PUSD Educational Technology
Enhance, Accelerate, and Personalize Learning!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Congratulations on the completion of a successful first semester! I would also like to congratulate you all on successfully completing a term in which many new tools like Schoology and Illuminate were presented to you. I am impressed with the high level of usership of these tools in what is really our first year with them, and the level of expertise that has already developed across our system in a relatively short amount of time.
I am well aware that anytime new tools are adopted, it can cause frustration among our teachers and staff - learning new things can be hard, especially since time is a precious commodity - especially when the vision for where we are headed in areas like Educational Technology is not clear to everyone.
One of my resolutions this year is to communicate more regularly with everyone about the direction that our work in Educational Technology is headed. To start, I would like to share once again our vision for educational technology and key goals, and then dedicate the remaining part of the newsletter to addressing some of the "wonderings" that some of you may have about our work.
Thanks for all you do!
PUSD's Vision for Educational Technology
We see technology as a tool that will enhance, accelerate and personalize learning for all of our students. It is also a means for fostering collaboration and communication among our key stakeholders - students, parents, teachers and staff, and leadership. Increasing access to instructional technology is one way that we can ensure that our students have the same opportunists as students in other communities, and are being provided with the tools and skills that are required for success in both college and careers. Our work in this area is a sign of our commitment to ensuring equity for all of our students.
PUSD's Goals for Educational Technology
We are committed to ensuring that every PUSD student has access to educational technology as well as age and grade-appropriate tools that will enhance, accelerate, and personalize learning.
We are committed to ensuring that educational technology will integrate seamlessly into daily classroom instruction, and that district adopted tools will integrate well with each other.
3. Professional Development
We are committed to offering high quality, engaging, and relevant professional development and training to our teachers and staff by providing workshops, demonstration lessons, and one-on-one training sessions in addition to providing ample resources and guides that are easy to use and understand. We are also committed to ensuring that each site has staff who can provide support for their colleagues.
4. Parents as Partners
We are committed to building capacity in the parents of the students we serve, by teaching them about our work related to educational technology, helping them learn how they can monitor and support their students using the district's adopted tools, and building their own capacity for using educational technology.
5. Digital Citizenship
We are committed to ensuring our students know and understand how to safely navigate the internet and utilize digital tools. We are also committed to teaching students how to safely and appropriately connect, interact, and collaborate with students, staff, and other adults, and to teaching them information literacy skills as well as key aspects of creative credit and copyright standards.
I wonder what the 1-1 Chromebook rollout plan will look like over the next couple of years.
In 2018-2019, all 8th graders as well as students at Odyssey STEM Academy, Buena Vista, and CDS will receive a Chromebook.
In 2019-2020, all 6th and 7th graders will receive a Chromebook. In this final year of implementation, all students in grades 3-12 will have Chromebooks!
I wonder which gradebook I should be using. Schoology or Synergy?
NOTE: This answer applies to MS and HS teachers.
We would like everyone to use Schoology's gradebook exclusively for two key reasons.
First, it can be directly connected to the assignments, assessments, projects, and the like that are assigned to students through Schoology, making the grading of these items and inputting into the gradebook both fully digital and seamless.
Second, the Schoology parent portal allows parents to not only see the work that is assigned to their student, but also closely monitor their progress by making their student's grade and what went into it fully accessible. For example, if a parent sees that their student got a 7/10 on the assignment, he/she can easily view the assignment to learn why. This provides for greater transparency.
The Schoology gradebook is used by nearly all high school teachers, and many of our middle school teachers. By the start of 2018-2019, we would like all teachers across grades 6-12 to use Schoology's gradebook exclusively.
I'm a K-5 teacher. I wonder which gradebook I should be using.
We will begin exploring how Schoology's gradebook can be configued to match the K-5 report card style in future years.
In the past, teachers in grades 6-12 have been allowed to go into Synergy to input comments, work habits, and citizenship grades before final exams. I wonder why this changed.
If we allow people into Synergy to input grades (because they aren't using Schoology's gradebook exclusively yet) or comments, work habits, and citizenship grades before the push from Schoology takes place, the push will wipe out whatever was input there.
This is why we are opening the Synergy input window for everyone after the push takes place, and then giving enough time after that window opens for folks to go into Synergy and either verify or input their grades and add comments, work habits, and citizenship marks.
I wonder what the district's actual timeline for submitting grades is.
I've heard that some sites have received lots of professional development around the use of educational technology. I wonder when my site will receive additional training.
In addition, Nancy and Durrell frequently conduct workshops at all of our sites, meet with individual teachers regularly, and have even conducted some demo lessons with certain classes. If you are interested in scheduling something with them, please contact them - details below!
Each site has staff members who can offer significant support. For example, all of our site coaches and tech leads participated in a Schoology master course prior to the end of last school year. Our Technology Instructional Assistants (TIAs) meet regularly with Durrell, and have received quite a bit of training on things like Schoology, Office 365, and more. Finally, our district's Curriculum Specialist team is available to help as well.
I wonder when I will be able to give all of my district assessments online through Illuminate.
Our Curriculm Specialists are working with teacher teams and RASI to transition all assessments to an online format that can be taken through Illuminate along with our 1-1 Chromebook initiative. In most cases, exams will move to the new format before the initiative is complete.
Please reach out to the Curriculum Specialist who supports your grade level or subject area for additional details.
I wonder when a secure browser will be available for teachers who are giving online assessments.
Currently, laptop carts at our high schools have a secure browser that works with Illuminate; by the end of February, laptop carts and labs at each of our middle schools will also have the secure browser feature.
At this point, our Chromebooks do not have a secure browser option that interfaces with Illuminate; Illuminate is developing an option that will hopefully be available soon.
Schoology has a secure browser built into it that works on all of our district's Chromebooks, but not laptop carts or labs yet. This feature is called "Lock Down Browser" and is enabled in everyone's courses currently.
We aim to have lock down browser options available in all labs and all devices for both Schoology and Illuminate by the end of the summer.
I wonder if district assessment results that are input into Illuminate can be transferred to Schoology.
Here is a link to learn how to do this: https://pusdschools.schoology.com/group/1057606360/materials#/group/1057606360/materials?f=56814131
If you need assistance, contact Alfredo Lopez, Margarita Rodriguez, or Nancy Rivas - contact info below.
I wonder who can help me learn more about Illuminate?
RASI has also hosted workshops after school for all interested teachers. As district assessments have transitioned from paper-pencil to online, RASI has also conducted workshops with the corresponding teams in preparation. In addition, RASI hosts a Schoology group - PUSD Illuminate, access code # 2BCT-68R2V - that is frequently updated with information and resources related to the use of Illuminate.
Any teacher who is interested in learning more about Illuminate or building their expertise with it, can reach out to Alfredo Lopez (contact information below) or call RASI at extension 6003 to schedule a 1-1 appointment or workshop. Teachers are also encouraged to attend future Illuminate workshops that will be hosted by RASI.