Reflection: Taking Care of Digital Devices Session

Last week, I helped create a presentation for Grade 9 and 10 students to help them take care of their digital devices better. There has been a rise in damage in student laptops and students have also had issues with their laptops working optimally, so there have been a lot of visits to our Tech Help Desk.

Liz D and I created this presentation for ninth and tenth grade homeroom teachers to take their students through.  I was lucky to be able to work closely with one of the tenth grade classes to really see how the presentation went and how the students interacted with the content and the “clean-up activities”.

The beginning of the presentation started with a survey.

Following our recent PD with Naomi Nelson, I will follow the protocol for analyzing data, below:

1. Make Predictions. I predict that students will score on the low end of all the questions.  I think that most students NEVER back-up their devices and rarely update their software/restart their computers – I would say monthly, at best.

2. Go Visual.  Here are the responses:

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3. Analyze the Data.  

  • Most G9 and G10 students have dropped their laptops.  41% of these drops have caused damage.
  • 64% of students never back-up or only back-up their media and files once a year.
  • 65% of students would be greatly impacted if their computers crashed tonight.

4. Infer/Make Assumptions and Generate Potential Causes.

  • HS student are only recommended to use protective covers, whereas it is more enforced in the MS.  HS students are allowed more freedom on campus and can use their laptops without supervision.  The survey question regarding damage was not clear, and I’m not sure the data is clear either.  Next time, I’d like to change this question for it to have options, like “visible dents, damaged ports/screens, damaged hard drive”.  There was also no damage question regarding liquid spills, when I know this has also been an issue.
  • Students don’t have the time to back-up.  It is difficult to enforce at school, without an external drive.
  • This last data point is directly related to the backing-up issue.  Students are saving directly on to their hard drive and maybe just on their desktop, which makes organization an issue as well…

I’ve adapted the last two data processing protocols to suit my needs better.

5. What questions do I now have?

  • Are students using cloud based storage for their school work?
  • In what format do teachers expect work to be done in?  Or where/how is work turned in?
  • What can I do to improve the care of student devices?
  • How can I collect more specific data from our Tech Help Desk?
  • How can I better collect data and analyze tech use in the HS?

6. Now what?

I’m glad that it worked out that I led one of the sessions.  I was able to quickly see that the students were so connected to their phones, so immediately I added a slide regarding the care of their phones as well.  I’m not sure the damage/upkeep issues that students have with their phones, and they don’t use them too much for academic purposes, so I included information of issues/concerns that I see during Tech Talks – storage and updating.

1. I modified the presentation and posted it for the parents to see.  I think that parents should be aware of what we are teaching and this was a valuable session to share that information.  This can help promote the care of devices at home as well.  Unfortunately, there have been only 19 view as of the time of this posting, so I need to share that more with parents.

2. MS students had a lot of this information reviewed with them when we went over the RUP at the beginning of the year, but I will also have an interactive session with them, hopefully once this semester and once second semester to give them time to “clean-up” their devices so they are effective learning and collaboration tools.

3. I need to talk to Sonny about how he collects data for students who visit him and see if we can easily obtain more specific data (without giving him a lot more work).  I’d like to collect more specific data to look at the differences between HS/MS since they do have different device expectations.  I’d like to collect more specific data on “frequent flyers” to the Tech Help Desk.  I’d also like to create postcards to send home to parents when students visit the Tech Help Desk for damage or other chronic issues.  I do realize that this is putting more work on Sonny, so I need to talk to him about this.

4. I want to continue to work with the whole secondary school and create a digital citizenship curriculum that branches through the high school as well.  Many of them have competent tech skills due to their own inquiry, Design class and tech integration in some of their other courses, but digital citizenship has not been articulated through the upper grades well.  An on-going issue with this is time and how will the content be delivered – just by me or by homeroom teachers during homeroom/block.


Happy New Year: My Resolutions and Goals


Photo Credit: yousuke_orenikki via Compfight cc

Every January, when everyone is sharing their New Year’s resolutions, I sometimes throw a couple on the table, but this feels like such an unnatural time for me to make resolutions and goals.

Since I was born, with an exception of about three years in between finishing my bachelor’s degree and starting teaching, my “year” has revolved around on a North American school schedule.  My parents were teachers and then I was in school and ultimately, I became a teacher. So August and September seems like the best time for me to make my resolutions and goals.

A few of these are personal and a few are professional.


1. Drink more water – this seems simple enough, but I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve come home from school and realized that I didn’t drink more than a glass of water at lunch and I was active all day.

2. Be balanced – mostly this is making sure I’m not behind my computer screen all day and home at night.  I want to be with my kids 100% when I am with them, not trying to get work done in between playing games or having conversations with them over my screen.

PROFESSIONAL (more details can be found here)

3. Improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.

4. Improve the quality of my students products by improving their knowledge, skills and techniques –  using a differentiated, skills-based foundation for my design cycle units.

**This is the Design Department’s Student Learning Goal**

5. Further develop our Digital Citizenship curriculum around our Responsible Use Policy and the IB Learner Profile.

6. Work with our librarian and MYP Coordinator to articulate the Approaches to Teaching and Learning.

7. Integrate technology more holistically – plan and work with teachers across all content areas to make sure technology is authentically used.

HONOR the CREATOR – Course 5 Project Reflection



Here is my reflective video explaining the HONOR THE CREATOR Unit.  I taught this unit to Grade 7 MYP Design students.



The main purpose of this unit is for students to have a better understanding of copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons.  After learning more about these concepts, students create a music video to honor the original creators of the songs they used.  Students produced a variety of music videos, mostly they, either:

1. Created their own visuals (photography/video) to go with a Creative Commons song.

2. Used Creative Commons visuals (photography/video) to go with a Creative Commons song.

3. Used Fair Use to remix/mash-up copyrighted media.


Here is my unit planner.


Here are some examples of student work:

Masao’s Rhapsody in Blue Tokyo Mix

Melanie’s Video using Pop Danthology 2014

Shala’s Orange Love Music Video

Jules’ Pop Stop Motion Video

Jessie’s Video on Exploring Japan in Seasons

Ohmey’s “Am I Wrong” Video

Hina’s Video for April Showers

Overall, the unit was a great success.  I feel like the unit challenged both me and the kids.  We had some great conversations and there were endless STOP – Teachable MOMENTS!  I had a lot of questions I had to talk my way through – so many covers and lipdubs done on YouTube that aren’t pulled down, even though they seem to violate Fair Use.  In the end, I say that it is up to the original creator, in the end, it promotes their music too.  This is a really great resource I found after the unit, that I’ll use next year to promote more discussions.

As I assessed the videos, it was easy to see that most kids really “got it” – and a few kids I needed to check in with more.   Overall, most students earned a higher achievement level on this project than they did on the previous two design projects this year.

I wish I asked some students to share their final videos with the musician that created the music to begin with (where possible)- some of the kids created great music videos for these artists.  I’m thinking that I can create a resource of how to share their work – as all of this sharing is optional (next year).

I look forward to hearing your feedback.  I struggled to get everything into a 10-minute video, but I got most of the important things in it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how my COETAIL colleagues’ final projects went, as well, over the next few weeks!


Video Project Feedback Form

My 7th graders are finishing up their “Honor the Creator” videos this week.

The purpose of this project is for students to create a music video which shows that they understand Copyright, Fair Use and/or Creative Commons.  I am looking for their knowledge and understanding of these concepts and their video production and editing skills.

I have found that they often struggle in getting objective feedback of their projects to use when they reflect and write their evaluations and test their specifications, so I’ve created a model for them to use.

What do you think?

I want to tell the kids that they have to have at least 20 people evaluate their projects.   At least half of these people must be outside of their Design class.

Anyone interested in sharing some of the videos with their students?

I’m really struggling with whether I should keep the feedback form anonymous or not.  Should evaluators have to register their name?  Will this impact the feedback?  Will it prevent kids from evaluating their own product multiple times?

Any thoughts on this?

Responsible Use In Japanese 日本語


My final project has taken some unexpected twists and turns in the past month.  I think this is why I love “teaching technology” and why it’s so exciting to be a teacher in the 21st century.  As most of us know, it’s important to teach, explore, talk about issues, concerns, and opportunities that are occurring RIGHT NOW.  So, this often means I have a great idea or read an article at 10 PM and then I plan a lesson before bed, then develop it over my morning coffee, and deliver it a few hours later.  And the cycle repeats.

First off, a few months ago, a company in Japan, CA Tech Kids, came to visit our school.  We were looking for ways to develop our programming curriculum and provide opportunities for our students outside of school and they offer workshops all over Japan for programming and gaming/app creation.  The elementary tech coordinator at my school spent all day hosting CA Tech Kids, showing them what we do at Canadian Academy and how we integrate technology.  I spent an hour with them that day, sharing student work and how I use technology to enhance my instruction.  They were particularly interested in how my students and I use social media in my classroom and they were also intrigued by our Responsible Use Policy.  These are two things that are presently not very common in Japanese schools.

To make a long story short, they invited my colleague, Kae Shigeta, and I to present last weekend and be a part of their panel discussion on technology and programming in education.


It was an amazing experience.  My Japanese is not up to par to present (that’s a bit of an understatement) , so Kae had a massive part in our presentation – not only presenting her own examples but translating all of mine too!  She is really helping make our Responsible Use Policy reach more people in our local community than I could have imagined.  Since we had limited time to share, we decided to focus on: Communicator & Balanced.

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Balance by carolynprncss via Flickr

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Gloomy Hard at Work by Inga Pylypiuk via Flickr Creative Commons

I think the most valuable parts of this presentation were:

1. The Responsible Use Policy is partially translated into Japanese !!!  (We only focused on parts of it because we only had 30 minutes and we gave examples of how we were teaching/embodying the attributes in our classes).  I am asking students to help me translate the rest (both the document and the presentations), and I’ll ask Kae to proofread it in the end.  This will be a great resource to our community.

2. Kae and I carved out a lot of time to brainstorm, design and create the presentation and then revise it.  We both have heavy teaching loads, so this doesn’t happen as much as we’d like, so it was fantastic.  She’s an amazing colleague to work with.  It also made us really think about our digital citizenship articulation – where we are and where we need to go.

Presenting or Singing Karaoke?

Presenting or Singing Karaoke?

3. Presenting in-tandem English/Japanese added another whole interesting layer to our presentation.  I have never presented like that and it was a bit tricky.  I didn’t want to read straight from cards, but I didn’t want Kae to have to work extra hard to translate my off script tangents, either.  Not knowing the audience (about 100 Japanese parents/teachers from the area), was really difficult too.  Japanese audiences are often taciturn, so it’s hard when you are speaking to a group and not getting much feedback from them.

4. The owner of CA TECH Kids, Tomohiro Ueno, at the end of the presentation, said he really was impressed with our Responsible Use Policy and he wants to create one for his company.  He not only has professionals in his company, but he also “employs” interns from the top technology universities in the area and they work with thousands of students per year.

5. The Japanese government is starting to publish a lot of press releases lately about technology in schools, primarily programming and the use of iPads.  In general, Japanese schools are behind the times with their technology with little to no technology resources/instruction for most public schools.  One of the concerns is that the government is paying for devices for schools, but there is no real curriculum or professional development structure to support the teaching and learning.  There were a few teachers in the audience and it was great to hear their perspectives.  I think it would be a great opportunity for us to share with schools in our area.


Overall, this was a fantastic experience.  Kae and I have talked about doing this again possibly for teachers at the Apple Store in Osaka, as they often have teacher nights and allow for presentations.

And now, this again leaves me with these thoughts – I love how connected I am with so many different people.  This truly is the spirit of teaching and using your PLN.  This idea was started as a project between Katy, Ju and I and now has become so much more.  And, it keeps growing.  There seems to be more opportunities to share and grow,  every time I stop and listen to teachers, students and parents around me.

Next post, I will be back to reflecting on what’s going on with my students:

How is the implementation of the Responsible Use Policy impacting them and our community?

Parental Control

Good Listening

Listening Intently

The past three weeks I have been focusing on PARENTS as a part of my Course 5 COETAIL project.  My goal is to make our Responsible Use Policy more than just a document on our website and more than a document our students only review once per year, in homeroom on the first day of school.

First, I had an evening session with the parents. My Middle School Tech Leaders, who are a fantastic, articulate bunch of kids who struggle with technology some days, but truly embody our RUP and extend their learning (and life) with their digital devices, helped plan and lead the event.

Parent-Student Fishbowl

Parent-Student Fishbowl

In this first session, How Can We Foster Responsible Digital Citizenship, I shared what we are doing at school and reviewed the Responsible Use Policy that was developed under the lens of the IB Learner Profile.


Next, I shared the Balance Activities I did with my grade 7 & 8 students.  Parents were shocked and fascinated by the results.

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But, I think the most powerful part of the night was the fishbowl activity.  I started with this quote from To Kill a Mockingbird:


Students started talking, some timidly at first, about how they struggle with technology, what they wished their parents understood about technology and how technology has made them better learners.

Seriously, they were amazing.

They were empowered by sharing their knowledge and opinions and the parents just sat there and listened.

Photo Credits: CATV

Photo Credits: CATV

Then, it was the parents turn.  They were as equally brave and honest in our mixed group setting.  One of the last moms who spoke started to cry, “I have failed my son.  I let him tell me he was finished with homework while he played video games and his grades dropped…”

That mom got a lot off her chest and I think it was great for everyone in the room to hear.  In the overall culture of our community, most people are stoic.  Some people voice their opinions, but rarely do we hear one of such frustration and sadness.  It was great for the other parents, students and teachers to hear.

I’m hoping the parents were thinking, “Wow, I’m not alone.”  I hope the kids were thinking “Wow, she really loves her son.  Our parents want what’s best for us, but they struggle too.”

It was touching, when I saw two moms walk up to this mom, who is fairly new to our community, and hand her their phone numbers on little ripped pieces of scratch paper from their purses. They told her they could empathize with her.  They both have sons a bit older than her son and they have gone through some rough patches, but in the end, their sons have gotten through it all (and are using their digital devices more responsibly).

We tied up the night with the “What Nows?”.

This week, while the middle school students are further north in Japan on the ski trip, I am offering Parent Tech University for parents.

Today was my first day of these parents sessions and it went well.  I was actually fairly anxious about the session.

I love teaching kids.  I know my students well.  It’s a bit harder teaching parents, especially when it comes to technology.  I am empathetic, and I hope they understand that, even though my children are much younger than theirs.

I want to help, but sometimes I don’t always agree with their strategies or philosophies on technology and expectations, so it’s challenging.  They are sometimes anxious and embarrassed about their tech knowledge and skills.  They don’t always freely ask questions like their inquiring children have been taught to do through the PYP and MYP programs.  But, in the end, I learned and they learned, and I feel it is opening up communication more and forging a more open relationship between parents and teachers.

My purpose for these sessions is to empower the parents.  I want them to feel more in control of their child’s tech use.  I really think the message I want to send to parents is to “Be Aware“.  I want them to know what their kids are doing.  I want them to set realistic boundaries and learn from their children.  I want my students and their parents to be able to talk about/share technology rather than argue about it.

Now, I need to reflect more about where I’m “going to go” with the parents.  I already have a meeting time in April  to speak with upcoming 6th grade parents about technology in the middle school.

Does anyone out there have regular tech sessions with their parents?  Is it monthly?  Do the topics follow the students’ curriculum?  Are the topics voted on/requested by parents?

Feedback is appreciated!

1620889_755443187800882_1800830535_n (1)This picture from the Parent Tech Night cracks me up.  We had a high school student from CATV – our student run media production group – take pictures.  I look crazed talking about our Responsible Use Policy.  And, of course, it was up on our school’s Facebook page within a day of the event.  I’m wondering what the parents who didn’t attend were thinking.  I wish I looked more passionate and a little less crazy:/


Improving my Honor the Creator Unit – The COETAIL Effect

Photo Credit: qthomasbower via Compfight cc

As a part of my COETAIL Final Project, I’ve decided to improve my Honor the Creator Unit, which I’m currently teaching to my Grade 7 MYP Design students.  The purpose of this unit is for my students to have a better understanding of the media they use, use it appropriately, and gain a better understanding of what it means to be a designer/creator in the digital world.

Last year, I taught this as an interdisciplinary unit with our librarian and the students created book trailers.  They used Creative Commons and their own media and we shared the book trailers through their YouTube accounts and on a loop in the library.  It was a successful unit, but this year my students are different.  They really wouldn’t love making book trailers.   Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say they were a class of readers and I needed to hook them in a different way.

At the beginning of the new year, NPR shares many “Best of” lists and I saw one on my Facebook feed: NPR’s Music 12 Favorite Music Videos of 2013.  That’s when I had an AHA! moment.  This class is really into social media and watching endless YouTube videos and sharing them.  So I changed the task a bit and added in more content that I have become more comfortable with after Course 2 of COETAIL.

Here is my Honor the Creator unit planner (sorry I exported it from Atlas Rubicon and the formatting isn’t great).


Improvements/Revisions I made on this Unit from last year:

1. Product change – It is still a video project, so I can continue to develop students pre-production/editing skills in Design class, but I think students can connect better to music videos.

2. Pre-assessment –

VIDEO EDITING: Students had a design challenge to create a video in a one-hour class.  Since they did it in class, I was able to walk around and really see what they were doing.  (Like taking a screencast of a Youtube video to get media – YIKES!)  This also allowed me to see where the kids where and how to prepare differentiated lessons for video editing skills for them.

COPYRIGHT, FAIR USE, CREATIVE COMMONS: This was a very easy “entrance ticket quiz”.  Here are my results.  I’m thinking I can only go UP from here!

I quantified their responses using the following criteria:

3 Deep Understanding, 2 Sufficient Understanding, 1 Minimal Understanding, 0 Incorrect understanding

3. Hook Videos – 

I used the recent copyright issues between GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys to make it more real-life.  I also showed students Scary Mary and DJ Earmworm’s Mash-up to have them analyze if they are Fair Use (this is modified from a Common Sense Media lesson).

4. The Creative Community – IRL (In Real Life) – 

I asked different creators/a copyright lawyer to share their experiences with copyright/fair use/creative commons.  I had high hopes for this, and got some great responses, but unfortunately with time zones only one could come in and speak to the class, the rest, I had to post on my blog for students to access.

Here are the blogposts I wrote on my class blog:

Design 7 – Video Pre-assessment

Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons

We’re Going To Watch Music Videos All Class

More Inquiry into Music Videos

I’ll keep sharing what is going on in my classroom as it is happening.  I welcome any feedback/ideas for this project.