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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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)

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.

Confidence-Based Formative Assessment

Rebecca O’Brien uses a tool Geddit to gather students’ confidence around units of study, topics, and essential questions. Formative assessment typically is driven by mini quizzes and entry and exit tickets. With Geddit, Rebecca has gotten a better insight into how her students feel about their learning. Rebecca has seen a successful change, using this tool to organize students into confidence-based groups.  For more about how Rebecca uses Geddit,  click here.

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Teacher side of receiving students level of confidence.

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Summative evaluation is sent to the teacher when he/she closes the Geddit poll.


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.