… – – – … (Course 2 Final Project)

Image via Pixabay

Course 2 has come and gone in a flash! There were great discussions of copyright and plagiarism; I learned so much and gained resources for images via Pixabay or Pexels. We spoke of online privacy and yet leaving positive digital footprints. Furthermore, we reflected on empowering connections among our students. The bottom line? Be a good person – on AND offline. And then all of a sudden, there was the final project. SOS! Where did THAT come from?! Help! I sent my very own SOS via Twitter. But first, I had to YouTube HOW to use Twitter (facepalm). Huge thanks to Carolin (@carolin_escobar) and Nick (@NicholasKGarvin) for coming to the rescue!

Final Project: Option 3-Responsible Use Agreement (RUA)/Responsible Use Policy (RUP)

Our group collaborated on modifying and updating an RUA from Nick’s school, UWC Thailand. The school currently does not have a Tech Director and any documents pertaining to technology was outdated. We opted to enhance the existing RUA by creating something more accessible for the students. Considering Nick and I both teach lower elementary students, I thought that it would be appropriate and valuable.  As a result, the language written in the student contracts were more age appropriate, and in addition, we created a resource for teachers to use to introduce and discuss proper use of equipment and fundamental aspects of digital citizenship – I present to you our Digital Citizenship Ebook for K-2.

The Ebook was created using Google Slides as the main platform. We collaborated on each slide by making comments, adding photos, videos, and additional resources. The Ebook can be easily customised by any teacher at any school, and it can also be shared with parents. The language, photos and videos were appropriate for K-2 students (including ELL students).

The Ebook has a corresponding Google Doc called the Digital Citizenship and and Responsible Use in the Primary School (K-5). The document restates the student behavior, proper use and fundamental aspects of digital citizenship under the headings of Be Safe, Be Respectful and Be Responsible – the school-wide essential agreements that students are already familiar with.


Google Hangouts (credit to Carolin Escobar)

The Course 2 Final Project was enlightening to say the least. We had to overcome challenges such as, how can we find a common meeting time to conduct a Google Hangout if we are in four different time zones?! Thanks to technology we were able to make this work. Comments on our Google Doc and Slides made it relatively easy for us to maintain contact in order to ask questions and receive feedback. Messages via Twitter also kept me on my toes. It helped me REMEMBER to check Twitter once in awhile. I am so thankful for my team for their knowledge, insight and patience during this project. 

Shukraan jazilaan! 


“…a ripple of change.”

Image via skitterphoto.com

Thanks to FaceTime or video calling via Facebook, I am more connected to family and friends – especially as I am living abroad. I have a friend/mentor from home with whom I like to schedule “Facetime dates” to talk about recent news or drama. Our conversations can be as exciting as, “Guess what happened to so-and-so?!” or “What did you have for dinner last night?” Nevertheless, I am thankful for technology for keeping us connected.

Last week our topic of conversation was of global news. Bombings in Syria, children suffering from starvation in Yemen, the recent California wildfires and so much more. It was too much! As usual I complained of this type of news, and my friend simply replies, “It’s not news. It’s always been there. Now it’s more evident due to the Internet.” Ugh. Thanks a lot, Internet.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, I occasionally pause at the pages or images entitled “In case you missed it.” Generally, they post positive news. There ARE good people in the world doing good deeds. There are little games, videos or challenges to fill your Facebook with something positive. The post could be as simple as sharing a video compilation of tumbling pandas (It’s great! I promise!)

And then I wondered: How can I take this back to my classroom? How do I introduce the notion of spreading positive vibes or good deeds with my students?

Photo Credit: Danieal Longanetti

Well, to start, I utilised a strategy that my former colleague, Danieal Longanetti (@teach2learn13),  shared during her Seesaw presentation at Mini-Nesa in Doha, Qatar during the spring of 2017. It was a straightforward anchor chart that featured feedback and open-minded comments. Duh! It was so simple, yet an effective way to teach students how to write appropriate feedback and open-minded comments. She introduced this idea to her students while they were working on their Seesaw portfolios and sharing it with other students from different schools. When I started this concept in the comfort of our classroom, I realized just how much one, small, positive comment can affect my young learner’s self-esteem and passion for learning. My students were all afraid and/or embarrassed to share their songs with each other in the class, but then they realized that their peers felt the same way! They all received some sort of positive comment and gave each other suggestions to improve their work. And they wanted to! The students were inspired to improve their songs and to share it again with the group.  The idea became one, small ripple of change that made the biggest impact.

It might start within the music room walls, but soon I hope to “spread the good” in our school and hopefully beyond.  

“It takes but one person, one moment, one conviction to start a ripple of change.” – Donna Brazile

Counting down ‘til winter break! We can do this, Online9!

People first. Musicians second.

Image via Pixabay

In my school, music classes, and other specialist classes, are delivered once a week to every class in every grade at the primary level. In the course of one academic year, I will see the students roughly thirty-six times. THIRTY. SIX. TIMES. Due to my obsessive and perfectionist nature, I put a great deal of pressure on myself to design units that are engaging, concept-based, and infused with musical and technical skills. If one lesson is “off”, there goes one of my precious thirty-six lessons to teach my unit. No big deal. . . 

And with that, when students come to music class with their “drama”, already I am foreseeing my lesson going down the drain. I am annoyed.  I say to myself, “Child. Don’t you know that today we are going to learn about Tchaikovsky and his contribution to our musical world?! I don’t have time for your ‘drama’!”

Wait a minute, self. Stop. Reflect. Act.

Danah Boyd’s article, “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, discusses her search for “…understanding the underlying dynamics” of bullying and how to “find intervention mechanisms that work.” Although her research subjects were mainly teenagers, I wondered whether or not my school’s research-based programs and interventions at the primary level provides the ideal preventative measures to nurture and support students before they go forth to middle and high school.  Hmm. . .   


(Learning About Bullying – Pt 1, The Tough Kid Bully Blocker Shorts)

For instance, what I love about the PYP framework (although my school is only in its second year of implementation) is the concept of the IB Learner Profiles. The Learner Profiles are a set of attributes that prepare students to become “active, compassionate, and lifelong learners”. We aim to incorporate one or two profiles as we design our units of study. When the students come with their “drama”, we stop, reflect and refer back to the profiles.

  • Are we being THINKERS? Are we thinking critically and creatively to recognize and approach this problem and find a solution?
  • Are we being COMMUNICATORS? Did we take turns talking about the problem and discussed how it makes us feel?
  • Are we being PRINCIPLED? Are we acting with integrity and and honesty? Are we taking responsibility for our actions?
  • Are we being OPEN-MINDED? Did you consider the other person’s perspective?
  • Are we being CARING? Did you show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others?
Kelso Wheel

Kelso’s Choice is a conflict management skills program that was implemented in my school several years ago. Unique lessons and activities are taught so that students learn strategies for solving small problems. Students are instructed how to identify the difference between small and big problems – big problems in that adult intervention is necessary. Kelso’s Wheel is displayed in a corner of my room to give students a safe space to solve their small conflict.

Second Step is a social and emotional learning program that teaches skills for students to regulate their emotions and behaviors so that they are ready to learn. As a result students are better equipped to manage challenging situations or conflicts.

My hope is that the combination of the IB Learner Profiles, Kelso’s Choice and Second Step will result in the decrease of bullying in the primary and secondary schools. I DO try to make an effort to remember that I teach people first and musicians second. It will be a win in my book if my students grow up to be the “active and compassionate lifelong learners.” It will be a bonus win if they can articulately discuss Debussy’s non-traditional musical compositions in comparison to the likes of Mozart or Beethoven.

Have a great week!