Interactive flat screens aids classroom teaching, learning

One of the things you might notice in Synergy’s upper classrooms is new interactive, flat panel classroom displays. Seven new screens were recently purchased and installed in classrooms.

These screens were installed after generous parents donated to Fund-a-Need at a recent school auction. More than $40,000 were raised to pay for the new devices.

The wall-mounted SMART Boards include AppleTV for Airplay and external speakers for high quality audio. They also feature a digital white board app called SMART Kapp that can save notes to send or print for students.

After almost two years of use, the screens have become popular with students and teachers to share information and video clips via bright and sharp flat screens.

“They’re basically a wall-sized iPad that allows teachers to quickly share videos, lesson notes and class content,” said Russ Curtis, Synergy’s Director of Technology. “I think it’s a real win-win for teachers and students.”

Synergy started in 2015 with one SMART Board in the Sun Room. Teresa Rodriguez and Jesse Kitses demonstrated each day how they can use it to enhance the delivery of classroom content. Organically it showed other teachers in the school how they may use it to benefit their classrooms.

“In math it allows me to seamlessly color code lessons, with one stylus, as I deliver lessons in real time,” says Teresa. “No fussing with multiple colored markers! The best part is that I was able to save the documents I created for future and repeated use,” she added.

For science, Jesse believes it has helped share videos quickly and use apps to effectively convey information. “The class is able to explore the solar system and learn about our moon’s relationship to the sun and earth in real time using Solar Walk,” says Jesse.

In tandem with Notebook software and interactive pens, teachers can build content digitally and share it with the class. Like a traditional chalk or white board, students can come to the screen and add notes or make choices using the styluses.

These new screens replace older ceiling mounted projectors with pull-down screens that were being used in sun-drenched classrooms. The new flat panel screens deliver a higher quality viewing experience at 1080p to 4K with up to 75” in viewing space.

Training for teachers was included during the implementation. And history teacher Dominic Altieri was quick to help coach fellow teachers. “They are like a new instrument – you need to practice, practice, and practice with these devices,” he said.


Free Online Learning:

lynda_logo-460x232Many local libraries, including San Francisco Public Library, now offer FREE access – even from home or work – to the high quality online learning platform called

Make sure you have a SFPL online account with a pin setup using your library card information.

SFPL-logoAt you can complete the step-by-step tutorials using your computer. The offerings are pretty extensive and include:

Video Production
Web Development
3D + Animation

Here Comes Haiku


This year were excited to announce that Synergy’s Middle School has moved to Haiku Learning – a Learning Management System (LMS). Haiku replaces Google Classroom that was first used last school year.

Haiku is a more robust LMS that allows for more teacher customization and better student interaction. Parents can also be connected separately to their students’ account.

Here’s our portal:

Students will continue to use Google Apps to create and share their work in History, Language Arts, Science and Spanish classes.

Questions? Please e-mail Russ Curtis, Synergy’s Director of Technology:

See Haiku How-to-Videos:

Haiku Learning for Students

Haiku Learning for Parents Haiku for Parents

Haiku Learning for Teachers

Synergy Summer Tech Camp Continues To Grow


Minecraft class at Synergy Summer Tech Camp 2015.

The second year of Synergy’s Summer Tech Camp continued to grow with new offerings and additional weeks. More than 85 students engaged in tech classes over six weeks that included Robotics, Tinkering, Minecraft, Coding, Video Production and Photoshop Art.

Classes were taught by current Synergy middle school teachers, Kristi Coale and Nisrene Kazimi.  Ian Sicurella, a Synergy alumni and Bard College student, was also a key instructor. Tech teacher assistants included Synergy alumni Dylan Weir, David Stull and Bryan LeBlanc.

The Tech Camp included students from the 10-14 age group. All classes met in upstairs classrooms and during breaks and lunchtime students were integrated into the regular summer program. Some current Synergy students took classes. A higher number of the enrolled students came from other private and public schools in the surrounding community.

More information on Tech Camp 2015

Read the Synergy Times story: The Founding of Tech Camp


There’s a new “Classroom” at Synergy School

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.19.18 PMThis school year we’re excited to roll out a new way to connect students and teachers: Say hello to Google’s Classroom.

This portal allows middle school teachers to post homework assignments and announce tests and other class deadlines in one place for each class. Math, History, Language Arts, Spanish, and Science each have a digital classroom set up to make it easier for students (and parents) to keep track of class work.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.22.15 PMFor now, if you’re a parent, you’ll need to have your student’s e-mail and password to help keep up with your child’s work. Each of our 68 middle school students has a new e-mail using the domain They will need to log on through this e-mail online via From there they will see all their classes and be able to download homework documents and turn in completed work.

Google Classroom is part of the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) that Synergy teachers & staff have been using for several years. This new edition is also a free add on to GAFE.

FYI: K-12 Google Apps for Education users do not see ads when they use Google Search and are signed in to their Apps for Education accounts. More info:

If you have any questions check in with our Middle School teachers or contact Russ Curtis:

Synergy’s Summer Tech Camp begins June 16th

Middle-School-Tech-2014-045Registration is now open for Synergy’s Summer Tech Camp. The week long classes begin Monday, June 16, 2014.

The four week tech camp includes classes on Video Production, Programming, Robotics and Digital Photography. The camp is designed for students aged 10-14. Classes are limited to 16 students (minimum enrollment is 10 students per classes).

Each of the classes are offered twice during the four week session from June 16 to July 11 (closed July 4th).

Cost starts at $300 per week (some classes are $350). Financial aid is available.

More detailed information and registration:

Technovation Hack Days for girls

Tech-logoTechnovation Hack Days for girls. The event is Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 3:30 – 6:00 pm.

These two afternoons will be devoted to learning how to use MIT App Inventor – the program that is used to build the apps for Technovation Challenge. Participants will work as a large group to build a drawing app and then in small groups to build “Mole Masher,” an app version of the carnival game where you use a mallet to hit moles that pop up. Girls may even have time to start working on creating their own apps.

IHS is located at 150 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Register to participate in one or both Hack Days at International High School