MISTAR-Q: FREE Online Training for Teachers


Registration is open for the next session of Monarch running now through December 18, 2023

Monarch will be offered twice this academic year:

Session One: Now through Dec 18, 2023
Session Two: Jan 22 through May 13, 2024

Teachers are invited to transform their use of MISTAR-Q by participating in Monarch, an asynchronous online learning experience. Monarch is especially beneficial for teachers new to MISTAR.

Complete activities designed to increase your skill and knowledge of MISTAR teacher apps including Class Attendance, Grade Book, Seating Chart, generating reports, and more.

Working online at your pace, you will progress through four levels of activities. SCECHs are available: complete levels 1-2 to earn 7 hours, levels 1-3 to earn 11 hours, or levels 1-4 to earn 13 hours.

This course is free. Please register only if you fully intend to participate as there is high demand for this course.

Register here  — After registering, watch for emails with details on how to get started.

September Brain Pop Bulletin


The Teachers’ Lounge is now the BrainPOP Bulletin! Welcome to our brand new newsletter and your place for fresh instructional ideas. Every month, we’re sending a video tip to your inbox that you can use in the classroom tomorrow. In September’s Bulletin, learn about this movie-viewing strategy that will make students’ minds light up. It’s one way to make movies a more active part of your class, while providing an opportunity to practice essential literacy skills. Access more information HERE.

Increase Engagement with Video

In today’s rapidly evolving educational landscape, harnessing the power of technology has become paramount to engage students effectively. Three standout platforms Edpuzzle (6-12 accounts connected through Canvas), BrainPOP (As a reminder, all district students, K-12 can access our paid subscription to BrainPop/BrainPop Jr via Clever at https://clever.com/in/pccs), and Teachflix have emerged as game-changers in the world of educational video content. These platforms offer a dynamic combination of video resources and interactive features, transforming traditional passive viewing into an engaging learning experience.

While you probably already ask students to view educational videos in your class, you may be looking for ways to keep students engaged with the video. Matt Miller (of Ditch that Textbook fame) has developed Teachflix and an activity pack to boost engagement with video. For example, in the Word Splash activity students write down 12 words from the video that stand out to them, then swap their page with a partner to watch the video again, crossing off their partners words as they hear them. This Teaching with TEACHFLIX resource is full of ready-to-use activities for students.

preview of word splash activity

FYI, Emergency Alert System Test – October 4th, 2:20 pm EST


Something you may want to mark on your calendars. At around 2:20 PM on Wednesday, October 4th, every TV, radio, and cell phone is going to sound an alert with a “unique tone and vibration.”  If we had to guess (the article does not say) we’d say this will happen regardless of if the phone is on Do Not Disturb or silent mode.  For middle school staff, if you‘re teaching at that time you might want to ask your students to turn their phones completely off before the test begins.

See https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20230803/fema-and-fcc-plan-nationwide-emergency-alert-test-oct-4-2023 for more details.

Boosting Our Cyber Defenses with KnowBe4 – What You Need to Know


As part of our ongoing commitment to bolstering the online safety and security of our school community, the Technology team would like to share some important updates regarding our efforts to combat email phishing threats.

First, let’s acknowledge the gravity of the issue at hand. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s predicted that a new organization will fall victim to ransomware every 11 seconds. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported that phishing is the most common type of cybercrime, and its frequency increases year after year. It’s not just large organizations that are at risk; schools and educational institutions are increasingly being targeted. The average cost of a phishing attack for a medium-sized company is estimated to exceed $1.6 million. These statistics underscore the significance of recognizing and preventing phishing attacks. On average, our email filter captures 10,000 phishing emails a day, with an unidentified amount slipping through the cracks.

This school year, we are partnering with KnowBe4 to introduce simulated phishing campaigns. These periodic campaigns are designed to give us a realistic experience of phishing attempts, helping us gauge our collective ability to detect and counteract such threats. The primary goal is to offer everyone an opportunity to practice and hone their skills in identifying and reporting suspicious emails in a secure setting.

It’s crucial to note that this initiative is entirely educational in nature. There will be no disciplinary repercussions stemming from interactions with these simulated campaigns. Instead, our focus will be on understanding our community’s current cybersecurity awareness levels and identifying areas where we can provide additional support.

To that end, staff members who might find themselves frequently entangled in these simulations will be offered tailored training modules. By making these resources available, we not only enhance our understanding of cyber threats and develop robust strategies to counteract them in our professional environment but also improve our awareness in our personal lives. This isn’t solely about our individual security at work; by bolstering our defenses, we collectively safeguard our schools, including our fellow staff and students, and equip ourselves with the knowledge to protect our personal digital spaces and resources as well.

Additionally, to facilitate the swift reporting of potentially harmful emails, we’ve incorporated a new feature. The “Phish Alert” button has been seamlessly integrated into the Gmail interface. For those unfamiliar, the Gmail side panel is located on the right side of your email window, typically displaying options like Calendar, Keep, and Tasks. Within this side panel, you will now find the “Phish Alert” button. Should you encounter any email that raises suspicion, simply click on this button to report it, ensuring timely measures are taken against any potential threats. Here is a screenshot for reference:


Your cooperation and active participation in these initiatives are crucial. Together, we can make our digital experience safer and more resilient. Should you have any questions or require further details, please do not hesitate to reach out to our IT department by submitting a service request.

Thank you for your understanding and commitment to creating a secure online environment for everyone.

Warm Regards,

The PCCS Technology Team

Action Required: MiStar Configure

Middle and high School teachers, please ensure that your MiStar Gradebook setup is complete. If just one of a child’s teachers has not completed this step, students and families will not be able to view assignments in MiStar.

Go to the grade book and locate the Configurations area. Make sure you don’t see red Xs or yield signs in the first three columns. If you do, go to the specific area to see what is missing in set up.

Locations for MiStar set up

For more information about using MiStar, see this training guide.

Awesome New Quizzes Canvas Updates!

fall canvas updates

Here are a few September Canvas updates in New Quizzes to be excited about:

New Quizzes: Build on Last Attempt

In New Quizzes, instructors can allow students to build on their last attempt of a quiz by reattempting incorrectly answered questions.

show build on last attempt workflow

In New Quiz Settings, select Allow multiple attempts [1], and then select the Enable build on last attempt checkbox [2].

Note: When the build on last attempt feature is enabled, students can only view questions marked with incorrect answers, all other questions are hidden. If you have short answer questions you want them to reattempt, you’ll want to add a waiting period to give you time to grade those items.

Additional Details

Students can reattempt incorrectly answered questions until the answer is marked correct in SpeedGrader or they run out of attempts. Students who get all questions correct will not have the option to reattempt.

❗ Bonus Tip: Did you know that you can grade one quiz question at a time in SpeedGrader? How do I grade one quiz question at a time in Spee… – Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)

New Quizzes: Quicker Item Analysis Report

In New Quizzes, instructor access to Item Analysis reports is faster and the user interface is updated. While the item analysis used to take 24-28 hours, it will now take about 1 hour (depends on the size of the quiz and other factors).

quiz analysis interface

If you like these features but have Classic Quizzes in your course, reach out for information about migrating those quizzes to New Quizzes. There have also been hesitations about partial credit on new quizzes, check out this resource (3 slides) that breaks down how this works in New Quizzes.

Not sure how to interpret the item analysis? New Quizzes Quiz and Item Analysis – Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)

Sharing New Quizzes

If you have tried to share a New Quiz with a colleague you may have been frustrated if images or audio did not come with the quiz. To solve this, you can export the quiz file (QTI ZIP file) with these directions: How do I export a New Quiz from a course? – Instructure Community (canvaslms.com).

After exporting the file, you should be able to email the file to a colleague and they will be able to import it into their quiz. How do I import a quiz from a QTI package in New Q… – Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)

This isn’t the typical, seamless process of sharing content in Canvas, but we are hopeful can an update will come down the road.


Remind’s Evolving Business Structure: Embracing Canvas for Better Communication

Hello, Canvas for Messaging

In the ever-evolving landscape of educational technology, adaptability is key. Remind, a popular communication platform for educators, is making changes to its business structure that will affect the way our district’s users send and receive messages. Many of you received an email from Remind about these changes. We encourage you to embrace Canvas as the primary platform for communicating with students and families.

What’s Changing with Remind?

Remind has been a helpful tool for educators to connect with students and parents, providing a streamlined way to share important updates. However, Remind will be limiting the number of messages our district’s users can send starting September 13, 2023. This change may impact how you communicate with your students and their families. While we understand the convenience of Remind, we want to offer Canvas as an alternative solution that ensures effective communication without restrictions.

Why Canvas?

Canvas, our district’s learning management system, can serve as the ideal platform for seamless communication between educators, students, and parents. Canvas offers a mobile app that allows students and families to receive instant notifications. This ensures that important messages and updates are never missed, even on the go. By consolidating communications within Canvas, everything related to your course can be found in one place. No more switching between multiple apps or platforms. For example, if a parent checks a grade or due date in the Canvas app, they can message you directly from that screen instead of opening Remind.

Notification Settings

Due to the change in communication methods, you might encourage students to update their Notifications settings in the mobile app. Observers can also set up alerts for certain situations like a missing assignment or Announcements posted. See the chart below for helpful links and a quick video guide.

Plan to send out a communication to students and families about the settings you recommend for your course. If you use Announcements often, ask they adjust their settings to get push notifications for Announcements. If you plan to utilize the Canvas Inbox more frequently, prompt them to check that often.

Change can be daunting, but it can also lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness. By embracing Canvas as our primary platform for communication, we can provide students and families with a more reliable and comprehensive solution.


Action Required: Publish Your Course 23-24 Courses

Please note that each teacher must manually publish the course(s) they want to be visible to students.

Publishing your course only takes one click! From the Course Card on your Dashboard, click “Publish” (see screenshot below).
click publish on the course card on the dashboard

Alternatively, you can open the course home page and click the “Publish” button on the right side of the screen (see screenshot below).


Rest assured, students will not be able to access the course until the term start date. You can verify this under the course Settings (and adjust if desired).

Course Term settings

As a reminder, your courses in MISTAR have been auto-populated in Canvas and auto-rostered with students. These are the course(s) you should publish and actively use with students. Any manually created courses should either be copied or cross-listed with your auto-populated courses. You can also cross-list multiple sections of the same course following the instructions provided in one of our previous posts.

Need Help with Canvas?

get help with Canvas

Canvas is an important learning tool in our district. We hope that you continue to find it a valuable teaching and communication tool. If you are new to the district or have questions come up about it, we want you to be aware of several resources that are available to you.

First, click the “Help” icon on the Global Navigation Menu. For general and common questions try searching the Canvas guides. If your problem or question is unique and specific to your situation you can chat online or call the Canvas Support hotline. You can be connected with a support agent that can help you almost immediately.

image of Canvas help menu

If you would like to slowly browse resources, please check out our resources at the P-CCS Tech website, https://tech.pccsk12.com/canvas-lms/

Have a lot of questions? You can set up a 45-minute meeting with a Panda Pro. This experience is available through the beginning of September. Find more about this service on their website.

If you are instructional staff working on meeting your PD expectations, please note we have a number of courses including the following listed below (all of them are 3 hours) that can help increase your understanding of how to use Canvas effectively available for you in the Catalog. https://catalog.pccsk12.com/

  • Canvas 1.0
  • Canvas 2.0
  • Canvas 3.0
  • Canvas in the Face to Face Classroom
  • Simplify and Streamline your Elementary Classroom with Canvas

As always, please submit a tech ticket if you have any questions. https://links.pccsk12.com/helpdesk