Crafting your Own Manipulatives

The traditional approach to teaching molecular bonding has been through the ball and stick method. With any useful tool or object we use to learn and teach through, we should at least consider reimagining how it can be delivered in a more empathically way. Making learning through real life experiences will engage students, but it will allow for purpose in student academia.
Peter Hennigar saw this as an opportunity to have his student make their own 3D models using Tinkercad. The groups of 3 to 4 students needed to figure out how designing a model that would be 3D printed in class would be applicable to anyone wanting to learn molecular bonding. Once student finally printed their models, they have to craft simple direction for any end user to use and learn from the manipulative models. We caught up with Peter to find out more about the teaching and learning through a 3D printer in Chemistry class.
Looking at the standard and benchmarks why did you feel this was currently the best way students could demonstate their knowledge of covalent and ionic bonding of elements?
Having students create their own models through the design process, pushes students to indirectly learn content and demonstrate their knowledge by applying that information to their design.
Why have students CAD their molecular structures?
Because the focus was on the design process. This allows students to dive deeper into the key characteristics of molecular bonding. 
What types expect student learning results were achieved throughout this process?
Students develop a mastery level of understanding of molecular bonding. This would entail effective communication, critical thinking, visual representation, and large amounts of collaboration with their design teams. 
Why did you feel it was important to have students learn to use CAD demonstrate their learning?
Typically this process has been taught and learned through experiences that are 2D. By having the accessibility of a 3D printer, I was inspired to give myself and students a challenge to make their experience come to life. Thus creating an actual 3D model.
What science standards did you have the students meet?
Describe the build-up of electrons in ‘shells’ and understand the significance of the noble gas electronic structures and of valency electrons


Describe the formation of iconic bonds between elements from Groups I and VII
Describe the formation of ionic bonds between metallic and non-metallic elements

Describe the formation of single covalent bonds in H2, Cl2, H2O, CH4 and HCl as the sharing of pairs of electrons leading to the noble gas configuration.

How does this tie into real world applications that society is exposed to everyday?
Development of a product that is related to content that gives students a purpose behind their learning of Chemistry.
What will you do differently next time?
Scaling of final product of their 3D molecular manipulative structures and set limitation.
How did you use the pedagogical approach to Understanding of Design?
The most important piece to this process is that it gives the students the excuse to indirectly learn the actual content that they then can turn around to apply to create a 3D model. 
A part of the journey of having your students create 3D models, you found the exact same educational product that was being funded to go into production. How did your students feel about this?
They were interested that professional were making and marketing the same type of tools that they were making.
How does this apply in other aspects of curriculum. Function verse Product
Creating 3D models for boards games that recreates pandemics. Mythology Talisman
Creating 3D models that represent a character of a story. This is how G.I. Joe was born.
Creating 3D model models to create tessellation and modular (Art, Math, Science).
Possibility are ends with the intent to focus on design through a 3D modeling.
City X design in Elementary School
Elementary School math manipulative for ratios or fractions
3D printed jewelry for art

Wearable Technology And Their Role In Health.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.18.17 PM

Mark Knudsen (@PhysEdDude) enthusiastically begins by posing the question “Do you even know what MinZ actually means?” – Before I get a chance to answer, he explains it’s a play on words and his term for “Minutes in the Zone.”

As he continues, I come find out that an upcoming fitness franchise in the US has come up with the “Orange Theory,” which he loves for two reason. First and foremost, his favorite color is orange, and he can’t help but support the love for orange and fitness coming together. The more important reason why he like the Orange Theory, however, is the technology integration and transparency for participants to monitor their MinZ. The sensors SIS uses allows the students to see when they are in their target zones for that particular activity. This allows him to both quantify effort in a quality way. It’s making his assessment of physical activity objective rather than subjective.

ORANGE is the new GOLD…STAR!

The Why?

According to the most Physical Education Standards & Benchmarks, students are to engage in Moderate to Vigorous Activity AT LEAST 4 Days a Week. According to the CDC kids from ages 6­-17 should be getting 60 minutes of activity in per day, this is where the magical number 240 comes into play. The question remains, how should Moderate to Vigorous Activity be defined?

As most physical educators know, you can’t just judge students by the amount they sweat the speed they run or if they can talk after during the exercise (Subjectively). Although the Borg RPE Scale is very helpful to gage fitness activity, schools can be even more accurate by using one of many wearables on the tech market. Apple Watches, Garmin, Polar, Fitbit and so many other companies have developed ways for people to objectively MEASURE their activity level.


Here at #SISPhysEd we are fortunate enough to have H6 & H7 Polar HR Sensors for ALL our students, EVERY class. This means the following:

  1. Students are to wear their strap and sensor EVERY CLASS, being mindful that the MinZ gained in class contribute to their required MinZ per month.
  2. Students are to record your MinZ on a SINGLE Print out that will be turned in to verify you’ve completed the MinZ.
  3. Students are responsible for the bare minimum of 30 MinZ per day for the entire month. That  amount of time is considered to be a Proficient, not and Exemplary. If students want to achieve an EX for this assessment, they’ll need need to exceed the 30 MinZ per day every month.

How can the students get the time in the zone?

  • Borrow A Sensors
    • Students can borrow sensors at the end of the day to do activity outside of school in order to get MinZ. Students borrow sensor and attach it to a device via POLAR goFit App or another running app that can be paired with the Polar Sensor.
  • Fitness Apps & Wearables
    • Running Apps – Nike+, Garmin, RunKeeper, Etc.
    • Apple Watch, Loop Bands, FitBits, Etc.
  • What other ways can you record your time in the “ZONE?”
    • After School Activities (Part of SIS or not)
    • Students are allowed to record HALF of their practice time as MinZ. The reasoning behind this is because participants generally are not in the target zones all of the time. HALF has been the standard of what people have come back with in terms of wearing their sensors, so it’s a good place to start.
    • Students can still wear sensors during these activities and will get every minute they record using the Polar Beat app.
    • How are students going to prove they’ve practiced? Mark requires them to record it on the sheet and then get the student’s coach to sign off on it at the end of each month! No signature, it doesn’t count.
  • Other Fitness Classes Outside of School
    • Yoga & Pilates – Students are allowed to record ONE THIRD of their class time. This is not meant to say that there isn’t as much benefit doing fitness classes, there is an amazing amount of of benefits, but for MinZ, it will count for ⅓ of the time.

There are many ways to record this, but the most important thing to make sure is that it’s recordable and quantifiable. The teacher must approve any other form of recording MinZ other that what is listed.

Just as in everything else we do at SIS, students have to prove they have completed the MinZ. As a professional, Mark is open to suggestions but generally starts with the easiest way to prove something, pictures. Screenshots and photos are the most ideal way to show the information. Along with the picture, there needs to be an identifying name and date. Collect them all in a PicCollage, PDF or any other way and turn it in by the end of the month on Edmodo under the Fitness Performance Assignment.

Quick review of what is needed to PROVE IT!

  1. Screenshot and Photos of the Activity Readout (needs to include HR/Intensity)
  2. Pictures must have Identifying Name and Date
  3. Collected on a SINGLE PDF. Maximum of 1 Page!
  4. Submitted by the end of the month on Edmodo.

Just as every teacher goes through, Mark has continued to retool the MinZ recording process and is currently on his second version of it. He believes in sharing all of his work and keeps an updated website with lessons, blog posts and other useful tools. Have a visit to his website (, tweet him (@PhysEdDude) or drop him and old school email ( to see what else you could get to use in your class.

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 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’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)

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.