Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Summer Reading

            Summer Reading Lists

Final Storytime with KG

Bring Your Own Device: Information Evening & Slides

Guest Author: Mr Hughes, PYP Coordinator

This week we are hosting two information sessions on the Bring Your Own Device initiative we run in Grade Six.  We encourage all parents to attend to discuss and explore:
  • What is BYOD? 
  • Pros and Cons 
  • ICT At Seisen: Communicate | Organize | Collaborate | Create | Investigate 
  • Becoming responsible digital citizens 
  • Care of Devices 
  • Q&A Session
Session 1 was held on Monday 29th May in the morning.  Tonight (Wednesday 31st May) we will hold the second session at 6.30pm in Ms. Naini's 6B classroom.

Below is the slideshow we will be using during the meetings and you can download a copy of our Phase 4 (Grade 5 and 6) ICT curriculum outcomes by clicking here. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What Happened When I Asked My Class to Google Me!?

Well, I have just finished another set of lessons, and in this latest cycle, I have worked with Ms Carnright, ES School Counsellor, and our homeroom teachers in grades three and four.

During this cycle, I attended Tokyo's Google Office and YouTube space, where I learned that when it comes to career aspirations, being a YouTuber is amongst the top three pathways. Based on this information, I wondered: how many of the students I teach are on this same pathway? A simple Google search and browse of YouTube and I soon uncovered the answer to this very question.  Before I continue, a little disclaimer: I fully embrace the power of social media. However, we do not allow students to create personal channels using their educational domain email. [Insert PSA announcement].
Thinking back, it was not until I moved to Tokyo as an Ed Tech Specialist that I discovered the power of social media and YouTube. While training to be a teacher in England, I learned that social media could make or break careers. In fact, even before that it was part of my program director's selection process, Facebook quickly became very public and social media quickly became everyone's business. I have previously blogged about the power of Twitter and how I had a "false start" before taking off - Tweet Tweet!

Heading into these grade three and four collaborative lessons, I decided to Google myself to see what I could find. At first glance, I am a professional cricketer by name, though clearly, this is not my chosen profession. The graphic above is my digital watermark. I use Blogger, so you'll find my blog homepage, top hitting posts and authored posts, my Twitter profile is a hit as is my YouTube channel and Google+.  (Feel free to let me know if you find any other hits - FYI, I am not a cricketer). Listening to Dr. Alec Couros who stated, "who doesn't have an online presence nowadays?", and knowing full well that our students (especially the older ones) Google us, I believe it's our responsibility to ensure we leave a positive digital legacy.

I wanted to use the time with students for them to reflect on their online presence. Working with Ms. Carnright, she and I explored with the girls the notion that our presence, both online and offline, should evoke pride and a positive response from others. How we portray ourselves on social media represents who we are and what we stand for, whether that is our intention or not. As part of this lesson, students were asked to create a digital graphic which was a representation of their digital lives (see images below). 
Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything isn't a bed of roses, and some people make the choice to leave comments, remarks and pictures that are hurtful and unwelcomed. Through contextual and embedded digital citizenship lessons, I believe that we can prepare our students to handle the degree of anger, insults and hatred that is strewn across the internet. Cliche maybe, but I ask myself: "Would I want my Nan seeing this post?

So, give it a go.  Google (or any other search engine will do) yourself. What do you notice?  What is your online story?  Moreover, does it say what you want it to say about who you are?

I will leave it there for now, but as always I would love to connect and hear your thoughts.  How are you preparing students to be responsible digital citizens?

~Mr Towse & Ms Carnright

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The best Sakura books and art have been decided...

The 2017 Sakura Book Challenge has finished. Students who read 4 or 5 books (depending on the category) were invited to vote in the MC/Library recently. Here are the books our students voted as best in category.
English Picture Book
English Chapter Book
Japanese Picture Book
Japanese Chapter Book
Graphic Novel

Here are the overall winners as decided by all Japan Schools...

English Picture Book
English Chapter Book
Japanese Picture Book
Japanese Chapter Book
Graphic Novel

Any of these books are highly recommend as reading material over the summer holidays if you haven't already read them. We also have sequels and other books by these authors to try. Happy reading.

Sakura Art Competition

We congratulate GhaMin Park from Grade 5 whose artwork was selected by all Japan Schools as the winner in the Japanese Chapter Book section. A copy of her art will be sent to the winning Japanese Chapter Book author as part of the prize package.

Word Clouds, Typing Practice & Unit Vocabulary

Previously, I have blogged about typing, and although it may not exist as a static one-hour session here at Seisen, it does happen, and in grades one and two I have been using our favourite Scouse Moose over at BBC's Dance Mat Typing.  Grade 3 through 6 all have registered accounts to and Typing Club.

It amazes me by the speeds at which young people (and not so young) type on their mobile cell phones but this doesn't necessarily transpire into typing, and this is what I mean when I say being able to type is one thing, but being able to type properly is something else altogether. As grade one transition into their latest and what is the final unit of the year, I am using ABCYA's World Cloud Typing website to produce word clouds associated to unit vocabulary.

While developing a typing fluency, and maintaining correct positioning students were asked to choose unit vocabulary from their word wall that was new to them either in spelling or meaning. 

Here are some examples 

Camouflaged typing. I love it!

I would love to see what how you are using this or any of the other tools outside of school.  Be sure to tweet us @sisesmctweets

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Celebrating Poetry Month

Celebrating Poetry Month April 2017

Currently, the fourth graders have been busy inquiring into different types of poems.  In their most recent library lesson, they looked for poems that have touched their hearts, made them giggle or even gave them a scare, to share with each other.  Some girls decided to add their creative flare when they shared.

"I didn't know they wrote poems about potatoes!  What else is there?

"I found a poem about my birthday month!"
             Searching for the most interesting poem to share.


Demonstrating creativity when presenting their poems.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Sakura Book and Art Competitions are Drawing to a Close

Sakura season is nearly over and so are the Sakura book and art competitions. We recently accompanied our team of grade 4 and 5 students to Nishimachi International School as they took part in the All Japan Sakura Book Bowl. We were proud of our teams outstanding effort and achievements in this competition. Many lunchtimes and personal hours went into their careful preparation. 

Congratulations girls. 

Our students (Grade 2-6) have had the opportunity to display many of the PYP attributes and attitudes as they have strived to read the goals they set last semester. These have included creativity in their art work, perseverance and commitment, open-mindedness as they tried new authors and book genres, and finally commitment and integrity as they completed their reading bookmarks and as they took part in the all important voting.

We were proud to submit 15 pieces of art from the ES for consideration in the art competition.

We will be able to announce all the winners in the art and following areas in May:
Japanese Picture Book
English Picture Book
English Chapter Book
Japanese Chapter Book, and
Graphic Novel.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Coding in a WoMANS World!

According to the National Science Board’s “Science and Engineering Indicators for 2012,” women make up only 26% of Computer Science and Mathematical Science professionals in the United States.  With female participation in Computer Science, specifically,  dropping to 18% from a 37% peak in the mid- the 1980s.

In 2006, "the government of Japan established a target to increase the share of women researchers in science to 20% and in engineering to 15%." Unfortunately, in 2016, these goals were not met, with women in Japan representing less than one-sixth (13.6%) of engineering majors.

Arriving in Japan from England, one of the first countries to formally recognise the importance of teaching children computing from aged five and up, I came with a fixed mindset regarding the fundamentals of learning how to program.  Here at Seisen, through activity session with small groups, increasingly I am building more and more opportunities for students to get into coding into curricular content and using coding as a tool for learning.

There is a demand, a "revolution" if you like, with over 1000 apps released daily to the app store and with women installing 40 percent more apps than men, buying 17 percent more paid apps, and paying an astonishing 87 percent more for those apps.  This fact raises several questions: What is currently being done? What needs to be done to ensure coding becomes a part of grassroots learning?

Introducing coding to your children is becoming more and more accessible for those who a) aren’t familiar with the term 'code' and b) the various interpretations.  The number of blog posts similar to this one, the number of open source software and guides being produced and published to the web makes the subject of computer coding easy to grasp for learners, young or old. :) 

Scratch & Scratch Jr.

Scratch is my number one go to, particular the Scratch Jr iOS and Android for getting started in Kindergarten.  Scratch is ideal for children (or adults) with little or even no coding experience. These programs using building blocks, students can create animations, games and digital stories.

Thank you to Natalee (Grade One) who used Scratch Jr to create this digital story while in kindergarten!

Students are starting to ask why? Why will this happen? What happens if I change this? 


I am using Tynker with students who are attending afterschool SASA.  Students commented how this is a "fun" way of learning to code and program. I find it is an easy way for children to learn the basics of computational thinking and programming skills.

Thanks to Kate (Grade 5) for her take on the phenomena that is Angry Birds!  This is just the beginning - look out App Store :)

Take at look at Sanskriti's Pre-historic Comic 

At Seisen, our elementary school students are registered users of The website was launched in 2013 to advocate for wider access to computer science learning in schools.  Seisen students' each have an individual login and are able to explore this at their leisure and are actively encouraged to do so. Students and staff participate in the Hour of Code, using this website as a platform to develop and deepen conceptual understanding of computer programming in a self-paced learning environment.
Using Minecraft, Starwars, and Zombie vs. Plants to develop conceptual understanding

Parents, teachers & students, I hope you can take something from this blog post and either give one of the above examples a try for yourself when you have some available time and, as always, I would love to hear and see what you are doing with computer programming.  


National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,”, (January 2012).
National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees conferred by degree-granting institu- tions,” tables/dt12_318.asp, (May 2012).
Government of Japan, Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2006): p. 25. Government of Japan, The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2016): p. 35.
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, “Population of Undergraduate Students by Major,” School Basic Survey 2015 (In Japanese) (2015).
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, “Female Researchers Support Japan’s Science and Technology: In Honor of Science and Technology Week,” Statistical Topics, No. 8 (2014).

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Core Comptenecy

In preparation for the teamwork required during Exhibition Grade 6 students focused on their core competencies in the MC. After tracing their hands and reflecting on their own strengths the girls then allocated a finger on their hand to each of their team members. They selected the strengths each girl can bring to the team. These included skills, attitudes and personal attributes.

A video followed which exemplified the importance of knowing your own core competencies so that you can lead others as appropriate.

Situational Leadership

You can watch the hare and the tortoise here as they discover the advantages of teamwork.At the conclusion of exhibition we will revisit the ‘hands’ and reflect on how our knowledge of others has improved and what opportunities were presented to showcase each student's core competences.

International Women's Day

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sharing the Planet: It's Not Always About Winning

Sharing the Planet: Plague Inc

After having just spent the last two hours 'playing games' with grade six, I feel the need to write a blog post and explain my actions :)

The current unit, Sharing the Planet, in this case, should be called, 'Spreading the Planet with Disease!'

Let me dissect this for you readers:
Box 1 of the PYP Planner
With the above explanation in mind, how do I justify 'playing games' for two hours?  It is no secret that if we give a student an iPad with little or no guidance, they will just ' play around.' They might learn something from it, but do they really know what they have learned and how to record, articulate to others, and share in their ePortfolio?

It is fascinating to watch students frantically press the iPad screen in the hope that something will happen and with the expectation they can win! It is even more rewarding when I interact with students, observe, listen and facilitate with their inquiry.

The objective of the simulation app, Plague Inc., might be to spread the disease and avoid a cure being found before it has taken over. However, the REAL learning intention in our classroom is to spread the disease and prevent a cure being found with a critical mind, by developing a strategy, applying previous knowledge, collaborating and learning from others.

Now, let us discuss the "frantic" approach in which grade six tackled this app, and bear in mind that they were asked to record their observations and findings using the below matrix.  Students were expected to document the changes/actions that help spread the disease and record the changes/actions that hinder the disease to spread and examples from the real world.
Question: How many students were actually recording during this "frantic" period?  You guessed it: very little! Remember, they were playing!  
At this point, the students noticeably started to slow down.  The noise levels dropped.  Students became engaged and serious about the task in hand.  It was not about winning that comes with gaming, it became about using prior knowledge to further the spread of their disease, about collaborating with their peers to hear and see what they are doing well and how they might replicate this in their simulation.
A particular standout moment for me was from Isabella, when she perceptively informed those around her that if they were starting in a cold country, then would need to make sure that the cold wouldn't hinder the spread of the disease.

Where would start the spread of a deadly disease and Why?

Students watch their screens, react to the news and come up with strategies to further spread the disease.

Related Blog Posts: Not all screentime is screen time

As always, we would love to hear your comments. Feel free to share and follow us on Twitter!

Mr Towse

Thursday, 16 February 2017

| ICT | Exhibition 2017 |

Thank you to parents, guardians and of course students who came out for #SeisenExhibtion17 Launch Night! 

How Will You Use ICT Today?

Students will use ICT throughout their Exhibition.  It will take on many forms and will visible via our Exhibition Site, Grade Six Blog and students will evidence their inquiry on their ePortfolio.

Below is the presentation that was shared. If you have any further queries about the PYP Exhibition at Seisen International School, please do not hesitate to contact our PYP Coordinator or Grade Six Homeroom Staff.

Stop! Motion! How We Express Ourselves

During this year's grade two How We Express Ourselves unit students learned through inquiry (and Stop Motion Studio) that stories can engage their audience, communicate meaning, and express values. In addition to enjoying stories created by others, students also learned how to express one's self in creative ways by using their imagination.

In collaboration with our art teacher, Ms Diane, students learned how to share stories by making stop motion videos. The girls have been retelling traditional folktales and illustrating the stories by drawing pictures during art class.

Introducing iPads, we were able to take pictures of their modelled clay and turn their artwork into stop motion animations with the app, Stop Motion Studio. Students learned new skills and deepened their knowledge from grade one. Learning to make incremental changes between frames so in the final product the illusion of movement is created.

Besides the technical know-how, this art form gives learners an opportunity to develop PYP Attitudes - with learning a new set of skills comes the need to preserve!  When we consider it take Nick Park creator of Wallace and Gromit claymation movies take over a year to bring his creations to the cinema.
Do any other of the Attitudes spring to mind?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Read and Code this Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! 

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Click here to read about Chinese New Year celebrations here at Seisen Elementary School.

For more information or to learn more about how to get your daughter coding, please do not hesitate to contact me.