Saturday, December 20, 2014

San Diego Unified spends more than an hour on the "Hour of Code"

Last week during Computer Science Education Week, more than 8,500 San Diego Unified students participated in The Hour of Code, a global movement to expose students to coding. In San Diego Unified, however, it is more appropriate to call it Hours of Code. Students spent hours developing many of the talents they will need to succeed after graduation. Writing computer code as a team teaches them how to work together, think through problems logically, identify solutions, and persist until they reach their goals—all valuable skills in the world and the workplace.

Here are some of the highlights of the week:
  • Steve Stawski from Sony Electronics spoke to Lori William’s Criminal Justice students at Lincoln High School about the importance of coding in the world of criminal justice and how coding is an important field for our national security.
  • All of the teachers and students at Innovation Middle School took part in the Hour of Code for the entire week. In addition to learning about the benefits of coding and computer science, students created their own computer programs using Scratch and Hopscotch. Elijah Galbraith-Knapp, from the San Diego Sockers along with a representative of Congressman Scott Peters came to see student programs and play some of the games students created. One group of students walked to Hawthorne Elementary School to teach their younger peers how to code.
  • At Angier Elementary School, the students in Mr. Olsson’s after-school coding club were Hour of Code ambassadors for the third grade.
  • The Control Group and Junior Achievement partnered to teach code to the Hoover High School Academy of Information Technology students. These students in turn, taught code to students at Wilson Middle School and Rosa Parks Elementary School.
  • Kearny High School students in CorriAnne Burgess’s Geographic Information Systems class created an interactive map to display all the schools and the students in San Diego Unified that participated in The Hour of Code. See the map.
  • Qualcomm hosted training for administrators and teachers at their Thinkabit Lab.
  • Computer Science Principles teachers Barbara Adams, Morse High School, and Ray Kinne, San Diego High School of Business and Leadership, were invited to be part of the national celebration in Washington, D.C. at the 100 Teachers Meeting. They joined the students invited to the White House to do the Hour of Code with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

“With careers in computers slated to be some of the fast-growing jobs in the upcoming years, it has become increasingly important to provide young people with both exposure to these opportunities and the skills necessary to acquire jobs in computers,” said Sean Sharokhi of The Control Group. “We hope this event will encourage the students to continue to work hard and to ultimately consider pursuing a post-secondary education and/or career in computer sciences.”

For more information contact Gail Lake, program specialist, Office of College, Career & Technical Education, at .

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

IN THE NEWS: Computer science program opens world to Hoover High students

Hoover High School student Josecruz Morales knows the importance of computer science. After learning computer coding, Morales said a whole new world opened up to him. Read KPBS article >>

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foods Services supervisor receives honor for contributions to school nutrition

Congratulations to Food Services Area Supervisor Christine Holmer who was recently honored with the Louise Sublette Award for Manager of the Year by the California School Nutrition Association. This award, in honor of Louise Sublette, recognizes school nutrition managers for the contributions they have made throughout their school nutrition career.
This award is presented to a person who is has achieved outstanding accomplishments in one or more specified areas in a period of three years:
•  Increasing food acceptability
• Teaching/promoting nutrition education
• Interpreting the needs of the school food service program
• Increasing student participation
• Training personnel, promoting members professional growth
• Increasing public awareness
• Involving students in decision making
• Securing adequate funding for the school food service program
• Cooperating with allied associations to promote child nutrition and/or professional growth opportunities

The Manager of the Year Award is named after Louise Sublette, a leader in school nutrition during the mid-twentieth century. For over 40 years, Louise Sublette worked in many areas of food service and nutrition, including public schools, colleges, hospitals and elderly feeding programs. Her name is given to this prestigious award because throughout her life, Louise Sublette emphasized that the success of school nutrition depends upon those professionals who work in school nutrition programs. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

District Participates in K-8 Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative

NGSS  To get a jump-start on the implementation in California of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), eight school districts, including San Diego Unified, have been selected to participate in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative.

Developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, in collaboration with the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education and Achieve, this initiative will be a fast-start demonstration project to build local education agency (LEA) capacity to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards in grades K-8. The initiative began its work August 4-8, 2014 with a weeklong academy in Southern California.

The LEAs will engage with the K-12 Alliance in the initiative over a four-year period to collaboratively develop and participate in leadership training for teachers and administrators, and in teacher professional development in content and pedagogy to meet the conceptual shifts required by NGSS.

Selected in a competitive application process, the other California include: Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District.

The members of the district’s NGSS Core Leadership Team (in photo, bottom to top) include Michael Goodbody, science resource teacher; Rosemary Cruz, principal, Ross Elementary; Felicia Ryder, Wangenheim Middle; Joe Frescatore, principal, Carson Elementary; Rachael Tarshes, Mann MS; Sharon Schmidt, Tierrasanta Elementary; Sara Church, Dingeman Elementary; Juliette Solis, Valencia Park Elementary; Christy Compton-Hall, Bethune K-8; Karal Blankenship, Emerson-Bandini Elementary; Rodger Ashworth, Washington Elementary; and Don Whisman, science program manager.

For more information, contact Don Whisman, science program manager and project director, NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, at or (619) 725-7345.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2015-16 academic calendars finalized, transition plan approved

The San Diego Unified Board of Education voted at the Dec. 9 Board meeting on the final academic calendars for the 2015-16 school year and approved the plan that will transition all schools to a common traditional calendar.

The Board approved the 2015-16 academic calendars with a start date of Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, for all schools. The last day for students who attend traditional calendar schools is June 20, 2016; schools on year-round schedule will end on July 21, 2016. Both academic calendars have 180 instructional days and are posted on the district website.

The start date for the 2016-17 school year is yet to be decided. At the recommendation of the district Calendar Committee, the district will explore the possibility of starting future school years in August, which would better align with other school districts in the county and have benefits for high school students. The district will be reaching out to various stakeholders in the next several months to get input on the possible change.

In addition, the Board approved the plan to transition the district’s 54 schools currently on year-round calendar to a common traditional calendar over the next four years beginning with the 2015-16 school year. Year-round schools that will transition to traditional calendars in 2015-16 include: Dewey, Ericson, Hancock, Hardy, Jerabek, Johnson, Mason, Miller, Porter, Sequoia, Tierrasanta, Valencia Park and Walker elementary schools along with Farb and Knox middle schools.

Transitioning all schools to a single calendar offers a variety of positive benefits and supports for families. Currently, some families have siblings in both traditional and year-round schools, which can pose challenges for childcare, vacations and other activities because students are not on break at the same time. A single calendar also serves families who rely on older siblings to look after younger children.

The move to a single calendar will be especially beneficial to military families since they often get reassignment orders in June while their children are in school through late July. In addition, the transition supports stabilizing enrollment as attendance data shows that absences can increase at year-round schools during the summer months and some schools, particularly those who serve military families, can lose enrollment.

More information about the Calendar Transition Plan is available at .

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

$1 million grant to support military students with disabilities

DoD United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) recently awarded San Diego Unified School District a grant for $1 million, over four years, for Operation Special Education Achievement (Operation SEA).

"The Department of Defense is committed to ensuring that all children of military families have access to quality educational opportunities,” said Kathleen Facon, Chief of the DoDEA's Educational Partnership Program.  “DoDEA Educational Partnership grants have the power to transform learning experiences for military children and we are looking forward to working with the San Diego Unified School District to leverage success and learn from their expertise."

The goal of Operation SEA is to increase grade 3 to 5 students' achievement in English/Language Arts at six elementary schools within the district that have a high concentration of students with special needs from military families: Juarez, Kumeyaay, Miramar Ranch, Perry, Tierrasanta and Vista Grande.  In 2013-14 these six schools served 752 students from military families representing close to a quarter of their total enrollment, of these 112 (15%) were identified as having special educational needs.

Project strategies designed to achieve this goal are:
  1. Professional development through consultation, planning time, and summer workshops provided to grade level professional learning communities comprised of general education and special education teachers from all grades at all six schools (130 teachers).
  2. Access to research-based classroom curriculum and instructional materials that will help teachers across all grades align IEPs to Common Core State Standards in ELA and support students with special needs within all grade levels.
  3. Implementation of an innovative three-year professional development and classroom instruction program – Collaboration: Teachers and Artists (CoTA) in all 3rd and 5th grade classrooms as a way of engaging students who may be struggling academically or socially.
This grant builds upon the success of a current DoDEA funded project Operation Learn & Thrive which includes professional development to support implementation of a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, co-teaching model and the integration of technology to support students with special needs. 

“We are so appreciative of the Operation Special Education Achievement grant and our ongoing partnership with the DoDEA in support of our military families,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “This four-year grant will ensure that students with disabilities have the same access as general education students to the Common Core State Standards curriculum in English Language Arts. The funds will provide the resources and supports for our teachers that will ensure equity for all.”

 DoDEA awarded a total of nearly $32 million in grants this year. The grants were awarded to 25 military-connected public school districts to strengthen family-school-community relationships and enhance student achievement for military connected students.

To be eligible for participation in the grant, the district must have an active military-connected student population of 5% or more, with a population of 15% or more military-connected students at the school level. Although funding levels are related to military student enrollment, the proposed programs will serve all students at the target schools.

Monday, December 8, 2014

La Jolla High students win high honors in WordMasters Challenge

WordMasters Challenge A team of students representing La Jolla High School recently won high honors in this year’s WordMasters Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.

Participating with 600 school teams from all across the country, the school’s 11th graders tied for 15th place in the nation in the year’s first meet, held in October. The school’s participation was supervised by Jewel Weien, Mary Maycock, and Amy Kuehl. Read more on La Jolla High's website.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Harvest of the Month is Organic Bloomsdale Spinach

The Harvest of the Month for December and January is Organic Bloomsdale Spinach from Go Green Agriculture in Encinitas, Calif. Find this super veggie on your school salad bar every Wednesday during the months of December and January.

Spinach Go Green Agriculture is a pioneer in growing organic greens using hydroponics and has been recognized on the local state and federal level for their innovative model of farming. Farmer Pierre was invited to the White House this summer to receive the Champion of Change award in the Future of Agriculture.

To help educate students on where the Harvest of the Month produce item comes from, we have created monthly Harvest of the Month videos that act as virtual field trips to the farm. These videos are an opportunity to connect students to their food and local farmers. We encourage principals to have their teachers share the videos in the classroom so students can experience the full circle of their food.

Please share these Virtual Field Trip Video links with teachers, staff and students:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winter Fun Café offers free lunches and snacks during Winter Intersession

Food Services will be offering free lunches and snacks for children 18 and under during Winter Intersession, Jan. 5-16, 2015. The Winter Fun Café will be open at 16 community locations (see below). There is no application or proof of income needed to participate. Winter Fun Café is a Food Services program that is funded through the USDA Seamless Summer Feeding Option. San Diego Unified is one of few districts in the U.S. offering meals during Winter break intercession for year-round schools.

Location Address Zip Lunch Time
Bayside Community Center 2202 Comstock St. 92111 12-1
City Heights Rec. Center 4380 Landis St. 92105 12-1
Colina Del Sol Rec. Center 5319 Orange Ave. 92115 12-1
Jackie Robinson YMCA 151 YMCA Way 92102 12-1
Linda Vista Rec. Center 7064 Levant St. 92111 12:30-1:30
Logan Heights Branch Library 567 So. 28th St. 92113 12:30-1:30
Malcolm X Branch Library 5148 Market St. 92114 12-1
Mt. View Rec. Center 641 So. Boundary St.  92113 1-2
North Park Rec. Center 4044 Idaho St.  92104 1-2
Paradise Hills Rec. Center 6610 Potomac St.  92139 12-1
Southcrest Rec. Center 4149 Newton Ave.  92113 12:30-1:30
Willie Henderson Rec. Center 1035 So. 45th St. 92113 12-1
Military Connection - Open to the Public: 
Location Address Zip Lunch Time
Gateway CYP 2741 Mendonca Dr. 92110 12-1
Murphy Canyon CYP 4867 Santo Rd. 92124 12-1
Murphy Canyon Kid Connection 3493 Santo Rd. 92124 12-1
Open to children with military base access only:
Location Address Zip Lunch Time
MCAS Miramar Youth 2700 Moore Rd. 92145 12-1

State of the District Address highlights successes, future goals

Supt. Marten and President Beiser
 View all event photos

Improving educational opportunities for all students, investing in professional development for teachers and laying the groundwork for Restorative Justice practices are just some of the district’s accomplishments highlighted by Board President Kevin Beiser at the annual State of the District Address Monday night at Lewis Middle School.

“We have so much to be proud of in advancing Vision 2020 and demonstrating innovation, equity and excellence in all we do,” Beiser began. “Every one of you in this room is invested in doing what’s best for our students, and you’re helping make sure students aren’t seen as a test score but as the whole child.” (Read President Beiser's Remarks)

More than 200 employees, parents and community members gathered at the event to hear from Superintendent Marten and Board President Beiser about the district’s accomplishments and what’s in store for the coming year.

Superintendent Marten highlighted several areas of focus, including strengthening the outcomes for Latino and African American students and Long-Term English Language learners, growing partnerships with local social services agencies and pursuing equity and adequacy in public education funding.

“We hope our definition of appropriate funding levels will be a model to be used throughout the state,” said Marten. “We do not believe the student-teacher ratio in K-3 should be 25.5 to 1. For an elementary school with 600 students – we believe adequate funding would reduce the ratio to 20 to 1. It should be 16 to 1 in high needs schools.

“As we advance this conversation with the legislature, we will be calling on all of our stakeholders to join this call to action and get California off the bottom of the list in adjusted per-pupil spending and do what’s best for all of California’s kids,” Marten said. (Read Supt. Marten's Remarks)

The event was preceded by a reception catered by the district’s Food Services Department. Entertainment during the reception was provided by Lewis Middle School’s String Orchestra while Patrick Henry High’s Bel Canto Ensemble performed the National Anthem and sang “No Man Is An Island” mid-way through the event. Watch the video

Media Coverage
NBC San Diego