A Tech Guide for New Staff

  • What tools we use

    Teachers in our district get a computer, a document camera, a projector over the whiteboard, and a sound system. (There may be variations in special cases.) The computer runs the Windows operating system. We do not support Mac or Linux machines.
    When you join the school, you get an identity in our system. This is a combination of a user name and a password. Usually the formula for your username is [FirstInitial][LastName]. Buster Keaton, for instance, would get the username bkeaton. We would give you a starter password and, every now and then, you would update it with a different one. You use this combination to log in to your computer, and any other computer in our schools.
    We also try to ensure that this combination opens lots of other doors for you. For instance, you get an email address by adding @vashonsd.org to your username, and the password is the same. In fact, this is not just an email account but also a full Google account: Google Drive for cloud storage and sharing; Google Calendar for an online calendar that integrates with your email; Google Classroom for sharing announcements and assignments with students; and so on.
    Some tech-oriented programs need special software. Some special services rely on technology in their interventions with struggling students. For the general classroom, however, we think the combination of Chromebooks for students, Windows computers for staff, Google services and the internet for everyone will solve most of our technological dilemmas.
    For the full list of services we support, please look at this document.

    How we support users

    We have a tech support team that can fix what ails you. You might think they respond best to being stopped in the hallway or called directly. Actually, this is not true: They respond most eagerly to emails sent to helpdesk@vashonsd.org.
    We have a staff that coaches teachers on integrating technology into their teaching. The only full-time staff member on this job is Andy James; write to him first. At McMurray, you will also work with Carrie Power (who teaches technology classes to students) and Julie Jaffe (librarian). At VHS, you will work with Susan Stronach (librarian). In particular, call on librarians to help with information sciences, research and access to online libraries.

    Our expectations of students

    In the broadest sense, we expect students to start using technology in earnest around 3rd grade. That is when they begin to use their own Google accounts to write documents, make presentations and do research. We also begin teaching typing at this age. All students go through focused tech instruction in Carrie Power's classes in middle school. By high school, expect students to be independent and thoughtful users who can master skills as needed.
    We favor technologies that empower students rather than instruct them. We look for the technologies that expand students' reach and organization and creativity. We look forward to what students can create with their mastery.

    Our standards and goals

     We are currently in the process of creating a plan for tech instruction, K-12, with specific recommendations for each grade level and subject. Be patient. If you want to read a draft, here it is.