Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Year, Fresh Start

The start of the new year brings a sense of renewal, and the chance to make some much-needed lifestyle changes. Over the next 12 months, I am committed to learning more Japanese which will make my experience in Tokyo a much richer (and easier) one. Though I've not set any specific language goals, I plan on securing a tutor in the coming month, opening my neglected Japanese phrase book and attempting to study at least once per week. Hopefully, I'll stick to my plan and begin 2017 with some conversational Japanese.

Just because our self-management as adults are more refined than say, an eight year-olds, this is no reason not to begin to teach these valuable "executive" skills to our students and children. Why not have them set their own goals and resolution for the coming month? Year? I'm proud to say that, as a Seisen teacher, this is nothing new to our students, as they are used to creating measurable academic and personal goals for themselves at school.  But what about at home? It doesn't even have to be a personal goal, but how about a family one? Some ideas include committing to unplugging more (e.g., no cell phones at the dinner table), exercising as a family at least once per week, eating better ("fridge" makeover maybe?) and having a weekly read-aloud, complete with reading chart/book diary. Check out this great New York Times blog/article on this very topic!

If you're looking for some good ideas for resolutions for your children, here are some examples below that I found from the American Academic of PediatricsIdeally, you can meet with your child intermittently to have him or her "gauge" his or her progress. It's actually a great way for them to begin self-monitoring their own behaviour and accepting feedback from adults. In the adult world, we get this all of the time through performance reviews, evaluations, etc. It's a great start!


  • I will clean up my toys by putting them where they belong.
  • I will let my parents help me brush my teeth twice a day.
  • I will wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I will help clear the table when I am done eating.
  • I will be friendly to all animals. I will remember to ask the owners if I can pet their animal first.
  • I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.
  • I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help or am scared. 

Kids, 5 to 1 2 years old

  • I will drink water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.
  • I will take care of my skin by putting on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I'm playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week! 
  • I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.
  • I'll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
  • I will always tell an adult about any bullying I may see or hear about to help keep school safe for everyone.
  • I will keep my personal information safe and not share my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I'll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay.
  • I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
  • I promise to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2016! 


~Ms. Carnright

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Body Image & Self-Esteem

(5A stating what they like best about their bodies)

Ah...5th grade. Many of our students are morphing before our eyes into "tweens," and with that comes a host of hormonal, psychological and social-emotional changes that are both exciting and challenging (for the students and their parents!).

I was eager to be a part of this Unit of Inquiry to present on both body image and self-esteem. The students were highly engaged and provoked to think more deeply about their own perceptions of themselves and others. Intellectually, these young ladies are developing metacognition, or their ability to "think about thinking." They can now view the world and its influences with a more critical, thoughtful lens, and use this skill to understand more about themselves. I find myself reminding the girls (often) about how these changes are shared among ALL humans, no matter which race, ethnicity, gender, etc.

Initially, I utilised optical illusions as a metaphor for perspective taking, which is a crucial aspect of body image. Two individuals can view the same image and interpret it in a different way. For example, what do YOU see in this anonymous German postcard from 1888?


Similarly, we discussed how the "ideal standard of beauty" can vary based on geography. The girls were informed of a study which demonstrated this very idea.  The way in which our culture defines beauty can, as a result, affect body image. The students were also able to learn about self-esteem, or how we feel about ourselves, what constitutes a "healthy" or "low" self-esteem, and how we can develop a more positive self-image. They seemed to enjoy two wonderful and thought-provoking videos about photoshop and Dove's "selfie" project. Watch below!

Myself, Ms. Line, Mr. Carroll and Ms. Christine felt it important to focus on the positive throughout this unit, and to use this topic as a platform to promote the need to take care of oneself, both physically and mentally. Eating right, getting enough sleep, maintaining healthy friendships and being able to assertively express your feelings, thoughts and desires can make the growing pains a whole lot easier. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

World Record Attempt

Throughout the first half of the school year, several students have made appointments with me to discuss their online & social media activity. What I've observed is that some of these children have concerns about e-safety, specifically their interactions with strangers via gaming websites (e.g., Minecraft) and phone applications (e.g. LINE). Parents have also articulated their uneasiness about their children's increasing use of technology and their own ignorance regarding how to monitor their safety.

From these discussions described above, the idea was born to start the conversation with grades 3-6 regarding e-safety, to include cyberbullying. While the majority of these students have not yet been exposed to cyberbullying, this is something that they will inevitably witness or fall victim to.  As educators, we are also aware of our shared responsibility in teaching our students how to be responsible digital citizens, while being especially attentive to issues surrounding personal safety and the "footprint" that's created each and every time something is texted or posted online.

As a result, 16 presentations were given over the course of 1 week. Mr. Towse and I were clearly aiming for a world record. The students, most notably those from grades 5 and 6, were highly engaged and were willing to share many of their own experiences (both positive and negative) using social media and the internet. It is important to reiterate that many of these applications (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) have age restrictions that were created with kids safety in mind. Parents, we ask for your help in ensuring your child is using the internet and social media responsibly and with your careful monitoring, to include limiting their time on their devices. We look forward to continued discussions about this topic and your feedback on how we can further educate you and your children.