Doug Goodkin visits YIS

Doug Goodkin came to YIS to run a workshop for music teachers in the region. While he was here he held a music workshop for our Grade 7 students. It was an exciting afternoon and the students loved participating in the workshop.

Below is a blog post from Annamaria Unflat in Grade 7.

About a week ago, on October 6th, we were pulled out of class for part of the day because a guest that was a close friend to one of my music teachers Ms. Bridgewater visited YIS. This special guest flew in from Chicago, USA, to come and work with us. The whole 7th grade went to the auditorium to meet him.

The special guest introduced himself, told where he was from, how long has he been studying/teaching music and what he loves about music. He had us make a big circle and created a beat for us to follow. At first I was a bit confused about what to do but then I caught on. We were doing body percussion he was talking about how it was easy since we did a basic beat with our bodies so he said he would try to make it harder. He added more and more ways to add to the beat. He stopped us for a bit and told parts or the circle what to play and had us walk around the room assigned with the beats he told us to do. He also made us move side to side and the purpose of it was not to bump into anyone.

Later on he sat us down and was talking about different sounds that our voices can make and sang us a song and told us to sing with him. Then he told us to pair up with the person right next to us and said to do the same beat but we had we to make a sound while doing body percussion. Later on in the session he picked about 9 people to play an instrument. I was one of them, to be honest I was so happy :). He made each person play a beat and have the other person follow. I was excited to hear how it would sound at the end and to be honest again it sounded pretty good.

It was soon time to go I was anxious to tell him that I knew one of his vocal exercises I think he made it. So I went up to him and sang to him he said he was impressed that I could sing so well and so all the 7th graders sang with us.

What Parents Really Need to Know!







On Monday October 1 2012, there was an Introduction to the PYP  workshop held at YIS for new families and interested school community members.  The workshop which was led by Ms Jacquie Pender, ES Principal, and Ms Shanel Catasti, ES Vice Principal/Curriculum Coordinator, was attended by twenty parents. This interactive workshop allowed parents to experience being part of a PYP classroom which includes working collaboration, active learning and independent thinking time. They also shared their prior knowledge of their own schooling, how that relates to 21st Century Learners and their childand how the PYP addresses this.

Some important information shared with parents during the workshop actually came from recent research about what type of education will best help children learn. Looking over the key points listed below, these are all evident in the PYP and are a regular part of what learning looks like in at YIS:

1. How to process and use information and less about imparting it.

2. Work collaboratively

3. The ability to use new technologies in multiple ways

4. Promote dynamic and active learning classrooms

5. Educational experiences promote international and global understanding

6. More emphasis on the analysis of data

 Lawrence. H. Summers (former President of Harvard University) New York Times, 20 January 2012





Parents were asked to share ‘burning’ questions they had about PYP and to complete a parent questionnaire about the elementary curriculum.The key points that arose from these were:

  • How are the subjects of mathematics and language connected to the Units of Inquiry?
  • How is student progress assessed and monitored?
  • How do students in PYP perform compared with other curriculums around the world?
  • How does PYP linked to the other IB programs of MYP and DP?
  • How does PYP support students in their development of life long learning?

The most common question that parents ask was: “How can I best support my child at home?”  

Ms Pender shared some simple yet important advice. The best way is to allow your child to play!  Let your child develop a passion he/she has, allow time for relaxation and exploration and give your child opportunities to be bored and make decisions on how to use his/her time. Also talk to your child in your mother tongue as it supports on-going learning of  the mother tongue language, which is vital for learning another language.

The importance of PLAY has been well researched and documented and recently posted on the Community Learning blog that highlighted why children and adults need to play.Read More about the importance of Play HERE!

This will be addressed more in detail in a future parent newsletter and blog post.

Parents gave positive feedback about the workshop saying:

“It was a good opportunity to know about the PYP and talk with other parents. Thank you!”

“The workshop was wonderful and very informative. It cleared lots of my doubts.”

“I got the big picture purpose of PYP and I totally agree with it! Thank you.”

“We feel fortunate to have access to YIS and to have such dedicated and passionate teachers. Thank you!”

Thank you to all parents who attended and such positive, supportive feedback!

There will be a repeat of this workshop for new families on Tuesday 29 January, 2013.



Parent Technology Coffee Morning Recap: Digital Citizenship

As always, thank you so much for joining us this morning for a conversation about Digital Citizenship!

Today’s session was focused on developing an understanding of what Digital Citizenship is, how we are addressing those big ideas here at school, and how you can help support at home. We started off discussing the term, and a few key words came up, all of which are features of digital citizenship: balance, safety, responsibility, transition from analog to digital, respect, ethics, and values. In a nutshell, digital citizenship means carrying the values, behaviors and ethics that you demonstrate in real life, into all environments, specifically the online world.

One of the key points of our discussion today focused on the fact that as adults, we see a strong distinction between the “real” world and the “digital” world, whereas our children do not. For almost all of the students at YIS, they do not remember a time when the internet didn’t exist. For our younger students, they do not remember a time when we didn’t “carry” the internet in our pockets (to access with mobile phones). For them, there is no distinction between the “real” and the “digital”.

To highlight some of the key strategies that parents can implement at home to support the transfer of “real” life morals, values and ethics into the “digital” realm, we watched a short video from Common Sense Media, called Rules of Road for Parents in the Digital Age. The video was re-affirming that parents already have all the skills they need to help their children be successful in online environments, the challenge is just to transfer those skills from the analog to the digital. For example: if a family expectation is not to talk to strangers, they shouldn’t do so in online spaces either.

FYI: Common Sense Media is our favorite resource for developing strong digital citizenship skills. They have tons of great materials for families too! Please check it out!

We had a great conversation that covered a number of topics, including:

A reminder for parents to treat online spaces like physical spaces – it’s appropriate and important for parents to be part of those environments the way they are in the “real” world. We have a tendency to look away when people are using a computer, but when it comes to our students, it’s important that we are a part of that experience. This way the morals, values and ethics we prioritize in “real” life, will be transferred to the “digital” world.

As we move toward more collaborative models of learning in digital environments, it is important to note that those spaces can be just as productive as a face-to-face environment, but because it’s harder to see facial reactions, or hear and interperet tone of voice, there is an extra layer of communication required. It’s important to focus on positive intentions, to assume that even things that may seem rude or negative, may not have been intended that way, and to react accordingly. Also in these kinds of environments, relationships are key. The stronger and more collaborative the relationship, the more successfully you can work together online. Of course it’s possible to build those relationships online as well.

In thinking about the amount of time we spend online, we talked about the importance of balance. Spending time doing other things, like making music, playing outside, sports, drawing, being creative. Mr. Clark shared a few of his favorite resources:

It’s great to note that YIS is really working hard to embed these themes into everything we do. With our Responsible Use Policy, and expectations for computer use at school, we really highlight digital citizenship every step of the way. If you would like to find out more about what we do, please have a look at our Digital Dragons site, which includes:

In addition, we’re working on a CLC Essentials site for parents where we can store resources to help support families in their efforts to prioritize digital citizenship. If you have suggestions for what to add, please leave a comment or e-mail Kim – we want to make this space as useful as possible for you!

We hope you will join us again next month! Our focus will be:

Managing Information: Nov 7 from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Cafeteria

We use a wide variety of tools to stay organized here at YIS, including: Blogs, Google Docs, Calendar, and Reader. It can seem overwhelming at first, but they all interact together to make student workflow as seamless as possible. This session will share an overview of the different tools that we use and how you can help your child(ren) stay organized and efficient.