This morning Mr. Pitter and I were lucky to have some working parents attending our session, thank you Golden Week:)
This session’s focus was on ‘Gamification’. We started the session with a discussion about our own experiences about Gaming, carried on with our kids are experiences. We followed up the conversation with a TED talk by Jane McGonigal where she explains how games like World of Warcraft players can save worlds, and learn the habits of heroes and solve the real world’s problems.
We have finished the sessions by making our learning visible by using the ‘I used to think’ – ‘Now I think’ routine by Harvard’s Project Zero.
A big thank you goes out to the parents who came to our session today!
Next Parent Tech Session: Summer Fun with Technology will be held on Wed, 5 June at 9:15 in the Cafeteria. This will be our last Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning session for this school year. We’ll explore fun and collaborative tools like VoiceThread, GarageBand, blogging, and more to find ways to help your child continue to develop his or her technology skills this summer – and to share the fun you’re having with your family and friends.
Posted by Kim Cofino on Wednesday, April 10th 2013
We had a small, and very dedicated group of parents with us today, the first Wednesday back after break, thank you! Our session today was focused on safety and privacy, particularly around the use of Facebook. Because we had such a small group of parents today, we started with a very informal conversation. A few of our interesting highlights were:
We know that the privacy settings on Facebook (and many other websites) change regularly, often with very little notice or information. Therefore, we think it’s probably best to consider all information shared in those spaces to be public. Only share what you would want to share in public spaces, because it’s quite possible that either your settings may be changed without your knowledge, or possibly someone could copy and paste (or screenshot) your updates and share them elsewhere.
Knowing that so much of what we share online is or could become public, we talked about the importance of regular, open and honest conversations with children so that they are aware of the different aspects of sharing online. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that they are making informed choices, and conscious decisions about what they’re sharing.
We also talked about the importance of having your own online presence that you manage. Without having your own presence online, it would be very easy for someone else to create a false profile with your name, and to pretend they are you. A good way to keep an eye on this is to regularly log out of all of the services you use, and Google your own name. This is a good strategy to make sure that what others find out about you online is what you want them to find.
When we think about spending time online, we were curious to understand more about how the different services we use are connected. We can see that ads in Facebook and Gmail are specifically tailored to us, and using apps like Ghostery can track who is monitoring what we look at online. This conversation prompted us to watch the following TED Talk by Eli Pariser:
After watching the video, we had a great conversation about how we can actually work towards preventing this kind of filter bubble. Some thoughts we had were:
Be more conscious about how we spend our time online.
Instead of always making a choices that re-affirm our views, try to find, research or discover things that are challenging.
Use tools, like the groups feature on Facebook or the lists feature on Twitter, to compile and organize voices or ideas from different points of view.
Remember, every time we click, we are teaching the algorithms what we want to see. We are in control of what we click.
For sure this is an interesting time to grow up! It was great to hear at the very end of our session, how happy our parents are with the way YIS students are learning with technology. Overall, they feel that students are learning both the positives and negatives of using technology and that they are able to make good choices both in school and at home.
We hope you will join us next month, on Wed, 1 May at 9:15 in the Cafeteria, when we talk about game-based-learning: Wondering what’s next in education? This recent TED talk by Jane McGonigal, “Gaming Can Make a Better World”, has helped propel the idea of game-based-learning or gamification of learning into educational conversations around the world. Watch the talk and see how we’re implementing this kind of learning environment in certain classes here at YIS.
We are happy to announce the1st Annual YIS Staff & Parent Art Exhibition 2012-13.
As YIS parents, you are invited and welcome to make and exhibit your own artwork — any type of visual work that you have created yourself: drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, sculpture, digital media, illustration, video, craft, ceramics, fiber work, performance, printmaking, clothing/textile design, and more. Please know that your artwork may be displayed For Sale (artist’s choice) with proceeds going to the YIS One Yen Drive charity.
Friday April 26 – Friday May 3 in the YIS Library
Wine & Cheese & Live Music Opening Night
4-6pm – Friday April 26 - All adults & children are welcome to attend
Information for participating artists:
Hang/install your own artwork in the library between 8am Thursday April 25 – 4pm Friday April 26
Hung artwork should have a wire or hook on the back.
Work-on-paper and photographs should be matted, framed, or in some way mounted.
Wall-hanging space is limited, though there is adequate shelf-top space; we’ve got some small easels (bring your own if you have one).
Your flexibility appreciated: # of artworks per person limited to 2 or 3, depending on the size (if it’s a particularly large piece, then perhaps only 1).
Thank you for understanding — our goal is to include as many people as possible.
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions.
We are looking forward to a superb inaugural exhibition!
Wednesday March 6th is World Read Aloud Day, and the kick-off for our book swap.
Take a look through your home libraries and bring in good quality books your child is no longer reading. Starting tomorrow and through March 19th, we will be collecting books in the library for a book swap on March 20th, during Student-Led Conferences.
Here’s all you need to do:
Find books your children are no longer reading, but are good quality that someone else might like.
Bring them to the library starting Wednesday, March 6th. You can bring them in until March 19th.
Sign your name and how many books your brought (all near the library counter)
Make a donation to Room to Read if you can. Please give the donation to Ms. Kar or Ms. Jalink in the library.
Come back to the library on March 20th, parent-teacher conference day, and find some books you and your child would like to have at home. They’re yours!
It’s a good way to give books to others and get some new ones. We are also hoping to raise money for Room to Read.
Ms Blum and Elementary Students
(image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/anna/3335867958/lightbox/)
Posted by Kim Cofino on Thursday, February 7th 2013
Even with the rainy weather this morning, we still had our core group of parents brave the weather to learn about digital citizenship! Thank you!
This week is Digital Citizenship Week at YIS, it’s the second year that we’ve had a week focused on digital citizenship, and this time we are expanding from just middle school (last year) to include elementary and high school as well. The purpose of this week is to highlight the key themes of responsible behavior online in a variety of ways to both raise awareness for our community, and provide strategies for making good choices. We have an exciting schedule of events for all students, and the results of these activities are being displayed around the campus.
To start our discussion, we talked about what digital citizenship means to each of us. Here are some of the highlights:
Making good choices online.
Understanding that sometimes we see things that are not appropriate online and how to deal with them.
Making sure to balance the amount of time you spend online with other activities.
Each year, our middle school students complete a survey about their behaviors online to help inform us about how we can better support them in their decision making. Here’s what the middle school students said on the survey last year:
One of the key themes we have talked about this week is ethical use, particularly in light of the new copyright laws here in Japan. As you may know, in October the Japanese government updated the copyright laws. For a brief overview, take a look at this article from Wired, or this one from Gaijin Pot. A key change is that copyright violators are now a criminal offense, punishable by jail time, rather than a civil offense (usually associated with a fine). This new was our focus for discussion with all middle and high school students on Wednesday.
As this raised some important questions during our discussions with students, and again with parents later in the morning, we advise reading the articles listed above and familiarizing yourself with the new laws. It’s important that the conversations we are having at school (about respecting copyright) and supported at home so that students fully understand the impact of their actions.
For more about the daily themes we addressed this week, take a look at the overview here. There are great discussion prompts and examples that you might want to explore and discuss further with your children at home.
We hope you can join us for our next coffee morning:
Global Collaboration (The Flat Classroom Conference): Mar 6 from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria
As we’re just about to begin the Flat Classroom Conference this week, this session will share the key themes of the conference, the format and the ways that participating students and teachers will be learning together. The Flat Classroom Conference is a fantastic example of how we can be learning in an authentic and project-based environment. Join us for a preview!
Michael is a specialist mathematics consultant from Melbourne, Australia. He is involved in many professional development programs in schools across Australia and Asia.Michael is an enthusiastic and entertaining presenter who has a clear and practical approach to the challenges that confront schools and parents in mathematics. On this evening Michael will address the following issues:
What is my child learning in mathematics? How can I help my child become an efficient problem solver? How do children best learn mathematics? How can parents promote quality thinking and learning? How can I help my child in mathematics?
After the success of last year’s well attended, informative, and fun parent workshop, Michael Ymer is back again to help parents understand the role of Mathematics in our everyday lives. He will also focus on helping parents in understanding the way Mathematics is taught in schools. He will, with true Australian humor and poise, help us uncover what inquiry is, how inquiry can help us all become better mathematicians and how parents can help their children to be natural mathematical inquirers at home.
Posted by Kim Cofino on Wednesday, January 9th 2013
We had another great Parent Tech Coffee Morning today, focusing on connectivity. With the exciting Flat Classroom Conference coming up at YIS (March 8 – 10), we took this session to highlight the ways that being connected can be highly valuable and help create positive change in the world.
The Flat Classroom Conference is a special event for students from schools all around the world, as well as teachers. The purpose of the conference is to bring students together to collaboratively solve a challenging global problem. What’s exciting about this event is that we can see the extensive talents, creativity and leadership skills of our students in an engaging and student-driven environment that highlights the use of technology in innovative and collaborative ways.
At our conference here at YIS, our challenge is: “How do we help each other?” We’ll be viewing this challenge through the lens of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as an example of a real-life disaster and response. We are very fortunate to have speakers from several disaster-relief organizes join us for a conversation about what helping really looks like in practice. Of course, we’ll also have virtual participants from around the world, and make extensive use of our Connected Learning Community to create solutions that are media rich.
This conference really highlights the value of being connected in authentic ways. However, time spent online is often viewed as negative (because it’s perceived as not being connected in the “real world”). This TED talk by Alexandra Samuel started our discussion about the perceptions we have about spending time online:
We talked about the ways that we are connected, and the ways that our students can use their connections to make the world a better place. Some of the highlights were:
Understanding the importance of how you spend your time online. It’s easy to spend time online doing shallow things, but if we choose to spend our time on websites and engaged in tasks that make us better, the web we see will reflect the best of ourselves, rather than the worst. How can we help students use their time online to develop skills, learn new things, help others, and expand their perspectives?
The value of being “yourself” online. Although it’s tempting to create an alternate personality, we need to remember that there are people on the other side of the screen. Representing yourself authentically, and expecting others to do the same, enables us to make more valuable connections and to react more appropriately in difficult situations.
When we spend time online, it’s not always “wasted time”. It’s important for adults to value the learning, creativity and connections that students make in order to help them develop strong networking skills.
Join us again next month for our next topic:
Building Good Habits: Feb 6 from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria
This week we’re focusing on Digital Citizenship: safe, responsible, respectful and behavior in digital spaces, as well as prioritizing a healthy balance in life. This week’s session will highlight the ways that parents can help support their children in building strong digital citizenship skills.
Posted by Kim Cofino on Wednesday, December 5th 2012
We had another great discussion in our Parent Technology Coffee Morning today! Our theme was creativity (and technology), and we started off discussing ways that we see ourselves, our students, and others expressing themselves creatively through the use of technology. A few initial ideas:
Students in grade 7 are collaborating in a game called Minecraft to build historical buildings and create worlds. Using the game, they’re able to create any kind of structure they can image and they’re collaborating with each other to do it. This is actually a school project that Mr. Guenther and Ms. Madrid are working on in Humanities. Hopefully, Mr. Guenther will be able to come to another session to present his Pecha Kucha presentation called “What I learned from video games” (that was first presented at this year’s BTG).
Students are composing music digitally, creating soundtracks and exploring digitally created music as a way to build composition skills.
Students in grade 6 are using their blogs to share their passions, and creativity, like writing short stories, sharing about trains, insects, Apple product reviews, and sports updates (as a few examples).
After this discussion, we watched one of my favorite videos (for adults, as there are a few very short scenes with inappropriate language for students) about the way that the intersection of art and technology is providing great opportunities for consumers to also be producers. This is one in the series of mini-documentaries, called Off Book, by PBS:
Watching this video prompted a great discussion about the ways we can be creative, and how technology enables us to reach a much wider audience and interact with other creators around the world. Talking about this video also prompted us to watch one more, this one is a series by Kirby Ferguson, called Everything is a Remix. We watched Part 1: The Song Remains the Same:
This was a great conversation starter, but unfortunately we ran out of time. We’ll come back to this series next semester, so please join us next time for our session on Connectedness on Jan 9 from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria: With the Flat Classroom Conference coming up soon here at YIS, this session will highlight some of the ways that students (and teachers) stay connected and why those connections are so important. From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, many people in our community are sharing, collaborating and communicating in a variety of contexts. Come to this session to find out why!
Posted by Kim Cofino on Wednesday, November 7th 2012
Thank you to our wonderful parents for attending another Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning today! We focused on tools and strategies for helping students get and stay organized.
To kick things off, we discussed some successful strategies that parents have used at home:
Set a specific time for homework (2 hours is more than enough) – parent monitors
Organization is individual – different things work for different people – it’s good to experience different styles of organization to see what works best for you
Discuss how much time HW will take and plan backwards (together) from bedtime – works for individual deadlines, and also long term deadlines
Here at school, we use a variety of tools to help support these kind of structures at home (and to develop new strategies that take advantage of our CLC), most importantly Google Apps. Here’s an introduction to what Google Apps can do.
Using Google Apps for Education, we can:
Share documents (like assignment sheets and rubrics) with students and parents, and make changes and updates that are immediately visible to everyone.
Have students create a homework calendar and share that calendar with their parents, so everyone can keep track of deadlines. Each homework assignment can also have several different kinds of automatic reminders (by e-mail or pop-up)
Create presentations (and all sorts of documents) collaboratively with groups of students, or students and teachers.
Invite students to events, which automatically appear on their calendar.
Keep ongoing track of student learning through the revision history in Google Docs, Presentations and Spreadsheets, allowing teachers and parents to see exactly what has been done and when.
Here’s why Google Drive is so powerful:
There are so many options with Google Apps for Education, and we are regularly expanding our uses to be even more productive and organized. We recommend that parents create their own free Gmail account so they can have access to all of these tools as well.
Our topic for next month is:
Embracing Creativity: Dec 5 from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria
Although technology is great for being productive, we also highlight the use of technology tools to promote creativity, collaboration and communication. This session will feature new creative uses of technology along with ideas for how to support your child’s creativity at home. We hope you will join us!