The Hour of Code is Coming - Join in December 8-14

Mobile and Beyond: McAllen ISD supports district-wide tech initiative, PD, and tech training needs

McAllen ISD, a district with 1,600 full-time employees, in McAllen, Texas, initially chose Atomic Learning to support their 1:1 iPad initiative (27,000 iPads deployed to every learner, K-12, plus staff). The district has since learned the importance of the Atomic Learning resources to not only support their mobile initiative, but to also expand the depth of technology training district-wide.

McAllen promotes using Atomic Learning in several ways, all of which are driving an increase in Atomic Learning usage in their district. One example of this is that during the last school year, McAllen scrapped their Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum and transitioned to only using Atomic Learning content. Another avenue is that parent usage is climbing after an Atomic Learning-led parent liaison group. One parent shared that he took Atomic Learning's training on apps like Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, printed the certificates of completion, took those with him to a job interview, and was hired. McAllen encourages teachers to go directly to Atomic Learning for their PD rather than going outside of the district, which is also increasing their usage.

McAllen now has new direction with a new Instructional Technology Director, Ann Vega. Here are Vega's goals for Atomic Learning within MISD for her first year, in order of importance.

  1. Get all administrators trained on Atomic Learning and get them comfortable assigning training to various groups (teachers, admin. assistants, para professionals, HR, parents, and others).
  2. Get all teachers trained in Atomic Learning, especially using Google Apps for education (which has a built-in LMS)
  3. Get all teachers assigning training/projects/assessments to their students
  4. Possibly custom-uploading videos and other resources to assign training to teachers, including new teacher training and other annual mandated compliance training for reporting, such as Blood Borne Pathogens.

Ann especially wants to create user groups so she can assign training, and track it. McAllen is having great success as they continue to integrate Atomic Learning into their district.

Want to get your district on track with teacher PD and training district-wide? Contact Atomic Learning today!

2014 Technology and Professional Development Survey Results Released #techpd14

From the abacus to the calculator, the chalkboard to SMARTBoards, technology has had an immense impact on education and how students learn. However, technology is only one piece of the puzzle. Bill Gates said it best: “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”

But how are teachers using technology? And how are teachers maintaining expertise in the areas of teaching and new technology?

Using Google Chrome Extensions - Guest Blog Post

Guest Blog Post by Maria Burnham, Library Media Specialist

You might be asking yourself, "What is an extension?"

Answer: an extension is a handy-dandy little tool that hangs out on the top of your Chrome browser (to the right of the URL bar), ready and waiting to help you be more efficient in your life.  

To find/obtain Chrome extensions, there are two places to look: 

Taking Time to Learn: Computer Learning Month

In the everyday hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to put off your own development...

October marks Computer Learning Month, an annual event focused on promoting responsible computing and digital citizenship, serving as a simple reminder to set aside time dedicated to learning something new.

Since the month is already quickly drawing to a close, we've compiled a short list of some of our favorite online resources to help you stop procrastinating and start learning:

  • Computer Literacy Basics Mac | PC
    Learn the basics about using your computer with topics ranging from double clicking with your mouse to setting up an email account, and even how to transfer photos from your camera to your hard drive.
  • An Overview of Learning Methodologies
    Join Dr. Billie McConnell as he takes a look at how we have traditionally approached education, and what new approaches we should take to prepare students to be life-long learners.
  • Creating Maker Lessons Training
    Explore the principles of the Maker Movement, and build a framework for creating "Maker Lessons" that combine our physical and digital worlds in this online training series.
  • Effective Listening Training
    This dynamic online training series explores listening vs. hearing, the listening process, and types and styles of listening, responding, questioning, and more that can be valuable in all areas of your life.
  • What's New in iOS 8
    This online training series will show you some of the new features in iOS 8, including Interactive Notifications, QuickType, Family Sharing, iCloud® Drive, Spotlight®, and more!

Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Learn more.

Educators Connect to Share Wisdom

We have almost concluded Connected Educator Month! Behind ISTE® this is one of my favorite events that the Ed Tech Community sponsors.  It’s at the perfect time of year…I’ve just about calmed down from the chaos of the back to school rush and I am ready to buckle down and start getting to the heart of moving education forward. 

As a classroom teacher, I always felt that October was the month when the real learning began.  Students have figured out how to manage the halls, adjust to the schedule, and where to sit, or not to sit depending on the distractions.  It’s that time when we have started the course and now the real learning has begun.  It’s during this time that I have determined what my students strengths and weaknesses are and I am ready to plunge into some new ideas and see where they take me and all those formative minds that I’m working with for the rest of the year. 

Using technology to connect with your peers is an exciting, yet also, overwhelming task! Do you feel like you couldn’t take it all in? I know the days passed quickly and I’m hoping to find some archived sessions at They also have a  starter kit, created by Powerful Learning Practice will at help you understand some common terms, and tips for things you can do each day to connect with educators just like you even after the Connected Educator month ends.

It’s never too late to become a Connected Educator and learn about ways to ‘connect’!

Vote to Support Technology-Neutral Lesson Plans for Project-Based Learning

Want help creating lesson plans for project-based learning that are technology-neutral?

Our friends at Connected Consulting partner with schools to create authentic, technology-rich learning environments where all learners are inspired, challenged, engaged, collaborate, and become innovative, self-directed learners. This includes planning and a blended approach to building capacity.

Want to help them fulfill their mission? Vote for this grant.

Images and attachments in GMail - Guest Blog Post

Guest Blog Post by Maria Burnham, Library Media Specialist

If you are sending a picture to someone via GMail, you have four options:

  1. Drag and drop the image file in to the text portion of the message.  This will embed the picture in to the e-mail message, allowing your recipient to view the image right in the email.  
  2. Click on the photo icon at the bottom of your message.  That is the "Insert Photo" option.  Selecting this will allowing you to select the photo file to embed in the text of the message from any pictures you've uploaded in Google (for your Profile pic, in Blogger, or from Google +).   Or you choose the "Upload" feature to select a file from your Hard Drive.  
  3. Drag and drop the image file over the bottom portion of the message where the "attachment paperclip" is on the message.  Your picture file will now upload as an other attachment would. (By the way, this feature works for ALL attachment files)
  4. Click on the paper clip for an attachment.  Selecting the paper clip will bring you to your computer's Hard Drive, allowing you to select the photo file to attach to the message.

Need more tips and tricks for GMail? Check out Atomic Learning's training here.

Maria Burnham is a passionate Library Media Specialist at one of our partner districts in Minnesota, Sauk Rapids-Rice. She shares her passion for technology in education with her peers in a weekly email highlighting tips and tricks to engage users in technology and Atomic Learning, which she cleverly named “Mondays with Maria.” That weekly email is where this guest blog post came from. We will continue to post Maria’s inspiration from time to time, feel free to share with others! You can follow her on twitter:

Saving Battery Life in OS X Mavericks - Guest Blog Post

Guest Blog Post by Maria Burnham, Library Media Specialist

In Mac 10.9 (called Mavericks), one of the neat features is to now see which apps are using up the most battery.  

If you are like me and typically have multiple applications running at the same time, you might notice that your battery dies down faster.  To see which apps are taking up the most battery, click on the battery icon at the top of your screen.  You will see a message in grey that says "Collecting Power Usage Information."  

Do Teachers Need iPad Training?

A recent Edudemic article discusses whether teachers need iPad training and not only points out the obvious that students catch onto new technologies easier, but that teachers need to be trained BEFORE getting their devices.

A Quick Look at Teachers' Professional Growth

Summer is upon us, which means it’s the time of year that teachers across the country get to enjoy seeing the progress their invested time has made in the professional growth of their students. But professional growth isn’t limited to just students during the school years, teachers grow professionally as well, and it’s also the time of year that administrators get to enjoy seeing that progress.

Is Your District Innovative?

If your district is taking innovative approaches to learning and PD, District Administration magazine wants to hear from you!

Districts of Distinction is a national recognition program created by District Administration magazine to honor school districts that are leading the way with new ideas that work. District Administration is looking to recognize established initiatives that are yielding quantifiable benefits, and that could be replicated by other districts.

What Employers Expect: Soft Skills - Guest Blog Post

Guest Blog Post by Jenny Castle, Director of Human Resources at Atomic Learning
In the words of best-selling author Peggy Klaus, “Soft skills get little respect, but will make or break your career.”
Technical skills are those you need to do your job, but soft skills are imperative for you to be successful in your job and in your career.  As a Director of Human Resources, I know what employers are looking for—candidates with developed skill sets that are valuable no matter what industry or job you are applying for.  Soft skills, often called career skills, include skills such as working well with others, solving problems, critical thinking, decision making, attitude, professionalism and communication skills. 
These are skills that translate into real money for businesses. 
Imagine that you receive bad service at a business.  Will you return?  Will you tell others about it?  Now imagine that you are that business owner.  How does that employee impact your business?  How do you feel about them?  Now imagine that you are the employee that provided the service.  Do you think you’ll get that next promotion?  Will you still have a job?

Exporting Bookmarks - Guest Blog Post

Guest Blog Post by Maria Burnham, Library Media Specialist

Part of our "End of Year" instructions include exporting out your bookmarks if you are a Safari or Firefox user. However, one thing to consider is to start switching to Chrome for your browsing needs. The one biggest benefit? Your bookmarks stay with your Google Account.  So, as long as you are logged in to Google, your bookmarks will be with you, no matter from which device or computer you are working!  Sweet!  

To import and export your bookmarks, check out this tutorial.

Maria Burnham is a passionate Library Media Specialist at one of our partner districts in Minnesota, Sauk Rapids-Rice. She shares her passion for technology in education with her peers in a weekly email highlighting tips and tricks to engage users in technology and Atomic Learning, which she cleverly named “Mondays with Maria.” That weekly email is where this guest blog post came from. We will continue to post Maria’s inspiration from time to time, feel free to share with others! You can follow her on twitter:

Report Finds Mobile Learning Continues to Grow

According to The New Digital Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students' Activities and Aspirations report by Project Tomorrow, the prevalence of mobile devices in schools is on the rise. In fact, one third of 3rd through 12th grade students have access to school provided devices.
Another indicator of the mobile revolution is the shift of tolerance for personal devices. The Speak Up 2010 National Research Project found that 52% of districts did not allow student owned devices, down to just 32% in 2013.

Infographic: Tech Trends

This infographic provides a quick glimpse into how school administrators, teachers and staff are utilizing technology—with a significant emphasis on digital content and mobile devices. Check it out to see how you compare to your peers. Feeling left behind?