Finally Friday: Department Office Design Sprint

Our first Finally Friday on 11/23 was great launch to what will be an ongoing series of short (45 minutes or less) design PDs at the Inno-Hub.

Participants learned about a variety of protocols you can use in your classes to spark design ideas and find problems to solve, and then chose one to help them think about ways to redesign departmental offices, which is a real thing that’s going to happen this year or early next.

The architect/interior designer and facilities manager in charge of the project participated as well! After brainstorming through one of the protocols, they posted their ideas to a shared padlet to be considered as design elements for the formal office redesign proposal.

The Transformative Microsoft Translator

Microsoft’s Translator app has the potential to transform how we do parent-teacher communication at this school. It has interpretation features that translate spoken or typed text in real time! While it won’t replace a real-life interpreter, it’s handy in situations like SLCs when there isn’t one on hand. Better parent-teacher communication means more parent buy-in and involvement, resulting in better student achievement.

Watch how it works below.

Enter the Laser Cutter

The Inno-Hub is open for business! Er, learning. Despite all the fancy tools inside, this is an accessible space with a low learning curve. To show you how low, Yosef gives you a three-minute rundown on how simple it is to use our laser cutter!

Want to learn more? Come to one of our upcoming Friday drop-in sessions and cut something yourself.

Virtual School Plan Available for Review

We all hate losing instructional days, but there are times when unavoidable circumstances cause schools to temporarily close. To mitigate the effects of lost seat time, a group of teachers met over the 2017-18 school year to formulate a virtual school plan so that instruction can continue online in the event of a school closure of three or more days. You don’t need to read the plan right at this moment, but it’s available in Canvas along with exemplar courses for review at your leisure, and provides for on-demand training in online instructional methods. Know that the school has a plan for when the unanticipated happens!

Getting Started With Newsela

All NCPA teachers have a PRO account to use Newsela with their students. But why would you want to use Newsela?

One reason is that the 6,000+ articles are at five different reading levels, allowing you to differentiate and customize assignments depending on student needs. Newsela is a powerful digital reading experience within an instructional content platform. The company’s mission is to improve literacy skills of 21st Century students. So what exactly does Newsela do?

Newsela is already integrated within Canvas, it is easy to make assignments and view student activity. Highlighting, annotating, and submitting written responses to discussion questions are all part of what Newsela offers teachers and students. Using Newsela allows for real time assessment of students’ reading and works by having a whole class engaged with the same text, but allowing each student to access that text at their individual reading level. Teachers can customize the articles and assignments to fit class needs.

Newsela is searchable by keywords, content areas, and text sets. Articles are in two main categories – News, which includes current events and opinion essays or Library, which includes all other nonfiction articles. Categories are further broken down into content areas, or specialized areas such as primary sources, biographies, issue spotlight, and careers, to name just a few. Articles are added daily from sources such as The Washington Post, Scientific American, the Los Angeles Times, and The Associate Press. Newsela uses adaptive text technology, with the original text being at the highest reading level. And no matter what content you teach, there are Newsela articles that fit your standards.

Are you ready to get started using Newsela? The teacher support section has numerous articles, tutorials, and discussion groups to help troubleshoot any problems you might have. In addition to the online support, several NCPA teachers already use Newsela in their classes and can offer help on an as-needed basis. Stop by the NCPA Library, speak with Rebecca, and get ready to change the way your students experience digital reading!


I find that at least half of the value of attending conferences is in the connections and conversations you have with other attendees. By that standard, #PubPDAsia is some of the best value for money there is.

#PubPDAsia is a hybrid on-site/online meetup of educators across Asia, held in pubs in major cities. It begins at 6pm China time, when a facilitator begins posting a series of questions on Twitter. Participants discuss in person for a few minutes and then post their responses on Twitter. The latter is not required, but this is a great entry into social networking for professional reasons! You meet old and new friends and colleagues, explore the city you’re in, and come back with ideas and resources to draw upon in the future.

The Canadian International School of Guangzhou will host the southern Guangzhou branch of #PubPDAsia on Tuesday, November 27 at Mellow (formerly the Brew) in Panyu (TBD; likely either the Strand’s new branch or Whispers). NCPA will organize a bus to take you to and from the event if you’re interested; RSVP here. We’ll depart at 4:30pm from school and return at 7:30pm. The event itself lasts from 6-7pm.


An Update is Available for Your Signatures!

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