Innovation @ NIST

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Innovation Spotlight: March Media Mentor Month

In our ongoing effort to support healthy media use, this month we are celebrating Media Mentor Month! Media Mentor Month is an idea developed by educator Keri-Lee Beasley, the director of digital learning at GEMS World Academy Switzerland. The Media Mentor Month initiative helps bring focus to the digital and media literacy circumstances facing families today. It’s a great way to engage the whole family in proactive and productive conversations around media use in your home.

From Keri-Lee’s blog:

What is it?
Media Mentor Month is an initiative to help parents develop a positive relationship with their children around digital technologies. Just as we want to be mentors for our children in reading or having a healthy lifestyle, we also want to mentor them in their digital world too (see more details about being a Media Mentor here). The trouble is, sometimes we don’t know exactly how to go about that. Media Mentor Month provides parents with some ideas and strategies to help foster and develop that relationship.

Who is it for?
Anyone, really, but probably best suited to parents who are looking for direction to connect with their children around technology. Especially the ones who feel they only ever battle with their kids about being on screens too much (see more about that here).

When is it happening?
Ideally, March, so we’re all on the same page. Realistically? Any time that fits into your family schedule.

What do I need to do?
You can participate as much or as little as you like. Personally, I would love to see you share some photos of your family engaging in the challenges. Make sure to add the hashtag #MediaMentorMonth so we can follow your progress

You can find this on Keri-Lee’s blog “Tip of the Iceberg”.

Innovation Spotlight: Computer Science Education Week 2018

Students across the school at NIST, from the Early Years to Year 13 diploma students, have been creating dances and games throughout Computer Science Education Week. Classes from the Elementary school have teamed with Secondary school students to create their own dance parties and participate in Hour of Code events. Our Year 13 Computer Science students created a curated list of activities for their fellow secondary students, and the younger students loved the activities chosen. Year 12 and 13 Computer Science students also ran Hour of Code sessions for some Year 7- 9 classes.

In the Elementary School, some students have created their own games using Scratch and have started learning Swift through Apple’s Swift Playgrounds, others have participated in coding unplugged activities, and many are learning to code using Kodable. Even our youngest students in the Early Years are learning to code, creating their own movement programs with giant Lego bricks! Our students are learning to code both online and offline and are developing the skills needed for the future of work in 2030, such as effective communication, creative and critical thinking, problem-solving and people skills.

Try your own Hour of Code activity. Better yet, create something as a family.

What will you create?

Innovation Spotlight: WeLearn – Teachers Teaching Teachers

Last Friday, during the In-School Education (ISE) day, teachers were busy participating in the inaugural WeLearn Conference. Hosted by the NIST Learning Innovation Coaches, the intention for the day was to tap into the skills, talents, and knowledge that our teachers possess.

The day began with two excellent keynote addresses. The first, by Year 13 student Ainsley Vanzyl, spoke about the joys and challenges of taking a year off to travel and learn with her family. Her talk, and workshop presentation afterwards, definitely provided food for thought as we consider NIST’s Vision of providing individualised and authentic learning pathways for future students. The second keynote was given by Learning Innovation Coach Ben Sheridan. The theme of his talk addressed how best to use professional capital; a phrase coined in the book by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan. Entitled, ‘Together We Are Better’, Ben spoke to how Professional Capital (the multiplier effect of Human Capital x Social Capital x Decisional Capital) helped in his decision to get just the right tattoo. It was a great send off for the day as teachers then attended sessions hosted by their peers to improve their professional capital.

Over 50 sessions were hosted throughout the day. The topics of the sessions included everything from exploring robotics to hosting effective meetings to brain science to using images to take notes. Wellness sessions concluded the day, allowing teachers to choose how to unwind. Participants could choose to be actively engaged in a sport, learning about new books, being mindful in a yoga session, or cooking food for dinner. Overall, this rejuvenating conference confirmed that sometimes our best resources are ourselves.

Innovation Spotlight: Year 5 Writing Week

Year 5 students recently spent a week delving deep into writing fiction books with a common primary goal: ‘Based on personal interest, students will collaborate and create an engaging book or series while developing their writing skills.’ Students selected one genre of writing to learn about or upskill during the writing week. Options included Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy Fiction, Action/Adventure, and Science Fiction. Homeroom subject blocks were eliminated and students across Year 5 simultaneously engaged in projects that invited them to group themselves based on interest rather than by homeroom teachers. Once students had sampled all of the options on offer, they selected one from the menu and committed to pursuing an in-depth inquiry into it for the week.

Throughout the week, students observed, practised and refined their writing skills. With each writing process they experienced, a culture of talking through ideas with peers and seeking out feedback from others began to grow. The purpose of this week was to leverage a growing authorship culture and offer an experience that more authentically reflects the collaborative process of publishing a book. Working in teams of two to four, students were able to take on a variety of roles, such as ideators, writers, editors, proofreaders, illustrators, layout designers and more. These roles allowed students to work from positions of strength and passion to co-create books based on a shared vision, while at the same time transferring many of the writing skills they had been developing throughout the year. The extended period provided students with the opportunity to get into the writing flow, go more in-depth with the writing process, and encouraged higher quality publication. At the culmination of the week, students exhibited and celebrated their projects to a broader audience and reflected on the skills and mindsets applied during the week-long learning process. Students cultivated a sense of joy, motivation and inspiration as authors, and the week sparked an interest in pursuing student-driven collaborative writing initiatives in the future.

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