Create Your Own Connections Puzzle

Many people enjoy playing the New York Times game, Connections. Did you know you can easily create your own Connections puzzle to share with students or vice versa? No log-in  is required, just create the puzzle and share the link. This could be a great way to review vocabulary and find connections between concepts.

image of puzzle maker

Try it yourself!

Have a great break!

Happy Thanksgiving break, one and all.

As you close out your classrooms for a well deserved break the rest of this week, please ensure these technology items are also taken care of. Thanks!

Classroom Technology

  • Please also secure or take home all District-assigned devices (laptop, Chromebook, iPad, etc.), as well as all personally-owned devices.
  • Power off projectors/IFPs, sound amps, and desktop computers. Unplug any lamps, power strips, etc. You may leave district printers and copiers plugged in and powered on.
  • If you have a cart of devices, ensure that all devices are plugged in, the cart is locked and plugged in.


A few highlights from the November issue….
Create Digital Thank You Cards with Applied Digital Skills
Gobble up the fun this Thanksgiving! In our Show Appreciation with Google Slides lesson, your students can create heartfelt digital cards showcasing their creativity while expressing gratitude.
Arts & Culture: Take your Students on a Virtual Field Trip to the White House
The White House is opening its virtual doors with a new guided tour on Google Arts & Culture. You’re invited to virtually explore the historic grounds with your class, no permission slips or travel arrangements required.
White House
Arts & Culture: Native American Heritage Month
Explore Google Arts & Culture’s Indigenous Americas hub which honors Native groups’ rich heritage and evolving presence, and is expanding with of nine new digital exhibits.
Indigienous Art
Arts & Culture: A Taste of China
Learn about Chinese culture through its gastronomy and explore 5,000+ years of culinary heritage on Google Arts & Culture.
Chinese taste
See past issues or sign up for the Google Education Newsletter.

November Edtech PD Offerings

This month, teachers are working through the professional development window. You have until November 30 to complete 6 hours of professional development courses. We have over 200 offerings available at Canvas Catalog. We have several new courses to help you utilize the district’s edtech tools including:

Other courses highlight: Canvas, Newsela, Canva, Edpuzzle, Seesaw, WeVideo, IXL, and Read&Write for Google. Search the Catalog for those items to see the options.


What’s new on IXL – Oct 2023

IXL October roundup

IXL continues to share feature updates. Their October roundup highlights new units of the Takeoff curriculum, more tailored learning games, and more.

New Takeoff by IXL Math™ units We’ve added units 4 and 5 to the Takeoff curriculum!
These comprehensive lesson plans, learning activities, and assessments provide 2nd-5th grade teachers with everything they need to personalize whole-class math instruction.

New school-level reports
School administrators have two new reports to track student practice: Skill Usage and Skill Proficiency!
These reports clearly show how your students are tracking towards research-backed goals, complete with powerful filtering and seamless export.

Tailored IXL game variations

We’ve made updates to our IXL learning games to be better tailored for each grade level!

IXL’s games include a wide range of content and gameplay options. To make it easier for younger students to work on content that’s appropriate for their grade level, we’ve added multiple variations of some games that better align to different levels of advancement. We’ve also preset the difficulty levels and game board sizes so that students can jump right into gameplay.

Check out some of the new game variations below:

We now have more than 360 games on IXL! Find them on the grade level pages for K-5.

Action Required: MiStar Configure

Middle and high School teachers, please ensure that your MiStar Gradebook setup is complete. If just one teacher for a student has not completed this step, that student and their family will not be able to view any of their assignments for any classes in MiStar.

TO DO: Please go to your MISTAR 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.

Configure gradebook

FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS: Also, make sure you are NOT having an incorrect term (for example Q1 instead of now Q2 or Semester 1) display for your students/families in your grade book. If you do, that will also cause students and families to not see any of their students’ assignments in Parent and Student Connect.  From this reference sheet:

making visible marking periods

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

Canva for Education School Teams

We have recently updated Canva to incorporate school teams. Now we can send up a brand kit for each school and have more ability to choose what tools are available for different age levels. Additionally, if you have student classes rostered to you, you’ll have a “class” set up in Canva which works like a shared folder. Two important things to be aware of:

  • Going forward, please use your Canva school team, especially if you are using it with students. You can change teams with the team switcher:

  • If you have designs in the other team that you want to use with students, you can copy the design to another team.

steps to copy to another team

If you are already a Canva user, the next time you log out and log back into Canva, you’ll be joined to the new school team. Your pre-existing content will be accessible by switching between teams; you can copy designs to your new school team by following these steps. Click here to log out of Canva to get started.

  • Please read the Canva teacher’s guide, even if you’ve used Canva before – there are a few differences between our new organization-wide version of Canva and versions you may have used in the past.
  • To learn more about using Canva to support your work, check out Canva’s general learning site (Canva Design School) or their Teacher Resources page for resources specific to K-12 students and teachers.

Seesaw Rebrand! Look for the new icon October 27!

Seesaw is rebranding! Seesaw began over a decade ago with a mission to provide every elementary student with joyful and connected learning experiences that lay the foundation for success in life. On October 27, 2023 Seesaw will launch a new logo, app icon and marketing website inspired by the learning loop. They’ve updated our colors and fonts to demonstrate our commitment to accessibility and enabling all learners to participate effectively.

To support the transition in your classroom, seesaw has created classroom printable materials, resources, and an FAQ to answer questions. These will allow your students and families to get familiar with the new brand logo and icon. Find these exciting resources here.

At PCCS all K-2 students have access to seesaw for schools through clever with rostering through the district. If you are not in grades K-2 and want to use Seesaw with your students, you can do so by sharing a code for students to join your classroom in Seesaw. If you have any questions about Seesaw, please submit a tech request.

Resource: Science Journal for Kids and Teens

screenshot from website


Are you looking for an exciting way to bring real scientific research into your classroom? Science Journal for Kids offers a free online science magazine featuring peer-reviewed research papers adapted into kid-friendly language.

Each article on the site includes:

  • Assessment questions and answer keys
  • Introductory videos
  • Keywords, reading levels (some articles offered at multiple reading levels), and curriculum alignment
  • Some articles are translated in up to 5 languages
  • Additional teaching resources like slideshows, labs, quizzes, and recommended websites

The Science Journal for Kids team selects recent, high-impact research papers covering diverse topics like pollution, endangered species, climate change, and more. They rewrite the papers using common vocabulary, real-world examples, and funny anecdotes, when appropriate, to make them accessible and engaging to students.

The adapted articles are then reviewed and approved by the scientists who authored the original research. Experienced science teachers also provide supplementary materials like presentations, hands-on activities, worksheets, and quizzes to easily integrate the articles into your curriculum.

With Science Journal for Kids, you can introduce your students to cutting-edge scientific discoveries in a format they’ll understand and enjoy. This free resource saves you time in locating age-appropriate materials and supplements them with everything you need to actively teach the concepts.

Bring some excitement into your classroom and tap into your students’ natural curiosity! Visit Science Journal for Kids and Teens today to explore this invaluable teaching tool. If you are inclined, check out the TED Talk from the founder below:

Status update – where district leadership stands on AI and NLP as of October 2023

AI and NLP in Education

Advancements in generative artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) have been evolving quickly over the past year, which is both exciting and concerning. While generative AI and NLP have tremendous educational potential, there are also concerns about the quality of these tools, as well as their data privacy policies and practices. In response, P-CCS has put together a working group to better understand, evaluate, and determine how students and staff might use generative AI and NLP in the future.

Our district leadership, in collaboration with other districts and industry, is already working on a plan for generative AI and NLP tools. We have begun to explore how we might leverage the power of generative AI and NLP to enhance teaching and learning practices, promote innovation, and prepare students for an AI-informed and driven future; at the same time district leadership also acknowledges the educational arena shouldn’t simply allow full access to all manner of AI and NLP tools and services. Within our exploration and plan development, we believe consideration ought to be given to the ethical considerations of using generative AI, including equity implications, bias, and privacy concerns, and how to address them responsibly. Service terms of use (including age restrictions and data usage) also need to be reviewed and factored in.

While it might frustrate those who want to adopt and embrace all that is AI right away – and the allure to do so is understandably compelling since AI tools are so powerful – this school year should be considered as a year of learning, so that a thoughtful implementation is more likely to follow. Please understand that as part of this journey, access to some tools is expected to shift in the coming months, with some tools and services presently accessible later being blocked and other tools and services presently blocked later made accessible. 

We will continue to provide updates from the District’s AI working group throughout the year.