Hands-on Facebook session for parents

On Friday February 25, we had our first hands-on session for parents, where we went through some of the issues and concerns surrounding Facebook, and learned how to use it effectively. We had parents at all levels, from those who had never used Facebook before, to those who wanted to adjust settings and better understand how they can control their online information. While we certainly weren’t able to cover everything in just an hour, we hope that the parents who were able to attend left feeling more comfortable and in control of their online profiles.

Adam Clark (our MS/HS counselor) lead us through an introduction to Facebook, and offered an overview of its incredible scope and reach. You can download the entire Facebook Parent Presentation here. We then moved to working hands-on setting up accounts and adjusting settings.

There were a few key ideas raised that we hope you’ll keep in mind when using Facebook in the future:

  • Privacy and other account settings change regularly, so you have to actively monitor these
  • The default account settings are fairly open, so you need to manually adjust them to a level that you are comfortable with
  • Your children may have not changed their default privacy settings, and so you should consider talking to them about how aware they are of what their Facebook profile looks like to people they don’t know –  this is a great opportunity for discussion

We hope that you found this first practical session useful, and we will look forward to providing more opportunities to work hands-on with technology in the future. Our next regular technology & literacy coffee morning will be this Wednesday, March 2, 9:15-10:15 in the loft, where we will discuss RSS. We hope you can join us again!

Conrad Wolfram TEDtalks

This video has been posted already on one of our comment threads, but it was brought up by one of our parents after the ES coffee morning last week. The full email from that parent has been reproduced below….it makes very interesting reading and seems to mirror the regrettably similar feelings most adults have about their Mathematics experiences in school.

Thank you very much for the Coffee and Conversation event last week. It was a great opportunity to better understand what is going on at school and with the curriculum.

I have a follow up comment regarding the *lively* conversation about math education at YIS. While education is by no means my specialty, I understand from the conversation that while many national education curricula focus on the computational aspect of math, the IB and YIS focus more on the problem solving nature of the discipline. I had recently come across a very interesting presentation given by Conrad Wolfram at TED which I believe is very relevant to this discussion, and greatly supports the reasoning behind the IB / YIS math curriculum. Here is the link to the video of the talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/conrad_wolfram_teaching_kids_real_math_with_computers.html

When I look back to my K-12 years (which were at Canadian Academy in Kobe), while I was not necessarily a bad math student, I always had the nagging sense of “what I am going to with this stuff in the real world?” stuck in my head, especially in my high school years of studying calculus, logarithms, permutations, and all of the other seemingly esoteric aspects of math. Whether or not I actually use these in my job (which I pretty much don’t) is not relevant, but the understanding that mathematics is a tool to logically articulate and solve real world problems, and the ability to apply mathematical techniques (whether from memory or by looking them up on the internet), are indispensable to my daily work. I also believe that mathematics is especially key to a few of the IB learner profile items, specifically Inquirers, Thinkers, and especially Risk Takers. I find that many of the difficult decisions I make in my work are made possible by constructing mathematical models and simulations of the given situation, which allow me to take calculated risks with confidence.

So, that’s my two cents on the topic of math education at YIS. I spoke to a few of the other parents (who were also from international school educations) and we were all on the same page.

I hope you enjoy Wolfram’s TED talk, and please keep up the great work!

Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning: Blogs

We had another fantastic turnout this morning at our session about blogs! At least 40 parents attended, thank you so much to all of you who could make it! We also were fortunate to be joined by our fantastic school counsellor, Adam Clark. Adam will be with us whenever his class schedule permits. This morning we discussed blogs: what they are, why they are powerful, and how we are using them here at YIS.

We started off with a short video from one of my favorite companies, Common Craft (if you haven’t heard of them, check them out – their story is amazing and their videos are fantastic).

A great discussion followed, and here are some of the highlights:

Parents wanted to know the difference between a blog and Twitter or Facebook. Brian explained it really well: a blog is like a conversation you would have in a coffee shop, in depth and thoughtful; Twitter or Facebook is like a quick comment in the hallway. Usually posts on Facebook or Twitter might direct you to a longer conversation on a blog post. This is one of the exciting things about the way these tools are shaping the way we communicate.

Along those lines, we talked about how quickly students jump to share things online. One of the most important skills we’re working on with your children, is learning how important it is to stop and think before you post – whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or a blog or an e-mail. Sharing in an online format should only be things you want anyone in the world to be able to see (even if you intend it to be private), digital content is easy to copy, forward, or re-post.

We introduced our blogging portal, the Learning Hub, and took parents on a tour of the site. It’s easy to get to your child’s teachers blog by clicking on the appropriate division (top toolbar, black), then looking down the right sidebar for your child’s grade level and then class or teacher name. On each individual teacher blog you will find information about current projects and often the learning that’s happening in class.

A concern was raised that some teachers may be more tech-savvy than others and therefore some blogs may be more detailed than others. At this time, it’s important to note that this is a new initiative, and teachers are starting their class blogs as they find a need. Over the next few months we will discuss this further and eventually reach a shared understanding/expectation for the amount of information available on the class blogs. You’ll be hearing more about this in the future. For now, please be patient as we develop our plans.

Along those lines, we are also in the process of developing our teacher, student and administrator standards for technology. These documents help teachers and parents understand which technology skills are age-appropriate, so that we can successfully embed them into current classroom practice. This is part of our Connected Learning Community and will be implemented next school year.

Again, thank you so much for joining us this morning! We are so happy to have so many parents spend their time with us! Please feel free to leave comments, questions, ideas or suggestions in the comments below.

Our Next Session: RSS: Wednesday, March 2nd from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria

One of the most powerful uses of blogging is the ability to get new updates sent directly to you, using a technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS). We will focus our next session on understanding RSS so that you can make the most of all of the great resources available here on the YIS Learning Hub (and beyond). As Adam promised today, this session (and the following hands-on session about RSS) will probably be the most useful ones you attend all year!

Hands-on Tech Training: Facebook: Friday, February 25th from 2pm – 3pm in the Loft

We also announced our upcoming hands-on tech training with Facebook (requested by parents). We’ll walk you through all of the details of setting up a Facebook account, filtering your news feed, creating groups, privacy settings, and generally how to manage your account. To make the most out of the session, please bring your laptop with you. All parents are welcome to attend, no RSVP needed.