Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MAD SQUAD Launches Its Second Year at Madison

By Emily Hill

Madison Elementary School is giving its students the tools they need today to become the tech leaders of tomorrow through a club known as the MAD SQUAD.

MAD SQUAD meets every Thursday with the Instructional Support Coach and Technology Aides for one hour.  The goal is to provide skills needed to thrive in today’s virtual world.

The club is comprised of students in 4th through 6th grade.  They had to fill out an application and get teacher and parent permission to join.  We currently have ten members.  It empowers students to provide technology support and leadership in their school.

Cassandra said, “My favorite part of the MAD SQUAD is helping the school out.  It has supported me in learning new technology.”

Technology Aide Mr. Nguyen added, “MAD SQUAD directly involves students with the technology troubleshooting process and gives them firsthand experience at a time when technology is evolving rapidly.”

Students support other classes by troubleshooting, downloading applications for students, setting up Google accounts, and teaching various applications to students and teachers.  We are currently working on Google Classroom, Google Docs and Lexia.  Some of the students are learning to code and will soon be teaching classes how to do that.  If a teacher has a special request we learn how to do it one week and go in and teach the class the following week.

Dr. Yost said, “As a new teacher here in Central Unified, I appreciate the assistance and tech support these young leaders have provided to my class as we are increasing the  use of our tablets. The MAD SQUAD is an invaluable asset and those kids have saved the day for me more than once!”

Priscilla said, “Her favorite part about being in the club is we get to help the little kids with their tablet problems.”

The students said they have learned a lot so far and are looking forward to sharing more of their knowledge with others as the year goes on.

5th grade student Hayden said, “I have learned a lot in MAD SQUAD.  One of the things I learned was how to work with more applications and better understand technology.”

The students have been a huge support for both students and teachers.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bloom's Taxonomy with Apps

If you are looking for ideas of new apps to use in your classroom you might want to take a look at Kathy Schrocks' Guide to Evenything, Bloomin' Apps page or the Android 4 Schools blog.  Both sites offer a wide variety of apps that will work on Android Tablets.  If you are specifically looking for apps that support a Bloom's Taxonomy level,  Bloomin' Apps might be a nice place to start.  Kathy Schrocks has a list of Apps that apply to each level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

While I was on Android 4 Schools today I discovered an app, Clarisketch, that allows students to annotate while voice recording over a picture or saved image.  The recording can then be shared to Google Classroom where the teacher could see and hear evidence of the student's thinking.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrating Technology Use in the Classroom

Several school sites are developing professional development models to increase the technology capacity of their staff.  At Liddell, Tech Time is an on going technology professional development opportunity where staff are given the chance to share new technology tools with each other.

Recently, Glacier Point offered technology trainings on two diffeerent Wednesday afternoons.  Their model involved giving teachers a choice between learning three different technology tools in a more indepth session.  This allowed teachers time to ask questions and become more familiar with the technology tool of their choice.  Teachers selected from three sessions, Google Tools (Basic), Google Tools (Advanced), and Promethean Board.

Both Central High campuses recently participted in a technology professional development in which teachers had the opportunity to attend two sessions of technology training run entirely by teachers.  The afternoon was devised so that each session was run twice, allowing teacher the freedom to select the technology tool they were most interested in from a selection of 6 different sessions.  Sessions at the high school campuses included Google Classroon, Google Forms, Kahoot!, Google Sites, Tablet Integration and Research, Nearpod, Five Star Set-up Scan, and PDF tools/Sound Recorder/ QR codes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thank you Tech Aides!

Tech Aides at each site are working hard to make sure that tablets are functioning properly for our students.  Stephen Gomez, the Tech Aide at McKinley has created an amazing resource of trouble shooting tips to help other Tech Aides, as well as teachers, parents and students, navigate through some of the more common tablet issues.

Our First Experience With Augmented Reality App Quiver

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Using Technology to Connect

When West Campus AP US History teacher, Matt Abajian, was faced with the challenge of how to maintain rigorous instruction for his students while on paternity leave he turned to East Campus AP US History teacher, William Balmanno.  Together they came up with a solution.  Since both teach the class during the same period, they decided to have Mr. Abajian's students virtually join Mr. Balmanno's class through a Google Hangout.  Through the use of Google Hangouts Mr. Abajian's students will not miss out on valuable instruction and they will also have the opportunity to make connections with East Campus students.

Expect to see more pictures of this collaborative effort in the next couple of weeks!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Roosevelt Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Suzanne Awtery has found success with the digital portfolio app Seesaw.  In the app students are able to draw, record video, take photos, access their saved photos, take notes or share a link.  The app is designed so that it is simple enough for Kindergarten students to easily access and document their learning.  Students can use a QR code to access Seesaw the first time and have the ability to use their picture as the icon.  Students cand teachers can comment on the submitted work.

Here is a video of the students excited to listen and learn from classmates.  Students independently recorded narration to accompany their drawings in See Saw.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Approving Videos in YouTube: A guide to listing videos as approved for students

No longer do we need to log into the lightspeed filter or save YouTube videos for our students into Drive.  With the new Google and YouTube feature, every Central Unified teacher has the option to “approve” a YouTube video for their class.  Once approved, it is instantly viewable by your students.  You select the video, and then students can access it on their tablet, phone, or computer.

Step 1

For YouTube to know who you are, you MUST log into your Central Google Account.  Go to www.google.com and click sign in.  (If it already shows your username (teacher@centralusd.k12.ca.us) you go to step three.)

Step 2

Type in your Central username and password

Step 3

Once on www.youtube.com confirm that you are logged in up at the top left.

Step 4

Now find your video, via search.  On the video screen (above) you will see a new blue band just below the video that gives you as the teacher an option to “APPROVE.”  Once selected, students will instantly be able to view the video district wide.  If you need to un-approve a video you will do it in the same spot.  This allows us to get around the saving of all videos and the need to log into Lightspeed to view YouTube.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thank you for an amazing weekend!

Thank you to our Google Summit Sponsors Troxell communications and Advanced Classroom Technology.  Their partnership with Central Unified has served for many years, and they both supported lunch and breakfast for our event.  Our teachers greatly appreciate your support for the event and their professional development.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Sixth grade students in Jennifer Cox's Teague Elementary school class gained coding experience by coding their names.
 Students first created their name in code on paper and then created their name in beads representing their code.

This week in the Official Google Blog there was a discussion about the significance of coding in New York's Fashion Week!  One of the signature dresses in Zac Posen's runway show will feature code programed by girls.  This is just one of many recent efforts to inccrease the number of girls that are interested in coding.  Thanks to Mrs. Cox 6th graders at Teague Elementary are getting first hand coding experience!
We can't wait to see your next coading success.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Updates to Google Classroom

Google Classroom announced some exciting updates this week which will make using Google Classroom even easier to use for teachers.
You can access these new features by clicking on the blue plus button in the lower right corner of your Google Classroom page.
New features include the ability to reuse an old post (including posts that are part of archived classes), the option to create a question for students (as opposed to announcements or assignments), and the ability to move a post within the Stream.

The additional update of creating a Google Calendar associated with your Google Classroom should be coming soon.  

2nd Grade Illuminate Benchmark Trial

This week second grade students at Liddell, Biola, Herndon-Barstow, and Steinbeck completed a trial run of the Benchmarks using their tablets.  One of the benefits of having students use their tablets and Illuminate to complete benchmarks is the immediate feedback that is available for both students and teachers.  Another benefit of the testing through Illuminate is that it mimics the Smarter Balanced Assessment format so students will become familiar with the digital assessment process.  For more information about the exciting changes to Illuminate and how to create assessments using the Itembank see our Illuminate tutorials page.

Back to School Night Technology Update

At back to school nights in Central Unified Schools teachers showed a 4 minute video presented by Jason Horsman, Director of Instructional Technology for Central Unified, explaining the updates, changes, and benefits of using technology in the classroom.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aeries.net Gradebook Training

Jason Horsman Training Biola Elementary Teachers
With the switch to Aeries.net this school year, both Chad Godfirnon and Jason Horsman, along with the Instructional Coaches at each site, have been busy helping teachers to set up gradebooks.  These Aeries.net gradebooks allow for simplified standards based grading for TK-2 grades and will help to increase communication between teachers and parents.  Several additional school sites have requested gradebook trainings which have been scheduled over the next few weeks.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Annual Central Tech Camp Declared a Success

Thank You Foundation for your support of Central Teachers!

Ketti Davis, Jason Horsman, and Central Teachers

Tech Images.PNG

Run by Central teachers for Central teachers, the first annual Central Tech Camp was a success.  Fifty teachers representing schools and grade levels throughout the district convened on Friday August 7th at Glacier Point Middle School to kick off the 2015-2016 school year by celebrating a culture technology collaboration.  Teachers in attendance had the opportunity to select from a variety of sessions presented by Central Unified teacher technology experts. 

In a blogging session, presented by Lisa Papaleo (Liddell 2nd grade) and Suzanne Awtrey (Roosevelt Kindergarten), teachers learned the benefits of creating class blogs to promote literacy and communication among students.  Teachers in that session had the opportunity to create a blog with the guidance and support of experienced bloggers.  Please see their presentation, A Blogging Life for Me-Arrgh!

East Campus Physics teacher, Anthony Nona had a full classroom as he shared tips and tricks that he discovered this past year in his effort to go paperless in his high school science classes.  Anthony provided teachers with valuable information ranging from using Google Apps for Education to deciding on the right LMS.  To see Anthony’s tips for creating a paperless environment in his classroom please view his presentation, Practically Paperless.

After four sessions of amazing presentations by Central Unified’s teacher technology experts the day concluded with attendees winning raffle prizes provided thanks to the contribution of the Central Foundation.  Almost every teacher walked away with something they can use to engage students in learning.  To keep up to date with the innovative and exciting ways that Central teachers are using technology to transform teaching and student learning visit #centraltech on Twitter.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Code.Org Computer Science in Classrooms

Code.org has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing - at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.                                           

Over 40 Central teachers from every elementary school participated in a summer training on computer science curriculum for Kindergarten through 5th grade students.  They walked away with some nice code.org swag and lesson planning guides with over 80 hours of content for their students.