Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s Just Citizenship! (Digital Citizenship)

What does it mean to be a civically engaged, responsible citizen? How does that extend to the digital world? In BVSD, we have focused on Digital Citizenship (DigCit) as an important part of our students becoming Future Ready. This year we are working with Instructional Services and Equity to embed key parts of DigCit into our curriculum.

While students need some explicit instruction in digital citizenship, the bigger lessons are often learned through modeling. Have you ever found yourself playing Candy Crush, peeking at a text message in a meeting, or posting something on Facebook that you wish you had thought twice about? Our students will be facing the same challenges in their digital lives. Digital citizenship instruction begins as young as kindergarten and extends through a student’s entire school career.

Beyond a list of do’s and don’ts, we strive to empower students to become leaders through programs such as #UseTech4Good. “Students need to be empowered. It doesn't need to be negatively driven; it's better if it's positively driven...the more we empower students the more it drives towards the goal,” shared a District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) member at our last meeting.  One example of using tech for good comes out of David Kaufman’s 4th-grade class at Fireside, who spent time learning about Puerto Rico and the effects of Hurricane Maria. They wanted to help and decided to harness the power of social media through setting up a GoFundMe page to raise over $4,000 for solar generators. These students are perfect examples of global citizens, using tech to help others around the world! To learn more about this project, see the article in the Daily Camera.

The Fireside project is just one of many examples that highlight how students across BVSD are using technology to engage in global citizenship, but what specific skills should your student(s) be learning and when? Check out the BVSD Digital Citizenship Scope & Sequence for guidelines on what each grade band should be working on, with links to resources and lesson plans. For parents, we have gathered resource bundles for P.E.P. (Parent Engagement Program) Talks, designed to bring timely conversations about relevant technology topics to your school. Effective digital citizenship instruction requires a whole community approach!

Some of my team's primary roles are to ensure technology at BVSD is secured through best practices and to work with parents and school communities to help students learn what good citizenship is in the digital world which may be equal or even more important. Adding your voice on this topic at home and in the community is crucial to the success of these programs.

Do you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions? Please chime in below.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to School Updates from IT for 2018-2019

Today marks the first day of the 2018-2019 school year! I hope that you have all had an enjoyable and refreshing summer.  For our team, we've spent much of the summer working to continue to improve our technology integration in BVSD. Here are a few of the projects we have been focusing on:

Student Data Privacy Course 
In addition to updating our Student Data Privacy website, all staff members who work with student information are now required to take a Data Privacy course. For more information, please see the BVSD Ed Tech blog post about this topic.

Digital Citizenship 
To prepare our students for the world they live in, we focus on teaching digital citizenship from kindergarten to 12th grade. This summer, we have reorganized and enhanced our digital citizenship resources. Among the new resources is a scope & sequence, which allows teachers at any grade level to quickly identify concepts and lessons to ensure each student is supported in an age-appropriate manner. The inclusion of digital citizenship lessons in our curriculum is also in the superintendent's 100-day plan.

Parent Engagement

My team is continually working on developing resources and avenues for parents to have conversations about technology. We opened up the District Technology Advisory Committee for another round of applications, and had nearly 200 people apply! In order to receive more input from the community, we are developing a comprehensive survey about technology to send to parents, which will be reviewed by the Board of Education and sent out this fall. Additionally, we are putting together “bundles” for schools to host P.E.P. (Parent Engagement Program) Talks - timely conversations about relevant technology topics. We look forward to continuing an open dialogue about the successes and challenges of using technology, both in the classroom and at home.

Updated Technology Policies
In December of 2017, the Board of Education approved the Student Data Privacy Policy, paving the way to update our student & staff technology policies as well. The staff policy revisions, passed on August 14th, reflect the rapidly changing nature of technology and ensure the responsible use of technology throughout the district. Work will continue on an updated student policy once information from the parent survey is available later this year.

We have now deployed a new phone system in every school & building! These phones have enhanced, modernized features, such as sending voicemails to email, to help streamline communication. Employees, be on the lookout for ideas about how to use these new features in the weekly IT Tips & Tricks emails.

Innovate@BVSD 2018
On July 30-31st, educators, administrators, and students from BVSD and other Colorado school districts joined together at Innovate@BVSD 2018. They spent time learning about and experiencing creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration in action throughout the conference. Hear what teachers and students had to say about the conference in this short video:

My team and I look forward to welcoming you back for another great school year and seeing some of these new resources in action! If you have any thoughts or input that you feel can be helpful, please chime in below.

Andrew Moore
CIO, Boulder Valley School District

Friday, May 11, 2018

Internet Safety, Web Filter, and Partnerships

As technology use at BVSD grows, so do the questions and concerns about internet safety. BVSD is committed to continual improvement in this area which remains a priority as the internet grows and tools to help mitigate safety concerns evolve.

Let me share some information on what BVSD does to help ensure our students are safe, starting with our web filter. BVSD’s Palo Alto firewall/web filter was purchased 3 years ago after a competitive search process. This top-rated technology is used by many school districts in Colorado and across the nation.

At the elementary level, we block 26 categories and over 300 additional websites that have been brought to our attention by teachers and parents. Some of the blocked categories include abused drugs, adult, alcohol, tobacco, copyright infringement, dating, games, gambling, hacking, malware, nudity, phishing, sex education, social media, swimsuits, intimate apparel, and weapons.

To allow for age-appropriate access and an increase in the student’s level of responsibility, the additional categories of gaming, sex education, and select social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Skype, Pinterest) are opened at the MS/HS level.

Our web filter, although powerful, is not perfect. This is true with all web filters, either at home or at school. In some cases, filtering, regardless of settings, can under-block bad sites and over-block good sites at the same time.

Current practices are in alignment with other districts and strive to strike a balance between a protected, yet real-world environment. An additional challenge is that students can and do use their phones to create “hotspots” in order to access restricted sites when the content they are looking for is blocked by our filter. We do not want our students on hotspots, as this prevents us from intervening when something unsafe is happening.

For these reasons internet safety is not viewed as just a technology issue, but something that requires a partnership between everyone involved. Teachers use engaging instructional practices and actively manage their classrooms. Students need to understand their responsibilities and practice good digital citizenship to prepare them for life. Parents can help by setting appropriate boundaries and having ongoing conversations with their students about technology use. All of us have a responsibility to continue educating ourselves and each other about the latest technology trends and research.

On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, the Board of Education will be facilitating a study session where we will share details about what we currently do to help keep our students safe and what additional steps could be taken with appropriate investments. 

Areas we will cover include classroom management software, proactive self-harm/bullying detection software, and policy updates, such as recommending a ban on the usage of hotspots and a requirement for staff and students to report harmful sites that get through our filters.

The meeting will be in the Boardroom at the Education Center from 5-7pm.  Please join us if this topic is of interest to you.

And please feel free to chime in below with your thoughts on this important topic.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Data Visualized at BVSD

What is VizLab?
BVSD has been working for the last two years to create a data warehouse with a tool called Tableau to visualize the data. We call this effort VizLab which has empowered users by bringing together many different types of data to drive instruction in a quick, real-time and easily accessible way. When looked at in isolation, it can be hard to get the full picture of how students are doing, but combined, these data points give us a comprehensive picture of student progress allowing us better support students. Multiple data sets are directly and easily accessible in a new, visually engaging way to the people who can use data to take action and better serve students.
As with all of our data, security is very important, so teachers can only view data for the students they are working with.


Who is using VizLab?
All Administrators and ~60% of teachers have been trained so far! We have a goal of 100% of teachers trained by the end of the school year.

How are teachers using this data? Educators across the district are analyzing student data to reflect on and improve their practice (BVSD Teacher Effectiveness Standard 3, Element b). VizLab supports educators in using data more efficiently.

The data from VizLab has helped teachers target specific interventions to address the achievement gap. While it is powerful to see the data, the real power comes in taking action based on this evidence. Teachers have been using VizLab to get an overview of which students are in need of extra support, look at risk factors for particular students, plan reading groups, and use the data for student support meetings. They have also found it helpful for showing data to parents at conferences and to the students themselves so they can track their progress. Here is how some ELD Teachers from Angevine shared about how VizLab has worked for them:

At the beginning of the year, we really appreciated how thorough the class overview was. Easily being able to see “Years in ELL” for every student in each class in one quick look has been extremely helpful.

As the year progressed we have begun exploring the Early Warning System to target students we need to look at as an MTSS team that may not be drawing attention in class but need extra supports. As an MTSS team, we met to look at the students in red and systematically make sure they were receiving as many supports as possible, and create action plans to further wrap our arms around them.

It has also been extremely valuable to see and share trends for our Emerging Bilinguals ACCESS scores from year to year. VizLab’s easy to understand visual for the ACCESS scores helps us quickly set language goals in mini-conferences with our students, as well as set broader school-wide focuses.

How do you get started using this great data visualization tool?
Check out our website at Teachers can receive initial training through their school or on their own through an online Schoology course.

I’ve already taken the initial VizLab training, what do I do next?
We are currently developing opportunities for “Level 2” Training in the 2018-2019 school year. Additionally, we are putting together a teacher focus group to help shape what is developed next for teachers in VizLab and to better understand ongoing professional development needs. If you are interested, please reach out to Clare Sims at or leave a comment on this blog! Finally, keep an eye on the ISE blog for weekly VizLab tips & tricks.

Will there be data beyond student data in the data warehouse, available through Vizlab? Yes. As the data warehouse matures, additional operational data will likely be added. This may include data from transportation, finance, IT, maintenance, etc.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Single Sign On (SSO)

The security of your identity and BVSD data are two areas of top concern to me, especially in light of the recent virus attack. With that in mind, I’m excited about the rollout of the next generation of password management and application access at BVSD. 

The BVSD Single Sign-On Portal,, is a tool for students and staff to access district and instructional technology resources with one login and from one location. Upon signing in at, you will see tiles that will take you to many web-based applications. Rather than needing to type in the URL for each of these applications and sign in, clicking on the tiles will take you directly to them, and in many cases, automatically log you in.

Another key benefit of is the ability to reset your password more easily and securely. Should you forget your password and need to reset it, you can do so by clicking “Forgot Password”. You will be prompted to enter your BVSD username. From there you will use the pull down menu to select your recovery option method. You can choose from one of three options:
  • Answer three security questions
  • Enter your PIN
  • Have a new password link sent to your personal email address.
Any of these options will then give you the opportunity to enter a new password.

The first time you log in, you will be prompted to set four security questions, a four-digit PIN, and a personal email address. These all can be used to verify your identity to allow you to change your BVSD password on computers both inside and outside the district. If you do enter a personal email address, please be sure to check your personal email for a message with a verification link to activate this email in the system. If at any time you need to reset your security questions, PIN, or personal email address, you can do so while logged in to the portal.

The new portal,, will be available to all students and staff beginning on February 16, 2018. We appreciate your support in proactively managing the security of your identity and BVSD data!


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Technology Tools for 2018-2019

I am excited to share details on the 2018-2019 technology tools program which will be rolling out to schools this spring. Every other year, each school receives an allocation of “technology points” based on their enrollment. Schools are then able to spend their points to upgrade technology in their school.

This year’s model is simplified to better reflect current-day needs. With IT now covering maintenance costs, employee devices, and committing to reducing student equity challenges throughout the district by allocating funds to distance learning and the 1:Web program, school-based technology points can be specifically focused on student devices, labs, and classroom innovation needs. With the 2018-2019 technology tools update, schools will have more flexibility in how to spend their technology points.

At schools that are not in the 1:Web program, there will not be significant changes in the funding model. These schools will be able to spend their technology points on student devices, computer labs, and a new category called innovation tools.

The innovation category includes tools that are available at our newly-built schools, making sure this technology is open to everyone in the district. Some of these exciting items include: TV displays with casting capability, 3D Printers, Maker Kits, video production tools, and pen tablets.

Schools participating in the 1:Web program will also receive technology points, but without the need to buy as many student devices, they will be able to allocate more of those technology points to the innovation category.

If your school is on the cycle to update their technology tools this coming school year, the IT Ed Tech and Service Delivery teams will be coming by to talk with your principal this spring. We are excited to see how the use of these new innovative technologies will enhance the learning environment! 

One last thing - the technology point allocations at the schools will look larger this year, but the dollar amount will remain the same. We have moved away from 100 points being equal to the cost of a Windows device, to 100 points being equal to the cost of a Chromebook. This reflects the shift away from Windows devices to cloud-based Chromebooks. The increased point count should not be confused with more money being allocated.

Please chime in with any comments, thoughts, or suggestions. They are appreciated.