Monday, March 16, 2009

Academic Technology Newsletter #1

March 16, 2009
Welcome to the new Academic Technology Newsletter. This newsletter is intended to keep teachers informed about new developments and opportunities using technology in the classroom. I will include links to free software and web resources, as well as links to articles that offer interesting perspectives on teaching in the digital age and information about current SUSD technology initiatives. I understand that your time is valuable, so please feel free to let me know which portions you feel are not relevant and perhaps should not be included in future editions. Conversely, if you found something to be helpful, informative, or thought-provoking, please let me know that you found it to be useful. Have a good week!

Academic Technology Bytes
Two or three thoughtful & provocative articles offered as digital food for thought.

COLUMN: Schools Must Teach Digital Creation & Consumption
Article which argues that "many students begin with 'consumption' and move into 'creation' with digital content" in ways that mirror the continuum from knowledge and comprehension to synthesis and evaluation. Proposes some interesting guidelines regarding how to make smart technology purchases, rather than falling victim to technology fads and spending money on the wrong things.

TECH FUTURES: No More Tech for Tech's Sake
Far too often, we think that if we just buy more computers and more equipment and more software, our students will learn better and acquire 21st Century skills, and our schools will improve on their own through some form of digital osmosis. We need to remember that, without effective teaching strategies and good teachers, computers are just boxes of circuits and wires.

District Technology News
Brief roundup of what’s been happening with instructional technology in the District.

  • Digital Advantage & Scholars Update: Students with laptops can access a tech support request form at Between 350 and 400 sophomores, juniors, and seniors are on track to receive an upgraded laptop in April through the Digital Scholars program.

  • Technology Leadership Advisory Teams: Each high school has a core group of teachers across content areas who have shown leadership and innovation in the area of academic technology. They are at your disposal to help you learn how to best use the technology resources at your disposal by modeling best practices in instructional technology. If you have an idea regarding how to use technology in your classroom and would like help and feedback, ask your principal who the TLAT teachers are in your school.

Spotlight on YOUR Classroom
The best professional development comes from seeing what the teacher down the hall from you is doing that works.

David Todd, a teacher at Sunnyside High School, was facilitating a discussion on the term "megalomaniac" with his class, and discussing historical figures that could be classified with that term, including a Japanese shogun named Hideyoshi and German dictator Adolph Hitler. After deciding on a class definition for the term, Mr. Todd used the Web to find and play a music video for the song "Megalomaniac" from the band Incubus. Afterwards, the class discussed current individuals who may fall under this category.

Free Resources on the Web
Websites, pages, or services on the Web that just might come in handy in your classroom someday.

District accounts
Do you have any content area web resources that you have come to rely on? Did you find a great resource online somewhere? Share those websites easily with other teachers in your subject area with I have created Delicious online bookmarking accounts with the hope that teachers might choose to log in and add their best web resources in order to build a district-wide library of stellar content area websites. The password for each account is “sunnyside12".

Some accounts only have the basic 15 teacher & student tools that I uploaded to them; the remainder of the resources must come from you. Remember, we can only succeed when acting as a collaborative learning community.

Career & Technical Education: susd12cte,
Science: susd12science, view at
Math: susd12math, view at
English: susd12english,
Social Studies: susd12socialstudies,
Special Education: susd12sped,

More departments and accounts are forthcoming – stay tuned!

Freeware Spotlight
Free tools to download and use on your computer (with permission, of course!)

Google Earth 5.0
The newest version of Google Earth allows you to see the bottom of the oceans and zoom and pan around the Earth with amazing precision and detail. Your science or geography students can see different types of terrain around the world; your social studies students can see concentration camps in North Korea; and your English students can view settings for various novels - especially when paired with GoogleLitTrips.

Google Apps Tip of the Day
Get the most out of the District’s free subscription to Google Apps for Education.

Students can log in at Most students already have an account created for them. They work in a similar fashion to their network logins.

For example:
Andre Rodriguez (fake student) was born on March 9, 1994, and his matriculation number is 012345. Therefore, his Google Apps user name is AndreR030994 (090394 is the six digital numerical version of his birthday), and his password is 12345 (the initial zero in his matric number is removed). His email address is If you, as a teacher, would like an account to experiment with, please send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible with your new account information.

Send in your questions regarding technology use for possible inclusion in this newsletter.

From a teacher at Sunnyside High School:

How do we change our default page for the Internet? Can we make it just Google?

You can change your default, or home, page to whatever you like. This is the page that loads whenever you open Internet Explorer on your school computer. Use the written instructions, demonstrated in the silent video here, to change your home page.

Open Internet Explorer.

  1. Click on the "Tools" menu (there are two of them; see the video to find out where they are).
  2. Click on "Internet Options" at the bottom of the menu.
  3. On the "General" tab, enter the web address (URL) of the page you want to load when Internet Explorer first opens (, for example).
  4. Click on the "Apply" or "Okay" button and close the window.
  5. Click on the "Home" button to test it (hint: this looks like a house!).

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