Year 2 Reflections

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a goals’ based blogpost.  You can read it here.  I will copy excerpts over to make it clear what I am reflecting on.

At the beginning of the year, my main focus was our department’s second goal this year:

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

Well, I wouldn’t say I was super successful in this area.  The two indicators of success I had set for myself was more tweeting, especially beyond the celebratory posts and more blogging.

I wasn’t totally quiet out there, but I wouldn’t say it was an amazing year for me with expanding or strengthening my PLN.  I want to make sure I am contributing appropriately and meaningfully before I post.  I also don’t want to just put things out there “just because”.  I would like to contribute more, but I need to think more about what I want to contribute and how I can post in a timely manner, but do it thoughtfully.

The second part of this sharing and collaborating was to be through blogging.  I love blogging.  When I run, I write blogposts in my head that I think are quiet fantastic, but on average 5% of those ever get published for a variety of reasons, mostly time.  While I didn’t write reflectively on this blog as much as I wanted to, Sam and I did get the ISB Design & STEAM blog going this year as a resource and place to share work.  I also posted more this year than last on the EdTech blog, but it wasn’t substantial.  As I type this, I just want to think more about what I am writing and who I want to write for before the start of next year.

My last goal:

I will facilitate personalised learning.

My indicators of success were:  I will reflect after each part.

  • 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

I think I did make more head way in this area.  I probably worked mostly? in the high school this year.  Which was great! But, I’m hoping to be more balanced next year.  This year, I was able to plan and co-teach Design in the HS EAL class, where students design and created client based products for other teachers.  They learned more about Design Thinking and had authentic language tasks, as one would in these experiences like: interviewing, seeking and understanding feedback from their client and oral/written reflection.  It was a great experience and I’d like to provide more experiences like this to EAL students in the future, as they often miss a lot of these design and hands-on experiences in electives.  I also worked on two projects with the BEAD Math course: one was a client based design project and the second was a entrepreneurial design project.  I think both of these projects went really well and the students really created high quality products, however, there were not enough kids enrolled in this class to really make an impact on a lot of students.

Still, NGSS Engineering Projects are my big invite into classes.  This year, the Grade 9 Science teachers and I developed a new Engineering project which I thought was super successful.  I think it was a great balance of challenging, developing skills and extending the students understanding of the science concepts: energy transfer.

IMG_7597   IMG_7592

  • Build the Passion Project course to be more visible and increase enrollment/excitement around this course

This year, I was able to revamp this course a bit and embed the ISB Design Process into the course.  I developed it as a primarily independent course using our LMS.  Another component I added to this course was a public “sharing” at the end of the course.  Students could share their products and learning with any audience they wanted to.  This helped a bit, but I feel that I didn’t extend that further.  The course is interesting in design as the students who enroll in it are either high flyers who want to extend themselves or want to take an offering that doesn’t exist at ISB or it a course that students enroll in as an “easy” half credit when nothing else really fits into their schedule.  I’m trying to break the stigma a bit, but students really need to be self-motivated to do well in the course.  I also had an enrollment increase this year in semester two, I went from 5 students semester 1 to 11 students in semester two.  I definitely want the course to grow, but it was really difficult for me to manage.  It was easier for some kids to fall through the cracks.  I was able to check their progress journal blogposts each week and give feedback that way, but I did not meet face-to-face with them that often, and I feel like that impacted the quality of some of the work and my relationships with those students.

  • 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


For this, I think that I’ve been successful in some areas, but some, not so much.  As far as After School Activities, I have not been that successful.  I feel with my job, I am often in meetings at this time and I don’t want to tie up my other afternoons.  Next year, I should commit to at least one “design-y” after school opportunity.  Luckily, this year, the Design Assistant has facilitated two after school Open Design times: HS Makers Club and MS Makers Club.

Enrichments – this has been an area of real growth this year.  I have co-taught a few enrichments with teachers this year and it has been a really successful model. I have been able to up-skill the teachers and I’ve had fun teaching and using the classes/projects as sandboxes for other projects.

I have been in to a lot for little mini-lessons on plastic recycling, 3D printing and vector drawing, but the two Enrichments I have worked the most with are:

Dragon Design & Laser Cut Automata

I am particularly proud of the Dragon Design Enrichment I am co-teaching with Nikki Long.  We decided to take turns teaching projects for the enrichment and it has worked out really well.  The kids have been great – super engaged and have been creating good quality final products.  Students have learned how to 3D print, sew, vector draw and we have tried to create products for our community.

Lastly, I helped organize and facilitate the Maker ELO (Experiential Learning Opportunity) this year.  In the past two years, this HS ELO has mainly focused on programming and some students making computers.  This year, I got involved as another place for students to go through the ISB Design process to create a product for a purpose.  Next week will be the first time I have run this and I hope it goes well.  While all other ELO groups have JUMP or other external companies supporting them, we are doing it all ourselves, which has been a lot of work, but it is aligned to the design thinking work students have been doing in other classes, but they can create and learn what they choose for their own experiential learning experience.

This has already been a long post, but other things I am proud of this year:

The FabLab

Precious Plastics,

and helping support the roll out of the K-12 STEAM program at ISB as it keeps growing.

And of course, I can continue to improve:

Having difficult conversations confidently but with empathy

Managing the Labs efficiently

Collaborating with other Design, Engineering & STEAM teachers outside of ISB for growth

Finding balance between teaching, professional development (my own, for our staff, for the Beijing community and beyond), and curriculum/program development


Are there any BALANCED teens out there?

Two weeks ago, the grade nine and ten students self reflected on our Responsible Use Policy with their homeroom teachers as a way for them to be reminded of our expectations.

The two area that were mixed or didn’t lean more towards the positive side were BALANCED and CARING.

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So, this is where LizD and I stepped in to start developing lessons and activities to help the students become more balanced and caring.

For our first sessions, we will focus on BALANCE. We are lucky at CA to have an hour BLOCK time on Fridays that we get to steal a few of throughout the year to develop ATL (Approaches to Learning/Digital Citizenship) skills.

We have created a session with multiple activities to stimulate student thinking to reflect on their lives but also to take some action.

Fortunately, today, I also just watched the Digital Nutrition TedxTalk by Jocelyn Brewer. Which got me thinking…  that the audit that I want the students to do is pretty shallow. What if they are doing great things with their long hours on their computers at night? Of course they are, but they are also probably doing a lot of mindless things as well.

So, I’d like to develop another follow up to this activity delving a little deeper about their online use. I’ll never get them to cut back on their laptops, maybe a little, but their generation is different from my own and I am online a lot.

I find it hard when I cannot deliver all the digital citizenship lessons myself, but due to my schedule and reaching all the kids in a timely manner, it isn’t always possible. I know the homeroom teachers did a great job with this lesson, as BALANCE is something I think everyone has to reflect on and work hard to maintain.  Now, I need to wait to hear how the sessions went.  I’m curious as to how the students reflected and what actions they’ll take to become more BALANCED.

Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence


One of my favorite (and most challenging) parts of my job is creating engaging lessons/activities to promote good tech use amongst our students in and out of school.

Sometimes this knowledge and skills is taught in classes, but a lot of times, it is taught separately during our advisory/weekly BLOCK time when we often work on social and well-being skills with our students.

For me, it can be hard to identify exactly what the grade of students needs and how it can be taught well, rather than a teacher droning on about the “No, no, nos” of their digital world which we are not always a part of.  Compounded with this, is sometimes I have to prepare lessons that I will not teach.  Often times, advisory teachers or grade level teachers teach the content and may not have social media or a good understanding of how our kids use it as they try to share their wisdom with the students.

That being said, I think it is effective, most of the time.  I try to partner up teachers so that even listening to what the students are saying can be educational for them, and I try to have interactive activities which get the kids to think and share their thoughts.  Many times there are no answers, but the students are left with questions, that they hopefully ponder, strategies that they may try or at least develop empathy and/or understanding of the systems and their classmates.

Here is our Secondary Digital Citizenship document to date.  It is a “live” document which is revised regularly.  I feel that the digital citizenship curriculum can’t be planned out perfectly every year.  Every year, different groups of kids walk through the doors.  Each grade level’s digital socialization is a bit different than the other.  It’s a great challenge.  I like that I do teach some of the students, because then I do get a good feel for what they are doing and how they are using their technology.

On Being Reflective


This year has been a big year for me professionally.  I’ve had a lot of amazing professional development opportunities and I’ve really grown as a teacher.  Besides attending great conferences and workshops, working with colleagues and my digital PLN, the reflective piece has been essential.  

There have been two main reasons why I have reflected more this year…

1. COETAIL, the Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy –   In this 5-course certificate program, we are expected to reflect each week PUBLICLY through a blog.  I have exported that blog to this one.   All the posts prior to this post are from that course.  I have always reflected as a teacher, but writing it down and sharing it makes it so much more powerful.  When I first started teaching, I would reflect, but I never documented it.  Later, I documented my reflections in my unit planners for myself, my colleagues and my administrators to see.  COETAIL “forced” me to reflect publicly.  This was a turning point for me. This form of public reflection really made me think more deeply about what I was doing.  It made me articulate my thoughts more clearly.  It made me feel vulnerable somedays and confident on other days.  (But an important part of this piece, is that through COETAIL, I always felt safe in publishing my reflections.)  The added value of sharing my reflections and getting feedback from others has not only deepened my reflections, but it has improved my teaching and learning.

2. I started to think more about my future in teaching.  I hold two roles as a teacher and a technology coordinator and I really like the balance of the two roles, as long as there is balance.  I did a lesson sequence with my students about balance and really started to consider my own balance.  There are a lot of parts of me that wants to move into an administrative role, but I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and at this time and I’ve come to this conclusion (at least for now):

– I need to teach and know students well to be effective in my curriculum/technology coordinator job.

– I need to be there for my children, and I will not give up extra valuable time with them for work.

– While I still want to teach, I need to find a balance in my workplace where I can be a successful teacher, but also need to have time to run with some of my ideas.

I will continue with this blog for now as a place to reflect professionally – the good and the bad as I fly through my second decade of teaching.