Thursday, December 15, 2016

Happy Holidays from WUSD Tech!

Have a great winter break and we look forward to continuing to support your technology needs in 2017!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Technology Update: Digital Citizenship - Must do's, Should do's, and the Can do's and the Why - 11/29/16

Before sharing the new digital citizenship resources that Melissa Oliver, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, put together last week, I wanted to start with why digital citizenship is so important for our students and staff.  A digital citizen is “a person who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the Internet and other digital technology, especially to participate responsibly in social and civic activities”.  As educators, we have a responsibility to teach the skills and knowledge to develop digital citizenship critical to the success of our during their time in Washington Unified and beyond. We’ve instituted several measures regarding our G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education – GAFE) environment that protects our students they continuously develop their digital citizenship.  One of these measures is what is called a “walled garden” in the Google world. What this means is that all WUSD students can only email or share Google Drive files with other students, teachers, administrators, or staff within the district. We have also turned off access for students to access personal Gmail accounts.

Hapara: Decode & Rename Your Class

When you login to Hapara at, you'll notice an alphabet soup of numbers and codes for each class on your dashboard. Here's what they mean and how you can create custom names for all your classes.

Monday, November 28, 2016

BrightBytes Survey Collection Open

Bright Bytes Logo with 2 aqua lightbulbs
It's time for our semi-annual BrightBytes Survey on technology use in the district. This survey is for all teachers, administrators, Grade 3-12 Students, and WUSD families. You can access the survey at Students in Grades 3-12 using Chromebooks can find this link in their bookmark folder. The survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Google GEO Tools Workshop December 1st

Red Map Pin
 Are you interested in adding an additional element into your lessons? Google offers a variety of Geo Tools that can be easily incorporated into your lessons in different subject areas. Improve your students' geographical knowledge and understanding of place through the use of MyMaps, TourBuilder, Geo games, and more!

Want to learn more? Register for Geo Workshop on 12/1/16, from 3:30-5:00 at the District Office, Room 48. Teachers will be paid at their professional development rate.

Class DoJo: Class Story Part 3

Dojo character made out of words
Greetings All!                                                                           
This is Part 3 of my series on Class DoJo Blog. 

Perhaps the most versatile feature, added last year, is Class Story. This is essentially a Facebook for your classroom and parents. I use it to post “all things Room B-19.” I start my day posting the daily agenda, and a short note to parents about what is happening. I post weekly spelling words and vocabulary, and vital directions like, instructions about how to log in at home, directions to elements such as our weekly spelling contract, how I want book reports to be prepared and anchor charts to be used in classroom. But that is just the beginning. I have requested and received permission to post student’s pictures and work. With their permission, I am able to take pictures of student activity throughout our day and post those on the Class Story. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Technology Update: Current status of the network (LONG) 11-16-2016

Greetings WUSD Staff,

Over the past several weeks, we have experienced decreased functionality of our wireless network that has impacted classrooms across the district. Many of you have reported your experiences directly to me or my staff and my team has also seen these issues first hand. As a former classroom teacher, I understand the frustration that you  have felt when the wi-fi has failed you and your students. I have been pushing the IT team to bring resolution to the issues experienced in the classrooms. I wanted to update you today on what has happened behind the scenes so that you have a better understanding of what we are working on to solve the wi-fi issue.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Why ClassDojo is a Must! Part 2

3 cartoon characters: one with a baseball & bat, one with a ninja headband, and another with a basketball.Guest Blog Post
by Robbert Perrine
Stonegate Elementary
ClassDojo Ambassador

Greetings! This is Part 2 of my series on why DoJo is a must in today’s classroom. Part one covered getting your kids set up, and using the random picker feature and the points system. If you have any questions about Part 1 (or anything else Dojo) please drop me a line at

Today’s segment will discuss GETTING YOUR PARENTS SIGNED UP AND INVOLVED. Class DoJo’s best feature is the fact that it brings parents right into your classroom in real time! Class DoJo makes it easy to get your parents set up, especially using parent emails. I click on “Get Parent Invites.” This allows you to print out parent invitations, and send them home with your students. Each parent and student gets a code to use in the app to get signed up.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Illuminate: Entering K-8 Opinion/Argument Writing Scores

Whether you have already completed administering the Fall Opinion/Argument Writing Assessment are will be finishing the assessment this week, your scores are due into Illuminate by Monday, November 14, 2016.

For your reference, here's how to enter your scores.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why ClassDojo is a Must!

ClassDojo Ambassador BadgeGuest Blog Post
by Robbert Perrine
Stonegate Elementary
ClassDojo Ambassador

It all started with a search of the App store for educational apps. I saw the Class Dojo, read the description and promptly downloaded. This is now my fourth year using the app, and it has become a vital part of my classroom and pedagogy. I will publish a series of weekly blogs explaining why I love DoJo, the features, the many ways it helps in my classroom and the awesome team of developers. This week we will look at random picker and class management.

The first feature I fell in love with was the random picker, for many reasons. No more numbered sticks! I’ll never forget the time I realized one student was never getting picked from the sticks. It turned out the student had stolen the stick! With the Dojo random picker there are no more arguments about who is being picked for what. The students are able to accept the pick and move on. The Dojo often nabs students who are not paying attention, and we have a mantra “Dojo always knows!” The system also tends to steer the teacher from those “go to” students who you know will give a quick, correct answer. It cycles through the kids as long as you keep the app running. Alternatively, it will re-randomize the students every time you start the app.

Another excellent feature which can be used right away is positive and negative points. No more color cards, magnets on the whiteboard, or clothes pins for management systems. How many times have you said to yourself that the only time those systems are used is for negative situations? Plus, taking the time to have a kid get up and move the token is just not a good use of valuable class time. I have seen students distract and disrupt as they slowly walk across the room. With DoJo, a simple tap on my phone generates a rewarding sound or a recognizable negative sound. There is a neutral sound option if you want to give a warning or do not want to hand out negative points. You can have as many rewards and negatives as you want, all customizable by you. I have positive points set up for class answer, shaky point, one for each of our school rules and special ones with added point value, like Crushed It +3, Super-Duper +4, Wild Reader +5, and “It was a great day to be a Lion” +5.

Class Dojo Word Cloud
With the class management feature, you can use the Groups section to tailor groups, or set up teacher class points. I use Kagan strategies in my class. Each Kagan group is a group or team to promote conversation, and teamwork. The group points have promoted listening and speaking in my classroom. In the past I used negative points, but this year I have decided to make all individual negatives as zero points. The only negative I use is class talking -1. This has proven to be very effective when recess continues into the classroom. Whatever you decide, you can make it worthwhile and be flexible. Give students input and ownership, and make it fun!

Next week we will look at getting parents on board and the messenger feature.

If you have any questions please e-mail me at I would love to hear your comments, answer questions, or just to collaborate with you. Until next week happy DoJoing!

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Google Sites

Just a few years after first getting the internet as a kid, I remember very clearly receiving HTML for Dummies as a gift from my parents in 1996. I was excited at first but 11-year-old me was quickly disappointed by how difficult and painstaking coding in HTML actually was. 20 years later, creating a webpage has never been easier with Google’s introduction of New Google Sites.

Instead of learning new language and unforgiving syntax, the new Google Sites allows for simple dragging and dropping of elements, resizing of pictures, and most appealingly easily accessible navigation. Now, not only can teachers create good looking websites to share with kids and parents and the community, but now children can too. Best of all, it fully integrates with the rest of the Google Apps, so you can embed YouTube videos, Maps, Slides, Docs, Sheets, or Forms right into your webpage.

The best part of Sites is that, like Google’s other great products, it will update over time and only improve.

If you’re interested in learning more about the New Google Sites, come to our Digital Communications PD on September 27, 2016! Register Today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Technology Update: Welcome Back Teachers! (8/8/16)

Welcome back! The Technology Team has been busy preparing classrooms for the 2016-2017 school year and I know that some of you are anxious to begin using your teacher laptops.

If you would like your laptop this week:
  • Complete a Help Desk Ticket at requesting your laptop. 
  • Your site tech will work to accommodate your needs. 
  • If you cannot remember how to create a Help Desk Ticket, please see the helpdesk guide.
  • You will need to complete and sign an Equipment Check Out form that your site tech will provide.

If you do not need your laptop until next Monday, August 15:

  • Your laptop will be placed in your classroom on Thursday or Friday with an Equipment Check Out form. 
  • Please add your name and sign the form and return it to the folder in the front office at your site.
We are looking forward to meeting your needs this school year and the best way to do so is for you to communicate with us using the Help Desk Ticket system. It is the process that the Technology Team uses to manage and prioritize tasks as well as look for overall trends in service. Please do not ask your site secretary to enter tickets for you as it can delay our ability to support you.

Site Tech Assignments for 2016/2017:

  •  River City: James Corson
  • Stonegate, Westmore Oaks/MOT, Alyce Norman/Bryte: Damien Sintes
  • Southport, Westfield, Riverbank: Jorge Monterrubio
  • Elkhorn, Bridgeway Island, Yolo/District Office: Steve Calibo
Again, we’re thrilled to have you back and look forward to another amazing school year! As always, please let me know if you have any questions.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cleaning up your Digital Classroom

It's the end of the year and you're busy wrapping up the school year and preparing your classroom for the summer.  Keep in mind that there will be some digital classroom clean-up that you will also want to do at the end of the school year.  Starting with Google Classroom.

Cleaning up Google Classroom.
You will want to archive your classes at the end of the year.  This will make them disappear from student dashboards while also preserving them so you can re-use assignments next year. Here's how.

  1. Login to Classroom.
  2. Choose the meatballs on the classroom tile and select archive. 
  3. Your class is now archived.

If you need to locate your archived classroom in the future it can be located by visiting the Google Classroom menu in the top left corner.  Scroll down to the bottom and you'll find a folder with all your archived classes. 

Cleaning Up Google Drive.
Your Hapara folders will automatically be archived for you during the summer. No action required from you. However, summer might be a time to create or refine your organizational structure. For many of my projects, I use folders that start off with 15-16 in their title. Over the summer, I will move these various project folders into a 2015-2016 School Year Folder and begin a 16-17 Folder naming convention. This is just one way to organize your Google Drive.

Color Code your Folders.
You can make your Google Drive resemble Spring and Summer by color-coding your Google Drive Folders. Within, right click on your desired color-coded folder and choose a color.

Star your Files or Folders.
If you have Google Drive Folders that are always in use, you might consider adding a star. The star acts as a filter and you'll be able to find your starred files and folders quickly by choosing the star.
To star a folder, right click the folder and choose Add star.  To star a file, you can do the same or if your file is open, you will notice next to the title a star that acts as a toggle.  

You can locate all your starred files, by clicking on the star filter in your Google Drive.

When the file is no longer important, just unstar it.

Place Files in Multiple Places.
Sometimes you may want the same file in several locations based on your organizational structure. You can do this in the Google environment and when you update the file in one location, it will automatically update it in all the locations.  Highlight the file and use the keyboard shortcut, SHIFT + Z, and choose the desired additional location for your file.

Upload Files into your Google Drive.
If you have files saved to your desktop on your teacher laptop, you will want to save those to your h:// drive or upload them to your Google Drive before your turn in your device at the end of the year for reimaging. The Google Drive Upload solution is simple. From your Google Drive, Choose New >  File or Folder Upload > navigate and select those desktop files or folders you wish to upload your drive > Open. Depending on the size and quantity of files you may have on your teacher desktop, this process may take several minutes. 

What are some of your favorite digital organization tips?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Google Certified Educator Cohort Forming

Are you interesting in becoming a Google Certified Educator this Summer?

Join our Blended Study Group so we can support one another.

In-person Launch.
We will be holding an in-person cohort launch on Friday, June 10 from 12:30-1:30 in Room 48 at the District Office. During this launch, we will provide:
  • an overview of Google Certifications and process
  • ensure everyone can access the GoogleEDU Training Center
  • helpful tips and skill checklists
  • enrollment in our online community to ask questions and support one another throughout the summer as we work towards becoming Level 1 and/or Level 2 Google Certified Educators.

Ongoing Office Hours for Drop-in Support.
Throughout the summer, we will also be hosting regular office hours for drop-in support. We encourage teachers to stop by to ask questions, work with others face-to-face, and/or just to say "Hi!" 
  • Friday, June 24, 9:00-11:00
  • Friday, July 8, 9:00-11:00
  • Friday, July 22, 9:00-11:00
  • Friday, August 12, 9:00-11:00

Please note that attendance at the launch is not required to participate. If you're interesting in participating but are unable to join us on the 10th, send Robb Perrine or Melissa Oliver an email and they'll be sure to add you to our online study cohort.  All meetings are voluntary and will take place in Room 48 at the District Office.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Technology Update: Student-Powered Playground & Summer Coding School (05/03/16)

As the end of the year is drawing near, we are providing two great opportunities for our students to celebrate their year and jump start learning for next year.

Student-Powered Playground - May 26, 2016, 4:30-6:00 PM @ Yolo Education Center

Have a tech related project your students created this past school year? The inaugural Student-Powered Playground will celebrate our students’ skills and knowledge gained through the increase in technology to the classroom. This event is open to all TK-12 teachers and students and is completely voluntary. During this 90 minute event, students will have an opportunity to “show what they know” to their families and friends in an informal “playground” of student-led hands-on learning. We are looking for projects or activities that integrate with STEAM and the California State Standards (CCSS). Support our students by signing up for a classroom table - see more information at

Summer Coding School

A couple of weeks ago, flyers for the upcoming Summer Coding School should have been placed in the boxes of 4th - 7th grade teachers to be passed out to go home. This is a program that we are contracting with Code for Hood to provide to existing 4th-7th grade students as part of the regular summer school program. Summer school begins on June 13 and ends on July 14 and students would be expected to attend all 5 weeks (Monday-Thursday). The form is to gauge interest from our families and those who complete and submit the form will receive first priority when registration opens on May 12 (pending board approval on May 11). If you need a copy of the form, please see the attached PDF. Basic information for parents can be found at

If you have interest forms that you’ve collected from your students, please send those to Christy Jourdan, Technology Department, via district mail.

There will be 60 spaces available and we hope to accommodate all that are interested while still maintaining equity of school site participation across the district. The content will most likely include the following (details are still being finalized):
  • Digital Art Media – Intro to graphic design 
  • Fun with Electronics – Introduction to electronics 
  • Fun with Sketch Up – 3D Modeling introduction 
  • Fun with Scratch – Coding class 
  • Build a website – using open source software 
Thank you for your continued work with our West Sacramento students and please let me know if you have any questions. As always, we are here to help!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Technology Update: Innovative Educators, Bandwidth, and more! (4/6/16)

Just a couple of quick updates for this week:

Innovative Educator – Cohort 2
Applications are open for the second cohort of the Innovative Educator program. Please consider attending the last information meeting tomorrow, April 7, from 3-4 pm in the Computer Lab at the district office if you are thinking about applying with a partner and need more information. No sign up needed. The application is available until Sunday, April 17 at 8 pm and can be found at

Bandwidth Upgrade
Early this morning, Yolo County Office of Education (YCOE) added an additional 1 GB Internet circuit for outgoing bandwidth to school districts. This is greater than what we’ve had before (100MB which is 1/10th of 1GB) but less than the dedicated bandwidth that we hope to have when they upgrade to 10GB. This means that rather than servicing all of the districts in Yolo county on 1GB, they are now able to provide 2GBs of Internet bandwidth. We have seen a noted increase in traffic efficiency based upon this addition at YCOE. Kuddos to YCOE for problem solving on how to best support our students in Yolo county!

Help Desk Tickets
Thank you for submitting your help desk tickets! This helps us better meet your needs and is greatly appreciated! If you are doing a password reset, please make sure you include the student’s first and last name as well as lunch number. In most cases, we are able to do the password reset as soon as the request comes in. If you are in a crunch and can’t do a help desk ticket, pick up the phone and give us a call at extension 1411. We are here to help!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Plickers! Quick & Easy Formative Assessments

Guest Blog Post
by Amber Joplin, Westfield Village

Quick and easy formative assessment? Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong. At #gafesummit Roseville in February I learned about an awesome FREE assessment tool called Plickers. What’s Plickers you ask? “Plickers is a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices.”

To start using Plickers only takes a few simple steps:
  1. Create a free account on Plickers.
  2. Download app to your phone (which is available for free for iOS and Android. Who doesn’t like free!?).
  3. Import your roster.
  4. Start creating questions.
After the above steps, print and pass out each Plickers card (examples at right) to the corresponding student. Each card has a uniquely shaped square that is labeled with A, B, C, or D along each edge of the square. To begin assessing, students read the question you created within the app or on the website (this can be done before or during a lesson) that is projected on the screen. You must select "live view" on the website so students can see the question. Students hold up their cards rotated so their desired answer is at the top of the card. You scan the cards with your phone, and the website updates instantaneously on whether each student has responded and their choice. Since each card is unique, you don’t have to worry about students looking at other students’ cards: a huge bonus for those students with wandering eyes.

This works for teachers with multiple classes and for those who have the same students all day; just label each import accordingly. Once you import your roster, students are assigned a Plickers card that is labeled with a number, and you give that card to that student. Plickers has the option of going up to 63 students. To keep the data you collect accurate, students should use the same card each time. Plickers just added a new feature where you can look at a scoresheet of the questions you asked within a certain date range and see the data broken down by students.

Another added bonus is all the questions you ask are archived; you can always go back and review them or reuse the question. Best of all, students enjoy how interactive it is and have fun. I use my cards currently for math and English but plan on incorporating it into all subject areas. I teach my students to put their card down as soon as they see their name checked, meaning I have scanned their answer. After all students have answered, you can reveal the answer and students receive instant feedback. I suggest printing the cards on cardstock and laminating the card so they are sturdy; don’t worry, the lamination doesn’t affect your phone's ability to scan the card.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
Amber Joplin, 5th grade, Westfield Village

Monday, March 28, 2016

Technology Update: Limited Bandwidth Update (3/28/16)

Welcome back! I hope that each of you had a restful and enjoyable Spring Break this past week and have recharged to finish out the school year strong! Over the break, the Technology department worked with WAVE to upgrade the data circuit between the district office and the Yolo County Office of Education (YCOE). The data circuit makes it possible to accept Internet bandwidth of up to 1 Gb from the YCOE. In addition we have installed equipment at the District Office in order to receive the Internet pipeline. Unfortunately, last Thursday we received an email from the YCOE stating that the YCOE’s vendor had missed a November 2015 installation date of their 10 Gb circuit; the new completion date is May 2016. Unfortunately, with all of the work performed to ensure we have the substantial bandwidth for testing, we will not be able to receive 1 Gb of data from YCOE – they simply do not have it.

What this means for you
As a result of this new obstacle, we are putting internal measures in place that will ensure that our students have the testing environment they need for success. This means that we will be implementing the following measures beginning on Tuesday, March 29, at 5 pm:
  • All video and audio streaming traffic will be blocked for students, including YouTube.
  • All video and audio streaming traffic will be blocked for teachers and staff, with the exception of YouTube. Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and all other streaming traffic will be blocked.
  • Google traffic will be reduced from 70 Mb to 50 Mb.
Although the last thing we want to do is to block access, we decided that these are not critical service and felt it necessary to block them in order to accommodate our testing needs. These services take up a considerable amount of our bandwidth today and, by restricting these services, we should see better performance for students who are testing starting this week. We’ll continue to monitor performance and make adjustments as necessary.

Thank you for your patience as we work together to make the best online testing environment possible for our students.

As always, please let me know if you have specific questions or concerns,


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Using Illuminate for Math Placement Assessments

On March 17,  teachers received an email from Bill Spalding regarding upcoming math placement assessments for current students in grades K-3 and grade 8.  This post is intended to provide additional support in using Illuminate to administer and score these assessments.

Copies of math placement exams will be delivered to sites on March 28. If you would like a sneak preview, these exams have already been uploaded and shared within Illuminate. Find and click on your grade level placement exam (remember that grade levels correspond to 16-17 school year) and click download materials to preview the exam.

Printing Pre-Slugged Answer Documents.

The following screencast will walk you through accessing and printing out pre-slugged answer documents for students to complete so they will be ready to scan when complete.

Hand-Entering Student Scores into Illuminate.

For grades K and 1, teachers may prefer to hand enter student scores directly into Illuminate. If so, the following step-by-step screencast will be helpful once you have administered and scored your student assessments.

Scanning Answer Documents.

If your students use the answer documents to complete the test, you can scan them directly into Illuminate using the camera on your district device.  Here's how:
  1. Login to Illuminate
  2. Locate and click on your desired assessment via Favorite Widget on Dashboard
  3. Click Scan

  4. If needed: Install GradeCam Plugin if you see the image shown below. Click on the image and follow the steps.

  5. Hold Student Answer Documents up to the camera. When scanned you'll see student responses and scores.  
    • Note: If student responses are unclear due to erasures or light bubbling, Illuminate will automatically generate a pop-up menu that will ask you to verify student responses. Verify and complete as needed.
  6. Click Save & View Results when done scanning all student responses.


Regardless of whether you entered student scores by hand or via scanning answer documents, once complete you will have a number of helpful pre-made reports available to you.  You can navigate and preview the  reports available to you by clicking on reports menu within the assessment.

Need Assistance?

If you need help accessing your Illuminate account, please reach out to Melissa Oliver, or complete a helpdesk ticket.  

If you have questions about the math placement exam, please reach out to Matt Wilkins,

Update 3/29/16
The following message was sent to affected teachers on 3/29/16 by Gwyn Dellinger regarding Math Placement Assessments for Summer School.

Dear K-3 and 8th Grade Mathematics Teachers,
Due to the importance of SBAC testing, we have determined that instituting another assessment during this critical time is not the best use of time. 
We will be looking at an alternative way of identifying students to invite to participate in summer programming.  Your site administrators will be receiving more information about summer programs in the coming weeks. 
Therefore; the Math Placement assessments are optional.   If you’d like to use them as additional indicators of math proficiency, you can.  Otherwise, disregard. 
We apologize for the confusion and wish you the best as you guide your students through the remainder of the school year.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Google Docs Update! Outline Tool in Docs!

Beginning today, you'll notice a new feature within Google Docs that will surely help you and your students stay organized and make navigating Google Docs must easier. Google Docs now boasts an outline tool that will intelligently infer the divisions within your work. Or even better, if you use headings, the outline tool will do the work for you exactly as you applied headings styles throughout your document.

Starting today, you will notice that within longer Google Docs an outline pane will be displayed on the left. The example shown here is from our WUSD Illuminate Online Testing Manual. You can easily remove the Outline Pane by clicking the X. But the true benefits of this outline tool is the ability to quickly navigate a longer document. Clicking on any of the headings in the Outline Pane will immediately take you to that section of the document. Imagine the possibilities within the classroom! You could create a single document for an assignment with each student's name as a header. Students could complete the assignment under their heading. Both you and their peers could then easily navigate the document to provide peer-to-peer feedback. Or, students could practice their technical writing by creating help documents that could be used by your students during the 16-17 school year.

For both of these examples, I recommend manually applying the Headings under the Style Menu on the toolbar. This will ensure consistent formatting within the outline pane. Since the outline tool will also look for natural breaks within your document, the outline in the left pane may include text that you do not want included in your outline. That's easy to edit and change. Hovering over any item in the outline, you'll notice an x and the option to Remove from Outline.

And if you tire of the Outline Tool and have removed it, you can always get it back under the Tools Menu > Document Outline.

I hope you enjoy the added functionality provided by the Outline Tool. I look forward to seeing how you and your students utilize this feature in the future.

Monday, March 21, 2016

NEW! Reading Rainbow Book Report Template

Google Docs recently added some new templates in their template gallery. The Book Report Template created by Reading Rainbow is just one that is worth taking a closer look at. It provides a basic book report structure including prompts to get students thinking about setting, characters, and the plot. The template includes prompts for students to include images that relate to the book and their descriptions. Your students could use the template "as-is" or you could use the template as a starting point to create your own book report template that meets the needs of your students and class. 

If you haven't visited the template gallery before, it is easily accessible via the landing page for docs. You can reach the landing page through the apps launcher and clicking on the docs icon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Join Cohort 2 of Innovative Educators.

Innovative Educators - Cohort 2 launches TODAY!

The much anticipated launch of the Innovative Educator Cohort 2 is finally here! The Technology department will begin accepting online applications for partner teams (teams of 2) and individuals on Tuesday, March 15. Applications will close on Sunday, April 17 at 8 pm. Don’t wait – start planning your collaborative partnership now!

Please visit for the online application, FAQs, a list of current Innovative Educators, and the *new* application evaluation rubric.

Take a minute to read through the information, find a partner, and post your immediate questions to the Padlet.

We will be offering 2 informational meetings on March 30 from 4-5 pm and April 7 from 3-4 pm at the District Office in Room 48.

We look forward to supporting yet another one of our fabulous Innovative Educator cohorts!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Technology Update: BrightBytes (3/9/16)

Our district will be partnering with BrightBytes, an educational research and analytics organization, to learn more about our schools’ technology use for student learning. Our goal is to gather metrics on technology access and skills, and on our district’s technology environment, in order to understand the connection between technology use and student achievement. This will be done through a comprehensive framework called CASE that looks at the Classroom factors, Access to technology, teacher and student Skills and Environmental factors.

To gain these insights, we must provide BrightBytes with a complete picture of technology use at school and at home within our district. We will be asking students and teachers to participate in the project and to provide input.

Your participation is important to us and will make the difference between having a complete versus a limited understanding of our district’s technology use. Beginning next week, keep an eye out for an email from your site administrator on how to participate.

If you have any questions, please let myself or Melissa Oliver know!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Technology Update: Bandwidth Conservation (3/3/16)

Conserving Our Bandwidth
As we near our testing window for CAASPP, please be considerate of our network bandwidth by refraining from streaming music for purposes other than instructional (Pandora, Spotify, etc.). This negatively impacts our network. To help preserve the network bandwidth for testing and instructional purposes, I have asked the Systems Engineers to block music streaming for all students. Also, consider your use of video streaming (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) as well. Rather than have each student access audio or video individually, consider sharing this resource in a direct instruction model with follow up being independent practice. By having all students not streaming audio or video at the same time, we should be able to conserve bandwidth to support our CAASPP testing.

Upgrades to Bandwidth
On January 21, the WUSD Board of Education approved a contract with WAVE to upgrade our Internet connectivity between the district office and Yolo County Office of Education. As mentioned in the Technology Update from December 3, we will be moving from 100 MB to 1 GB connectivity once this is installed - essentially going from 100 to 1,000 in terms of how large the “pipeline” is and will become. We should see less strain on our network prior to actual testing starting, especially when combined with strong stewardship of our bandwidth from the classrooms.

E-Rate Update
As part of the federal E-rate program, the district is applying for circuit and equipment upgrades. This will allow us to better support additional devices as we increase access for our students. Please take note of your role as a classroom teacher in supporting the E-rate application by teaching Internet Safety to your students. This is a requirement of E-rate and requires verification from each teacher that lessons on how to stay safe online is being taught in all of our classrooms. 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. The days before Spring Break might be a good time to incorporate the lesson(s) into your instruction (see links to lessons by grade level - create a free account at Common Sense Media to access these lessons).
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!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Simpler Shared Google Drive Folder Settings

Easier Sharing Settings now available in Google Drive.

Do you have a shared Google Drive Folder? Starting today in your Google Drive, you'll notice a new shared people icon that streamlines viewing and managing sharing settings.  Once you click on the shared people icon, you'll see a drop down that shows everyone the folder is shared with as well as their privileges.  The owner is listed. The pencil shows that person has editing rights and the eye illustrates view only privileges.  You can make changes to your shared Google Drive folder by clicking sharing settings.

Monday, February 29, 2016

CAASPP Chromebook Update!

The AIRSecureTest App, used for Interim and Summative CAASPP Assessments is now compatible with Version 48 of the Chrome Operating System that is on our newest Chromebooks. The AIRSecureTest App has been pushed out to all Chromebooks. However, a random sampling of recent deployed carts at different school sites revealed that while most devices have the app, there are some devices where you may see the following message.

Any device with this message needs to be reported to the tech team via helpdesk ticket so we can make some changes to ensure access to the AIRSecureTest App. Please include the cart number and device number in your ticket.  

Before you plan on administering interim assessments on these recently deployed Chromebook carts, I recommend teachers complete the following steps with their students.

1) Following a regularly planned lesson using the Chromebooks, have students completely sign off the device.

2) Direct Students to click on the Apps in the bottom left hand corner, next to Shut down.

3) If students see AIRSecureTest as shown in the picture above, the device will be ready to use for Interim testing. If they receive the message that the app can not be downloaded, please note the device number and complete a helpdesk ticket.

Now that you have verified that all your devices in your newly deployed carts are ready, be sure to follow the steps described in this previous blog post when you are ready to administer the Interim Assessments on the Chromebooks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Voice Commands in Google Docs

The Voice Typing Tool received a major upgrade this week. It now allows the use of Voice Commands! With just your voice, you can now navigate your document by saying "Go to the end of the line" or "Go to previous paragraph."  Voice commands also supports formatting by saying things like "Increase font size" or "Create a bulleted list." You can even add and edit tables using just your voice.  For a full list of supported voice commands, see this document from Google Support. 

To access voice typing and commands, select the tools menu and choose voice typing.

Voice Typing functions as a toggle switch that turns red when recording.

You can reference onscreen help by clicking the question mark and have all the Voice commands at your fingertips.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Arriving 2/25/16. New Google Forms!

Starting Thursday, you'll begin seeing a brand new interface for Google Forms.  This is an updated version that I believe you and your students will love. The new graphical interface is easy to use and navigate and finally supports add-ons that can help automate both your forms and workflow.  With the new forms update, you can see both group and individual responses in real time without having to open up another file.

We are offering a Google Forms 101 session at Super Saturday on March 12.  Whether you are new to Google Forms or a frequent user comfortable with the old interface, you'll love this 2.5 hour session to play, explore, and create Google Forms to use in your classroom for assessment, surveys, choose your own adventures, and much more! Registration for Super Saturday is available here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Using Chromebooks for Interim & Summative Assessments

Using your Chromebooks for CAASPP Interim & Summative Assessments requires a different procedure to access the AIRSecure App than what you may be used to using the Computer Lab.

Following these steps will ensure connectivity to our wireless network when using the AIRSecure App in the required kiosk mode. These steps are outlined in this screencast and are also available in written form.

All Chromebook carts deployed before 2/5/16, including School Site shared carts purchased with title monies, will work for CAASPP testing, both interim and summative testing.

Currently, all Chromebook carts deployed after 2/5/16 will not work for CAASPP testing. This is a known problem related to both the AIRSecure App and how Google provisions new Chromebooks. CAASPP is currently testing the AIRSecure App for compatibility with the newer Chrome OS and there are pending requests with Google to disable the auto-update feature during provisioning. Launching the AIRSecure App on these new Chromebooks will result in an compatibility error message. All districts will recently purchased Chromebooks are currently experiencing this issue and we are unable to provide a timeline for resolution at this time. We are actively monitoring this situation and will let you know of any updates.

If you have any questions about using Chromebooks for Interim & Summative Assessments, please let us know. The tech team is here to support you and your students.

Update (2/29/16): The AIRSecure App is now compatible with the new Chrome OS on the recently deployed Chromebook carts. This CAASPP Chromebook Update contains recommendations to check these devices in advance to ensure connectivity.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Coming Soon: Easier Chromebook Sign-in for Students

Starting next week, signing into Chromebooks will be even easier for students!!

This is the login screen you will start seeing next week on the Chromebooks. Notice the automatic addition of This means that students will only need to enter their username when they login to district Chromebooks. I think this change will make it easier for ALL of our students, especially our youngest.

Staff logging into Chromebooks will still need to type their complete email address, including

Please note: This change does not change how students login to Google at home or in our computer labs. Students logging in at home or in our labs will still need to type their complete email address.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Technology Update: Need Apps? (2/4/16)

Google Play for Education
As promised in the Technology Update: Got Apps? from 12/15/16, the Google Play for Education Store is open!  The store allows teachers to push apps out to their classes, small groups of students, or even specific students.  Please take a moment to read the excellent blog posts (Part 1and Part 2) from Melissa Oliver which describe the process of how to do this. In these two posts, Melissa details what the Google Play for Education Store is and reminds us that the privacy policies outlined in the Technology Update from 12/15/16 are still in play - please make sure that you are checking the Vetted Apps and Website list before you push out apps to students.


If you are using any apps with your students, please make sure you have permission (if necessary) and that you are linking to the privacy page for the app on your teacher website.  It is important that we inform our parents and families on the types of services we are using to support instruction and what information is being shared with these service providers.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

3 Easy Steps to Adding Animated Gifs to your Next Presentation

Image Source
In a recent training, I embedded an animated gif on a Google Slide to add a little humor and the question came up how to add those to my slides? It can be done in 3 easy steps!

1. Find your desired animated gif. There are numerous sites to search for animated gifs. I tend to use a lot or Google Search. Giphy allows you to search multiple categories and even provides the opportunity to create your own. (That's another post!) If you search using Google, refine your results to just images and further refine them by choosing selecting animated under type.

2. Save your animated gif. 
  • Now that you've found your desired animated gif, regardless of method, you need to save the image. 
  • Do this by right clicking on the image and selecting "Save Image As..."
  • You will have a chance to name your image and take note as to where your image is being saved. You'll need this information for the next step!

3. Insert your animated gif into Slides. 
  • Open up your Google Slides where you want to place the animated gif.
  • Choose Insert > Image
  • Select Choose an image to upload > Locate file you downloaded above > Select
  • Move your animated gif to desired location on the slide. 
  • If needed, resize your image using the corners to avoid distortion. 
That's it! Now your presentation has a little animation!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why was I afraid of Google Classroom?

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 9.30.24 PM.pngGuest Blog Post
by Carmen Wright, Elkhorn Elementary

This whole “Google Classroom” talk among experts had made me feel uneasy. There were many podcast dedicated to this topic.  Many conferences have two or three sessions on Google Classroom.  It felt like everyone was using it but me.  I was a bit afraid to implement “Google Classroom” in my own classes. Why?  What’s the big deal you say? Or maybe you have not heard of Google Classroom.

What is Google Classroom and why should I care? In a nutshell, Google classroom is a web-based platform that allows the teacher to connect with their students in a straightforward manner. It gives teachers a simple way to create, collect, grade, and return assignments paperless using Google Apps. I’ll confess, I have attended several workshops on “Google Classroom” in the past, but as with many workshops the information does not always stick.

As one of my many New Year’s resolutions, I decided to try a few new activities in the classroom to shake things up. Google Classroom was at the top of my list. This whole “Google Drive this and that” platform does not come natural to me (yet). I sometimes can’t find documents in Google Drive (which I’m told I can not lose things in it) it's in there somewhere I'm informed by experienced Google people. Google Drive becomes fuzzy when I have to share documents with others and it becomes even more fuzzier when I have multiple Gmail accounts to manage. I think my documents know how to hide well from me.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 8.33.05 PM.png
“The Google” world is still evolving for me. I admire those teachers who have taken the plunge and have successfully implemented Google Classroom. I, on the other hand needed extra help, and extra help showed up in the form of Edmund Lynch, WUSD Technology TOSA. Edmund helped me implement Google Classroom. He was calm and had a positive demeanor. Edmund stayed for almost two class periods. I was able to set up two classrooms that day, a Robotics Elective and a Math Lab. For my elective class, I shared with my students an activity that Melissa Oliver had taught in one of her many workshops, Google Maps. Student pinned their favorite city and country they would love to visit. All my students were very engaged with this activity. For my Math lab, I created a slide activity called “Math Gone Wrong”, where student would find the error and write a few sentence regarding it.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 8.01.42 PM.png

Why was I afraid? Maybe because I don’t understand everything about Google Drive. Maybe part of me was afraid of losing the personal conversation I have with my students everyday. Will they all be so immersed with the devices that the human contact diminishes. The start of a New Year gave me new energy to realize that it’s okay, it’s another tool I could use in the classroom to assist my students in their learning. I understand that I don’t have to do it alone and I don’t have to do all of it at once. I'm feeling more comfortable using Google Classroom.  My classroom is not paperless but I have reduce the amount of paper I use to assign engaging activities.  I'm not an expert but I will suggest to others that it's okay you do not have to be afraid.

We have an awesome Tech Team here at WUSD. I would highly recommend Edmund to visit your classroom and demo or assist you with any technology schoolwork. The whole team Kim, Melissa, and Edmund are very approachable and are our biggest cheerleaders. They understand our hesitations but they also understand what future tools can be used in the classroom to help our students learn. They enjoy working with teachers and our students. It’s a win-win-win for our students in this district.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Google Play for Education. Part II

Monday's post, Google Play for Education Part I, provided background information on the Google Play for Education store. This post is designed to provide you step-by-step directions on accessing the Google Play for Education store and pushing out WUSD approved apps to your students on an individual, small group, or whole class basis.

How Teachers Can Access the Google Play for Education Store.

1. Visit You will need to be logged into your WUSD Google Account to access the Google Play for Education Store. If you are logged in and still see an error message stating you need authorization to view, please send me an email so you can be granted access.

2. Find a App you want to learn more about. (3 methods)

  • Use the Search Bar
  • Search just Chrome Apps
  • Click on the name of the App

3. Review the app within the Google Play for Education Store to ensure it works on Chromebooks or Chrome desktop browser. GeoGebra is used as an example here.

4. Before you Install, teachers need to verify the app meets our student data privacy guidelines by visiting the WUSD Vetted Apps & Websites list. 

GeoGebra falls within the Approved column so now I'm ready to push out the app to my students. If your app doesn't appear on the list, please submit it for review. If your app falls into one of the other categories, you need to follow the directions outlined in the Technology Update 12/16/15 post before pushing it out to students.

5. Click install.

6. If installing a WUSD approved app for an individual or small group of students, type in their names or email addresses in the box and then click install. (For whole class, see step #7 to avoid typing in the names of all your students.)

7. To push out a WUSD approved app to your entire class, I recommend visiting Hapara ( to obtain the emails of your students. You can copy (Control + C) the list from Hapara and paste (Control + V) them in the box shown above.

  • Visit
  • Click on the class folder that you wish to push out the approved app
  • Click on Class Info Tab
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and locate Student Address List
  • Highlight List, Copy (Control+C) and Paste (Control+V) in

  • Click Install
Whatever method you choose to push out WUSD Approved Apps to your students, it is recommended that you do it 24 hours before you plan on using it with students to ensure delivery to everyone in advance of your lesson. The apps will appear in students app launcher when logged into their WUSD Google Accounts.

Remember, if you don't see an app on the list that you'd like to use in your class, please submit it for review.