Another random handful of web resources that might be of interest

Useful Sites

See how items of different sizes compare to each other. Zoom all the way in to a dinosaur or a teapot, or all the way out to gigaparsec scale, accompanied by soothing music.

Scale of the universe

Map of tagged sharks. If you’re interested in shark welfare and want to track migration patterns, or you’re just curious about how many geo-tagged sharks there are near you, this map has what you need.

Shark Tracker

Discover new authors you might like, visually. The closer a name is on the map to the name you entered, the more likely it is that you’ll like (or dislike) them both. A project from the Global Network Of Discovery (GNOD).

Lit Map

Wealth levels visualised. This website shows different levels of wealth using 1 pixel to represent $1,000. People consistently underestimate the relative wealth of the super-rich.  And incarceration visualized.

Incredible drone photography of 20th Century skyscrapers. Real photos of buildings that actually exist you can zoom in on. There is an accompanying bio of each highrise.

high rises




Voting for Student Doodle for Google Contest ends midnight Thursday, 5/25

Doodle for Google

Students and staff can visit to help pick who will go on to become the National Winner.

For past Doodles, visit the Google gallery.


What is the “Doodle for Google” contest? Doodle for Google is an annual art contest open to students in grades K-12. Students are invited to create their own Google Doodle for the chance to have it featured on, as well as win some great scholarships and tech packages for their schools.

Why is Google doing this contest? Doodles are meant to surprise and delight people when they visit Past Doodles have celebrated some of the most brilliant, talented, and passionate people throughout history. The Doodle for Google contest offers students K-12 an opportunity to display their own Doodle creativity on and win some awesome prizes while doing it!

How long has Google been doing this contest? We’ve been hosting the Doodle for Google contest every year in the U.S. since 2008, so this is our fifteenth year. This website shows details for the U.S. only contest, but the Doodle for Google contest takes place in other countries throughout the year as well.

Four of May’s newly released features in Google Workspace

Some Google Workspace Updates for May 2023


  • Expanding upon Gmail security with Brand Indicators in Messages – Users will now see a blue checkmark icon for senders who adopted Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) in Gmail.  Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI (pronounced bih-mee), is an email specification that enables email inboxes to display a brand’s logo next to the brand’s authenticated email messages. This will help users identify messages from legitimate senders versus impersonators. Google BIMI CNN BIMI
  • Replace images quicker in Google Slides with new drag and drop feature. Previously, to replace an image in Google Slides, you could either use the menu toolbar or right-click on the image you wanted to replace and select “Replace image.” Starting this week, you’ll have the additional option to easily drag and drop images from anywhere to replace images in your Slides presentations.
  • Add emoji reactions to existing comments in Google Docs. You now have the ability to add emoji reactions to existing comments in Docs. This new feature increases collaboration by enabling you to quickly and creatively express your opinions about document content. 
  • Coming later in May, there will be a dedicated spam folder within Google Drive to host unwanted files that are shared with you containing spam or abusive content. When an unsolicited file is moved to the spam folder, you will be unsubscribed, preventing all comment, sharing, and mobile push notifications for the file. Once unsubscribed, you will not be able to find the file anywhere in Drive outside of your spam folder.

Protecting Our School District from Cyber-attacks: A few Lessons from the Dallas Ransomware Incident

Dallas Ransomware

Last week’s recent ransomware attack on the city of Dallas, which has seen lingering ill effects into this week, serves as yet another reminder for us to remain ever vigilant and educated about the dangers of cyber threats, including call-back phishing attacks. Incidents can have severe consequences, affecting the daily operations and sensitive information of organizations impacted. In this blog post, we’ll recap the Dallas ransomware attack, discuss how it happened, and outline what you can do to protect our school district from similar threats.

The Dallas Ransomware Attack:

The city of Dallas was recently targeted in a ransomware attack that impacted its IT services and police communications, causing significant disruptions. The attackers used a technique called call-back phishing, which allowed them to infiltrate the city’s systems and deploy ransomware. You can read a detailed summary of the incident in this article from BleepingComputer:

What is Call-Back Phishing?

Call-back phishing is a type of social engineering attack in which cybercriminals impersonate legitimate organizations or authority figures, often through emails instructing recipients to call a phone number. In the Dallas incident, the attackers sent emails impersonating food delivery and software providers, pretending to be subscription renewals. These emails contained phone numbers that connected the victims to a service hired by the Royal threat actors. When victims called the number, the threat actors used social engineering to convince them to install remote access software, allowing the attackers access to the city’s network.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?
To protect our school district from similar cyber-attacks, it’s essential for all staff members to be aware of call-back phishing techniques and take the necessary precautions. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Remain cautious when it comes to your emails and phone calls: Always be skeptical of unexpected or unsolicited emails and phone calls, especially those that ask for sensitive information or urge you to take immediate action.
  • Verify information: If an email or phone call seems suspicious, contact the person or organization directly using known contact information, not the information provided by the sender or caller. This is crucial for ensuring that you are communicating with a legitimate representative and not disclosing information to potential scammers.
  • Don’t follow instructions blindly: If an email instructs you to call a phone number, make sure to verify the legitimacy of the number before calling. If you’re unsure, reach out to the company or individual using previously known contact information to confirm the request.
  • Be wary of installing software: Do not install remote access software or any other applications at the request of a caller unless you have verified their identity and confirmed the legitimacy of the request. When in doubt, don’t.
  • Use strong, unique passwords: Create strong passwords for all your accounts, and avoid reusing the same password across different platforms services.
  • Keep software updated: Our school district uses SentinelOne as our endpoint detection and response solution, which is remotely managed and updated by the IT department. This helps ensure that your district devices are protected against known security vulnerabilities. While this helps mitigate against bad actors, it’s also critical to keep software up to date on both district and personal devices.
  • Report suspicious activity: If you encounter a potential call-back phishing attempt or believe your account has been compromised, report it immediately. If you ever feel that you have mistakenly disclosed private information or granted unauthorized access, please submit a service request. Remember, the sooner we address the mistake, the safer both staff and student information will be. Please don’t worry about being chastised for a mistake (we all make missteps); our priority is the safety and security of our digital environment including student and staff data.

Thanks for continuing to stay informed and vigilant!

SORA news

Two noteworthy Sora news items.

  1. SORA SWEET READS RETURNS! Summer reading, oh my!  OverDrive’s annual reading program, Sora Sweet Reads, is designed for schools to encourage students to keep reading all year long. This collection of free and simultaneous use juvenile and young adult ebooks (and select audiobooks) will be available to participating schools and prominently displayed in Sora so it’s easy for students to find their next sweet read. On May 15th all school partners who have opted in (and we have) will receive a sweet new curation on their Sora Explore page full of 57 new titles for all ages K-12. The collection this year boasts 34 juvenile titles, 10 young adult titles and 13 general adult-level titles. The collection will be live for 10 weeks from May 15 through Aug. 28 and all titles are simultaneous-use. This means students will all have access immediately and at the same time. Ready to check out the titles? Head over to the Sora Sweet Reads website to view the titles before they go live in our Wayne County shared collection on May 15 and to download some resources as well.                                                                                                              Sora Elementary ReadsSora Sweet ReadsSora Reads HS
  2. The Sora app’s multilingual interface now is available in two additional languages, Korean and Portuguese (Brazilian) with more languages being added. The Sora interface already includes Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish language options. As a reminder, students can update Sora’s display language from the welcome screen or from Language settings in the app’s main menu.                                Sora language changes

When students update their language settings, Sora’s ebook reader, audiobook player, and app interface automatically display in the selected language. Sora will remember your language settings across sessions.

Please note: Changing Sora’s display language does not change the language of the books your students can borrow. If you’re interested in specific language content to support these new interface languages or others? Looking for books to support your native speakers and language learners alike? Check out the languages and learning tile on the Resource Center, where you can find recommended reading lists for ebooks and audiobooks in these languages – and more!


The online Sora app was designed around the modern student reading experience. This app, developed and curated by Overdrive, empowers students to discover and enjoy ebooks and audiobooks, for both leisure and class-assigned reading. ALL STUDENTS in all of our district’s schools AND ALL STAFF can log into our Sora page using their Google Accounts at and begin checking out ebooks!

Once logged in, students and staff are able to “borrow” ebooks and audiobooks from a selection of thousands of titles available in their school, district and/or Wayne county library collections. Check out this 2 minute video for how to access the app via the Google apps launcher (aka waffle) as well as how to add a library collection (only need to do that once per year).

P-CCS Voicemail Changes Coming Next Week

Voicemail changes coming

Next week your District voicemail will start syncing with your Gmail inbox. This means that actions taken in one of these systems will affect the other.


Voicemail/Gmail Functionality PRIOR to May 1, 2023

When a voicemail is left in a staff member’s District voicemail mailbox, that staff member receives an email notification with a copy of that voicemail. Actions taken, such as listening to or deleting the voicemail, in our voicemail system do not impact the email notification in Gmail. Actions taken in Gmail also do not impact our voicemail system.


Voicemail/Gmail Functionality AS OF May 1, 2023

When voicemails are left, staff will be emailed a notification in their Inbox AND actions they take on that message will affect the message stored in the District voicemail system (and vice versa).



By default the message in the Gmail account will have the VoiceMessages label applied (see image below).

The email notification will look similar to the notification shown below. Hovering over the attachment will allow you to download or save it to Google Drive. Clicking on it will allow you to listen to the voicemail message.

Like other email messages, voicemail notifications will be marked as unread when they are received. However, unlike other email messages, voicemail notifications are subject to the aging policies associated with the District’s voicemail system. The 3 points below describe what happens to unread, read, and deleted voicemail notifications in Gmail and the District’s voicemail system.

  • If a voicemail notification is opened OR left unread for 40 days, the email will be marked as read and the corresponding voicemail in the District’s voicemail system will be marked as Saved.
  • If a voicemail notification is deleted OR left as read for 60 days, the email will be moved to Trash and the corresponding voicemail in the District’s voicemail system will be marked as Deleted.
  • Deleted messages will be permanently deleted from Gmail AND the District’s voicemail system after 5 days. 



Similarly, actions taken in the District’s voicemail system will impact voicemail notifications in Gmail.

  • If a voicemail message is listened to OR left ignored for 40 days, it will be marked as Saved and the corresponding email notification will be marked as read in Gmail.
  • If a Saved voicemail message is deleted OR left ignored for 60 days, it will be marked as Deleted and the corresponding email notification will be moved to Trash in Gmail.
  • Deleted messages will be permanently deleted from the District’s voicemail system AND Gmail after 5 days.


Keeping Voicemail Messages Beyond the Defined Aging Policy

While most voicemail messages only need to be kept for a short period of time, there are some voicemails that might need to be kept for longer periods of time. To keep a voicemail message beyond the District voicemail system’s aging policy, it is recommended that you download it from Gmail to your computer. It is also possible to save the voicemail message to Drive or to forward the email to yourself.


REMINDER: Voicemail Message Quotas Still Apply 

As a reminder, your voicemail mailbox has a quota for the total amount of storage it can use. Mailbox quota warnings will be emailed out should your mailbox approach or reach its limit. Please note that once your mailbox has reached its limit, you will no longer be able to receive new voicemail messages.


The ‘Why’ for Voicemail Aging Policy and Storage Quotas

The District’s voicemail system has an aging policy and storage quotas for voicemail messages due to the total storage limit for District voicemails. While it is possible to increase the District’s total voicemail storage (up to a point), doing so would incur additional ongoing costs to the District.

Questions or Issues

If you have any questions or issues related to your District voicemail, please submit a service ticket.

Finish out the year strong with IXL!

IXL news

IXL’s latest newsletter shares the following:

As you begin looking forward to summer, IXL has prepared resources to ensure your teachers can make the most out of their instructional time and students and parents can seamlessly continue their IXL practice over the summer. Here are a few resources you can use to ensure seamless summer learning:

  • The Summer Learning Hub is your go-to resource for everything summer related! Encourage students to use IXL all summer long with parent guides, fun games, and printable activities!
  • Summer skill plans: Build a strong foundation for the fall with our ready-made summer skill plans, perfect for teaching summer school or empowering independent learning over the break.
  • Live webinars: Our free 30-minute webinars will discuss best practices for mitigating learning loss and maximizing student progress this summer.
  • IXL blog: Did you know the IXL blog features tips written by education experts? Read up on the latest strategies for implementing IXL over the summer submitted by IXL Ambassadors.

Don’t fall for spoofed emails

Spoofed emails explained

Over the last ten days there has been a rash of spoofed emails sent to various staff that at first glance appeared to come from a building administrator. Between the message’s sense of urgency and how close the sender’s purported address was to the admin’s actual address, more than a dozen staffers were lulled into replying.

This is a reminder to look closely at an email or text, especially if it is asking for personal information like your cell phone or asking you to purchase something.

If anything about the address or reply info looks “off” just ignore the email or click the More menu and click report spam or phishing.  In all cases, don’t reply back to such an email –INSTEAD contact the colleague you believe contacted you via a KNOWN working method such as their district email address or phone number.

We all need to stay vigilant and keep our guard up, because unfortunately the scammers are out there and are trying to catch us with our defenses down.

Fell for their plea?

  • If you provide your cell phone number, block any inbound number(s) they use should they reach out to you via cell call/text asking for help.
  • If you purchased a gift card and shared it with the spoofer (one of the typical asks), check out this blog post for steps to take in the aftermath of being scammed including reporting the matter to both local law enforcement and the gift card issuer (links are on the page).
  • Let the tech department know via service ticket so we can put a block on the offending sending email address

BrainPop’s spring blog posts

BrainPop Blog

Below are four blog posts that BrainPop called out recently.

As any parent knows, young children are hardwired to be curious about the world around them. That means asking questions—a lot of them. Experts say that children ask an average of 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five. A typical 4-year-old might ask as many as 300 questions a day! As children get older, the questions start to wane, leaving teachers with the challenge of trying to reignite that spark of curiosity.