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

World Creative Writing Month: It's Back!

What Does Technology Integration Mean for Typing:

Increased Student Writing? Higher Quality Student Writing?

I believe that being able to type is one thing, but being able to type correctly is something else altogether. Daily, I am amazed by the speeds at which young people type on their mobile cell phones, and often a lot quicker than they can write with a pen or a keyboard for that matter, but are they able to do it properly and what skills are they developing along the way. 

Would your class enjoy competing against schools from around the world?

World Creative Writing Month is back, starting Thursday, 1st March 2018. This global creative writing competition will see students from near and far competing to rise to the top of the league table and walk away knowing they gave their best effort, and potentially won some awesome prizes. 

I am so excited to be flying the flag and wearing my "Night Zookeeper" badge here in Tokyo, Japan. 

Night Zookeeper started in the UK before launching in  Fargo USA and Osaka in Japan. Find out more and sign up here at Night Zookeeper.

I was sharing stories with those near and far, and I am looking forward to being a part of the Night Zoo Ambassador team across the world and sharing stories in the Night-Times.

If you are interested in hearing more or help with signing up, I look forward to hearing from you +Mr Towse

A Year in Review

Back in December, when I wrote this blog post (at Tokyo International Airport), I decided to hold back on hitting publish, until today; the first day back after Winter Break. But now I am ready to share my year in review.

In a year where I was accepted to the Google Certified Innovator cohort, became a Google Certified Trainer, enrolled into a Masters of Education program and launched a website to connect educators and students through EdTech and Inquiry, in an attempt to build internationally minded individuals. It really has been "one of those years!"

When I look back at my achievements of the past year and the growing list of projects that are lined up for 2018, I am so very excited and grateful.

Thank you all for your continued support - I am delighted to hear your feedback, and appreciate the time you spend in reading and commenting. I would like to extend a shoutout to my Blogging Buddies too.

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable winter break and are looking forward to the challenges of 2018!

2017: My Top Three

Yet again, "Celebrations Around the World" tops the list. In an attempt to connect schools near and far through EdTech and Inquiry, I launched PYPConnectED. Described as a "simple and easy" way of building classroom connections students and staff are exploring how celebrations and traditions are expressions of shared belief and values. If you haven't already, head over to to learn more and sign up.
Built out of a student comment "Mr Towse, are you on Google?" I remember thinking, who isn't. I believe it's our responsibility to ensure we leave a positive digital legacy. And last May, I wanted to use the time with students for them to reflect on their online presence. Working with Ms. Carnright, our elementary school counsellor, she and I explored with students 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.
It is a general understanding that more needs to be done when it comes to Girls and Coding. I would like to see educators step out beyond the Hour of Code, and move beyond gender stereotypes in this area. Likewise, we need to move away from event-style teaching when it comes to programming and technology. Introducing coding to your children has never been easier for those who a) aren’t familiar with the term 'code' and b) the various interpretations. The number of blog posts and 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. :)

To the two of you reading this blog post - my Nana is surely one of them, I wish every one of you all the very best for 2018. 

As always feel free to reach out here and on Twitter. If you would like to work with me, check out In-Towse PD for further details.

~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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