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10 Things All BPS Teachers Should Know

#1 - Google Apps and Google Classroom

Boston Public is a Google district. Our email is housed in Gmail, we have unlimited space in Google Drive, and all Boston Public staff and students have access to Google Classroom. 

When you login to your email, the app launcher, the nine dots at the top right, will show you all of the apps you might need as a BPS employee. If you aren’t seeing them right away, click “account” in the launcher, and make sure to be logged into your email. 

In the app launcher, you can locate Vector, previously TeachPoint, to find professional development courses. You will also find all of your Google products like Docs, Slides, and Google Sheets. Most importantly, you can find Google Classroom! 

Google Classroom is one of the most important features of our Google for Education accounts. It is the most popular Learning Management System for teachers in grades 2-12. You can easily post any document or slide deck for all your students to see. You can even create interactive worksheets for them to complete online. 

Your class lists will automatically sync based on ASPEN data, but you can add and remove students at any time. We are actively working on getting Google Classroom to sync grades back to ASPEN, but until then, you can export grades to a spreadsheet for easy viewing when posting grades to ASPEN. You can also search our OnDemand Webinars for topics like Google Classroom for more support using this tool in your class.

To learn more about Google Classroom, check out Google’s Playlist of Videos with short “How To’s” for using the LMS.


#2 - Microsoft Office

Not nearly as popular as Google Docs and Slides in the teaching world, Microsoft Office is still available for a variety of reasons. BPS students and staff have access to Microsoft Office through www.office.com

Use your BPS email and BPS password to log in. You can use Microsoft products online, share files, and work in real time through Microsoft 365 One Drive. While it functions a lot like Google, it is not as intuitive and teachers tend to prefer Google to share meeting agendas, lesson plans, and student work. 

If you prefer office products, you can download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint onto your computer, but beware, it can take up a lot of space and might slow your computer down. Make sure to restart your computer often to help keep it in tip-top shape. 

Check out our guide to  Getting Started with Microsoft Office Or Microsoft Tutorials to help guide you through using One Drive. 


#3 - Talking Points

TalkingPoints is a two-way messaging platform designed to connect schools and the families that they serve. Teachers can type a message in English to send to their families. When they hit send, the message will be automatically translated for all families in their home language. When families reply in their home language, it will be automatically translated back into English when it arrives in the teacher’s inbox. Aside from typing the message and hitting send, there is no extra work required on the teacher or the family’s end. 

All teachers and school administrators have access to TalkingPoints via Clever. Teachers will automatically be given access to their class rosters to be able to communicate with their families.

Learn how to access Talking Points through BPS Talking Points Helpdocs

#4 - Resetting Student Passwords

Did you know that you have access to the student password reset tool? 

For grades K-8 you can solve any password related issue within seconds by assigning a new password. You can directly change student passwords through the tool at studentpassword.mybps.org

For more independent students, you can give them a verification code so that they can log into the tool and reset their passwords independently. Keep in mind, they will need an additional device to sign up for the tool, so this isn’t always a good option for the younger grades.

In grades 9-12, only the school Tech Coordinator has access to change student passwords, but teachers have access to the verification codes so that students can reset their own passwords. All of the instructions can be found in this One-Pager for Password Resets

#5 - Digital Literacy Apps

As a large district with many schools, there are a multitude of requests for specific apps. In general, applications that are needed for specific populations or age groups are paid for by either the office of [fill in the blank] or by the school. 

Currently, the district is paying for the use of some popular tools you may find useful.  

  • Seesaw - For grades K-6:  Seesaw is a student engagement platform for creation, reflection, and collaboration in younger grades.
  • Read&Write and Text Help Orbitz  are tools that allow students to interact with Docs/Slides/and PDFs with accessibility features. They are automatically installed on student computers. 
  • Sora -  all BPS students and teachers can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from their school or public library. All BPS teachers and students have access to Sora free of charge.Check out our  Helpdoc on Sora for more information. 
  • Learning Ally - Learning Ally is an online tool that provides access to a library of over 80,000 human-read audiobooks for students who need support with reading. All teachers and school-based staff with classes in Aspen will have access to Learning Ally via Clever. Student eligibility must be confirmed by an Instructor in order for students to read independently on the app.
  • Tumblebooks - The TumblePremium is a collection of TumbleBooks (animated, talking picture books) with fiction, non-fiction and foreign language titles, Math Stories, Read-Alongs, Videos from National Geographic, and TumbleTV which consists of pre-set playlists of a sequence of books and Tumble Puzzles & Games. TumbleBooks are created from existing picture books, licensed from children's book publishers and converted to the TumbleBook format. All BPS teachers and students have access to Tumblebooks via Clever.
  • Bookshare - Bookshare is an online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Bookshare makes reading easier. People with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers can customize their experience to suit their learning style and find virtually any book they need for school, work, or the joy of reading.

 

#6 - Support 

There are many layers of support between the district and your school. The below outlines where to go for help for specific issues. 

 
General Technology Related Questions

If you can’t find what you are looking for in Helpdocs, reach out to your school’s Technology Coordinator. 

Chromebooks or Student device issues

  • Each school should have an appointed Technology Coordinator that manages student devices in the building.

Printers, desktop devices, and other in-school technology purchased through BPSTech.

  • Your school secretary or principal should be able to direct you to the proper technician. 
  • BPSTechnicians support multiple schools and travel between schools and Campbell. 


Teacher devices - Macbooks (L4Ls) and District Apps

Note: BPS Tech is located in two separate buildings. School-deployed technicians and storage are located in the Campbell Resource Center. The Service Desk is located in Bolling. If you schedule an appointment with BPSTech, make sure to confirm where the appointment will take place. 

 

#7 - Zoom and/or Google Meet

Teachers have access to both Zoom AND Google Meet. Both can be used for professional development, parent-teacher conferences, presentations, and student meetings. 

For Zoom, you have to login for the first time through clever in order for your Boston Public Schools resume to be activated. You are not able to record in this version of Zoom but you do have a longer time limit than the free version. 

For Google Meet, you can easily create “calls” by clicking on the Meet symbol in the top right corner of your screen when you are in a Google product. 

To explore further considerations, check out Zoom Vs. Google Meet: When Should I Use Each Tool?

#8 - Go Guardian 

    Go Guardian is a Google classroom management tool that teachers can use to help guide and monitor students on Chromebooks. You will have access to freeze and control what students see on their Chromebooks when in your classroom. You can even push out specific websites, so that students don’t have to fumble with typing a full URL. Your class list is automatically populated using ASPEN and it works on all BPS Chromebooks. 

To see it in action, check out the Teacher Demo.

If you are interested in getting a license to use this tool, read more at How to Get Started with Go Guardian.


#9 - Clever

Clever is a district wide portal we use to access popular apps with a single sign-on. This can be very helpful for younger students as they offer badges that allow students to log into Chromebooks by waving the QR code in front of their device's camera. 

Clever is one-stop access to educational apps for your classroom


#10 - Nearpod

Are you looking for a way to make your Google Slide presentations more dynamic and interactive? Nearpod not only makes presentations engaging, but it also provides the ability to collect student responses and provide immediate feedback all in one place!

Nearpod is a student engagement platform that provides multiple interactive tools you can add to your lessons like polls, collaboration boards, and game-based quizzes. You can upload your Google Slides directly to Nearpod and add these features to your lessons. 

One of my favorite features of Nearpod is their Virtual Reality Field Trips. They can be amazing to explore even without VR glasses. You can have your students explore the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu with amazing views.  

To learn more about Nearpod, check out this Nearpod Helpdoc with information on how to get started. We also have Nearpod webinars to help you gain more confidence in using the tool. 

Interested in a whole school or small group Nearpod training? Contact Christina Carnes ccarnes@bostonpublicschools.org for more information.