Emailing Students & Parents in PowerSchool

PowerSchool now includes the ability to email students and/or parents through the gradebook. You can also copy their addresses to email separately through Outlook. A big thanks to Mr. Brinker and Ms. Warner for sharing this feature. The links below show how it works. Not all parents have an email in PowerSchool. All students should have one.

https://docs.powerschool.com/PTPH/20.11/grading/email-students-and-contacts

https://player.vimeo.com/video/463053739

Fix Backward Video

We’ve received reports that when recording video with the webcam or document camera, the footage is mirrored. This makes recording math or writing especially challenging.

The first step is to see if the program you record with has the ability to record it correctly from the start. If not, you can use Movie Maker to fix this, but it will take a few steps.

An easier option we’ve found is a tool called Free Video Flip and Rotate. This is a small program that is named very appropriately. You simply drag in a video, click one button to flip it, and save the result. If can flip and rotate in seven different directions to accommodate pretty much any scenario. When it finishes, you have a second copy of the video alongside the original.

It can save in the MP4 format that YouTube and other sites prefer. You can then open it in Movie Maker or another editor if you want to do further work on it.

Free Video Flip and Rotate is available in the Software Center. Here’s a short instruction sheet and a quick video demo.

Google Classroom Emails

Chrome Store LogoIf you use Google Classroom, then you may have noticed email sent to students by clicking the link within Classroom goes to the junk folder. This is because Google Classroom doesn’t follow proper email standards and opens its own message compose window. When this message is received by the student, it is flagged as spam since it claimed to be sent by our server but wasn’t.

We have a workaround for this in the form of two browser extensions. These extensions redirect the email request and open it in Outlook instead. This way the message will be recognized as legitimate and not sent to the junk folder.

You need to install the extension that corresponds to the version of Outlook you use. If you use the desktop app version of Outlook (preferable), you’ll want the extension called Gmail Link Fixer. If you use the web version of Outlook, you’ll want the Gmail-OWA extension. Both are available in the Chrome store and work on Firefox and possibly Edge as well.

The web version of Outlook doesn’t accept BCC addresses through the extension, so you’ll need to manually copy them from the To box into the BCC box. The desktop version doesn’t have this limitation.

Webcams and Microphone Issues

There have been a number of reports around microphones and sound in virtual meetings.

Teachers with desktop computers received a webcam on Saturday. These devices add a camera and microphone in one unit. The camera itself does not have any settings to configure. It is managed through the program you are using it with (Meet, Teams, Zoom, etc). In some cases, the program defaults to the computer’s external microphone input that usually has nothing plugged into it. In this case, you need to select the webcam microphone so that it can be used. Below are some guides for doing this in these programs.

Staff with laptops already have a camera and microphone built in. These are used the same way as the external device.

If you are able to use the microphone but it’s not working correctly, please open a helpdesk ticket so we can look at it. We will get to these as soon as we can.

If you need or want additional assistance, a member of the tech team would be happy to assist.

 

Links for common video tools:

Meet: https://support.google.com/meet/answer/9302964?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

Teams: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/manage-your-call-settings-in-teams-456cb611-3477-496f-b31a-6ab752a7595f

Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362283-Testing-computer-or-device-audio

 

 

AV System Checkups

As part of our summer work list, we’ve been checking on the AV systems in classrooms. We’ve identified a number of them in need of repair. We’ve ordered parts and hope to have them working by the start of school.

This includes the classroom microphones. We’ve found some at the middle school that weren’t working and they have all been checked out and tested. The high school doesn’t have microphones in most rooms, but we are hoping to get them yet.

Self-Service Password Reset

We are implementing the ability for staff to change and reset their passwords on your own. Changing your password is used when you know your password and want a different one. Resetting is used when you forget your password.

You can change your password by going to your account settings in the Office365 tools, or by using this link.

Before you can reset your password, you must register alternate contact information. This could be a cell phone number, non-school email, or app on your mobile device. Use this link to register your information.

If you forget your password after you register your alternate contact information, you can visit this link to reset it. You can also use the ‘can’t access your account’ link on the Office365 sign in page. It will ask you to confirm your identity through one of the methods you registered.

Tech Answers

We’ve been working on a new and improved tech knowledgebase, or KB. This is where we plan to post answers to common tech questions and provide documentation for various tasks.

There is information on everything from printing to wireless, and the collection will grow as we continue working on it.

You can access it here and it will be linked above.

Communicating With Your Class

Some staff have noticed the class email groups in Outlook, so I’d like to share more about them.

There is a live sync between PowerSchool and Office365. This results in groups being created for each section registered. These are automatically maintained with all students on your roster. The initial goal of these groups was to allow you to email all students in your class.

They can do that and more.

When you post to the group, all members can see it. This makes it a great tool for class discussions & announcements. Group members are ‘subscribed’ to the group by default, so they get emails when new posts are made. Each group has its own email address. Messages sent to it are visible in the group. There is also a shared calendar in each group. Outlook has a very good calendar feature that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Here’s an introduction to using these groups

These groups are also tied to Microsoft Teams. If you log in, you should see teams created for each of your classes already. Teams is notable right now for being a video meeting tool like Zoom (but with fewer privacy concerns). You can hold a virtual meeting with some (or all) of your class, share files, add websites, and collaboratively take notes with OneNote. We already subscribe to Teams, so it’s features wont go away after the closure like other services will. We are also using it more for staff meetings and such. There are good apps for all platforms as well.

Teams really excels at professional groups, like PLCs, departments, grade level teams, etc.

Teams quick start guide

OneNote is a great tool as well. A great use is taking notes on a touch screen device and sharing them live with your class. It can do much more if you dig into it.

Here’s a quick glimpse of OneNote in action 

As we are asking (hoping?) that students check their email more now, it should be noted that they can download the Outlook app on their phone as well as the full version of Office365, including Outlook, for free (staff can do this too).

Checking Your Voicemail Remotely

Here are the steps to access your voicemail from outside the school:

    1. Dial your number and wait for the greeting to play
    2. Press the * key during the greeting
    3. Enter your ID, which is your four-digit phone extension
    4. Enter your voicemail password

If you have trouble, or don’t remember your password, open a helpdesk ticket and we’ll reset it.

Adobe Changes

Adobe Warning MessageIf you use Adobe products other than Reader, you’ve likely seen notices about the license expiring at the end of February. Our subscription is still current, but changes in how Adobe licenses their products have necessitated a change on our end.

We have moved to ‘named user’ licensing. This means we have to provision an account for any person who will be using the programs. We have done this for all students and staff.

When first accessing an Adobe product (other than Reader), you will need to sign in to use it. It will remember you on that particular computer. You will need to sign in again for any new computers you use.