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.
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.
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?