Week Four: Enter Catchy Title Here

Welcome to Week 4!

Can you believe we’re past the halfway mark? Hopefully things are making sense and you’re figuring out a system that works well for you. And even more importantly, hopefully you are making connections with other people in our cohort, other COETAILers, and other people out there who share your interests.

As we enter week 4, by now you should have:

  • read and completed all units up to Week 4 in the “My Courses” tab
  • begun thinking about your Course 1 Final Project
  • written 3 blog posts & 3 comments
  • recorded the URLs of each of the posts & comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit)

The Big Ideas and Our Classrooms

 For me, when I’m deciding what happens first off my to-do list, I always default to what my kids need. And in reading your blogs, I have feeling that that’s the same for most of you.  And while much of the first weeks of COETAIL have been about you and your own learning, it’s been great to see so many people already thinking about how the ideas of connectivism, PLN, blogging, and 21st Century technologies can be applied in their classroom.


Nadine shared a great example of how being connected to her school community (remixing the idea from Humans of New York by creating a Humans of AISD) is a great way to get talking about social media with elementary kids: 

Here’s my thinking: we shared [our presentation] at our ES assembly where we invited the bearers and the staff from the video to the assembly so they could see themselves as we do; the recognition of being part of a ‘family’ or a community. One of the points that Silvia makes in her blog is that one of the top 5 reasons, according to The New York Times Customer Insight Group,  is to #1 “feel connected“. When my students were going around the school and asking people to be part of the project they were coming back to the classroom energized with the new ‘friends’ they had made and the new learnings they made about people they see every day. They themselves felt more connected but also when the video was shared at the ES assembly it was a collective experience of feeling part of something ‘big’.”


Megan wrote about how she uses the messaging service WhatsApp to connect to her drama group:

Still uneasy, I started a WhatsApp group for the cast, ages 8 to 18, meant only to distribute information and answer questions. What transpired was something much more meaningful. The students immediately took the WhatsApp group into their own hands and before I could intervene, they had established Selfie Tuesdays, inside jokes, and hilarious conversations that went on 24/7. They answered each other’s questions, said goodnight to each other every night, included to younger students, and I only intervened once in four months for appropriateness.


Obviously we are all at different points with our kids and our schools. For instance, I use Twitter  and Flipboard with my DP History students (using a shared class hashtag), but I’m not a member of their Facebook study group. That feels right for me. And, as other people have said, finding that balance can be tough. And ensuring the technology we are using is really benefiting our kids, as opposed to being a new-shiny-toy, is a never-ending struggle. But it’s part of the process of being connected.

And sometimes just asking the questions and remembering what’s important (the kids) is the right place to be:


Abby writes,

 What I liked most though is that connectivism is the start of helping our students become lifelong learners, which is my goal as a teacher. To ignite their innate curiosity and truly get them to use the concepts discovered (notice how I didn’t say taught!) in my classroom and keep it with them 20 years from now.


Iain asks a similar question,

How do I use the existing online social skills of the children to engage them, teach them and inspire them?

These are the questions that matter.

Quick Thoughts About The Final Project

It may seem pretty surreal, but you should probably be thinking about your final project. Hopefully you have looked at the section in course 1 introducing the big idea. As you start thinking, some ideas to consider.

  1. You can use Understanding by Design (link to resources and link to Diigo resources)  unit planner if you want. But if your school has it’s own planner, feel free to use it a as long as it includes all of the elements from our template including: desired results, evidence and learning goal. I only used MYP planners during my time as a COETAIL student…this means it’s practical and useful for me immediately.
  2. If it makes sense to work in a team on a unit planner, feel free. But your reflection must be done individually.
  3. ISTE standards are a good resource for many of you to explore. But if your school has created its own technology standards, you could also refer to those.  

Leave Comments

Despite the feeling that the comments section can be the lowest level of discourse happening on the internet,  the opposite is true in COETAIL (and lots of other online communities!). The comment section is usually where the real conversation is happening and therefore where the learning happens. And once I graduated from COETAIL, I was shocked that I wasn’t getting at least two or three comments on my blog.  It’s such a gift to have people reading and responding to a new blog. It’s also an excellent way to build a PLN. So please remember to be commenting on other people’s blog (the karma of the internet is real!) And remember to record & link these comments on your gradesheet as it can be exceptionally hard to go back and find them later. Comments make up 20% of your grade. Finally make sure you go back and approve people’s comments…it makes it very stressful for people to think their (for-a-grade) comment could be sitting in moderation. More importantly, it slows down the conversation when comments aren’t approved quickly. Thanks!

Feedback from Your Instructor

As you know, we have two instructors (Robert and Rebekah) for this course, so you will see comments primarily from your instructor, and occasionally from both of us. We will leave you feedback in one of two places:

  • On your blog, as a comment: Feedback that can be public and is appropriate to share with a wider audience will be left as a comment on your blog.
  • On your grading spreadsheet, in the Feedback from Instructor column: Feedback that is private, and focused on constructive improvements will be left in each row that you leave a URL of a blog post or a comment.

If this isn’t making sense, or you have questions or concerns, please let us know. This course is very independent, so you can really move at your own pace. We’ll keep an eye on where everyone is in the course units, but it’s really your job to keep up with the weekly readings as listed. 

Using your PLN

This week both Robert and I will be in Manila for Learning2. For me, one of the best parts of Learning2 is the meet up with COETAIL group. At my first Learning2 in Shanghai (2011), I think there was about 20 of us in a small classroom. Last year at NIST, there was a huge group of us…many of us friends meeting face-to-face for the first time. The community of COETAIL is really makes COETAIL so vital and now you all are part of this special group of educators and thinkers.


So great to see so many #coetail participants here at#learning2 flickr photo shared by superkimbo under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

So as Robert and I will both be insanely busy next week, we may be a little slower in responding to emails and comments on the blog. So use this week as an excuse to use your developing COETAIL PLN. If you have questions…help each other out. If you want feedback on an idea, tweet it out. Use the #coetail hashtag. Or directly @ message someone you don’t know. Figure out the answers together. Join in the #coetailchat. If the only person you have been “talking” to is Robert or myself, then you’re really missing out. 

Final thing, Blair in our cohort has set up a Google+ community for us…check it out!

Have a great week everyone!!




Tunnel Photo: flickr photo shared by addicted Eyes under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Lightbult photo: flickr photo shared by Julián Santacruz under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Conversation Bubble photo: flickr photo shared by Marc Wathieu under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Art of Social Media photo: flickr photo shared by mkhmarketing under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

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