Archive for December, 2015

Christmas & Cybersecurity

Note from Laura: Matt’s post here about cybersecurity at Christmas is a good reminder for us all in our professional and personal lives. No matter how you interact with technology, Matt’s tips will help you out!

One of my (Matt’s) passions is cybersecurity. I remember back when Target had a hacker break into their account. I had used my debit card there two days before that happened. Fortunately, none of my information was used or stolen, but it has made me think about cybersecurity.

One of the biggest things that we have to look out for this time of year is identity theft and security breaches from the use of online shopping and credit cards. We have to be careful where we shop online because it’s not as secure as we think it is. There are more and more people today trying to steal your identity and use your credit cards, and they often get information online.

One way to protect yourself is to buy insurance for identity theft. Zander has an awesome plan. They treat their customers really well and give them the tools they need. They also have people who handle cases for you instead of you having to do everything yourself if your identity gets stolen. Your credit card may also have some protection. For example, if you use Visa and have your identity stolen, they will stop the charges and replace what was taken.

You can also use these practices when shopping online:

  • Erase your pin, username, and password from sites. Some sites have an option to “save for next time,” but don’t do it!
  • Have your bills auto drafted from your account so you know what you paid and to whom.
  • Have identity theft protection on yourself (like Zander).
  • Monitor your credit once a month or more.

Be safe and careful this Christmas season! Have fun when shopping, but remember to protect yourself.

PTF Cookie Exchange for Staff & Teachers

As the Christmas season is upon us, the GRACE PTF would like to spread good cheer and warm wishes to our Staff and Teacher’s at GRACE. If you love to bake, then now is the time to get your “holiday bake on!!!” We are asking for volunteers to sign up and bring 2 dozen of their favorite homemade or store bought cookies, bars, brownies or candies.

The PTF will decorate the room with Christmas goodies that are donated. Then each teacher and staff will receive a container to fill with 2 dozen of their favorite treats to take home and share with their families. Last year both campuses were filled with the wonderful smell of yummy goodies and the GRACE staff and teachers were so excited and appreciative of the love you shared!

If you would like to donate, please sign up at http://www.signupgenius. com/go/30e084eafa62fa31-grace2, then drop off your baked goods during morning carpool on Thursday, December 17th at 8:00 am. You can drop off at either the lower or upper campus.  We will have a cart in carpool that morning so you won’t have to even get out of your car. You may also drop off items at the front desk at either campus if you prefer.

We ask that you place an index card on top of your item so we know what type of baked good you brought in to share.  Also, please place your items on a Christmas themed platter (fancy or disposable.) We ask if you would like your platter returned, to place your name on the bottom and pick it up from the front desk when you pick up your child that afternoon.

If you have any questions, please contact: Cindy Bagwell ( or Patty Sullivan (

Screencastify: It’s Awesome

I [Laura] work from Illinois, and GRACE is in North Carolina.  How does this work?  The short answer is: through the wonders of technology!  One specific tool I’ve been using recently is Screencastify.

Screencastify is a Chrome extension.  After I did the free install, I can capture easy screencasts just by clicking on the button in my browser.  Those screencasts then save automatically to Google Drive, where I can share them with teachers.

Since this seems like a time where a short video is worth many words, here’s how Screencastify works:

As you can see, it’s easy and seamless, for me and for teachers.  All I have to do is share the link with them, and they’ve got easy access to a personalized video.

Why might you care about this?  If you’re a teacher or technology coach and you’re long-distance, you clearly need tools like this that let you help your teachers.  Even if you’re local, Screencastify is a great option for recording tutorials and answering questions for teachers on your time (so you’re not trying to find a time you are both free, which can be hard).  It also can be useful to record information for parents as well, such as walking through a project description or sharing information on an upcoming field trip.

If you’re interested, here is the link to Screencastify in the Chrome store.  In case you were wondering, alas, Google or Screencastify did not pay me anything at all to share my Screencastify love.  🙂