13 articles Articles posted in G6

Finding A Problem and Solving It

After watching the TEDx talk below by Dan Meyer, I was inspired to try something like it in my class.

But I didn’t know what problem we could work on. I wanted the problem to be meaningful to the students. I wanted them to come up with a problem to solve and I think I knew the answer. In one of my classes, one of my students was looking through a pile of old yearbooks. She found on of when she was in Grade 1 and we had a chuckle at how cute the now teenagers looked when they were young. Then we started seeing some people we knew but no longer go to the school. We counted how many students that attended the school that were still enrolled now they were in Grade 8. There were only about six students… Six students! My student found this fascinating and asked me how many I thought would be left at the end of Grade 12. This gave me an idea…

I developed a unit where the students would follow this same process of seeing how many students are in the class that also attended in Grade 1. Then from graphing the results and looking at past data, they could estimate how many of them would be left in a couple of years time. All of the data will be really easy to attain by simply flicking through some past yearbooks. I think my students will really enjoy this unit and I can’t wait to teach it!

Copyright and Creative Commons

Last year I decided to start teaching Copyright and Creative Commons. The lessons went well as I also linked it to a unit on creating effective presentations. First the students learned about Copyright from a range of source. One of the main ones we used was Brainpop’s video on Copyright.

Then as a class we watch this video on Creative Commons, it helps lay out Copyright and Creative Commons in a simple and visual way.



After watching the video and getting a broad background of the topic, I had them research Creative Commons a little more and then create a presentation on what Creative Commons is. In their assignment, they had attribute correctly and only use images with the correct Creative Commons licenses.



What resources do you use to teach your students about Copyright and Creative Commons? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.

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

A School Website Created By Students, For Students

As the final project for course 1 of COETAIL, the teachers had to get together into groups and come out with a project. So while at The Networked Educator weekend PD, I had a brainwave. I thought it would be an amazing idea to develop a wiki, maintain and develop by students, for new students, new teachers and in fact anyone in the community to get tips on the best goods and services in Tokyo. For example, the best pizza restaurant, the best bakery, the best supermarket, the best cinemas, the best shrines and so on. We could add a brief history of certain areas of Tokyo, maps, basic Japanese language lessons and so on.

I pitched the idea to the other teachers at my school that are also doing the COETAIL course: Miss Seed (a social studies teacher), Mr. Baker (a history teacher) and Hosoi Sensei (a Japanese teacher) as each of their students could contribute a large part to the wiki. They loved the idea so we started brainstormed the possibilities. As we started talking, the idea evolved into a website maintain by all of the students in the school. And instead of having just recommendations, we decided to develop it into a school website, that is made by the students, for the students and the greater community. It would be less formal than the official website and all of the content would be created and managed by the students, the teachers would have no say (within reason) what goes onto the site because it wouldn’t be theirs, it would be the students.

We thought this would be a great way to empower the students, involve all the students and teachers of the school in the process and develop a closer community not only with the students, but with the wider community as they could see first hand what the students are doing at special events, interesting features of the school, etc.

So we got together and develop the following unit outline:



Open publication – Free publishingMore coetail

We actually wrote up the unit very quickly as we were all thinking along the same line, from chats at COETAIL meetings as well as on the trips down and back from YIS. We are all very excited to start the ball rolling, I have actually started a lesson with one Grade 7 class where we brainstormed the name of the website and will start with the design of the heading/logo. In one of my Grade 6 classes, I plan to do a website design lesson to develop an understanding of the layout of a good website so that we can develop the structure of the website. Once we have the site up and running, we can start inviting other students in other classes and grade to develop the content. Hopefully by the end of the school year, we should have a functional and up and running website that we can share with the world.

Community Building Around Technology

Being inspired with Kim Cofino’s post on ‘engaging the parent community‘, our department decided it would be a good idea to engage our parents. On Thursday September 3rd we will be having a parent information session, loosely based on digital citizenship that we hope can cover a lot of bases including privacy, the students new digital portfolios, 21st century learners and a lot more (if we get the time!). The presentation has been weighing a lot on my thoughts as of last and as I was reading through the NETS for students essential conditions, I realized that we are meeting a lot of them with this information session.


We can help construct a shared vision between our department and the parent community. Hopefully we can both have our opinions heard and begin striving towards excellence in education for the students.



By empowering the parents with knowledge, we can develop effective change.



By giving the students portfolios, they have time to share their ideas with their parents, teachers and other students.



By having the students develop their own reflections to any piece of work they choose, the emphasis is taken away from the front of the room and back to the student and their thoughts.



This one is pretty self explanatory and probably the main goal of the presentation.


I’m really looking forward to spending time with the middle school parents and hearing their opinions, helping them develop their knowledge and expressing our direction. I hope that a lot of parents are able to attend and are as excited as I am!

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.

Internet Safety: Passwords

In the first few lessons I have with my middle school students I teach a very important lesson that hopefully will impact my students for the rest of their lives. As part of my internet safety unit, I expressed to them the importance of a secure password; then I showed them how to make a secure password. I then showed them how to remember and manage their password. Now, every student in middle school has created a secure password and has a password page in their planner to help remind them of their password. If you have a shared email account with your daughter or if you control your daughter’s email password and the password you use it not secure, it would be great if you could come up with a password together and change the passwords for the accounts. Encourage your daughter to keep track of her passwords on her password page by asking to see it every now and then to make sure it’s updated. I encourage the girls not to write their full password in their planner and to instead write a code or a few letters to remind them.

If you would like to know how to create and manage a secure password, you can view the lesson here:


For me, I love to customize EVERYTHING I own. I think that’s how I became competent on computers, because I would go through all the menus and customize everything to exactly how I want it.

During my middle school ICT class, I’d like my students to customize their computers, to make their workflow more efficient. Here are some videos outlining how to customize your computer:

Customizing Windows 7

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Customizing Firefox

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G5 & 6 Book Trailers

Earlier in the year, myself and Ms. Fish, the grade five and six English teacher developed a lesson that we could do together. She really wanted to have the students make book trailers, which are just like movie trailers, but for books. It is a fun concept and there are a few popping up here and there on the Internet but I see this is a big trend in the near future.




We started the project with the Grade 5 and 6 students and they came up with some excellent results! See below for just one of the many great examples.