Updated: PowerSchool now syncs course groups to Outlook

Updated March 13, 2020: Group names and addresses have been updated to fix a bug with term enrollments not being processed correctly. Elective courses that meet for one semester now e-mail the correct group of students for that term.

Original Post: Teachers and staff want to quickly communicate with groups of students, teachers and parents. In the past, this has required you to look up those groups in PowerSchool and copy-paste the addresses into an e-mail. Now, we have a solution that syncs PowerSchool course groups into Outlook. This means you can look up and email groups of parents, students and teachers directly in Outlook.

Click this link to see a complete list of all the groups in the system (login required).

It is also accessible from the Staff Portal –> IT –> PowerSchool Parent Groups

You can also use autocomplete to look them up – read on to find out how.

What groups can you look up?

Emailing Parents

  • A student’s mother or father in Outlook, i.e. “John MAO Junhao Father” or “John MAO Junhao Mother” – Note this will include their division principal, counselor, Dean of Students, and adviser(if they are in G7-10).
  • Parents of students in a section, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics – B – Cooper”
  • Parents of students in a course, by teacher, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics – Y1 – Cooper”
  • Parents of students in a course, regardless of teacher, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics”

Emailing Students

  • Students in a section, i.e. “Students in AP Calculus AB – Redl – B – EmailGroup”

Emailing Teachers

  • All teachers of a student, i.e. “Teachers of John MAO Junhao”. Note that this emails all teachers of the student, including advisers, counselors, Dean of Students.
  • All teachers of a course, i.e. “Teachers of AP Economics”


Show me how

The video below demonstrates how to look up these PowerSchool groups in Outlook.

NCPA #virtualschool Daily #edtech Briefing: Thursday, March 5th

Get the latest #virtualschool tips, FAQs, and demo slams from #pulaoproud Tech Ambs @newtonsscience @alannamounsey @trishmerewether @hanghesperwang @mbkkelsey live every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00am CST. Join link & recordings at http://go.ncpachina.org/vsdeb #issedu #acamistech

This day’s topics were:

  • Student Survey Updates
  • Phishing e-mails continued
  • Top 10 Tech Tips from Virtual School debrief

NCPA #virtualschool Daily #edtech Briefing: Tuesday, Feb. 11

Get the latest #virtualschool tips, FAQs, and demo slams from #pulaoproud Tech Ambs @newtonsscience @alannamounsey @trishmerewether @hanghesperwang @mbkkelsey live every day at 8:30am CST. Join link & recordings at http://go.ncpachina.org/vsdeb #issedu #acamistech

Our outline notes which include the full details from our broadcast are after the break.

Continue reading “NCPA #virtualschool Daily #edtech Briefing: Tuesday, Feb. 11”

Virtual School Briefing: Friday, Jan 31

How do I contact students and parents in my classes?

This might be our most often-asked question. We have now created e-mail groups for all classes, for both students and parents.

Click this link to see a complete list of all the groups in the system (login required).

You can also use auto-complete to find the groups. Read more at this post on the EdTech Blog.

Several teachers have ask to create Teams for their classes. We’re going to work on rolling this out to all classes. In the meantime, IT will shortly turn on the ability for teachers to create their own Teams.

Canvas Announcements are also a good way to make class announcements. Both parents and students can see them, and they receive e-mail notifications with new Canvas activity.

Whether you choose to use e-mail or Canvas Announcements, tell your students explicitly how you plan to make announcements in your class. Matt’s recommendation is to use Canvas Announcements because you can easily see a historical record of them in Canvas.

How do I invite students in a class to a Teams meeting?

Until we have Teams set up for each class, you can

  1. Go to your Outlook Calendar
  2. Create a meeting
  3. Invite your class email group (see above)
  4. Set the location to Teams meeting

Each student will receive a calendar invite with a link they can click on to join the meeting. You can also add that link to your Canvas course in a relevant module.

Do I have to use Canvas?

Yes, your course must have a presence in Canvas. Since parents will check Canvas, it is important for teachers to post here. However, you can give a basic outline of the activities and direct students to complete activities in other tools like OneNote Class Notebook or Nearpod.

What about holding students accountable for work?

We anticipate that students may have trouble staying engaged. You’ll need to adapt the strategies you use F2F to be successful in an online environment. We’re very interested in your feedback about this, and are investigating how to track this systematically, so look out for feedback surveys to let us know how it’s going.

What kind of activities are permissible in virtual school – are summatives OK?

The goal is to continue instruction as normally as possible, so it’s fine to give summatives during virtual school. Consider the potential for plagiarism when designing your assessments.

If you’re in the arts or health and PE, designing authentic assessments may be a challenge. Consider the materials that students are likely to have at home and don’t assume they’ll be able to go out and buy them. Tech Ambassador Alanna suggests focusing on theory rather than applied practice, at least in the short term.

How is attendance counted?

Students are considered present during virtual school. Teachers do not need to take any action to record attendance.

If you’re interested in student engagement, the “People” section of your course will tell you when a student’s last activity in your course was.

An Update is Available for Your Signatures!

Looking for your latest signature? Find it at this link.

When you copy and paste your signature, it should look like this, with new lines for each piece of information:

It should not look like this, with the lines all bunched up. If you get something like below, re-select the text and copy and paste again.

Please follow these clarifications on your signature:

  • If you would like to modify your title as listed, please see Rain first to ensure consistent translations.
  • Please refrain from adding quotes, extra images, links,

How to Mail Merge a List of Incompletes with Word and Outlook 2016

Sending emails home about Incompletes or Not Yets doesn’t have to be a chore. Learn how you can mostly automate the process in less than ten minutes by watching the guide above (NCPA login required due to presence of student information).

E-Mail Merge with Excel, Word, and Outlook

If you need to mass-email parents, you can save a lot of time by using Word’s e-mail merge feature!

To do this, you need to

  1. ​Create a spreadsheet containing the students with incompletes, the name of the assignment, and their parent email, each in its own column. You can download this information from sqlReports 4.
  2. Set up your mail account in Outlook for Mac​.
  3. Make sure Outlook is your default mail program – use Apple Mail.app to change it if necessary​.
  4. Write your form letter in Word.
  5. Do a mail merge​ by telling Word to look at the spreadsheet you created in step 1, and then inserting merge fields.
  6. Use the Merge to E-Mail button to send out all of your emails.​


See the video below to see all of these steps in action.