Instructional Technology Links for Parents
Jul 8th, 2016 by Frank McCormick

The start of the 2016-17 school year is (believe it or not) right around the corner.  Here are some important links for parents to keep handy as school laptops begin to come home with students.

In order to make sure that students are making responsible choices with their technology, we recommend that parents check the browsing history of their student’s laptop device at least 1-2 times a week.  You can find directions on how to check your student’s internet browsing history by clicking on this link.

For additional tips for parents regarding having conversations with kids about appropriate technology use, check out the links to Common Sense Media posted below.

The PowerSchool Mobile App
May 3rd, 2016 by Frank McCormick

Installing the PowerSchool Mobile App

Installing the PowerSchool Mobile App on your phone or tablet device will allow parents to see student grades, assignments, attendance, and other school information in real time, from anywhere you have a signal on your smartphone.
Please follow the directions posted below to install the PowerSchool App on your smartphone or other mobile device.
Step 1:  Android users should open the Play Store on your phone and iPhone users will open  via the iTunes Store link (see below).


     Google Play Store                                                                iTunes App Store
Step 2: From the app store, type PowerSchool into the searchbar at the top of the page.

Step 3: Click on the PowerSchool App and then select Install (for Android) or Download (for iPhone)

Step 4:  Depending on your mobile settings, you may be required to approve app permissions during installation.  None of your personal information will be shared outside of PowerSchool without your permission.  Click on Accept to continue with the install.

Step 5:  Once the PowerSchool App is finished downloading, you should now be able to click open or launch the app from the homepage of your smartphone by pressing the PowerSchool icon.

Step 6:  When you first log in to the app, you will be prompted to enter in the district code HQPG as well as your Parent Portal username and password.  Remember that you MUST already have a Parent Portal account in order to access the app.   If you do NOT have a parent portal account, please see your Parent Involvement Assistant (P.I.A.) to get one today.

Step 7:   Please note that it may take a few minutes depending on the speed of your data connection for your student information to display for the first time.  To change the information displayed, you can click on the Settings icon within the front page of the app and alter what information is seen within your dashboard (see below).


All student information within the PowerSchool App is based in grade, assessment and attendance data which is loaded by your child’s teacher or school within the PowerSchool Gradebook.  If you have questions concerning any information or missing data related to your student’s progress, we encourage you to contact your child’s school office or classroom teacher.

Please be advised that the Sunnyside Unified School District is not responsible for any data charges you may incur from using this application.  Please check with your mobile service provider for more information regarding possible limits on your current data plan.

New research stresses the importance of parents in early child education
Dec 7th, 2015 by Frank McCormick

In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.
Above is a link to the Freakanomics podcast that explains the results of this research, which was originally posted on their website. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas behind this episode




Social Media for Parents- The “Big 5” Rules to Know
Nov 30th, 2015 by Frank McCormick

According to a report released by the online marketing site Adjust, last year there were an average of 60 thousand new online and mobile apps released each month.  Althoguh it can seem to the concerned parent that there were almost as many news stories about the potential dangers of social media, irresponsible online behavior and cyber bulling, a look at the facts reveal a very different story.  According to an article in US News/World Report, cases of online bullying are at their lowest levels since 2005 and kids are still four to five times more likely to be bullied IRL (in real life) than they are online.

Although the internet can seem like an intimidating environment to the uninitiated,  we have to remember that are kids are growing up in world where being connected online is a given and access is viewed as a right, not a privilege (telling a teenager who has no memory of a world without cell phones, YouTube and Google to not do “social media” is simply not a realistic solution).  Still, there are steps which every parent can, and should, take to insure that they are working with their kids to promote responsible online behavior and digital citizenship.  We call these the Big 5 Rules to Know. 

  • Rule 1: Know Your Kids- This means not only knowing what your kids do when they go online, but also knowing who they are interacting with and what kinds of information they are sharing. This should include…
    • Knowing how to search your student’s computer browser history to see what they are doing (directions on how to do this are linked here).  This should be done AT LEAST once a week, and even more frequently if you have reason to believe that your child may be engaging in risky behavior (for example, if you find that your child has been deleting their browsing history or has been using an incognito browser or proxy server when going online.
    • Being aware of what OTHER types of devices students may be using to get online (e.g. cell phones, web enabled gaming systems…etc) and checking activity on those systems as well.
    • Knowing which accounts kids are using to go online.  More than 71% of teens report using more than one social media site and it is not uncommon for many teens to have multiple user accounts to go online (e.g. one for school and another for personal use).
    • Keeping track of who kids are communicating with when online and looking for signs of irresponsible behavior.  Remember that not all sites or mobile apps are created equal; watch our for Self-Destruct Sites (such as SnapChat or BurnNote) which delete messages as soon as they are sent, Hook-Up Sites (such as Tinder or Sway) which can provide users with the actual location of other subscribers, Anonymous Post Sites (such as and Whisper) which allow users to post without identifying themselves, and Stealth Sites (such as Hide It or NQ Vault) which are designed to keep online activity secret.  You can click on this link to explore some additional ways in which kids may be attempting to hide their activity online.
  • Rule 2: Know the Rules-  All internet service providers are required by federal law to follow the terms of the Child Online Protection and Privacy Act which is sets rules for access for minors online.
    • One of the most important is the restriction on children under the age of 13 having online accounts without parent permission.  This does not however, keep users from starting accounts by entering a false birth date when signing up.  A recent study found that over 5 million Facebook users are under the age of 10, and of those users, 95% of parents know their kids had these accounts and the majority of these parents even helped to set the account up.  This is troubling for a variety of reasons but we’ll just provide one example;  Facebook makes the majority of their profits from ad sales which are specifically targeted to users based on information such as their age and browsing activities.  If a parent sets up a Facebook account for a 10 year old, that child may begin getting adult themed adds before they turn fifteen because Facebook will consider those ads “age appropriate”.  That doesn’t mean however, that you should not allow your 10 year old to learn about social media.  If you want to teach your youngsters about appropriate use, there are some great, free options (other than Facebook) which you can explore via this link.  
    • If your teen (13 or older) is using a social network, you should learn how to review the appropriate privacy settings on the account to insure that features such as location settings, and public profile information is turned off.
    • Know how to enable safe browsing and searching options within sites like YouTube and Google to reduce the likelihood of kids accessing inappropriate materials.  Be aware that these types of filters are not perfect and students may still be able to connect to some objectionable content even when filters are turned on.  In all cases, technology is no substitute for you checking in on what your child is doing.
    • Set your own household rules and limits on the use of computers and web devices and make sure that there are consequences for breaking these rules.  Consider having students sign a contract like this one which layout some of the specific rules.  You should also set limits on WHERE and HOW OFTEN kids can go online when at home.  Make sure that internet time is restricted to a public area of the house (e.g. the kitchen or living room, and not the bedroom).  You can also use tools such as the Screen Time Parental App to set time limits on how long your child can spend online.
  • Rule 3: Know How to Get the Conversation Started- Experts agree that regardless of how many technology solutions are out there, the single, greatest assurance that students will maintain responsible behavior online is parental involvement.  This starts with having conversations with your child as soon as they are able to go online or launch an app.
    • Don’t wait until your child has done something wrong to have a conversation about doing right.  If your child feels that they will get in trouble for talking about a mistake they may have made online, they will be much less likely to come to you with concerns.
    • Always create your own social media account along with your teen (if they have an Instagram account, YOU need to have an Instagram account, even if you never post).  This will not only allow you to check on what your teen is posting but it will also let you see now many online “friends” they have and check on their privacy settings.
    • Be a model “friend” when online.  As tempting as it might be to share those baby pictures of your teen with their Facebook friends, embarrassing your teen or making them feel uncomfortable will only increase the chances of them hiding their activities and blocking you online.
  • Rule 4: Know When to Share (and When to NOT Share)-  Having conversations with kids is easier when you are participating online together.  Share the experience of exploring the web by searching for information, watching videos and posting to social media together.
    • Explore things like YouTube Channels and Online gaming with your child.  Not only will you learn a lot about what activities your kids are likely to engage in but it will provide an opportunity for you to talk about making the right choices.
    • Model the kind of behavior you would like to see for your child.  Just as you wouldn’t want your kids texting through dinner, using abusive language or posting inappropriate images to their social media accounts,  you should be aware when you find yourself engaging in similar activities.
    • Set up an online Google Alert using your child’s name which will let you know anytime information is shared online which may pertain to the sharing of private/personal information.
    • For more information on Privacy and Internet Sharing for parents, click here.
  • Rule 5: Know Where to Learn More- If you look at a list of the top 15 social networking sites in 2015, more than half of them didn’t even exist five years ago.  Since it’s impossible to predict where kids will be going in the future, it’s important for parents to keep up with some of the major trends (and possible “red flags”) that pop up with the arrival of new technology.
    • Common Sense Media is an excellent resource for finding out about all the latest apps, games, and media kids are are using.  All of their ratings come with a scale based on age appropriate content and since they accept no ad revenue, you can be sure that their reviews are unbiased.  They even have a complete site dedicated strictly to reviews of Spanish language apps, sites, games, music and movies.
    • The SUSD Student Computing Handbook can provide you with all of the information related to the Sunnyside School District’s policies on topics such as acceptable use of laptops, district content filtering and student discipline related to improper use of technology by students.
    • The SUSD TogetherNet site is designed as a forum for our parents and community members to share their experiences online and provide recommendations for addressing the opportunities and challenges that come with raising kids in the information age.  As this site continues to grow, the SUSD leadership team will be adding new resources and information to help support our parents, students, and community so that we can all learn the web together.

You can click on this link to share our Google Presentation on Social Media for Parents.

What do YOU think is the best way to promote responsible behavior and digital citizenship at home and at school?  Post your comments below and let us know!

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