Blogpost of the Week

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 ...

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

Camouflaged Typing

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 me @MrTowse

Coding: It's 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 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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