End of first trimester at St. Timothy’s – A self-evaluation :)

So, it’s the end of my first trimester at St Timothy’s School this coming Friday (Nov. 18th 2016)! And what a trimester it has been…

As part of our employment agreement, we have to submit a “self-evaluation identifying three strengths, three areas for improvement, and an action plan to support our professional development”, so here goes!

Three strengths:

1- My rapport with the students and the ability to establish relationships with them: I love the students at this school, and I feel like I have quickly built a solid connection with them all…

2- My use of the classroom facilities and resources: I have quickly embraced the new work space, I love that I have a massive National Geographic World Map in my classroom (picture below):

This map allows me to integrate lots of World Geography in my teaching of World History and makes it much easier to connect both disciplines (which are absolutely interdependent). My use of the technological facilities is also another one of my strengths: I enjoy using the EnoBoard and EasiTeach to create notes for my students to access after class or if they’re absent, as well as of course my expertise in integrating iPads in the classroom (all students have iPads = woohoo)!

3- My embrace of the community duties and responsibilities: I believe I have a very positive attitude and I have readily embraced the extra duties that come with working at a boarding school like roaming duty on certain weekends, organizing activities like dance classes for students, putting on performances for International Festival etc…

Three areas for improvement:

1- Using more differentiated teaching methods: I believe I do an ‘ok’ job when it comes to differentiating my instruction. However, now that the trimester is over and I have gotten to know my students better and assessed a lot of their work, I’m starting to see more differences in learning styles and learning needs and I need to reflect on and adjust my instruction accordingly.

2- Providing more support for my advisory group: I believe I can sometimes get bogged down with all the grading, lesson-planning etc, and forget to check up on my advisory group members, though I enjoy being their adviser very very much!

3- Allowing for more inquiry in my classes: I sometimes get carried away with how much content I have to teach in my IB DP classes, and would like to better plan my lessons to allow for further inquiry. In my MYP classes, I do sometimes stress about the content I have to cover and miss out on plenty of opportunities for further inquiry, even though the MYP class should not be so content-heavy. However, I have a rigorous curriculum I have received upon arrival and there is an expectation to go through ‘most’ of it.

Action plan to support my professional development:

1- Undertake MYP training as soon as possible: I enjoy online IB training modules and need to undertake MYP training soon to allow me to improve my instructional and assessment methods in the MYP classroom.

2- Continue building my library of instructional videos for IB DP Economics: I believe I need to make more used of flipped teaching methods to free up class time for further inquiry, and this means I need to update and add to my library of instructional videos on YouTube (an example of a playlist is here).

3- Attend a workshop or undertake an online training module on incorporating inquiry in teaching IB DP Economics: I believe networking with other teachers and see what they do to incorporate inquiry in the DP classrooms may benefit me a lot and give me plenty of ideas.

This Friday is the end of my first trimester at St. Timothy’s School and also my three month-iversary since arriving to the US. Here’s to another great trimester!

My IB Economics Online PD Workshop…

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Today marks the end of my first ver online IB PD workshop! It was a workshop that consisted of four separate modules, each module running for one week. I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop, particularly how it was structured as well as the learning activities that we were assigned.

The first week focused mostly on introducing the IB DP Economics Course Guide and Syllabus, and getting us as teachers to reflect on the IB Philosphy and the IB Learner Profile.

The second week focused more on the Syllabus content, and making us become more familiar with the four sections of the syllabus through a Jigsaw activity where we were divided into four groups and each group had to summarize the main outcomes of their assigned section for the other groups. There were also lots of other discussions about teaching strategies and tools.

The third week focused on the Assessment: internal as well as external. We had to create a Wiki summarizing the main expectations of external assessment, as well as mark sample papers and compare our marks to the Examiner’s marks. We were also assigned to create an outline for a sample IA commentary and find suitable articles for IAs.

The last week focused mainly on resourcing the IB DP Economics classroom, and explored different resources: textbooks, e-books, Web 2.0 tools, YouTube videos and many more!

I have to admit I enjoy online PD a lot more than face-to-face PD workshops, because I prefer to work at my own pace and I have the self-discipline and self-motivation to stay on top of the workshop assignments and activities. Also, I used this online PD workshop as a chance to look up several other Economics teachers on Twitter and LinkedIn and to connect with them, so I also built a PLN with which I can collaborate in the future!

My Learning Portfolio from the Online PD Wokshop

My assessment workflow in drama: AirDrop + iDoceo…

So, I previously wrote about iDoceo’s new rubric update, and how I was excited to start using it!

Well, now I can safely say I’ve used it, and I love it! So, I trialed it with my Grade 7 and Grade 8 end-of-year drama assessments, where they had to create a short script for a ‘fable/fairy-tale mix-up’, rehearse it and perform it in front of the class. I created the rubric on iDoceo, took a screenshot and shared it with the classes at the beginning of the task so that the students had an idea what is expected from them.

The rubric was designed to assess two ‘process criteria’: ‘Groupwork’ and ‘Use of rehearsal time’, and two ‘product criteria’: ‘Script’ and ‘Performance’. The rubric also had two criteria that were assessed for the whole group: ‘Script’ and ‘Use of rehearsal time’, and two individual criteria: ‘Performance’ and ‘Groupwork’.

As the students worked on the task (which took a few lessons), I would assess each criterion at the appropriate time: ‘Script’ was recorded on the rubric in iDoceo as soon as I had read their script, ‘Use of rehearsal time’ and ‘Groupwork’ I had assessed during the rehearsal period based on my observations of how the group members interact and rehearse’, and finally ‘Performance’ I would assess as the students performed their scenes.

Then I would hold a conference with each student where I would AirDrop them a screenshot of their assessed rubric, which they would then insert into their Portfolio in Book Creator. We would then record a short voice note where we discuss how they felt about the task and I give them one positive comment and one useful suggestion for improvement in future performances.

Apps/features used in this assessment workflow: iDoceo + AirDrop + Book Creator…


iDoceo keeps getting better!


OH MY GOD! Just when you think iDoceo can’t get any better, it does! I know I talk a lot about iDoceo and how much I love it, you can read this post here as evidence, or refer to this page here.

So, iDoceo is basically what I would describe as a ‘Swiss army-knife’ of tools for a typical teacher: lesson planner, calendar, to-do-list, gradebook, timer, seating-planner, random student-selector, resource-library, voice-note recorder, photo/video-evidence-capturer and so much more!

But when I updated my iDoceo on my iPad yesterday, I discovered something wonderful! The new update includes a RUBRIC tool, which integrates seamlessly with the Gradebook… As a teacher using iDoceo, now you can create/import rubrics and grade/assess projects using those rubrics right there on the app… The results will then be added and recorded as a column in the Gradebook!

Here’s a short video of me talking about this new tool, as well as showing how I too am still learning to use it:


Explain Everything literally helps me explain everything!

So, I wrote earlier about flipping my business classroom using EduCanon (now called PlayPosit.com). However, I would not have been able to actually flip my classroom without this super-awesome tool on my iPad: Explain Everything!

Basically, Explain Everything is an iPad app that turns your iPad into an interactive whiteboard where you can draw, doodle, add text, add images, add shapes, record your voice, and export the whole project as a PDF or as a video file to upload elsewhere! It’s amazing…

I’m currently working on building a library of instructional videos for my IB Economics classes next year. It’s a big project, but I’m enjoying every step. These videos are following the IB Syllabus in terms of learning outcomes as well as order of delivery, so I will integrate them with my iTunes U course for IB Economics next year.

Here are the links to playlists of videos I created for teaching the different concepts under the topic of ‘Demand & Supply‘ and the topic of ‘Elasticity‘.

Some tips for using Explain Everything to create instructional videos:

1- Make it visual and try to use text sparingly => your voice should do most of the ‘explaining’.

2- Make it short and sweet => 5-12 minutes is reasonable.

3- Use colors and shapes.

4- Record using a microphone in a quiet area => I just use my iPhone headphones which include a good mic.

5- Start the video by mentioning what the video is about and its learning outcomes.

6- Label each video succinctly and carefully so it’s easy to identify its focus.

7- Be real in the video => don’t be afraid to use humor and show your real personality.


If you have not yet used Explain Everything, I suggest you go give it a try! Enjoy 🙂


A very successful musical production!

So, it’s been almost a month since opening and closing nights, and it took me that long to recover and get to writing this post!

On February 16th and 17th, we had our school musical production ‘Friday Knight Fever’, a comedy musical tribute to the 1970s and, more importantly, a tribute to disco!

It was a great team effort! I was blessed with a fantastic musical director, Anne, who I absolutely loved working with! I also loved co-choreographing the show with the lovely Karen! Directing a musical is often daunting for me, but this year’s team made it much easier! Thank you Anne, Karen, Scott, Lizzy, Tayler, Rob, Paul, Kevin, Jon, and Bill!

More importantly, I had a blast working with these students! Oh, and here’s a dance cameo Karen and I inserted for ourselves! Yeah I’m the guy with the white suit, pink shirt, and pink hat with disco lights!


Flipping my Business classroom!

I have always used ‘screencasts’ in my classes ever since I purchased my very first iPad. I remember back in the good ol’days (2011 :P), when I purchased my first iPad 2 and used the ‘ShowMe‘ app to create revision screencasts for my humanities students and my drama classes too (examples of which can be found here: http://www.showme.com/user15405#ShowMes).

Then I came across ExplainEverything, which is basically an interactive whiteboard on steroids! I would import my PowerPoints into the app, and annotate over them while recording my voice, then export the videos for students to revise, and make them accessible via Edmodo or iTunesU or whatever LMS I was using at the time.

However, I have always wanted to flip my classroom. I have always wanted to create these screencasts to actually teach the content, as opposed to just revise content already taught in class. I was just scared. I was worried the students wouldn’t watch the videos. I was worried they wouldn’t understand. I was worried if I added a Google Form quiz or some tool for formative assessment that they just wouldn’t do it. I had many worries and many fears!

Then I came across Educanon.com! I fell in love!

EduCanon allows you to embed quiz questions in your videos, whether multiple choice or true/false, or short-answer, or fill-in-the-blank, or even just reflective pauses! My favorite thing about it: it integrates seamlessly with Edmodo, and you can import your classes directly from Edmodo, no additional student sign-up required (one less password for those password-burdened teens to remember!).

Basically, I still use ExplainEverything to create my screencasts, then upload them onto my Youtube channel. I would then use the Youtube link to import the video into EduCanon and voila: interactive video with embedded formative assessment done! I would then just notify the students that the new video is up and sit with my popcorn in front of the screen monitoring their grades (as I have nothing better to do :P).

Here is an example of one of my video lessons: