Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Summer Learning Opportunity Grants for Teachers

Sharing this today so that our teachers might take a look at the Tennessee Classroom Chronicles blog and pursue their summer learning/travel projects toward making themselves even better teachers and improving the learning experience for their students.  Read about the "Fund for Teachers" grants and how YOU can take advantage of this program to help stretch our limited professional development budget this year.

Classroom Chronicles blog

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Connect with Us

There are myriad ways to connect with the "Best Kept Secret in Nashville," MNPS Virtual School. I'm going to bullet them in here so that you can always have a place to go.

Well, you sort of already do. Our website at has been described from above as "the best school website in Metro Nashville Public Schools." We are proud of that, in part because we know that there are some very good ones; but also because we have put hours and hours of hard work into making it so.

Many ways to connect are linked in our footer bar. There's Facebook, Twitter, our bi-monthly newsletter, and that last link in the row of four shares our weekly Literacy Focus.  These last are Prezis created by the capable Mr. Michael Terry, v-Learning Support Specialist and v-Lead Teacher. We are very soon rolling out the Live Chat feature where that right-hand footer icon will take you. 

Another initiative we are rolling out soon involves 3D Virtual Environments, in particular an OpenSimulator virtual "island" hosted by Kitely. In this environment, students and teachers can meet with voice capability, text chat archive, and image display options. They can also build projects demonstrating concepts they've learned in their courses. Break-out chat islands are connected to individual open-air classroom platforms and there's a "sandbox" rimmed with displays about how to best learn to use this new "place." 

As we roll this out over the next few months, I'll share here about how it's going. There will be pictures, and perhaps even machinima! If you're brave enough to venture forth to the public copy of the space, updated as improvements are made to our private world, you can see it at .

Here's a snapshot:

Meanwhile, connect! Even dropping by our beautiful Thomas W. Hatfield Student Success Center at 4805 Park Avenue, up on the 3rd floor, would be great. Though we're busy busy busy someone will always take a few minutes to show you around. See you soon!

Scott Merrick, v-Learning Support Specialist, v-Lead Teacher, and Academies Coach

Monday, October 28, 2013

AUP at MNPS Helps Students Along the 21st Century Road

We have long had an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) at Metro Nashville (Tennessee) Public Schools, but it is more than ever important now that the District has migrated student emails to Microsoft Office 365
With that migration, all students were required to take another look at the AUP, even though they may have "signed" it years ago when the district was purchasing email server space from the City of Nashville. Agreeing to the AUP as revise in May 2012 opens up the wealth of resources Office 365 has to offer, including Outlook email, Skydrive cloud storage, Office in the cloud, and RSS feeds.

The Acceptable Use Policy is designed to state and support safe online practice not only by students, but by staff and faculty. It can be read online at any time. Click here to do so. 

The standard caveats apply, including in the "unacceptable use" list such infractions as...

13) Revealing the home address or phone number of one’s self or another person.
and 21) Knowingly placing a computer virus on a computer or network. 

Though it may be assumed that such advice and warnings are common knowledge these days, a school district owes it to its administration and its constituents to reiterate them and to protect itself and its charges from wrong doing or from attack by others.

That's what it's all about. 

Other policies and safe/best practices are noted in the AUP's "Netiquette" section. They are so universal because they are so generally accepted as the right thing to do. Here they are in total:
 Network and E-Mail Etiquette
1) Be polite.
2) Use appropriate language and appropriate keying etiquette (Example: using all caps is considered yelling).
3) Do not reveal personal data (picture of yourself, home address, phone number, phone number of other people, picture of others).

4) Remember that the other users of the District’s computer online services and
other networks are human beings whose culture, language, and humor have
different points of reference from your own.
5) Users should be polite when forwarding e-mail. The intent of forwarding email should be on a need-to-know basis.
6)The distribution of chain letters, spam, advertisements and unauthorized solicitations is unacceptable and forbidden.
7)E-mail should be used for educational or administrative purposes only.
8)E-mail transmissions, stored data, transmitted data, or any other use of the District’s computer online services by students, employees, or any other user shall not be considered confidential and may be monitored at any time by designated staff to ensure appropriate use.
9)All e-mail and all e-mail contents are property of the District.
These policies are most important in our school, where most of our work is carried out online, and we appreciate them and look forward to helping our students incorporating them into their lives as they create their digital footprints and leave them behind for others to follow. As they move through our Virtual Academy of Business and Marketing and take advantage of our Introduction to Social Media class, all of this will more than come in handy. It will be essential!

As students access their courses through our district's Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS), they may move into other LMSs for particular courses, but we utilize Blackboard as the starting place for all of them, engaging students with its built-in Class Messaging system. We are looking forward to upcoming deployments of the Chat interface and in-course Classrooms using Blackboard Collaborate. It is a world of wonder, opening up new options for students as we prepare them (and they us) for the immense changes education will see in upcoming years.

Visit and explore our website at for much much more.

Posted by Scott Merrick, MNPS Virtual School v-Learning Support Specialist and v-Lead Teacher