Author: chamada (page 1 of 2)

Becoming Media Mentors & Media Mentor Month

Thank you to all of the parents who participated in this morning’s session “Becoming Media Mentors for Our Children”. I really do appreciate your time and the thoughts that you shared with the other parents in the room. For those who weren’t able to attend, I’m embedding the slides that we used as well as a few resources that we discussed. At the bottom of this post, I explain Media Mentor Month and link to the calendar of activities (in English, Mandarin, and Korean).

What are Media Mentors?

We spent a good amount of time discussing the work of Alexandra Samuel and her research into 10,000 families in North America. In her work, she categorized the families that she spoke with into three distinct camps: technology limiters, technology enablers, and technology mentors. While we all exhibit behaviors from all three camps at different times during our lives (or even during the day!), it is important to note that it is one’s general mindset that is key.  In her research, Samuel discovered that Mentor-inspired parents are more likely to have conversations about the responsible use of technology, and children of Limiter-inspired parents are more likely to engage in  online misbehavior.

You can watch her briefly explain her work here:

What is Media Mentor Month?

Parents may sometimes feel like they don’t know where to start when talking about media, technology and screen time with their children. Media Mentor Month is a series of activities and conversation starters that parents can use to initiate these important discussions with their children. As we discussed in the session, being a mentor is not the same as being the expert nor does it require you to have all of the answers. Becoming a Media Mentor for your child is more about parents understanding what their children are doing online and with technology, understanding why it is important to them, and helping them to learn to make decisions that align with your values as a family.

It would be great if parents can have all 30 of these discussions with their children, but in reality we know that will be hard for most families. So instead of trying to do everything, pick and choose the ones that are right for you!

Media Mentor Month – English Version
Click for printable PDF version

Media Mentor Month – Mandarin Version
Click for printable PDF version

Media Mentor Month – Korean Version
Click for printable PDF version

True screen wisdom is about relationships. It’s the kinds of connections we can have with one another. It’s about trust. And balance.

Devorah Heitner 



Parent Access to DX

Currently, parents can access Dragons’ Exchange (DX) to see the deadlines that have been set for their children and to see how

In order to access Dragons’ Exchange, use the quick link at the top of the ISB web page/Dragons’ Gate or go to

Click the login button:

When logging in, use the same email address that you use for Dragons’ Gate:

and use the same password:

Once logged in, you can select the calendar function to see overdue and upcoming assignments and tasks for each student in DX:

Please note that parents do not have access to classrooms or classroom resources. At this point, access has only been given to the calendar function.

Getting Grammarly Set Up

All high school students and teachers are automatically signed up for Grammarly. In order to activate your Premium account, you will have to do one of the following:

Verify Your Account Using the Email Sent to Your Address

Most users should receive an email to verify their account. Simply click the “Activate My Account” Link and you are ready to go!


Signing Up on the Website

If, for some reason, you do not have the activation email, you can sign up using your ISB student email address at

Once there, click “Join Your Organization”:

Fill in the correct information, including your ISB email address:

You will receive a confirmation email:


Once you click “Verify email” you should be all set. Sometimes, however, it will ask you to put in your school code. If it does, you can copy/paste this code:


You may also want to add the Grammarly browser extension so that it can be used in easily across all of your web applications:




Be a Media Mentor for Your Child

I don’t think anybody would disagree with the importance of being a positive role model for your children. When it comes to technology, however,  Dr. Alexandra Samuel has identified three distinct parenting styles in her research:

  • The Digital Limiter: prefers to keep their children away from the internet, and often strictly limit screentime. These children are often Digital Exiles, kept out of the digital world for as long as possible;
  • The Digital Enabler: respect their children’s’ abilities to make their own choices online and take cues from other families on how to use technology. These children are often Digital Orphans, left to explore on their own;
  • The Digital Mentor: enjoys spending time with their children online, cultivating their children’s skills and fostering online learning. These children are often Digital Heirs, inheriting their parents’ values and skills.

Read more about Dr. Samuel’s findings here in her article in The Atlantic.

When looking at the percentage of children who have misbehaved online, Dr. Samuel discovered that it is the children of Digital Mentors who are often making the best choices.

So how can we help our children make these good choices? How can we become Media Mentors them?

Keri-Lee Beasley and Daniel Johnson from GEMS World Academy in Switzerland created and shared a calendar of suggested activities for parents to use as ways to engage with their children and discuss. This calendar also includes links to resources to help support you in having some of the more difficult discussions or in some of the more technical skills.

As a family, you may not be able to take part in all of the activities with your children, but that’s okay!  We encourage you to find the ones that you can take part in and make the time to start having these important discussions and mentoring conversations within your entire family!


Click to view the full-size file for download

Click to view the full-size file for download

#techchat vol 2

Visual Writing Prompts

How can we encourage our students to write more? How can we capture their attention and imagination? And how can we start students in thinking about the power and purpose of visual literacy? Enter Visual Writing Prompts! Search by subject, grade level or genre. This is just the beginning. Once you and your students have tried a few, you can start making your own!


Our World in Data

Our World in Data is an online publication from University of Oxford to “show how living conditions are changing.” There are in-depth looks at data trends over time across a range of disciplines that include some great visualizations. Want to see where we’ve been and where we’re headed? Check this site out!

15+ Ways to Use Flipgrid in Your Class

I first learned about flipgrid this summer at a professional development course I was taking. It’s a quick video response system that can be used to hold asynchronous discussions but with that face-to-face feel. Embed the Flipgrid into your blog or into your DX page to bring the conversation to life! See how Karly Moura is using flipgrid in her classroom.


#techchat vol 1


Canva is an easy online tool for some high quality graphic design! (The banner above was made in Canva.) It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s free! You can choose from a bunch of preset templates, use the free images and graphics that are pre-loaded and create a  great looking image in no time. Or, you can upload your own images and even pay for the ‘premium’ fonts and graphics if you want to go that extra mile!

Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy and Finding Balance

Common Sense Media does a lot of research in the field of digital citizenship and child behavior. In May 2016, the organization published this executive summary (sign-in required) of a research brief that they completed with their 6 key findings summarized as well as a great list of references for further reading.

Show Me for iPads

Show Me is an app that is on all of our elementary school iPads. It’s an interactive whiteboard that allows students to import images, add text annotations, and draw on top of their images. They can record this whole process, including their voice explanations as they ‘show’ their thinking. This explanation can include multiple slides so students, for example, can easily compare a “before” and “after” image and explain what they’ve done/learned. This is can all be saved as a movie in the camera roll and can then be uploaded to Seesaw just like any other video.

#techchat is a regular post on the ISB Ed Tech blog. The aim is to share useful apps, websites, readings, and more to the ISB community. How have you used these resources? What else can we feature? We’d love to have your suggestions or comments below!

An Introduction to Blended Learning

Over the summer holidays, we were fortunate enough to send 6 teachers to the Global Online Academy (GOA) Blended Learning Institute. In our time on the beautiful Island Wood campus, we had an opportunity to think about blended learning and what it could look like here at ISB. While the classroom teachers were focused on bringing in elements of blended learning into their IB DP Higher Level classes, I was looking at an overall picture: what makes an effective blended learning environment and what can we do to bring that into our new learning management system?

Based on the work of the GOA crew and their Catalyst Cards, I walked away with three things that all teachers can strive to put into their online learning environment:

  • a student-driven focus on learning
  • authentic, meaningful interactions
  • intentional cultivation of relationships

Regardless of your subject or of your content, these are elements that teachers can weave into what and how they teach. In fact, these are usually elements that are already in existence in a face-to-face environment! The questions for us now are, what are the tools that we can leverage and what are the skills that we need to explicitly teach in order to effectively introduce these elements into our classes on Dragons’ Exchange?

Collaborative Systems in the Elementary School

At ISB we are lucky to have access to a wealth of tools and systems facilitate teaching, learning, and collaboration in our classroom and in our school. Unfortunately, all of these systems can sometimes get confusing: which one is best at which time?

To help our new (and returning!) teachers in the Elementary School, Sam, Bec and I shared a quick 45 minute presentation that helps to clarify three of our main tools for collaboration: Outlook (specifically accessing Groups and making calendar bookings), Office 365 (Groups v. OneDrive, sharing and collaborating on documents), and OneNote.

The Teamie (R)Evolution

slide01Over the past 15 months or so, the Ed Tech Office has been leading a process to evaluate new possibilities for our Learning Management System (LMS). We have been using StudyWiz for a number of years, but with our move to Standards Based Grading and Reporting (SBGR) and a ore focused emphasis on personalized learning in our strategic plan, the time was right to examine our options.

Middle School and High School staff were surveyed about “must have” features of an LMS and time was spent examining different frameworks for evaluating various LMS options. The evaluation rubric provided by Longsight and adapted from McGill University was particularly helpful in getting our evaluation process straight.

After starting with a long list of 12 possible services, a short list of 3 was put forward: Haiku, Schoology and Teamie. Each of these three were then looked at more closely against our criteria by some of the Ed Tech Facilitators and we were quickly left with two: Schoology and Teamie.

Sandbox areas in each of the platforms were set up in Spring 2016 slide02and we were able to dig further into what each of them were able to do. In Fall 2016, we gathered volunteer feedback teams of teachers and students to try out each system. We created some demo classes and guided teachers and students through “student uses” such as accessing content, participating in discussions, submitting assignments and taking online quizzes. We also asked teachers to go through the process of creating sample content for their classes and to have a look at the built-in grading/feedback features of each LMS. (Here are the feedback rubrics we used with the student view and teacher view.)

While theses features of both Schoology and Teamie were similar, both students and teachers overwhelmingly chose Teamie in terms of look, feel and overall usability. In general, it was felt that Teamie would better suit the needs of our learners.

Another important factor to our decision was/is the overall relationship and level of support that we received from Teamie. We have had great ongoing conversations with co-founder and others about possible customizations to suit our community needs. We have had long discussions and have been seriously involved with the development of a standards-based gradebook for the platform. All in all, I feel that we have developed a strong relationship with Teamie. I am confident that this will ensure that we will have a voice in the continued development and improvement of the LMS so that it continues to suit the needs of our teachers, students and parents.

Going forward, there is a lot of work to do to ensure the smoothest possible transition to Teamie. In addition to all of the back-end technical integration with our current systems like PowerSchool, there is a lot of discussion and professional learning that needs to take place with teachers so that we can launch Teamie for all classes in Fall 2017. Some of the big ticket items on that list are:

  • Work with teachers and admin to develop Essential Agreements for use middle school and high school teachers.
  • Develop online/blended training modules for the skills necessary to use Teamie based on the Essential Agreements.
  • Deliver and support these training modules to all MS and HS teachers during Quarter 4.
  • Provide parent training and information sessions during Fall 2017.
  • Continue to use professional learning opportunities to develop capacity and share best practice in the use of Teamie.
  • Revisit and revise Essential Agreements mid-year to ensure they are appropriate.

This is (obviously) an ongoing process, but I for one am excited by the possibilities that a modern and responsive learning management system will provide to us as a school. As we continue to evolve our own understanding and implementation of personalized learning, a robust and student-centered platform that allows for content delivery, in-depth discussion and interaction, and detailed data and analytics regarding assessment and usage is going to be crucial!

Upcoming Ed Tech PD

As teachers in China, we’re lucky to be working in a region with amazing professional development opportunities, particularly related to educational technology. Here is a (probably incomplete) list of ed tech-related PD opportunities for the rest of the school year:

Office 365 Summit | January 14 – 15 | Guangzhou

This is the first ever Office 365 Summit and is a direct response to the needs of international schools in China. It’s also a chance for you to present some of the awesome things that you are doing with Office 365 in your classrooms. It would be great to have a strong ISB presence at this conference and there may be opportunities to support teachers who are interested in presenting or attending!

EARCOS Teachers Conference | March 30 – April 1 | Kota Kinabalu

This year’s ETC features an educational technology strand with special presentations and preconference offerings focused on transforming your classroom through educational technology.

EARCOS Weekend Workshops | Ongoing | Various

In addition to the Teachers Conference, EARCOS supports a number of smaller weekend workshops around the region and some of them have a specific ed tech focus. For example, Go Deeper with Social Media in Teaching and Learning with Dr Alec Couros in November, or Integrating Media and Technology in the Chinese Classroom in February.

21C Learning Hong Kong | March 10 – 11 | Hong Kong

The 9th iteration of the popular Hong Kong based conference. Lots of interesting workshops on offer, and another great chance to hone your presenting skills!

The Level 5 | throughout the year | Shekou International School

Some great offerings, from Arduino robots to Graffiti Art, by teachers throughout the Asia region. It’s close by at SIS so you can get a great professional learning experience with no time out of the classroom!

If you’d like to chat about any of these, stop on by the Ed Tech Office!



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