Common Sense Media & Hamlin Partnership … year 3


Dear Parents, We’re excited to again be working with Common Sense this year as part of their Supporter School digital_citizenship-certified_school-medProgram (our third year). We’ve partnered with Common Sense because we are fully committed to empowering our children to make safe, responsible decisions online and help them take advantage of the best that technology has to offer for learning. Many of you may know Common Sense for their movie, TV, and book ratings and reviews, but they also provide a wealth of education resources that we will be implementing in a variety of ways.

As a member school, we are taking a whole-community approach to digital citizenship and will provide students and families with the support and tools you need to navigate the digital world in the classroom and at home. We will be sharing Common Sense’s best resources with you throughout the school year, including timely tips and advice, as well as engaging in parent and educator workshops and sharing best practices with a network of member independent schools in the Bay Area and across the country.

To prepare for the back-to-school questions and concerns you may have, check out Back-to-School Rules for Cell Phones, What is Pokémon Go?, and 5 Social Media Musts for Teens. Visit for more information, and we will keep you updated about this program through coffees, events, and weekly blog postings right here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 3.34.28 PM

2nd Annual Online Teen Dance Film Festival …

Created by Middle School Dance Teacher, Jill Randall, at The Hamlin School in San Francisco, this twenty plus minute film festival highlights the work of middle school dancers at Hamlin as well as selected films from other middle schools and high schools around the globe. ”Dance for the camera” work blends dancing and technology in creative and engaging ways.

On/Line Teen Dance Film Festival – 2016 from Jill Randall on Vimeo.

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 6/2/2016



Our year is coming to a close and educators, parents and students are looking forward to a change in routine.  But, as we head into the summer, I want to be sure to address one of the biggest parenting frustrations I hear about time and time again: setting screen limits, picking appropriate media, and figuring out Snapchat. We’re raising “digital natives” but we’re supposed to be the experts? Actually, no. It turns out, the most effective way to help your kid have a healthy relationship to media is by being their media mentor.

Many of us think we need to have all the answers. Or we just stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best. But, as so often happens, the middle road is juuuuust right. Researcher Alexandra Samuel surveyed 10,000 North American families and found that some parents put strict limits on what their kids could watch or play (“limiters”), especially when they’re young, while others (especially parents of teens) let their kids control screen time and embrace the idea that more tech is good tech (“enablers”).

But about a third of the parents — whom she calls “media mentors” — consistently engaged in media with their kids, despite their ages, and these kids had better outcomes. Kids of media mentors were less likely to access porn, chat online with a stranger, and impersonate an adult or peer online. Exactly what you’re hoping for as a parent, right?  We have the power to talk with our kids about what they’re seeing, to understand the media in new ways with them, to help them see how it might relate to their outside world, how to look up from their media…. Don’t we want kids today to have people around them who are interacting with them while they’re interacting with media?

So what does it take to be a media mentor“? Please read these 5 steps to learn how you can be a media mentor.  

In addition, I wanted to leave you with a list of the top picks for out-of-school learning from our expert teachers. With these great apps, games, and websites, kids can practice core skills, as well as pursue lifelong learning in whatever interests them most. Parents, take note!

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 5/19/2016



Summer is approaching and it is time to prepare yourself and your kids for summer camp. When your kid’s summer camp tells you to just pack the essentials — swim suit, sunscreen, sleeping bag — a cell phone is usually not on the list. In fact, it’s generally on the “What Not to Bring” list. But for parents, staying in touch with our kids feels essential, and some find it not so easy to break the habit of checking in. Here are sometried and tested tips for parents with the jitters about sending their kids on their summer camp adventure.  

Ok, don’t laugh, but what about Virtual summer camp!  Before you say “over my dead body” these aren’t the solitary, sedentary experiences you fear.  Going to camp online can also give kids something unique: individual attention. You, a babysitter, a grandparent, or even an older sibling act as virtual camp counselors, leading — and even learning alongside — your kids. With many of the virtual camps in this blog, you can mix and match activities to tailor the experience to your kids’ interests. For example, DIY, where there are dozens of skill-based activities (which it calls “challenges”) in a variety of categories, including Art, Business, and Engineering, that kids can do year-round.Expect to be more involved if you go for the free, choose-your-own-adventure camps. But fee-based camps call for some adult participation, too. 

Check out these interesting offerings to supplement those days at home when you are at a loss for what to do to keep your kids engaged and entertained!

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


Coding (Social Studies+Spanish) = Amazing Learning for ALL!

As part of the third grade social studies curriculum, the girls learn about Central and South America and the people and animals that live in those countries. This year, the Third Grade Teachers worked with Spanish Teacher Kate McGinnis and STEM Teacher Caroline Windell as they combined their social studies, Spanish, and coding knowledge into one amazing online project.

They girls researched a specific rainforest animal and then wrote an interview between their animal and another character using common Spanish phrases such as ¿Dónde vives? and ¿Qué comes? They then used the block-based coding language in Scratch to animate their interviews, record their animations, and then save their animations as a stand-alone videos.

Here is a sample by Sophia:

As more projects like this one are successfully completed (and shared) – we look forward to seeing the robust learning and iterative design processes inherent in coding instruction – reaching students and faculty in a variety of subject areas.

Ladies Night @ the Tech Shop

A few weeks ago, six fabulous women from the Bay Area Independent School Network (BAISNet) met for Ladies Night at TechShop San Francisco. We worked with trained instructors as we welded and powder coated steel picture frames. The TechShop is a makerspace that offers classes designed to teach you how to use a specific tool or machine or complete a particular project.Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 8.33.50 AM

Next month, we’re designing and crafting our own rubber stamps on the laser cutter!

I am very much looking forward to bringing the exciting new skills that I am learning at these events to the girls at Hamlin in the Riveter Lab!

C. Windell

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 5/12/2016



 The idea of pretending to be someone your not never gets old and kids are highly susceptible to “faking” identities. There is even a name for this in the online world — “catfishing”– and its common enough to have inspired a movie and a TV show,which I highly recommend watching together with your teen.  But creating a false persona isn’t the only bait-and-switch game out there. New apps let kids boost, create, or totally fabricate reality, tapping into the pressure kids feel to project a certain public image. Teens are especially vulnerable, since a lot of their social lives play out online, and they may be tempted to lie using tech.  

catfish-meaningKids can fake a GPS location, create a fake friends, or even buy followers and “likes.” Learn more about helping your kids use social media safely and responsibly, and how to help them think through the consequences of creating fake profilesHere’s a sampling of the new tools that take catfishing to a whole new level.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense, 


The Riveter Lab …. a Community Resouce

When the chair people for the eighth grade dinner dance came to me asking if I could help them troubleshoot their idea for creating a gallery of student images – I immediately thought of some seventh grade students and our Riveter Lab tools which I knew would be up to the task.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The problem was given to seventh grade students who took the challenge!  They added to the challenge some cardboard, their creativity, our laser cutter, and a little spray paint … and VOILA!  An beautiful effect – walking through gorgeous photos floating in the air – was created.

Of course the chairs in their kindness recognized the hard work …


Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 5/5/2016



 Today, Common Sense is proud to release a new research brief: Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance. The brief addresses many of the questions and concerns that parents, educators, and others have about about children’s use of media and technology. Are children addicted to their devices? And, even if children aren’t actually addicted, how should we understand unhealthy engagement with media? What are the human costs of this “always connected” lifestyle, especially for our children?  Along with the report, we’re releasing the results of a poll, Dealing with Devices: The Parent-Teen Dynamic which asks 1,240 teens and parents how they feel about the technology in their lives.

With the release of the report and the poll, Common Sense Media continues to assert itself as a leader in impactful and important research, which will have a long reach in its implications for parents, educators, policymakers, and others. This research brief was featured on the Today show this morning in an exclusive interview with Jim, and will continue to make news in the coming days. All report materials can be found on the Common Sense website.

Below are highlights from the poll:

  • Half of teens and over one-quarter of parents feel they are addicted to their mobile device

  • At least a few times a week, more than three-quarters of parents and 41% of teens feel the other gets distracted by their devices and doesn’t pay attention when they are trying to talk

  • 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages, and other notifications

  • Despite conflicts, most parents feel their teens’ use of mobile devices has made no difference or even helped their relationship.

And selected key findings from the white paper:

  • Internet addiction is potentially serious. There is no agreement on whether it’s a true addiction, how to measure it, or whether it’s something that is highly related to or even caused by another disorder, such as depression or ADHD. However, “Internet gaming disorder,” which involves excessive online gaming, may be included by the American Psychiatric Association in the next version of the DSM (the resource used to diagnose psychiatric disorders).

  • Multitasking may be harming our ability to stay focused. Multitasking is actually a misnomer; we may think we’re doing multiple things simultaneously, but we’re often rapidly shifting our attention between individual tasks. Research shows that multitasking can hurt your ability to get things done, slow you down, and make it harder to remember things that happened while you were multitasking.

  • Media and technology use is a source of friction for many families. Many children feel their parents check their devices too often, and a large number of parents struggle with limiting their children’s use of media and technology.

The report also reveals large gaps in our knowledge about technology addiction; to understand how media use affects kids as they grow, we need much better research.

Here’s what we suggest that you (and all families!) can do about it:

  • Encourage families to find balance by declaring tech-free zones and times, choosing age-appropriate, high-quality media and tech for kids, and connecting with kids and supporting learning by talking about the media they consume. Parents and kids alike need to understand the effects of multitasking, and parents can reinforce these lessons by being good role models.

  • If there is ever a question about whether a kid’s (or adult’s) media use is problematic, parents and educators can refer to our research or the Technology Addiction parent concern center where they will find dozens of advice articles, FAQs from parents, and other resources to identify the issue. And of course, we recommend families to seek expert help if needed

  • Establish ground-rules for homes, classrooms, cars, dinner tables, and offices by using our Family Media Agreement and Device Contract so that everyone can make the most out of their media and tech time.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


Professional Development Spotlight: ATLIS Conference 2016

At Hamlin, we’re constantly striving to innovate in the classroom, with the benefit of students and evidence based pedagogy at the heart of our choices. ATLIS, a new organization started only two years ago, offers a great conference focusing on education technology specifically in Independent Schools. I’m grateful to the Hamlin community for sponsoring me as I pursued this excellent professional development opportunity.

Sessions included:

  • Ideas around integrating maker spaces into curriculum
  • How to create relevant and timely digital citizenship curriculum
  • Cyber security
  • The future of education technology in Independent Schools
  • Strategies around providing professional development to faculty and staff

I also teamed up with Kelsey Vrooman, one of the founding members of ATLIS, and presented a Deep Dive (1h45min) presentation about Blended Learning (BL). With around 20 attendees, we had a fruitful discussion about BL and how various models are being applied within Independent Schools currently.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having returned, my mind is now buzzing with ideas! Thank you, Hamlin, for the opportunity to connect with like minded educators and learn from some of the most accomplished education technology leaders in the country.