typography

Google Font Pairings

Comic Sans is probably used more heavily in the field of education than anywhere else. I consider this a problem.

What’s wrong with Comic Sans?

There are two camps – those who use Comic Sans regularly and those who disdain it. I fall into the latter camp. I do understand, however, that like “The Big Bang Theory” there are people who will absolutely love that which I will never understand – and that’s ok.

Instead of trying to convince anyone that Comic Sans is terrible, I’d rather simply offer some other options for teachers to consider using. All of these fonts are free to download from google.com/fonts

Alternative Font Pairings

font pairings

 

What’s your favorite?

Do you have a favorite font or font pairing (besides Comic Sans)? Share it in the comments section below.

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wordpress_codeanywhere

WordPress with CodeAnywhere.com

It used to be a real pain to teach students WordPress development, but that is changing.

CodeAnywhere.com

CodeAnywhere.com has completely changed the way I teach HTML and CSS. My students have access to a professional grade, syntax highlighting text editor that is available to them anywhere there’s an internet connection. Their projects are available to view online, not just locally in a browser, and perhaps best of all, CodeAnywhere.com is free and authenticates with Google Accounts. It’s really the perfect tool for students and teachers.

WordPress

WordPress is relatively easy to set up if you’re an experienced “computer person” and have administrative access to your personal computer, but in the context of a school environment (with the heavy IT restrictions that come with that territory), WordPress is almost impossible to set up for yourself let alone for an entire class of students. PortablApps.com provides a solution, but invariably students lose or forget their flashdrives and then can’t really work on their project for an entire class – not to mention local development lacks the pinache  of the real live internet. Recently, CodeAnywhere introduced DevBoxes, and my life changed.

DevBox

A DevBox is essentially a virtual computer that you can set up to run a web application – like WordPress. There are a variety of development environments from which you can choose (most of which I don’t really understand), but among those options includes PHP CentOS – a stack that includes everything you need to run WordPress. View the slide deck below for step by step directions to set up WordPress in CodeAnywhere.

Installation

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wikispaces

Wiki Spaces

In this post, I’d like to feature guest poster, and 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Gina Kupfer.

Learning Object

Mrs. Kupfer has created a fantastic “learning object” that demonstrates how a wiki can be used for instructional purposes with students as young as 1st grade. The downloadable PDF below demonstrates step-by-step how to set up a class-wiki using wikispaces.com. The PDF also provides an instructional sample for a science unit on life cycles.

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powerschool

SQL and PowerSchool

As a “back-end” PowerSchool guy or gal, you may occasionally be asked to pull out data for which there is no pre-built report. In most cases this is possible, but it’s also usually really complicated. The purpose of this post is to (hopefully) provide you with some direction when you are “voluntold” to do undertake such a task.

Data Dictionaries

Chances are you’re somewhat familiar with PowerSchool’s Data Dictionary. The Data Dictionary is a massive PDF reference that defines each table and field in PowerSchool – except for the ones in Gradebook. After spending an hour and a half on the line with support one time, we discovered together that their exists a completely separate Data Dictionary just for the Gradebook. It’s called the PowerSchool Gradebook Data Dictionary. So, if you’re tasked with pulling out all of the standards based grades for a single assignment that can be parsed by school, standard, and teacher like I was, you’re going to want to look there to figure out how all of the tables tie together

High Level Concept

What you’ll find is that there exist many tables, and each table is connected to another by a common column. For example, the WhoCreated column in the psm_assignmentstandardscore table contains the same values as the id column in the psm_teacher table. By using the tool SQL Developer (by Oracle), we can connect directly to our database and write custom queries in a language called SQL to output the data in a manner that is useful. When we query data from multiple tables, we have to choose one table FROM where we are going to conduct our search and then “JOIN” the other tables to the first to eventually generate a new spreadsheet that contains the data that we actually want. Sometimes we need to join one table, to another, to another, TO ANOTHER! to get what we are looking for.

Basically, you are going to find that all of the data you want in your output is divided among many tables, and you are going to have to reference the Data Dictionary to figure out how all of the tables connect.

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snaggy

Snag.gy Demo

Snaggy makes using the print screen key easier than any other tool I’ve ever seen. This video demonstrates how it works.

printscreen

Print Screen

The print screen key is one of the lesser known keys on the keyboard. Mac users actually don’t have one, but its functionality exists with the key combination Command + Shift + 4. So what does it mean to print your screen? Basically, when you press the print screen key, you take a snapshot of everything that is on your computer monitor and that image is saved to your clipboard – ready to be pasted. This is especially useful when you’re presented with an error message that you don’t know what to do with. Support professionals are far more likely to accurately diagnose a problem, when they can actually see what the problem is.

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