html