Grade 2: Going Places Safely Online

Recently, Grade 2 students took a field trip to the Rock Museum in Shenzhen and traveled with their families over the October holiday. We used their experiences to discuss how we travel safely and applied that to taking “digital” field trips.

Using a lesson from Common Sense Media, grade 2 students took ‘digital’ field trips to Japan, the San Diego Zoo and NASA without leaving the classroom by using their classroom iPads! Students followed three rules to stay safe while exploring these new places online.

  • Always ask your parent (or teacher) first
  • Only talk to people you know
  • Stick to places that are just right for you

Students finished up the lesson by drawing and writing about something they saw on their ‘digital’ field trip and taking home a Family Tip Sheet to share what they learned with their parents. We will continue to build on this experience as we prepare our young students to navigate the digital world.

Common Sense Media provides a variety of resources for teachers and parents regarding children and digital media including a blog for parents, Making Sense.

For more information and links to parent topics on Common Sense Media, visit the Parent Resources page on my eCoach blog.


Click on photo to see video of Grade 2 Students going on an Online Field Trip to the San Diego Zoo

Compartmentalize of Information

Receiving information updates via email and having that message clutter your inbox is just another step in organizing and prioritizing your digital life. Basically,  your email inbox has become that closet that you just throw old and new stuff into. So, how can you reorganize the information so that is is placed in drawers/compartments in your digital life? It’s easy: really simple syndication, better known as RSS, or an RSS feed. This a great way to consume new content, professionally and personally. The tool to best access your new content across laptop and mobile device is an application called Feedly.
To better understand more on how Feedly operates, click here. Please keep in mind that Feedly does require you to have a Gmail account in order to sign up and have access to all your resources.




Redefining Mining @ SIS

Over the past two and half months our fourth grade instructors took it upon themselves to dive into Mojang’s game, Minecraft, with their students. Their first lesson was to have students collaborate with each other to succeed in one common goal in the game, building a shelter. Collaborating proved to be difficult for some students; however, the lesson gave teachers valuable feedback that allowed them to create authentic lessons using Minecraft for learning. This video clip gives you an insight on how teachers have taken this simulation game from entertainment only to an authentic collaborative experience, simulating real world learning.

Additional resources: Lesson Plan


Digital Portfolios in Kindergarten



Melissa Edwards has redefined student led conferences in Kindergarten via iBooks Author.   When a 5 year old can independently lead you through a 20 minute reflection on learning, you know something special has happened.  Other Kindergarten staff have leveraged PhotoStream, KidBlog and Book Creator with similar success.

Tap the image below for a short Vine video of our digital portfolios in action.




The iPad seemed like a toy to me…

When Liz Cho asked members of the Student Council about their iPad use, she never expected this.  A fantastic personal reflection from student Julie Kim.


“The iPad seemed like a toy to me, when I first received it from you near the Genius Bar.  I did not know what to do with it because to me, the iPad was just a game-playing machine.  But spending most of my time with it this year, I realized, no, the iPad is not a toy.  It is a learning tool that is very very essential for students.  It became a necessary part of my life that I cannot imagine myself without it around now.

As a treasurer in STUCO, the first app that I downloaded was called “Smart Budget”.  Although I had to download a sample version because the full version asked me to pay $2.99, it still helped me a lot in tracking down income and outcome of the STUCO budget.  At the beginning of the year, I calculated how much the original budget was, and inserted the number value in. Then whenever I added a new entry, the program just calculated the net budget automatically. For example, when I entered “Dry Ice for Haunted House” and “-$810”, it automatically showed me the date of entry along with the net budget value.  As I like organized and colorful stuff, this iPad app was a great tool for me to use as a STUCO treasurer.  With the support of this useful tool, I sometimes felt like I was doing nothing – iPad did all the calculations for me, and I just had to stare at the screen with all the numbers on. Which reduced my stress! I know machines are smarter than me, so I did not have to check for calculations over and over again.  I wonder how treasurers from previous STUCO years tracked their budget – did they do calculations using their brains and hands? If they did, I am so lucky to be the first treasurer who was able to utilize the technology.

As a member of STUCO, I used my iPad to research, look up for photos, visit STUCO website, take notes, take photos for various STUCO events and make memorable, fun videos using apps such as “VidRhythm”. Please check the attached photos – they were all taken using my iPad. As our aim this year was to leave behind “legacy”, taking photos for events were very important – and iPad helped me doing so as I carried it along with me for all the events.

Furthermore, as a 21st century student, I used my iPad in my other classes such as Chemistry and Biology. Mr. McElroy loves technology as we all know – and he suggested me to download some cool apps such as “Educreations”, “Aurasma” and “Calculator”. “iTunesU” was the application that Mr. Grezeszak loved the most and suggested all the Chemistry students to download, and he kept posting learning materials on there to help us to get prepared for the exam.

Thank you so much for requesting iPads for me and STUCO this year.  It really helped me to become a 21st century learner, and a leader.  Without your warm support and trust, I am sure we won’t have done this much.

P.S. Ask senior girls, especially Ji, how I have utilized iPad throughout this year for further evidence.

Ji even wrote a poem to me, saying: “A friend like you is a friend who utilizes iPad very productively”.. hahaha!”

Thank You!

Julie Kim

Writing Workshop Take Two

The readers & writers workshop model presented a slight challenge in the area of integrating technology. Luckily we have creative teachers that take on challenges to push themselves to become better facilitators to the students they teach. One such teacher that has been able to marry the two is Frank Machinello who teaches first grade.  Mr. Machinello is another fan of Educreations iOS application. Not only has he been able to capture digital stories that his students have created, they have also taught other students how to document their own learning. Some of the topics that his students have covered include author study, mentor text, peer sharing, editing & revising, and writing stories with illustrations. Mr. Machinello has taken this a step further and uses Twitter as a means to get an global, authentic audience and to make learning at SIS transparent.

During professional learning month, Mr. Machinello was asked to present tangible examples of the readers & writers workshop model and ways technology can enhance it. Please click on the image below to see his notes on his presentation.


Educreations App ICon

Capture an Education Creation

Educreations is one of many iOS applications that allows students to capture their learning through technology. One of our recent professional learning session was leveraging Educreation with math and science.  Kurt Callahan  headed this presentation with practical examples of how his students demonstrate their learning through this redefining application. The image below will link you to Kurt’s keynotes, you may also find useful links for your EAL students as well.


Educreations App ICon