Extreme STEAM at Taipei American School

Over the course of two days, 176 lower school families found themselves in the Tech Cube with fun and exciting challenges ahead of them. Extreme STEAM is TAS’ very own innovation event in which families join together to celebrate a love for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The Extreme STEAM Family event showcased recent curriculum changes in STEAM and what the students have been learning in classrooms.

Take a look at the video I put together!


Innovation Playground at TAS

Here is the video of the PD for teachers and TAs I led in September. The Innovation Playground is an opportunity for participants to develop understanding around learning innovation. Using hands-on experiences and a learner-driven approach, participants will have the opportunity to explore and tinker with a number of the tools and elements of the maker movement. Teachers left the workshop with a deeper appreciation of inquiry through hands-on learning, and a refreshed vision of educational technology.

Curriculum Innovation and Agile Development

(Presented at L2 Asia 2017)

Let’s face it – there is a general sense that the current education system is not up to the challenges of the future. And, it’s not clear how we get from “here” to “there.” Over fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy said: “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Today, this approach inspires organizations like Google’s X Lab to focus on radical solutions to huge challenges using breakthrough technologies.

This moonshot thinking approach is what has steered the collaborative research and discussions of Elementary School educators at Saigon South International School who embarked four years ago on a process to redesign the curriculum and implement a vision for learning innovation.

These innovative approach to curriculum development, was presented on November 2017 at the L2 Conference in Shanghai. Here is the slide show and resources Melanie and I shared. Feel free to use.

Session Goals

This session aims to empower educators to create the future they want to see in schools.

Participants will learn about the planning process and the Agile Development approach that drove the curricular transformations in fourth grade at Saigon South International School. They will understand the challenges that we considered as solvable or difficult to overcome, and how we collaboratively strategized and designed an innovative curriculum. Participants will walk away with resources and ideas, inspired to transform curriculum in their own schools.

Session Outcomes

Using a design thinking approach, this session will provide an opportunity for participants to explore and redefine their units of study in ways that spark innovation, harness internal capacities, and boost community agency. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore how project management methodologies from the world of software startups may provide a good framework for launching your Moonshot in education. Participants will discuss and share their thinking and leave with fresh ideas and methodologies to take back to their schools.

Ice Breaker

  • What is your favorite new innovative education tool, program, or practice?
  • What problem does it solve and how?

Check out our Padlet wall

X-Company’s Moonshot Video

X-Company’s Moonshot Model

Our Moonshot Model

Design Thinking

Planning Document

Information Sources

  • Horizon Report: identifies key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education. The horizon report is a key document that can help provide guidance across all the key stages of our innovation journeys.
  • The work of Sylvia Martinez & Gary Stager on the maker movement.
  • New London group: And their pedagogical approach to Multiliteracies, where many modes of comunication are encouraged to be used in different forms of expression.
  • Make Magazine: Called the “bible” for makers, and its companion website, Makezine.com.
  • Code.org a coalition of organizations such as Computer Science Teacher Association, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, etc.
  • Buck Institute: An organization that creates, gathers, and shares high-quality PBL instructional practices.

Resources on Ideation

  • Wishing
  • Questioning Assumptions
  • Opportunity Redefinition
  • Worst Idea Factory

Even More…

Minimum Viable Product

We looked at what software start-ups call Minimum Viable Product: An MVP is a “version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. (LOOK AT THIS VIDEO)

  • What are the minimum features of your product or project?
  • How little could you possibly prepare before launching?
  • Launch early and often. Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

SuperUnit Series: G4 Talks | “Independent Me”

SuperUnit Series: G4 Documentaries | “Viable Vietnam”

SuperUnit Series: G4 Energy Saving Prototypes | “Thinking Outside the Box”

Click here to check the Presentation and Resource page for the “Coding and Making with a Purpose” session presented by Alfredo Papaseit and Melanie Sylvester at the 21st Century Learning Conference 2016.

Agile Development

If you choose to pursue this project, you might learn a great deal from outside education, particularly the world of software startups. We chose what they call an Agile Development Approach. Agile Development is a Project Management Methodology…it’s all about iterations. We favor getting to work, digging in and doing stuff as opposed to having tons of documentation, and a million meetings”…”quick meetings…short tight documentation….very streamlined and time boxed, and very collaborative”)

Grade 3 Urban Engineers with LittleBits

During this integrated Unit of Study, our Grade 3 students at Saigon South International School learnt about engineering and design within a unit that focuses on organizations, systems and community change. Students had to imagine, plan, design and build solutions to address problems they identified within their neighborhood’s systems.

This project introduced students to the engineering and design cycle in the context of an urban engineering project. I introduced students to the fundamentals of circuitry, sensor technology and electronic systems with LittleBits, and learnt the importance of the design cycle when engineering and prototyping a solution.

Students also used their knowledge of persuasive writing and speech to pitch their ideas to representatives from the Phu My Hung corporation, our neighborhood actual urban developers.

As always, the unit was designed with a focus on real world, current issues, creativity and innovation. The project was showcased on the LittleBits website, check it out!

Geek Squad @ ELLSA2017

Last weekend saw SSIS hosting yet another conference this year. ELLSA 2017 was the 4th annual international school EAL network conference in Asia which created a network of teachers from the region, to connect, collaborate, and advocate for the teachingand learning of EAL students. Participants attended workshops offered by leaders in the field of EAL.

Once more the Geek Squad was asked to provide tech support for the conference, and how could they say no?


I felt so proud watching this group of students leading tech support and coordination throughout the #ELLSA2017 conference. Student leadership at its finest!

Beyond the regular tech support and troubleshooting tasks, the Geek Squad was tasked with managing social networking and create an end-of-conference video.

And these kids are not only good with tech. Watch their signature dance performed on stage during the closing ceremony.

Code the Change: My L2 Talk for the Learning 2 Asia Conference 2016

What a hectic beginning of the school year being a member of the Learning 2 Local team organizing this year’s conference at Saigon South International School, and also being an L2 leader at the conference.

Here is my Learning 2 Talk (TED-Style talk): Code the Change. I feel it went pretty well.

And here is my intro video and materials for my Extended Session: Remaking Learning – Coding and Physical Computing for Younger Students:


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