Celebrations Around the World 2018

Our annual, Grade One, How We Express Ourselves unit is back!

After the success of previous inquiries, we are once again looking to connect with staff, students, parents, and schools across the world to help build internationally-minded students through meaningful inquiry.

In conjunction with PYPConnectED, we invite you to share your experiences and understanding of different celebrations and deepen your own (and your students') understanding of how different celebrations and traditions are expressions of shared beliefs and values.

Getting started couldn't be simpler:
  • sign up using the form below
  • create a response on the Padlet and Flipgrid
  • pick a school from below and arrange a time to connect through Skype or Google Hangouts.

For more information and to see an archive of previous years, head over to www.pypconnected.com.

Using Google Home & Artificial Intelligence in the Classroom

As our Sharing the Planet unit draws to a close, in grade one, I wanted to do my bit of sharing. I am a huge fan of my Google Home! From telling me my daily routine, providing me with the latest news, or guiding me through a recipe for a delicious meal - it is much more than a speaker. That said, I wanted to see how I could use Google Home and the idea of Artificial Intelligence in the classroom. Enter Mystery Animal. 

Mystery Animal is a take on the class game, 20 Questions. You can play Mystery Animal using the computer or Google Home. The objective is simple: guess what animal it is using up to twenty yes-or-no questions.

When I think of this game, I am instantly transported back to my childhood and the classic game "Guess Who." It was a fun way to pass the time of day, spending time after Sunday dinner with my grandparents; playing classic board games.  Now, as a teacher looking back "Guess Who" it was an invaluable set of skills my parents and grandparents were helping to build: formulating questions, communicating clearly, and thinking critically to narrow down the possibilities, and listening; listening to what has already been asked! Priceless.

Getting Started

Visit https://mysteryanimal.withgoogle.com and click "Preview it here" in the bottom right corner. Don't forget to enable the microphone too. 
Say "OK Google, talk to Mystery Animal" on your Google Home device. (Although, sadly, it is not yet available in Japan)
Similarly with the Google Assistant app on your phone 

What happens next:

At random, Google will choose an animal that you need to guess. It is purely at random, which was proved while I was with one of our grade one classes. We were able to get through three rounds of the game, and all three mystery animals were birds.  *all three mystery animals were birds* #Parrott

For those of you familiar with Siri (Apple) or Alexa (Amazon) you will know often they have a little difficulty understanding at times, and Google's Mystery Animal is no different! I  recommend limiting this activity and learning engagement to one speaker at a time; at least to begin with - of course, you can introduce an individual challenge, to see who can guess correctly with the least amount of questions asked.

Some examples include:
  • Are you an amphibian?
  • Do you have claws?
  • Do you live in a tree?
  • Do you eat meat?
  • Are you a plant eater?
  • Do you lay eggs?
Can you guess the Mystery Animal - Good Luck!

Mr Towse

I would love to hear how you are using this or other features of AI in the classroom. As always leave me a comment or Tweet me at MrTowse.


For those of you reading this who are interested in using this an introduction or a way of cementing the need for coding and computational thinking in the classroom, this video of the designers and founders is a must.

Digital Portfolios

With conference season just around the corner, I thought I would publish this blog post. At Seisen we offer two models of conferencing: Three-Way and Student-Led.

This year we are using electronic portfolios across the elementary school. Paper portfolios filled with student work; great for parents to come in, flip through the folder, offer some words of encouragement, and I while I am sure this is advantageous, times are a changing. We live in a world of instant news and push-notifications so why not capitalise on this and flip the student-led conference.

Grade 1 through 4 are using Seesaw, and grades five and six are using Google Sites. Digital Portfolios are so much more than just switching from paper to an iPad or Laptop. Students develop a digital learning space: an environment in which they can document their learning journey and showcase their successes. ePortfolios are areas in which they contextualise and make a conceptual understanding of digital citizenship. 

"There may not be a silver bullet of Apps, but Seesaw is pretty close!" 

This year we have made a move to Digital Portfolios 1- 6. Initially piloted in grade six, with Google Sites, our transition from a physical portfolio to a cloud-based digital collection has been two years in the making. It was clear from the outset how mobile devices, laptops, and digital portfolios, plus a decent wifi connection were giving our students a place to make their thinking and learning visible. Students voice was amplified with tools such as Flipgrid, Screencasitfy, and Explain Everything. Parental involvement gives them an authentic audience to share their creations. We, the staff, wanted a portfolio model that was beyond showcasing - one that included the process. Their entries needed to include examples of learning to show growth include reflections and receive feedback.

I was reading through the IBOs The Role of ICT in the PYP and this particular paragraph resonated with me...

"It is worthwhile to note that there will be opportunities for student-initiated, spontaneous inquiries into the use of ICT that are not directly related to any planned units of inquiry or single-subject areas. For example, a student contributing to a class blog may want to start his or her own blog as a personal reflection journal. These are valuable teaching and learning opportunities in themselves, and provide teachers and students with the opportunity to apply the pedagogy of the PYP to authentic, of-the-moment situations."

I would like to break this down further...a student contributing to...his or her own blog as a personal reflection journal. 

We wanted to use tools such Seesaw and (New) Google Sites to have students create and manage digital learning spaces that would empower them to document what they are learning at school independently.

Whether it is Seesaw or Google Sites, having this sort of access in a social media way is previously inconceivable - but it is here, and we as teachers need to harness its power and potential. The "Insta-portfolio" Era offers parents, guardians and other relatives a window into their nearest and dearest learning environment - from here to Alaska!

Teachers, if you are thinking of making the digital switchover for your students, I can not type enough how much you should certainly give it a go.

"Start small, aim high and see where it takes you."

As always I would love to hear your feedback. Kindly leave a comment below.

~Mr. Towse

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Digital Portfolios

With conference season just around the corner, I thought I would publish this blog post. At Seisen we offer two models of conferencing:...

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