Tustin Unified School District and foundation to host educational technology conference

The Tustin Unified School District and the Tustin Public Schools Foundation are jointly hosting their second “Connect Institute,” a technology and learning conference, from Feb. 24 through Feb. 26.

Connect Institute #1 - March 2015More than 160 educational leaders representing 20-plus school districts throughout Southern California have registered for the three-day conference, which will be held at the Irvine Marriott. Attendees will explore connected teaching and learning, effective classroom technologies, leadership strategies and more.

This year’s keynote speakers will be Tustin Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin and John Couch, vice president of education for Apple. Couch is also a computer scientist and advocate for technology in education.

Picture1Board members, superintendents, principals, district administrators, IT directors and teacher leaders will get a chance to participate in strategic team planning sessions and workshops on a variety of topics, including educational technology in the classroom, essential tools for secondary math, establishing student-run technology help centers, developing student leaders to support robotics programs, building college and career-ready pathways, innovative online professional development, creating educational cafes in the classroom and utilizing Google Classroom at the secondary level.

Participants will also visit three schools – Barbara Benson Elementary School, C.E. Utt Middle School and Beckman High School – to see how teachers and students are using technology in the 21st-century classroom, and they’ll have an opportunity to tour the district’s Technology Operations Center at Beckman.

For more information about Connect Institute, contact Tustin Unified’s Communications Office at 714-730-7339.

What is MTSS? Here’s your four-minute primer (video)


As we’ve mentioned here before, education offers more than its share of buzzwords, acronyms and jargon, but some are definitely worth getting to know a little better.

MTSS is one.

The initials stand for Multi-Tiered System of Supports, and it’s essentially a comprehensive framework that a number of schools are using to address each student’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs.

Because MTSS is becoming so prevalent on campuses across Orange County, we enlisted our Media Services team and experts from OCDE to produce the brief explainer video above.

Take a look!

OC educators will be able to remotely attend this year’s CUE educational technology conference

This coming March, scores of tech-minded teachers and administrators will once again descend upon Palm Springs for the annual CUE National Conference, featuring the latest educational technology innovations.

CUEBut what about those who can’t make it out to Palm Springs? Well, now there’s a way to participate remotely from Orange County. (Because technology!)

“CUE Connect” will enable registered educators to watch all three keynote speeches at the March 17-19 event and virtually engage in the breakout sessions from a conference center at the Orange County Department of Education, located at 200 Kalmus Drive in Costa Mesa. This is a first for CUE, which says it intends to explore other venue options in future years.

Founded in 1978, CUE works to advance student achievement by offering insight and training on the latest educational technologies. More than 6,000 teachers and administrators annually attend CUE’s signature conference, billed as the largest and oldest education technology gathering in California. It’s also among the largest in the U.S.

This year’s CUE National Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17; 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 18; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The CUE Connect registration fee is $149 for all three days.

For more information, or to register, go here.

UC Irvine to host annual Gifted and Talented Education webinar series

The University of California, Irvine Extension is once again offering a free webinar series geared toward teachers, administrators and parents of gifted students. The eighth annual Gifted and Talented Education Webinar Series will take place weekly on Tuesdays, Feb. 2 through Feb 23, from 4 to 5 p.m.

IMG_4790The four-part series covers challenges the GATE community faces and examines potential methods that teachers, parents and administration can use when developing curriculum and programs, or when interacting with GATE students. Educators participating in the entire series have the option to receive service credit.

“With the GATE community rapidly evolving, UC Irvine Extension strives to provide critical techniques and strategies to maximize the potential of gifted learners,” said Angela Jeantet, director of education and business programs at UCI Extension. “These annual webinars provide educational professionals and parents of gifted students the opportunity to gather critical information that will benefit and solidify the educational foundation of GATE students for today and beyond.”

The free series will be hosted by four leading GATE educators and professionals and will feature presentations on harnessing students’ intuition and curiosity; expanding learning with technology; building resilience and reducing risky behaviors; and globalization and technology.

You can register for the webinars here. And for information on the series or the credit option, email Lisa Kadowaki, or contact her by phone at 949-824-9304.

Local leaders share strategies for building ‘STEM ecosystems’ at national conference

STEM 111215Leaders from 27 education groups that focus on the advancement of STEM subjects — otherwise known as science, technology, engineering and math — have gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to exchange strategies for building STEM education.

Specifically, they’re exploring ways to increase the number of STEM networks or ecosystems, which promote learning in these fields by fostering collaboration among schools, businesses and community organizations.

Making the trip to the nation’s capital were representatives from the OC STEM Initiative, which has become a model for a number of the STEM ecosystems popping up throughout the country. The local contingent also joined other education, business and community leaders in a meeting with White House officials to discuss equitable STEM education and federal STEM policy.

“American education is changing in order to help students succeed in the 21st-century economy,” said Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, chief academic officer for the Orange County Department of Education. “STEM learning empowers students to explore, innovate, think critically and solve problems in the real world. Educators, business partners, families and community members are partners in equipping students for success in college, career and life.”

Along with Dr. Hittenberger, the Orange County group included Dr. Christine Olmstead, OCDE’s assistant superintendent of instructional services; Dr. Linda Christopher, executive director of OC STEM; Paula Golden, president and executive director of the Broadcom Foundation and director of community affairs for Broadcom; Rick Singer, president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation; Katherine Bihr, vice president of programs and education for the Tiger Woods Foundation; Michelle Freeman, program officer for the Samueli Foundation; Christina Altmayer, executive director of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County; Dr. CynDee Zandes, technical assistant for the STEM Ecosystem Initiative; and Gerald Solomon, who convened the gathering as co-chair of the STEM Funders Network and executive director of the Samueli Foundation.

The more than two dozen ecosystems selected to participate in this week’s event are receiving technical assistance and support from the STEM Funders Network, which has committed to producing 100 ecosystems in its first three years. Each ecosystem will be tasked with creating engaging, real-world STEM learning experiences in their communities.

“The president has called for all of us to think of creative and effective ways of getting all of our students engaged in STEM education,” said John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology — and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It’s heartening to see so many communities working locally and together in response to the President’s call to action.”

Ecosystem leaders also met with Harvard University student David Boone, who spoke to the group about the impact of real-world STEM experiences on his own path from homelessness to higher education. Boone benefited from Cleveland’s growing STEM ecosystem during his time at MC2 STEM High School.  

“Collaborations like the Northeast Ohio Hub STEM Learning Ecosystem are helping to inspire and prepare students for success in STEM-related fields and in life,” said Ron Ottinger, executive director of the Noyce Foundation and co-chair of the STEM Funders Network. “We are delighted to help these regional coalitions advance STEM education around the country.”  

“We look forward to continuing our work with communities nationwide,” added Solomon, the STEM Funders Network co-chair and executive director of the Samueli Foundation. “We know that these grassroots, local partnerships can provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ for all learners as they build the skills and knowledge to thrive in a global workforce.”

The first 27 STEM ecosystems selected by the STEM Funders Network are: 

  • Arizona SciTech Ecosystem (Phoenix, Ariz.)
  • Bay Area STEM Ecosystem (San Jose, Calif.)
  • BoSTEM (Boston, Mass.)
  • Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Colorado STEM (Denver, Colo.)
  • East Syracuse Minoa Central School District STEM Learning Ecosystem (East Syracuse, N.Y.)
  • ecosySTEM KC (Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan.)
  • EvanSTEM (Evanston, Ill.)
  • Great Lakes Bay Regional STEM Initiative (Freeland, Mich.)
  • Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem (Austin, Texas)
  • Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Indiana STEM Ecosystem Initiative (Indianapolis, Ind.)
  • Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership in Western New York (Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • Los Angeles Regional STEM Hub (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • NC STEM Ecosystem: Driving the Future (Research Triangle Park, N.C.)
  • Northeast Ohio STEM Learning Ecosystem (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • NYC STEM Education Network (New York, N.Y.)
  • Orange County STEM Initiative (Corona Del Mar, Calif.)
  • Oregon’s Statewide Regional STEM Hub Network (Salem, Ore.)
  • Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Providence After School Alliance (PASA) AfterZone STEM – FUSE Initiative (Providence, R.I.)
  • Queens 2020 (Corona, N.Y.)
  • San Diego EcosySTEM (San Diego, Calif.)
  • STEMcityPHL Regional Network (Greater Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Tampa Bay STEM Network (Tampa, Fla.)
  • Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (Tulsa, Okla.)
  • Ventura County STEM Regional Network Learning Ecosystem (Camarillo, Calif.)

Free training to help teachers introduce computer science to elementary school students

The Orange County Department of Education and Code.org are hosting a free workshop for K-5 educators interested in teaching computer science. The one-day workshop will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on September 12 at the OCDE offices in Costa Mesa.

ocde and Code.org logoThe professional development opportunity will cover the Code.org elementary school curriculum, and will include an introduction to computer science, pedagogy, an overview of the online curriculum, and strategies for teaching classroom activities. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Teachers will walk away with a printed curriculum guide and classroom supplies for the lessons – at no cost.

Organizers say the curriculum blends online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with classroom activities that require no computer. Topics covered in the lessons range from Internet safety and digital citizenship to debugging and algorithms. By the end of each course, students can create interactive games or stories they can share.

The workshops are created to be accessible to teachers with no prior knowledge of computer science. Educators are invited to register for the free training here, and for questions contact OCDE’s Alisa McCord at amccord@ocde.us or 714-327-1063.

Other opportunities to take part in the trainings in Orange County will be available through the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District and the University of California, Irvine in October. You can find more information about Code.org and other workshop locations at Code.org.

Three-day Safe Schools Conference features 48 workshops focusing on trends and best practices

We may be in the dog days of summer, but the pursuit of safer schools is a year-round effort.

As such, more than local 500 educators, school workers and law enforcement representatives are gathering in Costa Mesa this week to address critical school safety and security issues during the sixth annual Safe Schools Conference.

shutterstock_190391855Presented by former state Secretary of Education Dave Long in collaboration with the Orange County Department of Education and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the three-day conference will be held Wednesday, July 29 through Friday, July 31 at the Hilton Orange County. It’s expected to be a big draw for administrators, school board members, counselors, police officers, youth service workers and other school and community leaders interested in learning more about student safety — as well as its impact on school attendance and academic performance.

In all, 48 breakout sessions will cover important topics including bullying, trends in social media and technology, dropout prevention, active shooter strategies, gang intervention and prevention, alcohol and drug use, mental health, and best practices for building positive school climates.

This year’s keynote speakers are education consultant Dr. Michele Borba, FBI Special Agent Jeff Cugno and Wayne Sakamoto, safe schools director for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District. In addition, Dr. Ray Chips of the Irvine Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Gunsolley will be honored as the 2015 recipients of the Distinguished Safe Schools Award.

For more information on the Safe Schools Conference, contact OCDE Program Specialist Christine Laehle at CLaehle@ocde.us.