ECIS Library Conference Reflections

Now, one would think that the ECIS Triennial Library Conference was a strange choice of PD for me, but there were a few different factors that got me there:

  1. My husband is a librarian and he wanted to go to this conference (he has good taste and he’s always a fun guy to hang out with)
  2. We have good friends who live in Chennai who would watch our kids while we attended this conference (our first conference together… ever!)
  3. My office is in a library and our Office of Learning includes the EdTech/Design Facilitators and Librarians, so I should be working more with them!
  4. There were some MakerSpace/Tech presentations that I felt there were definitely enough sessions I could attend.
  5. It was during Chinese New Year holiday, so I wouldn’t have to miss any school and we could all go to India as a family.

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As soon as I walked in, I realized that I was not in my comfort zone – my connected, happy, social, familiar “Design and Tech PLN bubble” I had developed over the last ten years.  And after a delicious Indian breakfast and more caffeine, I relaxed a bit, even though I was surrounded by hundreds of unfamiliar names and faces. I realized it was good to be a little uncomfortable and to embrace the situation.  Very few people knew me (and I didn’t know a lot of people there) and the focus wasn’t necessarily on my needs, but I definitely could still get a lot out of the experience.

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While I could write a lot about what I learned and all my highlights, from the hospitality of AISC (which scored an A++ in my book) to Mr. Schu‘s engaging keynote (even to a non-librarian), I will put down my top four:

1. I met the Boyers from Shanghai American School and they are doing a lot with First Lego League.  In short, we need to be doing this at ISB. I’m excited we have a new Computer Science/Robotics/Design/Science super-teacher joining us next year.  I think he’s already offering this at his current school. I’m excited to start some conversations with him about our developing programs. If he isn’t going to offer this for MS, I think I need to step up and do something about it. Robotics and Programming are not my strengths, but I could definitely help facilitate a program like this and I really like the facets of the program from their core values to the research component to the designing and creating.

2. It was great to see the ES and MS/HS MakerSpaces.  Roger was a gracious host and toured me around the secondary Design Space after our session was done in the ES Lab.  It is always interesting to see what other people are doing and how they have organized their spaces. ACTION: Stay in touch with the Design and Maker teachers from AISC and MamaTechnology who is running an Open MakerSpace for Secondary Students at JICS.

3. Library MakerSpace – I went to a session led by Melinda Piehler.  Her focus was mainly ES, but I got a lot of great ideas and starting points from being in her session.  A Library MakerSpace is something I’ve considered for years.  I’ve never gone through with it because I felt like I was coming up with an idea and dumping it on someone else to manage.  Luckily, at ISB, my office is in the library and it’s an amazing space that kids really like to come to.  I know it’s not going to work perfectly, but I want to give it a go and see if it can work, so students can create outside of integrated projects and Design classes and maybe even prefer to create rather than mindlessly consume YouTube videos on their downtime.  I’ve just written a DRAFT proposal that I’m going to share with our secondary librarians this week (here are some pieces):

4. Living Library – Catherine Buchanan presented how she organizes and runs her Living Library at Chadwick International School in Korea. While this is probably a bit out of my job description, it’s something that John and I would like to work together to develop for our middle school for the Fall.  I love the idea of inviting people in as primary resources to engage students and for our students to learn more about all the amazing people in and around our community.  We think we’ll try to schedule this event for Fall 2018.  There are many schools that organize an event like this. Here are some examples: The Human Library and check out this articleMore to come on this. 

The ECIS Library Conference  was almost just the right amount of new ideas to come back with after a conference.  Sometimes I come back with too many ideas and I am overwhelmed with what I want to do versus the amount of time I have to take action on some of my new ideas. I would say I didn’t have a ton of options that applied to me for a lot of the sessions, nor did I know enough people to pick out the “engaging presenters” that you could learn anything from.  I feel like I can easily manage the four actions (above) and maybe I should look around for different types of PD rather than attending the same conferences in Asia that I go to all the time.  They are excellent, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always a good thing to be out of my comfort zone every once in a while.


This was a slide from Mr. Schu’s presentation, but I like that can apply to our MakerSpaces and has a deeper meaning – I think I’ll make one for the MS/HS Design Lab.


Design Thinking and EAL (English as an Additional Language)

Throughout my teaching experiences over the course of my career, I have frequently seen that EAL, Student Support or students taking multiple languages (all for good reason), often miss out on hands-on personalized learning experiences.  These types of hands-on electives courses are exactly what these students need.  They need authentic language experiences and safe but dynamic environments to flourish and develop both language and technical skills.

Sparked from a conversation between our HS EAL teacher and our Educational Technology Coordinator, Clint, a new project was born to fill this need.

Students were to find a client (another one of their teachers) and using the design process, they would creatively solve a problem of their client.

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Students first had to approach a client, and record their interactions as a language assessment to find out the problems or needs of their teachers.  This is an important part of the design process as a designer needs to empathize with their client.  For the students, this was definitely out of their comfort zone and they had to understand the requests and respond on the spot in a natural way.

Here’s a sample clip of a language task:


The students worked through the design process to create their final products.  We offered sewing and vector drawing (to ultimately laser cut) workshops for small groups depending on the needs of their projects.

Students were very engaged in this project and it has been a great way for students to extend their oral communication as well as problem solve and develop more technical skills.

The variety of student projects range from:


Design Process Journal Entry – A daily written task sharing progress

a compass used for a white board Math classroomIMG_6783

a step stool for a teacher’s classroom

IMG_6743a leather bag designed for a teacher who moves around a lot throughout the day

two different school supplies’ holders for different uses in the classroom

a system to help foster more classroom participation (for a teacher who’s a Patriot’s fan)


It has been great to get into more high school courses this semester. After my first year of working almost primarily in the middle school, I’ve been wanting to branch out more in the high school.

As a long term goal, I would like to work more with the EAL and Student Support teachers, along with my EdTech Facilitator colleague to help develop authentic design projects to use as a frame work for language instruction, practice and learning.

This is connected to one of my professional goals this year: 

2. I will model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection and celebration.

c. I will facilitate personalised learning.


Year 2 @ISB: Onward and Upward

Booster Dragon

This year, as an EdTech Team, we have created the following goals:

  1. Articulate, communicate, and facilitate the implementation – with ongoing reflection? –  of a PK-12 Digital Citizenship program/curriculum to all ISB stakeholders (students, teachers & counselors, admin, parents). 
  2. Model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection, and celebration. 
    1. #learnISB more than just celebratory e.g. feedback, advice, process, reflective goals, professional learning etc.
    2. Commitment to reflective professional learning through blogging. Showcase professional reflective practice. Develop an active blogging culture.
    3. Facilitate personalised learning through the development of authentic tasks. Engage co-teaching and planning, tech integration etc.
  3. Work with teachers and admin to develop criteria and frameworks that foster continual and sustainable optimization and refinement of our student learning systems, resources, and tools. 

And from these team goals, I have identified my own professional goals for the year.  I have focused on Goal #2.  Here are my three goals that will help support our team.

2. I will model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection and celebration.

a. I have been using #learnISB on Twitter to share out projects as I work on them with teachers primarily the past year.  This year, I’d like to try to share out more “works in progress” and try to make my twitter communication more interactive rather than just celebratory.  I don’t seek feedback and interaction as much as I used to and often just “like” or retweet rather than extend, so this is an area that I will work on this year.  My plan:

  • I will try to tweet something once a week that is more than just celebrating student work.
  • I will also seek other twitter accounts and educators’ social media as inspiration/models to help me think about how I want to share my passion about design thinking and STEAM in Education.

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b. I will blog more to continue to make connections with other educators, be a model for other educators and to deepen my own reflection, as I feel it is definitely enhanced by the act of writing it down, editing, revising and getting feedback.

I love to blog.  In my blogging hayday, I was managing, writing, sharing through three blogs at the same time and I loved it.  However, that has dropped off the past few years. Being new at ISB last year, I found it hard to find the time to blog. This year, I am going to make more of an effort.  I think having other bloggers on the EdTeach team and giving myself a specific blog goal (to post at least one reflective blog a month) will help me stay on track.  The great part about all this, is the vulnerability of it and I know my own thoughts and practice will grow from sharing my own teaching and learning.

c. I will facilitate personalised learning.

This is HUGE, but something I feel really passionate about and am very excited about in my role as a Design Technology Facilitator.  I want our students at ISB to go beyond scoring well on their IB Exams and walking away with an exceptional GPA as many of them do.  I want to better prepare them for being a creator and creative problem-solver no matter what area they plan to study or be a professional in.

Here are my measurable indicators of success:

  • Integrate & Co-Teach Design Process in authentic ways
    • I started this last year, but I want to work in more areas and break out of the Science/Engineering classes more this year
    • I also want to make more of an impact in high school
  • Build the Passion Project course to be more visible and increase enrollment/excitement around this course
  • Increase student opportunities to personalize their learning with high quality enrichments and ASAs that develop skills and use design thinking as a process.
    • ES – MS – HS After School Opportunities
    • MS Enrichments
    • HS ELO (Experiential Learning Opportunities)
    • More in-school studio-like experiences like OneDay or something like NuVu

Year 1: Design Technology Facilitator

I have to say, I landed a dream job this year.  I don’t think this position exists in many places around the world.  It is the perfect balance of teaching, curriculum building, leading, presenting, program development and designing collaborative spaces.

That being said, I have learned so much this year.  It is exhausting and amazing to move to a new country and school.  I love seeing how different schools and systems work differently.  Everything from the schedule to homeroom structures to communications to curriculum to human dynamics is different.  It is always sometimes better and sometimes more challenging than other work places.  When you put yourself into this newbie position, you are vulnerable, you have to depend on others and you learn, learn, learn and do your best.

I didn’t have goals this year besides surviving and develop a Design program at ISB.  I had an action plan to work with which definitely helped out.  More importantly, I was very lucky this year to have a large amount of amazing people around me – both professionally and personally – new colleagues, old colleagues; new and old friends.  And that is what made this year amazing.  Not perfect.  But a great first year, for sure.


Arduino Teacher Training – Thanks to Jonathan @ Creatica

First, I’ll start with things that I am proud of accomplishing this year:

  1. Creating a Design and Engineering Team to develop a K-12 Design Process for our school that connects design thinking with NGSS Engineering and can be used throughout our school – in classrooms, enrichments, After School Activities and even in our own practices of creative problem solving.  We still have some work to do as our program grows, but I feel like we collaboratively created a process that we can all work with.  I have developed standards and rubrics based on this process and will continue to make more support materials for teachers to use.

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2. Being very active in classrooms  – this was not so much my doing than the openness of the teachers I work with.  I was frequently invited to co-teach, facilitate and work with many teachers this year.  It was great to get to know our students, community and teachers so well in the first year.IMG_2934 (1)

3. Designing collaborative spaces for design thinking and engineering to take place.  It was amazing to have an idea and over Winter Break a new design lab was born for MS and HS students.  It is a great space (although basic) for students to tinker, learn, prototype, create and learn.  To add on to this experience, there will be another space for ES students and teachers to use next year as we develop the Design & Engineering Program through the whole curriculum.


4. Collaborating on Personalized Learning Experiences

Before I arrived, ISB had a lot of great opportunities for students to follow their passions, interests and curiosities to choose their learning.  Middle School students sign up for enrichments – anything from band to yoga to robotics to textiles to game design to Genius Hour and everything in between.  I was able to jump in and help coach and co-teach Genius Hour which was a fabulous experience.  I worked with amazing teachers and we worked together to create a similar design in which students followed the design process to identify problem or opportunity and create a solution.  I help facilitate other enrichments, and I learned a lot working with other teachers.  I was able to “take over” One Day, which is a day that all MS students to design their learning.  It was difficult to take it over when I had only experienced it through Twitter the year before.  Due to a teacher leaving, I’m excited to be facilitating for the Passionate Project Class in HS, which will allow many middle school students opportunities to design their own learning experiences as they move through high school.


One Day Construction


One Day Student Collaboration


Genius Hour Feedback Session

And now on to things I feel like I missed the mark on and need to work on more next year:

  1. Working with high school – Middle school is definitely “my space”.  This MS being full of exceptional teachers who welcomed me in all the time, I didn’t always leave a lot of time for HS.  I need to work harder to get into the HS.  Students are enjoying the experiences they have in middle school and I don’t want their design thinking skills and creativity to take a back seat as they enter high school.
  2. Evaluating what I do and how it connects to what my role at this school is.  This year, I rarely said no.  I wanted to learn more about the curriculum and my colleagues because in my role, relationships are everything.  Some work I took on, was beyond my job description, as it is with most teachers.  However, next year, as I work with a new colleague coming in and have a better sense of the school, I need to articulate my role better and stay focused on what I can do well and impact student learning the most.  I know this is something I will always struggle with and I feel like I want to do more and really be a part of a community, so I need to maybe even simplify this goal and think that if I take something on, I need to take something else off the plate.  This is a big school with a lot going on, so there is always something to do.

ONE DAY or another

Grade 6 students OneDay project: Create ISB in MinecraftOne Day is an opportunity for middle school students at ISB to Design and Create their own learning for the day based on their interests.

I was fortunate this year to “take over” this event from our Assistant Principal who has facilitated this for the past few years.  It was an easy “YES” when I was asked to consider helping with One Day.

The most difficult challenge I had was trying to organize 450 students and about 50 teachers to make this event successful.  I took feedback from teachers on previous OneDays and tried to make minor revisions based on that feedback and my own experiences  with student driven project based learning, as a MYP Design Teacher and Personal Project Coordinator.

I wanted teachers to have ownership over OneDay since a lot of the success of this project hangs on them.  I led an informational session and gathered feedback and suggestions from teachers in November.  Then after One Day, I held another feedback session, where I gathered a lot (too much, maybe) information from teachers regarding strengths, weaknesses and where we want to go with OneDay in the future.









Overall, I was really happy with One Day and I felt that a majority of the student projects were done well for the amount of time that they had to create – really only about 5 hours.  I am still left a lot of questions:

Originally I wanted to try to stretch out OneDay into a week-long experience, very much like our Future’s Academy’s Ignite Weeks, but they are exhausting to facilitate and it would leave some amazing mentors out of the picture for other grade levels, like one of our grade 6 teachers who is an amazing fashionista and clothing designer.

I also love the idea of walking around school and seeing EVERY middle schooler creating at the same time, there is definitely something very special about the idea.

So, in the next month, I will meet with the middle school teachers with a proposal for next year’s OneDay…  and then start planning for next year!


Innovation Day – ArtBot Design Workshop

Last month, ISB hosted the first ever Innovation Expo.  It was a super successful event inviting anyone in Beijing to come and learn more about the great innovation going on at ISB.

It was an opportunity to see student work and there were many hands-on spaces for kids to tinker, play, create and design.


For this first workshop, I ran a design challenge workshop where kids had the challenge of creating an artbot that made original art.  It was a simple enough task for younger students but allowed for a lot of tinkering and iterations for more refined art and change in design.