11 articles Articles posted in G4

Student Led Conferences In The KJS Lab

Today was student led conferences. Excitement was in the air as enthusiastic students led their parents, siblings and even some grandparents around the school showing them where they learn and play. Last year we decided to have laptops in each classroom so that students could show the digital pieces of their portfolio. This worked OK, but with computers in every room it made it hard for me to be at all places at once to help support students and teachers. Plus I didn’t really get to meet many parents. This year the classroom teachers suggested that the students bring their parents to the KJS computer lab and they show their work there. I liked this idea as all specialist that had digital pieces to show could be in once place, I would hopefully get a chance to meet more parents and the students could show their parents where their ICT classes take place.

In the end I liked it better having students come to the KJS lab, despite it being so busy in the morning during the first few sessions. If we do it again like this next year, we will have to make sure we have a better schedules so that we don’t have so many people in the lab all at once. Also, as most of the digital pieces were movies loaded from Vimeo, the network tended to slow right down when there were a lot of people accessing their pieces. I guess a better schedule would also help to stop this from happening. In the end though, I think what the students and parents go out of the day was a great experiences. Lots of smiles and proud face on not just parents and grandparents but also students. It’s great to see the students so confident and happy to share the work they do everyday with their family.

Some parents and students didn’t get time to see all of their digital pieces of work, so I encourage you to access it from home. Visit www.isshlearners.weebly.com to have access to the KJS homepage, with links to all of the tools and sites the students use in class. On this site is a section for each grade. If you click it then click the first link, ‘Student Led Conference 2012’, you have access to most of the ICT, Japanese Culture and Music classes pieces of work for the portfolios. If you can’t navigate to the work, check the URL’s in the portfolios and type them in manually. If you are still having trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll see if I can help.

I hope all of the students enjoyed the experience of bringing their parents to the computer lab and I hope that all of the parents were impressed by how savvy their children are. If you have any feedback at all from SLC, please leave a comment below.

Original Compositions By The ‘Remix Generation’

In most situations in life, I think it’s always important to know and understand the rules before you go ahead and break them. This is especially important in music. Before you can make that cutting edge track, you must first know why the basics work and have been so popular. So in one of my Grade 4 class, my students listened to, studied and deconstructed the song, ‘Hella Good’ by No Doubt. An amazingly effective song (try not nodding your head when you listen to it), but so simple in it’s structure and composition in the same vein as ‘Billy Jean‘.


After we listened to the song, how it starts, the basic layers of the song, etc. We noticed a simple pattern. The students had already seen this pattern happen over and over again in new song and songs of the past. So we set out to create our own track, based on these simple but effective practices.

The students opened Garageband and laid down a kick drum track. Some went for a simple 4/4 beat while some went for a little bit more of a Hip Hop style. After this, they added their snare track. Then some cymbals. Then some type of percussion ‘flair’ like a hand clap, rim shot, a big crash, etc. This was hard for the students, as they wanted to add EVERYTHING to every track they made. As a result, the songs sounded very cluttered and over the top. So we came back to our example, ‘Hella Good’ and had another listen. The space between the percussion is what really makes this song so effective, so they went back and recomposed their percussion.

After they had a solid percussion arrangement, they went ahead and added some melody. This is where I crashed and burned as a teacher. I have absolutely no musical experience or background, so I could not teach them to play a melody. But almost all of the students play an instrument and can read music so they managed to lay down some interesting melodies with synths or pianos or horn sections.

I then showed them how to add voice recordings and how to manipulate them. They had a field day with this, singing and speaking into the computer mic, manipulating it to sound distorted, high pitched, low pitched, etc. They had a lot of fun!

After this they were just about finished. Except their song didn’t last very long and were very repetitive. We had another listen to ‘Hella Good’ to see how they added an intro and outro to their track. They noticed No Doubt slowly built up the song so that it didn’t start straight into the chorus. So they worked on structuring their songs to make them more interesting, to build up and down.

When they had finished, they surprised me and I think they even surprised themselves at how great their songs were. They created their own original composition, without the use of loops or copying other peoples music or ideas. I am extremely proud of them and their work. It just goes to show, the ‘remix generation’ can actually develop their own original work too. If Grade 4 students can do it, anyone can.

Japan Day 2011

A great day was had by all today, despite the miserable weather. Japan Day is a special day that our Japanese faculty put together to celebrate our host country and it’s customs and traditions. Everyone is asked to dress up in Japanese attire or red and white. I donned my yukata and ran around most of the day taking video and photos.The junior school had a great calligraphy performance and made a huge group artwork together. Then the rest of the day they had fun Japanese activities to do like kendama, ayatori, etc.

Here are some great pictures from the day.


Digital Citizenship – Educating 21st Century Learners

Last Thursday night Miss Fish, Mr. Wehrle and myself presented to all middle school parents about digital citizenship, 21st century learners and what is happening in the middle school classroom to address the needs of the students. I was very excited to presenting to the parents as I can really show them how important ICT is in their child’s curriculum. Here is what I presented, it may not make much sense as the presentation is mostly verbal, with a little bit of visual reinforcement. I.e. The slideshow. I modified the original to add a little bit more about what I said, so here it is:


I really appreciate the time that was given to me by all of those that came along, it’s great to see parents so involved in their daughters education. Below are some more sources and further readings.


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Amanda Lenhart (2010). Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication. Retrieved from www.pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages

Consumer Reports (2011). Five million Facebook users are 10 or younger. Retrieved from www.news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/five-million-facebook-users-are-10-or-younger.html

Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc. (2007). Kids in the know. Retrieved from www.kidsintheknow.ca

Ribble, M.S., Bailey, G.D., & Ross, T.W. (2004). Digital citizenship: addressing appropriate technology behaviour.Learning & Leading With Technology, 32(1).

21st Century Education System Task Force. (2008). Maximizing the impact: the pivotal role of technology in a 21st century education system. Retrieved from www.iste.org

The Parntership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). The mile guide: Milestones fro improving learning & education. Retrieved from www.21stcenturyskills.org

Perschbach, Jane W., Ph.D. (2006). Blogging: An inquiry into the efficacy of a Web-based technology for student reflection in community college computer science programs. DAI-A 67/01, Jul 2006.

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For teens, the future is mobile
Youtube Tip – Detecting lies and staying true
Youtube Tip – Steering clear of cyber tricks
Digital Life: Our Kids’ Connected Culture (advice for parents)
Rules of the Road for Parents in a Digital Age

Why Open Online Digital Portfolios?

Going forward this year, onward and upward, I have the very large goal of each student from Grade 3 to 7 having their own online portfolio. I think this is a great way for students to showcase their work as well as reflect on their learning. I also think it is very important for students to have an authentic audience which I hope will also increase the quality of their work. Another benefit is that parents can keep track of their child’s learning and know what is happening in each class and what is being submitted to the teachers by their children. Last but not least, if the student uses it to reflect and not just display, it promotes higher order thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating and creating.

I was searching to see what other schools and students were doing with their online student portfolios. I managed to find a range of very interesting portfolios that were developed by students in the same age range as the students I plan to develop portfolios with. Here are just a few great examples:



Emily is a student from NSW, Australia (my home state) who started her portfolio when she was in Grade 3. She is now in Grade 4 and during that time she managed to win the coveted Edublogs prize for ‘Best Student Blog’ which is an amazing achievement, especially considering her competition. It’s also great to see her aunty and grandparents have left comments and are keeping up to date with her learning.



Hayley is an 11 year old students from the International School of Bangkok. She not only displays lots of her work, but also seems to spend a lot of time developing those higher order thinking skills by including a lot of reflections in her portfolio.



Eric from British Columbia in Canada started his portfolio when he was in Grade 6 and is an avid writer. He shares a lot of his stories on his blog and receives feedback on his stories from all over the world.


These are just some great examples of open online student portfolios, you can find many others from many other parts of the world just by doing a simple search. A good place to start looking is the nominated Edublogs entries.

While researching my idea of open online portfolios, it was interesting to read other educators opinions. Jeff Delp, a K-12 administrator wrote a great article outlining the benefits of blogs in education on his portfolio Making Molehills out of Mountains. In the article he outlines six main benefits of open online portfolios including reflection, inquiry, feedback and an authentic audience.

Kim Cofino, a technology and learning coach at Yokohama International School is also an advocate of online portfolios. She sees the organization and easy of use as just a few of the many benefits. She has used them at a range of schools she has taught at. She also outlines her opinions on her digital portfolio, Always Learning.

All in all, I am very excited at the possibilities ahead and have already seen some students take the idea and run with it. Some students have already contributed a lot to their portfolios, all completed in their own time without being ask to by the teachers which I think is amazing. It encourages the notion of life long learners and that education shouldn’t just exist behind school door between nine AM and three PM, learning should always be happening, all day every day for the rest of our lives.

School Tour

As a large project, Grade 4 created their own school tour. They wrote their scripts, rehearsed their lines, performed their lines, filmed each other, edited their movies and exported them all by themselves. What an amazing effort and a great finished product to show for all their hard work.

Internet Safety

Internet safety is definitely something to be taken serious. But it’s also a delicate line between scaring the children away from using a computer and the Internet and making them aware of what they do when online. I go over a range of websites and strategies for the students in elementary and middle school each year to help reinforce the importance of staying safe online. The interactive video clip that I usually start off with is the ‘Dongle’ site, which is made by the BBC in the UK. Basically, it’s geared towards younger students and helps them understand the motives of others online, while giving them an acronym to help them remember to stay safe online. You can visit the site here:

One other site we use in class to help reinforce safe surfing is Brain Pop Jr. The students watch the video on Internet safety and answer questions regarding a range of different topics pertaining to staying safe online. It’s a free video offered by Brainpop Jr. and can be viewed here:

There are also two websites created by PBS Kids that I use. One of them works really well in class and the other is quite abstract and as a result, the students don’t really know why they are using the site. The best one is the ‘Web License’ site. The students must answer a range of questions and if they get enough correct, they receive their license to navigate the Internet. The students love getting the license at the end but it also brings up a lot of good points to talk about in class. I usually do this with upper elementary students as some concepts are a little tough for the younger students. You can get your license here:

The other site that PBS Kids has, that I find is not very affective is the ‘Webonauts Internet Academy’. It’s a newer, upgraded version of the web license, however I feel that it’s nowhere near as affective and is far too abstract. It also does not bring up anywhere near as many points for class discussion, which I think are very important and the site is a little buggy, at times freezing up and not allowing the character to proceed any further without refreshing and as a result, restarting their game. But you can view it here to see for yourself:

One last thing that I do with all students from Grade 3 and up is I have them ‘sign’ an online pledge. The pledge is a form that I post to my wiki in which the students must agree to ten main points before they are allowed to use the Internet. I keep a copy of this so that I can show the children what they agreed to if they break a rule. They can also access the rules at any time to review them. Questions range from keeping personal information off the Internet, to meeting strangers online, to plagiarism.

So as you can see, I use a range of different tools to help me express to the students how important online safety is. Depending on the students grade, we cover one or a range of these tools in the classroom to get the point across. If you have any suggestions for other possible lesson, leave a comment in the box below.

Dress As Your Favourite Book Character Day

Some great photos from dress-as-your-favourite-book-character-day. Enjoy!

Unfortunately, a lot of the good photos and class photos could not be included or were cropped due to photo publishing restriction on some students.

Tech Upgrades

This year, not only do we have brand new Macbooks for the K-2 building that teacher can take and use at almost any time in their own classrooms, we also have done a lot of work in the junior school lab, which is now only used by Grades 3 and 4, giving them much more time in the labs. Mr. McCright, head of Media, has replaced all of the computers with newly reformatted computers that all have the same software installed, so all of the computers are now the same in the lab and run at about the same speed, giving us a distinct advantage when all of the students are working on the same projects.

We also had new headphones delivered that the students love! One of the comments while wearing them was, “Look, I’m a DJ!”

The mice we previously had in the lab were a mix of old roller ball mice, new but large optical mice and small optical mice, which are best for the students hand sizes, especially in the younger years. So there was also an order place for a whole new set of small, optical mice. Now the lab is looking and working great!

Gaggle – Safe email for students

GaggleThis week, all Grade 4 students received their very own email account. Some students already mentioned that they already had an email account, but most of the students in Grade 4 are too young to comply with the terms and services of these account, so aren’t allowed to use them at school.

This is where Gaggle comes in. Gaggle can offer accounts to students under the age of 13, with their teachers being moderators of the accounts. Each email is run through a strict filter, both inbound and outbound. Every email may be read by a moderator (in this case the teacher) if need be. A range of settings can be put in place to protect students from a range of things such as bullying, strangers, etc. This makes Gaggle a safe and secure online learning tool to keep our students up to date with the current digital age without sacrificing the safety of any student. I love Gaggle and the students do too!