Action items

Staff: Review Personalized Learning updates

SPPS students engage in ‘Hour of Code’ event
Students in Holly Haycraft’s third grade class at Galtier Community School eagerly brought out their new iPads this week for an adventure in computer programming.

Motivated boys and girls connected blocks of code that moved characters in a digital maze, collaborated to uncover “bugs” in their programs and gleefully shared their results.

These Galtier students joined millions of others around the globe for this week’s Hour of Code celebration aimed at introducing students of all ages to computer science as a way of thinking, as well as a future profession. The Hour of Code organization provides everything teachers need to get their students to start thinking like a programmer.

One value of the Hour of Code activity is in having students see themselves as creators and developers, not just consumers of software designed by others. Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime. The goal of the grassroots campaign is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code this week through Dec. 14 in celebration of Computer Science Education Week, according to the Hour of Code website.

Hundreds of Saint Paul Public Schools students participated in coding activities during the week, at sites that included Maxfield Elementary, LEAP High School, Chelsea Heights Elementary and Washington Technology Magnet. Read more about Hour to Code.

New course offerings coming for Personalized Learning in a 1:1 iPad environment
New course offerings for January-March will be posted in PDExpress starting Jan. 5 for training sessions on supporting iPad integration. This includes additional sections of the popular "Establishing a 1:1 IPad Environment," with both in-person and online options. Other opportunities will include classes featuring the SPPS core apps and the return of the "iPad Cafe."

SPPS experiencing bandwidth issues, YouTube access temporarily halted
As we continue to roll out iPads for our 1:1 learning initiative, we will occasionally run into technology challenges that will not have immediate remedies. Internet speed as it relates to bandwidth is one of those challenges.

Because the district has a finite amount of bandwidth available, when thousands of staff and students are using devices (iPads, smart phones, computers) at the same, internet connections are slowed.

In order to reduce bandwidth use and increase internet speed, access to YouTube has been turned off due to its significant impact on bandwidth.

Under our current infrastructure, we cannot limit usage of video streaming on a per device basis; we only have the ability to either block YouTube across the entire district or provide YouTube access by site. Access is also temporarily suspended for wireless users until we can find a suitable solution.  It is still available for all wired users.

Technology Services is working with vendors such as Apple, Cisco and CenturyLink to come up with a viable solution. In the meantime, we are looking at other alternatives for video streaming. However, identifying the best solution may take a few months.

Here are some alternatives to using YouTube on a wireless network:

  • Use a computer with an ethernet connection.
    • We realize newer MacBooks Pros don't have ethernet ports and we are working on a solution.
    • Wired connections should work. If they do not, turn off the Wi-Fi on the computer and restart the computer. If that does not work, please put in a Service Ticket.
  • Download videos instead of streaming them live, using either an ethernet connection or a Wi-Fi source outside of the SPPS network. The advantage to downloading is videos will work regardless of how the Internet is functioning (copyright issues may apply).
  • Post your video to another site, such as EduVision.

In this digital age, it is important to remember that bandwidth is a limited and shared resource. Over the past year we have doubled our capacity, and then doubled it again. Please help on the demand side by asking students and staff to use their smartphones and iPads in Airplane Mode when possible, which prevents your device from using the district's Wi-Fi.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work as fast as we can to resolve this matter.
 

Teachers: Look for details about TD&E Student Engagement Surveys
Principals and Saint Paul Federation of Teachers stewards will soon introduce details of the Teacher Development and Evaluation (TD&E) Student Engagement Survey, which is required by Minnesota statute 122A.41. Additional information can be found at tde.spps.org under the Student Engagement Survey section. The Oversight Committee is seeking your feedback, comments and questions regarding TD&E components. The group meets monthly to review information.

Gordon Parks staff: Start times changing beginning Jan. 26
School start times at Gordon Parks High School will change beginning Jan. 26. The new school hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This start time is 30 minutes later to align with the student contact hours at SPPS high schools.

School staff: Free assistance for school environmental initiatives
SPPS is hosting a Minnesota GreenCorps member to improve green and sustainability initiatives within the district. The GreenCorps member will be working with schools to encourage students to get involved with environmental projects. If your school is interested in starting a green team/club or enhancing an existing team, contact Racquel Maronde at racquel.maronde@spps.org. Find more information.

Staff: Volunteers needed for new recycling program
SPPS is expanding its recycling program in cafeterias and classrooms throughout the district. To help students understand the new system, the Facilities Department is asking for volunteers the first week each school implements the new program. You can volunteer at your school or any school in the district. Numerous volunteer opportunities will be available now through late May. Typical volunteer hours range from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., but vary depending upon the school. If you are interested or have any questions, contact Racquel Maronde at 651-744-7324 or racquel.maronde@spps.org.

Staff: Plato's 4th annual blood drive is Dec. 18
The staff at 345 Plato is hosting a blood drive 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 18, for SPPS employees and friends. To schedule an appointment, call Laurie Brazman at 651-744-1359, email laurie.brazman@spps.org or schedule an appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org by using the Sponsor Code: 0177627.

Staff: Attend a retirement insurance session
Human Resources at SPPS is sponsoring a series of monthly meetings regarding the district’s retirement insurance benefits, personnel policies and severance program. All meetings will be held at 360 Colborne St.

Meeting dates and times are:

  • 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, rooms A and B
  • 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, rooms A and B
  • 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, rooms A and B
  • 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, room A
  • 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, room A

Reserve a spot at one of the meetings by emailing megan.jonesarko@spps.org. You will receive an email confirming your reservation. Please indicate your name (and spouse’s name if s/he will attend), employee ID, title and which meeting you plan to attend. More information is available here.

Staff: Deadlines for fiscal year 2014-15 expenditures now available
In an effort to assist schools and programs in planning their workload and expenditures, the Business Office has published fiscal year 2015 financial deadlinesearlier than in the past. Click here to see the details and the deadlines.

Teachers: Apply for education scholarships by Jan. 31
The purpose of the scholarship fund of the Saint Paul Retired Teachers, Inc., is to support staff with scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are paid directly to the college of the staff member’s choice for graduate-level coursework. Applications are available at staff.spps.org/scholarships and are due no later than Jan. 31, 2015.

Teachers: Need extra funding? Apply for grants now
Click the links below to go directly to the funder’s website. Before you apply, visit the SPPS teacher grants web page to find basic grants how-to, a School Grant Pre-Approval Form and a helpful School Grant Checklist.

In most cases, you must send grant applications to the Office of Communications, Marketing and Development (CMD) before submitting them to the funder. If you wait until the grant is awarded, it could take up to four weeks or more to receive the funds. CMD wants you to (1) get the funding you need, and (2) use it as soon as it arrives. Contact Lisa van der Steur at 651-767-8108 or lisa.vandersteur@spps.org with questions.

Ongoing

December

January

February

  • Arts Learning, Minnesota State Arts Board (due February 13). Please note: This is a complicated proposal for which you should begin planning now. Contact Lisa van der Steur at 651-767-8108 to talk through your project before the winter break.