Too Smart?

Annotation panel with "getting started" directions.

Technology is always fun. Recently we implemented Hypothesis within iLearn (Moodle). Hypothesis is a great open-source project that allows for annotation and bookmarking on the web (and PDF’s within Google Drive).

Recently, we’ve discovered an issue. Hypothesis is so smart that it knows a document is a document even if you’ve made a copy of it.

In K-12, we want to teach students good annotation skills. Frequently, teachers may have 150 students. In order to make things manageable, the teacher certainly doesn’t want all 150 students annotating the same document. So, teachers generally create groups. Thus, a teacher may have a First Hour group, Second Hour, etc. We discovered that Hypothesis doesn’t respect groups. Not a surprise since this is a limitation within the LTI process between iLearn (Moodle) and other programs. So, we created our PDF in Google Drive and used the “Make a copy” feature to create five different versions of the document. We then shared the “first hour copy” with, and this will not be a surprise, our “First Hour” group. We shared our “second hour copy” with our “Second Hour” group. To our surprise, first hour can see the annotations of second hour. Second hour can see the annotations of the First Hour group.

This is apparently a known issue (and now we know too). See. Hypothesis uses a digital fingerprint, not the document meta-data.

Right, for better and worse, Hypothesis is too smart for that. Better, because those annotations are deeply anchored to the specific text and document and could potentially be resurfaced to the user in various contexts. For example, if the student was to use H after the class and came back to the same story/article, we could technically surface their annotations for them. Worse, because you can’t do what you are trying to do which is completely pedagogically sound and necessary.

– Hypothesis Guru

There is a workaround. “Printing” a document to a PDF multiple times will create different fingerprints. This obviously adds quite a few “clicks” to the process.

There are some exciting opportunities with this as well. Students can share multiple annotations across documents.

The Hypothesis Group is aware of the issue and working on it. We look forward to continuing this exciting work.

Annotation Pilot

Annotation example

One of the skills that students need to learn is how to annotate. Not only do they need to learn how to annotate, but learning how to annotate in a digital age is important.

The Technology Department has joined an Annotation Pilot Project. This project brings the ability for all Dearborn teachers to empower students to learn annotation skills.

Teachers can now easily add the ability for students to annotate web pages or PDFs right through iLearn.

Teachers: if you’d like to try this with your students, please reach out to our Tech Coach or the Technology Department.

Standards in DEC

Good news! The Technology Department has now embedded more standards into DEC. These are all linked. This way, if you use the Standard Short Code in a lesson, explanation or reference, it will be linked automatically.

We now have the following standards linked:

Plus, all of the standards are searchable. You can click on a Standard Resource and search within it. In the example below, I searched for “upper case” (note that I did NOT use quotation marks in the search thoughusing quotation marks would not return any results since those words are not next to each other). This returns three standards that deal with “upper case” (even though there are words between “upper” and “case”) and gives me the standards.


Newsela has been reaching out to me. Newsela is a service that provides leveled readings. A few years ago, they were all the rage. They provided free, leveled readings for students (they still do, but more about that in a minute).

Like many free services, Newsela has a free and paid version. The main point of the free version is to encourage users to move to the paid version (this is referred to as “customer acquisition”). Free works in some situations (FOSS for example), but it is important to understand why something is free. Open source is different than “customer acquisition”.

So, what’s changing in the free version of Newsela?

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, news content will remain available in our free version. Alignments to standards and Newsela-curated Text Sets will no longer be visible without a paid subscription.

The other 20+ standards-aligned content genres such as primary sources, reference texts, pro/con paired texts, historical documents and pre-curated Text Sets will require a subscription.

We do have a couple of schools that pay for the premium version of Newsela. We do want teachers to know about resources that are available, while being smart, informed consumers.


We’ve been transitioning to a new experience in DEC. As such, we are moving some of the links around. If you visit the Staff Resources page of the Dearborn Public Schools web site, the DEC link will now go to the new an improved version of DEC. Since we haven’t yet redeveloped every curricular area, the curriculum committees are hard at work on that, we’ve also maintained the link to “old DEC”.

Graphic showing where to find DEC links on the Staff Resources page.

DEC 2.0 Take 2.1

DEC 2.0 is Coming!

Whilst we are hard at work creating DEC 2.0, we need your feedback. In lieu of trying to pull together teachers from across the district, we are reaching out to teachers via technology.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Please check out DEC 2.0 (5th Grade Marking Period 1 is where we’ve done some work as to what is possible – special Thanks to Amy Gwizdz!)
  • Let us know what you think by touching base with a Tech coach or entering a comment below.
  • Suggest specific improvements.

Need a quick overview? We have a video for you.


DEC 2.0 Preview

DEC 2.0

As you may know, we are working on updating DEC. We are referring to the new DEC as DEC 2.0. Currently, it is very much in beta. We need your feedback to make it as polished as possible for teachers. I’ve done a video to give you an overview of DEC 2.0.


Please take a look at DEC 2.0.


  • Touch base with Curriculum Committees to provide them with feedback as to what you would like to see.
  • Catch a Tech Coach and give them feedback on the “look and feel” of DEC 2.0.
  • Touch base with me to let me know how we can make this most useful for teachers.

Open eBooks

Open eBooks is a mobile app that provides thousands of popular and award-winning books free for students in Title I schools. These eBooks can be read without checkouts or holds. Students enrolled in Title I schools can download Open eBooks and access books for free from their mobile device.

Follow these four easy steps to get Open eBooks on any mobile device – including tablets, iPads, and on smartphones of all types.



Step 1: On an iPhone or Android phone, open the app store and type in “open ebooks”

Step 2: Click GET then click INSTALL to download the app.

Step 3: Open the app and click Log in with Clever.

Step 4: Search for the student’s school to log in with their username and password.

Open ebook App link
iOS Link

What platforms are the Open eBooks app available on?

The app is currently available on iOS and Android. Subsequent versions will be optimized to support as many open platforms as possible. There will be a web-optimized version coming in 2016. Open eBooks uses the EPUB3 standard but will expand to include PDFs in early 2016.

Will the app be available on Chromebooks or Windows devices?

At this time, the Open eBooks app is only available for the iOs and Android platforms.

Does “unlimited access” mean the books will be free of Digital Rights Management?

In-need youth can borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like. The contributed eBooks will include Adobe Digital Rights Management software, which means that the book will be visible only to the student who is accessing it and cannot be shared.

How is users’ privacy protected and respected?

No personally identifiable information is captured about the children using the Open eBooks application. First Book captures educator information through its registration process, but protects this information under its privacy policy. For more information, see the Open eBooks privacy policy.

Are individual readers’ activity tracked?

No, individual readers’ activity are not tracked. Reading will be tracked anonymously and in the aggregate. A student’s privacy is paramount and the partners will work tirelessly to ensure that student privacy is maintained at all times.


Does it work for people who are print-disabled?

Yes. Built with Readium’s rendering engine, the Open eBooks App takes advantage of the accessibility features that are native to the EPUB3 format in which the books are rendered. Open eBooks is compatible with Apple and Android’s Text to Speech (TTS). In the future we plan to improve the implementation of Readium to make this even more robust.

We’re working on improving the experience and accessibility in future updates and versions of the app and its content. Again, making this content accessible is a top priority and we are working with all our industry partners to make progress in this area.

We also encourage families, teachers and librarians of readers with print disabilities to try applications like BARD, BookShare, and Learning Ally. These great resources can help students build an even bigger collection of eBooks.

How does it work for readers with Dyslexia?

Open eBooks supports Open Dyslexic Font for those with Dyslexia.

To enable:

  • Open your eBook
  • Click the [Aa] button in the top right corner
  • Click the Open Dyslexic Font located in the top row on the far right

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