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)

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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.

Giving Students a Real Voice

Ceci Gomez-Galvez, Nathan Lill and Rosana Walsh are empowering students to share with the world in what they believe in. The inspiration came from, which catapulted the idea of having learning authors take risks in publishing their own beliefs to a wider audience.

Many of us have our students go to their blogs and post reflections on their learning. It’s the same old thing over and over again. This angle of approach is fresh and is collated into one site! Listen to the podcast review for more details on the whole process and check out their student’s Podcast on “This I believe.” I’m sure one of them will hit a cord.

Below: SIS Podcast Site

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Below: Interview of the process.


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SWOT Analysis AMPed HOUR

We recently completed a SWOT analysis on our self-directed learning initiative (AMPed) that we implemented this year for our secondary students (grades 6 -12). The middle school staff had many interesting comments about the first half of implementing AMPed with their advisory students. We took their written comments and applied them to Wordle to calculate and see the which words were mentioned multiple times. The larger the word, the more times it was mentioned in each analysis.


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Major points to take away from this analysis:

Our self-directed learning initiative is here to stay! You will not find one word that says that this initiative needs to be removed or that it’s a waste of time. In fact, we need to find a way to give more time for our students to work on their AMPed projects. So we are looking at scheduling and how this could make a huge impact on the initiative as well as provide other opportunities for our students.

Digitally Processing a Year in a Book

Students still want a printed yearbook! It’s still really important that they are able to hand write little memorable notes in each others book. But creating a digital yearbook allows the students to really see behind the images with embedded rich media. This is what makes the difference between the two.

Below is how Alex Gutierrez and his student yearbook team have created the past two yearbooks at #sisrocks. Alex and his team are in the midst of creating 2014-2015’s yearbook and hope to publish by May.

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

Make Your Own Textbook


As soon as you decide to order a textbook it’s outdated and if you teach overseas, chances are it won’t arrive at the beginning of the school year. Furthermore, the interactive website that students are given a chance to access with the supplied textbook key is boring, dry, and subjective to where the book was printed.

So, why have students create their own textbook.

It’s actually really easy and this is why it’s necessary:

  • Teach how to assess information legitimacy through CAPOWing the source.
  • Collaborating by adding sources to the book, this could be contextual information(articles), videos and images.
  • Have others follow your book.
  • Have contributors and follows comment on articles in book.
  • Students can read and add articles from authors in different countries.

Expected Student Learning Results:

Global Citizen


Independent Learner


Complex Thinker



Through Flipboard you are able to create a “Magazine,” that you can invite collaborators to flip articles into the shared board(magazine).

Here are the essentials that you will need to build your own Flipboard! 



So what does it look like? Mark Knudens and Kelly Kurth have seen a huge impact with student learning by having them build their own textbooks?

Nutrition – Prove It! by Mark A Knudsen

Cell Division by Kelly Kurth



Inspired by: Jeff Utecht and Rosana Walsh

Challenging, Authentic, Personalized Assessment in IB English

Challenging, Authentic, Personalized.  That’s the mantra this year for SIS Innovation.  How do we give students an authentic experience that is personalized to their learning needs and level.  When @cho_liz needed a way to asses her students’ use of the literary devices they’ve learned over that past two years she harmonized all three of the C.A.P. factors into one assignment.  The writing prompt was challenging and personalized:

“Tell me about your recent learning”

Students posted their responses on their own ShareSpace and students from both the SL and HL class were encouraged to post comments to challenge the authors thinking; an authentic audience.  What she got back were passionate responses, the students felt connected with the topic and challenged enough by the somewhat ambiguous prompt.  Have a read through some of the posts, they really are a great read, and be sure to follow the comment stream, which is where Liz is able to assess some of the complex thinking skills of her students.


Using Storehouse for….Well, just about ANYTHING!!!

There’s a new tool that has taken the HS and MS by storm, or store in this situation.  Have you ever wanted to create a single-page scrolling reflection that allows you to put in both photos and videos? STOREHOUSE is an iOS app that creates these single-page amalgamations that are viewable on any device.  In our setting, this would be perfect for things such as:

 Process items for class:

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Alex explaining how to use STAR People for reflection.


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Liz showing how her students used the ProMISE protocol.

Reflections from Field Trips or WWW:

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6th Graders on WWW in Lantau.


 Personal reflections or journals:

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Marty showing his personal trip through Daxin, China.


Any other ideas for the use of STOREHOUSE?  Leave a comment below.



It’s not a Program it’s an Initiative


The purpose of having student self-directed learning(#geniushour) is to push intrinsic motivation to the forefront of teaching and learning.


Find a time to have time to initiate #geniushour @ your school. Here @ sis we were able to bind the #geniushour initiative to our Advisory program. For elementary teachers, all it takes is 1 hour a week that you need to find to roll out your #geniushour in your classroom. Its imperative that you stay consistent. You will be amazed at what your little ones can learn on their own.


This is what it looks like!

First, an opening keynote to all secondary staff with why,how, and what it will look like.

Next, allow your staff to find their interest that they could share with their students.

This way your students will buy into owning more of their own learning and to inquire more of their interests!

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idea of Gallit Zvi

Second, once all staff are on board and know what is expected of them, then you can roll out to all your students. Following the roll out to all your students you can send a letter home to their parents encouraging them to assist their child’s self directed learning process.

IMPORTANT! Branding it your own. We call our #geniushour initiative ~ AMPed @ SIS, Autonomous, Mastered, Purposeful education.

Third, document everything and have your students share their learning on their own blog or a shared blog.

Here are just some of the things that secondary students(grade 6 – 12) are wanting to learn.

What is love?

Explaining quantum mechanics like a 5 year old.

Set-up a Minecraft-Edu server and share the virtual learning space.

Videography & photography.

Coding and creating a video game. 

Middle school virtual newspaper.

Lego Mindstorms + Arduino boards to make robotic arms. 

For more about our self-directed learning initiative

Need help getting started in your classroom or whole school

 LiveBinder Geniushour curated by @joykirr & @AngelaMaiers

Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom by A.J. Juliani

Twitter: #geniushour 



We hope this can be pushed, pulled, twisted in to your everyday curriculum. It’s our students learning, not ours!

Using Blogs to Promote ASA’s

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.52.59 AMThis year has already seen a massive influx of After School Activities (ASA’s) and service learning projects.  Many teachers are combining their own passion (#AMPed) projects with ASA’s to help students develop the connection between play and learning.


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Check out how @cecigomez_g & @cho_liz are using blogs to inspire students to reflect on their activities and think critically about how they are transferring skills. (click on the photos to connect to the blogs)