Digital Citizenship Week Coming Up!

As part of our Connected Learning Community, we are highlighting the importance of balance, safety and responsible behavior online (generally called “Digital Citizenship“).

Great lesson w/gr 6 today in prep for Digital Citizenship Week!

One of the ways that we are bringing attention to these ideas is through our new Digital Citizenship Week, taking place 16 – 20 April. Each day will have a theme:

  • Monday: Balance
  • Tuesday: Safety
  • Wednesday: Behavior
  • Thursday: Reflection
  • Friday: Possibilities

During the week we will have a variety of activities, including short conversation starters each morning in tutor group, a specialized tutor lesson for the week, and extended sessions with each of the middle school grade levels, all culminating in our MS Assembly on Friday morning. For more details, see the MS Digital Citizenship Week Overview document.

Digital Citizenship Week is intended to enhance and support our current Digital Citizenship curriculum, currently taught in Humanities: Digital Dragons. We’ll be highlighting these themes again at the end of the year with a special visit from Robyn Treyvaud, amazing speaker and leading expert on citizenship.

We hope this week will give our students a chance to think about the choices they make, and to reflect on the impact of our first year of the Connected Learning Community.

Conversations during every class to support the themes of balance, safety and responsible behavior online during the week (and beyond) would be a great way to help build these important understandings.

Getting Organized: Shared Assessment Calendars

Well done MS Tutors! All tutor groups now have their own assessment calendar on Google Calendars, and they’ve been shared with all of the appropriate teachers.

Our goals for the calendars are:

  1. A quick overview of what major assignments students have at a glance.
  2. Collaboration between teachers when assigning major tasks. (Here’s how to add an event to a shared calendar)
  3. A tool that will allow students to take ownership of an organizational strategy (ie: reminders) – starting with subscribing to the teacher created calendars. (Here’s how to embed the calendar into your blog)
  4. A way for both students and parents to automate homework reminders through their mobile devices.
  5. A simple, but foundational tool for students to explore, so that they can grow into a tool that suits them best.

So, now that we have the actual calendars set up, the next step is to teach students (and parents) how to subscribe in their own Google Calendar (or iCal or whatever tool they use) so that they have all of their assignments in one place, plus all the automated reminders that comes with it (Student Tech Team is making a video now).

In addition to subscribing to the assessment calendars, students can also add their own assignments and reminders to their Google Calendar to have everything in one place – just like an adult would use a calendar. The parents in our Parent Tech Coffee morning have already seen how this can work.

Thanks for working together to make this happen! It will be great to see how students can build their own organizational skills using effective strategies thanks to this great foundation.

Blogging for Reflection

Blogs are a great way to encourage students to share their work, and to reflect on their learning. All students in grade 6 are regularly using their blogs this way, and should be able to do so in other classes very easily. However, there are a few tricks that can make reflective blogging more effective and more interesting for both the author and their readers:

Focus on Audience

Because the blogs are public, students know that anyone, anywhere could be reading. If you ask them to write their blog post so that someone from outside of YIS, who is not in their class can understand their post (ie: with an introduction and conclusion, and without the questions listed), you may find that the posts are more readable and interesting. Here are some examples:

Focus on Content

In order to help students know what to write about, you may want to give them some focus questions, specific topics that address the issues you want to hear about. Often, I will write up a bank of questions and ask students to choose the one, two, or three they really want to discuss. These type of questions should provide a range of topics – including the process as well as the product – so that student responses can be varied, individual and self-reflective. Because they’re writing for a global audience, I also ask students not to write the actual questions, but to introduce each topic idea so that anyone can understand. Here are some examples:

Focus on Connecting

In addition to individual reflections, one of the most important advantages of the blog is that everyone can read everyone else’s posts. After sharing their thoughts, ask students to read several other students’ posts (2 or 3 is a good number) and then leave comments for them. Later they can write their own post, synthesizing the ideas they learned from all of the other students’ posts and linking back to their work as well. The more you can encourage students to read, comment on, and link back to other students work (either here at YIS or other “blogging buddies” around the world), the more powerful and authentic the blogs will become. Here are a few examples:

Allow Options

Reflections don’t always have to be written. I was recently inspired by a teacher from WAB at the Learning 2.011 Conference in Shanghai to start using the built in camera for video reflections. So easy, so quick, and so much more engaging for the student. We gave it a try in Technology class for our last major reflection of the semester and they turned out great! Not only can they record themselves talking, but they can use QuickTime to record their screen to show their work as they discuss it. They can even bring it all together in iMovie to create a Picture-in-Picture effect! Here are a few examples:

Thinking, Writing, Reading, Connecting

Blogs are about thinking, reading, writing, commenting, connecting, sharing – not just one individual’s thoughts. Try to make as many options for connecting and sharing as possible to make the blogs more than just an online workbook. Take a look at this heirarchy of blogging from Will Richardson’s first book (Blogs Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom, p. 32) to give you an idea of their potential:

  1. Posting assignments (Not blogging)
  2. Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
  3. Posting links. (Not blogging)
  4. Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
  5. Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
  6. Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
  7. Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the cntent being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
  8. Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging).

Since we’re just starting out with blogging, we might be asking students to do very simple blogging now, and we certainly have the potential to develop complex blogging skills and tap into the true power of blogging. I’m also working on finding other schools around the world that are working towards this type of blogging to be “buddies” with our students. Hopefully this can begin in February.

Hope this helps!

Awesome New Blogs Feature: Custom Menus

With the recent upgrade on our campus blog site we now have access to an awesome new feature: custom menus. This will allow you to add a menu bar to any blog theme (even if it doesn’t have one already), and you can customize the menu to include any features you want, including:

  • Pages
  • Categories
  • Links to other websites

Plus, you can organize them however you want – so you can now alphabetize them, “nest” pages or categories or links under other pages, categories or links, and even mix and match pages with categories. Basically, this will allow you to set up your blog exactly the way you want with almost no restrictions!

If you’d like to see how it can look, check out Jesse, Isabelle, Adam, Madeleine, Dale‘s blogs.

Edublogs has posted a tutorial about how to set this up following exactly the same way we suggest you manage your blog. Give it a try, or stop by the IT office for in person support. I promise you will love it!

Learning Together at Learning 2.011 in Shanghai

YIS was well represented at the Learning 2.011 Conference Conference in Shanghai! We were very fortunate to have Zoe, Elif, Rebekah, Brian, Trevor and Kim at the conference, sharing the fantastic work that we’re doing here and learning from others. Archive of all the tweets from the conference.

Here are a few highlights from the conference from our YIS representatives:


Shanghai gave me the opportunity to learn with other K-2 teachers in a special cohort. Here is an outstanding site of free image resources shared by my cohort chair, Gail Lovely: Let Pictures Talk DO NOT be put off by this description. Her tools and sites could be used by many ages. This could help K to middle school at least. Her advice on copyright etc is valuable K-12. From the school perspective I have many tools to share and ways of intergrating technology. I have made connections K-12 that could help anyone. If you need a contact I bet I can find you one.


Learning 2.011 in Shanghai has been a whirlwind weekend of fantastic resourcesnetworking, and thinking about the role that technology plays in education. I was fortunate to attend the conference with several of my colleagues, but have also gained tremendously from the wider network that collaborated and shared what they’re doing at their schools. The greatest benefit of Learning 2.011 (and really any other conference that I’ve been to) came from people actively collaborating and sharing tools, ideas, and strategies that have worked well for them. Read more about Brian’s thoughts on his blog post: Learning 2.011, Creative Commons, and Connections with Kindergarten


For me, the Learning2.0 conference was about connecting with others and building a community of educators.  There were dozen of tools that I was exposed to on this conference.  I learned how to manage Google Apps and methods for creating a paperless classroom.  I  worked on digital storytelling in my Social Studies/English cohort using Picnik and Soundcloud .  But I also learned about the Creative Commons community, which shares resources my students can use without fear of breaking copyright laws and how my students could contribute to that community. I heard how schools were skyping with schools in far away countries, showings students making connections across the globe. I talked to people at other schools who were doing similar things in their humanities classroom and who I hope to continue to collaborate with in the future.  I met people I communicate with on Twitter and strengthened relationships with people who are interested in 21st Century learning.  For me, Learning 2.0 reinforced the idea that technology in the classroom isn’t just how to use the tools, but more importantly the connections these tools help us create.


It’s hard to believe another Learning 2.0 conference has come and gone. Yet again, the organizers created an innovative and engaging learning environment. It’s fantastic to watch how this conference has evolved from year to year, and just continues to get better and better. Personally, I thought this year was the best yet. Read more on Kim’s blog


Attending the Learning 2.011 Conference in Shanghai was a great opportunity for me to meet the other Elementary ICT facilitators and make connections with many teachers and professionals on educational technology from all around the world. I was in the cohort of ‘ Empowering Teachers’ with Alec Couros and Jeff Utrecht. I had a great time sharing my experiences and collaborating with my peers. I gathered a lot of tips and tricks in integrating technology in schools. I have seen different practices and implementations that inspired me and gave me a lot of ideas.

Apart from attending my cohort meetings during the two days, I attended many workshops. I have attended an unconference about unplugging, a workshop on flattening classrooms, one on digital publishing and one on film making. In Elementary School digital storytelling has a big place and I have integrated animation projects in classes, sometimes using iMovie, Keynote, Photobooth,etc. In this workshop I had the chance to get more detailed lesson plans on filmmaking and a new editing tool; Final Cut Pro X. The workshop was run by Eric Pessoa who is the IB Film teacher in SCIS. He filled us in with his extensive knowledge on movie making. He walked us through step by step his IB Film class. You can find the details of his presentation and useful documents about his practice here.

It was a great opportunity to travel abroad and attend the conference with my colleagues Brian Farrell, Kim Cofino, Rebekah Madrid, Trevor Kew and Zoe Page. In between workshops and cohorts we met and had great discussions about the integration of technology in our school. Moreover being there as a group of teachers presenting YIS was a great experience. Seeing our teachers presenting, discussing and sharing showed me how successfully we integrate technology in our school. The presence of YIS was a great addition to the conference.


As always with conferences, the most valuable thing I’ve come away with is a sense of camaraderie. Many other teachers are struggling with the whys and hows of how to integrate technology into their lessons and so more than any tip or contact or tech tool, this sense of collective struggle did somehow provide me with a much-needed professional push. Although it may be schadenfreude, I was reassured by the struggles of fellow professionals. I’ve found the same at the children’s writing conferences I attend, surrounded by other writiers. My father says the same about law conferences, despite being surrounded by lawyers. Same job, same boat, (same iceberg). Read more on Trevor’s blog… or click here for a link to the webpage with useful tools and practical suggestions for integrating technology into lessons.

More Learning from Learning 2.011

If you want to see what other schools have learned from the conference, please take a look at:

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