Monthly Mentions Newsletter – December 2017

Merry Christmas to All!

If your school is approaching mid-quarter report for the 2nd quarter, then these functions in FastDirect might need to be addressed. Opening up teacher input for 2nd Mid-Quarter Report will require:

  • Changing input for 1st quarter report cards from ‘Allow Input’ to ‘Input Complete’ in ‘ReportCard Input Controls’
  • Confirming the mid-quarter dates for 2nd quarter in ‘Grades’ then ‘Report Card Input Controls’
  • Changing input for mid-quarter from ‘Not Yet’ to ‘Allow Input’ in ‘Report Card Input Controls’
  • Having teachers go through the mid-quarter report card input process
  • Closing the input process by changing ‘Allow Input’ to ‘Input Complete’

With the winter season upon us, this could mean school closings and changes to school days due to inclement weather.  If your school closes because of snow or other unexpected reasons, then you will need to change the day in the Master School (Standard) Calendar to a non-attendance day. If the calendar is not changed, then your teachers will be asked to take attendance for the day that was cancelled.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to ‘Calendar’ then scroll down to the gold box below the months
  2. The first option in the gold box allows you to select a day and determine what type of day it is – Normal, Holiday, Other etc.
  3. Select the month/day/year in the drop down, then select ‘Weather off’
  4. Click ‘Change type of day’
  5. Repeat these steps if your school was closed for additional days

Notifying your parents of snow days, late starts or early dismissals has never been easier! To notify your staff and parents of any closings, late starts or early dismissals, use the FDbroadcast feature. These broadcasts can go directly from the school to the parents’ cell phones and email accounts, keeping everyone informed instantly!

FDbroadcast was designed to allow principals (and selected staff) the ability to message the school community in multiple methods in case of an emergency or urgent situation. The option “FDbroadcast” must be selected when sending the FDmail message. The system, by default, allows the Principal access to this feature. To give other staff members access, the Principal must edit their Teacher (Staff) form in the People section. This feature sends all users a copy of your urgent FDmail as well as a Text Notification and an Email Forward. Even if your school does not currently use the feature ‘Email Forward’, the FDbroadcast will still forward your FDmail message directly to the recipients’ email. However, in order for the text notification to work, your school will need to enable ‘SMS Text Notification’ in Settings. The last critical step is that your parents have entered in all the necessary information on their parent form. This means they will need an email address, a cell phone number and a cell phone provider. A text notification and email forward are only sent if the appropriate fields are completed on the staff and parent forms. If a parent has opted out of receiving SMS Text Notifications or has opted out of receiving Staff Email Forward, an FDbroadcast will still be sent to that parent in all methods regardless of the parents’ preferences. This is why an FDbroadcast is ideal for urgent or emergency situations, as it overrides the parents’ preferences for communication.

Here are some helpful FAQ links to help explain these features and how to get started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining FDbroadcast

Click here for the FAQ on how to send an FDbroadcast

Click here for the FDbroadcast and  Email Forwarding video tutorial

The login screen is another way to communicate school closings and announcements from the school.  Here are the steps for posting an announcement on the login screen:

  • Go to ‘Settings’ and click on Login Page Design in the left hand navigation menu
  • In the middle box labeled ‘Message of the Day’, type in your message or announcement
  • Click ‘Save Changes’

This announcement will post on the login screen above the login box. To add addition detail, color, font changes, etc, you will want to use an HTML editing software, such as KompoZer, which can be downloaded for free.

If your schools is on trimesters, December may be too soon to be preparing for mid-trimester reports.

With the winter season upon us, this could mean school closings and changes to school days due to inclement weather.  If your school closes because of snow or other unexpected reasons, then you will need to change the day in the Master School (Standard) Calendar to a non-attendance day. If the calendar is not changed, then your teachers will be asked to take attendance for the day that was cancelled.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to ‘Calendar’ then scroll down to the gold box below the months
  2. The first option in the gold box allows you to select a day and determine what type of day it is – Normal, Holiday, Other etc.
  3. Select the month/day/year in the drop down, then select ‘Weather off’
  4. Click ‘Change type of day’
  5. Repeat these steps if your school was closed for additional days

Notifying your parents of snow days, late starts or early dismissals has never been easier! To notify your staff and parents of any closings, late starts or early dismissals, use the FDbroadcast feature. These broadcasts can go directly from the school to the parents’ cell phones and email accounts, keeping everyone informed instantly!

FDbroadcast was designed to allow principals (and selected staff) the ability to message the school community in multiple methods in case of an emergency or urgent situation. The option “FDbroadcast” must be selected when sending the FDmail message. The system, by default, allows the Principal access to this feature. To give other staff members access, the Principal must edit their Teacher (Staff) form in the People section. This feature sends all users a copy of your urgent FDmail as well as a Text Notification and an Email Forward. Even if your school does not currently use the feature ‘Email Forward’, the FDbroadcast will still forward your FDmail message directly to the recipients’ email. However, in order for the text notification to work, your school will need to enable ‘SMS Text Notification’ in Settings. The last critical step is that your parents have entered in all the necessary information on their parent form. This means they will need an email address, a cell phone number and a cell phone provider. A text notification and email forward are only sent if the appropriate fields are completed on the staff and parent forms. If a parent has opted out of receiving SMS Text Notifications or has opted out of receiving Staff Email Forward, an FDbroadcast will still be sent to that parent in all methods regardless of the parents’ preferences. This is why an FDbroadcast is ideal for urgent or emergency situations, as it overrides the parents’ preferences for communication.

Here are some helpful FAQ links to help explain these features and how to get started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining FDbroadcast

Click here for the FAQ on how to send an FDbroadcast

Click here for the FDbroadcast and  Email Forwarding video tutorial

The login screen is another way to communicate school closings and announcements from the school.  Here are the steps for posting an announcement on the login screen:

  • Go to ‘Settings’ and click on Login Page Design in the left hand navigation menu
  • In the middle box labeled ‘Message of the Day’, type in your message or announcement
  • Click ‘Save Changes’

This announcement will post on the login screen above the login box. To add addition detail, color, font changes, etc, you will want to use an HTML editing software, such as KompoZer, which can be downloaded for free.

Taking attendance for multiple homerooms has now been made much easier with the new Primary/Secondary feature! If your school has multiple homerooms for different preschool schedules, this feature will help save you time and confusion!  This feature is also helpful for:

  • principals who also have a homeroom class
  • teacher aides who help out the homeroom teacher
  • middle school teachers who use block scheduling

Here are some FAQ links to explain Primary/Secondary accounts and help get you started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining Primary/Secondary accounts

Click here for the FAQ on how to set up Primary/Secondary accounts

Click here for the FAQ on how to take attendance for Primary/Secondary accounts

Click here to watch the video tutorial on setting up Primary/Secondary accounts (MP4) or watch in Youtube!

Click here to watch the video tutorial on taking attendance (and lunch) with Primary/Secondary accounts (MP4) or watch in Youtube!

Looking to trim some expenditures for next year? Consider eliminating the cost of a school notification system and let FastDirect Communications do the job – at no extra cost! Here are the communication features FastDirect Communications can offer your school:

  • FDbroadcast
  • Email Forward
  • SMS Text messages
  • FDmail messages
  • Email and SMS Text notifications

Staff Email Forwarding is an optional feature that allows messages from the school to be forwarded to the recipients’ preferred email.  Please be aware that your school policy concerning email communication should apply. Email is not a secured communication vehicle and others may in certain circumstances be able to view its contents. Conversely, FastDirect Communications and FDmail messages which are not forwarded to email will remain secure and archived for your school administration. Staff Email Forwarding has two settings that allow the school principal to control how it works. The first setting determines whether the system defaults to sending an email forward or not. It effects the options seen when a staff person is sending an FDmail message. In other words, it can default to select either “Email Forward” or “Do Not Email Forward.” In either case, the sender can elect to change the setting as needed. The second setting allows the principal to determine whether all parents start out opted in to the feature (able to receive email forwards) or not. In other words, it effects the Parent Data Form and whether they are initially opted-in or out. In either case, the parent can change the setting to their preference by changing the setting on their Parent Data Form or by contacting the school administration, depending on your “Allow parents to change data setting.”

FDbroadcast allows principals (and selected staff) the ability to message the school community in multiple methods in case of an emergency or urgent situation. The option “FDbroadcast” must be selected when sending the FDmail message. The system, by default, allows the Principal access to this feature.  To give other staff members access, the Principal must edit their Teacher (Staff) form in the People section.  This feature sends all users a copy of your urgent FDmail as well as a Text Notification and an Email Forward.  Even if your school does not currently use the feature ‘Email Forward’, the FDbroadcast will still forward your FDmail message directly to the recipients’ email. However, in order for the text notification to work, your school will need to enable ‘SMS Text Notification’ in Settings. The last critical step is that your parents have entered in all the necessary information on their parent form. This means they will need an email address, a cell phone number and a cell phone provider. A text notification and email forward are only sent if the appropriate fields are completed on the staff and parent forms. If a parent has opted out of receiving SMS Text Notifications or has opted out of receiving Staff Email Forward, an FDbroadcast will still be sent to that parent in all methods regardless of the parents’ preferences. This is why an FDbroadcast is ideal for urgent or emergency situations, as it overrides the parents’ preferences for communication. Here are some helpful FAQs to help explain these features and how to get started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining Email Forwarding

Click here for the FAQ on how to set up Email Forwarding

Click here for the FAQ on how to help your parents receive Email Forwarding

Click here for the FAQ explaining FDbroadcast

Click here for the FAQ on how to send an FDbroadcast

If a recorded message is what you are needing, we recommend using a free app, such as Voice Recorder by TapMedia to record your message and then send it as an attachment in your FDmail message.  This app allows you to record a message and save it as an audio file.  When sent in FastDirect, parents can open the attached audio file and listen to the recording – all for free!

Incorporating an exam score into a semester or final ReportCard grade is possible in FastDirect.  The system will calculate the exam scores and depending on your specified percentages, will be calculated into the course’s final grade.  Here is an explanation of how exam scores can be set up in FastDirect:

  • The courses that have exams will be given a subcategory that reads ‘Exam Score’
  • An exam score percentage is entered into the system to be used for calculating overall grades.  Typically, this percentage is 20%
  • On the 2nd and 4th quarters, the teacher will add the student’s exam score to the subcategory
  • For the 1st Semester ReportCard, the system will provide the teacher will a final grade using this equation: (Q1Q2GPA x 80%) + (Q2exam x 20%) / 100
  • A similar equation will be used for the 2nd semester ReportCard

Click here to read the FAQ on exam scores

To set up an exam score for a course, please contact HelpDesk to get started.

When viewing or updating your parent information in FastDirect, it is easy to overlook the field for Cell Phone Provider.  If you have a cell phone number in your parent account, you must select a cell phone provider in order for FDbroadcast or Text Notifications to work. Without a cell phone provider, these are the functions that will not be possible in FastDirect:

  • Text Notifications
  • FDbroadcast via text
  • Auto-notify via text

To view and edit your information, simply click ‘View/Edit Parent Information’ at the top of your Home page.  Your school may limit the amount of information you are able to edit.  If there is a change to your contact information and you are unable to edit it, please contact the school’s office so that they can make the necessary changes.

 

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2017-12-07T09:42:09+00:00

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