Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weekly Tech Tip #6 - Schoology & PowerSchool Gradebooks

Now that the school year is off and running it is a great time to make sure your Schoology and PowerSchool gradebooks are all lined up. Please remember that while Schoology displays the grade parents and students see, what shows up in PowerSchool is the "official" record. Grades, progress reports, and transcripts are printed from PowerSchool, not Schoology. Therefore, it is very important to make sure your Schoology and PowerSchool grades match, especially at any reporting period.

Fortunately, setting things up is very easy but it does require some close attention to detail, especially if you use weighting.

Step 1 - Schoology Categories
You can establish your categories by going to Gradebook -> Grade SetUp in each Schoology course. If your sections are linked you will only need to do this once, but if your sections are not linked you need to do this for each class. Once you have created a category you can determine whether or not you want to weight the category. The biggest item when creating Categories is to make sure you have chosen Total Points rather than Percentage. This Schoology article explains the difference.

Step 2 - PowerSchool Categories
After you have set your Schoology categories launch the PowerTeacher Gradebook and login using your NCS PowerSchool account. For each course/section you will need to create categories and weights (if needed) to match what you have set up in Schoology using the following steps

  1. Click Grade Set Up
  2. Click on the Reporting Term (ex: S1, S2)
  3. Category Weights or Total Points
  4. Add your Categories/Weights
  5. Click File -> Refresh Class Info
The final step tells Schoology what categories you have for the next part of the process.

Step 3 - Mapping Schoology to PowerSchool Categories
Navigate back to Schoology and look for the PowerSchool tab on the left side of the page in your course. Click on it. A new screen will open. Look for the word Configuration and click on it. Here you need to tell Schoology how your categories match up to PowerSchool. If you did all of Step 2 you just have to match them up (ex Participation in Schoology matches Participation in PowerSchool). Please note that this must be completed for each section by using the little drop down menu that shows you the section number.

Step 4 - Syncing and Checking
Syncing between the systems is fully automatic. However, since you have just set up your categories click on the Sync All button. You find this under the same PowerSchool tab where you completed Step 3. Give the sync some time to process and then check any errors that pop up. If you don't have any in your PowerSchool Gradebook click on File -> Refresh Class Info.

How Often Should I Do This?
Great news! Steps 1-3 only need to be done once each semester. Step 4 is something you should be doing weekly. Please do not wait until the night before grades are do to check things. If you have an error that you cannot correct Christine, Matt, Amanda, and I need some time to help you. If you're checking on things regularly we can better help you out.

Panic Button 
Help! My grades are due to Christine in 30 minutes and things aren't quite lining up. What do I do? In PowerSchool you can double-click on the student's final grade and manually adjust it. This is your ultimate fail safe, but if you are regularly checking the sync throughout the grading period you won't have to do this.

If you have any questions please let me know. We are here for you!


Monday, October 3, 2016

Weekly Tech Tip #5 - Running Updates

At NCS we use an "empowered user" model for all teacher and staff Macbooks. This means you have admin rights and one of the easiest ways to keep your computer running like a champ is to make sure you are always running your updates. Periodically you may see an email from the IT department that asks you to avoid a particular update, but for the most part regularly running updates is an excellent practice. The ones that we do ask you to avoid are large operating system changes, such as an update from 10.11 (El Capitan) to 10.12 (Sierra).

Updates fall into three main categories

Mac Updates
All updates for the Apple operating system or any Apple programs can be found in the Mac App Store. When you launch this application you should be asked whether or not you want to run the updates right now. Occasionally you might be asked for the password. If this happens you can find that password on this Google Doc (NCS Staff only).

Microsoft Office Updates
Word or Excel acting wonky? Try running Microsoft Office updates. When you launch Word or Excel the autoupdate feature should launch for you. If it does not you can always trigger it by clicking Help in any MS Office application.

Google Chrome Update
Have you ever noticed that your Google Chrome has three red or orange lines at the right side of the toolbar? That means it needs an update. You can complete this task by going to the Chrome Help Menu (chrome://help/). Sometimes, if you have waited too long Chrome may not update for you. If this happens, navigate to the Chrome website, download an updated version, and install the program.