Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Technology Update: Got Apps? (12/16/15)

Do you use apps in your classrooms with your students? Are your students older than 13? Did you get parental consent? Not all apps are the same and neither are the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for each app.

The Student Online Personal Information Privacy Act, or SOPIPA, (SB 1177) was passed to place additional requirements on companies to protect student online privacy. Specifically, companies are prohibited from the following:
  • engaging in targeted advertising to students or their parents/legal guardian,
  • using information to amass a profile about a K-12 student,
  • selling a student’s information, or
  • disclosing covered (personally identifiable information or materials) information unless certain circumstances exist such as legal compliance, judicial process, or security and safety.

In addition, the company, or “operator”, is required to:
  • to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the covered information,
  • to protect the information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure, and
  • to delete a student’s covered information if the school or district requests deletion of data under the control of the school or district.

The provisions of SOPIPA take effect in January 2016. As a result of SOPIPA, everyone needs to be aware of the apps, services, websites, and software we are using with students, how student information is being used by the companies, and what is in the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Although companies are required to adhere to SOPIPA in order to use their products in K-12 schools, not all of them have. Because of this, all apps currently being used in classrooms in Washington USD must go through a vetting process to insure that we are only using those services from providers that are in compliance with SOPIPA.

Apps will fall within these categories based upon the stated privacy policy and terms of service for each app:

  • Approved
  • Conditionally approved with parental consent
  • Conditionally approved with directory information release
  • Approved only for students over the age of 13
  • Not approved

What does this mean to you and your classroom?

When using apps, web-based services, and other online sites and applications, please evaluate the tool to determine not only if it’s instructionally appropriate but if it meets privacy requirements, particularly if it is an online service. Any time data is collected, it is important to review the privacy policy and terms of use/service to determine what data is collected and how that data is used.

  1. Review the list of vetted software, services, and sites. Are any of the tools you want to use on the list? If they are approved or approved for students over the age of 13, then proceed with using them! We are working on a Google Play Store that will allow you to push out the apps to your students’ Chrome environment (coming in January 2016).
  2. If any of them are conditionally approved with parental consent, please use the WUSD Technology Parental Consent Template (automatic download and customizable in Word) to send a letter home and obtain consent from parents.
  3. If any of them are conditionally approved with directory information release, check with your school secretary to verify that the student has permission for directory information release.
  4. If the tools you want are not on the list, submit them for review (note: this link is not publicly shared - you must log into Google with your district email to submit). We will review the app following a process that looks at these categories and then determine which list it will be added to if approved.
  5. If a tool you want to use is not approved OR you don't get approval from all parents and are wondering what to do next, send an e-mail to,, or and we will work with you to find a suitable alternative so you can continue to use technology.
  6. Discuss with your principal the best process to use at your site to manage parental consent forms for tools that are conditionally approved.
If you have questions, we are here to assist. Happy Holidays and have a wonderful Winter Break!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Shakespeare + LEGO = Epic Lesson Mashup

Screenshot from Banquo's Death
Directed by Summer, Alyssa, Eric, Nisha
Guest Blog Post
by Melissa Baldwin, River City High School

If you ask anyone who has worked with me the last six years they would probably say that I am always willing to try something new in my classroom. Some of those new tips, tricks, and lessons have failed the biggest fail ever which inevitably led to me putting in a movie, taking a deep breath, and rethinking the next class period.

When I started as an Innovative Educator last year, I realized that failing lessons are what will not only make me a better teacher, but could actually make my students better too. I have had ideas about how a lesson should go, which it then derails, and students help put it back on the right track. I have had ideas about lessons then realized I am not applying it quite the right way or to the correct class. What I have learned first and foremost over the last year is that Innovation is all around us, particularly in a classroom where students are hungry for answers and allowed to be curious without penalty.

At the beginning of summer I attended a CUE conference and stumbled across a session about making videos in the classroom using green screen and the LEGO Movie Maker. Instead of thinking about how I would apply said district sponsored conference session to my classroom, I immediately thought of how my five year old son would benefit from my new found knowledge. I showed up to the session and within about 15 minutes I soon realized that yes, my little duckling would benefit from the session, but that my class would benefit much more. Thus became the working lesson (which is still in it’s infancy, mind you) of the LEGO Macbeth video.

I use the LEGO Movie Maker on my iPad, which I bring from home. Right now, chromebooks don’t have the app available, which makes this project a little tricky to navigate. One way around this was to bring in my own devices for students to use. If you don’t have multiple devices, you could do an alternative video in Slides and Draw...but I am not the hem...Melissa Oliver.

Below is a list of things to consider when deciding how to use LEGO Movie Maker and ultimately how to bring deeper meaning to Shakespeare or difficult and distant text in a project based digital environment.

Tips, tricks, and sidenotes:

  1. First, you need the LEGO Movie Maker and a green screen app if you want any special effects. Green Screen Movie FX ($), Green Screen by Do Ink ($), and Action Movie FX are all great apps to enhance your videos. The apps are very intuitive, but there are also tutorials on YouTube as well as within the apps to help show you how to put everything together. 
  2. You need to consider what props your students need and can use. I bought fake LEGO figurine pieces from Ebay for about $15. I had a castle at home my kids didn’t play with anymore and some other props that students used to help make their videos. 
  3. You will need to pre-teach the following words, which can be done in a quick overview before they start working a) blocking b) storyboard c) scripting and script cutting d) camera angles e) lighting and how it relates to tone/mood of the scene f) splicing g) speed 
  4. Decide what scenes in the text you want them to focus on. I chose ones that highlighted key events or turning points in the play. If I do this with a novel next term, I will focus on key plot elements or characterization. 
  5. Model how to take a text from a scene and cut it down to the nuts and bolts. I had some students make videos that were way too long and some that were too short. Next time, I will model how to cut a scene and help them see they don’t need all of the words in each line. 
  6. Show them a sample video--this is tricky if you don’t have any made. Honestly, I did not show them a video beforehand because I wanted to see what they could do. I also needed to figure out what instructions were lacking on my part, so I could improve it next time. 
  7. Give them a storyboard to help them think about where the LEGO people are going to go--How are they going to move?--Where will they be in each scene?--What will show the best form of movement?--How are they going to get from one side of the path to the other? 
  8. If you have only one device and it’s your personal device have a sign up for recording. Help them and monitor as needed. 
  9. Ask kids for help--many of my students already had these apps on their phones which made it fun for them. They felt ownership over the work and felt they could contribute more because they already had that pre-knowledge. 
  10. When students are done with their videos, ask students to email them to you, upload them to your YouTube channel playlist, get a bucket of popcorn and some Good & Plenty out, and enjoy the greatness that is about to happen.

Some helpful hints about green screens:

If you want to use the green screen FX apps...
  1. Your green screen can be 
    • An old copy paper box lined with green paper or painted green
    • A green poster board
    • A hanging piece of green fabric
  2. Use green Popsicle sticks to move characters around--simply tape the characters to the sticks and have kids wear green gloves so it looks like the figurines are actually moving around on their own.
  3. You can use the green screen FX apps in LEGO Movie Maker to make things explode or have giant spiders trample your characters...probably not "accurate" to the text, but c'mon, giant spiders and explosions are pretty fun.

YouTube what?
  1. Ask students to send you their videos via email. LEGO Movie Maker has to go through the email system.
  2. Download their video to your desktop and save as Title Video # or whatever else you want--you may want to be specific about the class period or not.
  3. Go to YouTube, My Channel (on the left hand menu), Click Upload in the upper right corner, then upload their videos.
  4. Once their videos have been uploaded to your channel, you can create a playlist. Click on "Playlist," then "New Playlist." Title it, then start uploading videos.
  5. Students absolutely love seeing the videos they made in class on YouTube.

Here are a few from my class--enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Technology Update: E-Rate and You! (12/11/15)

As mentioned in last week’s Technology Update, Washington USD will be applying for E-rate for the 2016-2017 school year. E-Rate is a federally funded program that provides discounts to assist schools to obtain affordable Internet access and telecommunications services.

Five service types are funded:
1.      Data Transmission Services and Internet Access
2.      Voice Services
3.      Internal Connections
4.      Managed Internal Broadband Services
5.      Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

Discounts range from 20-90 percent of the costs of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status at the school district level. Our current district average is 59% which puts us at an 80% discount per the USAC (Universal Services Administrative Company) Discount Matrix

The E-rate Program is one of four programs funded through a universal service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the universal service fund at the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Funding is divided into two categories:

  • Category 1: Discounts (80%) on Data Transmission Services and Internet Access, and (40%) Voice Services
  • Category 2: Reimbursement ($150 per student, minimum of $9,200 per school site) for equipment for Internal Connections, Managed Internal Broadband Services, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

What does this mean to you and your classroom?
A requirement of E-Rate is that students are taught Internet Safety Education Requirements outlined in the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)We are using Common Sense Media curriculum for standards-aligned, researched-bases lesson plans that meet these requirements.  Many of these lessons are low-tech using only pen and paper and can be completed in approximately an hour.  

At a minimum, we are asking that you include the lesson(s) below for your grade level as part of your curriculum. As you are winding down for the winter break, now might be a good time to incorporate the lesson(s) into your instructional day (see links to lessons by grade level).

·        Grade TK/K: Going Places Safely
·        Grade 1: Sending Email
·        Grade 2: Show Respect Online
·        Grade 3: Talking Safely Online
·        Grade 4: The Power of Words
·        Grade 5: Digital Citizenship Pledge
·        Grade 6: Safe Online Talk, Scams and Schemes
·        Grade 9: Private Today, Public Tomorrow
·        Grade 10: Risky Online Relationships
·        Grade 11: College Bound
·        Grade 12: Taking Perspectives on Cyberbullying

After completing the lesson, please complete the verification form and send it to Kim Harrison or Melissa Oliver at the district office. The verification form will be used to validate our compliance for E-Rate. You are welcome to cover more than just the lessons outlined above – check out the Scope and Sequence of Common Sense Media’s lessons.

If you have questions, we are here to assist!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

We Are WUSD Tech Podcast Online!

Looking for what's happening with WUSD Technology throughout the district? Look no further than our brand new "We Are WUSD Tech" Podcast. You can listen via our website or subscribe via iTunes.

This podcast aims to amplify teacher, student, and staff voices throughout the district around the wonderful things happening with technology district-wide. As Coordinator of Instructional Technology, I have the great honor of working with fabulous educators and their students on a daily basis. I hope this podcast communicates the great teaching and learning I see in classrooms throughout our district.

I owe a big thanks to our new cohort of Innovative Educators who willingly participated at the end of recent trainings as I learned the podcasting process and became familiar with equipment and audio. Like learning any new skill, the first few attempts could best be described as a "FAIL" or "First Attempt in Learning." I look forward to continuing the learning as We Are WUSD Tech highlights more voices in upcoming episodes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Make your grading life better! Tips and Tricks for Streamlining Grading and Feedback using Google Tools

How am I going to grade all this stuff? 

If you are having students turn in work digitally (or soon to be), this is the likely one of the biggest questions you have (it was a big fear for me). Thanks to the help of Google teacher pros like Catlin Tucker and Alice Keeler, I have acquired many tips and tricks that not only make grading in the digital world feasible, but better than before.  

Note: For all of these tips, make sure you are first logged into your school google account and using Google Chrome.

Here are my top 6 tips (in no particular order):

  1. Shortcuts Save Time!

    • Insert a comment → Ctrl + Alt + M
    • Confirm a comment → Ctrl + Enter
    • To change to editing mode → Right click, suggest edits
    • (without a mouse, two finger tap is the right click)

  2. Creating Automatic Text Substitutes for Extensive & Specific Feedback in Student Writing: See Catlin Tucker’s Blog Post for a screencast of how to do this or read below.
  3. Here are the basics.
    • In any google doc select Tools, then Preferences.
    • Create a list of shortcut phrases to type that will automatically generate a phrase for students to read.
      • For example, whenever I type “mq" the google doc automatically spits out this message: “missing direct evidence from primary source to support your claim”
    • I recommend selecting the suggesting mode when grading as the feedback will appear in green and automatically generate a comment for a student.

  4. Preview Mode for Checking, not Grading

  5. Preview.png
    • When you want to check assignments for completion and you DON’T want to waste time opening each assignment individually, you can check the assignment in PREVIEW MODE.
    • Go to the Classroom Folder in Google Drive and click on the assignment folder. Next, click on the assignment you want to view and select Preview (eye). This will let you click through the assignments without having to open them individually and wait for them to load.

  6. Opening Multiple assignments in Classroom

    • It’s as simple as CTRL + Click. Hold down CTRL while you click to open many assignments at once, all in their own tabs.

  7. Extensions to Split your Screen

    • Get them from the Chrome Store
    • Tab Scissors: splits your screen at the current tab into separate side, by side windows, making entry of grades that much easier
    • Tab Glue: brings your windows back together

  8. Feedback in Process

    • As students are working on assignments, you can have them share the assignment with you and give them feedback as they work - either as comments or suggested edits.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hour of Code is Here

Celebrate the Hour of Code December 7-13. This is a chance to demystify coding for students and provide coding experience for every student. has developed several tutorials for students including Star Wars, Minecraft, and Frozen. Once your students have completed their hour of code, you can create certificates here.

Looking for coding resources across the grade levels? Look no further than Lisa Highfill's Hyperdoc that lists and provides links to different coding tutorials. Open it, make a copy, edit it to meet the needs of your grade level and push it out to your students to enjoy.

Hour of Code is just the beginning. Look for more blog posts this week highlighting different resources to either start your students coding or continue coding.

Friday, December 4, 2015

WUSD is going BIIG 2.0!

In September, the technology department applied and became eligible for the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG 2.0) offered by the K-12 High Speed Network (K-12HSN) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC).  This $50 million funding allocated in the state budget helps schools with inadequate bandwidth to upgrade their current connection to the Internet to better assist with the CAASPP testing.

There are three categories of eligibility:
  • Priority 1 - schools with a current connection below 20 Kbps per student
  • Priority 2 - schools with less than 100 Kbps per student
  • Priority 2B - remaining schools that are underconnected, based upon available funds and ranked by lowest connection capacity
For Washington Unified, the connection from Yolo County Office of Education to the District Office is eligible for Priority 1.  Our current Internet pipeline to YCOE is 100 MB and the technology department is working on upgrading this connection to 1 GB.  We are also planning on upgrading the connections to school sites from 50 MB to 1 GB.  If we are selected for BIIG 2.0, the cost of the Priority 1 connection as well as a year of service beginning in July 2016 will be covered by this grant.

After Priority 1 schools across the state are funded and if funding is still available, the eligible Priority 2 schools will be funded for connection upgrades.  In Washington Unified, those sites are Southport, Bridgeway Island, Elkhorn Village, Westmore Oaks, River City High School, Riverbank, and Stonegate.  Priority 2B eligible sites are Evergreen, Yolo, Westfield Village, Alyce Norman, and Bryte.

What happens if we are not funded through BIIG 2.0?
If we are not a final candidate to receive BIIG 2.0 funding, we will still move forward with the plan to upgrade our Internet connection to YCOE and throughout the district.  We've started the initial planning to apply for E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides discounts on connections (Phone, Voice, Data) and reimbursements on infrastructure upgrades (routers, switches, fiber).  Don't miss next week's Technology Update about E-Rate and how you can support our application.

What does this mean to you and your classroom?

In time, you will see an increase in how fast the Internet works in your classroom for you and your students. Given the BIIG 2.0 timeline, it is likely that this increase will not occur until the 2016-2017 school year.  As we add more devices to classrooms, you could potentially see a slowing of the Internet since the "pipeline" is only so large and as we add more devices, the traffic becomes slower. We are working on alternative solutions to avoid this slow down.