Illuminate DNA Updates – Item Banks

Illuminate DnA has recently made some updates making item banks even more useful to you! Explore this slidedeck to see the updates:

If you’re unfamiliar – Illuminate DnA is an Online Achievement System built on Assessments, Data and Learning Tools, as well as Special Education Systems. Staff access illuminate by logging into MistarQ and clicking on Menu >Analysis >Mistar-DnA. Through Illuminate DnA staff can enter test scores, pull questions from item banks to create assessments, and use the data inside Illuminate to monitor student progress. Need more help with Illuminate DnA? Check out these resources from Jonathan Flukes, Dir. Of Data, Assess. Research & Evals.

Reminders for Semester 2/ Quarter 3 Canvas Courses

Publishing Canvas Courses

As a reminder, please publish your Semester 2/ Quarter 3 courses in Canvas.

  • Students only have access to Published courses.  If a course is Unpublished they will not see it on their dashboard. Please note that you if you publish a course you cannot unpublish a course after you have assigned something to a student.
  • Reminder: It is a contractual obligation to have your course published and an absent support page available to students/families.

Reminder: Customizing Your Canvas Dashboard

As the new semester has begun, some courses may look like they’re not on canvas, when really they’re just not on the Dashboard. Students and staff can all customize the dashboard to show only the courses they wish to see. To customize the teacher or student dashboard to show certain courses please see the graphic below:




Navigating Professional Development with Canvas Catalog

Need to know how to enroll in a course? Want to remember what courses you took in previous years? Want a record of PD for yourself? View the PCCS Canvas Catalog Guide to get all your catalog questions answered!

Reminder: Students must now Install Grammarly

What is Grammarly? 
Grammarly is a Chrome browser extension that reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery mistakes in English texts. It detects plagiarism and suggests replacements for the identified errors. It also allows users to customize their style, tone, and context-specific language.
Why do students now have to install it Manually? 
Previously the district was able to force install this extension for students to allow ease of access. However, it was interfering with spell check in Google docs causing issues for staff and students. Now, when students install Grammarly manually they can toggle the extension on or off so it will no longer interfere with Google docs’ internal spell check features.
How to Download the Grammarly Browser Extension

Below is a direct link to where the Grammarly extension can be installed.

Grammarly Chrome Extension from Chrome Webstore

How to Turn off the Grammarly browser extension
  1. Right-click the Grammarly icon in your browser’s toolbar.
  2. Select Manage Extensions from the dropdown menu:
  3. To turn off the extension, toggle off the blue switch next to Grammarly.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the technology department by submitting a service ticket.

Be a part of the Celebration – Crayola Creativity Week!

What is it? 

Kids are naturally curious. They ask why and how? They imagine. They create. When kids create, they solve problems and think up new solutions. Young creatives need to be nurtured, so that their originality shines. So their ideas can take shape and become real. When we celebrate their innate creative mindsets, children view the world with wonder. They embrace innovative thinking. They create possibilities. Join Crayola Creativity Week, and help children create the future.

Check out the full calendar of events here!

When is it? 

January 23-29, 2023

How can I be a part of it?

Sign up here!

  • Free Creative Learning Resources! Everyone who signs up will get FREE video activities and downloadable Thinking Sheets.* And the best part? It isn’t limited to just 7 days. Every educator will have free access to digital resources for cross-curricular creative learning fun all year long!
  • Giveaways! With giveaways, challenges from celebrity creators, and virtual classroom visits, it’s a celebration the whole school will want to be a part of!
  • Create Connections! Share students’ ideas, projects, and work in a secure online gallery, and connect with creative classrooms around the country during the live Celebration Assembly event.
  • Standards Aligned! Click here to see why YOUR school should join the fun!

Continue reading

Closing Down Technology For Break!

Tech break checklist

Happy holidays all!

For those of you about to begin a well deserved two week winter break, which we hope will be all you hope for and a bit more, on THURSDAY before you leave (and possibly, if need be, again on Friday)….

WOULD YOU PLEASE SECURE ALL VALUABLES in the classrooms and office spaces you inhabit. This includes laptops, document cameras, Apple TVs, remotes, and interactive pens.

Further, would you please make sure all iPads and ChromeBooks are in their carts and those CARTS ARE LOCKED and plugged in before leaving.

Finally, would you please also POWER OFF any of the following equipment, if it is equipment you handle:

  • projectors
  • sound amps
  • SmartBoards
  • desktop computers
  • monitors
  • printers

THANK YOU for your cooperation.

Tech break checklist

Grammarly Extension Will No Longer Be Force Installed Starting January 16, 2023

Grammarly is a Chrome browser extension that reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery mistakes in English texts. It detects plagiarism and suggests replacements for the identified errors. It also allows users to customize their style, tone, and context-specific language.

The Grammarly Chrome extension has been force installed on student Google accounts for the past several years, however, it recently started creating an issue with the built-in spell check feature in Google Docs. Its interference with Google’s native spell checker means that when students or staff are using Google Docs and words are misspelled, these mispellings aren’t identified with a red underline. While Google’s spell checker can still be used, the lack of underlining requires you to launch it by depressing Ctrl+Alt+X and using the arrow keys to cycle through words of concern.

To address this issue, the district will no longer force install the Grammarly Chrome extension on student accounts starting Monday, January 16, 2023. (Staff will not be impacted by this change since the Grammarly extension is not force installed on their accounts.) Unfortunately, when Chrome extensions are no longer force installed, they are automatically removed from the impacted accounts. If students would still like to use the Grammarly extension after it is removed, they must manually install it from the Chrome Webstore. Below is a direct link to where the Grammarly extension can be installed.

Grammarly Chrome Extension from Chrome Webstore

After the extension has been reinstalled, users will be able to use it as they have in the past, but also will be able to disable it when desired, such as when using Google Docs.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the technology department by submitting a service ticket.

Some sources for Video Clips Accessible in district

Many teachers like to use video clips to help engage students with their content.

Below are some websites built for teachers that offer usable classroom clips.

Classhook: Search for clips from popular movies and TV shows by grade level and clip length. Or browse by subject to find something to fit your needs. Their free plan includes up to 20 ad-free clips per month with an embedded question as well as access to discussion starter templates.

The Kids Should See This: Self-described as “smart videos for curious minds of all ages.”

The Literacy Shed: This site has video clips and lesson ideas, including many of the Disney shorts.

Of course, don’t forget the district-provided video content resources like BrainPOP (accessed via Clever) and EdPuzzle (6-12).

Finally, on the TED-Ed lessons website you can sort TED-Ed lessons by grade level by going to the TED-Ed lessons page then looking about half-way down the page on the right-hand side to find “filter by” and “sort by” settings. In the “filter by” drop-down menu you can choose elementary school, middle school, high school, or university. You can combine grade level sorting with sorting to find the oldest, newest, most watched, and least watched TED-Ed lessons.

See also this post from last spring for more online resources offering video clips.



ChatGPT: AI technology specializes in dialogue and generates original responses to questions in moments

ChatGPT by OpenAI (link blocked on our network) was recently released and has taken social media by storm. ChatGPT is a technology that is powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence).

What is unique about this technology is the AI can answer a multitude of questions with original responses that cannot be checked by modern plagiarism checkers. The writing is so advanced that these platforms (such as Google’s Originality Reports and Turnitin) see it as original work. There are springing up detectors such as this one that can be used to analyze and rate on a scale how likely a block of text was AI-generated, but they are far from 100% accurate.

See for example this article and look at the example below gathered from this article:

Technology disrupting the education field is nothing new. When the PhotoMath app – Video, came out a couple of years ago, it too made an impact. The fact that a student could simply take a picture of a math problem and the app could not only give an immediate answer, but then show the steps it takes to solve the problem, caused consternation.

Below are some tips and tricks that we recommend to teachers to help address possible concerns with usage:

  1. Utilize a blended learning/flipped model: Canvas can offer a multitude of options and solutions. Upload lessons, screencasts, teachings, using the Canvas platform, and have students view these outside of school. So, then when you are meeting in person, they can write during class time, complete math work, have meaningful discussion about what was learned.
  2. Google Assignments: In Canvas, teachers can assign work with Google Assignments. Which allows the teacher to share a template/file with the student. In doing so, the teacher has immediate access through Google Drive to that assignment. So the teacher can “check-in” on the assignment throughout the writing process. Here is a previous blog post put out by the TIS team.
  3. Version History in Google Docs/Sheets/Slides: With google docs auto saving technology, the docs are saved every 3 seconds. Because of this the version history of docs can be extremely helpful. If a large portion of the writing appears, more than likely this was block copied. For help with version history click here: You may also want to use the Google docs’ add-on Draftback to playback the composing of a document so you can see the timing as well.
  4. AI detector software: Since GPT has come out, different programs have been created to help detect AI generated Text. The program that seems to identify the most, has been GPT-2 Output Detector. Simply copy and paste the text into this website, and it will tell the user if text was created using AI software.
  5. Other detectors include:, , or
  6. Frame different questions, in some cases seeking subjective responses (so for example, “explain your opinion on ___ with evidence that informed your opinion”).
  7. NEWLY ADDED RESOURCES to further explore AI
    1. check out CommonSense’s posting on ChatGPT at
    2. check out the AI Education Project at

While the district has blocked ChatGPT on its network (due to terms of service issues as well as for security and academic concerns), this tool still can be accessed at home or on cell phones by students.

We hope that the ideas above help you and support you with understanding and leveraging this new technology and how to continue to support your students when new technology appears.

As always, reach out to curriculum and instruction team for additional ideas and best instructional practices for the classroom. Also, reach out to a member of the TIS team for additional ideas and support around educational technology, and how to utilize technology in the classroom.

LATEST TOS have now been updated to allow for service use by those between 13 and 18, but parental/guardian permission is still required:

Terms of service age clause


Blocked Websites

Lately, we have received a few tickets about blocked websites. Please keep in mind that certain websites may not be blocked for teachers, yet are blocked for students. As far in advance as possible before starting a lesson with students that involves an online activity, please confirm that a student can successfully get to the website and the activities you hope to use with them on the site. If the site/video/activity is blocked you can submit a tech ticket to request that it be unblocked. Keep in mind that we have different access permissions set at our three grade levels – elementary, middle and high – and you should confirm with an account of the same level as your expected lesson audience. So for example, if you teach middle school students, but have an elementary student at home, testing a site on their account may not be an accurate picture of access for your middle schoolers.

Related Notes:

  • Some YouTube videos must be approved before students will be able to view them (see this blog post on how to approve)
  • Google Sites from domains other than are blocked for elementary students. If you submit a ticket well in advance, the tech department may be able to get a copy of the site to place in our own domain, provided it is not a Google site of a personal Gmail account.