Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Google Maps | Santa Tracker

It's (Almost) Christmas!
With a little over ten days to go, at the time of writing this blog post, Google's Santa Tracker is counting down the days to Christmas.  For those celebrating, if you are anything like me you will find it magical and fascinating how the man in red is able to make it to all the houses in the world and now thanks to Google you can follow live.

Novelty aside this year's experience has a strong emphasis on learning:

Santa’s Village, which opened on 1st December, allow visitors to learn code, put your geography knowledge to the test and learn different languages, greetings and traditions.  Each day in a similar fashion to an advent calendar, a new 'gift' is unlocked, and chocolate is replaced with an educational game.

I have selected my top three:

Grade One & Two

Central Idea: Communities make efforts to create transportation systems that meet their needs.

I wonder how Santa, his Elves and North American Aerospace Defense Command NORAD ensure that all the presents are delivered around the world in one night?

Transportation Systems

Grade One 

Central Idea: Celebrations and traditions are expressions of shared beliefs and values. 

Growing up in England I always enjoyed pulling Christmas crackers around the table with my family. Is there any particular traditions you enjoy around this time of year.  Leave me a comment, I would love to hear about them.

Holiday Traditions

An interactive map with colourful, clickable pins that educate about holiday traditions around the world.  You might also like to visit grade one's inquiry Padlet to learn more.

Elementary School

Christmas (& Santa Claus) in any language

I would love to speak Elfish.  I wonder, how do you say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in your mother-tongue.  Leave me a comment, with your response and where in the world you're viewing from.

This is an easy one...                                                          This one is not so easy....

I would like to take this time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for the new year.  

~Mr Towse

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Books and Bowls

What do we do books and bowls have in common? As a new teacher librarian at Seisen I asked myself this question last I had never heard the term Book Bowl.
So as it turns out a lot to do with books ...

and nothing to do with bowls ... or even bowling.

The Sakura Book bowl is a competitive quiz game for Sakura Medal chapter book readers in Grades 4 and 5, and the time is coming again to select students for the Seisen Book Bowl team.

I have been talking with the grade appropriate class this week and have encouraged them to consider what the need to do to join this team. Commitment, confidence, enthusiasm and independence are all PYP attitudes that will be required and extended during this time.

Many girls have set goals to have read five chapter books by the end of the holidays so they can come to the first 'elimination' lunch time meeting in January.

Once we have settled on a team the girls will need to devote school and home time practicing for the various quiz questions. The actual competition takes place in 11th April so lots of time to get bowling... I mean reading!

Guest Readers

It is so exciting to have had new faces along to read and tell stories to our students.
Firstly Mr Brittain made a surprise a visit to several KG classes so that he could read one of his favourite books: The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. A great time was had by all as Mr Brittain had to keep reading the story over and over. The surprise and joy on their faces is very evident.

Yesterday, a kamishibai performer came to tell a Christmas story to Grades One, Two and Three. Storytelling is a wonderful tradition that engages students as they listen to and interpret the meaning of meaning.

Reading to children is very important, in all the languages they know, as it helps them to develop many of the skills that will support them as they develop their own reading and writing skills. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My Daughter is Glued to Her Phone!

Increasingly, parents and teachers are asking me "How much screen time is OK?"And honestly, I do not have an answer for that question.  Maybe we should ask, "What is the quality of media accessed, how does it fit with family routine, and how do parents engage with devices and media?"

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to help their children develop healthy media use habits early on.  Devices such as iPhones and iPads have many purposes and are multi-functioning and, therefore, labelling their use as 'Screen-Time' might be misleading.  When we consider more and more schools are moving towards BYOD or 1:1 initiatives and are 'flipping the classroom,' we must also take into account that not all screen time is screen time.  

The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time:
  1. Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music 
  2. Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet 
  3. Communication: video-chatting and using social media 
  4. Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

strike a balance

It is arguable that there is no difference at all, and that screen-time is simply that, but we must consider that eating an apple diet does not necessarily make us healthier nor does drinking milk every day ensure that we will never break a bone.  With that said, I recommend striking a balance between the above activities and engaging in dialogue with your son or daughter in hopes of fostering a healthy relationship regarding online activities.

As always, feel free to send me an email if you would like to hear more.

Mr Towse

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Is it Ok to Steal?

During library lessons we often discuss the importance of how to ethically use other peoples' work.

Discovering features of MLA citations.
This week Grade 6 have been identifying common and unique features used by MLA (Modern Language Association. At Seisen we use this common style of referencing to give correct attribution to print, web, DVD and personal sources of information while engaged in researching during the inquiry process.

The girls began by organising a number of cut up examples. They discussed the common features contained in all the examples. This led to the identification of some features that were unique to some examples. Then as a group they discussed how the individual elements might be organized.

The next steps will include identification and definitions of some of the abbreviations that are used, such as n.d, eds. and &. This will be followed by a lesson where the students will compare their format with the 'official' MLA version.

Students will have many opportunities to practice this skill in their preparation for Exhibition next semester.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

‘She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain’

In the Library Media Centre this week students from the kindergarten enjoyed hearing the story of the girl in striped pyjamas who was coming to visit her animal friends. The animals were very busy making everything just right, including the creation of a wonderful party. Kindergarten students were eager to sing all the words especially the chorus, synthesising the words of the story with the well known music.
Here is a small sample of the fun we had.

Their activity included creating the party table of food with items that they would like… we hope she comes!

These  'tables' will be on display in the kindergarten area...maybe she will come!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

It's Sakura Season ... but it's winter?

The Sakura Medal program brings together students from the international schools across Japan each year to vote for their favourite books. Each year, librarians from various international schools meet and select 10-20 books in each of the Sakura Medal categories. Only students are eligible to vote for this prestigious award, but they need to read the minimum number of books to vote.


Our aim is not only to encourage students to read a variety of high quality books but to give a real life opportunity to set a meaningful goal.  The program will run from November to April. Students will decide how many books they realistically hope to read. This forms the basis of their Sakura reading goal.  An important part of goal setting is to think about how to achieve a goal. Students are required to write down two things that they can do to achieve this goal. They had some good ideas:

"Try not to buy new books." --Student in 4B

"I will stop by the library every morning before class and look for Sakura Medal books." --Student in 4A

Equally important is considering what 'road blocks' might get in the way of success. Students had many idea:

"I forget to take the books home to read."
" I don't check out Sakura books."
"I don't have time with all my other homework."
"Other people have the books I want to read."

Both homeroom teacher and parents must sign the goal setting sheet. Please look out for this over the next few days. Forms are already being returned. Once the form has been returned they will be able to start the exciting process of checking out the books and reading them to achieve their goal.

Here are some of the girls in Grade 4 setting their goals for this year. They have reflected on last years experience and are setting realistic and achievable goals.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Ssssshkype it's a Library Media Centre

Effective and successful integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) is central to connecting those studying the Primary Year Programme to the wider world around them.  Students, at Seisen, are given opportunities, through Inquiry to Investigate and Communicate beyond the more traditional printed media.  ICT tools provide students with a platform to Collaborate with a global audience.  

“Help to create a better and more peaceful world.” (IBO)

Students at Seisen learn what it means to be a participant in a global community, to be digitally responsible and to make informed reflective decisions. 

This week we have been visited by two authors. Thank you to Ms. Linda Gerber and Night Zookeeper Buzz.

The Zoo needs you! 

Buzz's visit wasn't what you might expect.  He joined us from the Night Zoo via +Skype, where he shared the first chapter of the Spying Giraffe, offered students great advice for their writing; 'Great characters are an integral part of a successful story' . He finished by answering student questions. We found out that if Buzz had to compare himself to any of the zoo characters, he would choose Sam the Spying Giraffe because he is young, creative and eager to learn - sounds like our students here at Seisen.
Night Zookeeper via Skype Classroom
We welcomed Ms. Gerber's to the Library Media Centre, on Tuesday afternoon.  We learned she is a 'mom and an author' and she writes mostly mystery books and likes to integrate Japanese culture. Mama Gerber came to read to Grade 2 as part of their How we express ourselves unit. She shared her passion and writing experiences as she answered the many questions put to her. She also read one of her short stories.

If you are an author and would be happy to Skype with us please contact us at  or tweet us @sisesmctweets. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Explode the (QR) Code

If you have visited the Elementary School, Library Media Centre this week you might have noticed our new display board.

If you read our blog post last month about our Global Mindedness Day activity in the Library Media Centre and you will be aware that students were busy creating QR Code displays.  

But if you have done neither, let me bring you up to speed

Last year, students created a Google Slide for each of the countries represented in the Elementary School. 

With the Learning Objective in mind

Students created Google slides of country profiles and images to share information.  Students used Country Reports to investigate and research each country.  

"The ever-increasing impact of ICT on teaching and learning is an important consideration in education at all levels. Through ICT, there are greater opportunities for interactive communication and exchange of information through global collaboration, authentic learning, expansion of the learning community and empowerment for all learners."

Finally, they have created display cards with QR codes leading to these slides - make sure you have a QR Reader the next time you visit the Elementary School.

Qrafter - QR Code Reader and Generator 

Download from iTunes

If you would like to contribute to our Google Slides, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Library Media Centre.

Happy Scanning!!

Friday, 7 October 2016

'Stories Can Engage Their Audience...' Grade 2 Central Idea

Today the library media centre supported the new Grade 2 Unit of Inquiry by presenting a 'river of stories' for the girls to journey around. They had time to browse the books. They read them before discussing them with friends. Finally they shared in groups why they liked their selected books. Students shared their love of a particular page, the story, the pictures, the humour and the characters before checking them out to read or re-read at home.

 We have many more to share in the library and also online so we hope to see them checking books out frequently during this unit.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Yes, It's A-MAZE-ing!

Last year, there was a new addition to the Media Centre Team - in the form of BB8, fresh from the Millennium Falcon. This year BB8 is a reoccurring guest droid in the Media Centre.

Guest Starring BB8!

If you have made a visit to the Library Media Centre this week you will have noticed that there is a maze, marked out in masking tape on the carpet.

Just another day in the Library Media Centre....

The session started with students marking out the maze.  Students were able to show what a good maze looks like and felt that the first maze was 'too easy' so they added extra - risk takers!. From the outset, the students were working collaboratively to complete tasks.  After the maze was finalized, they split into two teams of three and the objective was clear: create a program that would move BB8 from its starting point to the end.  The end is marked with an apple.  Are you able to find a path to the end?

The next time you are in the Media Centre, be sure to stop by my desk and have a go at completing "Mr Towse's Tech Challenge."  Do you think you would be able to program BB8 around the maze?  Using the app Tickle, students are continuing to learn how to program the BB-8.

Could you make stop on the line like our students did? 

If you are interested in getting started with coding, be sure to check out new Tech Resources pages. You can access this using the button on the left of this blog or via the following link
Inspired by Mr E & Ms. Lea

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Global Wordles

Last week Seisen celebrated Global Mindedness Day. During Grade 5s time in the library this week students reflected on what we believe are the important attributes and attitudes of a globally minded person. We also read some of the statements found in the Seisen student and teacher profile. 

Each student listed 10 words including the word global. After these were collected the following wordles were created. There are similarities and differences. The wordle helps us see which words were most common as the word increases in size when as is used more often.

Friday, 23 September 2016


1:1 in the 4th & Final Quarter

As the final Chromebook is delivered to the Elementary School, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our 1:1 implementation plan and roll-out.  

Learning to love, loving to learn through kindness and gratitude runs through Seisen International School and on behalf of the elementary students and staff I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Ms. Rogers (Head of School), Dr. Mulligan (ES Principal) and Mr. Jansen (IT coordinator) for making this possible. 

The effective integration of ICT enhances the learner’s opportunity to connect globally and to explore different perspectives in order to understand evolving cultural and social norms. (IBO, 2011)

After a successful pilot scheme with our grade three students back in November, we decided to proceed with our elementary school initiative.  It was clear from staff and student feedback that Chromebooks were having an impact in the classroom.  No more having to reserve and check-out devices - the Chromebooks were accessible and on-hand when staff and students wanted them to be. It was becoming clear that in doing so we were integrating technology and empowering students along the way.

From November to February, based on feedback and in-line with our roll out plan, we placed Chromebooks into grades four and five.  By this time, it was noted that the MacBooks were being used less for Google Apps for Education and more for Garageband and iMovie - this was great, staff and students were making choices between hardware and software.

ICT includes a variety of approaches to help connect learners within both the local and global community in order to empower learning. Learners’ awareness, use and appreciation of different ICT knowledge, skills and platforms should be developed. Furthermore, students should be encouraged to recognize that competency in ICT is a valuable life skill. (IBO, 2011)

The academic year ended with grade four being 1:1 and we were all but complete.  We would have to wait until after the summer vacation.  In the meantime, our grade six Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme had successfully launched to parents, with two parent information meetings. Could we dare to believe that, come September, we might actually we 1:1 in grades three through six?!

Back-to-school and the final batch of Chromebooks were on order and with a confirmed shipping date the dream of being 1:1 was slowly becoming reality.   Meanwhile, in grade six, Ms. Naini, Mr O'shea, Mr Hughes and of course grade six students' were getting underway with BYOD.  This year we are making the switch to an online platform for student portfolios.  We look forward to keeping you up-to-date with proceedings, so stay tuned!  Follow grade-level blogs by email and never miss an update!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Global Mindedness Day

Students came to the Media Centre today and made QR codes to share information they found on various countries. They worked together cooperatively and communicated their ideas on the information other students have collected from Country Reports last year. These displays will be on the walls near the existing flags so their work will be shared.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Keeping Seisen Online!

At Seisen International School, we are committed to protecting our children, both in and out of school. It is important that we educate the children about how to stay safe in all environments, including when they are online using the internet.

For Parents 

The Parental Control Feature on Mac


If you are an Apple Mac user and your child has access at home or your child is using a Mac device at school, you might like to consider using the Parental Control feature. With this feature enabled parents or guardians are able to control the applications and content your child is able to use and view.
During our Bring Your Own Device information sessions, parents asked about such features and ways in which they could monitor the use of the device, at home and at school. In addition to the pre-installed software, we ask that students use the browser Google Chrome to access Google Apps for Education and their e-Portfolio and we recommend that this browser is installed.
For further information or assistance please do not hesitate to contact the Media Centre Staff.

Some links for further, and more detailed information: 

Privacy and Internet Safety 


Grade 1 - 3 

Grade 4 - 5 

Grade 6 

Middle and High School 

As always if you would like further details or you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Media Centre Team.