Below you will find important details about how to handle your files and accounts in eBackpack, Google Drive, and Veracross.  Please be sure to read the entire post.

*Access to eBackpack will end June 30th for Grades 6-9
*For students who are graduating or leaving Pike, all files will be erased after June 30th.  

For all returning students

  • Any file in the “My Files” area that students want to save should be moved to the E-Portfolio area.  All other files will be deleted.
  • If you want to save assignments turned into the teacher.
    • Navigate to that assignment.
    • Open the file that you turned in.
    • Click the “share square” and then move it to Notability or Google Drive.
  • Any file in the E-Portfolio area will remain available as read-only next year for returning students.

Google Drive Grades 3-9
*Access for graduating or leaving students ends June 30th
*Access for returning students ends August 25th – Between August 25 and the first week of school there will be no access so that we can change passwords and perform other maintenance

There are two options for saving files.

Option 1 – When you only want to save a few files.

  1. Log into your account on a laptop or desktop (not an iPad).
  2. Select the files you would like to save.
  3. Go to More Actions (three dots) > Download…
  4. Make the appropriate choices for file formats and then click download.
  5. This will download a .zip file containing your documents.  You can open these documents on a home computer.

Option 2 – When you want to save all of your files.

  1. Log into your account on a laptop or desktop (not an iPad).
  2. Then go to Google Takeout
  3. Under “Select data to include”, put a check next to Drive only.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and click “next”.
  5. Click “Create Archive” in the “Customize download format” section.
  6. If you have a lot of files, this process will take a good bit of time.
  7. It will say that you will receive an email when it is finished but you won’t because students don’t have access to email.
  8. Instead return to Google Takeout later and choose “Manage Archives” at the top of the screen.
  9. Find your archive and click download.  Your files will be downloaded as a .zip file.  You can transfer these files to a home computer.

Veracross – all grades
*Access for graduating or leaving students ends June 30th

  • Reports must be printed before June 30th.  As of June 30th, 2019, there will be a $15 fee to receive a copy of your child’s report(s) if you did not download and save or print the report(s) prior to the parent report portal closing.  Please make your check payable to “The Pike School” and send it to the attention of Gale Mender.  After payment is received, you will be provided with a copy of the requested report(s).
    • Lower, Middle, and Upper School reports will be published on Veracross on Monday, June 17th.

Access to reports for returning students ends July 26th.

  • Reports must be printed before July 26th.  As of July 26, 2018, there will be a $15 fee to receive a copy of your child’s report(s) if you did not download and save or print the report(s) prior to the parent report portal closing.  Please make your check payable to “The Pike School” and send it to the attention of Gale Mender.  After payment is received, you will be provided with a copy of the requested report(s).
    • Lower, Middle, and Upper School reports will be published on Veracross on Monday, June 17th.

Why Technology?

If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s Ted talk titled “Start with why” it is definitely worth a watch.  In it, he explains that most organizations know “what” they do and “how” they do it, but great organizations know “why” they do it.  Knowing “why” separates the great organizations from the ordinary organizations.  In the video below, I attempt to drill down to the core or essence of why we use technology in the classroom. It is my hope that this captures the rationale of what drives our program and brings a better understanding to our community about our technology philosophy at the Pike School.  If you have any “Why Technology?” thoughts please leave a comment or get in touch with the Tech Dept.

LEGO Month

LEGO Extravaganza

For 4 weeks our Makerspace Spark was open to the entire school for a special Lego Event. Through a series of LEGO challenges students were encouraged through the art of play in learning to further develop a mindset of creativity, curiosity and innovation.  Many programs throughout the year in Spark support and extend Pike’s mission to develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit.  See a recap in the form of many pictures and videos below:

Upper School students working together to take the make letters out of LEGOs challenge.

Lower School students working together to design a bridge and car that will withstand an earthquake.

Designing and testing marble mazes with Lower School students

A Middle School student tests how far she can build out with LEGO bricks from a wall

Middle School students challenge themselves to follow steps and build something behind a curtain without looking.

Some couldn’t resist the urge to sort by color!

And a lot of cool structures were made to be part of our tiny city called Pike Micropolis, and there were many more activities.

The Apple Store made by some Upper School students

Another Pike Micropolis creation

You may be interested in exploring resources for using LEGOs in your own classroom.  There are so many inventive possibilities. See some resources below. If you are ever looking for ways to bring LEGO into your classroom please let the Tech Department know.  

  • This blog post by the Excited Educator offers a LEGO Design Challenge that works with students in grades 6 – 8.
  • Here are several cool LEGO Activity ideas via the Educating Young Engineers website.
  • This Teaching Ideas website has a huge range of ways to use LEGOs in the classroom with activity ideas for many subjects.
  • There even has been some recent news about a new LEGO Educator program for anyone who wants to learn more about helping students develop the skills and knowledge to create, innovate and learn via LEGOs.


Parent Technology Resource: Common Sense Media

In the Pike School Tech Department we find that families are very interested in getting more information about media and technology for their kids related to using screens at home.  We often recommend the website Common Sense Media to Parents because we find it to be an excellent resource. With such a comprehensive website it can be hard to find the time to sift through to figure out exactly how it can be useful to your family.  To help with this, below are 3 easy ways that parents can get started using Common Sense Media immediately.

Apps, Movies and Television Reviews

Do you struggle to know which apps are right for your child and family? Common Sense Media’s App Reviews quickly show you the appropriate age, educational value, whether there is inappropriate content, reviews of what parents need to know and whether there are hidden in app purchases. My own kids know that I am going to check this before any app goes on our family iPad or if they want to watch a movie or new TV show and it has become a time saving resource for my family.  The same level of detail is provided for movie and television reviews.  In one place you can see information about the movie or TV show, with suggested talking points about your choice.

YouTube Reviews

YouTube Reviews on Common Sense Media provide a good way to get an idea of the quality and age appropriateness of some YouTube content.  It can be risky to just let your kids use YouTube without knowing exactly what they are watching since it is really easy to get sidetracked to inappropriate content and when the next video automatically plays parents can lose track of how long their kids have been using the app.   I have set up limits for how much time my children use YouTube with ScreenTime available in IOS 12 (<– Apple support page linked if you are looking for more information) and they use the YouTube Kids app (Ages 7 and up) which improves the likelihood that they will be watching kid-targeted videos.  YouTube’s curation process isn’t perfect so it is still recommended that you tune in to what your child is watching.  

Advice for Parents

Looking for general advice about certain topics to help you navigate issues related to parenting and technology? Common Sense Media has advice that is broken down by Age, Topic and more.  For example, this is where you might go if you are trying to decide what the right age is for a device in your family and you want to lay the groundwork for responsible use and manage the challenges and opportunities that come along with using a phone or iPad.  There are many more topics and guides that can be helpful to your family in the Advice for Parents section.

All of these suggestions allow you to take in the parenting information that you need, while encouraging conversations and connection within your family about difficult topics.  There is so much more available on Common Sense Media when you have more time to explore. If you are looking to stay connected with their timely blog posts you can subscribe to receive email updates on The Common Sense Media Blog or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.  If you have any questions or find any interesting discoveries that you want to share please let the Tech Department know.

3D Printed Cookie Cutters

A #throwback post to before winter break.  We (The Tech Department) wanted to challenge ourselves to make something with the 3D printer in the Makerspace.  With winter break coming we decided to all design a cookie cutter in Tinkercad (A free tool that allows you to make 3D designs for printing) or Cookie Caster (a site specifically for designing your own cookie cutters) and then make cookies.

To give an idea of the process for 3D printing, after you use a 3D design tool like those listed above,  you generate a .stl file that can be sent to a 3D printer.  Here is an example of what the final design that is sent to the printer looks like:

In our case, we currently use a NVBot 3D printer.  Here it is in action printing all of our cookie cutters.

A picture of a 3D printed Cookie Cutter in action:

Once the cookies were baked we invited the Pike Community to come up to the Tech Department Office to sample our selection.  We really had fun with this challenge and thank everyone for helping us eat the results (see pictures below that include Pike Positron cookies, Android Bot cookies, iPad cookies and Yoda cookies).  If anyone is looking for ideas to use the 3D printer with students or for classroom materials please reach out to us.

What is Meaningful Learning?

by Aaron Hovel
Originally posted on Pike Perspectives

I recently attended a workshop titled Modern Learner Lab – Student Agency and Inquiry. In the workshop the topic centered around student agency. The presenters asserted that learner agency is shifting because of modern technologies.  We can now learn Algebra, the Civil War, or French anytime, anywhere, and with anyone we choose. At the same time, the future of work is more and more unclear. I discussed this in a previous post about how automation is claiming more and more jobs.  Because of this shift, where learning can and does happen anywhere and anytime, they asked us to rethink our classroom practices based on the below 3 frameworks.

First Framework – What is meaningful learning?
Take a moment now to answer that question in your head or write it down. I have been an educator for all of my adult life, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until recently, I would have had a hard time defining meaningful learning on the spot. That’s because I’ve thought so much about teaching and about what good teaching looks like. When I think about schools and education, I envision the teacher. To answer this question I need to envision the learner, and as a teacher, I need to be the chief learner and work hard to create a learning culture rather than a teaching culture. Ok, do you have your definition of meaningful learning now? I really like this definition of learning by Mark Heintz  @MrMarkHeintz⁩  “Meaningful learning is being engaged in the process of developing new understandings or skill sets that are useful in our lives.”  You can read more about his journey to define learning. How does his definition compare to yours?

Second Framework – The Modern Context
In other words, this framework encourages you to rethink your classroom practices based on the changes that are occurring in the world because of developments in technology. I discussed this in the first paragraph but to recap,  information is ubiquitous and learning can happen anywhere. The skills that our students will need in the future are changing. Top among these skills is solving messy or ill-structured problems and persuasive communication.

Third Framework – Classroom practices
Lastly, they asked us to consider classroom practices. Does our teaching align with what we believe about powerful learning and with what we understand about the modern context?  The workshop facilitators explained that this is where they see the most disconnect. Often times classroom practices do not match what we know about meaningful learning and the changes in the world today.  They challenged us to provide students with more choice or agency over what they learn, real-world problems, real audiences, and a culture that supports learning by both students and teachers alike. When students choose what they want to learn, rather than what they are told to learn, meaningful learning occurs.

The room was full of teachers and this was a difficult topic of discussion for many of us. Most teachers have spent their lives teaching a curriculum; predetermined “important” set of knowledge that we think all students should learn by the end of the year. Can we really give that up and trust students to choose what they want to learn? I agree that choosing what I want to learn increases the chances that the learning will be meaningful to me, but what if I never choose to learn cell structure or genetic inheritance (you might be able to tell I was a science teacher)? Or Shakespeare? Does it matter? As I left the workshop, I was definitely intrigued by the idea of giving students more choice in what they learn. I’m thankful to work at Pike where exploring ideas like this are encouraged and supported. I’m curious about your thoughts on student agency. Should students be given more control over their learning?  Do you believe there a set of knowledge that all students should have? Do you think student learning should be transformed to keep pace with the rapid technology changes in the world?

Printing Issue related to WiFi Network

Tech Tip: A resolution to a common printing issue that has come up this fall

If you can’t print from your laptop a good first step is to check to be sure that you are on either:

  • PikeNet (most Faculty and Staff)
  • or PikeAdminNet (if you are located in the front office)

To check click on WiFi symbol on the menu bar in the upper right of your Mac laptop.  

See picture below:

If you are still having printing issues and have confirmed that you are on PikeNet or PikeAdminNet please contact the Tech Department.  


This article via Common Sense Media got me thinking about the bare minimum that our community can be doing as a first step to protect their data online.  With more and more news about privacy violations it can feel daunting to know where to start. Rather than look at a big list and feel overwhelmed, one good first step is to pick one thing to work on.  A good suggestion from the Common Sense Media article (see below) that is easy to start with is passwords:

Use tough passwords and change them frequently. The best practice for passwords is to use real words or phrases you can remember easily — but spell them incorrectly. They should be at least eight characters and have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, such as 5pEAzhawh$ for “five pizzas.” Even better, use a password manager like Lastpass.

We all have multiple passwords to keep up with at Pike and in our personal lives.  Many in our community use LastPass and find that it is a great help with this challenge.   If you would like help getting started with a password manager let us know and we can help.  Please reach out because if there is enough interest we could organize something that is useful for multiple people in the future.  Keep in mind that getting a handle on your passwords could be a useful step towards using some technology resources and tools in your classroom with ease to amplify learning.