Tech Tidbits

The Westside School Fund supports Professional Development for our faculty

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Westside School believes one is never finished learning. Because of funds raised during the Westside School Fund, faculty and staff are given opportunities, away from school, to engage with education professionals and leaders and bring the knowledge back to school.

In February 2016 Michael Le, Director of Technology, and Susannah Muench, Director of Literacy and Technology Integration, attended the EdTech Teacher Innovation Summit, where they were encouraged to think about “what’s next.” Over three days EdTech leaders from around the world came together to share ideas on how to transform student learning and address the challenge of how to best innovate education.

“Half way through the summit, I realized Westside School has a unique potential for education through technology and it was within my grasp to use my newfound knowledge to propel us far into the future. Through a number of hands-on workshops, such as iPad use, tech coaching and leadership, I developed the skills to enhance the use of tech school-wide, from students to teachers to families. I look forward to building on our tech program and making Westside School a pioneer in technology education.” – Michael Le, Director of Technology
“One of the most inspiring things I learned at the Innovation Summit was that with so many technology initiatives available, you can’t expect to do them all. Rather, you need to step back, look at the big picture, where you want Westside School to be, where you want your students to be and what aspects of technology will help further that vision. As such, Michael and I came up with the slogan ‘Create & Collaborate.’ Our driving force as the Tech & Literacy Program develops is to integrate technology in a way that enhances collaboration between students while engaging their creatives minds.” – Susannah Muench, Director of Literacy and Technology Integration

Annual Giving makes it possible for Michael, Susannah, and other Westside School teachers to attend important conferences and workshops every year.

Make your gift today!

Salmon Animations, Keynote presentations, and digital Fairy Tales!

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One of the goals of the Tech Lit program at Westside School is to integrate with classroom curriculums. Here are some examples of projects students have done this year that incorporate class content and technology skills.

Second grade students have spent the year studying, raising and releasing salmon.  In Tech Lit students applied their understanding of the salmon life cycle to create their own depiction of the cycle using the app, Animator. Click on the links to see the results!

Margie’s Salmon Animations

Laura’s Salmon Animations

Students in third grade spent the last several weeks in Tech Lit learning how to create keynote presentations as part of their genre book studies and social studies curriculum.  Students created keynote book reports and Native American research reports. Click on the links to see the results!

Third grade Jana Native American Reports

Third grade Signe Native American Reports

Throughout the year, fourth grade students have worked on writing in different genres. In Tech Lit students combined their coding and writing skills to create digital fairy tales.  Students spent several weeks storyboarding and using Scratch Jr. to create their stories. Click on the links below to see the results!

Amanda’s Fairy Tales

Judith’s Fairy Tales

First grade explores character in Tech Lit

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In Tech Lit class this week, first grade students read the book, Maddie’s Fridge, which deals with the issue of child poverty and hunger. They discussed how they could help in a similar situation and the character traits of the two main characters.  

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The first grade students then brainstormed characteristics about themselves and used the app, Shadow Puppet to create mini biographies about themselves.

Here are the results!

Marsha’s 1st Grade Class

Renne’s 1st Grade Class


SCREENAGERS – Growing up in the Digital Age

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Westside School will be hosting Screenagers for all interested families on Wednesday, April 20 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Screenagers is an award winning documentary about the impact of screens on your teens. Click here for more information about the film.

Students may watch the film if accompanied by their parent and/or guardian. If you are interested in viewing the film, but will not have your child watch with you, we will have complimentary child care available, including a dinner hosted by the Westside School EDP staff.

Please click here if you are interested in attending the film or if you are interested in attending the film and will need child care.

The film runs about one hour and we will have a moderated discussion led by faculty following the viewing.

If you have any questions please contact Michael Le ( or Susannah Muench(

We hope to see you there!

Apps and websites every parent should know about

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Apps and Websites Every Parent Should Know About
It was wonderful to have Jo Langford speak to Westside School parents last night on the topics of Sexting, Cyberbulling and Porn. For more information about Langford and the resources he offers to parents check out his website.
One of the topics that was brought up during Langford’s talk was apps all parents should be aware of. We have posted before on this topic, but here is what Common Sense Media has to say about one app that was specially mentioned, Kik.
Kik Messenger is an app that lets kids text for free. It’s fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features. Because it’s an app, the texts won’t show up on your kid’s phone’s messaging service, and you’re not charged for them (beyond standard data rates.)
What parents need to know
  • Stranger danger is an issue. Kik allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. The app allegedly has been used in high-profile crimes, including the murder of a 13-year-old girl and a child-pornography case. There’s also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users’ full names) to contests.
  • It’s loaded with ads and in-app-purchases. Kik specializes in “promoted chats” — basically, conversations between brands and users. It also offers specially designed apps (accessible only through the main app), many of which offer products for sale.
For more information on websites and apps every parent should know about check out: Common Sense Media article: :
16 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook
Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents on digital safety and tips on how to communicate with your child:
Here are some of our favorite articles:
Talking about sexting
Cellphone Parenting
Should I let my kid use a messaging app such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Kik?

Coding develops critical thinking and creative skills

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I recently had a conversation with a parent asking for resources on coding camps and apps for their child. Coding is a great way to help children develop critical thinking and creative skills. Currently in the Tech Lit program at Westside School, kindergarten to fourth grade students are introduced to the world of coding in November and December through apps such as Tynker, Lightbot, The Foos, Kodable, and CargoBot. Fourth grade students have continued to develop their coding skills this spring. They have spent the last month writing and creating a fairy tale using Scratch Jr. 

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In addition to our Tech Lit program, Westside Schools’s Extended Day Program also offers a Creative Coding 4 Kids class as an After-School Enrichment class on Wednesdays, for students in third through fifth grades.

If you would like  to practice coding with your child at home or are interested in other programs that offer camps, see our recommendations below:  

Coding apps we recommend for different age levels:

The Foos – Age 5+

Koodable – Age 6+

Lightbot –  Age 6+

Daisy the Dinosaur – Age 6+

Scratch Jr. – Age 7+

Tynker – Age 9+

Hopsotch – Age 10+

CargoBot – Age 10+

Organizations in Seattle offering coding camps and classes:

ID Tech Camps University of Washington

Creative Coding For Kids

Coding with Kids

20 STEM Summer Camps

If you have any questions about this article or other tech related topic please contact Susannah or Michael, the Westside School Tech Team.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again…”

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Westside School’s University of Washington Book Fair was a resounding success!


Thank you so much to all the parents and teachers who helped made this year’s book fair fantastic. The University of Washington’s selection of books offered something for everyone, and it was wonderful to see students so excited about, and engaged in, reading. Book Fair sales raised over $2,000 in profits and will be used to add to our library and teacher classroom collections. We are already looking forward to having the University of Washington Book Fair back next spring.


Come check out the new books in the library and happy reading!

Susannah Muench