“It is nice to know that you can help others and they can help you…”

Hello #SISRocks ! This week on Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have Pre-K 1D Teacher Jenny Chen from our Mountainside campus. Jenny walked me through how she empowers and builds confidence in her young (but vey able) students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are her responses to the questions:

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I have been teaching 3-4 year olds and 2-3 year olds at SIS – so they’re very young but I still want them to believe in themselves and that they are able to do things – because a lot of times, especially at the beginning of the year there is a tendency for them to get frustrated and feel like they cannot self help themselves.

Children at this age are also very sensitive so I really have to walk through and work with them every time and and say “you can do it” and that I will be over here with you.

As time goes by, they increasingly begin to feel pride about the things they are able to accomplish. As a teacher, I want them to have this feeling of success and gratification  but keep challenging them as well.

I also want them to understand that we are a small community and that even though you believe in your own ability it is nice to know that you can help others and they can help you.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

As a class, the goal is to help students become more independent. That said, this must done in a differentiated approach and realizing that every child has different challenges. When we down and set goals for each student, they typically range from fine motor to self help skills to language acquisition, when necessary.

How did you problem solve come up with this new method for this lesson?

Let’s take self help skills, for example… This year we introduced nap time which involves quite a bit of set up and cleaning up. Continuing to integrate the idea of community and that each student is a helper has transformed that activity into a fast and efficient process. We now have have student modeling and printed photos of students on our “I can do it” window that helps reinforce good habits and behaviors. I’m really proud of them.

Learning Path to becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE)

I have always found it interesting how corporations have been trying to push their product or idea into the education scene. In today’s age, this would refer to up and coming tech firms as well as the already well established. Companies like, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, have a product that will allow your staff and students to create, showcase, document, and organized work production. All three companies all also have an education series that allows educators to pursue to become an expert, innovator, or distinguishable with their product. Out of the three, Microsoft is late to the game when it comes to offering such programs. But just because they are new to the game, doesn’t mean that what they have to offer is a “has been,” educator program. What Microsoft has to offer is very refreshing, and I hope you take in consideration to hear what I have to say about it.

My journey into becoming a Microsoft Certified Expert (MIE), was somewhat manageable, a challenge set by our very own Director of Learning Innovation.

 

When I first logged into Microsoft Education system, I have to admit, it was a little intimidating, especially how to navigate and find what intrigues you. Right away the front page recommends courses that you can pick and choose that apply to your practice. But! Here is where I am going to tell you to find the Learning Paths section and select Microsoft calls, 21 Century Learning Design(21CLD). What intrigued me about this path was the real world skills that we want our students to build within and outside the classroom. Those skills are collaboration, skilled communication, knowledge construction, self-regulation, real-world problem solving, and using ICT for learning.

What you will find once you take a course is how Microsoft codes essential skill to it’s the simplest form. For example, it explores the broader meaning of collaboration and breaks down collaboration into five essential questions. “What are the big ideas in collaboration.”? “What does working together mean?” “What does shared-responsibility mean?” “What does making substantive decisions mean?” and “What does working interdependently mean?”

So what does this all mean, once you go through this course you will take a 8 question quiz that you have to pass with 80% to receive credit. But that’s, the least of why you should do this. You should do this course because it completely matches up to the Expected Student Learning Results (ESLR’s) or the four C’s (Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking). Not only does it match up but it gives clarity on how to create situations for students to experience these skills. And, to put the icing on the cake, Microsoft does a fine job providing resources around 21CLD. Resources include rubrics, lessons, and coding of skills for educators to apply in their teachings.

TL;DL:

Becoming a Microsoft Certified Expert (MIE) is easy. But I suggest taking the course on 21 Century Learning Design as it applies to your practice right away.

Dismantling the Disconnect

There are many different pedagogical approaches for early childhood teaching, but they almost all have one thing in common: the child is the key contributor to what is taught and learned. This approach to student-centered teaching is essential for a child to build community within their classroom and to allow students to construct their knowledge. Often, and unfortunately, there is a disconnect that can occur as soon as these students transition into Kindergarten.

Luckily, we have SIS teachers who are willing to blur the lines between Early Childhood and Kindergarten.

Typically, a student’s experience once they leave the exploratory learning environment they enjoy in the early years is abrupt; an end to choice in learning. Nadia Erlendson and her kindergarten team have put a stop to that. Every morning, students are provided two options to start off their day. The students may go to the playground, where there is a teacher supervisor, or they may go straight to the classroom to begin creative play building.

This flexible schedule isn’t something new in the educational world, but Nadia and her team realized it was necessary for young learners at SIS. Initially, students gathered in the morning to have circle time, starting the day by comprehending the weather and what day of the week it was. Nadia noticed that some students were intentionally coming late to class, so she tested the waters by giving students an open play time in the morning once a week, to see if the heartbeat of the class would change. Slowly, she added an extra day of free purposeful play time over the course of a few weeks. She noticed that the pulse of the class was beginning to change; students quickly became more independent, critically thinking when problems came up, and, most importantly, started to become agents of their learning. This finally gave the Kindergarten team a chance to assess the students on their own terms.  Ironically many, if not all, students were meeting age appropriate standards and benchmark from what the teachers gathered.

Something else was visibly noticeable. The students that would repeatedly show up late began coming on time, and all students were attentive for the entire school day.

 

 

This adjustment to the Kindergarten schedule was the spark that helped illuminate the need for continuing to explore how we can modify the school day to suit the needs of our students better. We look forward to following along next year to see what can arise from allowing students and staff to work together, to learn together, and to connect to move forward.

 

Building Bridges through Chinese

Doris King is a Chinese teacher at #sisrocks. She specifically teaches students from grades one to five who come from a household where Chinese is the first language. Typically, the traditional approach to learning the Chinese language is to memorize characters. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to write each character stroke correctly. Doris realized that there was a disconnect between how students were learning in their English-speaking homerooms and how she had been teaching Chinese to her native speaking students.

Doris wanted to transform her Chinese heritage class to make the language more accessible by creating more personal and deeper connections within the class, at home, and far away from her classroom. For Chinese heritage students, the goals are to instill the value of learning Chinese and also to illustrate progression. With that in mind, Doris began by encouraging her students to write and share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences through their personal blogs. Their first blogging task was to write about a time they experienced a challenge with a positive mindset. Once these pieces were posted to their blogs, students were asked to send their URL to a parent and a friend to receive feedback. The responses from their parents and peers were astounding. Parents told their children that they never knew they could express themselves that way. They were so proud of their child’s writing and were excited for them to share more.

Doris was pleased with the results but wanted her students to dig deeper. She took inspiration from colleagues at SIS, Ceci Gomez-Galvez and Nathan Lill. Doris used the mentor text that both Ceci and Nathan used for their Big DEAL event that has happened for four years now, based on “This I Believe,” from CBS’s Radio Network program, journalist Edward R. Murrow. In this instance, students had to scribe their works all in Chinese then use their speaking skills to showcase their deeper inner thoughts about what they believe.

The Chinese language program is still striving to have students digging deeper in their understanding and use of the Chinese language. Cross-campus connections, such as the “This I Believe” podcasts, are a great way for colleagues to encourage and challenge one another to try new strategies in their classrooms, often with incredible results.

For all resources check out the links below:

Doris King’s Chinese Heritage Students Links
http://share.sis.org.cn/dorisking/chinese-this-i-believe-2017/

Ceci Gomez-Galvez & Nathan Lill’s Podcasts
share.sis.org.cn/podcasts
http://thisibelieve.org/
http://www.npr.org/series/4538138/this-i-believe

Understanding STEAM

What is STEAM?

 
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has been a transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning dating back as far as 1749, Benjamin Franklin’s time, according to some. From there it has taken on many shapes and forms in the education world. But, it wasn’t a curricular movement until Judith A. Ramaley the assistant director for education and human resources at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004 coined the term, STEM. This interdisciplinary approach has been around long before but recently started taking off in the mid-2000’s. Today we have additional variations, to STEM, one current branch is STEAM. Many scholars, in this case, Peter Hennigar and Jacob Scott, feel that the “A,” really needs to be lumped into the equation. We want to be aesthetically pleased, we want to communicate with a clear intention, and we want objects to have a purposeful function. So by applying principles of design to science class, makes complete sense for applying aesthetics, design, and communication. Peter and Jacob aren’t the first to use arts into science, and they certainly won’t be the last.
 
The focus of the course is to expose students to real world problems that need to be addressed to find a solution while also being conscientious of the importance of design.
 
 

How is this transdisciplinary?

 
Both Peter and Jacob have their students go through the Dartmouth Project for Teaching Engineering Problem Solving model. This model gives students a platform that they can work from and move forward with a given challenge. One particular design problem was having students create a motion controller that would hold a digital capturing device.
 
So, you may ask…what makes this particular project, a STEAM project. Below are how all the disciplines are cover STEAM.
steam-004
Model Credited to Peter Hennigar
 

S-Science

The entire developing process, students, will be going through 2 processes, design thinking, and scientific inquiry while gathering evidence and documenting their learning progress.
 
 

T- Technology

Students were given the EV3 Lego Mindstorms to program the control of motion for their digital time lapse device. The students will also have a 3D printer available for rapid prototyping and printing fixtures. Students will also use their computers to research, document through their blog sites on the progression of their learning and thinking along the way. Before this challenge, Peter ran through basic programming skills needed to operate the EV3 Lego Mindstorm so students could access their prior knowledge while applying their understanding to the camera motion controller challenge.
 
 

E- Engineering

All students will be using the EV3 Lego Mindstorms to engineer a structure to hold a digital documentation device. Groups that choose to 3D print will have to engineer models using a CAD program, specifically Tinkercad because of the simplicity of the tool.
 
 

A- Art

Taking capturing video and time-lapse photography students are to compile their footage into an art piece that captures life in Shenzhen while exhibiting mood that engulfs the viewer attention.
 
 

M- Math

Students must have a time-lapse piece in their film. The film cut needs to be a minimum of 1 minute long. Students need to show how many frames per second they captured to demonstrate an understanding of time, frame rate, and speed. Applying, all the disciplines together to into a great video in the end.
 
 

How do you assess each student’s performance?

Students must demonstrate their learning by gathering evidence and displaying their knowledge through a digital portfolio. Each group(3-4 students) had one log book to document their thinking and to demonstrate booking of experience every time they met during the STEAM class period. The record book supported their process of learning, however, some students documented in different ways, which for all intensive purposes students were given agency to showcase their knowledge. Many of groups as mention before, blogged about their experience, this was a must, but others not only blogged about their learning but video documented each contact day of their project development.
 
Their final product was to produce a video using their time-lapse motion controller to capture the life of the Shenzhen community.
 
 
 

Examples of students work:

 
 
 
 

Shark Tank Process:

Each group came up with a company name to present to “venture capitalists,” Just like the famous show in the US.  Teams were given 15 Minutes to showcase product and answer questions from the “venture capitalist,” panel.
 
In the end, the shark tank panel handed out checks to each company to show their interest investing for a better product to be released for sale.
 
 
 
Why not just do traditional science?
 
Traditional science predominate only pushes the traditional boundaries of hard skills to develop. With STEAM not only do student build hard skills but they also work on their soft skills, especially when it comes to showcasing their learning.
 
Problem Solving in Engineering
Communicators
Independent learners
collaborators
Complex Thinkers
Global Citizens
Using Models and Simulations
Elements and Principles of Design
Applications of Principles Design
 
 
 
 

The Utensil

Over the course of testing out the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, Brittany Morgan can easily say that it’s not the iPad Pro that has transformed digital art… it’s the Apple Pencil. The highly responsive tool bends the rules of physical and virtual drawing aspects and mends them together. Artists and designers are able to create through all the physical attributes the pencil has to offer and virtually save and adjust work. The pencil, when combined with apps such as Procreate, allows for visible thinking and documentation of the process behind the art. Digital drawing is becoming more and more accessible to our young learners and we want to expose them to as many different experiences and learning techniques as possible while documenting their learning.

Below is what can be done:

Explain Like I’m Five (ELI5) An exchange between 1st and 8th graders

It’s safe to say that making learning experience for children is what drives teachers to teach kids every day. The “teachable moment,” is something that no lesson plan can prescribe, no box program can have in place. Teachers are willing to work out-side their means to make learning experiences authentic for their students. What better way for students to learn a theory is by actually practicing it first.
@petehennigar teamed up with #sisrocks 1st-grade team (@RiaHennigar@lkrebs1@MrsBohara, Michele Hussey) to give both 8th grade and 1st-grade students an experience to teach each other states of matter (phases of solid, liquid, gas)
The organizing of this first began with grouped grade 8 students crafting a lab report that could be read and followed by group of first-grade students. This was a matching alignment of curriculum, 8th-grade students just finished states of matter and first-grade students were learning the difference between solids and liquids.
One thing that always should be pointed out is…why? Why have older students to engage with younger students?
What learning is happening:
  • Illustrates comprehension of content when being broken down to its basic form.
  • Both students have to demonstrate critical thinking skills & collaboration.
  • Both students have to demonstrate global citizen skills in order for the exchange to happen successfully.
  • The older students are servicing the younger students learning experience.
We caught up with one 8th grade student and asked her 2 questions that would help make you think about doing this for your students.
Q what makes this experience unique?
A I think unique, I don’t have this type of interaction on a daily basis
Q – How did you know that learning was happening?
A-  The 1st-grade students had fun, they could identify what was happening in front of them by describing their lab experiment.
Here at #sisrocks, we have had several exchanges where younger students are mentored by older students. We look to make more connections in the future. We also look to make it common practice in some areas.

Variation of PBL

Peter Hennigar is a middle school science teacher. One of his approaches to have students learn the asked curriculum is to coach them through a variation of project-based learning. Students had to challenge themselves to showcase their learning by capturing it on camera and then edit their own raw video into a final video clip. For more on how he got his students to think outside the box and practice essential skills, click here.

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