Collaboration is the Key

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Photo by Cheryl Terry

While reflecting on how I’m embedding technology in my classroom earlier in the COETAIL course, I realized that I needed to vamp up collaboration to fully transform learning. While we are striving for the transformation level , this continues to be a work in progress (So How Am I Doing?). My current goal is to form closer ties with both my grade level colleagues and other COETAIL teachers to foster collaboration, create authentic tasks and develop a wider audience for student work.

According to the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), to meet the transformation level collaboration should include these three areas:

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    Photo credits to Emily Roth

    Students regularly use technology tools for collaboration, to work with peers and experts irrespective of time zone or physical distances.

  • The teacher seeks partnerships outside of the setting to allow students to access experts and peers in other locations, and encourages students to extend the use of collaborative technology tools in higher order learning activities that may not have been possible without the use of technology tools.
  • Technology tools in this setting connect to text, voice, and video chat applications and network access has sufficient bandwidth to support the use of these technologies for all students simultaneously.

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Photo by Cheryl Terry

Over the past few months, and during our water inquiry unit (‘Water is Precious’ unit of inquiry), I have strived to build stronger connections with colleagues and global partners. Collaboration has been fostered in the following ways:

* Working on planning an inquiry unit, based on the principles of PYP, with Grade 4 teacher, Mike Jessee.

* Planning inquiry lessons in the ES Hub/library with ES Librarian, Nat Whitman.

* Planning technology lessons on copyright and choosing provocative images with Sarah Fleming, ES Technology Coach.

* Collaborating with Emily Roth’s Grade 4 class at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi via student blogs and comments. An attempt was also made to share Google docs, but firewalls and privacy issues prevented this.

* Skype- connecting with Emily Roth’s Grade 4 class at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi via Skype to learn more about geography, meet our buddies and ask questions related to water use and the cost of water around the world.

* Collaborating with Brad Thies at Seoul Foreign School via student blogs and comments.

* Using Twitter to connect- I have posted tweets for each of my professional blog posts in my Twitter account to continue to create a PLN. As Stacie Melhorn suggested in Twitter Tales, I prefer to use Twitter solely as a professional platform. I am also trialling the use of a class Twitter account. Currently our use of Twitter in class is sporadic. We’re not viewing tweets from other Grade 4/5 classes we’re connected with, but we have created a new ‘Twit’ monitor whose job it is to construct tweets.

* Sharing our learning in technology with parents and administrators via a class share of our Water Inquiry projects.

* Science Fair- Sharing our learning and our ‘Journey as a Scientist’ presentations with Grade 4 peers and parents.

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Photo by Cheryl Terry

So far, we’ve come a long way toward developing relationships and collaborating with others. There’s still a long way to go, and using our local community and strengthening partnerships with Grade 4 peers in our own school, IS Bangkok, is the first step toward real collaboration.

All in all, collaboration is the key to success, both between teachers and between students. Starting small seems to ensure success. Developing strong relationships within a class and between classes in a school is the first step towards success.


Transforming Our Learning

Water is Precious

An Integrated Inquiry Unit

Our water unit and the COETAIL course are coming to an end. It’s been a busy time, full of success, a little stress and a huge amount of learning. We’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few months focusing on a unit of inquiry which expanded our existing science-focused unit.

Here is an overview and reflection on our ‘Water is Precious’ unit of inquiry:

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In a nutshell, here are the successes, challenges and next steps:

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Photo by Cheryl Terry


  • *Giving a clear message
  • *Mashing together media
  • *Making strong statements
  • *Using contrast
  • *Applying technology tools and using tools previously learned
  • *Using provocative images
  • *Awareness of copyright laws
  • *Working collaboratively


  • *Giving detailed credits (name of artist/photographer; URL)
  • *Giving credit for music used
  • *Reviewing rubrics
  • *Self-evaluation of technology projects
  • *Giving constructive feedback to partners


  • *Providing adequate time for inquiry and metacognition
  • *More time required than a standard unit
  • *Providing adequate time for planning digital projects, as well as editing and peer-editing
  • *Giving time for reflection and sharing at end of unit

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Photo by Cheryl Terry

Next Steps

  • *Greater emphasis of student self-direction
  • *Teacher working in the role as facilitator wherever appropriate
  • *More student choice to foster motivation (Dan Pink, Drive)
  • *Developing stronger collaboration between grade level classes and within our community, as well as building global partnerships
  • *Greater integration of subject areas to facilitate units of inquiry

In conclusion, aiming to transform learning, as shown in the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), is my goal. We’re well on the way to forming a meaningful learning environment, which is active, constructive, reflective, authentic and collaborative.

For further details about the unit: ‘Water is Precious’ unit of inquiry

Fostering the Spirit of Inquiry

We Are Inquirers!

In our water inquiry unit, we worked on weaving together a number of subjects: reading, writing, science and social studies, as well as embedding technology at the same time.

We started by creating burning questions about water, related to the main theme: ‘Water is Precious’.




We then synthesized and organized our questions to choose one which we wanted to focus on. After that we refined our questions to create three smaller questions which were easier to research.


Our next step was to begin our inquiry. We tried out the Cornell research method to help us gather information, synthesize it and paraphrase information using our own words.

Once we’d answered our three smaller questions, we synthesized the information again to find the main idea. We used this as the main message for a water presentation. In partnerships, we created presentations using provocative images and powerful words. We used everything we had already learned about technology tools to create an attention-grabbing presentation. Students were briefed on their task, but they had free choice in deciding on which tool would be best to create their presentation. Most students used i-movie, PowerPoint or Key Note.

It was amazing to see how well everyone used their information and created attention grabbing questions and statements to hook their viewers. The students had two 45 minute classes to create their presentations, so it really is great to see how well they can apply what they’ve previously learned in technology lessons and writing workshop.

Take a look for yourself and see what you think:

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Was the message in this video clear?

Were the images and words provocative?

Leave a message to let us know what you thought of the efforts of Grade 4 students, given that there was limited time to both research and create their presentations.


Project in Progress: Water is Precious

Unit of Inquiry: Water is Precious

While embedding technology in an authentic way is the main focus of the COETAIL final project, this was an ideal opportunity to create a unit that integrates core subjects and provides opportunities to link to IS Bangkok‘s Definition of Learning. By refining our original science unit, I was able to extend the unit to meet Technology and Information Literacy (TAIL) and Global Citizenship standards and create a more rounded unit of inquiry. My aim is to embed technology meaningfully and authentically, assist students to become more aware of global issues and best of all, create meaningful learning opportunities.

Here is my first attempt at creating a unit based on the fundamentals of PYP, in collaboration with Grade 4 teacher, Mike Jessee, and ES Librarian, Nat Whitman:


Water is Precious

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Unit of Inquiry: Water is Precious

I’m excited to have an opportunity to create an authentic unit that integrates a number of core subjects and provides opportunities to link to IS Bangkok‘s Definition of Learning. Since we have a good window of time this semester, it will allow us 8 weeks to work on our original science unit, meeting the science standards and concluding with a student-selected scientific project. We will then have time available to extend the unit to meet Technology and Information Literacy (TAIL) and Global Citizenship standards and make the unit more authentic. As technology and global citizenship are both passions of mine, I’m hoping to create a unit that embeds technology meaningfully and authentically, makes our students more aware of global issues and best of all, enhances learning.

I will be discussing the potential of the unit in further detail next week with Chris Tananone, our Global Citizenship coordinator, and Teresa Belisle from the curriculum office, to further develop the links to the TAIL standards and Global Citizenship standards.

Science Unit- Water

Our current science unit focuses on water. The big ideas behind the unit can be expanded to include elements of social studies and technology while still focusing on the key ideas. Here are the main ideas behind the unit:

Transfer goals

**Water is the most important substance on Earth.

**Water dominates the surface of our planet, changes the face of the land, and defines life.

Essential Questions

**How does water change and why?

**Why is it important to learn about water?

**How do we, as scientists, learn about water?

Enduring Understandings

**Earth is a water planet with very little accessible to human consumption.

**Water supply is limited.

**Resources can be extended through recycling and decreased use.

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While I believe in IS Bangkok‘s Definition of Learning (DOL), it often seems that due to time crunches and the demands of the curriculum, many of the opportunities to embed the key elements of the DOL are lost. I’m passionate about providing authentic tasks, inquiry based learning and metacognition, therefore focusing on these areas is something I always try to make time for.

Definition of Learning (DOL)- International School Bangkok

**Apply our learning to new situations

**Inquire to extend our learning

**Create solutions

**Communicate our learning effectively

**Make connections across our learning

**Reflect critically on our learning

To extend the unit, my intention is to link the key ideas of our science unit on Water to our current social studies or global citizenship units on Influence and Is it Fair? As the influence unit focuses on how we can be a positive influence on others, I’d like the students to gain a greater awareness of how we personally use water and how we could conserve water in our everyday lives. The Is it Fair? unit focuses on social justice, and could be naturally extended to include inequitable access to water and connect to water facts such as how much fresh water is available on Earth. The TAIL standards could be embedded through an inquiry based research component, focusing on student-selected burning questions based on the idea of ‘Water is Precious.’ Students would be encouraged to use the cycle of inquiry and safe search engines to find information related to their question. This is a good chance to build on learning from earlier in the year and evaluate both research tools and products. Students could be encouraged to reflect on what worked well and what could be improved in the inquiry process and in their presentations.

Here are the Technology and Information Literacy standards which can be embedded in the unit of inquiry:

TAIL Standards

Effective Learners

Research self-selected burning questions related to ‘Water is Precious’

I aim to collaborate with our ES librarian, Nat Whitman, on the inquiry focus and research component. Identifies the inquiry focus and possible information sources. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine a research question. b. Identify information required to answer question. c. Brainstorm possible resources. Plans, conducts and manages structured searches for data and information. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Compare and contrast available search engines. b. Bookmark URL’s and manage bookmarks. Scans, evaluates, analyzes and organizes information from a variety of sources, (including text, visual, audio & video) attributing information source appropriately. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine if information answers research question. b. Evaluate information for credibility (believability) and accuracy (up-to-date). c. Organize information by title, author and publication date. Reflects on how and why the tools used have assisted the inquiry. LEARNING TARGET: a. Explain in what ways the tools used were helpful, not helpful.

Effective Communicators

Create a digital story demonstrating how water is precious. Students could show scientific ideas (facts), introduce global water issues and explain what we can do as global citizens. They would also be encouraged to show what action they would take to make a difference for others. The digital stories could be created using an appropriate tool such as PowerPoint, KeyNote, PhotoPeach, VoiceThread, Prezi or imovie.

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I aim to collaborate with our ES Technology Coach, Sarah Fleming, on how best to create a digital story to encompass all the key ideas stated above. Clearly articulates main ideas to be communicated. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine main ideas. b. Select interesting details to support main ideas. c. Decide and justify order to communicate main ideas. Identifies clear purpose, specific audience, and the appropriate media for communication. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine purpose for communicating ideas. b. Select and justify intended audience. c. Select and justify tools. Presents ideas, understandings and information clearly, using effective design and layout. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine and justify layout to help the audience understand main ideas and why. b. Select and justify visuals to best represent main ideas. c. Select audio to help convey main ideas and explain why. Reflects, analyses and identifies ways to improve the effectiveness of digital communication. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Explain what worked well and why. b. Summarize what was learned. c. Determine what would be done differently next time and explain why.

Effective Collaborators

I aim to collaborate with our Grade 4 team, as well as other classes such as Emily Roth at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, to share ideas and explore global connections. I also hope to collaborate with Kenya Voluntary & Community Development Project (KVCDP) in Kenya to build further connections with Wagusu village in Western Kenya.

Students could connect with other grade 4 classes, and also try to connect with another class around the world, to explore how they use water and discover what issues they may face with water in their country of residence. They could also be encouraged to improve lives of others by conserving water and taking action to help the people of Wagusu village in Kenya who do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. They could also research, with help from experts, how water distillation works to provide safe, clean drinking water from salt water or dirty water.

YouTube Preview Image Collaborates with others, locally and globally, to contribute to the learning of others, using a variety of media. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Determine what we can teach others. b. Plan who we will collaborate with and why. c. Determine the best way to teach others and explain why. Contributes ideas when collaborating with others, locally and globally, to improve the lives of others, using a variety of media. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Explain in what ways we could improve the lives of others. b. Determine who needs this kind of help and explain why. c. Determine the best way to help others in this area and explain why. Connects with others, locally and globally, to develop desired skills and/or understandings using a variety of media. LEARNING TARGETS: a. State what you are trying to learn. b. Determine where we can go to find experts and how to connect with them. c. Explain how to find out what you need to know.

Ethical Citizens Routinely identifies owner/creator of information/media by attributing sources correctly. LEARNING TARGETS: a. Identify who “owns” the media/information. b. Recognize if the media/information can be used and explain how we know. c. Attribute media/information to its owner.

Here are the Global Citizenship standards which can be embedded in the unit of inquiry:

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Global Citizenship Standards

Explore global access to clean, safe drinking water. Focus on global water issues and explain what we can do as global citizens to help others in the world with limited access to safe water. Create a digital story demonstrating how water is precious.

I aim to collaborate with Chris Tananone, our Global Citizenship coordinator, to further develop the ideas of social justice, interdependence and sustainability.

Social Justice Understand not all groups within society are treated fairly. Understand there are basic human rights, but not everyone has them. Belief that things can be better and that individuals can make a difference. Take appropriate action to address injustice and/or inequality in their community .

Globalization and Interdependence Empathy towards others locally and globally. Make choices that will affect people and the local environment in positive ways.

Sustainability Understand some of the earth’s resources are finite. Identify finite resources and ways to conserve them. Explain reasons for resource conservation. Sense of responsibility for the environment and the use of resources.

I’m excited about the potential of this unit and how it could motivate students and enhance learning. My only concerns are being able to convince others in my team to trial it as well, in order to maintain consistency at our grade level. Time is always an issue, as both the process and creation of products can take significantly longer than expected.

Personally, the extension of this unit does not require a great deal of shifting in my pedagogy. I am a firm believer in scaffolding learning, inquiry based learning, metacognition and the creation of authentic tasks. I am also trying to incorporate the ideas of autonomy, mastery, and purpose to foster motivation, as recommended by Dan Pink in Drive. It is, however, always challenging to incorporate all of these areas effectively at the same time. While metacognition is a passion of mine, our reflection on the inquiry process and products created will most likely be fairly basic at this point. It will be a stepping stone for our final units, where we can build a greater depth of reflection. The unit will also provide an opportunity to focus on Bloom’s Taxonomy and the higher levels of thinking and creation.

Creating a whole unit of inquiry which fosters inquiry, reflection, creativity and motivation can only lead to success and enhance learning!

AUP- Course 2 Final Project

While the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP G4/5) at ISB still requires some refining, we have come to realize that our teaching of what the AUP actually means is more important to our students right now. As the students in Grades 3, 4 and 5 are using their own student blogs more often in the classroom and at home, and have access to student emails and Google docs, it has become clear that we need to revise the AUPs with the students and explicitly show them what safety, responsibility, respect and honesty online look like.

What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say? by cherylt on GoAnimate

Video Maker – Powered by GoAnimate.

Along with Jaclynn Mac, and with the assistance of Chrissy Hellyer, our Technology Learning Coach, and Tara Ethridge, our ES Librarian, we considered the needs of elementary school students at a variety of levels. While Grade 5 teachers and fellow coetailers, Stacie Melhorn and Sarah Fleming focused on simplifying the AUP, Chrissy and Tara used GoAnimate to address issues of acceptable use in Grades 2 and 3. Jaclynn and I chose to revise our AUPs with our grade levels, Kindergarten and Grade 4.

Currently in the upper elementary school, a number of breaches are occurring. Some of these include:

  • Students “posing” as other students (not accessing another’s account – but writing another’s name & using another’s blog URL & email address to “pose” as that student) (breech of 1.2)
  • Logging in as someone else (gained access to someone’s password & login) (breech of 1.2)
  • Use of copyright images all over the place (breech of 3.1)
  • Sending emails without a purpose (ie: hi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and nothing else) (breech of 4.8)
  • Using instant messaging,chat without teacher permission or misuse of chat and or instant message (breech of 4.7)
  • Deleting others work (files off the laptop or work off a gdoc) (breech of 1.1)
  • Changing the settings of laptops without teacher permission (breech of 2.2, 2.3 – although we have locked down the laptops more since these types of breeches)

In order to address these breaches and continue to develop collaborative partnerships within the elementary school, Jaclynn Mac and I decided that a Kindergarten-Grade 4 project would provide a great opportunity for Grade 4 students to help Kindergartners develop their knowledge of the Acceptable Use Policy while building on their own understanding of respect, responsibility, safety and honesty (see Course 2 Final Project for the Kindergarten process). Upon further discussion with Chrissy Hellyer and Tara Ethridge, GoAnimate appeared to be the perfect tool to make the project both fun and meaningful for the students.

A Kindergarten-Grade 4 collaborative project is, of course, one that requires thought, planning and careful organization. The project also had to be divided into several parts to address the AUP at both levels of the elementary school, ensure the students could evaluate and process the AUP and provide opportunities for collaboration.

Our first step was to review the AUP with each of our classes. While Jaclynn identified key parts of the Kindergarten AUP and provided her students the opportunity to create skits focusing on the main forms of technology used in KG, Tara Ethridge helped my class revise our AUP using a simplified Grade 2/3 version. I then created a GoAnimate video to sow the seed: What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say?

So, what’s next? In class, we will review the Grade 4 AUP. To give the students an opportunity to analyze, evaluate and understand the AUP, they will work in pairs to highlight the key ideas. They will then construct a Top 10 list of the ten most important ideas with their partner. Creating a storyboard for a GoAnimate video of one of the key ideas will complete the process.

This is an example of how their animated videos may look:

A Nasty Blog Message by cherylt on GoAnimate

Make Movie – Powered by GoAnimate.

After reflecting on the successes and challenges of the project, the Grade 4 students will consider how they can teach the process of creating a GoAnimate video with Kindergartners. This will not only help scaffold the process for the Kindergarten class, but it will make the AUP and creation of animated stories accessible to their age group. The students in 4 Terry will preview their buddies’ videoed skits and assist them in creating a storyboard for their animated movie. They’ll begin by transcribing the script of the skit, teasing out the action and content as appropriate.

In the final step, the collaborative groups will create their animated videos using GoAnimate. A final viewing will help to reinforce the main ideas of the AUP and showcase their creations. We hope that the extended process will allow students to use many of the steps of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and construct a sound understanding of our school’s Acceptable Use Policy.

Top 10 Lists- Course 1 Final Project

Project Background

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I’m excited to launch a new writing unit this week in my Grade 4 classroom. Top 10 lists, or list articles, are topical, relevant and ‘cool’ so I know my students are going to have a lot of fun reading, analyzing and creating top 10 lists. It also brims with opportunities for ‘real’ digital connections- reading top 10 lists from the Internet, creating lists with digital tools such as images, audio, video and text, and sharing the list articles with peers locally and globally. The unit has so much potential and I’m excited to see how it might hook students, particularly reluctant writers.

I was also inspired by Angela Maiers and her list of 12 Things Kids Want from their Teachers. I’m enjoying ‘dabbling’ with technology and finding fun lists and websites to share with my students. I’m anticipating a lot of fun, laughter and totally engaged students!


While I’ll be using a variety of mentor texts during this unit to demonstrate the features of list articles (Top 10 lists), I will also be sharing a number of websites with my students. I’m considering the best way to give students access to websites to explore list articles and research their own lists. As this is a writing unit, the focus should not be research, however I believe that students should have the opportunity to explore a number of websites to help add authenticity to the unit. I will discuss the best way to do this with our Technology Coach, Chrissy Hellyer, later this week. At present, I’m thinking that sharing the list of websites I’ve personally screened with the students on a Google doc. This will provide an opportunity for exploration and an element of choice, with a fair amount safety and security.

Due to the nature of the Internet, however, I feel I will have to brief students on the possibility of coming across inappropriate content or images, and what they should do should this happen. Of course, these kinds of discussions, and exploration such as this is necessary to prepare students for using digital media in the modern world. As Jeff Utecht states, “digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate and create information using digital technology” (Reach: Jeff Utecht). Exploring websites to better understand top 10 lists will help students become literate in the digital world.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post: Connect, Create, Collaborate, Utecht also believes that teachers need to understand and become prosumers. In order to prepare our students for today’s connected digital world, teachers need to be familiar with the tools students will need to survive. Throughout this course and in preparation for this unit, I have explored websites and continued to upskill in order to help students gain success in locating and organizing information and creating their own products. As we work through the project I hope to gain more insight into how to successfully navigate websites with students and facilitate learning. We will all be learners and prosumers together.