First Parent Tech Coffee Morning of the Year!

Welcome to another great school year at YIS!

Please join us for our first Parent Tech Coffee Morning of the year on  Thursday, 11 September 2014 in M101 from 11:05 – 12:05. The topic will be Living with Laptops:

We know that developing strategies for maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle in our Connected Learning Community is a key priority for many families. We all struggle to manage our many devices, from mobiles, to laptops, to kindles, to iPods, and everything that comes next. During this session we will share ideas and strategies to help your family build and maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle based on current research, experiences last year and suggestions from families here at YIS.

Hope to see you there!


Parent Tech Coffee Morning: Creativity

We had another great conversation this morning, this time about creativity. We started off with this video from one of our favorite resources, PBS OffBook (if you like this video, you will want to check out the others in the series – they’re all great!):

This video prompted a great conversation about a number of interesting topics:

Creativity takes effort: We often feel like you are either creative or you’re not. This video highlighted for us the importance of effort, motivation and perseverance in our creative endeavors. The process of being creative is something we can learn and practice, and continually work towards improving.

Opportunities for creativity at home and in the classroom: We talked about the type of learning that happens here at YIS and the way that we prioritize creative demonstration of learning (rather than regurgitation). The IB programs (PYP and MYP in particular) emphasize student inquiry and allow for many forms of differentiation, which helps encourage students to share their learning in different ways. As teachers, we also have the opportunity to be creative in our instruction and learning environments here at school.  We also talked about student creativity needing adult support – for example, children may say “I’m bored” when they don’t have a defined activity. Rather than solve the “boredom problem” with a movie, a video game, or another device, we may want to encourage exploration and creative thinking with other options. We noted that for the first few times, children may need guidance and support for how to do this – putting out materials to explore with, for example.

Growth mindsets: The idea of continuing to improve our creative ability sparked a conversation about how our own perception of what we can and can’t do can limit us, unintentionally. A number of teachers read the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck earlier this year, which emphasizes the importance of developing a growth mindset – basically the belief that you can learn new skills and improve in areas where you are weak (in any area of your choosing). One of the key points in the book is that the language that we use with children is very important in developing a growth mindset. Rather than saying “you’re great at that” or “you have a natural talent for that” we may want to use language like “I can see you’ve put a lot of effort into that” or “you’re working really hard in that area and it’s paying off”. The idea that we can work towards improvement in areas where we are strong as well as weak is part of the growth mindset.

The “Taste Gap”: One of the challenges of being creative is that we can often recognize high quality work that we like (this is our taste level), but when we try to produce work like that, we don’t have the skills or ability to do so. Ira Glass describes this as the “taste gap” – the difference between what we would desire to produce at our taste level, and our ability. In this short video (different version below) he talks about the importance of practicing and continual creation in our field of choice to help decrease the gap. Only through repeated effort can we improve our skills to work towards creating work that meets our taste level. This process can be challenging so we need to continue to encourage our children and students to practice and explore and continue creating so that they can improve their skills.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Wasting time: Because it’s hard to tell what tasks are creative (usually they are also lots of fun), we may interpret what children are doing as “just wasting time” and then ask them to stop. In order to help students develop those creative skills, it may be more valuable to inquire about what they’re doing, how it’s influencing their thinking, and how they might use those ideas to create new works themselves. The earlier we start these conversations, the more routine they will become and the more comfortable students will be in sharing their creative works. This conversation reminded us of this Apple commercial from the holiday season:


Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: We came back to the value of play many times. Mimi Ito at MIT is doing some interesting work with teens and digital media, one research report we recommend is called Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out. She has lots of other great work, and this one identifies the different types of activities that teens do when they’re “playing” on the computer. This is a great start to understanding the value of play and spending time online.

Not just creativity, also communication: We realized it’s not only important for students to continue to hone their creative skills, but that they also will need the skills to share what they have created. It’s exciting to think that students can have an global audience for their work, as long as the know how to share. This prompted us to watch a video created by YIS-graduate, Alex Lee, that went viral a few years ago (as well as some creative examples from our current students Julynn (in grade 6), who was inspired by Sara (in grade 7)):


iPad Trial in Grade 7: At the very end of our session, we talked a bit about how different devices can allow us to express creativity in different ways, which connects nicely with our upcoming iPad Trial in Grade 7. If you’re not a Grade 6 or Grade 7 parent, and haven’t heard about the trial yet, you may want to take a look at this recap of the parent session we hosted on March 4th. We’ll be continuing to share more details about the trial as it moves forward, starting with parents and students who are involved in the trial and then sharing more with the wider school community.

Our next Parent Tech Coffee Morning will be Wednesday, 14 May from 9:15 – 10:15 in M101 on the theme of connectedness. 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!

Parent Technology Coffee Morning: Dealing with Explicit Images Online

We had another interesting conversation today in our Parent Technology Coffee Morning! The theme, as requested by parents at our last meeting, was strategies for dealing with explicit  images online.  One of the most challenging aspects of the constant access and availability of information is that our children can find and explore images and media that is well beyond their developmental readiness level, particularly explicit imagery.

Although we make every effort to filter out this type of material from our school network, this may not be the case at home, or at a friend’s house, or the local coffee shop, or through 4G access. Today’s session focused on understanding the impact of what children can see, how we might best talk to our children about these experiences, and how they may impact future relationships are all areas for discussion. We did not have one-size-fits all easy answers, but we did have a lively and informative discussion.

We started our conversation thinking about the times in our lives when we’ve seen something that made us uncomfortable – the suggested videos after you watch something on YouTube, ads in the sidebar, graphic (really graphic) novels on the subway in Japan, certain people (or objects) you might see on the street in Bangkok. In all of our examples, we weren’t searching for something explicit, but we found it, in a very innocuous way, totally by accident. This kind of experience will eventually (or may have already) happen to your children as well. The important part is how they deal with what they see.

Many of us have heard statistics about how much explicit imagery is online, which can make us feel like this accidental viewing might happen every time we open a web browser. However, we read an interesting article from the BBC which puts a more balanced perspective on the topic. Another article based on the same research is available from Forbes if you’d like a longer description. Reading and discussing these articles helped give a more research-based and factual viewpoint to the amount of explicit material available online.

This prompted a conversation about infrequent, random or short-term exposure to explicit images. Adam shared a number of resources that confirms that this type of exposure does not have long term impact on a child’s development or perception of relationships. The challenge comes with long term, repeated exposure, which can result in addiction.

We then watched this TED talk, which describes the “worst-case” scenario:

While this is a very specific example, and describes addiction at a very high level, we talked about the importance of how adults, and most importantly, parents react to discovering this kind of information.

Adam shared Diana Baumrind’s matrix of parenting styles to give us a framework to discuss:

Parenting Matrix

Adam created this graphic based on Baumrind’s research to reflect both the parenting style and the child’s reaction or behavior in response to that style. Using this graphic, we intended to discuss different parenting strategies using the Visible Thinking Routine, Circle of Viewpoints, but ran out of time. If you’re interested, give it a try at home or with some friends. This is a great way to understand the different parenting style and how that might impact future communication and interactions.

Finally, we wrapped up with a few key points:

Seeing explicit images or video will happen eventually. What is most important is how we react. Striving towards a more balanced approach will help children understand that it’s OK to ask questions, the adults around them are here to help, and that exploration is a natural thing, but it’s important to note that many things we see online are not emotionally or physically accurate. This is an industry designed to make money, focused on what works best on camera and who’s watching, rather than the reality of intimacy.

We have many conversations with students about these kinds of images, starting in a special session with the counsellors in grade 8 and continuing in PSHE in high school. Our Digital Citizenship curriculum also addresses these big themes at age appropriate levels.

Open and honest communication with your children will help them develop a network of supportive adults to ensure that they have a realistic understanding of intimacy and real relationships. These conversations also support the building of strong decision making skills based on family values and shared ethics. The goal is to help children make good choices when they are on their own.

We recommend that families make the choice that feels best to them (based on the amount of supervision that children have at home). There is blocking software available, and we recommend that it’s your last resort because blocking means that children can’t learn the skill to self-monitor, and can encourage them to seek alternate ways to access material.

If, at any point, you are concerned about this behavior at home, please feel free to come in and talk to us. We can help and support you in many ways. If you’re interested in more reading on this topic, Adam curates a regularly updated list here.

Follow-Up Session

We hope this was a productive conversation! Huge thank you to the parents that were able to join us this morning. We know that there were a number of parents who wanted to come, but were unable to make it. If you’d like us to run this session again, please let Clint, Adam or Kim know and we’ll schedule a follow-up.

Our next Parent Tech Coffee Morning will be: Wednesday 12 March in M101 from 9:15 – 10:15 on the topic of Creativity. 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.

Parent Tech Coffee Morning: Digital Citizenship

We had a great turnout at today’s Parent Tech Coffee Morning! Thank you to everyone that joined us, and for those that were unable to make it, we hope to see you next time!

Great discussions about digital citizenship at parent tech coffee this morning

Our theme for today was digital citizenship, based on a selection of topics that parents shared at our last session. In order to start our conversation, we watched a TED Talk called Your Life Online, Permanent as a Digital Tattoo by Juan Enriquez:

This was a great prompt for our conversation and got us talking about:

  • the way that teens and adults view their privacy onlinesurprisingly it is very similar!
  • the process of hiring and recruitment for employment. Often employers will start with a Google search on prospective employees. One of our parents made a great point that although it’s important that those search results are not entirely negative (that can easily get your application thrown off the table), it’s equally important that you have some kind of online presence. This shows that, as an applicant, you understand the ways that we communicate today. A balanced profiles shows an understanding of these tools, and a genuine person that does have a personal life as well as professional qualifications.
  • the challenges of being social in a face-to-face environment and how that translates to online environments. Just because we are not taking photos and posting them, doesn’t mean that others are not taking photos of us and posting those. This may lead to a difficult conversation with friends when you have to ask them to take the photo down.
  • understanding that our individual privacy settings do not affect the settings of our friends. So, if a friend takes a picture of me and posts it on their wall, it can be public, even though my personal settings might be private.

One of our parents mentioned that these ideas are all part of the Connected Learning Community here at YIS. We’re regularly talking about digital citizenship as part of our curriculum, as well as extended activities during the year. If you’re interested in seeing more about how we bring these conversations into the school day, here are some resources you might enjoy:

  • Our Digital Dragons site – this is where everything related to digital citizenship at YIS is hosted.
  • Our 2-day orientation schedule – this is how we start each school year.
  • Our Digital Citizenship Week in February – this is a special week to highlight some of the themes that we address in our curriculum, as well as to bring attention back to the importance of maintaining balance in our lives.
  • Our Digital Citizenship curriculum – this is a series of lessons taught in Middle School Humanities.

To close our discussion today, we shared a variety of resources from Common Sense Media that can help parents have these kinds of conversations with their children. Common Sense Media has a great section of their website devoted to helping families talk about the impact of media in our lives. You might enjoy:

As we were wrapping up, another challenging topic came up that we will discuss further at our next session: dealing with explicit images online:

One of the most challenging aspects of the constant access and availability of information is that our children can find and explore images and media that is well beyond their developmental readiness level, particularly explicit imagery. Although this kind of material is filtered out on our school network, this may not be the case at home, or at a friend’s house, or the local coffee shop, or through 4G access. Understanding the impact of what children can see, how we might best talk to our children about these experiences, and how they may impact future relationships are all areas for discussion. We may not have easy answers for you, but we can certainly share the current developments in education and strategize together. Our next session will be Wednesday, 15 January from 9:15 – 10:15 in M101. We hope you can join us!

Introduction to YIS Elementary Curriculum for NEW Parents

There will be an Introduction to the Elementary Curriculum workshop suitable for new parents to YIS and interested community members. This parent workshop is held twice a year in September and in January. This will be presented by the ES Principal, Ms Jacquie Pender, and  the ES Vice Principal / PYP Coordinator, Ms Shanel Catasti.

Sign-up: [email protected]

When: Monday 23 September, 2013 from 9:00 – 10:30 AM

Where: Loft

The Five Minute University – Father Guido Sarducci teaches what an average college graduate knows after five years from graduation in five minutes.  Does this type of education prepare our students for the 21st century?


IB Learner Profile – The IB learner profile is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century.

Elementary Back to School Night for Parents

YIS would like to invite you to our “Back To School Night” for our Kindergarten to Grade 5 classes, on Wednesday September 11th, starting at 6:45PM and finishing at 8:15PM.  The purpose of this evening is to provide you with information regarding your child’s class, and an overview of the exciting learning opportunities that lie ahead for this school year. During this evening you will have the opportunity to meet your child’s class teacher, and the other teachers who work in the grade level.

Our Single Subjects teachers for Japanese, Mother Tongue (Dutch), Physical Education, Music, Drama and Art, along with the Director of ICJC will also be available for you to meet and will provide a general overview of their subject area.  Also the Student Support teachers for Learning Support, EAL and Student Counseling will be available throughout the evening.

Parking and Refreshments: The playground will be open for parking from 6:15pm. Cafeteria will be open from 6:30pm for tea/coffee refreshments.


Grade K – 2

  • 6:45 – 7:20pm Grades K – 2 parents attend their child’s homeroom for a meeting with their class teacher.
  • 7:30 – 8:10pm Grades K-2 parents can visit Single Subject Teachers in their classrooms for short presentations about their subject and are invited to ask questions.

Grades 3 – 5

  • 6:45 – 7:20pm Grades 3-5 parents can visit Single Subject Teachers in their classrooms for short presentations about their subject and are invited to ask questions.
  • 7:30 – 8:10pm Grades 3-5 parents attend their child’s homeroom for a meeting with their class teacher.

For further details, please check your inbox for an elementary broadcaster sent home on Monday September 2, 2013.

Elementary Science at YIS

Throughout the year students at YIS have enjoyed many exciting experiences that relate to science including cooking, gardening, marble runs, building simple machines, creating inventions, trips to the zoo, stargazing, growing class pets, trips to the park, guest speakers, making crystals, and much more.

Science at YIS is not as simple as memorizing facts and formulas. It is about creating questions, inquiring into concepts, hands on experiences, understanding processes and drawing conclusions.

Science is all around us. If you are looking to support your child as a scientist it is actually quite simple and very enjoyable. Encourage them to ask questions then experiment to find the answer, take them outdoors and they will naturally talk about nature, involve them in some cooking, plan a weekend trip to a museum, read and discuss non fiction texts together. Most importantly learn together. If you are having conversations about daily life and encouraging your child to ask questions then you are helping them to think scientifically. When they ask ‘silly’ questions such as “dad, why do we have earthquakes?”, or “mum why does my face go red when I get hot?”, be sure to follow up with your child and find out some answers together. You never know where the inquiry will take you.

A wonderful resource for both starting conversations and for researching information is Please take a moment to take a look – it is updated with a new wonder each day.

Allow yourself to become swept up by your child’s enthusiasm for finding out more!

Geoff Geddes

ES Science Project Leader

Elementary Teachers

Culture of Thinking









“Can you imagine someone learning to dance, without watching other dancers?

Learning to paint, without looking at paintings?

Performing a surgery, without learning how others had done it first?”

In a compelling interview Ron Ritchhart, of Harvard’s Project Zero, asked something much like this. And he’s right. The problem with thinking is that by nature it’s often invisible. But learning tothink is not so different from learning to dance, paint or operate. The challenge to learn from others is to make it visible, so it can be modeled, unpacked and documented.

This idea is the seed of YIS’ Culture of Thinking project. Over the past year you may have heard your child talking about thinking routines, or seen displays of visible thinking practices around school. Maybe you’ve been in classes where you’ve noted big chart papers covered with colourful sticky notes, where students are documenting their thinking processes from various perspectives or over time. Perhaps you’ve overheard a teacher probing a student with the seemingly simple question: “What makes you say that?”.

The Culture of Thinking project has seen 18 teachers, from nearly every grade, complete Harvard’s Making Thinking Visible course over the past year. It has been an umbrella over learning and practices at staff meetings and professional development. It’s been shared through working group meetings, professional readings and numerous displays. Most importantly, its been a growing strand in the web of teaching and learning practices for students and teachers.

To take part, next time your child expresses an opinion or interpretation that could go deeper, try asking casually “What makes you say that?” and see where it takes you.

Jamie Raskin
Culture of Thinking Project Leader
Elementary Teacher

Parent Technology Coffee Morning: Gamification

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.


Moving Learning Games Forward - by the Education Arcade, MIT.

Reality is Broken:

Infographic about Gamification:

Gamification of Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

A big thank you goes out to the parents who came to our session today!

Ms. Raskin

Next Parent Tech Session: Summer Fun with Technology will be held on Wed, 5 June at 9:15 in the CafeteriaThis 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.


Parent Technology Coffee Morning: The Filter Bubble

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.

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