Khalasna akheeran, we’re finally finished, and it feels amazing! This journey through COETAIL has been truly remarkable. I have grown as a professional in ways that I didn’t imagine possible. The most impactful aspect of this course is that my students are on the receiving side of my growth and my success with technology integration and informational literacy! I am confident that their learning has been impacted and I hope it will maintain a lasting impression and impact on their individual academic journeys.
Prior to starting COETAIL I was comfortable with my level of technology integration in the classroom. I felt like I had an adequate balance between using technology verses the paper pencil method. My knowledge and use of technology was continuously growing and I felt like I was doing well. I wasn’t afraid of being a risk-taker and I often tried to be innovative in my planning! In fact, trying new things in the classroom excited me. At the time I had the support and encouragement from an amazing ICT team, Patrick, Shaza, and Yolanda who always found a way to challenge me to go that extra step or to try something new, something new like COETAIL! Patrick started talking and sharing about his experience in COETAIL while Yolanda lurking in the background! One day she decided that we also needed to join in on the learning. Somehow she convinced Shaza and I (who were reluctant and busy) to enroll and engage in the experience with her! Shaza and I agreed and the collaboration began!
As course one took off and I first read over the SAMR model, I felt that I was merely at the substitution level. This was disappointing… At the time I truly felt that I was a 21st century teacher. As I read more and familiarized myself with the model, I was confident to say that I was actually at a level of Augmentation. Technology was often being used to replace a method of producing but there was a huge opportunity for improvement.
Taking time to be reflective I recognized that I a beginner with loads to learn but I had the desire to redefine the presence and use of technology in my classroom. Little did I know I was about to embark on a journey that would forever impact my students, classroom, and teaching pedagogy. I set a personal goal to inquire about ways to continue moving through the model and had great support to help me get there. My ultimate goal, redefinition of my teaching pedagogy and classroom! As time progressed so did my knowledge and experience. The ICT team recognized my ambition and supported my goal. Before I knew it, I became the only classroom in the school to have 1:1 iPads. Guess I had to reach my goal now!
Typically, when I make up my mind to do something I do it, but it’s all or nothing, with no gray in-between. Taking the COETAIL plunge I got quickly started and change was being made. At times I was overwhelmed and wondered what I was doing but the knowledge, rich conversations, and ongoing feedback and encouragement reassured me that gains were being made. My students were actively engaged and I was reaching my goal. COETAIL was redefining my teaching and it was remarkable!
Planning for success…
As I worked through course 4, and started brainstorming ideas for my final project my school announced that we would be adopting the IB PYP framework for the following academic year. This was exciting news, but it impacted the planning process for my final project. At the time we weren’t told how the year was going to role out, what our Units of Inquiry were going to be, or how this was going to look in my classroom. Nor did we have a PYP coordinator or someone with experience that I could turn to for ideas. While I was familiar with the framework I started researching and my excitement grew. I was CERTAIN that through the use of technology, specifically blogging, I was going to excel at helping my students work towards the IB Learner Profile traits: Communicator, Reflective, Risk-Taker, and Open-Minded, while also being able to include the others.
This is where the final project came to play. With so many unknowns Shaza and I teamed up. Our focus; design a classroom where students have the knowledge, experience, resources, and tools to independently create, collaborate, communicate, and BLOG! Our goal, Redefinition! We were extremely eager to make global connections and knew that we had the ability to do it! It was time to redefine the classroom! Technology, specifically iPads, and student blogging was about to open doors for creation, inconceivable connections, and remarkable learning experiences!
5 courses later, countless readings, reflections, blog posts, tweets, and late nights, it is with excitement that I can say mission accomplished. Let’s take a look at our journey, Embracing PYP Digitally.
As you can see from the student products and reflections they’re getting it! Students are inquiring, creating, thinking, reflecting, communicating, and taking-risks. They are gaining knowledge everyday and making global connections! The best part is that it doesn’t stop here. My students will continue down this journey of blogging, sharing, and collaborating as we progress through the year. My plan is to update my COETAIL blog periodically and share our experience as we continue to learn and grow!
What helped make this successful?
As a class we developed a set of questions we could ask as we reviewed our work, questions to help us reflect and share our learning experiences. Once they reflected on their learning they have option to post to the classroom blog was made available. Many students demonstrated being risk-takers, an IB Learner Profile trait, when they chose to be brave and post their work to the blog. Shortly there after, students started receiving their first set of comments, thank you Diana for taking the time to do this. Comments led to a lesson about communication and how to reply. We discussed the value of being open-minded to others thoughts and suggestions.
Now, it was their turn to start commenting on private blogs that we had connected with. As we moved forward we talked a lot about being open-minded. Students needed to understand before they started posting and commenting the value of other peoples thoughts, opinion, and ways they have expressed themselves. We created another anchor chart to help support our commenting and began the process.
What comes next…?
As course five comes to an end, I know that the learning, creating, and collaborating will continue. Shaza and I will continue to create app tutorials to post on our YouTube Chanel, TechTeachers, and to share our experiences related to the power of digital integration and student blogging with others. We reached our goal of redefinition in our classroom and are helping supporting others to do that same! Together we have shared our experience with the community of teacher in our building and district. At the beginning of November, we successfully led a bilingual (Arabic and English) PD session, Using iPads Apps to Create Digital Portfolios, Blogs, and More , at MiniNESA Qatar and have plans to continue sharing. We are hopeful for the opportunity to present at this years NESA conference and eager to share our experience at the 2017 Qatar Teaching and Learning forum in April.
Time to reflect…
I couldn’t have asked or completed a better project or collaborator for the year. The connections that have been made, the learning that is occurring, the engagement and eagerness to create and share has made every roadblock and unforeseen challenge we’ve encountered along the way 100% worth it!
While I have the COETAIL program to thank for the redesigning of my classroom, it is the COETAILers, past and present that have taught me the most. Those that have commented, collaborated, and shared their own learning experiences within the COETAIL, you are the reason I have grown and the reason I will continue to have success!
A special thanks to Patrick, who initiated the presence of COETAIL at my school and to Yolanda and Shaza, two of the best collaborators and educators I have ever worked with! I couldn’t have done this without you! Cheers!