Teacher Goal: Holiday Sushi Class

IMG_3086My teacher learning goal this year is to improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.  Over the past five years, I feel like I’ve had a lot of PD and growth with my teaching strategies and I have developed a good curriculum for our design department.  However, teaching a very skill-based course,  I need to acquire new skills, especially since I haven’t worked professionally as a designer.

One strategy was to attend cooking classes to:

1. Learn new skills and cooking techniques

2. See how other people teach cooking

3. Evaluate the kitchen space and how materials/ingredients are managed


I not only gained confidence in creating sushi, I learned about Japanese ingredients I had never purchased or worked with before. I saw how much the teacher prepped for the class. (It was a lot.) But, I came to the conclusion that when creating a highly technical product, there may be more prep time needed, especially for a limited time frame (like my 60 minute class).  Our chef-teacher and her team had measured out the quantity of all the ingredients, while still leaving a lot of the prep to the participants, like mixing, cutting and manipulating the food.

One other huge benefit to the class, was to take the class in Japanese.  After that experience, it made me think that EVERY teacher, definitely every International School teacher should take a class in a language that they have limited proficiency in.  It was good to be a student in that environment and experience what many of our new students experience.  I was able to easily follow along, because the teacher did such a great job of demonstrating (with the assistance of the remote control camera-screen) and she was friendly and worked one-on-one with students who needed help. I think it is really interesting that you can identify good teaching without understanding language.  I’d love to try this again in a school setting to see if I can learn or see learning in a classroom without mastery of the language of the classroom.

In the end, this was a really rich (and FUN!) professional development experience.  I now give myself at least an hour to prep the kitchen for classes (which is time consuming) but worth it.  I get to spend more time giving formative feedback to my students and I can really have my students focus on the skills I want them to, rather than try to rush around and in the end make a big mess in the kitchen, because there wasn’t enough time to do everything.  I hope to do more cooking demonstration classes in the future to get more ideas to use in my classroom and continue to improve my own skills, in a variety of cuisines.



Moving and Shaking

A few weeks ago, an article was circulating the edu- blogosphere about a Learning Coach shadowing a student in preparation for her new job.  After reading this and doing a little self reflection, I started to think more about sitting as a student in my class. And decided to take a little action:

1. I bought 2 yoga balls as a trial for student seating.

2. I decided to make sure that EVERY class incorporates movement.

3. I decided not to gripe when I had to clarify the instructions to individual students, but just repeat it to the students, no matter how frustrated I may have felt.

4. As a tech coordinator, I want to do this same activity with the lens of looking at tech use of our students throughout a day or two.  (THIS ACTION WILL NOT OCCUR AT THIS TIME – Hopefully in January.)

Here is what happened:


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After the “Bob Introduction and Expectations”, it has gone swimmingly with the yoga balls.  Most of the kids want to use them and I’ve really seen great improvements with some students who struggle with staying focused and/or sitting still too long.


This point resonated with me.  I think my class is engaging and there is a lot of movement when we are creating, but on other days, while I think the kids are stimulated and there is a lot of student let inquiry and activity, they are sometimes very sedentary.  So, I have decided half way through the class that the kids would get up and do something physical/fun and hopefully tied to our learning.   Last week,  I made up an activity called “Left or Right” where students had to move to the side of the room of the graphic design there were more drawn to (that was shown on the projection on the board).  They then had to justify their selections with turn and talk and full class discussions.  This week, the movement wasn’t connected so much to our learning, but did a great job of getting them off their computers, moving, interacting and having fun.  I did the 5-4-3-2-1 activity from Three Minute Brain Breaks and plan to use more of their activities.

Here’s a clip from the activity:

From my observations, they seemed like they were better able to focus and got a lot accomplished as they were inquiring and analyzing graphic designs for their current design cycle project.


Not listening is a huge pet peeve of mine (ask my own children)… And I too, like the teacher in the article, would get frustrated when I would have to repeat something I just said in the class.  While I make a conscientious effort not to use sarcasm, I’m sure my facial expression and/or my asking someone else in the class to repeat “What I just said” was equally as not nice.  So, I’ve just taken a breath and repeated the instructions to the few students that need to hear it again for whatever reason.  That’s why I’m in class – to help.  If I see kids not listen to the instructions well, then I take a more proactive approach and use more proximity control when I see them doing something else or whispering to a friend.

All in all, these three very little things have made a huge difference in my classroom the past few weeks.  I think one of the most important things about being a teacher is connecting with your students and making the content fun and engaging.  I need to make the knowledge and skills connect with them however I can.  That is knowing my kids and also making the content interactive and engaging for every kid, for every unit.  And, honestly, I think I get better at this every year, but I can always improve.

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.

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.

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!


Reflecting and Presenting

Photo Credit: aguscr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: aguscr via Compfight cc

As I start to put together my final product presentation to share with my cohort, I realize that I have so much (too much?) to say for a 10 minute video, so I want to reflect in 3 different ways for Course 5 and the end of COETAIL:

1. My original plan for the Course 5 project: Bringing the Responsible Use Policy to Life.

2. Honor the Creator Unit (a 7th grade Design Unit) which students learn more about copyright, Creative Commons and Fair Use.

3. My COETAIL reflections – How’s it’s changed me and my teaching and learning.


I plan to do all of these in the next month or so, however, after reading through our assessment criteria or feedback form, I decided that the Honor the Creator Unit is a much better unit to present in the ten minutes allotted.  I feel it really shows how COETAIL and an authentic use of technology really enhanced my teaching and my students’ and my learning.  Since there is also a final product to the unit and assessment, I think that this suits the expectation of how I will receive feedback.

I feel like I’ve done a good job on teaching the components of the RUP to our community, but it’s on-going and a bit harder to present for Course 5.

So, hopefully, I’ll be posting my movie reflection for Course 5 in the near future, with the other two reflections coming in the following weeks.