Technology Update #32

In this Issue

Welcome to issue 32! In this issue we take a look at a new tool you can use in your class called Flipgrid. We’ll then talk about new updates and changes that are taking place with technology, including the new Gmail, the sunsetting of and what you need to do to update your MacBook Air before the end of the school year.

eMerge Thought of the Week

By Jeanette Kleppinger

Ever want to assess student learning quickly, on the fly, and authentically? Our students communicate with their peers using video and pictures commonly through Snapchat. This app has changed the way students reflect and share their learning with their peers in my classroom as well as a check for understanding for myself. Students can watch their peer’s videos, learn from their peers, and comment on each other’s videos. To add some fun there are filters that can be added to their videos!

What is Flipgrid?

Flipgrid is the leading video discussion platform used by PreK to PhD educators, students, and families around the world. Teachers post topics to spark the conversation and students respond with short videos. Bring the back row to the front and engage ALL your students!

Read more on Area 66!

Tech Updates

NEW! Gmail gets a revamp!

Google’s gmail service has received a major update in both its capabilities and its user interface. Eventually, all Google users will be switched over to it, but if you would like access now, you can. To try it out, click on the gear icon while you are in Gmail. Then, you can select “Try out the New Westside Community Schools Mail”. Don’t worry, for the immediate future you can switch back to classic gmail if you don’t like it.

In addition to a new look and feel, the new Gmail has many new features.

  • Snooze emails until later.
  • Use suggested replies and get followup notifications.
  • Show or hide the menu bar.
  • View your Calendar, Tasks, Google Keep and other add-ons right from Gmail!

Read more about this at:

Using Calendar, Tasks and Notes with the New Gmail

You can use Google products, like Gmail or Calendar, in the same window on your computer. This way, you can keep track of important info without switching between tabs.

One thing I especially appreciate is the ability to save an email as a task. This lets me take a message and link it to a to-do item in my task list!
Save an email as a task

  1. On a computer, go to Gmail.
  2. On the right, click Tasks .
  3. In your inbox, find the email you want to save as a task.
  4. Drag the email to the side panel.

See this link for full directions on this and more.


Starting March 30, 2018, Google will be turning down support for URL shortener. From April 13, 2018 only existing users will be able to create short links on the console. You will be able to view your analytics data and download your short link information in csv format for up to one year, until March 30, 2019, when Google will discontinue Previously created links will continue to redirect to their intended destination. Please see this blog post for more details.

Recommended replacements include and

Update to macOS High Sierra

Staff can now begin updating their laptops to the newest version of macOS (aka “High Sierra”). All staff MacBook Air’s should be updated by May 31.

Updating to the new version of macOS will allow us to improve security and enable several new features. New features include ‘under the hood’ improvements that allow your Mac to be more efficient with storing files, new video and photo formats that can take up less space, and enhancements to Safari and Mail.

You can read all about High Sierra at Apple’s website:

Notes: While all staff will need to be updated before leaving for summer break, if you fall into one of the categories below, you may wish to wait until after the semester is completed.

  • If you rely on FileMaker 12 or FileMaker 13 for classroom
  • You have less than 5GB of free space available. If you need to free up space, consider moving your school related photos to Google Photos, or temporarily moving files to a USB thumb drive or external hard drive. Your building tech support will be happy to help you look for other ways to free up space.

Instructions on How To Update:
Downloading and installing High Sierra will take about an hour.
During which you will need to keep your computer open and powered on. We strongly recommend that you complete the process while you are at your building in the district. The internet connection there will most likely be faster and more reliable than a home connection.

Open up Self-Service and find the icon for ‘Upgrade to High Sierra’ It will be located in the ‘Featured’ category.

Click install. The process will take about an hour to download and install. Again, please DO NOT close your computer or shut down your computer during this time.

Please reach out to your building’s technology support team.
Elementary: Tyler ( or Emerson (


As always, if you ever have any technology integration related questions, please let us know. We are happy to work with you to design lessons, develop workflows and even come into your classes and work with you and your students.