SAN YSIDRO – When the bell sounds at San Ysidro Middle School at 11:02 a.m., signaling the end of second-period class, a collective groan echoes across teacher David Alvarado Jr.’s classroom.

“I don’t want to leave,” one student says to another. “I’m having too much fun.”

Thirty-two students are enrolled in the highly popular technology class at SYMS. Inspired by Apple’s “Genius Bar®” concept, the class challenges students to develop student-led technology support for their peers and become digital innovators through collaborative learning. Using SMARTBoard technology, Chromebooks, iPads and digital instructional videos, students are writing computer code, designing educational interactive games, and editing and recording informative videos.

“Our class sparks student’s imagination for what they can accomplish through technology,” Alvarado said. “It shows them how we can all be geniuses, with just a little effort and discipline.”

The tech-savvy students are developing content that they will eventually share with the rest of the SYMS community as mentors who will visit classrooms and offer technology tips to their peers.

Students work independently and in groups to tackle various projects and assignments. They are currently collaborating to record a series of videos titled the “Technology Tip of the Week.” Students develop a helpful technology tip, write a script for the video, record and edit the video and upload them to a website created by technology class students.

“The thing that I love about technology class is that Mr. Alvarado lets us work on what we love,” said seventh-grader Anthony Bello. “I love coding, and I’m working on recording an instructional video about code.”

The class is also responsible for recording the SYMS Viking News, a video newscast that informs fellow students of Associated Student Body announcements, the weather forecast and the school lunch menu. Students are given different assignments by Alvarado and must work together to record announcements, events, edit videos and upload them to TeacherTube.

“Our technology class introduces new forms of technology to the classroom in an innovative way,” San Ysidro Middle School Principal Rouba Tay said. “It’s very inspiring to see students engaged in their projects, working together to communicate their ideas and develop thoughtful content that will be shared with the rest of the SYMS community.”

Throughout the class, students are immersed in their projects, only emerging from their focus to check in with one another on the status of their assignments, share helpful tips and show one another what they have created.

“The technology class at SYMS presents endless possibilities of innovative and creative pathways for our students,” SYSD Superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca said. “Students are developing critical-thinking skills through guided instruction, while using 21st century technology to become global learners.”

Students will begin visiting other classrooms this semester and offer workshops and presentations that show fellow SYMS students how to use the technology they are learning.


1GENIUSBAR: Students work collaboratively to complete an assignment in their technology class, a pilot program at San Ysidro Middle School that encourages students to become digital innovators using Chromebooks, SMARTBoard technology, iPads and web-based programs and applications.

2GENIUSBAR: Students record a video for the SYMS Viking News channel using an iPad. The 32 students enrolled in the pilot class at San Ysidro Middle School are responsible for developing their own scripts, recording and editing videos.