Grade 1 Students Produce Audio Books for ECC Students and SIS Library


Our SIS elementary library now has approximately 60 children’s books with audio narration thanks to our grade 1 students. As part of a reading unit on oral fluency, grade 1 teacher Ria Hennigar was interested in the idea of creating audio books but also wanted her students to have an authentic purpose and audience for their productions. Their ECC (Early Childhood Center) reading buddies provided them with an audience with limited reading abilities and, in some cases, developing English vocabulary. The audio books, which could be read/listened to at the library or at home, would give ECC students more opportunities to develop their reading and listening skills. The production of these audio books also tied in perfectly with grade 1’s social studies focus on community and being a helpful community member.

To create these audio books our ES librarian, Gaylene Livingston helped pull a selection of library books that matched with grade 1 student reading levels so students could be successful in reading them aloud. Then students chose books based on their ‘just right book’ criteria and ‘tested’ them out reading to themselves and then with partners. To prepare for recording the books, students listened to audio books and noticed how to use clues from the text and images to inform dialogue and expression. For the ‘turn the page’ sounds, Mrs. Hennigar consulted with our ES music teacher, Kimberly Sheppard, to choose appropriate instruments to use such as bells and triangles. Partners then practiced reading their books, taking turns reading and using the instruments to indicated when it was time to turn the page.

To produce the audio recording, students used Voice Record Pro app on their classroom iPads. After their first recording, students would listen and critique their work. Was it loud enough? Could I follow along? Did I use appropriate expression? Was my reading accurate? Many students wanted to record again to improve their recording and Mrs. Hennigar commented that many students do not usually pay such close attention to their oral fluency and were very motivated to say words correctly and to be understood.

Grade 1 Students produce their audio books

Grade 1 Students produce their audio books


As student audios were produced, Mrs. Livingston and I developed the process to gather the audio files and add them to a new blog with each audio book as a post with the recording and an image of the book cover. From these posts, QR codes were generated and placed on ‘stickers’ inside the cover of each book to provide access to the recordings. (Mrs. Livingston also tagged the books in the library system so any books with audio can be easily found.)

In addition to Mrs. Hennigar’s classroom, students from Ritu Bohara and Michele Hussey’s grade 1 classrooms also contributed audio books to the collection. With the creation audio books completed grade 1 students have been testing them out and also visiting ECC classrooms to share their audio books and to teach the younger student how to access and use the audio recordings.

Mrs. Hennigar was happy with the increased motivation her students had with improving their oral fluency and creating a product for our beginning readers. This project also provided opportunities for collaborative partner work and service learning for our SIS community. Next year, grade 1 and the ES library will continue to promote the audio books and they plan to produce even more!

Video Conferencing with Young Learners

12976210_1008812569185734_1677280597_nTechnology has given students and teachers amazing opportunities to make global connections to learn and share with each other. Video conferencing allows students to meet each other in real time – a powerful experience for all.

However, managing a live video conference call with our younger students can be challenging and chaotic without careful preparation and structure.

These guidelines were put together with teachers and students in Early Childhood and Primary classrooms in mind for planning and conducting meaningful & productive video conference calls but are applicable to all levels.

Video Conferencing with Young Learners Guidelines and Resources (PDF)

Guidelines created by…
Ann Lopez, ECC teacher
Marina Rabelo, Kindergarten teacher
Diana Beabout, Learning Innovation coach
at Shekou International School

***Inspired by involvement in The Traveling Teddy Bear Project (Pana Asavavatana & Joe Sergi)

Grade 4 Dot Art Stop Motion Videos

SIS Art Teacher Katie Hobbs’ grade 4 students used their study of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama and the technology of stop motion to create dot art videos.

Yayoi Kusama is famous for her use of simple symbols to create complex pieces of art. One aspect of her work that grade 4 students examined was using dots to create values of light to dark shading.

The idea to combine Kusama’s style of art with stop motion technology was inspired by her interactive art piece, Obliteration Room at the Tate Museum, where visitors were allowed to add stickers to a white space set up as a living room.

Here is a time-lapse video of the results…

Mrs. Hobbs’ grade 4 artists worked in collaborative groups to create their own dot art videos using iPads with Stop Motion Studio app and then importing their video into iMovie to edit and add music. Creativity is evident in the completed pieces where dots were used to create abstract and concrete patterns. Through this unit, students were able to learn about and demonstrate several concepts and skills as part of the art curriculum including: creating art with a variety mediums, understanding art in context of history and culture and using composition & principles of design to communicate ideas. Additionally, some students have taken what they’ve learned about creating stop motion movies to start creating them outside of the classroom. 

Here are a few examples from the grade 4 artists.



All of the grade 4 dot art videos will showing at the Shekou International School 2016 Elementary Art Show on May 4th.

More on Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama (Artsy)

More on Stop Motion Animation
What is Stop Motion Animation
Easy Stop Motion Animation for Beginners
Engage Elementary Students with Stop Animation

Hour of Code: December 7-13, 2015

Hour of Code is organized by in celebration of Computer Science Education Week to promote the study of computer science in schools. Check out this video to learn more…

Anyone can participate in an Hour of Code event and NO coding experience is needed. There are plenty of resources for teachers and students to plan an Hour of Code event. To get started, check out Hour of Code’s How to Guide

Tutorials & Activities to Use during Your Hour of Code (including ‘unplugged’ options) can be found on’s Learn page. And you can get more ideas and share your Hour of Code activities on Twitter at #hourofcode.

As a continuing resource for Hour of Code, and coding throughout the year, we will share resources on our Hour of Code page (under Events above). Please let us know of any coding resources we could add to our list!

Please contact the Learning Innovation team if you’d like any support in planning and/or facilitating an Hour of Code with your students!


Reflecting on Learning in grade 4 Physical Education

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
John Dewey

 Grade 4 students reflected on learning from their basketball unit with ES PE teacher, Leticia Carino, by writing posts for their digital portfolios. Ms. Carino used elements from the Six Thinking Hats (DeBono) which she used with her students last year as part of the grade 3 team. Since this was the students’ first reflection for PE, Ms. Carino had students focus on using the Yellow Hat (focus on positives) and Black Hat (focus on weaknesses). Before writing their posts, the group reviewed what they had learned in the basketball unit so they could decide which skills to highlight in their reflection.

Frameworks like the Six Thinking Hats or Visible Thinking Routines (from Making Thinking Visible), used on a regular basis, can help students focus and go deeper in reflecting about their learning.

And when students share their reflections on learning on their digital portfolios, they can engage others to share in their learning journey as well via comments and discussion.

More resources on using thinking routines for reflection can be found on my page for my SIS EdCamp session on Reflecting with Visible Thinking Routines.

I’ll also be facilitating a CAP PL session Routines for Reflecting on November 25th.


Technology Transforms How Growth in Learning is Documented and Shared

from Pigeon Finds a Cupcake to Jupiter

In grade 1, Jasmine was a quiet and shy student who, while productive, was reluctant to participate verbally in conversations. As part of writing workshop, to add voice and expression to their Mo Willems’ inspired stories, students created digital stories with photos of their stories and their own narration. In Jasmine’s first attempt, her voice was quiet without much expression. Her teacher encouraged her to find a space outside the classroom so she could record her voice on her own without any pressure of an audience and give it another try. Her second recording was a surprise to those who knew her as quiet and shy. The expression she used makes her story come alive and brings smiles to those who view it. Jasmine’s voice was finally heard. “Pigeon Finds a Cupcake” is cute but the backstory of how simply having a student record their voice in a safe environment gave us insight into this student’s abilities that we might not have captured otherwise.

Now in grade 3, Jasmine’s confidence in her speaking and sharing has grown. How do we know this? The evidence is found in what she shares through her own student digital portfolio to which she has been contributing to for over a year now. It includes examples of her sharing her writing and learning through video and multimedia formats. You can find an example of an illustrated story she wrote, created and narrated (Edward’s New Adventure) and most recently, she shared the podcast she recorded to publish her informational writing piece on Jupiter. (Space Podcast)

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.16.46 AM
Digital devices have transformed the way we document, share and assess student growth. Students and teachers can document learning simply through taking a photo or short video or using innovative processes to create multimedia products to demonstrate learning. Almost all students at SIS now have digital portfolios and blogs on our Share @ SIS platform (Edublogs) at These digital spaces provide a place for students, teachers and parents to share and interact around student learning. Education will always be about effective teaching and student learning, but how we leverage technology can help reveal more insight into what our students are capable of knowing and doing.

Grade 3 Inventors at SIS

B78FmkFCYAADAfLEnduring Understanding: Inventors create new inventions based on the needs and wants of society

In addition to learning about impact of inventors and inventions on society, grade 3 students at Shekou International School became inventors themselves in a series of activities and projects centered around design thinking, collaboration and reflection.

All three grade 3 teachers, Nicki Ruthaivilavan, Frank Machinello, and Leticia Carino, attended Design Thinking workshops at the Learning 2.014 conference in October and immediately began applying the concept to their Social Studies unit on Inventors and Inventions. In preparation for students becoming design thinkers and inventors, the grade 3 teachers decided to have their students do Design Challenges (STEM) on the four Fridays leading up to the beginning of the unit. These experiences were used to discuss collaboration and problem-solving through reflection using the 6 Thinking Hats reflection method.

After studying and researching famous inventions and their inventors, grade 3 students began their own journeys as inventors using the Design Thinking Process to guide them.

One class (3A) used the City X Project’s simulation to design inventions to solve problems for the citizens of a (fictional) new colony on a far away planet. The other two classes (3B & 3C) teamed with our elementary school librarian, Gaylene Livingston, to create prototypes for a portable book drop. Additionally, students also used the Design Process at home to create an invention to address a problem for themselves or others.

The unit culminated with the grade 3 Invention Convention on January 22 where students displayed, explained and reflected on their many inventions, created both individually and in groups.


You can learn more about our grade 3 inventors and their inventions through teacher posts on their classroom blogs and many of their Tweets.

3A Enthusiastic Learners
    City X Project and Design Process
    Reflecting on Our City X Project

3B – Mrs. Ruthai’s Class
    Invention Convention Information
    Invention Convention

3C Mr. Machinello’s Groovy Geckos
     Design Thinking Challenge
     Design Challenge: Catapults

Design Thinking Resources

David Lee Ed Tech (Design Thinking Resources)
Making Things Better: Design Thinking in the Classroom (John Rinker)
City X Project
Design Thinking for Educators
Design Thinking in Schools
Design Squad (PBS)
Design Challenges (Museum of Science, Boston)

Photo Stream for Transparency and Feedback

IMG_0003Teachers in our ECLC classrooms have found photo sharing with Photo Stream an effective platform for transparency and feedback. Teachers set up individual student albums on Photo Stream and share a student’s album with their parents. Since an Apple device is not required to view the photos and videos, all parents are able to access their child’s albums to see photos and videos of their child at school. Once the albums are set up, teachers select meaningful photos and videos to add to each child’s album and can provide comments about what learning is being practiced or demonstrated. Sharing photos and videos with parents provide various opportunities for home-school communication.

  • Parents can use the images and videos for conversations with their child at home.
  • Parents can leave comments for the teacher about what is happening in the photo or video and can share related conversations & activity at home.
  • Parents can add their own photos and images to their child’s Photo Stream which can provide information for the teacher and make connections with the classroom.
  • Parents can share the Photo Stream album with other family members to provide insight into their child’s learning.

IMG_0004ECLC teachers are also using Photo Stream to share photos and videos with each other as resources and ideas for their classrooms and their Director of ECLC, Carlene Hamley, is using Photo Stream for feedback and dialogue with teachers about classroom practice. With its sharing and commenting options, Photo Stream has become powerful tool for communication among teachers, parents, students and administrators at SIS.


iCloud: My Photo Stream Overview

My Photo Stream FAQs

Reflections on a 3D Printed Jewelry Experience

As part of a grade 4 3D printed jewelry project, ES Art teacher Brittany McCrea had students describe and reflect on the process which she compiled into the video below.

The goal of the project was to create geometric jewelry to appeal to the current marketing trends in jewelry design. Since the students did not have materials such as metal or precious stones, the 3D printer provided an accessible way to manufacture their designs. Students used 3D design apps (123D Scuplt and 123D Creature) to design their pieces which could then be converted into a file to be printed on the 3D printer. As students reflected on the process, students were able to communicate how they applied problem solving skills to the design and manufacturing their jewelry pieces. Mrs. McCrea was delighted that students saw the 3D printer as a design tool and part of the process, not just a ‘cool’ machine. Their reflections proved an assessment of their understanding of the process.

Minecraft = Collaboration

Grade 5 students wove the theme of collaboration throughout the first elementary assembly of the 2014-15 school year and one of the highlights was a demonstration of collaboration through the use of Minecraft. Although Minecraft was developed as a ‘sandbox’ or open world game format, it has been embraced by teachers and students at SIS and around the world as an educational learning tool where students can develop and use content skills in addition to our SIS ESLRs such as collaboration and complex thinking . At the recent assembly, grade 5 teacher Kurt Callahan shared his video showing five grade 5 students collaboratively constructing a house using Minecraft in less than 4 minutes.


For more about Minecraft…
Minecraft in Education Resources
Educational Benefits of Minecraft
Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom (Edutopia)