On Risk & Resiliency: Where Language meets Illustration

Innovation can be defined as the process of translating an idea into something that creates value or satisfies a specific need. Framed in this way, innovation goes beyond technology and emphasizes underlying concepts such as risk and resiliency – two words that are often not associated with the acquisition of language.

With that said, Sophie Delaporte and her French language students just completed a project on idioms that embodies this spirit of innovation. From an instructional lens, this project was risky because it went beyond her students’ intermediate level, and the task was more than just a word for word translation project. Although idioms are interesting because they give us insight into cultures, add meaning and color to languages, they involve transposing cultural concepts into a new context. If you speak a second language or are in the process of learning one, you know how difficult this can be.

As educators, when we know more about our students we are able to make more informed decisions. Ms. Delaporte, in this case, not only knew her students were a highly visual group with great artist ability, she understood they had a good sense of analogy. When interviewing her, we talked about her students’ “grit” and how they would be up to the challenge because of their complex thinking skills. Interestingly, Ms. Delaporte and myself saw this first hand and learned alongside students because the task was so specific. We appealed to other language teachers and wider community to verify idioms and their accuracy. Others got involved and produced gems like your “rice cake is bigger than mine” (the grass is always greener on the other side) or this piece by Anna D – “Tomber de Charybde en Scylla” which translates to “Out of the frying pan and into the fire”. Her digital drawing below does an amazing job of illustrating where idiomatic expressions and art meet.

Anna image

Lastly, although presented as an option technology was not ignored. All students used Storehouse in one way or another to tell a story, reflect, present. Here are a few examples. Enjoy!

Story 1         Story 2          Story 3          Story 4




Hour of Code: December 7-13, 2015

Hour of Code is organized by Code.org 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 Code.org’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!


Own Your Digital Footprint

IMG_2424What happens when you “google” yourself?  Are you in charge of the online message you find?

Recently, the Learning Innovation Team led a CAP PL session about how to shape your digital footprint to portray you in a positive light.  It is extremely important that our students understand how their lives will be affected by their choices of what they showcase online.

The basics:

  1. Own your platformsIMG_2427
  2. Have a consistent, professional message
  3. Optimize your own portfolio


PDF of the presentation
Managing your digital footprint
Getting started with SEO

Learning through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

When using an unmanned aerial vehicle(drone) for your school, you are able to capture great outdoor moments that could never be captured before. Specifically sporting events, parades, special school events, and community events. What typically happens after that… the drone goes back in its case and you for another outdoor event. Why don’t we reimagine how we use a drone for learning purposes?
How do you go about using a drone in your classroom
Honestly, you need to practice flying the drone yourself before even incorporating the drone into your lesson. We recommend using DJI because it’s the most friendly to use in terms of flying the drone and extracting footage. However, using the drone in your lesson takes a lot of planning. The initial idea came from Carlos Galvez to use the footage for his physical education students to use the filmed clips as a way to demonstrate an understanding of space and movement.
The learning innovation team along with Carlos Galvez and Meaghan Willson sat down and drew up plans on how to capture footage that could be used for student analysis. Once the Learning Innovation coaches filmed student movement in Carlos and Meaghan’s class. Carlos and Meaghan gave the video footage to the students to use for modification and as an assessment of understanding.
Not only did this allow for student feedback with their immediate teacher(Carlos and Meaghan). Students were able to annotate footage to show their thinking of movement and space.


Top 5 Reason to Drone your Physical Education Class

1.  Use capture footage for formative assessment ~
 Check for understanding by asking pertinent questions around unit concepts. 
2.  Summative assessment ~
Give students footage to annotate and explain concepts of the unit. Students become the “sports analyzer” where they critique students thinking and movement.
3. Track Record – Documentation of units throughout the year
4. Increase the accountability factor of having students fully engaged in the lesson.
5.   Teacher reflection of lesson planning.

Student analyzing video, summative assessment on “invasion of spaces.”

Want to know more?

Contact Meaghan Wilson and Carlos Galvez 

21st Century Learning Awards

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 1.19.00 PM21st Century Learning has opened up applications for their Global Innovation Awards (you can apply here) for 2015-2016.  Teachers, coaches, and leadership can apply to be the recipients of these awards that recognize and highlight best practices in learning technologies.  This is the same group that awarded SIS the School of the Year award for 2014.

We strongly encourage any member of SIS to apply for these awards.  Your contributions to innovative learning and using educational technologies are evident in every aspect of your teaching practice.  You truly follow the 21c mission of “building communities of learners.”

For some of you, a previously submitted application video (such as ADE or for an EARCOS presentation) could be used to support how you’ve met the criteria for a specific award.

gI_143297_ISTE_logo_tag_2CThe 21C committee will use the ISTE Standards as criteria for evaluation of the application.  Click below for a PDF of the standards that applies to your application.


Interested?  Feel free to find a Learning Innovation coach if you have any questions, want suggestions or a second look at your application.

The deadline for applications is November 20th

Interested in attending 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong, February 18th-20th 2016?  Register here

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.


Authentic Audience & the Afterlife of Assignments

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.31.36 AMWhile increasing student engagement and meeting instructional goals are noble pursuits, when we provide students with an authentic audience we peel off the proverbial chip of paint allowing them to look past the Rita Hayworth poster and go beyond academic learning. Whether you get the reference¹ or not this post is about motivation, supporting our students and opening ourselves up to new things (like the film).

I think we can all agree that before this age of technology, assignments, particularly student writing would be read primarily by the teacher. And that’s it – that was the life and death of the assignment. After a quick scan for their grade, it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to see why most pieces of student writing would end up in the recycling bin.

So how can we remedy this…?

Well, one way is to interact with students and allow for thoughtful dialogue with their peers. This interaction, with your guidance, may take the form of effective questioning, providing them with timely feedback, working in small groups, allowing ample time for practice and reflection, etc…

Recently, on a twitter chat with a colleague from another international school, I was made aware of a very sensible platform called QuadBlogging. Other than trying to find words that rhymed with it, I was immediately drawn to the way it connected students. Once signed up, classes and their individual class blogs are grouped into fours, each taking turns to “present” while the other three groups play the role of technical experts and help move ideas along by providing constructive commentary on the first group’s writing.

As Grant Wiggins reminds us,

“The virtues of having a real or simulated audience for performance are pretty straightforward. The student has much greater clarity about the goal because there is specific audience and purpose – and there’s the incentive of – it’s not just for the teacher it’s for this audience” (2013).

In other words, learning comes from a passion which is born from the engagement of students just like Dewey taught us 100+ years ago.

So, if you have a blog and are wondering about ways you can get some traction in motivating your students while providing them with an authentic audience you may want to consider Quadblogging



1 Darabont, F., Marvin, N., Robbins, T., Freeman, M., Gunton, B., Sadler, W., Brown, C., … Warner Home Video (Firm). (2004). The Shawshank Redemption. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Transforming Teaching and Learning with an Authentic Audience (YouTube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq9_Z8crD4

Office 365 Migration for OS X

Are you unable to get your email because it says your password is incorrect?  This is because you’ve been migrated to Office 365 under our Shekou International School account.  You’ll need to follow the instructions found in the video below.  You ONLY need to change your username.

Come see us at the Genius Bar if you have any trouble receiving your emails.

Office 365 Migration for iPad

Are you unable to get your email because it says your password is incorrect?  This is because you’ve been migrated to Office 365 under our Shekou International School account.  If you get a message like this on your iPad:


You’ll need to follow the instructions found in the video below.  You ONLY need to change your username.


Download Video (right/secondary click and choose to download linked file)

Here is what the settings should look like for your SIS email account within Settings (if your Network ID is 22mm01):



Keeping our eyes on the prize

Reflection is a way of thinking about educational matters that involves the ability to make rational choices and to assume responsibility for those choices. Taking that line of thought further, teachers are encouraged to reflect so that they can hone in on better ways of meeting the needs of their students. As a problem solving strategy, reflection is linked to effective teaching. As educators we already draw upon our content knowledge and our past experiences to make decisions (big and small) about what we teach and how we plan on teaching it. When we are conscious of this, as reflective practitioners, we are able to see the many benefits and positive effects.

Some of them include:

  • Self-directed critical thinking inquiry skills
  • Contextualized knowledge about teaching and learning that can be applied in similar situations (e.g., when to change instructional strategies or lesson pacing)
  • Willingness to question, take risks in learning, and try new strategies and ideas
  • Higher‐order thinking skills and the ability to reflect on one’s own learning process
  • Both cognitive (e.g., knowing how to ask questions that help students engage and think deeply) and affective skills (e.g., valuing students as individuals capable of learning)
  • Increased ability to react, respond, assess, and revise while teaching
  • Ability to implement new activities and approaches on the spot
  • Improved self‐awareness and knowledge
  • Improved coping strategies (e.g., the ability to redirect student inappropriate behaviors rather than with a response that will escalate the situation).

From a constructivist perspective, it seems that the more attention we pay to the little scribbles we make to ourselves in the margins, or the few minutes we take after class to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, the more this introspection will become a part of our daily routines and better help our students to create meaning for themselves both in familiar and unfamiliar situations.

Here are some of the ways and tools the SIS community is already using to reflect on their practice:

#Sisrocks has come to embody what an open community looks like.
Storehouse is media rich platform that is well designed and easy to use.
Blogging platform like edublogs make great digital portfolios and journals.
Strikingly is a great medium for personal websites.
Social Media pages connect students and teachers in new ways of dialogue.