Course 5 final project

Start. Stop. Start.

At the end of Course 4, I had high hopes for the Course 5 final project.  From Course 4, I found a set of science teachers who were eager and open to working with me.  I am a MS librarian and, as such, I don’t have my own classes as library is not a class in MS.   I don’t necessarily have classes or units of my own to “transform” for the final project, so my plan was to partner with a teacher or teachers who did.

My Science colleagues and I  were doing a science unit on Space and it was going to be fantastic, of course! Well, Course 5 rolled around, we talked about my project and their unit, time passed and they weren’t ready to start yet.  And more time passed and still not ready.  Even moreSome rights reserved by Giuliagas time passed and it things just seemed to fall apart and I realized that I couldn’t wait any longer if I had any chance of finishing this course on time.  The good news is that we all feel that this unit has a great chance of coming to fruition next year and we’re excited about the possibilities.

Although it was pretty late in the Course, I moved on.  I’d recently worked with Åsa, a Grade 7 English Language ) teacher, building research units to implement next year and a few other ideas to implement next year.  She described herself as a bit of a techno-phobe but one that would like to use more technology – with support.  I approached Åsa and asked if I could support her in implementing any of those ideas this year.  And, miracle of miracles, she was interested and eager.  However, the issue was that Åsa was mid-unit in her novel study of Parvana by Deborah Ellis.  Another issue – although to a lesser degree – was that the class size was very small but beggars can’t be choosers, really. The majority of her English Language B class was moved up to Language A for the novel study unit and the 3 remaining students were extremely disappointed that their current level of English wasn’t quite ready for them to move up with their classmates.

Åsa and I talked about what she was comfortable adding, what would be an authentic use of tech and what she felt would be most beneficial for her students. She wanted to give the students a “boost” by doing something interesting and new.  Åsa was very interested in book trailers so that was the direction we headed.  She thought that creating a book trailer to show the Lang A students would really help boost her students’ morale.  We decided that all 3 students would work together on one trailer since it would allow them to communicate and collaborate with each other.

My goals for my lesson/project – Content Standards & NETS Standards

I used both school and NET for Students standards for this project.

Western Academy of Beijing Standards: LAB.WR (Standard/SL) Learners will write with creativity, clarity and logic for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Learners will:
1. communicate simple information clearly.
3. describe experiences and events.
6. use simple writing for different purposes.
8. use simple vocabulary appropriately.

LAB.VS  (Standard/SL) Effectively use viewing skills to analyze and evaluate the content and presentation in a range of media.  Learners will

  1. discuss relevant information.
  2. communicate basic, unit-based information clearly.
  3. support opinions with relevant reasons.
  4. show good understanding of topic through responses in familiar and some spontaneous situations.
  5. engage actively in and contribute to conversations.

NETS for Students Standards:
1. Creativity and Innovation – Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression

2. Communication and Collaboration – Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
d. Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems


We used:

  • (educator membership) for video
  • (images)
  • (music)
  • I had planned on using but we ended up using a paper storyboard at pretty much the last minute.


Åsa and I introduced the project by beginning a discussion about book trailers and the idea of making a trailer for Parvana, the novel they had just finished.  What did they know about trailers, what there purpose was, had they ever seen or made one, etc?  Only one student had ever made one but they all sort of know what they were. I selected 2 books – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Wonder by RJ Palacio and demoed 2 trailers for each title – the publisher’s trailers and ones made by civilians.  We talked about the differences and commonalities of the different versions; what worked; what didn’t.  And the project pretty much took off from there.

Student reaction

The students were interested in creating the trailer especially when they learned that they were the only ones doing it, that it would be shared with the Lang A students and that Åsa would use the trailer to introduce the book to next year’s Lang B students.  However, I would never have known they were interested by their speed to create the finished product!

Working with this group of students was new to me.  Åsa had told me repeatedly that they were a great bunch of students but incredibly slow to get their work done and WOW – she was not kidding!  It was like pulling teeth, at times.  I was so grateful for her insight and experience with this group.  But they ultimately got it done and we all think it turned out well.

I really enjoyed being part of the students discussions on what scenes should be used to best capture the feeling of the book, what images and song would be appropriate, how much to describe, how to create text to hook to view and, perhaps most importantly, how to come to an agreement on these issues since they were creating one trailer.


I believe the project met a fair amount of the standards that I set out with.  The outcome was that students felt really proud about something they created and that Åsa felt was valuable to their language learning.  Åsa felt supported and pleased with the process and the final product.  I do feel that I met my goals which were to implement many of the tools, applications, and theories that we have covered in the first 4 courses of the COETAIL program.

Evidence of learning

The trailer was “premiered” to the students who were moved up to Language A for the novel study.   Although I wasn’t able to go to the premiere, Åsa reported back to me that the “audience” was very impressed with the trailer.  The students who created it were dead proud of themselves, especially when their classmates began asking them questions about how they did it.  It makes me smile to think of Åsa’s retelling everyone’s reaction.

Åsa also was really impressed with how easy Animoto was to use and the quality of video you could produce using it and she’s already planned on using it again.  She’s no longer afraid of that piece which I think is a huge bonus to the project. The students were able to use Compfight and which I shared with them and I learned about from COETAIL to find images that were appropriate and a song that suited the story although they ended up selecting and Animoto song in the end.


This was a pretty interesting project for me.  As a librarian, I’m used to collaborating with teachers but I’m not really used to having a time constraint on the implementation.  It’s usually up to them & it happens 2 ways:I offer and if my colleague is interested & ready then we plan & implement or they come to me and tell me what they want and we start a conversation.  But with this project, I HAD to partner with someone and it HAD to be within a certain period of time so that was pretty new and, I found, pretty stressful.

I was reminded that plans do not always turn out.  I had planned – in my head, at least – that this project would be one transforming a Gr 8 science unit.  I was also reminded that when working with students, things often take considerably longer than I think they will.  I need to give myself a bigger cushion for that.  We cut it pretty close at the end.

I was also reminded that sometimes, although the students are enjoying the work, they may not be as motivated as I am to get the work done.  :)  Hence the bigger time cushion.

Finally, next time, I hope to be more realistic on collaborating with busy people and realize when it’s just not going to happen.  If I’d been able to do that, I could have started with Åsa earlier in her unit since there are many other areas in that unit where tech could be authentically used for transformation such as blogging their reading journals.

Greatest learning

The biggest thing I learned through the COETAIL is to take the leap and just do it.  Put myself out there.  Start somewhere.  The program forced me to blog which I found absolutely terrifying but now plan on continuing and it forced me to reach out to strangers.  I guess I feel like the program made me walk the walk.

Redefinition? To my mind, the implemented project does meet the definition of redefinition which is “Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.”  Book trailers are a form of digital storytelling. Technology allowed the students to combine images, text and sound into a movie which which conveyed a message to the viewer.

Where next

My PLN is made up of people I know in real life – colleagues past & present – and people I’ve met through the program.  I feel like I have a decent start on my PLN but it’s something that will change over time – grow & contract, grow & contract.

Where I’ll go from here:  I really do hope to continue to blog and to read & comment on others’ blogs.  I want to stay connected to and grow my PLN.  In addition, I want to continue to learn about (most likely by reading others blogs) and – more importantly – use new technology tools while supporting students and teachers.

Finally, I guess I just want to continue to challenge myself to push past my comfort zone. a bit at least. So this is end of my Course 5 project, the end of my COETAIL classes, but hopefully just the beginning of my tech adventure.

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Course 4 Final Project

Some rights reserved by deponeIt’s just a happy coincidence that the final project for course 4 is gathering thoughts for unit re-design and 2 science teachers approached me last week to re-work a unit together.  Two of are us are new to the school.  The teacher who is not new said the Learning 2.012 conference he attended really opened his eyes to benefits of involving both technology and librarians when he attended- which is fantastic!  This is really great for me since, as a MS librarian, I don’t have traditional classes but I really look for ways to support teachers and students.  Sometimes, it’s hard to find teachers ready for that so the fact that they both sought me out for this collaboration is beyond perfect – for this assignment and me professionally.  I’m really looking forward to it.

So the nitty-gritty.  They would like to re-work the Grade 8 ecology unit that culminates with a One World presentation at the MS/HS Global Issues Conference.  This time, they asked for (at the very last minute) some research guidance for their students.  Actually, only 1 asked for that but the other liked what was given to the other so he would like to be included in that as well.

I’ve had brief conversations with both teachers.  Students worked with a partner.  Most of their research was done online but I would like to sugest extending that to include contacting experts in their topic field.  I think the research bit could could be successfully flipped.  Research is an area that students really struggle with so I could make a movie on how to research and then help them in the 2 class periods that they were given to conduct research.  Also, all students presented for about 11 minutes.  I’m going to discuss the option for a mini-documentary or I’m not sure what.

I’ve never really planned with anyone else and this will be with 2 other people so that’s going to be a big shift – although I’m looking forward to it.  This is going to be a great opportunity for all of us.

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In the beginning…(it was not so great)All rights reserved by

My first experience in the classroom was as an elementary computer teacher.  I was completely untrained, had no idea what I was doing and the school was ahem “in transition“.  Really not the best combination.  (Surprisingly however, I ended up loving it – after a bit of “adjustment” time – and I went on to become a “proper” teacher.)  It was about 6 years ago and the school had 1 computer lab for grades 1- 5.  There were a number of technology management policies/utilities in place and these were were the most annoying part of my job.  There was an extremely robust school filtering policy in place which meant almost constant frustration trying access anything but the most mundane sites.  Pretty much everything was blocked, for both teachers and students.  As Dean Groom‘s 12th thing stated, “Overtly policed and blocked networks are counter-productive”.

They also had a computer monitoring system in place (the name escapes me).  It was a good idea to help make sure students were on task but there were so many issues with it that it was pretty much useless.   The desktops were arranged in a U form so I could glance around the room and see the screens so that was a pretty successful non-tech form of management.


Forward to me in a 1-1 laptop school (Middle School).  Blocking is an issue but that is due more to the “Great Fire Wall” in place in the country than to the school.  The school has also recently invested in a computer monitoring system, LanSchool.  From what I understand, there are lots of issues with it.  Not all laptops can be “seen” from the teacher’s laptop although this is usually solved if the students logoff and then log back in. The students are also familiar with the phrase “lids down” which most of the teachers use.  It’s pretty self-explanatory – computer lids are down and students are supposed to be focused on the speaker.

There are other things to keep in mind when thinking of laptop management in a classroom environment.   For example, there needs to be plenty of power points that are out of the way so that cords are not all over the place for people to trip over.  Also, file management is an important and, I think, often overlooked skill.  In grade 6, homeroom teachers spend a bit of time in the beginning of the year helping students set up a useful file management system – folders, how to name files, etc.  Then, they spend a morning a month cleaning up.  File management and organizational skills will never be wasted.

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Ahhhh, so that’s what it is….

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I’ve heard of “reverse instruction/flipped classroom” but I never really looked too deeply into it (or at all, to be honest).  I had actually thought it was sort of like an Understanding by Design (UBD) thing – starting with the ending in mind.  Now, I understand “reverse instruction/flipped classroom” to be where the students “do” the lecture/knowledge acquisition part outside of class and the homework/knowledge application part at school where they can receive support from the instructor when they need it.

This model just makes so much sense to me, especially when I thought back to my own high school education.  How many hours I spent at home completely frustrated over my math homework, I can’t even begin to tell!  

Very different

No one I know uses reverse instruction but I think that’s because it seems to require alot of preparation (or preparation).  It also could be because it’s SO very different than what we are all used to seeing and doing in the classroom – traditional homework, traditional teaching.

Where I can implement

I am a librarian and I do think that reverse instruction can have a place in my “classroom”, especially for teaching research and note taking.  It could work well to have these types on “on-demand” videos available to both students and other teachers who often include the library very last minute when scheduling can be a problem.  Then I could either pop in to assist with their individual research questions, if they have time in class to research or have sort of “open hours” for questions where I would not schedule meetings be I would be sure to be in the library at that particular time.  Personal hurdles for me would be the preparation involved as well as the breadth of subjects that would be chosen in a class (18 students = 18 subjects).  I’m still new-ish so I am still working through preparation hurdles.  I’m definitely less hesitant now to attempt because of the epic movie assignment in Course 3.  I’m actually jazzed about the possibilities.


I’m a big “resolutions” person.  I love self-improvement projects.  So I’m going to make a public resolution to flip one of my lessons before the end of the school year.

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Technology integration defined


My definition of technology integration is using technology in meaningful ways to support the goals of the curriculum.  The curriculum is the most important thing, not the technology.  As discussed by David Warlick (in one of my favorite readings so far, BTW), it is the application of the technology, not the applicationS that matter.

Does it work?

I believe that technology integration works when it supports “four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts”. (source)

Where to start

Not every teacher is going to use the same technology tools in the same way.  It can also be overwhelming to consider how & what to add to support curriculum and technology goals.   Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model is an excellent starting point for teachers looking to increase their use of technology to transform student learning.

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Teaching NETS

Who’s job is it to teach the NETS to students?

ISTE NETS for students

ISTE NETS for students

This is an interesting question and I think the answer depends on where one’s school is in the technology road.  Ideally, it is everyone‘s job to teach NETS to students in an integrated model but that’s not always realistic.  Not all teachers have the same comfort level or engagement with technology or the willingness collaborate/do something different.   The same is true for administrators.   Not all schools can offer support to the technically reticent.  As the NETS Essential Conditions document outlines, these are – well – essential for success.  Each level supports the next and any break causes instability.  But I do think expectations for technology integration are changing & more and more teachers/administrators/schools are beginning to see how technology can be relevant and revolutionary in their teaching,  school & life.

How do we ensure they are being met in an integrated model?

Nothing in life is guaranteed but all things become more likely with enthusiasm and support.  Those who have the knowledge should be ready, willing, and able to share it in a nonthreatening/non-overwhelming way to those who are interested.  And, then, little by little, success after success, word will get out and magic will happen.

I’ve seen it happen with my own work in the library.  I partnered with one interested teacher initially and soon teachers were stopping me in the hall to tell me what topics they had coming up and discussing a time to work together.   It was really satisfying to know that I had successfully supported a teacher in the classroom and, as a team, we improved student learning and enjoyment in the classroom.

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That’s a wrap!

From panic to not so much panic

I know I’m not the only one that felt a bit weak-kneed upon finding out that the Final Project for Course 3 was a movie.  And I’m owning up to the fact that I put it off in a major way – obviously, since this post is 3 weeks after it was due.  Thank goodness for extensions!  However, like the blogging requirement which I initially dreaded & can now appreciate, I found the movie making process to be really valuable; even enjoyable at the end.  As with most things, if I would have just sat down and did it, it would have been much less painful (and much less late).

Keeping focused on subject & audience

I used iMovie simply because it’s already on my computer and since I work at an Apple school I thought most students would probably use it as well.  My “subject” is the trip along a portion of the Silk Road which I took with my husband over this October break.  My audience was my Grandfather and other older family members who really enjoy keeping up with our travels.  Since many of them are hard of hearing, I didn’t use a voice over but I did use titles & descriptions so they knew what they were looking at.  At times, I was really annoyed with the space limitations of the text areas but, in the end, it did really help me keep it simple and not overwhelming.  It was important to keep my target audience in mind.

Theme & highlights

I used the Bulletin Board theme which I thought suited the subject really well.  For the opening “scene”, I had originally wanted the map to show the whole route and was so excited when I learned how to do it! (more or less, I was able to show each stop by having all the maps follow each other but the whole route wouldn’t stay highlighted.)  However, I ended up not using it since it was really a redundancy of what was already there.  I didn’t want to keep it just because I thought it was cool since it didn’t really add any value to the whole.  I also was ecstatic when I figured out how to specify the images on the transitions and even more so when something called “trim to playhead” worked out for me although I’m not actually what that is or how I got it to work or if it actually did what I think it did.  (I’m going to continue my investigation of that though.)

Done. Happy.  Happy it’s done.

It’s not a work of art, by any stretch, but I feel very happy with it and, even more importantly, I really do have a much better grasp on what students are going through and how to support them, which is the whole point of this assignment.  My husband liked the finished project so much that he thinks we should make a movie for all of our trips!

Presenting: Silk Road Tour Oct 2012 : from Beijing to Kashgar (or Planes, trains, automobiles, boats & camels)

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(Also, available on YouTube.)

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Presentation redo

Far and few between

I haven’t had to give many presentations in my life – for which I am eternally grateful.  However, last year I was asked to give a presentation to new and returning staff during orientation week; A sort of “State of the library” address to let them know how the various projects were coming along as well as introduce the library to new teachers and explain how the library could support them & their students.

Improvement but much to learn

I used Google Presentations. Overall, I think it went really well and the feedback I got from teachers was gratifying.   I put a lot of thought into what I wanted everyone to take away in minimal time.  No overloading since everyone was still adjusting to work.   The slides couldn’t really stand alone but they were still too wordy and cramped – not Zen at all.  And the slide theme I choose was really ugly.  How did I ever think that looked nice?!    Here’s the redo on which I applied the Presentation Zen principles.  I do feel that it’s improved. I’m planning of reading Garr Reynolds’ book Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery since I would like (and, honestly, I need) to continue to improve my presentation skills.  Practice makes perfect!

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Incorporation and attribution (or stop the agony and simply begin)

In the beginning, there was Jane…

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and I’ve loved her and her characters since I

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was in grade school.  So, the first time I saw the mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I was more than a bit shocked and thought it was just about the dumbest thing I’d ever seen.  However, not wanting to be closed minded, I picked it up, read the first line and fell in love.  Hard.   Then I read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (not nearly as good, trust me) and saw more and more titles in this new genre leading me to realize it’s now a Thing.  (Sometimes I can be a bit slow…)  But I find this Thing pretty appealing and plan on continuing to explore this fun genre (should I ever get any free time I don’t spend on Pinterest).

Eye opening readings

I found  Week 6’s readings very appealing and thought provoking as well.  The goal of originality and the idea of ownership have been pounded into me all my school life and I have taken up that fight as a teacher librarian.  I always felt like I was cheating a bit if I had a look at what others had created while I looked for my own inspiration – even when I acknowledged them.  I can’t explain why.  I just did.  It’s always taken me a long time to get started as I skulked around, peaking (cheating?) and agonizing.  COETAIL has definitely begun to open my eyes but by Week 6 of Course 3, the pieces have – finally – solidly fallen into place.  Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk was the key for me and I found it no less than liberating!  Particularly this statement, near the end of his talk:

Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another, and admitting this to ourselves isn’t an embrace of mediocrity and derivativeness. It’s a liberation from our misconceptions, and it’s an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves and to simply begin.

So his  statement pretty much sums my answer to this weeks Essential Question: How can you incorporate aspects of remix culture into your lessons?

The discussions with students about giving credit where credit is due still must happen.   As a librarian, I feel like that’s a nonnegotiable.  But, like Harvard Law professior Lawrence Lessig, I feel like permission is not necessarily needed.  And I feel like discussions about starting with someone else’s beginning, middle or end and going in whatever direction is ok.  Laura Fleming‘s transmedia lessons using Weslandia are great examples of this.

I have yet to really start my presentation or my movie but I feel a bit lighter now going into these projects with Week 6’s readings rolling around my head.

Be liberated, too – watch Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk:

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From the first moment…

Love & future epic-ness

I have LOVED infographics like nobody’s business.  Most of my required comments are probably going to be on fellow CoETaILer’s infographics.  I am super excited to create my own – probably on note-taking or research.  However, it will have to wait due to life (see previous post) but don’t take that as me not excited.  It will happen and it will be epic.  Time is of the essence as Course 3 is winding down and I still have the worrisome presentation and the terrifying movie-making ahead of me (I jest…).

Readers’ Advisory- infographic style

The Hunger Games trilogy is still hugely popular in my Middle School so I thought an readers’ advisory infographic would be very useful in the library.  The Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas, USA put together a great flowchart suggesting other books to fans of Collins‘ well known series.  It’s actually spread over 5 images to include the following themes:

  • environmental disaster
  • futuristic
  • war
  • paranormal
  • disease
  • cloning and on and on….

I’m just going to link to the Hunger Games graphic which I might improve upon (with permission , of course) by adding some color or more visual interest.  Once it’s jazzed up, I could print it out on A3 (small poster size) and hang it up.  Readers’ Advisory for the win.

Lawrence Public Library


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