Citation and Attribution in Grade 7

Our Grade 7 Science students are researching various natural disasters as part of their unit on Earth Science. The teachers have asked me to come in and talk about image attribution. As usual, I took things a bit further than that and used the time to discuss copyright, fair use, Creative Commons, MLA citations and attribution. It seemed a lot more interesting than just showing up, saying “This is you can attribute your image” and then walking out!

We started by looking at some of the amazing and horrifying images of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami at The Big Picture. We read the captions and discussed how the news wire services work. In every caption was an attribution to the photographer: for example (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press). We boiled the concept of attribution down to this:

Attribution is about being polite and giving credit where credit is due.

We took a moment to discuss copyrights and how it should work in the real world: ask for permission, pay some money (probably) and then use the other person’s work. All students agreed that that isn’t how it actually works for them. We talked about Fair Use in Education (for their academic work) and Creative Commons (for their personal projects) and how they apply. It was quick, simple and to the point.

A finally, what is usually the boring stuff: MLA citation. When I asked them why they needed to cite their work, I got some good answers:

  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Allow the teacher to check your sources.
  • Allow others to go deeper into material.

All of those reasons where useful to others, but weren’t actually useful to the students themselves. So I had an idea: I quickly loaded up the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site and went over it with them. We talked about the various elements of a proper MLA citation and how it applied to this site. And then we made the connection:

Citation is about verifying the quality of your source.

Yes it takes some time to do (even when using NoodleTools), but most things that are important usually do!

A Letter to SMH Regarding Copyright

Like most people, I was enthralled and relieved by the story of Qantas Flight 32, which took off from Changi Airport in Singapore bound for Sydney. There were numerous (false) reports of the flight crashing over Bantam Island south of Singapore. There were also some amazing tweets sent by a passenger on the plane of the damage to the wing caused by an exploding engine!

Unfortunately, I was also extremely disappointed in the coverage of the incident by the Sydney Morning Herald. I was so disappointed, in fact, that I sent them the following email. I have yet to hear back from them.

Dear SMH,
I really enjoy your newspaper, both the physical edition and the online version.

I’m also very interested in the coverage of QF 32 and watching the drama as it unfolds. This certainly is a newsworthy event!

I do have a question about copyright and attribution, however. On your Contact page, you state specific steps that others should follow if the wish to reproduce images from you site: “If you would like to reproduce text, graphics or tables, you will need to obtain permission from The Sydney Morning Herald copyright department.” Yet, it does not seem that you follow those rules yourself when it comes to using the images of others.

In your article on the A380 (at 16:08 on Thursday, Sydney time) however, you have at least three images taken from social media sites (Facebook and Twitter/yfrog) that have no attribution or copyright notices.  Have you contacted the people who posted those photos and asked for their permission to use their images without attribution? In the same article, you make sure to credit Craig Abraham for his stock photo of a jet engine. Why the double standard? Were they sent in to your address by them? If so, shouldn’t that be stated in the article and/or caption? If these images are released under a Creative Commons license, the minimum requirement is attribution of the creator. Because they were found on Facebook and Twitter, it would be easy to find out who that person is!

As a teacher who is focused on digital citizenship and on teaching ethical behavior in a digital society to my students, particularly with respect to copyright and images found on the internet (seemingly for free and without repercussion), I find it hard to fathom how you have presented the information of others on your website – a commercial website at that! I don’t think you would be so cavalier about using an image from Getty Images or other ‘reputable’ sources without proper attribution. Why so with images found using social media? The concept of copyright pertains to those images too and affords the owners of those images rights of how their works are used by others, including large media outlets.

I look forward to hearing your response. If you have obtained permission from the image owners, I apologize in advance.

Kind Regards,
Clint Hamada

Trans v. Inter Disciplinary – A Visual Guide

I’ve been busy preparing for my upcoming MYP workshop in Mathematics and I’ve been getting all ‘Presentation Zen‘ on the slides. Yes, it adds to the amount of preparation (I could just use some ‘canned slides’ for all workshop leaders) but this way

  • gives me ownership of the content
  • makes me really think about what I’m presenting
  • allows me to make something that I’m proud of
  • will be more helpful to my participants (I hope).

One of the ideas that I was really struggling to present was the difference between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. I realized it was because I didn’t fully understand the nuances of them myself!

So, with the help of Twitter (@klbeasley, @amichetti, @stangey especially) and our Curriculum Coordinator, I came up with the following visual metaphors for monodisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching and learning. I wanted something that people could recall in their head to help explain the differences between these terms.

All of the original images used were found on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons. Please feel free to use or reuse them as you see fit!

I have included some brief explanations on the Flickr pages (each image links back to its Flickr page) for each image but have purposefully left them off here. I wonder if those images clarify, to you, the differences? If you go back and read the explanations, does that help?

Any comments or suggestions, either on the content or the presentation of the slides, are greatly appreciated!

Parents, Tablets, and the IB Learner Profile

This week we will be holding an information evening for parents of students who will be receiving tablets for the first time next year. That’s a total of four grade levels: next year’s Grade 5, 6, 7 and 8 will all be getting their hands on the magic next year! This is the third time we’ve run one of these sessions in the Middle School/High School — our rollout has been pretty gradual: grades 10 and 11 the first year, then grades 8, 9 and 10 (plus 11 and 12 from the previous year) and now the entire MSHS.

For this group of parents, I have been tasked with talking about some of the specifics of the 1:1 program and how it will affect their children and themselves. Along with some of the usual big themes – How are we going to support the students?; How are we going to support the parents? – I thought I would use the IB Learner Profile to put the rationale into perspective. As stated by the IBO, “The IB learner profile is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century.” Our move to a 1:1 program is an extension of what we have always been doing!

The following images and descriptions are in draft mode. I would appreciate any feedback (positive or negative!) or suggestions to improve them in the comments below. All images are taken from Flickr under a Creative Commons license except where noted.


Inquirers – Students will have the ability to access meaningful, up-to-date and relevant information whenever they need it. Learning environments can be set up to encourage inquiry and discovery.


Knowledgeable – Students will have the ability to reference facts, skills and resources like never before. Their notes will be searchable and easily organized. Gives an opportunity to show their knowledge in different and authentic ways.


Thinkers – Critical thinking skills become increasingly important, due to the flood of information available. Students need to analyze and evaluate information.


Communicators – Allows our students to communicate and collaborate with others, either in our school or across the world.

Two to choose from! Which do you prefer?



Communicators 2

Principled – Students and teachers must examine what it means to be a principled member of society in a technology-rich world. This is not something we can bury our heads in the sand about. If we (schools and parents) do not teach them, who will?


Open Minded – Nothing yet… Suggestions?

Caring – Increasingly, interaction is taking place between individuals or groups online. It is important for students to understand the consequences of cyberbullying as well as how to be an effective member of digital communities.

I’m not sure how I feel about this image. It seems to show the opposite of caring…

Note: This image is from the University of Alabama and used based on the permission given there.


Risk Takers – Students, teachers and parents at UNIS are at the leading edge of technological adoption. In a recent survey conducted by Triple A Learning of MYP schools worldwide, less than 1 in 8 schools identified themselves as 1:1.

Risk Takers

Balanced – A balanced education is one that takes into account all appropriate learning opportunities. By adopting a 1:1 program, we are not abandoning non-technological modes of learning. We are, however, giving our students that ability to experience learning in a way that is more representative to how students today and tomorrow will live their lives. I’m trying to figure out how to encapsulate Will Richardson’s sentiment


Reflective – A 1:1 program gives students a wide range of tools that can be used to reflect upon their learning and thus improve the metacognitive abilities of those students. Because of their archive of work, it will allow students to compare their learning from year to year.


Again, your thoughts and feedback are encouraged!

A Transition to 1:1 in Middle School – Creative Commons

This coming August the Middle School/High School will be fully 1:1. Every student in our Middle School will be receiving a TabletPC for the first time on August 17, 2010. With that in mind, I’ve started thinking about how we can smoothly transition our students into this new environment. What are the important ideas that we need discuss and promote as a school to our students from Day One?

Of course, we’ll need to teach some of the technology operations and concepts: how to use OneNote effectively; how to use Outlook for email and assigned tasks; how to replace the daily planner with an electronic version (probably, once again, using Outlook’s calendars); how to effectively use our school’s SharePoint portal.

I think it is also vitally important to reach some essential agreements – among teachers and stated explicitly to students during that first week – on issues related to the use of technology: cyberbullying, online identity, privacy, digital footprints and copyright. (If there is more that you’d add to this list, I’m all ears! Leave ’em in the comments below.)

I started thinking about a scope and sequence for teaching Creative Commons and copyright to middle school students*:

Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Creative Commons/ Copyright • Understand the meaning of copyright.

• Understanding and recognizing CC licenses.

• How to find CC licensed work.

• Citing CC licensed work in your own projects.

• It is expected that students attempt to find CC licensed work before copyrighted work.

• All work is to be cited correctly in the body of the work and in the bibiliography (MLA format)

• Explore Fair Use and explain how it can be used in school and at home.

• Students are to use CC licensed work except in the instance in Fair Use.

• Students are able to justify why the feel their use of Copyrighted works falls under Fair Use.

Does this seem reasonable? Are my expectations too low? Too high?

How do you teach Creative Commons at your school? What are the minimum expectations that you put on each grade level?

* – to simplify my life, I’m conveniently ignoring the fact that our grade 5 students will be in a 1:1 environment next year as well. I haven’t included them in my scope and sequence, although I probably should!

A Criterion Based Gradebook

The Problem

I’ve searched everywhere for a digital gradebook solution that can handle the rigors of criterion-based assessment. The MYP isn’t predicated on percentages (how can you give an 84% for an English essay anyway? How does it differ from an 86%?) but rather descriptors of performance. A mark of 4 out of 8 doesn’t mean the student got half of the things correct; it corresponds to a description of the work. A good description of the nuances of MYP assessment can be found here (.pdf).

Since I couldn’t find a decent ready-made solution I decided to create one. I’ve tailored it to the needs of my school: we are a tablet PC school so I thought it would be nice to use the stylus to input the marks. I’ve also created several iterations for different MYP subjects to fit with their specific criteria and grade boundaries. The Math version is linked below. It’s nothing fancy; just an Excel document with a few macros (nothing malicious, I promise!). It gets the job done, though.

The Walkthrough

Summative Grades – This is for the major summative tasks. Each task may be assessed on more than one criterion so it is important that you input date and title for each criterion used.

Formative Grades – This is where homework can be recorded. You can also assess classwork on specific criteria or record results from quizzes. I was thining of the old +, √, – method here and used a numerical equivalent.

ATL Skills – Approaches to Learning, for the un-MYP among us, are specific study skills that are explained in detail through the program. I found it useful to track these ATL skills to better provide reporting data.

The Macros

At the end of each reporting period the teacher is required to determine at what level each student is performing for each criterion. To aid this, I’ve set up a simple sort macro which groups all of the same criterion grades together in chronological order. You can then return it to its original order by using the date sort. It’s probably a good idea to put in the reporting period headers and date first before sorting by criteria so that you have a place to put your final assessment.

The Disclaimer

Like all work on this site, these gradebooks are shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 Non-Commerical Share Alike license. If you find ways of improving upon this, I would love to know!

MYP Gradebook Math;
MYP Gradebook Language A
MYP Gradebook Language B
MYP Gradebook Humanities
MYP Gradebook Science

Guess the Learner Profiles, pt. 1

The IB Learner Profile is pretty important, if you teach in an IB program(me). Heck, it’s pretty important even if you don’t. Who doesn’t want their students to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk takers, balanced or reflective?

I’ve been trying to push this idea for an advisory lesson but with no luck so far: ask students to search for CC licensed photos that represent the IB Learner Profile. This would get the students really thinking about what each of those terms mean and how they can best represent those ideals. It would also be an excellent way of introducing Creative Commons to students (and teachers).

I thought I’d give it a try myself. My initial attempts have been more on the literal side so they might be easy. Can you guess the Learner Profiles? 

Guess the Learner Profile Guess the Learner Profile