Spartan Innovation Exemplar: David Stein, LCS Orchestra Conductor

How can iPads improve my teaching? That’s the question many people in our district asked when they got a new iPad last year. For David Stein, having an iPad completely transformed how he directs Lima Senior’s orchestra.

Instead of carrying around pages and pages of musical scores, Stein directs from scores that he’s uploaded to his iPad. “First, I scan my scores and turn them into PDFs,” he explained, “then upload them to Google Drive.” From there, Google Drive integrates with a musical app that makes it simple to direct the orchestra from the iPad. He can quickly make notes on the score as well as turn pages with a brief touch of the screen.

Another perk of directing this way is that during performances, he has all his scores in performance order ready to go instead of having multiple scores to maneuver and page through.

“This is so much easier than anything I’ve tried before,” Stein claimed. “I wouldn’t want to go back to being surrounded by pages and pages of music!” 

Do you know someone who uses technology successfully in their classroom? Maybe someone who has figured out a way to simplify or improve a process by integrating technology–maybe even you? Let Jeannine know at to help us identify the next Spartan Innovation Exemplar!

The Password is…

Let’s be real: Should you reuse passwords? Of course not! Do you? Probably…I know I do. Should you share passwords with anyone else? Of course not, again! Do you? Well…I do.  And how do you keep track of your passwords? If you are like many people, in an insecure manner.
A crucial part of digital citizenship involves creating good passwords and keeping them safe. Are your passwords strong enough? Do you know how to keep your information secure? The website Bits from Bytes has information about creating good passwords as well as a tool for checking the strength of your current passwords. Check your passwords at
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a credible source for all sorts of information about using technology responsibly. Their article “Making a Good Password” has helpful tips, too:

House Hippos Are Back–or are they? How to spot fake news

 Is fake news a real thing? And how can you tell if the information you find online is factual, accurate, and current? Media Smart’s “Break the Fake” offers humorous examples and clear guidelines and suggestions for learning to tell the difference. Go to Media Smart’s “Break the Fake” website at for more information. 
One of the tools featured on that website is a search engine that search fact-finding sites to help verify information. To fact check information, go to this site and type in the questionable info:  Reputable sites such as Snopes,, and Politifact offer a variety of related articles to help you determine whether the information is valid.
All Tech Considered  suggests these steps when you encounter questionable information online: Pay attention to the domain and URL (the site address); Read the “About Us” section of the site; Look at the quotes in a story;  Look at who said them; Check the comments; do a reverse image search. These steps are detailed in the article at . Dr. Melissa Zimdars, a professor of communication at Merrimack College, has compiled an even more detailed list of tips here:

Phishing Explained

“Don’t click on that link–it’s phishing!” Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is when scammers attempt to trick you into giving them pieces of your personal information. With that info, they may be able to access your online accounts. Some phishing attempts look incredibly authentic, with logos and language that sound nearly identical to companies you usually use.

The Federal Trade Commission has an excellent website explaining phishing, how to recognize it, and what to do if it happens to you. Go to to learn more.


Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Social media is a blessing and a curse–sometimes, simultaneously! The price we pay for staying in touch is a loss of privacy, and that is true in multiple ways, depending how philosophical a person is inclined to be.

You have more control than you might know you have, however. Understanding Facebook’s privacy settings determines who sees what and how much of your life can be accessible by your friends, family, or strangers.

Here are three points you need to understand before looking at Facebook’s privacy:

  1. If you have a Facebook account, you are how Facebook makes money. You are the product they sell to advertisers. You can’t change that, and you should realize that regardless how you set your privacy, Facebook knows what you’re posting. You can lock down your account so that very few people can see it, and make it so that specific people only access specific info, but Facebook still knows–and they keep extensive data. That’s the price of having social media.
  2. When Facebook updates its site, which includes the privacy settings, sometimes your privacy settings change in ways you don’t intend. Sometimes when they update, they set new or updated features to the most liberal privacy. That means that you need to check your settings once in a while–setting them once and leaving them alone after that is not a good idea.
  3. Best practices for Facebook privacy change, so make sure that any online tips or support you use is current. Look for a date that is as close to the current date as possible. Using Facebook’s online help is often enough, and it’s reasonable to assume their info is up to date, but be aware that sometimes, they have their interests more at heart than your interests–remember, YOU are their product, not their customer.

Note: These same warnings apply to other social media, like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and SnapChat. If you use those, you should learn how to set your security to a level you’re comfortable with, also.

Here’s a September 2019 article about Facebook privacy: 

Here’s the link to the official Help page about Facebook privacy

The Legal Ramifications of Educators Using Social Media

Way back when social media was new, teachers were routinely warned to not use social media at all. The NEA and the OEA came out with horror stories about teachers who lost their jobs over unwise use of MySpace and Facebook, and both LCS administration and the LEA cautioned teachers that use of social media was inappropriate for teachers.

Now, the NEA has a Facebook page and a Twitter account and the organization gives hints for state and local organizations to use social media effectively. The tide has turned.

The truth about teachers and social media is much more complex than either of those facts indicate. Teachers have used social media in ways that are obviously, unarguably wrong–and there are court cases proving that. There are also many, many teachers who use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest in ways that enhance their professional and personal lives.

Perhaps the most important point to remember if you use social media (or communication via technology in general) is this:

School administrators have customarily had the ability to regulate teacher conduct, even conduct that occurs outside
the classroom (Bathon & Brady, 2010). Likewise, the majority of state teaching licenses incorporate moral codes to
which teachers must adhere. Often teacher codes of conduct prohibit “behavior that would otherwise be unbecoming of a
teacher” and/or “engaging in conduct that would discredit the teaching profession.” Most state education codes permit
a teacher’s dismissal for “immorality,” or “moral turpitude,”even if the incident occurs in the teacher’s personal time
(from “Facebook Fired”)

In other words, what teachers do in their free time can lead to professional issues–and that includes what teachers do online. Because “moral turpitude” and conduct  unbecoming of a teacher are legally upheld as reasons to terminate contracts (and even lose teaching certificates), posting anything online that could be taken as “inappropriate” could lead to unpleasant consequences. However, the court cases are divided on how that’s defined. There’s no one simple guideline that fits all locations, all contexts. In fact, even something as simple as “don’t be online friends with students or parents” gets complicated if you live in the area where you teach or your own children attend the district you teach in. Considering how many sports teams, churches, and social groups use Facebook to communicate, for some people it’s not realistic to completely separate personal and professional life.

Also, the State of Ohio Code of Professional Conduct for Educators says the following:

Conduct unbecoming includes, but is not limited to, the following actions: a)Willfully or knowingly violating any student confidentiality required by federal or state laws, including publishing, providing access to, or altering confidential student information on district or public Web sites such as grades, personal information, photographs, disciplinary actions, or individual educational plans (IEPs) without parental consent or consent of students 18 years of age and older. b) Using confidential student, family, or school-related information in a non-professional way (e.g., gossip, malicious talk or disparagement).

In other words, if you want to post pictures of your students–even if the pictures are of fun events or in a positive context like a student getting an award–have the parents sign a note giving you permission to post it. Even though the district has the parents sign something similar as part of registration, for your protection, you should have parents’ permission. Furthermore, unless the parent specifically approves it, you definitely should not include the student’s name.

Being morally upright online isn’t the only issue to consider. Here are three other concerns that could impact teachers who use social media:

  1. Saying anything that is even potentially critical of your school, administration, or students—even by implication–can lead to losing your job. Beware of venting or frustrated comments as well as mentioning “funny” things that happened in class. Your idea of “funny” could be someone else’s idea of bullying.
  2. Setting up an account using a fake name and not identifying yourself as a teacher does not protect you. There’s a court case where an artist lost his teaching job because of art videos that were deemed inappropriate even though he was not acting in his capacity as a teacher and was not using his real name.
  3. Going on social media during school hours is a bad idea. It can be viewed as a violation of board policy, which could lead to disciplinary measures.

Social media is embedded in modern society, and we’re long past the stage where teachers should be warned to stay away from using it. In fact, teachers need to be in the forefront of people who use technology well and wisely–future generations depend on it!

Bonus: Here are good tips for using Facebook privacy settings wisely. It’s from September 2019, so it’s current as of when I’m posting this article: