Thursday, October 23, 2014

Connected Educator Month

October is Connected Educator Month (#CEM) which, in essence, means you should be reaching out and connecting to other educators.  Within WUSD, we’ve have been making those connections:
Schoology ( – The Innovative Educators have been using Schoology to connect, share, collaborate, and create around the reading of Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November. They have been wonderful “students” and the online sharing and support that is taking place has been unbelievable.

The District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC), the teachers who use Scholastic services on a daily basis (our Read 180, SDC, and RSP teachers), and our Principals and Assistant Principals have all started using Schoology to connect, communicate, and collaborate. 
Finally, we’ve had several training opportunities for teachers to attend and connect with each other and some new content. 

So, what can you do to become a more connected educator?  Start with thinking about how connected you would like to be – I recommend taking small steps: setting up a Twitter account and following colleagues, such as @WUSDEdTech and @maoliver17, and education leaders, join an organization (free) such as, or simply take some time to explore different blogs and follow one by having their articles delivered to your inbox. 

Greg Garner has a great article on Getting Smart where he focuses on 5 things to become a connected educator.  Greg explains what connecting is – learning, sharing, and mentoring, and what it is not – bragging – and the need to have a balance so that connecting does not consume your life. Take a look at Greg’s article “So You’re Already a Connected Educator … Now What?” and you might want to sign up to get updates from the Getting Smart website (I did!).

Check out “Ten Tips to Becoming a Connected Educator” from Elana Leoni at Edutopia (another great website to subscribe to).  She provides some practical steps as well as some great resources!

Upcoming training to connect with others and Google Apps or bring your tech needs to an open lab.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Digital Tools for Communicating with Parents

Tired of creating printed newsletters that you hope make it home in a backpack?  Looking for ways to connect in real time with parents and families? Try one of these three tech tools for connecting with parents.

Twitter (

Twitter can be very daunting for some to take the plunge, which is why I suggest you begin by just dipping in your toe and getting a feel for the water. Twitter is a great way to share updates and information immediately with classroom parents and families by sending out a tweet. In order for parents and families receive your tweet, they will need a Twitter account and will need to follow you on Twitter.  With Twitter, you can “protect” your tweets so that only those approved followers can see them, which is recommended when using Twitter for the purpose of communicating with parents. Take a moment to set up your Twitter account and send out your first tweet in 25 slides.  

Already on Twitter? Be sure to follow @WUSDEdTech for resources and updates in WUSD.  Check out these resources from the Spring 2014 workshop.

Remind (formerly Remind 101) (

Remind allows you to set up an account and have parents and families subscribe and receive updates and reminders via text or email.  The Remind tech tool is a push – meaning that information is pushed to those who subscribe and there is no way for subscribers to respond via this tool.  Creating an account is simple and free.  Once your account is set up, you will need to invite parents to either text a code to a phone number or go to a website to sign up.  You will never see the phone numbers or email addresses of your parents, and they will not see yours.  The Remind tool relies on parents “opting in” for updates and provides you with a document you can send home, tweet out, or link to your website to provide subscription information to parents.

Creating a Classroom Webpage

A classroom website is the easiest way to provide parents and families with one place to find information about what is happening in your classroom. If you already have a website using School Loop, you may want to take some time to refresh it, changing out old information, making sure your contact information is current, and perhaps adding in a calendar with assignments, projects, and due dates.  Feedback from parents and families has indicated that these are the top three needs that the classroom webpage can address.  

If you are new to creating a website and would like to try Google Sites or Weebly as the tool instead of School Loop, feel free to do so.  A template for WUSD teachers to use has been created for Google Sites to support the transition to Google Apps for Education (GAFE).  Tutorials and resources on using Google Sites, School Loop, and Weebly can be found on the Home-School Communication section of the WUSD Ed Tech Resources Hub.

Want some help learning more about these tech tools?  Be sure to sign up for one of the free Open Labs and receive individualized assistance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

3 Ways to Use the School Computer Lab

Technology is a scarce commodity across the district with many teachers relying almost exclusively on the school site computer labs for access.  So, what do you do when you’ve been scheduled into the computer lab to make this time meaningful and relevant?  Below are three different ways to engage your students.

Developing Keyboarding Skills with TypingWeb

Typing Web logo
To best prepare our students for the online testing in the spring, keyboarding skills are essential.  TypingWeb ( is a free online typing site that provides students with keyboarding instruction and practice.  Teachers can create their class and monitor student progress toward keyboarding goals through the Teacher Portal.  TypingWeb is online – no software to download or install and students can access their account and practice from anywhere.

Introducing Digital Literacy and Citizenship

Common Sense Education logo
21st century learning demands that our students know how to “think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in the digital world” and Common Sense Media is packed with a wealth of resources to help students do just that.   At this free website, teachers will find materials for Digital Literacy and Citizenship including downloadable and printable lesson plans, videos, classroom posters, and much, much more.  Take some time to look through the resources to see what all is avail­able.  A good starting point is the Scope & Sequence  which provides leveled units that address digital literacy and citizenship.  The Common Sense Media resources are the approved Digital Literacy and Citizenship materials being used in the district.

Improving Search Skills with Google

Google logo
Want to help your students become critical thinkers and independent learners?  Google Search Education provides teachers with leveled lesson plans and activities to help develop search literacy skills.  Students can take the self-paced Power Searching course and receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion.  They can also put their searching skills to test in the A Google a Day.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Welcome to WUSD Ed Tech!

Welcome to the Washington Unified School District (WUSD) instructional technology blog!

The purpose of this blog is provide you with information and resources that promote the use of instructional technology in support of skillful teaching and rigorous and engaging learning  so that all children develop the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and post-secondary career-technical education. This includes technology being used as a tool for learning by students, teachers planning and implementing instructional techniques using technology to engage students in learning, and the equipment, applications, and infrastructure needed to support the use of technology at Washington Unified.  My position of Coordinator of Instructional Technology includes supporting 21st century literacy, numeracy, and Common Core State Standards implementation, assisting with the development and implementation of local and formative assessments, and supporting the administration of the state SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) assessment system.

Since January 2014, we've made much progress in the area of instructional technology:
  • Technology Plan was written and approved by the Board and CDE to help guide a vision for educational technology in Washington Unified over the next three years.
  • Wireless initiative has been Board approved and is moving forward to provide wireless infrastructure across the district by the end of Summer 2015
  • Over 800 mobile devices are slated to deploy to students and teachers across the district in late Fall 2014 as a result of Common Core funding and the need for equipment to streamline the Spring 2015 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) - formerly referred to as SBAC within the district.
  • District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) reviewed competing cloud computing solutions and recommended Google Apps for Education to be deployed for teachers and students in late Fall 2014

"The illiterate of the 21st century won't be those who can't read and write but those who can't learn, unlearn, and relearn."

Alvin Toffler's quote resonates with the work that we have ahead in building schools that reflect 21st century learning with the goal of preparing our students for their futures, not our pasts.  We must rethink how we teach, how our students learn, and explore ways where technology will help us meet these challenges.  In doing so, teachers must re-evaluate their role in the classroom and consider ways in which students have opportunities to engage with the content and take ownership of their own learning.

I look forward to working with Washington Unified teachers, administrators, and staff on this technology journey.