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Winter 2013




here have been many changes at CAIS over the last two years: the framework for determining priorities and developing a plan for improving CAIS’s educational program has been led by our head of school; the process by which we determined each area

of focus was created and strategic priorities were established. Starting in 2011, we entered the implementation phase of each area of focus. In the fall issue of Connections, Head of School Jeff Bissell wrote about the curriculum work that is happening, and in this issue we will share with you another area of focus: technology and the work our technology coordinators are facilitating along with teachers, to integrate technology into the classroom.

FEATURE ARTICLES 1-2, Technology Integrates into the Classroom 3, How CAIS Celebrates the Year of the Snake 4-5, Alumni Program 5, Join Us at ShowCAIS 2013 6. (Tech) Teacher Feature 7, Waller Campus Brightens with Student-made Mural

Technology at CAIS is a big topic of discussion. From high level strategy to feet on the ground everyday tactics, everybody is talking about tech. How exactly is it going to be integrated? How will this enhance learning? What are our peer schools doing? Technology Coordinators, Kerri Willa and Xiaoqing Chen are addressing these questions and more. Rather than ask teachers to research and present new ideas about how to teach new things, the technology coordinators’ goal is to help teachers enhance teaching and learning by using technology tools. They spend their workdays supporting teachers – Kerri works with English teachers and Xiaoqing with the Chinese faculty – with the tools to bring elements of technology into the classroom. “We don’t want to come across as enforcers of technology, rather we are the people who can help implement the great ideas that many of our teachers have, but need help carrying out,” Kerri said. Both Kerri and Xiaoqing are goal focused in their work at CAIS. They have formed an educational technology committee of members across languages and divisions to ensure communication and collaboration between faculty and the IT department. The committee meets regularly and contributes to the strategic vision of education technology at CAIS. “Tech

Tuesdays are another way we connect with faculty about technology,” Kerri explained. “We have a drop-in time for two hours each Tuesday afternoon, which gives teachers a chance to come to us with ideas, issues, or just to bounce an idea off us to see if it sticks.”

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Winter 2013 | CAIS Connections

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATES INTO THE CLASSROOM (continued from page 1) 课堂教学科技化 “We are constantly impressed with the teachers’ ideas,” Xiaoqing said. “In first and third grade Chinese classes the teachers are using a pinyin app that matches sounds with pinyin and a Chinese stroke app that helps children learn the stroke order of characters. These are all ideas the teachers came to me about and I simply helped them find the application and loaded it onto the iPads. With the Chinese stroke app I worked with the teachers to enter specific characters into the app so the characters the students are working with are relevant and customized to what they’re learning in class,” Xiaoqing continued. “In the fourth grade English classroom I worked with teachers on a writer’s workshop about informational writing. Each student used Google Docs during the writing process and created a Google Site for each student’s book they wrote,” Kerri said. “I collaborated with the teachers on a lesson about information literacy. I created a lesson and explained about what digital images can and cannot be used or reproduced – and why these copyright rules exist,” she explained. “As students delve into online research and digital information, they ought to be aware of what is ok to use and and how to properly cite their sources,” Kerri said. Every Pre-K teacher has an iPad, and they have welcomed the ease by which they can share information with one another about CAIS’s youngest students. Thanks to Evernote - a cloud-based note taking app – the teachers are now in the habit of jotting things into the app on their iPads as it’s happening in class. “Evernote is great because it gives the Pre-K team a way to talk about individual student goals, track progress and capture things that happened during class. These are things that can be talked about with the teaching team and referred to in discussions with parents during conferences,” Kerri said. Once the student information is captured in Evernote, it’s searchable, synced and accessible across multiple devices. Photos, voice memos and typed notes are shared between teachers. “The Pre-K teachers have adopted this system with enthusiasm, which has been really great to see,” Kerri continued. The process of integrating technology into everyday teaching is an ongoing process. “We can’t assume every teacher is going to incorporate tech into their classrooms overnight. We expected this year to be one of learning observing and collaborating,” Kerri stated. “Xiaoqing and I are constantly learning from the classroom teachers and are encouraged

by the enthusiasm and creativity so many teachers have shown,” Kerri continued. The tech team has a lot of work ahead of them; however, it’s a path that is goal focused, action oriented and measurable. Most important, going down the path of integrated technology will benefit our students and reshape the way in which they learn.

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CAIS Connections | Winter 2013



One of the many wonderful traditions at CAIS is

cutting, spring couplet calligraphy,

the celebration of Chinese New Year; this year we

learning about the differences

welcomed the Year of the Snake 蛇 –- the sixth

between New Year celebrations

sign of the Chinese zodiac -- with many school

throughout Asia, and of course,

wide celebrations.


Marmalade, the CAIS middle school science department snake, has become the school’s official mascot for the year of the snake. Marmalade made appearances in a number of classrooms along with her “chaperone,” middle school science teacher Susan

Classroom activities happen in Pre-K through eighth grade and include learning auspicious sayings, dumpling-making and lantern-making, Chinese paper

PUBLIC PERFORMANCES CAIS music ensemble and dance students performed at the Asian Art Museum’s lunar new year celebration. The event featured China Dance School dancers - most of whom are CAIS students as well as Chinese Music Ensemble students and alumni musicians and dancers, CAIS lion dancers and percussionists. First and second graders performed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in a special Chinese New Year spring performance led by Chinese music teacher Jean Zhu.

Sherman. Marmalade was the subject of second grade observational drawing projects; artistic renderings of Marmalade were featured in the hallways at school and on the annual CAIS Chinese New Year postcard.

LION DANCERS The culminating presentation at Mass Greeting is the lion dance, which is performed by the sixth grade class. The dance is symbolic and is performed as a ceremony to exorcise evil spirits and to

MASS GREETING Mass greeting, tuan bai, is one of the most celebrated events of CAIS’s Chinese New Year activities. The event was held on the Friday before Chinese New Year as the conclusion of CAIS’s celebrations. The words tuan bai simply mean

summon luck and fortune for the New Year. Each year the sixth grade class is given the responsibility to learn and perform the lion dance.The sixth grade lion dancers continued their performances during the weeks following Mass Greeting, parading through CAIS and French American International School classrooms of Oak Street campus and CAIS Pre-K Waller Street campus.

people gathering together during Chinese New Year to wish each other good fortune for the year. CAIS holds Mass Greeting as a way to bring the community together. At the event students from each grade led the school community in songs, music and dance to celebrate Chinese New Year.

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2004? ? 3 0 0 2 ? 9 1 0 9 0 9 2 5 ? 1998? ? 5 9 19 20 08 ? ? 2 0 0 0 1 ? 0 0 2 ALUMNI NEWS 校友专栏

CALLING FOR ALUMNI CLASS CAPTAINS! Introducing our CAIS Alumni Class Captains

Help us build our alumni program by being a class


captain. We’re looking for class captains to repre-


sent classes that are not listed, re-connect with


their classmates and share alumni news for our next Connections issue! If you would like to get involved,


please email the alumni team at



luncheon g in iv g s k Than

Class of 2012 reunion!

Flowers for Ms. Soukhova!

Class of 2011 girls

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Class of 2012 girls

Boys of 2010

CAIS Connections | Winter 2013

JOIN US AT SHOWCAIS 2013 诚邀您参与:2013中美辉煌之夜 Save the date! ShowCAIS 2013 is taking place at the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco on Saturday, May 11. Our evening gala will include delectable cuisine, fantastic auction items, live entertainment and the company of our devoted CAIS community members. Come see how Head of School Jeff Bissell explains CAIS’s interpretation of this year’s theme, Rare Indigo. Look for your invitation in the mail in late March. For questions about this year’s ShowCAIS, please contact Jennifer Mullen at

SATURDAY, MAY 11 RITZ CARLTON, SAN FRANCISCO (Thanksgiving Luncheon continued from Page 4) Were you at the alumni Thanksgiving luncheon? If not, you were missed! My name is Bubba, and I happily greeted the 40 plus alumni and family members who revisited the CAIS gymnasium for the first alumni Thanksgiving luncheon. With one side of the gymnasium occupied by the annual middle school pot-luck, the alumni team hosted a catered Chinese cuisine of dumplings, noodles and fried rice and Thanksgiving favorites including turkey (I told them they should’ve gone with Tofurkey!) and pumpkin pie. It was great seeing alumni reconnecting with old friends and their former teachers. I’m

ft. turkey Bubba the 6

sure to be back next year, and I hope to see you there too! -- Bubba

Email, add us on Facebook, or check our website for updates on our summer professional opportunities and how to stay connected!



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Winter 2013 | CAIS Connections

TEACHER FEATURE 教师专栏 CAIS Connections (CC) caught up with our two busy

CC: Your role is supporting the Chinese faculty. What’s

Technology Coordinators (aka “tech teachers”), Kerri Willa

that like?

(KW) and Xiaoqing Chen (XC), to discuss their roles at CAIS.

XC: They have a lot of enthusiasm and like sharing ideas.

This is Xiaoqing’s first year with the CAIS technology

They often come in asking me what tech tools they can

department, and Kerri’s second.

use to support their Chinese classroom projects. Chinese teachers also share a lot among each other. For example,

CC: How do you describe your role to our community?

when one Chinese teacher starts a new tech project,

KW: A really important part of our role is working with teach-

another Chinese teacher will come to me not too long

ers to integrate technology into their existing curriculum. The

after and ask me if I can demonstrate how to use the

idea is to do this in an organic way that enhances teaching

same tool for their classroom. It’s wonderful to see their

and learning. We also provide training to teachers in the form


of after school workshops, presenting at faculty meetings, and I maintain a resource blog ( for the teachers. XC: We make sure we’re available to teachers, so we can help problem solve technical issues or talk about classroom projects that they want to work on. CC: What is it like coming to the classroom with tech tools to support teachers on their projects? XC: I feel like the superstar getting to the classroom! The kids get really excited, put away whatever is on their desks, and literally just wait and stare at me. It’s the same enthusiasm across all grades! Sometimes I use Chinese technical terms with them. The students may not understand, but they interpret it and get to learn new terms. KW: One of the greatest joys of working in education technology is simply seeing the reactions of the students when I walk into their classroom pushing a cart of iPads or MacBooks. I see the wide smiles, gasps of excitement, and enthusiastic greetings, and those make my day again and again.

CC: Why do you think students get so excited about technology? XC: It’s a new way to learn. It’s a tool where they can express themselves in the new way—draw their own pictures, shoot their own videos, create their own stories, beyond just traditional pencil and paper. KW: In our sixth grade iPad pilot program this year for example, one of the major benefits that our teachers report is that students have become more motivated and more independent learners: they are not limited to just learn from the teacher. Students frequently open their iPads to look up a new word and further investigate a topic they are discussing in class, and they are often excited to share the results of what they find with their classmates. Students love the flexibility provided by their iPads.

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n a city full of wonderful street art, it’s fitting that our Waller Pre-K campus now has its own mural – where a group of our youngest CAIS students helped create this bright spot in the corner of the Pre-K


Art teacher Lisa Ostapinski had a vision and she made it happen. “I’ve worked at CAIS for five years and since my first week here, I’ve wanted to create a mural. I was not able to do it until now, because the regular class size of my art classes is between 17 and 20 students, which is way too large for creating a mural in a class setting,” Lisa explained. The perfect solution was to create an after school class through the auxiliary program that’s focused on mural-making. “After school classes are typically around 12 students, which is an ideal size for creating a mural,” Lisa said. After introducing her students to murals in a slideshow with the help of after school teacher Christina Gonzalez, Lisa asked each child to draw ideas of what they would like included in the Waller campus mural. Lisa took themes from each drawing to determine what was popular. “Each drawing contained some form of a rainbow, which makes sense given the age of our artists,” she explained. After taking elements from the Pre-K artwork, Lisa drew it freehand onto the concrete wall and enlisted the help from four parent volunteers, Julie Lim, Mariana Tzuo, Juliet Bergh and Helina Au . “Having the parents to help during the four sessions we were painting the mural was great,” Lisa said. The parents helped corral the children’s excitement, mix paints; and most important, they filled in the parts of the artwork that the children couldn’t reach, such as the top of the rainbow. “The most challenging part of the project was keeping students’ hands off the mural while it was drying,” she described, “and explaining to the children during the regular school day that the mural was part of a special after school class.” Daniel Zingarelli from NCIS put the finishing touch on the mural by painting a protective coat of polyurethane to help prevent the artwork from sun and rain damage. This bright spot in the playground is a wonderful example of a creative vision coupled with collaboration. “It’s been really fun seeing kids incorporate the rainbow into their play when they’re on the playground. They pretend it’s real during their imaginary play and I’ve heard them inventing stories about the rainbow,” Pre-K teacher Elaine McCann said. The end result is something in which the artists are proud, excited about and benefits the entire Pre-K community.

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Winter 2013 | CAIS Connections Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit # 2319 Oakland, CA




MARCH 1 Professional Development Day (No School, Childcare Provided)

APRIL 1 Eighth Grade China Trip and Fifth Grade Taiwan Trip Depart


APRIL 11 Eighth Grade China Trip Returns


APRIL 8 – APRIL 12 Spring Break (No School, Childcare Provided)


APRIL 13 Fifth Grade Taiwan Trip Returns





CAIS Connections (Winter 2013)  

Quarterly newsletter from Chinese American International School in San Francisco, CA

CAIS Connections (Winter 2013)  

Quarterly newsletter from Chinese American International School in San Francisco, CA