COETAILCOETAIL Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy Thu, 26 Jul 2018 05:54:04 +0000 en hourly 1 COETAIL 32 32 Reformation 2.0 Tue, 17 Jul 2018 00:16:17 +0000 Vivian Read More »]]>

above:  the statues of the Four Reformers from the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland:  William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Knox.  Did you know that even though Martin Luther started the Reformation in Germany, that he was persecuted in Germany and his ideas did not receive acceptance there?    His ideas only took hold and spread out to the rest of the world from Switzerland, where his ideas were accepted and protected.  The epicentre for the spread of the Reformation was actually Switzerland, and not Germany. There is a great Reformation Museum in Geneva. Our family has visited the churches where Calvin and Zwingli (the great Swiss reformer) preached in Zurich, Lausanne, and Geneva. Our family has loved our time living in Switzerland (9 years at this point).  What an amazing privilege and blessing we were given, to live and work here as expats.

MIA a.ka. Missing in Action

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted a blogpost.  For those of you who know me, you will recognize how unusual this is for me.  I started Coetail (and this blog) in February 2013 and I’ve been posting at least twice a month, if not more, until 2016.

2016.  Ah 2016.  This is the year that will go down in history as when the world-order shifted, never to be the same again.  The two standard-bearers for the world for liberty, democracy, rule of law, justice, character, integrity decided to commit an incredible act of self-harm.  I’m talking about #Brexit and the “abomination that causes desolation” sitting in the American White House.  The other nations, upon witnessing this, decided that they too had no reason to rise above their base-desires and to aspire to something greater (what the UK and the USA used to represent and what other nations saw as the bench-mark they wanted to aim for) and the world-order dutifully imploded, never to be put back together again, quite the same (echoes of Humpty-Dumpty here).

Anyways, this is an Educational Blog, not a political or spiritual blog.  So, I won’t get any further in it.  This is just an attempt at an explanation for why I’ve been missing in action for so long (blogging little and tweeting little).   I feel grief (Little tears prick at my eyes, even now as I write). And when an introvert like me feels grief, one turns inward and hides away.  I mean, I just couldn’t find the motivation or the inspiration to write about educational issues or EdTech ideas when Rome is burning at one’s feet.  I apologize to all my teaching friends on Coetail, twitter etc. for disappearing after November 2016.  I didn’t even stop to explain.  I just left.  I hope this little note here can be my explanation.  Rather late, but better late than never. 😀  I hope you know that it was #nothingpersonal

Finishing SPF 689-Research Methods

That being said, I finished SPF 689 “Educational Research Methods” with SUNY (State University of New York) this past May 2018.  It’s my second last course before I finish my Masters (M.S.).  In SPF 689, I set up my final Masters research project.  My last course (EDU 690) will be actually to conduct the Masters research and to write up the results in a paper.  My hope is to eventually publish the paper in a research journal.  This is not a requirement for my Masters but Dr. Shively (prof) is willing to work with students that want to publish to get them published.  That would be SO amazing.  I SO want to do this, but it depends on whether I will be able to conduct the Masters research that I envision in my mind.  We will see.

What is Research?

I’ve been looking forward to SPF 689 (Research Methods) for such a long time!  I’ve always been curious about how scientists conduct their research.  I remember when I was an university undergrad student studying for my B.Ed/B.A. that I took an EdPsych class.  During the class, we learned about factors that determine whether testing, research is rigorous or not.

There are two factors (amongst others) that are important to consider when a school teacher administers any sort of test. They are 1. Validity  and 2. Reliability

I once participated in a twitter chat on #pypchat where Kath Murdoch (guru of PYP Inquiry Pedagogy) was saying that all PYP teachers need to consider themselves as scientists.  I took exception to that idea.  I felt it was hugely disrespectful to real scientists to label ourselves as scientists. This is because the average PYP teacher has no training in the rigours needed to conduct scientific inquiry:   1. how to set up valid research 2. how to set up reliable research 3. how to discern if the testing tools (i.e. exams) you create or choose are valid or reliable 4. how to test for validity and reliability in any conclusions you draw.

Yes, in the IB PYP (IB Primary Years Program) we are conducting inquiry, but I would never assume that the inquiries that PYP Teachers and PYP Classrooms are under-taking are, in any way, turn us into “real” scientists.  How disingenuous to say it could be that simple to be a scientist!   Whatever findings we find, need to be taken with a “grain of salt”. And isn’t that what the IBPYP Learner Profile attribute, “Critical Thinkers”,  is about?  It’s about not swallowing up any old conclusion or generalization.  But to put it all in context through critical thought.

For example, as IBPYP classroom teachers,  there is emphasis on Formative Assessment.  Formative Assessments are assessments of what children already know, before a unit is started.  They are useful to help teachers find a starting point in their teaching units.  They are also helpful for differentiating for students who are much further ahead or much further behind than the rest of the class. However, in practise, the “formative assessments” I’ve seen (and sadly used) is usually the classroom teacher (not always a math specialist) lifting a page from a math text, photocopying it, and then administering it as a test to students.  Because of the bit of my undergrad studies about educational testing, I knew to take any findings I got with a STRONG “grain of salt”.  Lifting a page from a textbook, even creating an original test by oneself is NO guarantee that the test has any validity or reliability, and tells us a great deal about the child’s abilities that are purportedly being tested.

Validity, as an indicator of a “good” test

Validity means that the test is testing exactly and only what the examiner is testing. One factor that works against validity of math tests is reading comprehension.  If the student is answering a math word problem, but doesn’t really understand the question (i.e. English isn’t the child’s native language, child has poor reading skills, language of the question was poorly written), then the fact that the child got the answer correct OR incorrect means nothing for their math’s abilities.  The question wasn’t testing their maths.  It was testing their reading comprehension.  So, in this instance, the findings for that math question lacked validity.  That test question is “bad science”.

Reliability, as an indicator of a “good” test

Findings that we garner from research, testing etc., are more rigourous if they have reliability.   If we administer the test over time under the same conditions, do we get the same results?   If a test gets one set of conclusions on one day, but then another different set on another day, then that test has poor reliability and it means that this test is inherently weak and we shouldn’t draw any conclusions from that test. The test should be discarded.

Undergraduate Teacher-Training

So, I had this bit of training in my B.Ed/B.A.  It wasn’t much but much more than teachers who only have a teaching-certificate but not a teaching degree, as I do.  But it was enough to make me conservative about all these “formative assessments” that teachers LOVE to administer.   They must all be taken with a “grain of salt”.   So, I was quite astounded when the #PYPChat told us that PYP teachers are scientists.  in fact, Kath Murdoch went as far as to conclude the #PYPChat by saying that you can’t be a PYP Teacher (an teacher of Inquiry) unless you consider yourself a scientists.  Well, lots of meaning is lost on twitter, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and take what she said with a grain of salt.  Maybe I misunderstood her.  I’m a good teacher of Inquiry but I would never assume that I’m a scientist, who is university-trained in creating experiments, creating testing tools, conducting research, analyzing findings and summarizing them without bias.

Regardless, I would hazard to guess that most teachers with only undergrad training have little training in test-making and little understanding about what makes research or testing rigorous and how that should contextualize how they approach Formative Assessment in their classrooms.  I’m surprised that this is not a significant aspect of teacher training in undergrad.  It wasn’t until I started my Masters studies that I was forced to take a whole course in the subject.  Since testing and assessment form such a large part of a school teacher’s job, it seems absurd to me that the study of Research & Testing Methods is left to graduate-level studies!

You wouldn’t think a teacher would online bully, would you?

So, it was an “interesting” #PYPChat because it’s difficult to convey one’s points when one is limited to 140 characters.  What made it even more “interesting” is that after the twitter chat was over, one of the teachers (a PYP math teacher) who disagreed with me created a webpage to bully and insult me over my views.  She sent it to me publically via a link on twitter.  She deleted the webpage a little later, but I had already screenshot it.  I blogged about that bullying experience here on my blog.  You can find my blogpost that I wrote in this blog and the screenshot of what she said to me, if you google hard enough.  Needless to say, I never went back to #PYPChat on twitter!

What makes something a real scientific inquiry?

So, I really enjoyed my SPF 689 Research Methods course.  Finally, I was able to look in-depth at the tools, instruments, methods that real scientists use.  We looked at how to set up our Research Projects and what tools we can use to collect our findings.  We looked at ways to prevent bias and how all teachers need to cognizant about this very real factor when assessing our students.  My way of negating bias has always been to take all my findings from any assessments, whether Formative or Summative (Summative is testing after the unit is over), with a “grain of salt”.  I’ve used that metaphor a number of times. What do I mean by that?  I mean not forgetting that I could be absolutely wrong about my conclusions and that I should be open to other evidence collected in other ways, that say something differently. (Remember how Einstein’s math teachers thought he was a dummy at math?)

I don’t know if I was able to convey this important piece of advice to the #PYPChat that day, but that was the gist of what I was trying to get across, when I disagreed with the idea that PYP teachers are also scientists.

None of what I’ve said applies to standardized tests that have been tested and proven over-time, to be valid and reliable with a large population.   These tests usually come from educational bodies (full of ‘real scientists’)  and usually need to be bought by a school in order to be used i.e. PISA, ISA, IQ Tests, SATs, ACTs etc.–even the IBDP Final Exams.  Teachers usually need to seek parent’s permission to administer these tests, as the findings can have huge impact on students’ futures because the entire world respects the validity and reliability of their conclusions.  I’m not too sure if any test that regular school teachers make on a weekly basis could command such respect.

SPF 689 Research Methods EDU 690 Masters Project

So, it was a very valuable course for me.  I feel equipped to conduct research in my classrooms now, when I didn’t feel at all equipped, before.   I will continue to view all conclusions drawn from school tests “with a grain of salt”  but I will be better at test-creation and data evaluation, after I finish my Masters.  If I do publish my paper, I’ll be here first to post a link to it!  I imagine that in the EDU 690 “Master’s Project”, I will be looking at how to make my own specific assessment tools valid and reliable, according to my research intentions.


I don’t know if I will ever get back to blogging here every 2 weeks, like I used to.  I really ought to start a blog about our current political and social landscape, through my lens of being a Christian, because this is what has been pressing on my spirit and is screaming out to be released for the last two years (sort of like a mother labouring and trying to birth out a baby but everything is stuck)  =)   I love writing and I have a need to write, so a blog like that would be a perfect outlet for my angst.  At the same time, I doubt very much that I will start a blog like that.  There is already too much arguing online;  I don’t want to contribute more.  Instead, I will pray and do what I can to lead children to discern between truth and fake-science, one day at a time.

I will pop back here once in a while to write, but definitely not every other week, like before.  I’ll keep you posted about the Research Project when I start the under-taking of it.

My Research Project Proposal

At this moment, I’m hoping that my research project will study

whether and to what extent Sonic-Pi gives students with little or no musical-note reading ability access to composition activities in the music classroom

Sonic-Pi allows students to compose and perform abstract music through coding in the Ruby computer language (Ruby is a “real” coding language.)  It is a free software that turns your computer (Mac, Raspberry Pi, Window) into a music synthesizer.  It can create in all musical genres from classical to electric dance music (EDM).  Listen to Sonic-Pi play “Daft Punk”.  (The creator of Sonic-Pi, Dr Aaron Sam, plays EDM in nightclubs!)

Sonic-Pi was created by Dr Aaron Sam at the Cambridge University, UK to support the new computing curriculum that came out in the UK a few years ago.  Children in the UK, from the ages of 5 to 14 are required to learn computer science (computer programming) as a subject.  Sonic-Pi was invented to be a tool for students to meet their computing curriculum requirements while learning another subject.  The idea is that cross-integration (see my magazine article about this) between subjects raises the level of critical thinking and increases the depth of learning.  (Plus, it’s just plain more fun!) In this case, the integration is between the subjects of Music and Computer Sciences.   Anyways, that’s what I’m hoping to look at in my Master’s graduation project.  Wish me luck!

Reformation 2.0

Interestingly enough, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  The Reformation shook the foundations of the world and nothing was the same again.  I wonder if we’re at another watershed moment in history?   The architecture of the world is being reshaped.  What are you doing to make sure it’s being reshaped in the way that will make the world somewhere your kids and grandkids will want to live in?

What can teachers do to combat #FakeNews #FakeScience?


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Quality education – What is it? Mon, 09 Jul 2018 15:16:11 +0000 Merilyn Winslade Read More »]]> The question of what constitutes a quality education is one that fascinates me.  It is dependent on context, culture, and perspective and is a contentious subject whether being discussed in the field of development or in western education systems.  I recently wrote on the subject in the context of Ghana – a country I spent some time in as a teacher in a poorer, rural setting.

My experience of education in Ghana was very different from how I was trained in Australia and how I practice in the international school system.  Instruction was exclusively teacher-centred and students did find it difficult at first to adjust to my style of teaching.  Resources were scarce.  Students had a textbook and the school had a library but there was no internet access.  Teachers had use of chalk and a blackboard but that was really the extent of it.  Lack of resources though was not the biggest problem.  There was a very closed off culture in the school which seemed typical in that the staff weren’t comfortable with opening their classrooms to others or sharing teaching and learning strategies.  Creativity was not valued.  This meant that the teachers saw no alternatives to the status quo.


Students in my science class at Nandom Senior High School

Having said all that, the students did very well in the WASSCE (West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations) which is the university entrance examinations.  Clearly, the system worked for these students in this context. The system worked for the teachers too as they excelled within it and hence saw no need for change.

The question of the large proportion of students that don’t make it to the end of secondary education, however, is not addressed.  There are many contributing factors such as poverty and gender but to what extent the institutionalised pedagogical practices are to blame is not understood.  Students who do complete secondary school are not trained in critical thinking and creativity is stifled.  These skills are not important for success in a knowledge based examination system and are therefore not valued.  But what type of student does an emphasis on rote learning within an authoritative system produce and are these students prepared for life outside that system?

Some argue that imposing a student-centred, inquiry-based model of teaching and learning on African countries like Ghana is another example of Western hegemony.  Others argue that a progressive education is the best way to prepare students for the challenges they face as adults in any context.

I wonder how much of learning is independent of culture.  I wonder if there is just one way that is the best, universally.  I also wonder if it even really matters when such a range of different outcomes to education are expected in different contexts.




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Last day to apply for COETAIL 2! Sat, 30 Jun 2018 23:21:32 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_image _builder_version=”3.8″ src=”” /][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.8″]

Whether you’ve been following #ISTE18 or the FIFA World Cup, relaxing with friends & family or rushing around to get your visas sorted (or all of the above like me!), we hope you’ve found balance in the first weeks of summer.

COETAIL 2 applications close tonight. Have you had a chance to check out the COETAIL 2 website? Need a little inspiration from us? Watch our hangout to get excited about continuing your COETAIL journey…what you’ve been asking for since you completed COETAIL!

Take a moment to throwback with me (it is Thursday after all!). Close your eyes…how did you feel before you started COETAIL? How did you feel at the end of Course 3? How about when you published your Course 5 final project? Open your eyes…what do you need from me to begin your COETAIL 2 adventure?

The Eduro Team has been together in Seattle this week and is eagerly awaiting your applications! Ready to stop putting it off? Let’s break it down…

  • 30 minutes to plan your video (video prompts here)
  • 10 minutes to record your selfie video
  • 10 minutes to finalize your video & upload it
  • 5 minutes to complete the application form

That’s 55 minutes…less than an hour for the opportunity to shape the future of COETAIL 2.

So, what’s the value of COETAIL 2?

26 weeks of course content = $3,900

Monthly group coaching = $450

1:1 coaching = $600

Legacy and reconnecting with the COETAIL community = Priceless

Total COETAIL 2 value = $4,950

Next year, COETAIL 2 will cost $1,947.

This year, it’s only $947. This is your one and only chance to get this $4,950 value for $947!

There’s even a payment plan built in! The first installment of $473.50 is due within 7 days of acceptance to COETAIL 2 and the other half is due a month later. If you need an invoice or would like the option of paying in additional installments, just reply to this email.

Are you an intrepid educator? Join me and 14 of your fellow COETAILers! Have questions before you take the risk & begin the COETAIL 2 adventure? I’d love to answer them! Just reply to this email 🙂


We can’t wait to see your application videos!

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Applications close today! Ready to apply? Click here to submit your application!

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A five step #PrideMonth challenge for Educators Thu, 14 Jun 2018 00:31:13 +0000 Tricia Friedman Read More »]]> 0 What is student agency and should we care? Wed, 06 Jun 2018 09:13:12 +0000 Carrie Zimmer Read More »]]> The idea of ‘agency’ has been tossed about prominently for the last few years, but seems to be taking a step to the forefront of many educator’s minds once again.

Even the PYP programme will be enhanced this coming Fall to more directly address agency and its role. With such a dynamic change to an established program, it seems certain that this topic is here to stay for awhile.

So, let’s first take a step back and define agency.

According to the IBO, agency is “the capacity to act intentionally.”

While this is a broad definition encompassing the word’s meaning both in and out of education, I think a lot can be derived from those few words in terms of students and their learning. I think of the word ‘capacity’ and think of students being able to complete tasks and make choices, and being given the chance to do so. ‘Act’ automatically sends me to a place where the students are the ones “doing the heavy lifting” and being quite active in their educational journey. And the word ‘intentionally’ implies that choices are being made with purpose, through motivation, interest and relevance.

Taking information from several websites, I was able to create this word cloud from their definitions.

Not surprisingly, some words like agency, students, and learning came up as big, bold repeated ideas. But I thought it was more interesting to look at some of the mid-sized words that were also clearly mentioned multiple times: choice, active, meaningful, initiative, motivation.

My thoughts surrounding the definition tie in well with the prominent words from the word cloud. Many seem to agree that the ideas of choice, meaning, motivation, intention are all part of the pathway to the future of our classroom.

But, these ideas are not really new in education. These ideas are just coming back around from the past with a new look and appeal.

In Beth Holland’s 2015 Edutopia article she relates this idea to the work of Tyack and Cuban. She states, “In their book Tinkering Towards Utopia, David Tyack and Larry Cuban describe education reform as both incremental and cyclical. Over time, schools make incremental changes. Meanwhile, specific conversations repeat themselves in cycles. However, as a topic reemerges, the environment has shifted. Agency and learner empowerment are not new concepts, nor are the recommendations for how to achieve them. However, the landscape no longer looks the same.”

Group of five happy children jumping outdoors. Some rights reserved by Lighttruth

So agency isn’t necessarily a new idea. We’ve seen it before labeled in different ways. With this in mind, we must ask ourselves what to do with all this information about agency. Do we care? Does it matter to us?

For me, the answer is yes.

While many things in education (and life, for that matter) are cyclical, I think we must take this opportunity to evaluate the role agency could play in our classroom today and how we might move forward with this knowledge. With resources available so readily through advancements in technology, giving students the power over their educational journey seems more plausible than ever.

Schools that support agency in their students have customizable programs for their students, foster real and meaningful relationships between students and advisors, and provide equality for all learners.

And there are several schools and programs taking time to consider agency and making real change to the programming they offer their students. Check two of them out here and here.

What does this mean for you? Your classroom? Your students?

Let’s think about some simple steps teachers might be able to take in their individual classrooms. Maybe students can redesign the learning space to suit their needs. Instead of controlling the look and feel of the room, letting students have power over the space and how it’s used offers ownership to the whole learning community.

As a teacher, you could also try taking small steps with student choice in your individual subjects.

By offering a menu of review sessions and a series of other “could do” activities, 4th grade teacher Jesye Streisel is beginning her journey with student agency. Students plan how they will spend their three segments of math time based on their needs and desires. Small group sessions are offered alongside several independent activities.

Students choosing to join a session on Long Division with Ms. Streisel.

While this beginning step is still quite structured by the teacher, it’s activating those schema that will help both the students and teacher move forward in the future. The students are learning to determine for themselves what skills they most need to practice or review and the teacher is experimenting with the setup of giving the power back to the students. This kind of practice can act as a stepping stone to allowing students to design their own day.

Offering students agency in their educational journey doesn’t mean you eliminate all structure and curriculum. It’s shifting the balance of power so that students take ownership of their learning needs. Students make the choices. Students determine what’s best for them. Students help build the structure and curriculum that suits their needs. As teachers, we must learn to let go of making decisions for our students. To do this, we should accept that not everything will always go perfectly, or always look ‘just so’, and we must come to understand that that is okay.

Now it’s time for you to be the agent of your own learning and take a deep dive into student agency. If you aren’t sure where to begin or aren’t sure what impact it might have, I would encourage you to start some research on the topic. Taryn Bond-Clegg has shared this amazing document full of links on her blog and both are quite extensive. It’s a great first stop for anyone beginning their journey into student agency and offers many suggestions and documents for you to use directly in your classroom.

What are your thoughts on student agency? What shifts are you or your school making that give the power back to the students?


“‘Student Agency’ Is Not Something You Give or Take | EdSurge News.” 16 Oct. 2015, Accessed 18 May. 2018.

“Part 1: Student Agency? Teacher Agency? School Agency ….” 4 Dec. 2016, Accessed 18 May. 2018.

“Classroom (un)Set-Up – riskandreflect –” 17 Aug. 2016, Accessed 30 May. 2018.

“Standards: Why Realizing the Full Promise of Education Requires a ….” 9 Mar. 2015, Accessed 30 May. 2018.

“5 Ways to Promote Student Agency – Cooper on Curriculum.” 20 Jun. 2017, Accessed 29 May. 2018.

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Hello world! Thu, 31 May 2018 02:09:56 +0000 genelyn.ancheta Welcome to COETAIL. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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Are you learning “just in time”? Right now? Mon, 28 May 2018 14:36:21 +0000 Verena Zimmer Read More »]]> 0 COETAIL 2 – Apply Today! Fri, 25 May 2018 19:54:51 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.3.1″]

Have you applied to be part of the first COETAIL 2 cohort yet? If not, hopefully the answers to the two questions below will help you decide if the journey is right for you.

What courses would fill up my 22-26 week journey?

  • Only one required course, a 3-week personalized learning course.
  • The other 19-23 weeks will be made up of any of Eduro Learning’s courses! Which ones? That’s up to you. We’ll work together to help you select the best courses reach your goal. Check out all of your options here.

About the application…do I really have to submit a video?

  • Yup! But don’t let that hold you back. We’re not actually looking for video skills. We’re looking for a simple selfie video. Your answers to our questions are way more important to us than fancy editing.

Here’s the COETAIL 2 website for a refresher on how you can continue your COETAIL journey and become part of the legacy of COETAIL 2.

Think you might be interested in embarking on this journey with us? We’ll be sending out a little extra love to those of you who register your interest. Just click the green ‘yes, I’m interested’ button over on the COETAIL 2 website!

Still have questions? Comment below or shoot me an email and I’d be happy to answer them.

Ready for this email to be over and just want to apply now? Here ya go!

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A 3-minute (max.) video answering the questions:




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Final Project – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility Tue, 22 May 2018 01:26:36 +0000 Pittrapim A. Read More »]]> It took a long long while for this project to finally get done. All the responsibilities of a Technology Integration Coach really took over. But alas the project is done, well I hope so. I had three main goals for this project:

  1. Students will understand the importance of digital citizenship in today’s world
  2. Students will understand the importance of 21c skills (creativity, critical thinking, communicating, collaboration)
  3. Students will understand design thinking and reflection

I feel that most of the students were able to meet these goals. They were able to reflect on what they enjoyed the most and what they had learned, or what they would have done differently. The ISTE standards that were definately met, at varying degrees were digital citizenship, knowledge constructors and creative communicators. I was very interested to see how the students would approach expressing such an important message out in 30 seconds. Some used images, some used cartoons, some acted out with subtitles. These were a very creative group of students.

When thinking about our schools development on the SAMR ladder and the purpose of this unit, I think that we were swimming around the augmentation and modification stages of SAMR. Had we reached out to sources beyond the school, or found authentic audiences, perhaps we could have solidly met modification and even redefinition. As a first unit for the BYOD program in grade 6, and the first time we have implemented this unit at our Middle School, I think that the students showed some really good understanding of what they needed to do, and reflection. Next year, to make a bigger impact, I think that I will have students make a concurrent PSA poster that will go up on walls and leave a lasting impact visually for a longer time.

Here is the video detailing the experience from the unit.


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An Introduction to Immersive Journalism Thu, 17 May 2018 05:46:44 +0000 Tricia Friedman Read More »]]> 1 COETAIL 2 – Applications Open! Tue, 15 May 2018 07:00:56 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.8″]

Today is the day, the moment you’ve been waiting for since you finished COETAIL…the opportunity to jump back in to the community! Kim, Chrissy, Jeff and I are so pumped for COETAIL 2 that we overcame a 19-hour time difference to record a video to share our excitement:

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Still not quite sure if COETAIL 2 should be your next adventure?

  • Did you love COETAIL and have felt a little lost since you completed the certificate? We want you!
  • Are you willing to take a risk and venture into the unknown? We want you!
  • Do you want to get more involved and leave your mark on the COETAIL 2 experience for the rest of the community? We want you!
  • Have you thought about trying a personalized learning journey but haven’t found the one that’s quite right yet? We want you!
  • Have you been exploring the Eduro Learning courses but couldn’t decide on just one? We want you!
  • In case you haven’t gotten the gist, if you are a COETAILer that is passionate about teaching & learning and ready to navigate the unknown in order to help us tailor COETAIL 2 for our community…WE WANT YOU!

Ready? Set? GO!

  • Submit your application anytime between May 15 and June 30.
  • I, along with the COETAIL team, will look at each and every application. We’ll then chose the 15 that best align with our hopes for COETAIL 2. Knowing this community of educators, it’s not going to be an easy decision!
  • Once selected, you will have 7 days to confirm your participation by paying the first installment (half the total COETAIL 2 fee). If payments are not received within 7 days, other applicants will be given the opportunity to join.
  • While our official start date isn’t until September, opportunities for the cohort to connect will begin as soon as payment is received.
  • Remember, you can email me or comment below with any questions you might have.
  • Click the no obligation I’M INTERESTED button on the website to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the juicy details!

Applications are OPEN! Click here to learn more about COETAIL 2 and submit your application…I’m so excited to finally ‘meet’ you!


More COETAIL 2 Info:


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Check! Done! Finished! Awesome! Wed, 09 May 2018 17:27:48 +0000 Ryan Harwood Read More »]]> And just like that our #online8 cohort is complete. Its been an amazing journey with a fantastic group. We lost one or two along the way and gained a couple too. Just like a real international classroom, there are always hellos and goodbyes.

I’m thankful for the learning journey with all of you and I’m excited to keep the energy and connections alive. I hope that some of you will consider checking out COETAIL 2, (I’m pretty tempted my self). At the very least, stay in touch and stay connected. Keep blogging, keep sharing keep making your schools amazing places to learn.

If you haven’t checked them all out already, the full list of projects are below.

I hope someday our paths will cross in the physical realm. Until then, we’re only an email, a tweet or a blog comment away.


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COETAIL 2 – The Application Wed, 09 May 2018 08:03:00 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.106″ background_layout=”light”]

We’ve shared with you our inspiration for COETAIL 2, an overview, some details about what the journey might be like, and one place to find all the info. We hope you’re getting as excited to jump back into the COETAIL community as we are to have you!

With only 4 days until applications open, we’re making sure you have everything you need to submit yours:

  • The simple stuff: Name, email address, COETAIL cohort, and COETAIL blog URL.
  • Video response: What did you enjoy most about your COETAIL experience? What are you most excited about joining the first COETAIL 2 cohort? Submit the URL of a video with your response. Video should be no longer than 3 minutes.
  • Last but not least: Agree (via a virtual signature) to become part of the cohort and pay the first installment within 7 days if you are one of the 15 selected trailblazers.

Have you read all the blog posts, found more details on the website, and watched the COETAIL 2 overview…but still have questions? Reply to the email from me, email me at or comment below and I’ll be more than happy to talk it out with you. Want to get to know me a little better before committing to COETAIL 2? Click below to visit the COETAIL 2 website and ‘meet’ me!

I can’t wait to meet you! Let’s start with a little more about me and why I’m beginning this journey with you. Click here to view a message from me to you on the COETAIL 2 website!

Not getting the COETAIL updates via email? Complete this form to share your new contact details!


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What can schools learn from skateparks? Mon, 07 May 2018 15:06:36 +0000 Joel Bevans Read More »]]> What can schools learn from skateparks?

Whilst on my way home from school this week I went past a ,relatively new, skatepark. It was a beautiful day and the park was very busy. There were people on skateboards, rollerblades, kids on scooters, even toddlers on their first ever balance bike.

CC J.Bevans 2018

I took a moment to stop and have a look at what was happening. It was amazing to see. Perhaps 50 or 60 people in one shared space.Each with a clear identity and purpose to what they were doing. Each knowing the “rules” of the skatepark. Each giving and receiving timely feedback to each other in a caring and supportive environment. Each understanding what their personalised goal is in their own learning journey. Each taking risks in a safe way so that they are able to progress to their next stage of development.

Looking on and watching in awe of these “students” owning their learning it made me wonder… what can schools learn from skateparks and the culture that resides in them?

Welcoming It was an environment where it did not matter if you were a novice or highly advanced on your chosen wheels. Toddlers on their first attempts on ramps and riders making 360`s look like a piece of cake. There was no tier system to the learning that was happening. Everyone was welcome. The skatepark was a space that made all the riders feel comfortable. 4 year olds passed 40 year olds with smiles from everyone along the way.

Growth Mindset It was a space where mistakes were part of the learning journey. There were sounds of crashes and bangs. Everytime people stopped, helped and moved on. There was no fear in failing. Only a belief in next time I will be able to do it

Autonomy Each rider was going on about their own personal journey in the skatepark. There no teachers, not one way of riding, not one way of learning. Each rider was independent. Each rider had their own self determination to know what they wanted to achieve.

Rules The lack of rules in any environment are often seen as an opportunity for things to go wrong. But in a skatepark the exact opposite was happening. 50 or 60 riders working harmoniously without rules, learning, supporting, guiding, influencing and innovating with each other to improve, to get better, to learn more in their personal journeys.

Using technology for timely and useful feedback The more experienced riders were documenting their journey. Using smartphones, tablets and GoPro`s they were recording each other trying tricks and combos.Building up their repertoire. After it was recorded it was not left on the device. Immediately they were huddles around their devices looking at what went well and what they could improve next time. A quick debrief and chat and they were off again, trying to perfect what had occured before

Personalised Learning Every rider was on their own personalised learning journey. They knew their own goals and were practicing, thinking, collaborating, getting feedback and and then using that feedback to apply their learning and meet their goals. Their goals were very different; Some were working on staying upright, others gliding, some riders were trying to do 360 turns or flips. It did not matter where each person had come from they were all unified in trying to meet their goal, in a supportive and caring environment.

Innovation The riders were all innovating. They were taking ideas, building on them, testing them and then implementing them. Innovation was clearly valued and nurtured in the skatepark. Google recently shared 5 attributes that contribute to the development and use of new ideas. They are:

Shared vision – Make sure everyone knows where the organization is heading. Autonomy – Allow employees to define their own work as much as possible. Intrinsic motivation – Hire naturally curious people who like to learn. Risk-taking – Enable employees to feel psychologically safe to take risks and try new ideas. Connection & collaboration – Make it easy for employees to find partners and work together

Two researchers (Tim Oates and Martin Johnson) recently took to one of the largest skateparks in Europe to understand how young people learn from each other. They noted that:

A Skate park is a complex, rule governed and self-created culture, where performance and learning go hand in hand. We also note that the young people in our study demonstrate the characteristics of highly engaged learners, have a high degree of autonomy in directing their own learning

How does this apply to schools?

Schools are places where we want our students to feel inspired, to take risks, to own their own learning. I think that schools need to take a leaf from skateparks and make their learning spaces more personalised. Schools need to give greater autonomy to our students so that they are in control of their own learning journey. That is not to say there are no rules in schools but is having shared values and beliefs (that we all help to create) more powerful for all of our stakeholders?

In this era of information teachers need to make a shift in their practice and become coaches who are supporting the thinking and the learning in the background, questioning, prompting and provoking so that we are making sure the students have all the equipment and the skills that they need to be successful. We need to guide and use technology as a way of giving timely feedback so that our students can try again. Teachers need to model that it is OK to make mistakes and that we don’t know everything. Taking risks in our thinking and learning is good and supports creativity and innovation. Modelling a growth mindset to our students and colleagues can make for us to collaborate more.

School and learning needs to be fun. It needs to be exciting and teachers are one of the biggest catalysts for this. Let’s make learning active, and authentic. Take this example from International Middle School math teacher Clothilde Labrousse. Her class was studying slope and the Pythagorean theorem, and she thought that a skate ramp could be a perfect representation of both concepts in the real world. Creating opportunities for our students to be creative and apply their learning in real life gives the learning purpose and meaning. It gives students that thirst for learning so that they keep on coming back for more. Just like this from Action Science in their Mathematics Extravaganza.

As I reflect back on what I saw in the skatepark this week. The biggest take away for me is the way that the young people owned their own learning. Let’s make schools more like skateparks….Who’s with me?

CC J.Bevans 2018


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Furthering our School Community Mon, 07 May 2018 11:52:22 +0000 Jennifer Byrnes Read More »]]> I will start with a little confession. My name is Jen and I am addicted to TED talks. I went to TEDx Amsterdam ED in 2015 and I got to listen to an amazing group of speakers, including Hanna Jochmann-Mannak, Deborah Carter and Graham Brown-Martin.

Each talk was more inspiring than the next. The Theme for the day was the Education (R)Evolution, and speakers presented on ideas ranging from the purpose of education, finding a better Internet for our student and, one of the bravest talks I’ve seen so far, Putting the System Upside Down by 15 year old Lisanne Vriens. Lisanne stood up in a room full of educators and challenged us to do better, to break the system and redefine what it means to be successful in schools.

Though all of the talks were impressive, for me Lisanne’s really stood out. Here was a 15 year old girl, speaking in her second language and outwardly challenging teachers and administrators to do better. After coming home so excited and motivated by each of the TEDx Talks I watched, I thought about how I could help these amazing ideas worth sharing. I decided to organize a TEDxYouth event at the American School of the Hague. 

There were lots of challenges along the way as I worked to put a team of teachers and students together, there didn’t seem to be many people who were as into TED talks as me, and a surprising number of people who had never heard of them before. So, I decided to turn to iTunes for help and some assistance in spreading the word.


This video was aired at our All Staff Meeting and explains what TEDx events are and how teachers could get involved. Next, it was on to the students. The video below was aired at both our high school and middle school assemblies to get the word out. Then, students were involved in choosing the Theme, and voila, our event was born. (Minus the application process).


Our first TEDx event was a success! Our Theme for the day was Dare to be Different, a great theme for the students to choose, as we were in the early stages of our inclusion program.


  • Each talk was varied, but still connected to the topic.
  • Students were at the center of the event.
  • Talks were presented by a wide range of students, including our High School Inclusion class.

Areas for Growth

  • Event application and close out were a lot for one person (me) to manage.
  • Our videos recorded, but the sound was almost inaudible.
  • Widening our audience to include the entire school.

As we moved forward into planning our second event, which was held this past March, I was really pleased to see that we had already begun to make progress.

How did we improve:

  • We created a TEDx club
  • Students were much more active in the behind the scenes event planning, application and closeout.
    • Each student had a job, lights, sound, PR, videography, photography,
  • We created a system that allows our Seniors to teach our Juniors how TEDx works and train the student leaders for the following year.

I am looking forward to continuing to develop TEDxYouth@ASH events in the years to come. I feel that the COETAIL philosophy paired with the skills I have learned will provide me create and further develop our TEDx community, and create another PLN here at ASH.

Our videos are currently in the process of being finalized and added to Youtube, I will be sharing them on this post as soon as they are ready.

If you would like to find out more about our TEDxyouth@ash event please visit our website.
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Coetail Final Project Mon, 07 May 2018 08:04:31 +0000 Jennifer Byrnes Read More »]]> Welcome to my COETAIL final project! It has been an incredible journey and I am so excited to (finally) be sharing my final project.


The Idea:

For my final COETAIL project, I decided to focus on redesigning our Grade 4 Social Studies, formerly titled, Agents of Change. In this unit, students learned about a variety of global issues through the lens of the Service Learning Matrix. We introduced the idea that there are global issues that effect humans, animals and/or the environment, and that people can invoke change through either direct (hands on, for example, building a school) /indirect action (for example, your collected donations for the new school being built) or advocacy (for example, you raised awareness about children who do not have a school to go to.)

The performance task for this unit was for students to identify a global issue they were passionate about and design a service learning project that with helps through direct action. I loved this unit and relinquishing it was not easy. We have spent the last 4 years finding ways to make this unit more accessible and authentic for the students. So… if it wasn’t broke, why did I fix it?

Curriculum review year… that is why! As our school has adopted the Aero Standards and gone through the Social Studies curriculum review, we noticed that our amazing, wonderfully planned and perfectly scaffolded unit hit tons of standards, but sadly, they were mostly Grade 5 standards. So, begrudgingly, we began to make some changes.

Step 1: KISS Keep it Simple Sweetie!

This unit has the potential to be a year-long (life long) study. We decided to narrow the unit down by focusing on two Social Studies standards:

  • Standard 7: Students will understand fundamental economic principles and ways in which economies are shaped by geographic and human factors.
  • Standard 2: Students will understand causes and effects of interaction among societies, including trade, systems of international exchange, war, and diplomacy

Step 2: Identify Technology Standards

Empowered Learner

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
  •  Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and    troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.

Global Collaborator

  • Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
  • Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.

By keeping the standards at the heart of this unit, not only were we able to successfully meet our standards, we were able to create an age-appropriate unit that will focus on building the foundation our students need to be successful as they move onto 5th Grade and delve deeper into the world of service learning.

Though I was VERY hesitant to change our unit, it was the best thing to do in the long run.

The Benefits:

  • Our unit is focused and we are able to delve much deeper into the idea that wants and needs shape how we make our choices, and that the choices we make have consequences, both good and bad. This is really where we need to start from if we want our students to go on to plan a meaningful and successful Service Project.
  • Our students need time to understand the concept of global issues, what they are, how they form and how people work together to make a change. We went into this unit with the assumption that our 4th graders are coming to us with a foundational understanding of global issues. In fact, for the most part, this assumption was wrong, the students knowledge was quite limited. In our redesign, we have taken a big step back and now have opened up the time and space for students to construct their own understanding of global issues.

Moving Forward:

  • My next steps as we continue to improve this unit is to rebuild and reestablish our science year plan to ensure that our science curriculum in hitting the NGSS standards.
  • Revise our Grade 4 year plan plan that is cohesive and allows for transdisciplinary learning where authentic and appropriate.

Final Thoughts:

Coetail has been an incredible journey. Although I did have a bit of a hiatus and found it really difficult to get my head back into the COETAIL world and focused on my PLN, once I started working on this project, I really started to find my grove again. I have learned so much about how to integrate technology in my classroom and it is starting to feel quite seamless. As I wrap up COETAIL and my 11th year of teaching, I am already looking ahead to next year and I am excited about  a new project I am going to start. It is something I posted about back in Course 1 and was my initial idea for my final project.

Source: Mark Anderson

My Goal

  • What? To treat technology as a classroom resource and build routines and expectations around it, just as I do with our classroom agreements and class routines during the first 6 weeks of school.
  • How? Create an interactive bulletin board modeled after Mark Anderson’s blog post. I am blessed with a 4 meter, foldout whiteboard in my classroom. As we set up our technology routines, I plan to have a brainstorming session about the apps we already know, and start to organize them based on their uses. As the year goes on, we will add and adjust our board as necessary.
  • Why? I think it is important to teach students to be organized and mindful when it comes to technology. I want to provide my students with the knowledge they need to skillfully select the best application fit for their task and/or learning style.

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COETAIL 2 – The Details Sat, 05 May 2018 10:29:27 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> Ready to continue your COETAIL journey? We know where we want to go, now we need you to help us find the best path! We’ll keep these details short so you can go check out the COETAIL 2 website that’s ready for your eyes!

Without further ado…

  • The COETAIL 2 cohort will begin in September 2018 and end in May 2019.
  • It will be an academic year-long learning experience comprised of 22-26 weeks of courses.
  • Only one required course, a 3-week personalized learning course that everyone begins the journey with..
  • The first cohort is limited to 15 participants so that we can collaborate to make COETAIL 2 a worthwhile learning experience for other COETAILers.
  • There is a prerequisite – you MUST be a COETAIL graduate.
  • You will have an intimate community-learning experience with regular interaction, collaboration, and live facilitated sessions with your cohort of COETAIL 2 learners, and your mentor (Lissa!), with special input from COETAIL co-founders Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino.
  • You will receive our latest book Your Connected Classroom: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers – a FREE gift from us!

Think you might want to be part of this adventure?

  • Applications will open in May and close in June.
  • As a thank you for your involvement and feedback, the first COETAIL 2 cohort will pay less than half what it will cost once we open it up to the entire COETAIL community.
  • Once selected, you can begin connecting with your cohort as soon as your payment has been received.
  • Click the no obligation I’M INTERESTED button on the website to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the juicy details!


Want more? The COETAIL 2 website, including a video overview from me, is up and running! Click here to check it out!

More COETAIL 2 Info:

Not getting the COETAIL updates via email? Complete this form to share your new contact details!

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Week 6 – Wrapping up Course Two! Thu, 03 May 2018 09:06:48 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.106″ background_layout=”light”]

Wow, folks, I can’t believe we are almost done with Course 2! I have absolutely loved this course and the opportunities that you have all had to share what you are doing in the classroom, or in some cases, what you hope to do next time in the classroom. Our efforts to lead by example with respect to our digital lives is so important and your students and colleagues are so lucky to have you guiding them through this ever-changing landscape.

My highlights over this last month and a bit have included:

Most of you have left ample comments on each other’s blogs, but if you missed some of these posts then I recommend you take a look!

As always this Week 6 is for catching up on posts and comments and getting your final project posted. Finding a way to embed the project in a blog post is ideal but if your project doesn’t lend itself to being embedded then you can get creative. Introduce and explain your project to your reader and reflect on the process of your collaboration.

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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Your checklist reminder for this week:

  • One blog post for each week of the course
  • One additional blog post reflecting on your final project (for a total of 6 posts)
  • A final project embedded into your last blog post for Course 2
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)



Featured image by on Unsplash


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Final Project Review Instructions Wed, 02 May 2018 12:15:04 +0000 Ryan Harwood Read More »]]> Hey guys. Awesome work on completing (almost) the course! You’re final task is to review each other’s projects and provide feedback. Here’s a run down of how it should work.

  1. Fill out this survey with a link to your final project blog post.
  2. That makes it magically appear in this spreadsheet so that you all have easy access as you’re reviewing.
  3. Watch at least 5 project videos from our cohort and provide feedback to your peers on this form Make sure you provide some written comments at the end as well. We all know as educators, that’s the most helpful part of the process.
  4. Treat yourself. You’re done!


I hope you all have found this to be a challenging and fruitful experience and you’ll continue to be a part of this awesome COETAIL community.

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Course 4: Final Project Considerations for Course 5 Tue, 01 May 2018 13:08:02 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]> Option 1: Deepening iTime 

Describe the project: What will your students do?

Last year and this fall, I explored iTime with my students. I’ve written about iTime on a previous blog post here where I shared what I’d learned from researching other educators who implemented iTime or Genius Hour to being inspired by fellow COETAILers experiences as I began my iTime implementation.

Last year I noticed most students simply wanted to research a topic, such as an animal or a particular historical event. This year I tried pushing students a bit further and modeled how choosing a skill; such as improving overall fitness, which is a personal goal I have for myself for this year, can also be a topic to learn about during iTime or Genius Hour. I wanted to model for them that you can research a topic but then consult with experts, practice and monitor your growth to help meet your goal. This fall there was a greater variety in my students iTime topics. They ranged from the usual topics such as earthquakes or “How does gravity work?” to:

  • learning how to write calligraphy,
  • creating a leprechaun trap,
  • improving sprinting in soccer matches and
  • improving drawing abilities of particular woodland animals.

It was great to see students being able to do their research but then improve some other skills as well, even if it included creating leprechaun traps. They did have to research, design and then create a trap and unfortunately the leprechaun escaped again, but they went through an entire design process. Due to time constraints however, I’ve only done one round of iTime this year and do not foresee students being able to conduct a final inquiry this year.

In Course 5, I’d like to:

  • provide greater resources to inspire my students including parent volunteers and high school students to share their passions,
  • improve my students’ skills and behaviors (our attitudes toward learning),
  • schedule iTime for two 40 minute periods a 6-day specials rotation cycle,
  • provide consistency to complete projects,
  • build in opportunities for more regular feedbackand
  • facilitate skill based lessons for learners based on our skills and behaviors as well as how to reflect.

I think building onto what I’ve started would provide students with ways to deepen their own understandings about themselves as learners but also how to conduct research and additionally create a greater sense of agency as well.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Prior to starting COETAIL, I’d known a bit about iTime by being at a school which had curiosity projects as a unit of inquiry in one grade level and also had grade 5 students participate in the PYP Exhibition. As I began Course 1, I knew it was the perfect time for me to implement iTime on a regular basis. I found collaborating with other COETAILers such as Michelle Beard who was also on an iTime journey, made some of the practical bits that can get in the way as a teacher trying something new much easier.

In Course 4 we were reminded of the different ways in which education has grown and changed including project based learning, flipped and game based learning as well as MOOCs and earning badges. I feel iTime is a bridge between the past and future learning models. Additionally, a topic that’s mentioned in project based learning and I’m also growing increasingly passionate about student agency.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

One of the main goals I hope to achieve is for students to learn more about themselves as learners. I’d like to have a greater focus on our learning skills and behaviors (see below).

I think iTime could be a wonderful, practical time for students to learn about themselves by creating regular vlog posts in Seesaw in which they reflect on themselves as learners. The posts would provide teachers, parents and their peers with the opportunity to provide feedback to the student based on a skill versus the project/product.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

When I first implemented iTime during Course 1, I had recently read Jessica Barksdale’s article about art curiosity projects in Future Forwards by the American School of Bombay. She said “Curiosity projects provide a student-initiated  and meaningful way for students to demonstrate knowledge they had gained with different mediums , it allowed them to research, initiate and execute their own artistic ideas as true artists due.” I found something similar with my students in having implemented this previously but I, like unlike Jessica, I can’t say that they’ve been true artists, engineers nor historians. They’ve created work but I feel by collaborating with other teachers at my school who use iTime like projects (Kindergarten, grade 2 and grade 5), I can have the opportunity to learn from others through some cross-pollination. Also, I believe using Twitter can be a way to connect with other classes using iTime as well. Finally, Kath Murdoch is visiting our school again in the fall to help us focus on our learning skills and behaviors. I believe it could be an interesting time to seek some advice from an expert as well.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Both this year and last year I found the greatest challenge was allocating time. I think this could be a continued difficulty. Also I wonder about assessment. How can I demonstrate my students’ learning in a meaningful way to both them and their families?

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

I think the greatest shift will be shifting a focus on particular skills and behaviors versus literacy, mathematics or other academic skills that I am required to teach and assess.  Also I’m wondering how I can I communicate these gains to parents on our current report card which are not a required part of our learning. So I think my shifts aren’t so much about pedagogy but letting go of some of my beliefs about “following the rules” outside of our curriculum expectations. I feel comfortable about this in terms of my social and emotional learning decisions but for some reason feel a bit tied to our academic curriculum.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

  • Learning how to reflect about a specific skill and behavior (Thinker),
  • Learning how to follow a research and design process (Self Manager, Researcher, Thinker),
  • Learning how to provide peer feedback (Thinker) and
  • Learning how to vlog using Seesaw (our new eportfolio tool for 2018-19) (Communicator).

I also think students learning how to take responsibility for their learning, being agents for their own learning is another learning disposition I will need to help them cultivate.

Option 2: Redefining a reading unit

Describe the project: What will your students do?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I could redefine our first reading unit. Our first reading unit is related to establishing reading behaviors. We teach this reading unit at the same time as our unit of inquiry focuses on identity. When I look at the reading unit’s standards

2. Apply reading skills and strategies to comprehend a variety of texts

b) Apply strategies to derive meaning from words and develop vocabulary

c) Use skills and strategies before, during and after reading to construct meaning.  

d) Demonstrate effective reading behaviors

I see such a great opportunity to additionally tie in ISTE standards such as being an Empowered Learner, Creative Communicator and Global Collaborator with a focus on creating digital book reviews. In the past we’ve done a bit around reading identity including:

  • helping students to find good reading spots for required nightly homework reading,
  • sharing book selection strategies such as “Good fit” books

but I believe there’s an opportunity for an stronger connection between these units for our students. I would like my students to use Seesaw or Flipgrid to complete book reviews similar to LivBits (see below). I think this could help them to establish their reading identity and additionally share books with their classmates, peers at our school and also other grade 3 students around the world. We are required to have a reading log and I believe this could take the place of the traditional, uninspiring paper and pencil model I’ve been required to use.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL? &

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

I see possibilities to apply connectivist learning strategies around global collaboration. For the past 2 years, I’ve participated in the Global Read Aloud. I wonder about using this platform as a way to seek connections outside of the Global Read Aloud that last the entire year. The Global Read Aloud will take place in October, however I need to remember my previous experiences in the GRA and while establishing new connections. Additionally I will consider Kim Confino’s sage advice about global collaboration. I know I will need to ask questions to set clear expectations and foster strong connections from the beginning. I’ll write more about this as these connections develop. I think this opportunity will help to provide both my students and I opportunities to collaborate with students from different schools to learn from one another.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

The main goal I have is to develop authentic global collaboration opportunities for my students. I want them to see the possibilities in working with others around the world. I want them to see how we can learn from one another and that we are more similar than they may believe we are. Also, I have the goal that by listening to other students’ reviews, we can help that student who stands aimlessly in the classroom library just flipping through book titles.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

One of my concerns is wondering if a book review is too static. Should I push into another area such as book clubs? But then I wonder if my third graders in September – October will have the skills yet to conduct book clubs with students from around the world. Perhaps with initial connections we could complete book clubs later in the year so the momentum isn’t lost.

Another concern is about time and the calendar year. Previously we had a digital citizenship focus in October. I wonder if my students will be able to learn and apply those skills in August which is two months earlier. Also, I wonder if other second – fourth graders and teachers will be ready to collaborate about reading this early in the school year. This concern is most likely unwarranted.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

My shifts here will include utilizing technology at all SAMR levels earlier in the school year. The shift is embracing a connectivist view point and knowing that those connections will naturally help to foster the Reading Behaviors unit in a new way.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

My students will learn to:

  • utilize our technology experts (students who demonstrate proficiency in a tool or in problem solving strategies),
  • reference classroom technology anchor charts and demonstration videos using QR codes,
  • utilize reading retelling skills,
  • use persuasive language orally to share their book review and
  • use collaborative tools including Seesaw and Flipgrid.
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Course 4 – Final Project Ideas Sun, 29 Apr 2018 12:29:08 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 0 New Mediums: Same Mission Sun, 29 Apr 2018 09:57:13 +0000 Tricia Friedman Read More »]]> 2 Course 4: Final Project-Who Knows Where I Will End Up? Sat, 28 Apr 2018 22:18:17 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> Already at the end of course 4! What a journey!  I remember it wasn’t too long ago that COETAIL, #online9 started back in September 2017.  It coincided with my family’s move to Houston and courses started right after the Harvey storm.  In the beginning, I was so eager to start, but right after the writing of the first blog post, I  wanted to reconsider my decision.  Writing, and especially writing in a second language, is a difficult process for me.  It activates the “cruelest inner critic” that one can have.  And, at the same time, I was dealing with many unknown situations, which is expected when completely uprooting yourself and moving to a new country.  Due to my immigration process, this academic year I was unemployed.  I don’t even know if I will be able to work in September, and this is why knowing what I would like to pursue as my final project in course 5 is troublesome.  Most likely, I will be teaching in Spanish.

So, here are the two options that may be general enough to be adapted later.


Describe the project: What will your students do?

Based on the fabulous @travelingtale created by Joel Bevans, and on the unit, Narrative Craft (Grade 5), a program developed by Lucy Calkins and colleagues, students will produce a collaborative story related to their unique experience of living in Houston.  This story will be published and uploaded to the Stories of a Lifetime platform.  Students will use either iMovie, Adobe Spark, Google Slide + Screencastify to create a video.  Students will also use Google Docs to write and provide feedback to the script of the story.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

It has been expected for students in elementary to publish their stories in a written form: colorful covers and neat handwriting or typed on the computer.  The audience is usually the teacher, the students of other classrooms, or the writers’ parents. The readings in COETAIL have emphasized the importance of having an authentic audience.  Technology permits that people around the world become the audience.  In addition, publishing a story using multimedia will be the ideal scenario to teach the elements of graphic design and the use of visuals to tell a story; all skills necessary for a 21st-century learner.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

This project will help students develop digital literacy skills through varied modes as a way of authoring their story as well as collaborating with classmates using digital tools.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Storytelling is taught in every school, and, considering that I don’t know where I will end up teaching, there is a higher probability that I will be able to implement this idea regardless of the setting.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

I am still debating about creating one story with the whole class, or for pairs to collaborate writing a story with another class in another part of the world, the way it is done in @travelingtales.  I think logistically speaking, the latter is more feasible.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

This project will require teaching students how to use visuals to tell a story.  This is usually not done in writer’s workshop, so it will require creating lesson plans to supplement the units already set in schools.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Some of the instruction will be online housed in a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Edmodo, Google Classroom, or Schoology.  Students will require mastering the tech tools and become troubleshooters when experiencing difficulties with technology.  At home, they should know how to access their work online.


Describe the project: What will your students do?

Digital Citizenship implies many topics, so narrowing it down to Digital Footprint, or, going even further, to Digital Activism is more manageable.  In addition, considering that it should be taught within a context, I would like to develop a Project-Based Learning unit integrating The Global Goals and The World’s Largest Lesson developed by the United Nations. In combination, students will understand that they can demonstrate their learning, amplify their voices, and become agents of change by collaborating and using technology to communicate their message.  In pairs or trios, students will research a Global Goal of their choice and decide how they would like to showcase their learning, which will consist of an action plan to be implemented in their school, in their neighborhood, or in their city.  Moreover, the students may collaborate, exchange ideas with another class, in another city or country, which could be facilitated by posting requests on @TeachSDGs or using the hashtag #TeachSDGs.or #Globaledchat

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

I know for sure— through COETAIL— that learning happens when students are at the center of the process.  Aspects such as providing a choice on what to learn, or how to pursue the learning, mixed with collaboration, critical thinking, and an authentic audience in mind will be a successful recipe for student engagement.  This project has the potential to include all these ingredients.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I would like students to understand that they can become active participants for a positive change and that they can amplify their voice through the use of technology.  At the same time, they will develop creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and the skills of a good communicator; the true skills of a 21st-century learner.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

This project entails a big challenge. Students will become digital activists, as a result of learning in-depth about the Global Goals.  The objective of this unit has a real impact.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

As I mentioned before, I don’t know where I may be working in the future; therefore, it would be difficult to determine if this unit will be feasible within the new school’s context or the students’ age.  Another concern of mine would be the logistics and management.  I wonder if choosing one Global Goal as a class might be more realistic than having students choose their own.  These details will need to be determined by the actual demographics of my future classroom.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

This unit will require giving up a great deal of control as a teacher and perhaps scaling back on some of the strict adherence to the prescribed teaching units and lessons that we often find in classrooms. I also know that it will likely require managing other aspects that I can’t even foresee at this moment.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will require solid research skills and the mastering of the tools that they decide to use for their call to action.

I am glad that I have a few months to think about these two options more thoroughly.  This year has provided the elements to develop patience and to be more comfortable with not knowing what the future holds.  However, I know that thanks to COETAIL, I will be prepared to have my students lead the way, no matter which direction we choose.

I am looking forward to your feedback on my two options.


Carolin Escobar

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Rebuilding My PLN Sat, 28 Apr 2018 11:47:38 +0000 Jennifer Byrnes Read More »]]> In many ways I have been weaving my learning from COETAIL into my teaching practice, both as a teacher and a colleague. However, in many ways, I am not. When I come home at the end of the day, blogging, tweeting and doing all of the other things necessary to build and maintain my PLN are not on the top of my list of things to do. I’ve been working really hard to find that work/life balance, and unfortunately, my PLN is where I have dropped the ball. What I am reminded of as I sit here on this rainy, Dutch day, is that it doesn’t take that much time or effort to stay active in my PLNs, and that it is totally worth it! So, as I move forward and finish course five, I need to remind myself to carve out a few minutes each day to do just that, I know it will be worth it.

So, what have I been doing? How have I put what COETAIL has taught me into practice?

  1. Modeled and established a classroom community that fosters both digital face-to-face collaboration
  2. Set clear expectations that enable students to be responsible digital citizens
  3. Flipped myclassroom (to a point. This is a continuing ongoing goal).
  4. Began to establish PLNs within my school and use digital tools that foster collegial collaboration (also an ongoing goal).
  5. Maintained a small PLN, but have not been very active lately.
  6. Led Professional Development on Digital Collaboration, Project Based Learning and the Inquiry Cycle.
  7. Organized a TEDx event for students at my school. TEDxYouth@AS


What are my next steps?


  2. Reconnect with people in my PLNs, whether via email, twitter or a comment on their blogs, but get back in there!
  3. Connect with new people

How willI do this?

  1. Carve out time each day to read and respond to things that interest me.
  2. Maintain my blog, keep adding to it, and stop being afraid to share it with others.
  3. Reach out, find blogs I like, follow them and contribute!

Here I go…


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Final Project Ideas Sat, 28 Apr 2018 09:04:48 +0000 Jennifer Byrnes Read More »]]> The final course is upon us! When I sat down in course 4 to create my plan on how to tackle the final project, I had the idea to integrate setting up our daily classroom routines in conjunction with our technology routines. Below is a snippet from my Course 4 blog post:

My goal is to embed technology into the first 6 weeks of school unit and explicitly teach routines and expectations with regards to technology. Ultimately, I would like to create an interactive board that allows students to pick and choose the tools they know how to use that best suits their task and learning style, add to it as the year goes on and organize it in a way where students can visibly see which tools are fit for which task.                             

As the first six weeks of school came and went, I found this idea to be a little tricker than I originally thought. So, I decided to shift my thinking a little. I spent a great deal of time setting up routines and expectations with regards to the use of our 1:1 iPads and learning platforms that we regularly, focusing most heavily on Seesaw and Google Classroom at the beginning of the year. I found that be establishing and setting clear expectations together, we had a good foundation for starting our own PLN within our classroom. I did not set up an interactive board or menu for students to organize their apps, like the one I mentioned in my post. This is still something I may try next year. What I learned this year, is that by working with the students to set up clear classroom routines, set essential agreements together and keeping the locust of control with the students as much as possible, our PLN naturally formed. So… where do I go from here for my final project?

Now that we are entering our final six weeks of school, I have been reflecting on exactly how I integrate technology into our little 4A class community. I discovered that many of the routines we follow in Coetail are alive and well in our classroom.

My students:

  • Use Seesaw as a digital portfolio/blog
  • Share their learning daily and have many opportunities to make their thinking visible
  • Give and receive feedback from those in our PLN (students, teachers and family members)
  • Use CC search (we are still working on citing evidence regularly)
  • Know how to use a variety of Apps and how to choose the right one for their purpose

What’s next?

Our culminating unit at the end of Grade 4 has always been our Agents of Change unit. The goal for this unit was for students to choose a global issue they are passionate about and find a way to invoke positive change through direct action, indirect action, or advocacy. Sounds amazing, right! I agree!! This has always been my favorite unit to teach. Unfortunately, as our standards changed with the adoption of AERO, the standards that were at the core of this unit are no longer in Grade 4, they now belong to my Grade 5 colleagues… BUMMER!

On the bright side, one of the challenges we faces with this unit, was that our students simply did not have the background knowledge about global issues, and often, projects became token, repetitive, and rather surface level. This gave our team the opportunity to revamp our unit, but not eliminate it all together.

The standards we have decided to focus on are:

  • Standard 7: Students will understand fundamental economic principles and ways in which economies are shaped by geographic and human factors.
    • 7.5.c Describe how changes in transportation and communication have affected trade and economic activities.
    • 7.5.d Explain and compare ways in which people satisfy their basic needs and wants through the production of goods and services.

While keeping in mind, the new Grade 5 standard:

  • Standard 2: Students will understand causes and effects of interaction among societies, including trade, systems of international exchange, war, and diplomacy.
    • 2.5.a. Describe how wants and needs have implications beyond the self.

Below is a snapshot of the unit:

Performance Task:
  • Students will create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about a topic they are passionate about. They will use Product Journey Mapping tools to find alternative uses for a product after it has been used for its initial purpose.

Central Idea/Enduring Understanding:  The choices we make to satisfy our wants and needs have an impact, both positive and negative.

Essential Questions:

  • What is the difference between wants and needs?
  • Form: What are the consequences of our choices, positive or negative?
  • Causation: Why do people make the choices they make?
  • Responsibility: How can we make responsible choices in what we choose to buy?
  • Connection: How do individuals, governments, and organizations work together to bring about change?

Other focus questions:

  • What needs and wants do we consider priorities?
  • What are the different ways to bring about change? (advocacy, direct, indirect)
  • How do citizens work together to bring about change?
  • How do our actions/choices impact others?
My goal for this unit, is to provide a framework for students work in, where they are empowered to collaborate and use the digital tools they know appropriately to successfully complete the performance task.
Wish me luck!
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It is like my first day at secondary school! Fri, 27 Apr 2018 08:13:23 +0000 Alex Bunting Read More »]]> In the UK there are two first days to secondary school. The first first day is actually whilst you are still in primary school, and its a visit so you know what secondary school is like before you get there. The second is the actual first day of the new term. I remember two separate incidents on these days. On the first first day, I was playing short tennis (like tennis but with a soft ball and on a badminton court) and I said to someone “ah, pass my ball please mate”, to which they replied, “im not your mate”. I didn’t really care, in fact I think even at that age I recognised that someone who replied “im not your mate” to a simple comment probably wasn’t worth being your mate anyway, but since that day I haven’t finished a sentence with “mate”, “friend”, “buddy” etc.

Im not your buddy, friend! Southpark, Copyright comedy central.

On my actual first day of school, there was a girl I had noticed on the first first day whom I had a crush on. The first words out of my friend Daniels face was, “HE FANCIES YOU!”.

Trying to create a successful PLN has been like my first days of secondary school. A slow, awkward fight to get just a few people I might like to notice me, with sometimes little help from my friends! In courses 1 to 3 I didn’t make a huge amount of effort with my PLN, and I have always struggled with being outgoing on social media. However, with the final project I was pursuing such a big project I thought it would be good to generate some reactions from other educators to get ideas and help around how it was developing.

I got very little. The best development towards my PLN was whilst presenting at the Vietnam Tech conference I added about 50% to my follower total on Twitter. Engagement continued to be low however. I did get retweeted by phet sims though, which was cool.

My most successful tweet!

My most successful tweet was an update during the running of the unit. Students were pictured doing everything they needed to do, but were doing it in a massive amount of different ways. Two retweets and 12 likes, but more importantly to me there were no comments or questions asked about what was happening. Dialog was the hardest part of the PLN and engaging people enough to do more than just click like was very difficult. In fact during the stages of the project where I was rapidly developing the website I asked for specific feedback on what educators thought would be fun elements to add to a system like this. Whist it was liked by #sardemporium, a gamification twitter user, there were no comments or suggestions made.

I ask a question…

Potentially nobody saw it, or I #hashtagged badly – but I had hoped for at least some feedback from my educator followers. The problem I think is that right now I do not have a critical mass of followers. Everyone has a low engagement rate but a low engagement rate of many users is significant. Whilst I was posting my own stuff reasonably regularly, and retweeting others as well, nothing came of it in terms of user interaction.

The other avenue for peer discussion was my blog, and I wanted to use this to post a mid-project update. Smaller updates along the way I kept to twitter, but I wanted to do a big post in the middle.  Hoping I would garner some comments there – which I did:

Comment on my blog post!

I got only one reply – which is more understandable than the twitter engagement (its a longer post and few will have my blog on their RSS reader) and the post itself was useful as it forced me to think about my site in a different context – i.e. how it could be used in the elementary school.

I even tried to engage with famous educator Dylan William. In my previous school we transformed the assessment of students following his teachings about formative vs summative, and so I thought I would try to engage him on an article he retweeted which touched on some of the material we learned in Course 1 about what it means for something to have artificial intelligence. The reply appeared to make no sense.

My conversation with Dylan William…

The crux of all of this however is my own engagement with other peoples work. I know I am a leecher and opposed to a seeder. I look at and use content but contribute little towards extending it. Sometimes this is a confidence issue, sometimes it is an issue of not just repeating what others have said, and some of it is just not wanting to only be saying ‘Great, well done!!!!’. Together they make me a user of content and much less a contributor. I contribute my own projects, but contribute less towards other peoples. Moving forward this is really something I want to change, but honestly also don’t. Whilst I do want to take part in these conversations and learn how to improve my practise, I don’t want to have 50+ notifications on twitter, or have lots of unreplied to comments on my blog. This sounds stressful, and looking at Dylan William’ reply to my comment, does having a large twitter following make it difficult to keep up or contribute in a coherent way? Dylan William has 70000+ followers, is it feasible for him to reply to all of his followers? Can this help him extend his learning or thinking on subject matter when there is so much going on? Obviously I am almost as far away from this as I can be, but its a consideration as this develops further.

So I am unresolved. I tried what I felt to be legitimately hard to build my twitter following this course, and I tried to engage with the community when I felt it could be done in an authentic and useful way, however the lack of response was disheartening. I think I will continue to try and grow this, purely for the connections I would still like to make to other physics teachers. My RSS feed for example has been excellent this year, as I followed some fairly prolific physics teachers bloggers which I have learned a lot from. For me this might be the way forward, and I have enjoyed my blog posts over this year. Its been the first time I have blogged, and I have enjoyed actually having something to blog about. So perhaps I just need a new thing to blog about… maybe COETAIL 2?

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The Apollo Launch Fri, 27 Apr 2018 07:06:25 +0000 Alex Bunting Read More »]]> Around July 1st 2017 I was in Myanmar sat in a cafe on Inle Lake trying to set up everything I needed to start the COETAIL course. Nearly 10 months later and this is the final hurdle. The year has been tough, but there are no regrets. I took on this course because everybody I know who has done it has told me its a really valuable piece of professional development, and they were right. I have learned so much along the way, and been able to actually apply it as I go, something I rarely get a chance to do on other PD courses.

For my final project therefore I wanted to go out strong, and decided to tackle the issue of changing the classroom from a traditional sage-on-the-stage to an entirely student lead learning experience, with me as the director rather than the teacher. This is something that keynote and lightning speakers have been telling me about for years, but with never what I felt to be a solution that worked for me.

The 21st Century classroom doesnt require a teacher – it just requires direction, a tool [laptop/tablet] and collaboration (Img courtesy of Education Rickshaw)

This picture exemplifies what I was trying to do – how could I make it so students were all working on different material depending upon how fast they were going, but also make it so they were collaborating with each other, learning in a way they wanted, and allowing me to work with small groups? A big ask, but being a one-one laptop school it is possible. Normally I teach them things, then I give them activities to do such as a discussion, experiment, problem etc. All they needed to make the change was for something else engaging to tell them to do this stuff when they were ready. So I designed that person, and named them Apollo.

(Or better yet, go to and sign up (or use the fake account) to play with the website yourself)

Video Credits

  • Music credit: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey Theme’ (1968, Alex North). Original ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ (1896, Strauss)
  • SAMR Image Credit: Showbie,
  • RocketShip Image Credit: WorldArtsMe,


The project aims

To reiterate, my goals for this project were:

  • To create a greater level or learning autonomy with students – sage on the stage down to a fraction of class time with little direction from me. 
  • To allow students to work at their own pace and earn a grade which is representative of what they DO know as opposed to how well they can write a test.
  • To allow high achieving students the chance to really extend their learning.
  • To allow me a greater amount of time to work with the students who really need my help understanding the material.
  • To give students a choice in how and what they learn.

As is detailed in the video, many of these aims were successfully met. Sage on the stage type instruction was only done once in order  to introduce the topic, and then to organise students at the start of the lessons. Student autonomy by the end of the topic was notably changed from previous topics, with students first relying on themselves and then other students for help- by the time I was required there would be a small group working on the problem, who then I could work with.


Student Engagement and Learning

Students worked well throughout the topic, and although it was slower than the topic would normally have taken (6 lessons as opposed to 4) the experience was much better from the students perspective. Its also worth noting on the time issue, that this particular implementation required students learning new skills on the website, and also practising how to work together and on their own to learn new material in this specific way. Thus it was expected to have greater time requirements than might usually be the case.

Students feeling about using Apollo in comparison to normal lessons.

As can be seen from the data collected at the end of the unit, students tended towards liking the use of apollo. This was observed throughout the unit, where it was clear from the feedback I was taking every lesson, students in general were very happy with how the lessons were going and wanted to continue. Statistically the students didn’t necessarily feel like they were learning any more or less, but they felt like they had a better idea of what to do, and relished the opportunity to choose how it was they learned. Collaboration was also significantly improved throughout the unit, although the method of collaboration had to change early on as students were not keen on using the built in collaboration tools. Some student comments on collaboration were:

I didn’t really use any of the features given since that I have people sitting next to me that I can talk about the subject
I didn’t really look at other students work, I just mainly focused on mine so I couldn’t see what they did or offer help. Although I sometimes ask for help or help the ones beside me or around me.
The help button wasn’t helpful for me, so I just went up to people who have already completed the topic that I was on to get some of their help.
So students helped one another and worked together, but the site did not build in collaboration well enough for students to use it well. This is fine, and as some of the student said in the interviews, maybe more of a blend of traditional and apollo style lessons would be best.

Student Motivation

Students were motivated by the enjoyment they had using apollo and getting to choose their tasks. They were also heavily motivated by points (which incidentally caused the first few lessons to be a bit difficult due to point accumulation issues in the code!) which was nice as gamification of the learning is something I want to push more as the site continues to develop. The leaderboards provided little to no motivation effect on the students however, and the overwhelming majority of students were still most heavily motivated by getting good grades. This final point was to the extent that some students were a bit perturbed when I started turning the site off every night to ensure that they weren’t spending all night on it. I would turn it off at about 6pm and back on at 8am. This was both to help them not spend all night studying, but also to emphasise the importance of sleep, and how far I will go to ensure they get it.

The other interesting thing which did not motivate students, was peer assessment. Despite what we learned earlier in COETAIL about the impact of blog posts on writing quality, students felt little extra motivation to do good work despite the fact their peers might have been looking at it. How this would change over time would be an interesting follow up to the topic. Partly this could have been down to the difficulty of finding feedback (in interviews one student commented that a console would be good to see all recent feedback), but perhaps there could have been other reasons such as not caring because there was no system to ensure they DID get their work peer assessed. Perhaps if its not mandatory, there is no motivation to do it well.



Whilst the project I feel was widely successful there were elements which worked noway near as well as I had hoped, such as how the collaboration was going to work, or that lack of formal assessment was an issue for some students. The unit evolved as it went however, and by the end students were teaching one another, engaging in experiments to help them learn and redesigning those experiments as they saw fit. The learning element of the classes was fantastic for the most part, and it was the logistics of this new classroom model that was harder. Whilst the test has not yet been able to be administered (due to scheduling and the deadline date!), I am confident at least that the bottom end of the class is going to be pulled up, and those students who normally sit in the middle of the grade scale will see some extra benefit. This at least can be derived from students’ own analysis of their learning in this topic (stats produced from a pivot table on the end of unit questionnaire) and my observation of those students during the lessons.

Unit planner

Find the unit planner for the topic below.
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Finding a Magic Wand: Evoking Student Agency Fri, 27 Apr 2018 03:28:03 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]> At times I’ve felt that student agency would be most easily found if I’d been able to cast a spell and evoke it using a magical wand.A Little Magic by Mariana Wagner, on Flickr

It’s not that I don’t ever feel the wonder of it in my classroom. For example right now, my students are excitedly developing multimedia projects in their unit of inquiry and the agency is high; however, this wonder is usually topical or subject based rather than being a general learning disposition amongst my students on a regular basis.

Last month we had a mathematics consultant visit our school. Ban Har Yeap helped to bring up a conversation I’ve been longing to have with my colleagues around student agency.

As an elementary faculty, many of us shared that we feel our students lack the necessary skills of how to problem solve on their own. We’ve noticed that many of our students wait patiently with their hand raised waiting for an adult to tell them “what to do.” Since his visit, many of us have had many more informal dialogues around this topic. We want to help our students take more responsibility of their learning and move out of this zone of learned helplessness. Additionally we’ve held professional development sessions for our teaching assistants around when and how to best help our students; this can also be known as, not doing the work for students but instead guiding them.

School by Rafael Sato, on Flickr
School” (CC BY 2.0) by Rafael Sato


Tony Siddall participated in a workshop on student agency led by the WestEd, a consortium of states working together to research and improve education in the United States. WestEd has teamed up with Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) to develop a research project around student agency. At a conference hosted by NGLC, they asked their participants to define student agency. The participants defined it as:

"School" (CC BY 2.0) by Rafael Sato 

“Student Agency” (CC by Next Generation Learning Challenges)

This list of definitions is inspiring. Who wouldn’t want to be a student in a class that helped to facilitate and teach you these skills and learning dispositions? As an adult learner, I hope the learning environments I participate in provide me with these opportunities as well. What words do you think of when you think about student agency?

NGLC went onto define it further in one of their weekly Friday newsletters, stating that, “Agency is present when students take charge of who, what, where, why, and when they learn. This includes choice, self-awareness, self-management, social relationships, responsible decisions, time management, organization, and self-regulation on the way to a long-term, personalized goal.”

Additionally, WestEd has created a learning culture model to support student agency including the different ways students think and the different ways students work. They’ve found ways to help students become “active agents” in their learning and develop a growth mindset where they view their goals as achievable. You can read more here at How Students Learn…To Learn.

“A Culture of Learning to Support Student Agency” (by WestEd’s SAAL project)

Tony went a bit further and framed the discussion at the workshop he attended by sharing the following list of questions teachers and schools are asking around student agency:

  • “How can we design and implement systems of ongoing formative assessment that support student learning, rather than simply evaluating students?
  • How can we go beyond academic achievement to measure a broader range of the skills and dispositions necessary for success in college, career, and community?
  • How can assessment empower students to develop greater agency in their own learning?”

These questions help to guide the conversation away from teachers and what we think, but instead focus on observable student behaviors which is helpful in insuring that students’ learning is the focal point. I’m ready for this discussion! Anyone else?

At my current school, which is not a PYP school, we use a series of learning skills and behaviors, or attitudes toward learning, to help teach our students skills.

It’s helpful but we, especially after Ban Har’s visit, are at a stage where we need to further these discussions and make these skills more tangible and create a developmental continuum in these skills for our students to work toward and demonstrate their proficiencies. By having these conversations, we can begin toward implementing practical steps in how to improve student agency.

With this in mind and recent conversations, I look ahead to next year and an entirely new team of grade 3 teachers. I’ll be the only one returning to my grade level team. It creates the opportunity for greater collaboration and possible discussions around student agency. For this past year I’ve been quite inspired by Taryn Bond Clegg and her grade 5 team at the International School of Ho Chi Mihn City. This group of outstanding individuals take student agency to new levels with working collaboratively as advisors to support their grade 5 students. I listened to almost an hour long podcast, which unfortunately I can’t embed due to it exceeding media uploading limits, where Sam Sherratt interviewed Taryn Bond Clegg about her and her grade 5 team’s work with creating an environment where students “take charge of who, what, where, why and when they learn.” They plan their learning in all disciplines. They use technology to help plan, execute and communicate their learning and also their teachers share their team’s learning journey on their grade level website, Twitter and personal blogs.

You can see how even the students, like in Mihn Thu’s story above, see opportunities for student agency in their daily school lives. I hope I can create opportunities for my students like this. With Twitter and blogging as part of our daily lives, I see opportunities to collaborate with teams and schools already doing this in order to improve our students’ learning and think to their futures and beyond. I don’t think I’m going to need a magic wand after all.

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COETAIL 2 – Your Program, Your Journey, Your Legacy Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:58:44 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> Last week we (finally & officially) announced COETAIL 2! Are you as excited as I am?!

We know that COETAIL is your program. COETAIL 2 is going to be your journey…we’re eager for you to leave your legacy for the rest of the COETAIL community!

From the beginnings of COETAIL, we have been committed to empowering educators in a connected world through a community approach to learning. Now, we’re handing the driver’s seat over to you as we continue the COETAIL journey. The first COETAIL 2 cohort will go on an adventure with us and help build the COETAIL 2 Microcredential from the ground up. We’re looking for 15 trailblazing COETAILers who are eager to continue their COETAIL journey and become part of the legacy of COETAIL 2.

As a participant in the first round of COETAIL 2, you will be able to:

  • Customize your own learning journey within a variety of relevant themes, including: coaching, leadership, digital citizenship, innovative pedagogy, coding in the classroom, design thinking, gamification, and other practical options for the technology-rich classroom
  • Experience a truly personalized online learning environment, that you could re-create in the classroom with your own students;
  • Be on a collaborative virtual team with other COETAILers who are just as passionate and engaged in their professional learning as you are;
  • Connect with a small learning community of your fellow COETAIL grads including monthly group hangouts, 1:1 sessions (with me), and a private cohort messaging group;
  • Reconnect with your COETAIL blog to reflect and share your own personal learning as well as the process of developing professional growth opportunities for other educators,
  • Author guest posts on the COETAIL blog and regularly be featured on our COETAIL and Eduro social media channels;
  • Demonstrate your dedication to your own professional learning journey to a current or prospective employer;
  • Have a lasting impact on the COETAIL experience by building the COETAIL 2 Microcredential for future COETAILers, and being publicly recognized for your collaboration throughout our COETAIL and Eduro online presence.

Early next week I’ll give you a sneak peak at the COETAIL 2 info page and share a little more about myself! Keep refreshing that inbox!

Not getting the COETAIL updates via email? Complete this form to share your new contact details!

Looking for a more in depth, specialized learning experience? Interested in becoming an instructional coach? Not quite ready for the uncertainty of blazing the COETAIL 2 trail? The Coach Microcredential starts May 1st! Learn more (and register) here!

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Course 4: Final Project Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:33:44 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by TeroVesalainen via Pixabay

Wow! It’s time to wrap up Course 4 and plan for Course 5 – although you’re going to get a well deserved break before we start Course 5 in September. You’ve got plenty to do so I’m going to keep this post short and to the point. Course 4 has been digging in deeper about the effective use of technology for teaching and learning and to get you thinking about what you might do for your Course 5 project (although you are not limited to a topic from Course 4!). As you put together your plan for Option 1 or some ideas you are considering for Option 2, please review the Course 4 Final Project expectations and rubric. Overall, make sure you’ve completed and linked in the following items in your grade sheet…

  • One blog post for each week of the course plus one blog post reflecting on your final project (6 posts)
  • A final project embedded into your last blog post for Course 4
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)
  • GET: Completed Trainer video & application (Note: If you have not completed these or any other components for the GET, please work on getting them done before we start Course 5 in September 2018)

All course work should be completed by April 29 and I will finish with assessment and feedback and notify you of your final grade by May 6.

I’ll email more about Course 5 later but for those who want to look ahead, you can look over the Course 5 Expectations.

Have a great week and I look forward to reading about all your ideas and plans for Course 5!

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Week 5 – Empowering Connections Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:20:01 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.106″ background_layout=”light”]

As we get started on Week 5 here’s a quick run through of what you should have done so far:

  • Four blog posts
  • Four comments (comment as much as you like but you only need to add four of them to your grade sheet)
  • Connected with someone else from our cohort to partner up for your final project (please email me if you haven’t done this so that I can help you out!)

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Create opportunities for Change Using Social Media

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This week we focus on the power of the digital tools that we have at our fingertips as we unpack the essential question of what makes the web so powerful? and work toward the understanding that there are communication tools that exist today that are powerful mediums to help spread positive change and global awareness. We have spent the last few weeks writing about some of the dangers of the internet so I think that it’s a nice time to revisit Jennifer’s post on “Digital Citizenship in Action” and our Digital Footprints to help us step away from the DO NOTs. In her post, Jennifer invites us to read Kristen Mattson’s book Digital Citizenship in Action which she says includes some great advice on how to avoid teaching students to be fearful of the internet, and instead, it suggests ways to take positive action using the internet. There is a great expert from the book on the site which could be a great addition to your reading for this week (or buy and read the whole book!) This excerpt makes a strong connection between Digital Citizenship and learning to be a member of a society and the featured activity looks to be an excellent middle or high school lesson on social activism. I’m not going to share the Saturday Night Live video (from the featured lesson) as I can’t handle the irony of C.K. Louis involvement in this video and his participation in the #metoo campaign – but I do love the idea of chatting with students about slacktivism.

The Hashtag

When I think about social media and its impact on society I think about the power of the hashtag and how it can define a movement or characterize a community. (Actually, I just discovered that Hashtag Activism is a term that is used enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page). From #blacklivesmatter to #maga to #metoo, social media can give a voice to anyone and everyone and can be used to empower members of our communities. How can we encourage our students to engage with community movements or, even better, start their own? Does your school set aside a hashtag for service learning projects? Do you have examples of students using social media to create a movement? The article “Social Media as a Formidable Force for Change” highlights some of the most powerful and moving hashtags and the author states that

One of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it provides an environment and a medium for people to express themselves independently, and yet find community. This “hashtag unity,” to coin a term, is as real and as powerful as a group of people physically gathered in the same space. It can educate, heal and provoke change by sheer strength of vocal numbers.

I’m excited to read your examples of the internet creating positive and powerful change in your classrooms, communities, schools, and the world!

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Featured image from Unsplash by

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.0.106″]<center><a style=”background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto, Noto, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;line-height:1.2;display:inline-block;border-radius:3px;” href=”;utm_campaign=photographer-credit&amp;utm_content=creditBadge” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” title=”Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Carl Heyerdahl”><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;”><svg xmlns=”” style=”height:12px;width:auto;position:relative;vertical-align:middle;top:-1px;fill:white;” viewBox=”0 0 32 32″><title>unsplash-logo</title><path d=”M20.8 18.1c0 2.7-2.2 4.8-4.8 4.8s-4.8-2.1-4.8-4.8c0-2.7 2.2-4.8 4.8-4.8 2.7.1 4.8 2.2 4.8 4.8zm11.2-7.4v14.9c0 2.3-1.9 4.3-4.3 4.3h-23.4c-2.4 0-4.3-1.9-4.3-4.3v-15c0-2.3 1.9-4.3 4.3-4.3h3.7l.8-2.3c.4-1.1 1.7-2 2.9-2h8.6c1.2 0 2.5.9 2.9 2l.8 2.4h3.7c2.4 0 4.3 1.9 4.3 4.3zm-8.6 7.5c0-4.1-3.3-7.5-7.5-7.5-4.1 0-7.5 3.4-7.5 7.5s3.3 7.5 7.5 7.5c4.2-.1 7.5-3.4 7.5-7.5z”></path></svg></span><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;”>Carl Heyerdahl</span></a>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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Digital Swiss Army Knives: Screen time just isn’t what it used to be! Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:38:13 +0000 Tanya LeClair Read More »]]> Who else remembers being 6 years old and waking up super early in the morning to watch cartoons? If you’re like me it was the Smurfs, He-Man, and She-Ra. My brother and I would happily sit in front of the TV until our parents woke up and we started our day.

Back then, before the internet age, screen time meant one thing. Television….and maybe the occasional movie theatre.

Today, however, it means a lot more.

Over the years, the definition of screen time has expanded to include computers and mobile devices whose use permeates every facet of our daily experiences. The Canadian Pediatric Society defines screen time as “time spent on any screen, including smartphones, tablets, television, video games, computers or wearable technology.” Certainly, a definition that has changed since I was a child.

Made by @TanyaLeClair with Canva

Screens that were once a tool solely for entertainment are now like digital swiss army knives in our pockets. They do it all. And because of this changing definition of what screens can do, we need to adjust our opinions of what screen time means.

The American Association of Pediatrics adjusted their screen time guidelines in 2016 with the following recommendations:

AAP Screen Time Recommendations

Made by @TanyaLeClair with Picktochart and images from

These new recommendations reflected the reality that “children and adolescents are growing up immersed in media. This includes platforms that allow users to both consume and create content, including broadcast and streamed television and movies, sedentary and active video games, social and interactive media that can be creative and engaging, and even highly immersive virtual reality.”

A Common Sense Media Census looked at the evolution of media patterns in children ages zero to eight between 2011 and 2017. They found that “kids ages 8 and under spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day with screen media, roughly the same as in prior years. Where they spend that time, however, has changed dramatically.” TV is still the most popular use of screen time, but mobile device use is fast becoming the media of choice for children. In 2011 kids spent an average of 5 minutes a day using mobile devices, but since then that number has increased 10 fold to roughly 48 minutes a day.

Because of this change in the definition of what screen time is, we should ensure that we are not painting it with the same brush as our parents likely did. It is no longer a sedentary activity where you stare directly at a screen, but rather an opportunity to take part in a range of interactive activities.

In a recent meeting with parents at my school, I shared the different definitions of what screen time can look like for children. Passive screen time is browsing the internet, scrolling mindlessly through social media, and watching videos. Active or interactive screen time, however, involves different forms of creation, learning new skills, and communicating with others.

When thinking about screen time, it’s not the amount of time spent on a device that we should be focusing on…but rather the quality of that time. Activities that promote creativity and sharing should be encouraged, and if a digital device enables that to happen then it can be considered a valuable use of screen time.

One handy way to evaluate if screen time is quality or not is to ask yourself if the app or activity falls into the 4C’s. The 4C’s of Learning and Innovation are part of a framework developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. They outline how we can best prepare students for complex life and work environments in the 21st century. The 4C’s are:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t time for media that is silly and fun. We all need downtime and should enjoy how we use screens. But this is a guideline for choosing apps that may provide a little of both.

I also created the graphic below for parents and teachers to use when choosing apps that align with the 4C’s. Just like choosing the best tool from a swiss army knife, making the most of our screen time is something we can all work towards.

Making the Most of your Screen Time

Made by @TanyaLeClair with Canva


American Association of Pediatrics (2016, October 21). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. retrieved from

Canadian Pediatric Society (2017, November 27). Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world. Retrieved from

Common Sense Media (2017, October 18). The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017. Retrieved from

McCarthy, A. (2018, April 17). Exploring healthy digital options: The benefits of balanced screen time. UWCSEA Perspectives. Retrieved from

Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2016, January). Framework for 21st-century learning. Retrieved from

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The Skillful Teacher in a Tech-Infused Classroom Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:59:30 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> I need a screen detox, or more specifically, a Facebook detox!  I am convinced of this after I read this article and tracked the hours I spent using my phone for the last 7 days.  The summary: Facebook is number 1 on my list with 47%. 

This isn’t a huge surprise since I read most of my news there, and I have been also heavily relying on Facebook to stay connected to my friends and family back at home, in Ecuador.  Regardless of my excuses, I realized the hours spent mindlessly browsing could be used in a more productive and fulfilling way. I am sure this is what a lot of us are experiencing in our lives: we are attached to our phones with apps created to be “addictive by design”.  No wonder some teachers might be hesitant to introduce more screen time in the classroom, or how parents are questioning why homework is done on a computer.  Sometimes, we feel that If we had a choice—and based on our own compulsive behavior with our phones—we would ban all electronics.

A few months ago, I started listening to the podcast, Note to Self.  In the episode below, the hostess talks to Anya Kamenetz, author of the book The Art of Screen Time.  She mentions that there aren’t conclusive studies to determine how screen time is affecting us; however, she encourages to ask ourselves if we are using electronics in a passive way or to create and connect. The big idea here, from a point of view of an educator, is to inform, support, and empower students to make better decisions about the amount of time they are spending in front of a screen.  “Enjoy screens, not too much, mostly together,” is what the author recommends.

If we follow Anya Kamenetz’s suggestion, the use of devices in the classroom must not neglect the social aspect of learning.  A lot of emphasis has been given to the 1:1 program; however, a pair or a group of students working with a single device, collaborating on a meaningful project, might be our preferred scenario.

Teacher role in learning environments infused with technology

In the mist of the technology era, the teacher is still the one who sets the mood in the classroom.  So, how would we combine an inspiring teacher with a technology-infused environment?   There are effective practices we must maintain and can be transformed with the use of technology.  Guido Kovalskys, in this article, argues that we are experiencing a transition where “the interactive lecture” is a way to incorporate well-known practices from the past with more student-centered learning experiences involving technology.

“Technologies like Nearpod, Socrative, PollEverywhere, Educreations, Desmos, Kahoot, Google Expeditions, Explain Everything and others, enable teachers to explore new possibilities for active learning by adding simulations, collaborative learning experiences, and opportunities to interact and create. When used properly, these tools can facilitate an environment for sharing, enable class-wide participation, and capture data about student comprehension or opinions in real-time.”

Moreover, there is still nothing more enticing and captivating than listening to a story. Great teachers are designers of experiences, and they also happen to be skillful storytellers. Traditional instruction of “delivering or covering” of information where students take notes is the opposite of what we want in classrooms.  Learning happens with engagement, where students are interacting with the information in order to make meaningful conclusions. As Dr. Christopher Emdin advocates in his TED Talk, teachers enter the profession wanting to “change lives”; however, very few are trained in the art of telling compelling stories and very few can create “magic”.  Dr. Emdin insists that “magic can be taught” by training educators to closely observe environments where storytelling is modeled at its best such as in rap concerts, barber shops, or black churches.  He calls it “Pentecostal Pedagogy”.  Memorable experiences designed by educators can only be enhanced by the integration of technology.

Managing tech in the classroom

Having clear expectations of how students are going to manage devices in the classroom is crucial.  I found the 5 tips given by Crystal Browing very helpful, especially the one suggesting to “recruit student tech support”.  She advises selecting up to two students in every class to act as helpers; she uses moments outside of class time to teach these students new programs she will introduce to the rest of the class so they can be prepared to assist others effectively.   In addition, I have found using an LMS (Learning Management System) such as Schoology, Google Classroom or Edmodo to post instructions, assignments, resources, and tutorials to be very helpful.  It permits students to learn at their own pace, be independent, and have access to resources even when they are not at school.

Final thoughts

Even though I will continue to track the time that I spend looking at my phone, it is more important to track how I am using it, and the same should be asked when thinking about our students:

What if, instead of asking our students to put their devices away, we instead ask them to consider how they might be using those devices to improve themselves and their community?”—Beth Holland, Edutopia

What do you think?

]]> 1 On My Honor: Digital Badge Earning and Learning Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:14:40 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]>

My Girl Scout Brownie Troop

That’s me, in the middle of the second row, proudly wearing my Brownie beanie and sash. As you can see it was early days of being a Brownie and that I didn’t have many badges. Each time my mom sewed a new badge I’d earned for learning how to do something I remember rubbing my fingers across the raised embroidery, feeling so proud of my accomplishment. It seemed to me that earning badges was something I’d done as a Girl Scout in my youth and being an adult, this time in my life was over.

As an adult, I felt that badges were a simple way to giving gold stars to overly eager grown ups who had a need for external motivation. When I first began reading about Mozilla, I felt that it was just too easy to earn badges. They entice you with a small start such as earning a badge for searching? What?!? This seemed to confirm my thoughts about badges. Additionally as a teacher, I’ve shifted away from providing external rewards with my students and focused on ways to provide intrinsic motivation with my students using specific oral and written feedback. I do not use a reward system for behavior or homework. This is part of my core teaching beliefs and pedagogy. The idea of badges seemed to clash with my core educational beliefs. 

Then I read Carolin Escobar’s post about open badges and it opened my eyes to them in a way I’d never been before. I think a large part of that is Carolin is making a transition back to the United States after teaching overseas. I also plan to make this transition in about a year’s time. Her post helped me to see that digital badges ensure that we all speak the same language about our credentials. That all educators or even professionals in other fields can understand the skill sets that potential and current employees possess. 

But I had lots of learning to do. My disposition had shifted but there was still much to understand.

whats a badge really worth by bryanmmathers (wapisasa), on Flickr
whats a badge really worth” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by bryanmmathers (wapisasa)

This sent me down a rabbit hole of learning badge basics because I, as many international educators, have to explain that our work occurs at a fully accredited school and not an English language school. It’s a difficult concept for people to grasp and Carolin helped me to see that badges might be a way to bridge this conversation. With my eventual transition back to the U.S. I wondered, would having digital badges help me to more easily obtain employment?

Joyce Seitzinger’s Tedx talk provided me with the basics around earning badges and also issuing badges. Her talk “baked,” as the open badge community likes to say, with my understanding of badge earning and providing. I learned that “open badges infrastructure and even badge baking ensures that all of the badges speak the same langauge by having evidence embedded within the badge itself that demonstrates what the holder did to earn this badge. I learned that the key “ingredients” in all badges are:

  • an image,
  • an issuer,
  • an earner,
  • a description of why badge was earned and
  • the criteria of how it was earned

as those optional, bonus ingredients to help spice up the badge. These include an expiration date and a piece of evidence showing how the participant earned the badge including, as Jeff Utecht stated,  a “video uploaded to YouTube, a podcast, transcript, link to a blog and more.”

In particular the idea of having a place for all learners to make our lifelong learning pathway visible for students, their families, colleagues and other educators was exciting to me. Joyce says with open badges “We can provide people with the different paints that then they can paint their own learning experience.” How powerful is that possibility?

Then I listened to Jeff Utecht’s recent Shifting our Schools podcast with Doug Belshaw called “It’s All About the Badges.

In their discussion, my thinking was extended to consider the future of open badges. Doug shared the potential of universities and other organizations working together to develop partnerships where they build learning together through co-badging and endorsement programs. They wouldn’t then need to “reinvent the system” they could then each specialize in one portion of a badge. Jeff framed this idea as the “rebundling of education,” which is filled with possibilities but then all of the territorial logistics come into play in organizations around finances, prestige and more. Some see the value, such as found in Boise State University who’s teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 3D Game Lab where high school students earn as they learn about the five categories of earth science. I hope other educational institutions see the value gained by a badge based approach for all of their learners, students and teachers alike.

A challenge with badging in education is that currently educators measure professional growth in more traditional ways in which we show our growth including diplomas earned from universities, certificates from universities and other organizations to demonstrate proficiency or participation. As Joyce asked, “Where do you keep your credentials?” How can we begin to shift entire educational systems including K-12 school districts both public and private, universities and colleges and professional learning centers and communities to see the value in badging? While it’s not like my Girl Scout sash of the past, I don’t need to wear it, why doesn’t demonstrating my proficiency make job placement, interviews and growth easier for those at administrative levels to see my skill proficiencies?

When I was a Brownie Girl Scout, we had to say a promise at the beginning of each of our meetings. When I searched to find the original promise I was reminded that a portion of that promise included abiding by the Girl Scout Law. Rereading this law I made a connection to earning badges as an educator.

Girl Scout Law

“I will do my best to be
    honest and fair,

    friendly and helpful,
    considerate and caring, 
    courageous and strong, and
    responsible for what I say and do, 
and to 
    respect myself and others, 
    respect authority,
    use resources wisely,
    make the world a better place, and 
    be a sister to every Girl Scout.” 

This promise relates to earning badges in all aspects of our life. When we earn a badge for our work, aren’t we doing many of these things? If I’m learning a skill such as how to implement a new curricular approach to a subject area, aren’t I learning how to be responsible, helpful and use resource wisely? Earning badges is an agreement, a promise between the earner and the organization providing the badge that we can work together. Some further examples of schools and districts who are using badges to implement new learning and pedagogical approaches in their schools can be found here. These give me some hope for growth in educator based badge programs.

Have you collected any digital badges? If you have, will you display those and if so how? I know there are a variety of platforms but it seems like it may be time for me to find a bridge between my faded analog Girl Scout Brownie sash of the past and my lifelong learning as an educator and I’m looking for your insights. 

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Gliding Into the Project Sun, 22 Apr 2018 06:05:51 +0000 Debra Hernanz Read More »]]> <img

Because I changed co-horts and also projects I wanted to add another post for clarity. So here is more information about If You Learned Here…

Describe the project: What will your students do? First, students will share their learning with other children through themes on pre-formatted Padlets embedded in a Google Site. Through Padlet the students will have a variety of choices to share their learning, they can share images, their voice and also reply to one another. The themes will be: Our Schools & Communities, Our Day at School, Our Learning and Our Reading. Next, via a Google Form students will crowdsource topics to discuss with one another. These topics will be collated by teachers who will look for recurring ideas and engaging questions. Using Flipgrid students will participate in video conversations and also respond to one another. Last students will create an E-book illustrating the experience and share how their school & students are the same, different and what this means to them.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL? I was attracted to the project because it reflected parts of what I drew from my COETAIL experience. There are so many strands of learning that run through the project. I see the authentic use of web connections and visual presentation to convey ideas. There is the Project Based Learning aspect with the authentic audience for children to engage with one another. They will share their learning and reflect upon the new learning they will create with the Ebook. Because of COETAIL & my PLN I discovered the project and recognized the value in it. I envision a classroom of the future where this kind of activity is not a stand alone project but part of an on-going global experience where children learn to connect and create positive experiences in the world around them.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project? I want to spark curiosity about other parts of the world and the people who live there. I want to connect children and have them engage in a meaningful way so they begin to ask questions and make educated decisions about the world around them. I want children across the globe to develop empathy and caring about one another so they see others as humans and not a human interest story. As a teacher I hope to facilitate this into thinking about global issues, global questions and understand the power of technology as tool to communicate, learn and connect in a positive manner with others. I want this to be an inquiry based project to reflect the discovery of what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they are doing it. I also want the students to apply academic skill sets of writing, reading & reflecting.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project? It fits with all the “Big Ideas” from our course work. It connects digital tools together in a Project Based Learning format where students don’t just practice online behaviors but actually communicate with others and begin to create their own digital footprints. Visual literacy is addressed by how the children will express their learning through the Padlets and Ebook creation. Redefinition is achieved with technology enhancing the authentic audience experience to share, communicate and give response to. Through all of this they are using literacy skills, writing skills, digital citizenship skills, visual media skills.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit? In terms of redesign I will primarily follow what has already been laid out. I may tweak a few things but I will wait to conference with creators Mary and Carolyn about this. I am concerned about finding enough participants and if this project will be accepted by my own peers/district. I have tried to implement other ideas using tech as a tool and have been told things like: teachers here are not ready yet, the kids are not ready yet, it’s too much too soon, more training is needed, maybe next time… I am concerned about participants navigating the platforms and managing the back channels to support students and teachers so they have a successful experience. I am concerned about balancing planning time for the project, and my new job in America as an EdTech TOSA in public education with seven schools to manage (elementary, middle and high school).

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you? I need to study more about adult learning theory and how people develop beliefs over time. I am looking into behavior theory as well. My hope is finding positive ways to not change as much shift behavior in adults to guide them towards a growth mindset. I’ve been reading The Power of Habit and it’s changing my ideas about my role and “selling” teachers the benefits on tech. If I approach it as selling then it’s the “add on” like and extended warranty they pay for with time and don’t ever use.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students? I realize there are two sets of students: adults and children. Both need to know how to login into Chromebooks, access the website and navigate the platforms. As mentioned prior, I want this to be an inquiry based project for the children in regards to what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they are doing it. Some teachers want it all to be very explicit so no questions are asked (ironic!) because they see this as taking away from focusing on the task and they are concerned about time. This is where the compassion and caring is needed. Adults will have to let go of some control and see what teachable moments come out of the experience. Children will have to be problem solvers and work together to learn how to navigate the website, come up with questions and post ideas.

The faces tell it all!

The Project has been launched and as I expected the kids have not let us down! The adults are also excited and motivated which is teaching me more about my role. It’s not a 100% of what I planned but that’s okay it’s 100% joy to see everyone engaged and empowered.

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Managing Multimedia Project Disappointment Sat, 21 Apr 2018 12:50:52 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]> In my two of previous posts for course four, I’ve written about how student ownership in our current unit of inquiry related to protecting the earth’s natural resources could be increased by using a challenge based approach (post from 2017) and how that idea became reality this year (post from 2018) when student ownership increased after two students challenged the class to try zero waste. This shift is exciting and I want to ensure that my students’ reflections and multimedia presentations reflect the actions they took and their learning.

Two weeks ago I was preparing to share examples of student created multimedia projects with my current grade 3 students. The goal of this was for my students to gain greater understanding what their final multimedia presentations needed to include. The work samples came from my previous year class and I quickly remembered why last year I was felt embarrassed and disappointed in last year’s outcomes. Here are the two examples I found to share.



All educators can understand this experience. John Larmer’s Edutopia post echoes many of my feelings and my reactions to last year’s student work. Larmer then goes onto provide some tips, which many of us know are just good instructional practices on a daily basis, to avoid this pitfall he suggests :

  • share the final project rubric at the beginning of the unit,
  • provide practice opportunities for students to use the rubric,
  • provide quality and timely formative assessment,
  • provide time for revision and
  • celebrate excellence by displaying quality student work.

My class had been excited about using a tech tool but their learning and message was lost due to lack of student ownership and clear expectations. Last year my team developed a simple checklist (see below) but it didn’t encapsulate what I’d hoped it would as it merely just provided students a list of necessary elements. Additionally it didn’t include any components related to media.

This year, I’ve taken some small steps, even before reading Larmer’s tips, to help already improve my student’s work by:

  • regularly conferring with students,
  • providing written feedback,
  • sharing the required elements checklist at the beginning of the unit,
  • training both of the teaching assistants who work in my classroom in the project expectations and
  • conferring with a smaller number of students so each adult we can be supportive of individual students.

We’ve noticed significant improvement in the quality and engagement in their work due to this change. Finally, during a whole group mini-lesson, we utilized the updated project expectations checklist to evaluate the two student examples shared earlier. Here are the project expectations we are using this year versus those from last year (above).

During week two of course four, there was an emphasis on how we could learn from the past educational frameworks by using problem, project and challenged based learning with our students. It was suggested that our students’ overall skills could be increased using these learning frameworks which although may seem “old” in reality are just really good teaching and learning. It was during this week that I spent time playing with PBL rubric generator in our course readings. I found I could customize it to encompass more of what I was looking for in my students’ final projects.

Screenshot of PBL rubric

You can see it in it’s entirety here Student Multimedia Checklist (1) There are some elements which need to be tweaked as my students can choose from making an iMovie, digital book in Book Creator or a paper scrapbook but I think it’s a fair start. I found some additional media rubrics using a Google Search but majority of them are in teacher language versus student-friendly language.

Confirmation of my investment in this rubric generating task comes from reading Royer and Royer’s article, Wrangle it with a Rubric, “creating multimedia allows students to construct their own meaning and the process of researching topics, evaluating resources, synthesizing core concepts, selecting appropriate media and making products develops higher order thinking.” Their words inspire me and confirms my thinking around the value and importance of this work. My work but also my students’ time, efforts and passion for how they took action to help protect the earth. Also, they reminded me of how I can also evaluate our media standards within this task and apply this to the new rubric as well especially with their example of teacher rubric with different levels of student performance. This year, due to already using one checklist, I will use the anchor chart below as a way to help students ensure they have met standards and also a high level of multimedia work. This anchor chart is connected to our Literacy Standard: Apply listening, speaking, viewing and presenting skills and strategies to communicate effectively with the grade three benchmark: Present ideas and understandings appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 

My plan is to share this with students as we begin their multimedia work and then as they complete their work, they will complete the project expectations checklist shared earlier. The formatting when I published this to the web altered the organization of the anchor chart. 

I’m curious about what you think. Am I tossing a resource too late in the unit? Should I save it for next year? Is there anything I’m missing or I should delete?






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Techs & Balances Thu, 19 Apr 2018 18:42:15 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 1 Get excited, for real this time…COETAIL 2 is coming! Wed, 18 Apr 2018 06:01:20 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> We first announced in June last year that the opportunity to continue your COETAIL journey with COETAIL 2 was coming. At that time, our goal was to start the first cohort in January of this year. Can you believe it’s already April?!

Our guiding idea for COETAIL 2 was to create an experience designed specifically for graduates of the COETAIL program wishing to continue learning the COETAIL way. We wanted it to be everything you loved about COETAIL, times 2. Our original plan was for COETAIL 2 to be comprised of 3 required courses (think coaching, leadership, digital citizenship) + 12 weeks of courses of your choice. However, as we started to dive into the details of COETAIL 2, we realized there was an important voice missing…YOURS!

Last week, Kim, Chrissy & I decided to stop controlling your next learning journey and allow you to get in the driver’s seat. We want to fully live by our ethos of “for educators, by educators” by giving you the opportunity to get involved in building COETAIL 2 from the ground up. Intrigued? We hope so!

We’re looking for 15 COETAILers to take the risk and become part of the legacy of COETAIL 2. We’re intentionally limiting the first cohort to only 15 participants so we can truly dive deep with you and create the learning path for the COETAIL community. We are very excited to collaborate with you to create something customized for COETAILers, with COETAILers!

Here’s where we want to go, now we need you to help us find the best path!

  • A COETAIL 2 cohort that will begin in September 2018 and end in May 2019.
  • An academic year-long learning experience comprised of 22-26 weeks of courses.
  • Only one required course, a 3-week personalized learning course.
  • A community-learning experience with regular interaction, collaboration, and live facilitated sessions with your cohort of COETAIL 2 learners, your mentor (me!), and COETAIL co-founders Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino.

Think you might want to be part of this adventure?

  • Applications will open in May and close in June.
  • As a thank you for your involvement and feedback, the first COETAIL 2 cohort will pay less than half what it will cost once we open it up to the entire COETAIL community.
  • We’ll be sending out more details in the coming weeks so that you can begin to prepare!

Keep an eye on your inbox early next week for our next installment of details! I can’t wait to collaborate with you to tailor the COETAIL 2 learning experience for educators around the world.

Not getting the COETAIL updates via email? Complete this form to share your new contact details!

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Principles for the Paradigm Shift Wed, 18 Apr 2018 04:51:50 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 3 Week 5: What is a Technology Rich Classroom? Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:48:20 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by Wokandapix via Pixabay

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How can we maximize the potential of technology devices in a classroom environment?

Another big question for educators these days! And as you see from this week’s readings having access to technology and devices involves a lot of considerations including management, usage and balance. And with lots of news, research and variety of perspectives about kids and technology, educators must be prepared to justify how they use technology to support and enhance teaching and learning. There are many resources to guide teachers about how to manage devices….here are a few…

Classroom Management Tips for the Technology Rich Classroom (Edutopia)

5 Classroom Management Tips for Technology Integration (Mind/Shift)

And it’s also important to consider not only the benefits when using technology, but also the challenges…

The Pros and Cons of Technology (Edudemic)
How Much Screen Time? That’s the Wrong Question (Edutopia)

There’s even debate on if technology is even making an impact in student learning….

5 Problems with Technology in the Classroom (Teach Thought)
School technology struggles to make an impact (BBC)

And how do we combine traditional (effective) teaching strategies with technology? Larry Cuban asks in Technology “Disrupting” Teaching,  “Have the new technologies used by schools and in classrooms altered the practice of teaching and learning? While Kerry Gallagher (in EdSurge) explains “Why Effective Digital Learning Shouldn’t Disrupt Traditional Teaching Techniques”

And do the devices we provide in schools make a difference? Kim Cofino leads an online discussion asking “Why are we building 1:1 programs with laptops when kids are using mobile devices?” (Laptop Learning Curve) (blog post and video OR listen to it as a podcast here)

Lots of things to consider as educators….but also consider this perspective from this student

Course 4 Progress Check
We are wrapping up Course 4 in the next few weeks and by April 22 you should have

  • 5 blog post completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
  • 5 comments completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • You are welcome to comment outside the cohort, but please continue to read and comment within it as well.
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Week 4: Digital Citizenship Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:52:50 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.106″ background_layout=”light”]

Whose responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online?

Over the last three weeks, we have discussed many aspects of digital citizenship when you wrote (and read) about digital footprints, copyright laws, and privacy. aligns digital citizenship with citizenship when they say that

The elements of digital citizenship, it turns out, are not so different from the basic tenets of traditional citizenship: Be kind, respectful and responsible, and participate in activities that make the world a better place.

In the same article (here’s a link) they present an infographic where you will see that privacy, footprints, and copyright, are listed within the column of attributes of a good digital citizen. Having got this far into course 2 it is clear that we all have a fairly solid understanding of the growing importance of digital citizenship. So, this week, rather than review and define and explain the components of digital citizenship, we are challenged to discuss the idea of responsibility. Who teaches our students to be good digital citizens? If it’s our job, how do we do it? If it’s not our job, then whose job is it? I would love to read about your views on this as well as examples of digital citizenship being explored in your schools. Your posts should demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of cyberbullying and its issues among society today – but you can feel free to make some age-appropriate adaptations here (I don’t expect everyone to write about the implications and dangers of sexting). What are the concerns for the students that you interact with?

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In addition to the articles posted in the course information, you might find some of the following articles, websites, and resources useful for your research.

Digital Citizenship and the Digital Age (

Digital Citizenship is the New Citizenship (Also from ISTE)

The DQ Institute

Teach Thought – The Definition Of Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship Week

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Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

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The Course 2 Final Project

A gentle reminder about the course 2 final projects are just around the corner and might require some organisation to deal with timezones and work commitments over the next couple of weeks. There is a great deal of freedom in the actual product that you produce, the main requirement is that you collaborate on this project to have the experience of a globally collaborative project. The suggested projects are:

  1. Create a PD programme using the topics from Course 2
  2. Design a unit that will incorporate the understandings from Course 2
  3. Create a responsible use policy for your school (This really only works if you don’t already have one or if the one that you have needs some serious re-working!)
  4. Propose your own group project. The project must have relevance to teaching and learning and this courses enduring understandings. Can you use this project to kill a few birds with one stone? 

GET folks should focus on Option 1 and remember to use Google Apps!

We are a small cohort so hopefully, that will make it easy for us to pair up. Sara is joining us for Course 2 so we are an even six now!

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Featured image is from and is created by

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Digital Badges Coming to a VR Theater Near You Sun, 15 Apr 2018 23:32:50 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> If I could be transported to the future, let say 10 to 15 years from now, what would I see? What would learning look like? These are definitely open-ended questions for which the answers would encompass many of the topics visited during my COETAIL journey.  I could write endlessly about how technology, with the guidance of a teacher as a facilitator, will redefine education by allowing personalized learning in which students collaboratively solve authentic problems that have a real impact in their lives and their communities.  I could write about how learning would not be limited to classroom walls but will be virtually connected to learning environments around the world.  However, for the sake of a more focused blog, let’s dwell on the impact that digital badges and virtual reality (VR) may have in the future of learning.

At the moment, I am looking for a job in the US.  I updated my resume and I created my LinkedIn profile, but how can I prove that I am a qualified educator?   It is easy to verify the authenticity of my university diplomas, but what about the skills that I have acquired throughout my career?  Personal references are important, but are they enough?  Dough Belshaw, in the podcast “Shifting our Schools” (embedded below), affirms that a system of digital badges may be one way to standardize and level the field in the global job market.

Let me give you a more concrete example of how badges could benefit all. The majority of my professional experience as a teacher and, later on as technology instructional facilitator, has been mainly in Ecuador.  So, to someone here in Houston who reads my resume, they really don’t have a significant context to understand what I have done abroad.  However, as soon as I mention that I am a recent Level 2 Google Certified Educator, their eyes light up as though we are finally speaking the same language.  The certification that Google provides is becoming well known within the educational context.  People know that in order to receive a certificate (or a digital badge) the candidate needs to complete a series of courses and demonstrate knowledge and proficiency.

What exactly is a digital badge?

“Digital badges are an assessment and credentialing mechanism that is housed and managed online. Badges are designed to make visible and validate learning in both formal and informal settings, and hold the potential to help transform where and how learning is valued.”—MacArthur Foundation

In addition, the use of badges has the potential of replacing the letter-grade system in education. At the moment, an A obtained at the end of fourth grade in Ms. Chiriboga’s math class in Quito isn’t the same A obtained by another student in Ms. Long’s class in Houston.  Letter grades don’t mean much because they can’t be transferred easily to different contexts; they are nondescriptive as to what students know or are able to do.  Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts invented this system 121 years ago, and it is what we are used to, but it is greatly subjective and lacks inter-rater reliability.

Therefore, I envision a future—as mentioned in the video above— where earning digital badges have gone mainstream and letter grading or GPAs are things of the past.  Many institutions, after-school programs, and organizations are already issuing open badges to validate the knowledge and skills of thousands of learners across the globe.  In addition, Google Classroom and other Learning Management Systems (LMS) have implemented digital badges so teachers can issue them to students within the platforms. However, in the future, we need a globally standardized way to verify and validate the badges displayed in our digital profiles.

Keeping the future of learning in mind, what about Virtual Reality?

In January, I attended a STEAM Summit in Houston, and I had the privilege of meeting Danielle Olson, a virtual reality researcher and doctoral student at MIT.

She is the founder of the non-profit organization called Gique, whose mission is to expose students to STEAM experiences in after-school programs.  During her summit session, “Designing for Virtual Reality” I learned about the online platform CoSpaces Edu. It allows students to create their own virtual reality environments when they use the mobile app and a headset. I was blown away by the numerous applications this platform could have in the learning process, and I decided to give it a try for the sake of this week’s focus. (See my first project below).  If you view it on your computer, use the arrow keys to move around, or, if you are using your phone, you must have the app downloaded, and a VR headset to view it.  I am excited about using this platform in the classroom because it also incorporates block-programming for beginning coders; every element in the environment could be animated. I used this playlist with tutorials to learn the basics; however, there aren’t many comprehensive tutorials to understand block-based programming. They’ve assumed you already have the basic knowledge to do so.

Moreover, Danielle Olson is currently working on creating fully immersive media experiences that will build more empathy in interpersonal relationships. She is involved in a project called “The Enemy”, which will allow the public to experience with multiple senses both sides of a war conflict and discover that opposing sides are more similar than different.

Danielle also sees the potential of these new technological systems in helping build empathy in schools.  Here is what Rachel Gordon in her article, “Danielle Olson: Building empathy through computer science and art says about her research:

“She’s working on developing interactive narrative experiences to help kids practice dealing with social identity issues. For example, one game might involve an elf trying to get past a gatekeeper from a different clan, who may try fitting in by downplaying parts of their identity to get past the gate.”

While we could debate which tools will be the most prominent in future learning, I am certain that badges and VR will definitely play an important role in deepening understanding, validating and sharing our experiences.

Looking forward to your comments,


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Technology + Kids = Precocious or Savvy? Sun, 15 Apr 2018 09:14:23 +0000 Pana Asavavatana Read More »]]>

Illuminate flickr photo by demandaj shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

But They’re So Much Better at Technology!

Today’s youth live in a media environment that is not only very different from what previous generations experienced, but is also changing at a rapid pace. Sherry Turkle, in her article Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self (2008), describes our connection to technology as a state of constant readiness to send or receive communication through our devices at any point in time. Adults model these multi-screen, multitasking behaviors as we shift from one device to the next working through our daily tasks.

Many adults testify to watching children figure out new technologies at speeds that they could only imagine attempting, I generally see this swiftness to learn new tools as children’s natural precociousness when it comes to technology. However, this does not provide evidence that children are fully aware of their actions during their interactions with digital tools. For instance, adults who have had more exposure to using technology, generally understand where to press to play a video, pause it, or even scroll to rewind or move forward. In contrast, a young child who has not yet learned of these features may cause some of these same effects through experimentation, however, may not explicitly realize what action caused the result. In their article on Causal learning mechanisms in very young children (2001), Gopnik, Sobel, Schulz, and Glymour note that when young children are presented with patterns of evidence within a learning situation, they are likely to draw causal conclusions, however, much of this process is most likely unconscious. In other words, although children are learning and making causal links when they find patterns within a new digital tool, they are not able to explain or identify the assumptions they are making to draw that causal inference.

It makes sense that adults have more metacognitive abilities when processing and learning with technologies. In fact, when adults are watching a scene from a movie, they are using 17 distinct regions of the cerebral cortex (Anderson, Fite, Petrovich, & Hirsch, 2006). So, when we consider that many parts of the brain have not yet fully matured in young children, it becomes quite clear that guidance is necessary just like in many other areas of their dynamic young lives. What I am getting at is that children still need to be taught in order to move beyond just being precocious, to becoming truly savvy!

So How Do I Get Started?

No matter which area of the school you are teaching in, there are a few general things I’d encourage you to think about when it comes to your students and technology:

  1. Figure out and understand HOW your students are using technology both at school and in the their lives outside of school.
  2. Consider the areas within that category where your students may need guidance in terms of skills and strategies.
  3. Try to find opportunities for GUIDED PRACTICE in your setting so that they can learn in a safe environment.

So let’s break these three points down!

How are Students Using Technology?

I work between the grades of Pre-K to 2nd Grade, so the ideas and examples that follow will pertain to this age group. However, the thinking process above can be used for any age group. What I found out about my students were the following:

  • Outside of school, my students were accessing television and video content for viewing entertainment. Although we encourage co-viewing with an adult when watching any type of video or television content, the truth is, it isn’t always happening.
  • In school, they were being asked to use a range of apps to create content and document learning with their teachers both in their homeroom classes as well as specialist classes.

How Should I Guide My Students?

When I think about what my students may need guidance in, I focus on the fact that children bring much less background knowledge to new technologies than adults. So, what scaffolds can I provide to help them THINK while they are using or consuming content on technology?

Looking at the first point concerning media consumption, I am very aware that many of my students are probably watching all sorts of media content without an adult to discuss the content with. One area of concern among not just educators but also parents is that children often assume what they see on the screen is true.

As for my second point, many of my students are asked to use a variety of new apps to create digital content but have very little knowledge of how to figure new tools out or how to troubleshoot.

Finding Opportunities for Guided Practice

When it comes to the media that children are consuming, one thing that I’d like to arm my students with is the ability to QUESTION and think critically about content. Many teachers already teach students thinking strategies such as the Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero. Why not use these with a lens on questioning “fake” and “real” content when it comes to photographs or videos found on popular sites like YouTube? Students should also be provided with opportunities to alter content for a public audience. Through simple tools like photo editing, collage making, or even green screen projects, you can emphasize how easily digital media is altered before publishing. Imagine the type of deliberation and conversation we could get going if students had to comment on and analyze each other’s edited or altered work!

Finally, we all know that working with young children on technology can be a nightmare, especially when they all have no idea what to do next!!! If we give students strategies to become strong and able readers regardless of the book, we should also be giving students strategies for becoming thinkers and problem-solvers when approaching new digital tools. Beyond a “How To” chart for each new app, could you create thinking strategies that would guide your students through the problem solving process when they need to figure out a new function or troubleshoot when they navigate to the wrong place?

I encourage you to think about these things as part of helping your students to grow as digital citizens. Let’s not just assume that our students will learn how to do it on their own, that they’re already “good at it”, or that it can wait till later. We are responsible for guiding our students through all learning areas, including their digital lives. Being precocious is not enough, let’s prepare our students to be SAVVY!


Gopnik, A., Sobel, D. M., Schulz, L. E., & Glymour, C. (2001). Causal learning mechanisms in very young children: two-, three-, and four-year-olds infer causal relations from patterns of variation and covariation. Developmental psychology, 37(5), 620.

Anderson, D. R., Fite, K. V., Petrovich, N., & Hirsch, J. (2006). Cortical activation while watching video montage: An fMRI study. Media Psychology, 8(1), 7-24.

Turkle, S. (2008). Always-on/always-on-you: The tethered self. Handbook of mobile communication studies, 121-137.

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Rising to the Challenge: Amping up a Unit of Inquiry Sat, 14 Apr 2018 11:53:58 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]> Ironically last year I posted about the same unit of inquiry, Protecting the Earth’s Natural Resources. This must be one of “those” units of inquiry that are constantly evolving and needing improvement because I’ve chosen to write about the same unit with the same timing a year later during week 2 of COETAIL course 4. Last year I raised the issue that I felt the unit was missing the connection between our lives and the essential questions. The essential questions are:

  • What are the earth’s natural resources? (FORM)
  • How does our use of natural resources affect the earth? (CHANGE)
  • What can I do to help protect the earth’s natural resources? (RESPONSIBILITY)

My team for a variety of reasons, unfortunately was not open to changing our essential questions, so this year I approached the unit differently. What was most wonderful was that I didn’t have to create the challenge based learning experience, my students did!

Here’s how this year the unit has unfolded differently than in previous years. This year after visiting the local landfill, in one of my guided reading groups, we read this NEWSELA article “Is it possible to make no waste?” This group had further questions so we watched this video about a family working toward zero waste. They were quite excited and wanted to share what they had learned with our class. They asked their classmates “How much waste do you think we produce in a week?” and “Could we try a zero waste challenge?” The class responded yes so we began tracking our classroom waste for a week.

As you can see, each day our learning evolved as the students noticed symbols on their snack items, shared about composting and asked further questions.

The week before spring break we tracked our classroom waste using a graph and compared the amount of waste to the earlier photos from above. We have about 50% less plastic waste than we did previously. So, even though our essential question wasn’t changed nor official in how we measured success, it’s shifted the children’s thinking.

We additionally had a recent alumna, Erika, visit school about how she is working toward zero waste living in Prague.

Her visit and making our classroom waste tangible in tandem with providing students greater choice in how they took action (which I discussed more in my previous post) inspired students that they could make an impact. We are wrapping up the taking action phase of our unit and at our Friday elementary school assembly, my class was able to celebrate successes with helping to ban plastic straws from the school cafeteria.


Also, one of my students wanted to ask for others’ help with the playground litter problem.

What’s amazing to me is that a second grade teacher emailed me, less than 3 hours after the assembly, sharing two videos created by 8 students in her class on the day before spring break began. Wow! These two groups of students had spent their recess also cleaning up the playground and created a schedule so they could help my student with his efforts. One next step is that as the students begin to create their final products to share their action story (a digital book, iMovie or scrapbook), I need to develop a multimedia rubric to help enhance their products and build in a scope and sequence for media products in grade 3.

The use of Challenge Based Learning has had greater impact on students’ learning, engagement and responsibility than even before. When I reviewed the Challenge Based Learning framework, I realize there is greater work to be done which revamping this unit.

This year’s improvement sent me back to rereading about Challenge Based Learning(CBL).  I found the CBL report quite helpful in understanding why this year’s student engagement and level of individual responsibility has increased. The below image shows a summary of the results from 321 students and 29 teachers participating in a CBL experience.

Screenshot from the Challenge Based Learning New Media Consortium report (

One area in particular that I see a similarly in my own class’ results to the CBL report is related to the increase of the 21st century skills students were required to use throughout this unit of inquiry.

The 21st Century Skills framework includes skills such as Leadership, Creativity, Media Literacy, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Flexibility, and Adaptability. During this year’s unit of inquiry, students had to:

  • “Create new and worthwhile ideas,”
  • “Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas,”
  • “Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts,”
  • “Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources),”
  • “Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information,”
  • “Incorporate feedback effectively,” and
  • “Utilize time and manage workload efficiently.”

Screenshot from showing the interconnectedness of learning

Each of these skills comes directly from the 21st Century Skill Framework. As we know, this combined and targeted effort to teach students using a 21st Century Skill based curriculum helps them not only in their engagement but in acquiring the skills they will need as they progress through school and beyond. I also believe that students, like those in the CBL report, believed their own work mattered as they made impacts at home and at school. Their time on task increased while taking action compared to previous years and only being motivated to “make a movie.”

While reading Stephen Noonoo’s post about the differences between PBL, CBL and other -bl approaches, it made me, as my colleagues and I chat informally, wonder could we have a book study next year about taking action and read the Challenge Based Learning Guide? It made me wonder about coordinating our efforts. About organizing ourselves more meaningfully so we aren’t working in silos and students experiencing CBL or PBL experiences in isolation without a set of skills without a sequence to them. Also, with an entirely new grade level team next year,  I see another opportunity to revamp this unit of inquiry using a Challenge Based Learning approach by revamping our essential questions and perhaps put an emphasis on working collaboratively (a skill not currently emphasized during this unit).

Have you used CBL? Does your school have a scope and sequence to teaching 21st century skills?




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Smashing Apps & Flipping the Script with Video Fri, 13 Apr 2018 12:06:41 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 4 One Roll at a Time: Teacher Technology Integration Reflection Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:49:18 +0000 Megan Looney Read More »]]> I am a proud aunt to two nephews who live in the U.S. My friends, students and colleagues bear with me as I share videos of their latest and greatest adventures and learning. Today you’re being invited to join this group as well. When I reread my previous post about technology integration models, I realized I’m not so different than my nephew, Oliver, who’s 4.5 months old and also learning a new skill.

He’s learning to roll over.

Previously I wrote about using the SAMR model as a way to describe the technology integration in my classroom. Sylvia Duckworth’s pictoral representation of the SAMR model works so well for me when I plan to use technology with my students. It’s visual metaphor provides strength in knowing how I can move from enhancing learning to truly transforming learning for my students.

I also think the SAMR model can apply to Oliver and his learning to roll over. He is trying to move from the substitution of turning his head to modifying his view by rolling over. This small move but yet major milestone in a baby’s first year of life transforms their world.

Rather than reconsidering my classroom instruction, I decided to review the Technology Integration Matrix as a way to extend and build upon my prior understanding of different technology integration models.  During this reflection, I used the Table of Teacher Descriptors to review my own progress as a technology teacher. I, like Oliver, am learning new skills and thought a review of my skills, strategies and techniques could help to make me a better teacher and technology facilitator.

My reflection will be upon my recent enhancement of our current unit of inquiry about protecting the earth’s natural resources. For their summative assessment, students independently chose one of the natural resources they wanted to protect using one of the five different forms of taking action that are below.

They planned their work using an action plan template in Google Docs. A examples of my students’  action plans are:

  • speaking to other classes to encourage students to use fewer paper towels by speaking with them using persuasive language, creating a poster reminder in PicCollage to leave with the class and then tracking their impact by surveying students and creating a graph in Google Sheets,
  • creating an iMovie asking for less litter to go onto the ground and ensure the rubbish goes into the correct bins during snack times,
  • creating green screen movies to encourage others to use public transportation.

These are just a few of the action projects in process at the moment.

The TIMS Matrix is based on five levels of technology integration in which over time hopes to shift from teacher ownership to student ownership of their learning through five different attributes of learning environments. You can learn more about it here in the introductory video here.


The first area of the Technology Integration Matrix is focused on active engagement.

During this current portion of our unit of inquiry, I feel that I am at an infusion level. Students have chosen the iPad apps they want to help move their action plan forward with some guidance from me as needed. I provide tutorials through videos and also small group lessons to help support students with both the content and technology skills they need to be successful. I am not yet at the transformation stage as I think the lessons do not require technology as much of the products and work do not involve electronic collaboration.

In terms of being collaborative I’d score myself at a lower level, perhaps entry. 

There was not a requirement for collaboration for students at all in this process. As this action plan evolves in future years, I can see how students could choose the same action and then create a final piece to share collaboratively. They could co-create their plan and then implement it. I think overall, even outside of this current unit, this is an area that I score lower in at this time.

For being constructive in this current unit of inquiry, I would say I’m in between adoption and adaptation.

As I previously mentioned, Google Docs has been a required element for all students. Also, I found some electronic resources which I shared with students using Blendspace which I think provides them greater access at an adaption level and guides them to appropriate resources but I could provide greater choice and pre-teach more internet search skills which would help us to move to a more solid level of adaptation.

The attribute of being authentic, I think I’m at an adaptation level.

Students had voice and choice throughout this unit of inquiry. They chose which natural resource they wanted to protect, how they wanted to protect it by selecting a method of taking action and finally how they will share their learning. Even there I originally only provided 3 options to students: iMovie, Book Creator (digital book) and paper scrapbook. Since then some students have wanted to create a green screen and I’ve listened to their rationale and facilitated their work with it.

I do wonder if I may be at a higher level due to some student action taking place outside of the classroom but the technology tools being used aren’t transformational in nature. Since we began this unit, students have traveled over weekends and taken photos of trash and how their family picked it up and threw it away. This has inspired more students to take photos and even send it using their parents’ messaging apps to family members encouraging them to take action in their own communities.

In terms of being goal-directed, I think I am at the level of infusion.

Using Google Docs to create their plan, support their plan using technology to document their work (camera apps, Pic Collage, iMovie, Green Screen and more), as well as the template I created for students to use helps them to do this throughout. With them being third graders, I’m unsure how they could take a greater role in the goal-direction as they are still trying to develop their organizational and self-management skills.

It’s funny, I feel a bit like Oliver after completing this review, I thought I was successfully moving students toward transformational learning. I realize now that I was comfortable, rolling back to the side where I’m at ease. I may not realize all I’m missing. After reviewing my work in this unit, I’ve realized it’s time for me to roll over my arm. I’m ready to push myself up, roll over and smile at finding new ways to look at technology teaching in this unit next year.

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Week 4: The Future (is Now?) Mon, 09 Apr 2018 16:03:33 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by dtavres via Pixabay

Essential Question: What is the future of education?

What a question! This week’s topic led me back to one of my favorite posts I wrote when I was a COETAIL participant five years ago (“Tomorrowland”) where I felt like I really started to recognize and articulate the shift I had made in my mindset about education. (And I reflected on my own 10 year old self being skeptical about the technological changes that could happen in my lifetime….boy was I wrong!)

This topic also reminded me of this video and although it is almost six years old, I find myself watching it at least once a year and thinking about, in my opinion and based on my experience, what progress has been made, what potential we have, and what challenges remain in education.

Although some of our readings for this week could be considered ‘dated’, perhaps some of these ideas were ahead of their time. Maybe some ideas have developed more fully than others; found a place in education. What were considered ‘innovations’ in the past might now be common practice or their time was short lived. Here are some additional resources based on our topics from this week…

Check out Jeff Utecht’s Shifting Our Schools recent podcast: Episode 43: It’s All About the Badges.

“…a conversation with Doug Belshaw from the UK. Doug has made his way from the classroom to being involved in multiple different projects including the Open Badge Alliance. A great conversation about digital badges and the future of where they are going.”

Global Collaboration
There are lots of resources out there about global collaboration but if it seems a bit overwhelming, here are a few resources with the basics

7 Steps to Starting a Global Collaboration Project (ISTE)
ISTE Global Collaboration Network
Collaborative Learning Spaces: Classrooms That Connect to the World (Edutopia)

A Recent Development: The Emergence of AR and VR in Education
And something that’s been gaining attention in education in the last few years…AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality)…and its potential impact on teaching and learning.

Virtual Reality: The Next Generation Of Education, Learning and Training (Forbes)
10 Reasons To Use Virtual Reality In The Classroom
Real Uses of Virtual Reality in Education: How Schools are Using VR

Course 4 Check for Week 4
By April 15 you should have

  • 4 blog post completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
  • 4 comments completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • You are welcome to comment outside the cohort, but please continue to read and comment within it as well.

If you are working toward GET certification, make sure you are working towards or have already completed the Level 2 Google Certified Educator exam, as well as the Trainer Exam. (More details about the COETAIL/GET Requirements here.)


The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.” – Stephen Hawking

“The challenge of the unknown future is so much more exciting than the stories of the accomplished past.” – Simon Sinek

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Week 2 – Your Privacy Online (Does it Exist?) Tue, 03 Apr 2018 12:45:59 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.105″ background_layout=”light”]

It’s a timely topic for us this week as many of our posts will center on a topic that is also dominating world news – internet privacy. In the wake of the great Facebook privacy scandal (I made that phrase up), it’s an interesting time to look at our own online behaviours and reflect on our practices. Your post this week should engage with the following understandings and essential questions:

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Responsible use of online tools can help protect the personal information of others.

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Is there such a thing as privacy online?

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Why add hyperlinks?

This week there is a suggested focus on learning how we can use hyperlinks within our posts to increase the searchability of our blogs. Don’t feel that you need to write specifically about the impact of hyperlinks, but it’s a nice opportunity to read and learn about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here you can read about how a Google Search will rank useful pages (ranking can be influenced by hyperlinks) and this post here deconstructs a twitter chat about internal links on a website. They focus more on commercial websites, but it still gives some interesting reasons for adding links to our posts, specifically internal links. A very basic summary is that if your page has lots of other pages linking to it, then Google will rank it highly. But don’t send your readers away from your site – hit the gear button and select open in a new tab so that you don’t lose anyone! (Show me how!)

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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

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Your Privacy Online

There are a lot of great readings listed for this week but feel free to use this opportunity to learn about the current issues raised by the Cambridge Analytica scandal – I certainly have! Here are some recent readings that discuss online privacy that might spark some writing ideas. As you read these (or any other articles you come across) I ask you to wonder what is your role as a teacher/educator in all of this? What can we share or teach our students about how the internet works? How do you talk to your students about online privacy? Do you need to make changes in how you share information online? 

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Don’t Expose Yourself: A Guide to Online Privacy – The Wall Street Journal (May 2017)
On internet privacy, be very afraid – The Harvard Gazette (August 2017)
Majority of Australians say online privacy beyond their control – The University of Sydney (November 2017)
The Lazy Person’s Guide to Better Online Privacy – The Internet Society (Jan 2018)

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Cambridge Analytica scandal is not a ‘breach’. It is Facebook’s business model in action – ABC Australia News (March 2018)
The Facebook data breach wasn’t a hack. It was a wake-up call – Vox (March 2018)
How you’re tracked online _ and what you can do about it – Associated Press (March 2018)
Fed up with Facebook? Here’s how to fix your online privacy – The New Scientist (March 2018)

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Coming Up

Don’t forget that the final project for this course is a collaborative task – it’s not too early to start making those connections. Here’s more info on that project. Next week we will discuss digital footprints and we will read and write about ways to guide our students towards curating a positive online presence. Oh, and of course we will google ourselves.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.0.105″ text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center”]Featured Image by <br><!– [et_pb_line_break_holder] –><a style=”background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto, Noto, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;line-height:1.2;display:inline-block;border-radius:3px;” href=”;utm_campaign=photographer-credit&amp;utm_content=creditBadge” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” title=”Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Matthew Henry”><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;”><svg xmlns=”” style=”height:12px;width:auto;position:relative;vertical-align:middle;top:-1px;fill:white;” viewBox=”0 0 32 32″><title>unsplash-logo</title><path d=”M20.8 18.1c0 2.7-2.2 4.8-4.8 4.8s-4.8-2.1-4.8-4.8c0-2.7 2.2-4.8 4.8-4.8 2.7.1 4.8 2.2 4.8 4.8zm11.2-7.4v14.9c0 2.3-1.9 4.3-4.3 4.3h-23.4c-2.4 0-4.3-1.9-4.3-4.3v-15c0-2.3 1.9-4.3 4.3-4.3h3.7l.8-2.3c.4-1.1 1.7-2 2.9-2h8.6c1.2 0 2.5.9 2.9 2l.8 2.4h3.7c2.4 0 4.3 1.9 4.3 4.3zm-8.6 7.5c0-4.1-3.3-7.5-7.5-7.5-4.1 0-7.5 3.4-7.5 7.5s3.3 7.5 7.5 7.5c4.2-.1 7.5-3.4 7.5-7.5z”></path></svg></span><span style=”display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;”> Matthew Henry</span></a>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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The Future is Whatever You Make It Mon, 02 Apr 2018 18:44:08 +0000 Laurie Read More »]]> Back in September 2015, when I first began my COETAIL journey, I wrote a post called Choosing a Path in the Digital Wonderland.  I mentioned that I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, who, faced with two possible roads, asked advice from the Cheshire cat about which way she should go.  The cat’s reply:  “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”  I realized that before I chose a path for technology integration, I needed to carefully consider where it was I wanted to go.  What was it that my students needed?  How would technology integration help us to get there?  Thanks to COETAIL, as well as a terrific iLearning initiative at AISR, I came to understand where I was going, and I made a lot of progress on the journey.

I Got Lost
I did. I got lost.  I stepped off the path to tech integration.  After 9 amazing years at AISR, my family relocated to the US, and I began teaching MS Language Arts at a charter school in Utah.  It’s a great little school, but it’s different from AISR (a virtual technology Mecca) in just about every way imaginable– especially in terms of technology resources.  When I arrived at the charter, I realized that my classroom technology would consist of a ByteSpeed laptop, a teacher iPad, a projector, and a document camera.  I was not issued any tech for student use.  There were iPad carts, but they had to be shared among the ES and MS, and I couldn’t count on using them consistently.  I went into survival mode and became what I had vowed never to become again– a paper-based teacher.   It felt awful.

I Found My Way Back
Fortunately, once I got through those first stressful months of adapting to a new school, I began to find my way again.  I truly believe in the power of technology to support and deepen student learning, and I want that for my students!  So, I begged the administration for some tech, and they rounded up 6 mini iPads for me.  It was a start.  It at least made it easier to do Kahoots, Padlets, etc.  But it wasn’t enough.  So I submitted a Donors Choose project, which helped me raise funds for 8 Chromebooks for my classroom.  We’ve been using those for a few weeks now, and the students LOVE them.  They are more engaged, and their thinking is more visible. We’re publishing in Google Docs, responding on Padlets, creating Storyboards, etc.!  I want more of that!  So I put in a proposal for two more Chromebooks, and a few days ago, they were purchased for us by a corporate donor.  Now we will have 10 Chromebooks!  But I’m not stopping there.  I won’t stop until I have a device in the hands of every student.  I don’t care how many grant applications I have to write.  My students are worth the effort.

Looking to the Future
In addition to the immediate effort to bring technology into my classroom, I am looking to the future of technology integration for my entire school.  I put together a proposal for a school-wide technology integration plan.  I recently met with the school administration to discuss it, and they are very supportive of putting it into action.  It’s just a start– but we have to start somewhere, right?  It feels good to be back on the path to technology integration.  We all get lost from time-to-time.  But if we can refocus on “where we want to get to,” we can always get back on track.  Honestly, I had plenty of people tell me that “there was no point trying,” and that “trying would only make things worse.” But as Doc Brown said in Back to the Future, “Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

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A Childhood Memory: Insights to What Makes Us Tick Sat, 31 Mar 2018 21:05:08 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> “Tom, Tom, where are you?”, screamed my younger brother while he ran the narrow hallway at my house.  Laughing uncontrollably, I asked him to stop and to go back and repeat this scene.  My older brother had forgotten to press the recording button on our real-to-real tape recorder. 

Stella flickr photo by Ian Livesey shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

I was around 10-years old and my brothers and I were recording a radionovela. I remember this vividly as one of my most memorable experiences with my siblings.  I recalled this memory as Stuart Brown suggested during his TED Talk, Play is more than just fun.  He says that if we explore back, as far as we can remember, to a strong memory or moment of play, this can help us to pay attention to such moments in the future as a powerful self-guiding tool.  (His exact words when you click below.)

YouTube Preview Image

Technics SL-1500 Turntable-6 flickr photo by Nathan Marciniak shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

By going through this exercise myself, I was transported back to the various times that my mother would save up to make a big purchase of the latest technological equipment (considering it was the late 70’s in Ecuador).  I never realized until now, that during my early years, I enjoyed figuring out how these electronics worked and how to use them.  This included, among others, a Technics sound system, an Atari video game console and an “instant camera”, the Polaroid.  These devices allowed my brothers and me to experience a few moments—before or after homework— to be together, play and be engaged in learning something without a tangible external reward.  And, now, after hearing Stuart Brown’s words, it makes so much more sense that during my entire adult life I have always gravitated towards a path that continually involves the use of technology as a tool of innovation.

Implications of games and play in education

Even though many of us incorrectly use these terms interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between the terms Gamification and Game-Based Learning.  According to this blog, Gamification “is the application of game-like mechanics to non-game entities to encourage a specific behavior.”  In other words, the letter grading context within education is a didactical example of gamification.  There is no need for grades to measure learning, however, we have created an extrinsic system hoping to encourage students to learn.  Game-Based Learning, on the other hand, is acquiring academic objectives through games.  We have all experienced first hand or have seen others overtaken by excitement when playing digital games. The word “failing” does not have the same connotation as in other life situations; we can just click the replay button, and we will start again without overthinking it.  While we try again, and again, we learn problem-solving skills and look forward to new challenges.  Once we have mastered the game, there is no reason to go back to play again.

gbl im kindergarten flickr photo by shinnfean shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

A great example of game-based learning is how Glen Irvin (@irvspanish) uses Minecraft to teach Spanish.  Language learners need to be immersed in relevant experiences to improve their skills, so with Minecraft, students, in collaboration, create their new worlds where everything functions in the target language.  In the blog, Minecraft Can Transform Your World Language Classroom Irvin stated that at the end of the game-based unit, his students advanced much more than other classes in his school and that all his students completed the requirements of the game.

In the following video, Glen Irvin shows us how he introduced Minecraft to his students:

Final Thoughts

I am convinced that learning should be a joyful and playful experience and that many of us strive to design learning environments where our students are engaged deeply in their learning. However, I am also aware that we are stuck on the gamification of education, thinking that “teaching by mentioning” or “covering a topic” would be enough for students to be motivated to score high on common or standardized assessments.  I know too many students that see school as a place they have to “endure”, where they are bombarded with busy and irrelevant work.  The same as a doctor, an educator must “do no harm” because killing students’ innate love of learning is detrimental to his or her well-being.

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The Adaptable Scholar Thu, 29 Mar 2018 03:11:00 +0000 Tricia Friedman Read More »]]> 0 Course 5 Check up Wed, 28 Mar 2018 15:18:31 +0000 Ryan Harwood Read More »]]> Just a quick check in on my favorite cohort today. I hope this post finds you all doing well and cruising along on your way to completing an awesome final project. I’ve seen a few posts start to pop up in our feed and I’ll be checking in on them all soon. It is definitely important to make sure that you are chipping away at this project along the way. I suggest you take a little time each week to plan, organize, edit video, and so on to be certain the final video does not sneak up on you. It takes some time to put together.

I’d also like to share, and maybe brag a bit, about the Maker Faire we hosted here at LCS last week. If your school has not hosted one, put it on your to do list. Our very own @pandion (Andy Richardson) did a fantastic job pulling us together and creating a day that saw a little bit of everything. There were students sharing dance performances, teachers making rugs, stop action movies, student film projects, human rights displays, lots of slime and a cardboard castle. The energy in the gym was through the rough all day long. What a fantastic learning experience for everyone involved!

My happy place

Alright. I’ll stop and let you get back to work. Our spring break starts Friday and I’m going off the grid for a bit with the family to catch some waves, nap in a hammock and enjoy one more big adventure here in this beautiful country. I’ll be back and reconnect in a week.


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Week 3: The Present Mon, 26 Mar 2018 17:36:07 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by Skitterphoto via Pixabay

This week we are exploring emerging innovations (or re-invigoration) of the learning frameworks reverse (aka flipped) instruction, game-based learning and play based learning. As with all ‘buzzword’ initiatives in education, we must take some time and investigate what these types of learning frameworks entail and how they are applied appropriately and effectively. I’ve seen many examples of them used in very innovative ways that engage and motivate learners, I’ve also seen them applied in simplistic, superficial ways that, in some cases, created even more work for the teachers and the students and/or the focus on learning was lost or diluted. I think of the SAMR model when considering these (and any) frameworks. Is this type of instruction just a substitution or augmentation of a traditional, teacher-centered method? Or is the learning experience being modified or redefined for the benefit of the student? Has it taken on a life of its own through a variety of interpretations and re-iterations? Is the variation innovative or burdensome for students? Whichever learning framework you choose to explore, please consider how it is defined and how it can applied to enhance learning for our students.

Here are a few videos and additional resources you might consider in your exploration…

Reverse (flipped) instruction

Jon Bergmann’s site  (pioneer of Flipped Learning)
10 Pros and Cons for a Flipped Classroom

Simplifying Flipped Learning (Jon Bergmann)

Game-Based Learning and Gamification

The Difference Between Gamification And Game-Based Learning
Gamification, Game-based Learning, Serious Games: Any Difference? 




Play-Based Learning (not just for the little ones!)

Play in education: the role and importance of creative learning
Institute of Play
Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too


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On the Border of Chaos & Order: Project Based Learning in Kindergarten Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:44:23 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 2 PBL at the DMV Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:24:56 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> On Twitter, I recently saw this posting:

If the answer is yes, what would you learn? How would you know that you are reaching your goal? I bet many of us have recently learned how to do something. In my case, I had to master parallel parking in order to pass the road test to get my driver’s license from the state of Texas.  I had been driving for a long time back in Quito, but parallel parking brought a lot of anxiety because I never learned the skill in order to feel proficient.  But this time, I had an important reason—and a practical one—to get motivated to learn. To embark on this process, first I needed to admit that I am the kind of learner that needs to see exemplary models and clear instructions on how to do things.  I am not the person who just gets a feel for how things work by experimenting.  I started watching YouTube videos meant to instruct teenage drivers—such as the one below.  I memorized the instructions so I could practice with my car, but one thing is knowing it in your head and another is applying the knowledge.  Well, it took me about 15 tries and my husband’s coaching to be able to feel prepared.  But, the real evidence of mastery was to parallel park during my road test, and, thankfully… I passed.

I described my experience because it exemplifies what I think is pivotal in any learning process:

  1. A relevant reason to learn something, which increases engagement and motivation
  2. Access to the most accurate information about the topic
  3. Transfer of new information to an application stage
  4. Receiving helpful feedback or coaching
  5. Creation of final product or performance task which is shared with an authentic audience so we can see the purpose of our work

How does this experience compare to the elements of Project Based Learning?

Let’s start with a definition. According to the Buck Institute of Education (BIE) PBL is:

…a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.

The Buck Institute emphasizes the Essential Project Design Elements for a successful PBL model:

Challenging Problem or Question: This is the reason why students are motivated to do the work.  There needs to be a problem to solve or to find the answer to an important question. In my case, I needed to parallel park in order to have a driver’s license. However, in the classroom, how would I  pose a question or a problem that motivates my students to feel compelled to learn? In my opinion, this is the hardest part to plan because its main purpose is to motivate and engage the student to want to endure the process of learning. Here is an entry event from Manor New Tech High School called “Gilgamesh-Ancient Espionage:

Sustained Inquiry: This is the research stage of PBL requiring one to be skillful about finding information relevant to the big question or the problem.  In my case, YouTube was a great resource to find videos about parallel parking. In addition, my husband provided information about how he approached the task.

Authenticity: Was my pursue a real-world situation?  Did it have a real impact? Of course, I needed to pass my driving test to have a license so I could drive my car and be independent.

Student Voice & Choice: Does the student have a saying on how they will go about answering the question or solving the problem?  In my case, I decided that I will use YouTube videos to learn and then practice.

Reflection: Was I learning? Were my methods working? When unsuccessfully hitting the curb when parking, I realized that I was having trouble judging the proportions of my car related to the surroundings.  I realized that I had to rely more on my built-in camera to see how close the curb was.

Critique & Revision: As a formative assessment, my husband observed me parking and gave me instructions on how to avoid hitting the curb.

Public Product: I had to parallel park without hitting the curb with a Department of Public Safety officer.

Moreover, even though the idea isn’t new, PBL has become a buzz word for a few years now, and, as Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise, quoted in this post, affirms that the popularity of PBL is due to the increased accessibility to tech tools.

“…technologies make challenge-based learning more possible; students can just do this work, they don’t have to sit and wait for a teacher to tell them the information—they can look it up, find experts who know something, or watch YouTube videos describing how to build something. Those are the resources we can leverage more and more for learning.”

PBL applied in Profesional Development

Now that we understand how to make learning more engaging and long-lasting, it only makes sense to replicate it when planning professional development opportunities for teachers.  For most of my experience as an educator, PD workshops have the obsolete model of  “sitting and absorbing” the new information.  However, Role-Reversal PD, as mentioned in the blog post, PBL Professional Development that Actually Works, may help teachers experience the role of a student by going through the same process of learning: pondering on relevant questions or problems, creating groups, researching, and designing a product that shows their deep learning.

In a way, as Michael Resnick’s book, Lifelong Kindergarten, suggests, we must re-create an experience of inquiry, exploration, and collaboration for our students. This would be a tall order to accomplish with educators, especially if we could argue that there is usually a time limitation when providing PD.  However, shouldn’t we also aspire for our teachers to reach deeper learning?  If the answer is ¨yes¨, then we need to not only inspire teachers to use PBL in their teaching, but we need to also tie their own professional development opportunities to strong interests and motivation.  And, ideally, their own PD opportunities should also be constructed with all the components of PBL.

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Course 2 is Ready to Roll! Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:44:16 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.105″ background_layout=”light”]

Course Two officially begins for us today but I would like to take just a second to give a shout out to all of your fantastic and thoughtful Course One projects. I enjoyed the range of topics that were explored and the variety of tech tools and applications. Please take some time to read through the projects – you might see some opportunities for Course Two collaboration!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.0.105″ module_alignment=”left”]<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Here is my <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Coetail10</a> course 1 final project blog post. It is a first grade unit I updated about how we express ourselves through powerful stories. Check it out here- <a href=””></a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Coetail</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#digitalstorytelling</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#doink</a> <a href=”″></a></p>&mdash; Jessica Phillips (@jessicarose325) <a href=””>March 14, 2018</a></blockquote><!– [et_pb_line_break_holder] –><script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.0.105″ module_alignment=”left”]<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>For my Course 1 final project for <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#coetail</a>, I modified a unit to include opportunities for Ss to curate and create, to take action, and to connect with Ss from other schools. Read more here: <a href=””></a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#coetail10</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SSISLearns</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MYPchat</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#langchat</a> <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Lina Farrow (@MypClassroom) <a href=””>March 18, 2018</a></blockquote><!– [et_pb_line_break_holder] –><script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script><!– [et_pb_line_break_holder] –>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.105″][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_blurb _builder_version=”3.0.105″ title=”Google is a Life Skill…Course 1 Final Project ” url_new_window=”off” use_icon=”off” use_circle=”off” use_circle_border=”off” icon_placement=”top” use_icon_font_size=”off” background_layout=”light” box_shadow_style_image=”preset1″ text_orientation=”center” border_radii=”on|2px|2px|2px|2px”]

Read more at Brian’s blog

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Read more at Agisa’s blog

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Read more at Jen’s blog

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Course Two: 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues

I love the title of this course and the challenge of chasing the ever-changing idea of what might define 21st Century Ideas, Questions, and Issues. Throughout this course, we will explore copyright, privacy, digital footprints and citizenship, and how we can take advantage of our online connections. It will be great to discuss these ideas through our different lenses (we all teach students of different ages and cultural backgrounds while some of us work primarily with faculty) and reflect on how we address these issues in our own online behaviour and the ways that we support our students as they explore the online world. Please take some time to watch Jeff’s video to get an idea of Course 2 and about the what you can expect from the COETAIL experience as a whole. 

The final project for this course is a collaborative project where you will need to team up with at least one other member of our Online 10 cohort. You can read more about the details here. Feel free to get creative and come up with your own project that ties in with the essential understandings of this course.

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Week 1 – Copyright Usage and Plagiarism

Tasks for this week will focus on copyright and plagiarism and you will write a blog post discussing one or more of these ideas:

  • How can you inform your students and peers about the importance of proper citation?
  • Do you see this as an issue in your school?
  • How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not followed? What is our obligation as educators?
  • Do we as a global society need to rethink copyright laws?
  • What’s our role as educators in copyright usage in schools?

That’s a lot of questions to consider, so please don’t feel like you need to answer them all. Remember that Jeff mentioned in his video that you are always free to take inspiration from the weekly readings and guiding questions and write about whatever it is that you are grappling with. Sticking to the theme of the guiding questions will help our whole cohort engage in a focused discussion but you have creative freedom with your posts.

Silvia Tolisano has written a lot about copyright issues in schools and I enjoy the resources produced by Common Sense Media on this topic. Here’s a packed playlist from Edutopia with a list of videos looking at copyright and remixing (apologies as they are heavily US centric) and this article might be interesting to teachers of older students about the ease of plagiarism in higher education. This last article moves away from copyright focus of this week’s readings, but I am curious about the impact of the internet on the increase of plagiarism.

Ok – sorry for the long first post! I am excited to get back into the swing of things and I look forward to your first week of posts.

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Blog leading image from Unsplash by


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Week 2: The Past (aka Back to the Future) Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:57:53 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by geralt via Pixabay

Course 4 Final Project

I know we’ve just started Course 4, but it’s never too early to review the Course 4 Final Project information. The main focus of this final project is to start making some decisions about the topic for your Course 5 project which will be done in the fall (September – December 2018). You may already know what you want to do or still need some inspiration. Either way, your final project for Course 4 will be your opportunity to share your ideas.

“X”-Based Learning

The Essential Questions for this week…
Does project-based, problem-based and/or challenge-based learning have a place in your classroom? What hurdles do you need to overcome to make it work in your school/classroom?

First of all, we have to sort out what these types of learning frameworks are. How are they related? How are they different? In terms of educational buzzwords, these (among other learning frameworks) can be easily be used interchangeably and applied misleadingly.

Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL (Edutopia)

What’s the Difference Between Project- and Challenge-Based Learning, Anyway? (EdSurge)

And why would we focus on these in a unit called “The Past”? Aren’t these frameworks for learning the big buzzwords in education these days? Well, there have been educators advocating for these types of learning frameworks for YEARS! One educator referred to in this week’s readings is Seymour Papert whose theory of constructionism was influenced by Jean Piaget (a standard for all education students for his work in child development).

Lego Honors Seymour Pappert

In turn, Mitch Resnick of the MIT Media Lab (think Scratch coding and LEGO Mindstorms) talks about the influence Seymour Papert has had on his work, including his recent book Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play. This companion site includes a long list of influence for the book including many educators and innovators from the past and present.

(For an overview of the book, see the article “A Case for Lifelong Kindergarten” from Mind/Shift)

Kindergarten For Our Whole Lives | Mitchel Resnick (TEDx Talks)

So why the big buzz around these not-so-new ideas about learning? I think you have to consider about the influence of the growing abundance of digital devices and resources and how they are impacting the world our students are experiencing and the potential for these digital tools to support and enhance these types of learning frameworks.  

The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.     –Seymour Papert

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Celebrate Success Mon, 19 Mar 2018 00:00:04 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> This week, we’re discussing the final strategy for your coaching toolkit, celebrate success!


One of the most important aspects of the coaching role is to be the cheerleader for all of the fantastic work that is happening in your school community. There are many ways to highlight these learning experiences, like speed geeking, hosting a blog that features work from different classrooms, or virtual high fives. The possibilities are endless, but you may find some types of sharing work better in your learning community than others.


When sharing a success, it doesn’t have to be something you supported. It can be something you heard from another teacher or something you saw in action in a classroom as you were visiting.


Why try this strategy?


Everyone likes being appreciated! Finding ways to applaud great work that teachers are doing focuses on the positive and gets people talking about the learning that’s happening in the classrooms around them. In addition, often our days are so busy we don’t have a chance to learn from others (or even find out what other teachers are doing). Celebrating success provides a format and a structure for sharing. Ideally, teachers will walk away knowing they have other teachers they can connect with about new and inspiring ideas. Hopefully, they’ll also be thinking about what they might be able to share next time!



Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!

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Tech Integration in the Classroom: It Is Not About the Tool Sun, 18 Mar 2018 22:25:04 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> What is it that holds us back from trying new things? What is at the core of risk-taking?  These questions were essential when I coached teachers to integrate technology into their practice. I was observant of the personality traits that a few of them possessed which prompted them to, later on, try what I had suggested. These teachers were innovators. But I didn´t want only a few, rather I hoped all of my teachers would be innovators.  At first, when I felt I wasn’t being successful,  I assumed it was my fault: I wasn’t using the right tech tools,  I wasn’t convincing enough, or I didn’t understand my role as a coach. There was probably a lot of truth to those statements because I found it hard (and I still do) to craft the correct words or to design the precise experience to motivate teachers to do something that they weren´t comfortable doing. Things were changing at our school and many teachers were questioning the decision to no longer have a dedicated teacher in the computer lab. This meant they were going to be asked to integrate technology into their lessons (and this was an area that was somewhat unknown for many).

The difficulty that I encountered could also be related to what Jeff Utecht shares in his blog post, Really? It’s My Job To Teach Technology? when he advises us to “avoid teaching tools out of context.” I quickly learned this lesson after my school decided to switch from using Office 365 to the G Suite for Education platform.  In my mind, it was a simple task: we would create different PD opportunities to teach many of the Google Suite Apps.  However, after the hours of training, many teachers and administrators continued to require support.  But, the learning was accelerated when there was a true need for the use of a tool.  One great example was when teachers needed to write lesson plans in collaboration using Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.  It was then when teachers saw the real use of certain features such as colaborating on documents instead of continually attaching files to emails and asking ¨who has the latest version?´  They quickly became convinced through sharing documents, seeing the revision history and learning how to chat with others in a file. Of course, this principle of teaching a tool within a context also could be directly applied when they found themselves instructing their students through the same tools. It was important to realize that we only really learn something when there is a true need to learn.

In addition, it was Monique Flickinger, the Head of the Metropolitan School of Panama, who first introduced teachers to the SAMR model at my school.  This was certainly a memorable moment, not only because of the engaging videos we produced to learn the framework but also because teachers finally had a common language to talk about technology integration in the classroom. The next step was to apply the SAMR framework with the newly acquired G Suite for Education apps. The presentation below (created by Google) was useful for teachers to understand the merging of the two.

SAMR Model flickr photo by erinformella shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

The ultimate goal was for teachers to come to the realization that technology could redefine the learning process, to know that true tech integration was never about the tool, but how it actually enhanced or transformed learning. But the shift in mindset needed to happen all across the school as Matthew Lynch describes it in his blog post, Peering Past the ‘Pixie Dust’ of Technology, so this was the piece that was going to required a strategic plan:

For technology to be an integral part of a school district’s strategic improvement plan, technology directors must outline and communicate specific goals to all stakeholders. Then, they must measure progress toward that goal, continually coaching and improving as necessary.

In other words, we wanted everyone to be convinced that learning needed to look different in the classroom. The task was not to teach students how to use tech tools, it was to better prepare them for an ever-changing and demanding future.  Jeff Utecht in his blog agrees with this statement:

It is not about making every student have the same standard set of tools, it’s about giving them the tools they need to be successful in whatever they decide to do after their formal education is over.”

How to assess tech integration?

As in most schools, administrator classroom visits and peer-observations have become an important component of teacher development and evaluation programs. We used the Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool (ELEOT) developed by AdvancED based on a four-point scale (1 being “not observed,” and 4 being “very evident”), which includes a Digital Learning Environment.  This same tool is used by external review teams when a school needs to be reaccredited. Here are the descriptors:

However, the observer often had trouble clearly determining what he or she was looking for in students. I think including something similar to what Matthew Lynch suggested in his blog could be very helpful:

Whatever tool we decide to use to evaluate technology integration in the classroom, we, as educators, need to determine what holds us back from trying new things.  Many times, as Kim Cofino points out in The Laptop Learning Curve, a podcast episode in Shifting Our Schools, “it is the fear of losing control,” that holds educators back from allowing students to have more say in their learning.

Final Thoughts…

I would like to share this wonderful TEDTalk by Jason Brown, a student at Wymondham High Academy in England, who convincingly describes the reasons why technology is redefining learning. I am sure I will use some of his arguments the next time I have to describe why I am passionate about tech integration in schools.
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“Learn to teach like Chuck Berry plays guitar.” Sun, 18 Mar 2018 14:04:53 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 1 Coaching: Learning along with the Learners Sat, 17 Mar 2018 09:39:07 +0000 Jason Graham Read More »]]> As a coach, I have been thrown into the world of 3d printing. This is my story:

Im pretty new to 3D printing. About 3 months ago a few Grade 2 students asked me if they could print something on the 3D printer during their iTime (See this post by Kath Murdoch on iTime). I was pretty excited to use the 3D printer in an authentic way to help students in learning and wondering. This post is from my notes from the experience.

We’ve been engaging in iTime at my school for a little over a year now. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. I am fortunate to work across the primary school assisting teachers and students with technology integration. We didn’t just set out to print something but had a carefully drawn up plan or attack. As Kath puts it:

We need to be crystal clear about the broader learning intentions of such things as passion projects or iTime. This means, amongst other things:

Taking time to develop clear criteria and guidelines with students agreeing on ways to ensure accountability explicitly identifying the skill sets accompanying the learning tasks students design building self assessment and reflection into the process Kath Murdoch (2015)- Seeing Beyond the Cupcakes- What iTime Should Really be About

Our criteria and guidelines for this project is briefly outlined below.

Session 1: We sat down and brainstormed and made some agreements on the way forward and what we would achieve in our meetings. Students had all sorts of questions about how the 3D printer worked. To them it seemed a minor miracle that I printed a Yoda Head that I hadn’t designed myself but merely found the .stl file on Thingyverse. Cool nonetheless right? I didn’t see much value in just finding something and printing it. Whatever these 4 boys wanted to print there had to be some sort of independent design and thought involved. For session 1, we drew, talked, wondered and examined the 3D printer in the Makerpsace that happened to be in action printing something (no, not another Yoda head). At the end of the session, we had many ideas from 3D printing a drone to a ‘mini me’ statue to a robot. We wrote about our blue sky thinking in our Easyblog Learning Stories for documentation. Skills: communication, critical thinking, asking good questions. Dispositions: Resourceful

Session 2: I had pondered the kids ideas all week, they were imaginative ideas but not so practical. Session 2 provided more clarity for us all. Over the week, the learners had (thankfully) changed their minds and wanted to print..a fidget spinner! My first reaction was ‘gah’! but I sat and listed to their proposal and they had some crude drawings on their plan. The had some sound ideas. They also had a few more questions of 3D printing. We addressed some of those questions and misconceptions first through teacher guided research. Then back to the plan. I had listened to the kids discuss how they could make the spinner, and then what I heard surprised me a bit, they were talking about math. Measurements to be exact. I had some sealed bearings on hand and we grabbed a ruler and measured the bearings, and roughly figured out the spinners dimensions (with my help). One of the biggest things I learned is that I had to give the kids TIME to explore the materials they needed (like the bearings) which led to more wonderings like- how does a ball-bearing spin? What is inside it? How can we open one?….The kids were stoked and couldn’t wait for the next session to print. Skills: communication, numeracy, Dispositions: Resourceful, Resilience.

Session 3: Students were a bit disappointed to learn we weren’t printing today. We hadn’t designed it yet! We used Tinkercad to make our design (I had to take some time myself to learn how to do this first). We used our accurate measurements and plugged them into the design starting with the basic shapes they drew. The kids did this by themselves but took a while as each learner had their own part to design on my Macbook which was super impressive. This process was again recorded on their iPads then put in Easyblog to record their progress. Skills: self-management, patience. Dispositions: Resourceful, Resilience.

Session 4: Print Day! We hurried down to the Makerspace to print our spinners. I printed one the day before just to see if we had the measurements right and it all worked out well. We made 4 copies- 1 for each learner in the project and began the print. While it printed, we had time to further observe, record and explore our wonderings and reflect on the process. Skills: communication, data gathering, observation, asking good questions. Dispositions: Resilience

Session 5: Play and Presentation. I cleaned up the prints for them as it required sharp tools but let them struggle a bit with the tight ball bearing fit. They were pretty happy with their design and and final product. We debriefed a bit, examining the challenges, what we would do next time without over analysing it all, however the presentation part of this I wish we could have done a bit better. More celebration. Maybe even showing our spinners at a school assembly or making a little video clip of the process to share with the school community. Skills: communication.
Dispositions: Reflective

One of the students wanted to improve the design and make a more complicated spinner, different shapes with more bearings while another wants to make a car to attach a motor to it and make it move. All 3D designed and printed of course. I’ll have to do my homework and figure it out myself because I dont really know how to do it yet. The best part of working with kids in this way is that I often don’t know myself and I need to learn along WITH the children which essentially makes us learning partners. I must admit it’s pretty fun.

I’d like to thank my 2 awesome colleagues @janeinjava and @hugoindratno for inspiration and teamwork as I love stealing their ideas and seeing the cool stuff they make with 3D printing and design. Worth a follow on Twitter and Instagram if you are interested in levelling up your maker skills.

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Apollo – God of wisdom? Visionary space missions? Teachers ultimate tool? Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:04:16 +0000 Alex Bunting Read More »]]>

I was also presenting at the Vietnam Tech Conference on the topic of digital citizenship… Caption competition on this picture though – submit your entries in the comments section 🙂

Over the last weekend I was at the Vietnam tech conference. This is held at UNIS Hanoi and generally attracts many educators from the more prominent international schools in Vietnam. One of the workshops I went to was by one of my own schools MS math teachers, Eric Schoonard. Eric and his colleague Mark Crowell have for the last three years been running a math curriculum which is a less formally collaborative yet perhaps more structured version of what I am trying to achieve. This is their third year developing this program, and so have developed an excellent syllabus that works for their students. Hearing Eric talk about these problems I had a few take aways which have helped me consider what my next steps are before rolling out:

  • Scheduling was difficult for students, and actually spreading it out in a way which is both not too slow for high achieving students, and not too slow for the weaker students. To help with this I am going to integrate into the topic selection screen an option to set dates by which they will complete those modules. A later update to this will be that when confirmed that a topic is complete on time, students will get additional points/badges etc.
  • Retention was also something Eric had said students struggled with. my system inherently tried to promote retention through modules like flashcards, which will at timed intervals bring up flashcard repeats. This also dissuades students from cramming as flashcards can only be done once the night before. I will however consider how other systems could be implemented to increase retention. The idea is to essentially build the revision process into the normal learning cycle.
  • Learning is a social process. This was something I had always considered in my program design but have thought about more closely since. I have started devoting much more time to building the social element, which is the peer assessment and help features (which tell you where to go in a room to get help).

So the project in a nutshell is summarised in my previous post, but to summarise the aims now with annotations to show how I believe this fits in with my new knowledge:

  • Aim: To create a greater level or learning autonomy with students – sage on the stage down to a fraction of class time with little direction from me. This technique should decrease this substancially, but what should be considered is if there is knowledge that I want to present in a more traditional style, then it needs to be considered how appropriate this might be when all students are at different points.
  • Aim: To allow students to work at their own pace and earn a grade which is representative of what they DO know as opposed to how well they can write a test. Students were reported in Erics work to be prone to ‘poor decision making’. Students learning at their own pace is risky for those students who think their last minute study skills are all they need. The system has a few inbuilt features to help prevent this, such as the requirement to peer assess work, and perhaps a turn-off-time, so students cant work after a certain time at night. This could make students more cogniscent of the fact they need to be working in class throughout to get the work done.
  • Aim: To allow high achieving students the chance to really extend their learning. This method will fully allow high achieving students to further their understanding, but what impact does this have on the teacher when it comes to assessments? How, in a non standards based environment do you account for post-curriculum material?
  • Aim: To allow me a greater amount of time to work with the students who really need my help understanding the material. The focus definitele should be on how students can help the other students learn the material.
  • Aim: To give students a choice in how and what they learn.

So these were somethings I have had to consider moving forward with my project. It was nice having that ‘just in time’ feedback to help me improve my own plan 🙂


So to keep you fully updated, I have now upgraded the name on this project, and it is now codenamed Apollo. Why Apollo? Firstly Apollo was a god of knowledge in Greek and Roman mythology, and really, knowledge is the outcome of this project (in both my students and myself). Apollo was also the name given to the space mission that first landed human beings on the moon. Its a name that indicates some kind of big leap or change in the way we understand a field, and so for me this felt appropriate. Since my original post there have been some big improvements to the site, including curated and timed flashcards, a new design, [borrowed] icons, and a half completed simulation section (which can be very rapidly converted into an experimentation section) – its not going hugely fast but it is going!

One of the aims of the software is to allow students to learn in a way that they enjoy – whether that be experimentation, videos and note taking, or a combination of both. It is highly curated, which could be a problem or a gift (and might be a question to ask at the end of the unit).

My deadline is about the 7th April, with the final COETAIL deadline being the 30th April. The course itself is about 5 lessons long which is two weeks in my classroom. There will be a written test two lessons after the last content lesson which means the 25th is the day I get my final data. This leaves 5 days to finish blog posts, video production etc.

Great strides have been made in the design since the last update. Flashcards are designed to only show every x days depending upon how frequently you answer them correctly.

Each module has information on how to achieve points and how to learn. The three icons in the top right flag this work as being ready for peer assessment, or that you might want to get or give help on this topic.

For me now there are a few key elements I need to have in place before the topic:

  • Experimentation, Simulation and worked example modules. The worked examples will at this stage be mostly wordy examples, but in the future they will become more image based.
  • Collaboration and peer assessment. The cornerstone of this system is how students interact with one another and each others work. Each piece of work will have the ability to be opened up to and commented on by others, and students are forced to be philanthropic with their knowledge in order to progress.
  • Scheduling. As the head of Grade 10 I am responsible for the advisory program, and something our students struggle with is managing workload. If there was something built in to help them manage this time then that would be highly beneficial to our students. I am also toying with the idea of having an “active timer” where it tells them how long they have been on the site, and how long they have been active on the site (so like a procrastination measure), and also an “off time” so students are unable to work on the site past a certain hour (10:30pm).

So these are my goals moving forwards. There are definitely lots of other things I would like to add in, and will with time – but for now this will do as a prototype system. I feel more every day like this is a project with real potential to help students both in my classroom and beyond.

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Space: Infinite possibilities Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:58:12 +0000 Emily Sargent Beasley Read More »]]> It is always time, isn’t it…to become abundantly clear on what we value and incredibly persistent in our pursuit? Perhaps this persistence should include thinking about space.

What if great spaces allowed kids to do even better things every day?

Self declared space axioms…with a few caveats:

  • Axiom #1: Space challenges culture and behavior, blurring the distance between what is and what could be… if we let it.
  • Axiom #2: Space itself and use of space reflects who we are and how we envision what we might become…if we let it.
  • Axiom #3: Physical space challenges culture and behavior, blurring the distance between what is and what could be…whether we like it or not.

If we don’t recognize space as an agent of culture and behavior, then we might be missing out on incredible opportunities to influence and to be influenced.

Yet, great kids learn every day in all sorts of spaces.


So why bother?

Axiom #4: Great kids can do even greater things in great spaces. No caveat.

Heck, I’ll add another Axiom while I’m at it…

Axiom #5:  WE can do even greater things with great kids IN great spaces!

We count.



I am fortunate to work in an incredible school, with incredible people. And we decided that it really was worth our time to rack up some steps and look at our spaces with curiosity: every hallway, every classroom, and every shared space visited and considered by teams of teachers banded by discipline in small cross-grade groups. 

The purpose of the walk was to give meaning to the conversation we’ve engaged in as a school: to optimize learning, what connects our students’ experience across the grades and across divisions? Space, quite literally, connects us. And if space is an agent of culture and behavior, what could we learn from spaces? What do our spaces teach us about who we are, what we value, what we hope for?

The focus of the walk was about “Walking the Walk” of our students, looking at space through their eyes and thinking about how space influences their learning and how their learning influences space. Our goal was to recognize how space might actually serve an an agent in realizing our mission and how our ability to coordinate space into experience encourages our ability to inspire.


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Ramble On… Wed, 14 Mar 2018 07:15:45 +0000 Debra Hernanz Read More »]]> I know I am not the first Coetailer to have moved to a new country and started at a new school. However, coming back to your HOME country is different than going to a brand new country and brand new school. It is the same yet all the more different…

I decided to accept a new position as an Ed Tech TOSA (teacher on special assignment) at Evergreen School District in Vancouver Washington. I moved from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where I was an Integrationist. Because of so much change I asked to transfer co-horts and so here I am back in the USA. To introduce myself below is a video my new boss Tim Lauer asked me to make.

In the meantime it’s been a busy time our district is large. Instead of one school I work with seven and there are four other EdTech TOSAs with the same responsibility. Evergreen has gone 1:1 this year, no small feat! I’ve been busy! Yet I am also inspired and blown away reading everyone’s awesome ideas. Jennifer Byrnes with her redesign of the first six weeks of school has me super excited. I am planning my own session for teachers in the Fall so she will be a great resource.

It is my hopes that my project will also be a resource for teachers and coaches. My idea is not my own original unit. I will be continuing the global collaboration project If You Learned Here.

I am in contact with the creators of the project and we will work together to ensure their work goes on. It’s a great example of what a PLN can do for educators. I will talk more about this process in the reflection blog. In the meantime this project fits the needs of our district, teachers and most of all our students. We are blessed with devices, apps, programs and support. As an Ed Tech TOSA I have been focusing a lot this year on the “what”. I’ve been training on devices, training on how to operate a program or app. Yet the “why” lingers. Seeing this in a classroom got me started thinking about the path we are heading on with our 1:1 program. The vantage point is from the child who took this picture to share what they do with their Chromebooks.

Being compassionate to teachers means giving them a creative opportunity to share learning. It is my hope this project will be the seed to grow the idea of technology as a tool to curate, create, share and most importantly celebrate.

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Week 6 – Unit Plans and Catching Up Mon, 12 Mar 2018 20:52:07 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> You have made it to week 6! I hope you can look back on your posts and feel a sense of accomplishment in the work that you have produced and shared so far. This week you have time to catch up on any missed posts and comments, and your final task is to upload your unit plan (The Final Project for Course 1). Your blog post this week is slightly different as don’t have to reflect or comment on any readings, but you should write something to introduce your unit plan and explain why you chose this as your final project. Some questions to consider:

  • Why was this unit chosen? 
  • If you have built on an existing unit, what have you changed and why?
  • If you started from scratch, how did you decide on this unit? 
  • How does this relate to the learning in Course 1? 

Two important reminders for those of you pursuing GET certification:

  • Your final project should make use of Google tools that support learning.
  • You may choose to create a unit of inquiry that from the perspective of a trainer of teachers. You can use the technology standards for teachers that you use at your school or the ISTE Standards for Educators.

If you are more comfortable with a different unit planner template please feel free to use it. We really want you to be able to use this time to put together (or enhance) a unit that you will actually use with your students. So do what you can to make this unit usable! Here’s a link to the project rubric that will be used to assess your final project.

Embedding the Google Doc into your blog post can be a little tricky so please take some time and watch Jeff walking through the process in the video below.


I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts from Week 5 and in addition to the depth of thought and the high level of tech integration that you are clearly doing in your classrooms, I’m also really impressed with the style choices that you are making with respect to font size, images, videos, headings, etc. We will build on those skills in Course 3 so I will be sure to look for ways to continue to push and help you develop your skills in this area. While some of you use this week to really catch up on posts, I want to thank you all for working so hard to get your posts up in a timely manner throughout this course. It’s a tough adjustment and it requires some solid organization each week, but your comments and discussions can become so much more valuable when we are all posting on a regular basis. I am confident that a couple of cohort late starters will also use this week to get some of their posts up and I know that they will appreciate your feedback and comments.

Your Checklist – Complete before March 19th


Header Image Photo by STIL on Unsplash

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Course 4 Begins: What is Technology Integration? Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:39:40 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by Wokandapix via Pixabay

Course 4 Technology: A Catalyst for Learning

Is it Course 4 already?! As you read the description of this course you’ll notice it covers a variety of topics related to technology integration in teaching and learning which will help you start developing ideas for your Course 5 Project (Fall 2018).

Course description
Research based best practice for the embedded use of technology for learning will be shared and practiced. The focus will be on the habits that provide students with the ability to use technology for its greatest learning advantage. The best use of laptop computers, tablets, etc will be addressed as embedded tools to foster optimum learning of the curriculum. The optimal use of communication tools such as podcasts, blogs, social-networks, Google Docs, and videos will be addressed with tips for management and strategies to promote maximum learning in classroom.

But we must start with the Essential Questions in Week 1: What is technology integration and does it work? What is your definition?

It can seem like a simple question, but from my experience with COETAIL and as an eLearning/Ed Tech/Innovation/ICT coach over the past 6 years, there are a variety of perspectives on what ‘tech interaction’ is, who should integrate tech, when it should be integrated and how, and how we measure its effectiveness in teaching and learning. Many frameworks have been developed over the years regarding the integration of technology including SAMR, TPACK, TIM and more recently T3 Framework (which I first learned of from Sara’s Course 1 blog post here).

Which framework should we use? That is something for you to explore this week! I look forward to reading about your perspectives on ‘tech integration’ and what tools or frameworks you use for some self-assessment.

I’ll leave with a few additional resources you might like to explore…

Really? It’s My Job to Teach Technology? (Jeff Utecht)
Making It Work: Structuring Technology-Rich Learning (Kim Cofino)
Administrative Walk-Throughs in a Tech Rich Classroom (podcast episode with Jeff Utecht on Shifting Our Schools)
The Laptop Learning Curve  (podcast episode with Kim Cofino on Shifting Our Schools)
And because the title caught my attention (but content is very relevant!)… Peering Past the Pixie Dust of Technology (Jill Hobson)


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Start Small Mon, 12 Mar 2018 00:00:05 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> This week, we’re discussing the fourth strategy for your coaching toolkit, start small!

When coaching is new to a school culture, it makes sense to start small by collecting resources that support student learning. As a coach, you can take the time to find resources that teachers need, but don’t have time to look for. With this strategy, you’re helping teachers remember resources they might find useful, but not yet working towards analyzing, evaluating, and creating learning experiences for teachers.

This strategy is a great way to demonstrate that coaching can help remove barriers, or in this case, the barrier of time to research and the sills of finding developmentally appropriate material. The challenge is that this strategy does take time, and often, this time is better spent working in the classroom with teachers and students, or collaboratively planning and reflecting on learning experiences. Try this strategy if you’re stuck working with the willing or having difficulty getting teachers on board for coaching.


Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!


This 20+ page PDF highlights all of the key elements of being a successful learning coach and shares ideas, strategies and tips for your coaching toolkit, working with the willing (and not so willing) and ways to have successful coaching conversations.

Jam-packed with practical, relevant and easy-to-read content this PDF is an excellent guide for new-to-coaching teachers or as a handy resource for experienced coaches looking to add to their toolbox of strategies.

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Move to the Middle Mon, 05 Mar 2018 19:55:03 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> Kim has been talking about the top 5 strategies for your coaching toolkit. We’ve already discussed strategy #1, work with the willing, and strategy #2, find the challenge. This week, we’re tackling the next strategy, move to the middle.


The idea behind moving to the middle is that you want to work with as many people as you can in your school, building or district. To do this, lpagesyou can’t simply work with the willing.


In this week’s video, Kim Cofino focuses on the third strategy for coaches, “Move to the Middle.” Watch the video, then read the show notes below.



You need to move to the middle.


As a coach, you want to meet everyone’s needs. There is a community at our schools of teachers that are excited about what you’re doing, but they aren’t first in line to try it. These people don’t jump on the bandwagon – they’re your “move to the middle” people!


If you want teachers to adopt a learning strategy, in my case, it’s usually technology, I will definitely work with the willing, and use strategy number 2 and find the challenge, but an effective strategy is to talk with those highly respected, solid practitioners that are open to trying out new things, but aren’t the first to do them.


These teachers usually have a strong voice among their colleagues and are highly respected. They aren’t jumping on every bandwagon. If they’re taking the time and effort to learn something new, they’re doing it because it will add value to their practice.


How do you move to the middle?


Very similar to finding the challenge, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on in their classroom to see how you can help them.


As in the two previous strategies we’ve discussed, some ways to start a coaching conversation include:


  • Attend planning meetings: You can listen to what problems teachers are facing with certain lessons to determine the best way to help them. Use these meetings as an opportunity to see if you can understand what their challenges are, then approach those teachers to see if they’re open to working towards a solution to their challenge.
  • Classroom observations: Approach classroom walkthroughs in a friendly and approachable manner. During your time in the classroom, it can be helpful to have a chat with students to see what they’re thinking about their learning. You can give this feedback to the teacher and see if it opens up the floor to a coaching discussion to talk about what they’re doing great at, and what they might be struggling with.
  • Look at documented curriculum: Take a look at a teacher’s curriculum to see if there are clear ways you can help them improve their students’ learning experience.


These three strategies work at any time. Most of the time, teachers in the middle majority want to put in the time and effort to make their practice excellent.


Other ways to get teachers in the middle on board with coaching include:


  • Invite them to share what they’re already doing: Teachers in the middle are usually more quiet about the work they’re doing. Invite these teachers to share what they’re already doing with other teachers. They may already be doing interesting things with technology in their classroom.  
  • Observe other teachers: Have a teacher observe another teacher (perhaps one of the teachers from the original willing group) to see if something sparks from watching them use technology purposefully during a lesson. This can help to open the conversation about how they can use technology to make a lesson better for their students.
  • Build relationships: Make sure you’re talking to at least one teachers from each year level or subject. At this time, you may want to identify who you need to build relationships with that you haven’t already done work with.


Why should you move to the middle?


Teachers in the middle majority are really solid practitioners whose voices are strongly regarded. If they try something new with you, others will be more willing to try as well.


The middle majority wants to see if what you’re doing will help them and if it is worth their time to work on it. You need to answer why they should take the time to work with you, and how it will improve student learning.

Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!

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Week 5 – What’s Your Learning Landscape? Mon, 05 Mar 2018 17:16:19 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_image _builder_version=”3.0.105″ src=”” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” force_fullwidth=”off” show_bottom_space=”on” /][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.105″ background_layout=”light”]

Hello everyone and welcome to Week 5! This week we look at engaging in learning on a global scale and you are asked to reflect on (or plan) a global learning project that you have been involved in already or that you might like to involve yourself in. Hopefully, we all agree that collaborative learning skills are important for any learner and this week we want to think about how those collaboration skills can transfer to a much wider participation group with the help of technology.

Our own Online 10 cohort is already active in a global learning project (COETAIL!) and through the use of a blog, Twitter, and Google Apps, we are able to manage time zones, communicate freely, and contribute to each other’s learning. When you use Twitter to share your blog posts or contribute to Twitter chats or send questions out into the unknown, you are contributing to one of the biggest and most active educator projects online today. Here are some great examples of COETAILers creating Global Projects starting with their Twitter PLNs:

@agisa-abdulla posted about Classroom’s With No Walls and shared her authentic learning experience of global collaboration. A COETAIL graduate, Joel Bevans, did his Course 5 final project on collaborative storytelling which he has now developed into the Travelling Tales project.

These kinds of online collaborative learning environments were just not possible 20 years ago – so what might it look like in twenty years from now? What do we need to get our students ready for? Back in 2007 @mscofino offered a step-by-step guide to getting started on a global collaborative project – what would you add to her list? What has changed or what are new hurdles that you need to consider?

I am excited to read about your ideas and reflections on global collaboration as you think about the question How can we embrace globally collaborative projects in our curricular areas to address this facet of 21st Century Learning?



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Course 3 Final Project: My CV Visualized Sun, 04 Mar 2018 06:33:42 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 1 Final Project Course 3: Building your Resume with Google Sites Sat, 03 Mar 2018 21:22:18 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> I have tapped the trackpad on my laptop so many times that my middle fingers are seriously hurting.  A simple mouse would have prevented this problem, but I haven’t learned my lesson from previous experiences.  This usually happens when I am creating things on my computer and not everything works as expected.  I imagine that the frustration makes me use more force when tapping than usual, and this inflames my tendons. For the final project for course 3, I decided to use Google Sites to create my resume from scratch.  I had never used Google Sites, so I thought, what better opportunity to give it a try? However, if I could choose again, I would pick another online platform such as Stridently or VisualCV as my teacher, @dianabeabout  suggested.

I started the process by getting inspired by the blog 50 Awesome Resume Designs That Will Bag The Job. I was impressed by the creativity and the skills that these graphic designers have. But I am also sure that they didn’t use Google Sites or Google Drawings to have the job done.  They have masted programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop, or other “best in the field” options.  So, in other words, Google Sites is not the best platform for designing an online resume, but after many hours I have figured out what worked and what didn’t. There is nothing better for learning a new tech tool than using it.  I am confident to say that after hours or work, I can tell you all about Google Sites; Ready to pass any kind of evaluation.

Color orange wider on top so it responds better to various devices

I started with the header.  There was no information that I could easily find on Google Sites about the dimensions of the header. I used Canva and I did some trial and error, but when I inserted it on Google Sites, the image responded well on the computer, but it got cut off when viewing on the iPad and on the iPhone. Then, I found Google Sites Header Image Template written by Alice Keeler which shows you how to do it.  Before this, though, I spent a long time playing with color palettes and deciding on fonts.  I liked Cabin Sketch for the titles, but I wanted to see which fonts would pair up best. Google Fonts was helpful for that.

After creating all the different parts of my resume in Google Drawing, I assumed that publishing the document, grabbing the embedding code, and pasting it on Google Sites was going to do the job. Wrong!  The images didn’t respond well on the iPad or the iPhone; some of the images got cut off and the links didn’t work.   This realization sent me off to start tweaking with the Google Drawing canvas size and the different ways to bring the drawing to the Google Sites. (PDFs, Docs, PNG format.  Nothing worked until I decided that it was best to research.  Ta-da, the video below solved my problem; I didn’t need to use the HTML code, I needed to open the document from Google Drive directly.  The images beautifully responded to different formats and it kept the links, which was the most important aspect.  You should have seen me; I was jumping up and down, and it became the highlight of my day!

Finally, below, you have screenshots from my online resume, but it is better to see it online here.

Do you have others tricks that may be helpful when using Google Sites for a resume?

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Empower the students to drive the change at your school Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:23:01 +0000 Verena Zimmer Read More »]]> 1 Week 6: Wrapping Up Course 3 on Visual Literacy Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:36:25 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by Free-Photos via Pixabay

I hope you’ve enjoyed this course on the topic of visual literacy. I keep going back to one of the Understandings that threads throughout this course: Design and layout of information influence effective communication. And you’ve all shared in various blog posts how this impacts how you present information to others and how we need to work with our students in understanding and applying this concept. And I hope you can carry this message to your fellow educators as well!

Progress Check
By the end of this week you should have

  • 5 blog posts completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
  • 5 comments completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • You are encouraged to comment more, but only log one per week. Try to keep them timely, not necessarily get them all done the first week.
  • 1 final project embedded into a final blog post for the course.

The course officially closes on March 4 and I will finish assessing posts and final projects so I can post grades by March 11. And then we’ll start Course 4 March 12 and be finished with it by the end of April! Then we have a break until September when we begin the final Course 5.

Final Project

The final projects for course 3 are always a lot of fun and there are plenty of options to fit individual interests. I know some of you have been already been sharing your ideas via your blog posts. And I’ve seen a lot of learning, self-reflection and application regarding visual literacy. I know my resources around visual literacy have grown from ones you have shared!


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Where Doodles & Data Meet Mon, 26 Feb 2018 16:17:02 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 3 Consolidating Learning with Sketchnoting Mon, 26 Feb 2018 04:25:18 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> This week’s journey into infographics and data organization was the icing on the cake for Course 3.  It coincided with the fact that not long ago, I became determined to learn more about sketchnoting or visual note-taking.  It all started when I discovered Doug Neill’s webpage, Verbal to Visual.  He has amazing video tutorials to learn how to combine text, sketches, and color to synthesize information and learn how to express your ideas visually.

At the same time, the word sketchnoting started to appear often on my Twitter feeds. Thanks to my PLN I got hold of this amazing eBook, Sketching for Teachers and Learning.

What is sketchnoting?

According to Sketchnote Army:

“Sketchnotes are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don’t require high drawing skills, but do require a skill to visually synthesize and summarize via shapes, connectors, and text. Sketchnotes are as much a method of note taking as they are a form of creative expression.”

Sketchnotes + Lightning Strikes flickr photo by erinmhawkins shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

True to myself, before I started venturing into the world of sketchnoting, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just a new fad and that its benefits could be backed up by research. What I found was that sketchnoting requires the synthesis and the retrieval of information and that there are numerous studies that support retrieval practices.  It is not enough to ask students just to listen, read, highlight important information, and reread notes, but we actually need to engage them in a recall process. This will help in learning and in retaining information.  Pooja K. Agarwal, a cognitive scientist and founder of the Retrieval Practice organization puts it this way:

“Often, we think we’ve learned some piece of information, but we come to realize we struggle when we try to recall the answer. It’s precisely this “struggle” or challenge that improves our memory and learning – by trying to recall information, we exercise or strengthen our memory, and we can also identify gaps in our learning.

In addition, another research-based strategy for learning is dual coding: using words and pictures in the process of learning.  So, within this context, sketchnoting is an ideal tool in the learning process of teachers and their students.

All this research was not enough for me to start; I still felt hesitant. I don´t consider myself a great artist, and the few times I have tried to draw, I have become frustrated because my sketchnotes didn’t look like the ones people were posting on Twitter.  However, Nicki Hambleton mentions in her L2Talk, The Power of Visuals, that the actual drawing isn’t the most difficult, it is the thinking—the cognitive effort that it takes to listen to what someone is saying and come up with ways to synthesize the information in a visual form so others can understand it.  In the same way, the designer Craighton Berman, in this blog details that:

“With practice, you’ll be able to store multiple quotes, thoughts, or ideas in a queue while you’re sketchnoting. This “mental cache” also allows you to listen to multiple points and synthesize them down to what’s important—before writing anything.”

Uff, that is really hard! This reminds me of doing simultaneous translation at a conference, which I have tried and know how difficult it is.

For the purpose of learning, I decided to give it a try again.  I used the app  Procreate, and I sketchnoted the L2 Talk, Owning Your Story by Lisa Fung-Kee-Fung.

Of course, If I were a pro, I would have done it live and end when the video ended, but, as a beginner, I gave myself permission to watch, stop, draw, watch, stop, draw, until I got through it.  Hopefully, with a lot of practice, I will develop my “mental cache” and be able to do it on the fly!

Things I learned after…

I decided to share the video above so you have an idea of what I struggled with.  And, thinking as an educator, here are some things to consider if you want to introduce visual note-taking with students (or teachers):

  1. Start practicing with a simple paper and pencil before trying to go digital
  2. Make sure students or teachers have mastered the app they are planning to use.  I wasn´t familiar enough with Procreate to fully focus on the process of drawing and writing.  I often had to erase and start again because I misused a tool or I forgot to create layers for different sections of my sketchnote.  I didn’t even use color because it required spending more time learning the app and its features. Paper by 53 may be easier to use with students, but still requires a certain level of familiarity.
  3. Start using text, connectors, and frames before drawings. It took me a long time drawing, and I often referred back to the app Bizz Draw to learn how to do simple sketches.
  4. Start by using it as a recalling practice instead of a live visual recording.  This helps to provide a lower stakes opportunity to practice skills and get used to the process.

Finally, even after struggling at first, I see so many benefits of using sketchnoting in the classroom, and I definitely know that like any new learning, it requires practice and more practice for it to become a useful and productive tool in learning.  There was indeed a certain power in representing and consolidating my learning through sketchnoting.

Do you have successful stories about introducing sketchnoting in your classrooms or your professional life? Please share and help me and others bring this important tool into their learning.

More resources:

Free iTunes course: Lessons for the Classroom, Digital Sketchnotes for Visualizing Learning

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Find the Challenge Mon, 26 Feb 2018 00:00:01 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> This week we have another great strategy for your coaching toolkit: “Find the Challenge”. Last week we discussed the first strategy, “work with the willing.” Watch the video here.

To be a successful learning coach, you can’t simply work with the willing forever. You have to find teachers to work with.


In this week’s video, Kim Cofino focuses on the second strategy for coaches, “Find the Challenge.” Watch the video, then read the show notes below.



Why try this strategy?


We love this strategy, ecause usually there is no way to go but up! If something isn’t working and you can develop a solution, not only have you improved student learning, and helped overcome a challenge for the teacher, but you’ve also demonstrated your value from a pedagogical perspective, and most likely made a coaching convert who will share their success with other teachers.


There’s no point in wasting time on a unit that’s already working.


It can be a challenge to discover things that aren’t working in a teacher’s classroom, because they can be hesitant to talk about what’s not working, and want to focus on what’s actually going correctly.


So how do you figure out what’s not working?


The following actions can help you to determine how you can help the teachers at your school:


Classroom Walkthroughs – Approach classroom walkthroughs in a friendly and approachable manner. During your time in the classroom, it can be helpful to have a chat with students to see what they’re thinking about their learning. You can give this feedback to the teacher and see if it opens up the floor to a coaching discussion to talk about what they’re doing great at, and what they might be struggling with.


Team Meetings – Another strategy is to attend team meetings. This strategy does take time, and you’ll likely have to strategize how many you can actually attend, but go to those meetings! If there are a few teachers you really want to try working with, try to attend those team meetings for a couple weeks to see if you can understand what their challenges are, then approach those teachers to see if they’re open to working towards a solution to their challenge.


Ask The Willing – Try asking the teachers you’re already working with what was a particularly challenging unit for them, or what they think members of their team may be challenged by. This can help you to determine ways you can help teachers that


Lead a Staff Meeting – If you have the chance to lead a staff meeting and allow teachers to have an opportunity to reflect on what is and isn’t working in their classroom, you might find that teachers are able to recognize their own challenge and come to you with that challenge. This almost makes them part of “the willing,” but they’re still a challenge, because they’re identifying what’s not working for them and seeking out the support they need.


This week, we challenge you to take some time to find new teachers to work with. There is nothing better than taking something that was a struggle for a teacher and making it a great learning experience. Often times coaching is viewed as an add on, and tech as extra work for teachers, you can take away both of those barriers by employing this strategy.


Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!

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Week 4 – From Application to Implication. Technology in the Classroom. Sun, 25 Feb 2018 21:32:01 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> The Course 1 Project

Each course has a final project that is posted as your week 6 blog post (with a project reflection). For course one, you will be uploading a unit plan that incorporates the essential understandings from this course. Ideally, you will be either designing a new unit that you hope to use soon or perhaps tweaking a unit you recently finished so that it’s ready to go for next year. There are some great examples here and all of the details and templates that you might need are here. Feel free to use whatever unit planner layout that you use in your school (just be sure it includes the same key elements in some shape or form).

Getting up to date

By this stage of the course you should have completed the following:

  • read and completed all units up to Week 4
  • started to think about your final project for Course 1 (maybe you just started that one second ago)
  • written 3 blog posts & 3 comments
  • recorded the URLs of each of the posts & comments on your grading spreadsheet

It’s ok if you are a little behind, but try to squeeze in some time this week to catch up if you can. It’s great when we are all posted in a timely manner so that comments and conversations can be had by all members of our cohort. Please let me know if you need my help getting caught up. You can find more information about COETAILS late work policy here.

This week we extend the conversations around the SAMR and TPACK models (and that RAT model that I’d love to hear more about!) and we discuss the implications of tech integration in the classroom. How has teaching and learning changed as a result of new tools? Technology enthusiasts and techy risk-taking teachers might argue that teaching and learning has become more student centred, assessment has become more efficient, and lessons are more engaging; but is it all so rosy? I challenge you to reflect on your own practice. How has it changed over this school year? The last couple of years? Over your whole career? Share specific examples of the implications of technology and, wherever you can, make connections to this week’s readings.

Below are some more recent articles that might be of interest, although I think reading the 2005 Prenksy article is still worth a read and might give you some talking points in how far we have (or have not) come with technology in our classrooms.

Your posts are thoughtful and engaging as are your comments and discussions. I’m excited to see many of you sharing your posts via twitter – please continue to do that and use the hashtags #coetail and #coetail10 so that people can find your voices!

One last thing… Could you please shoot me an email if you are doing the GET certification? I don’t think I have an up to date list on that.

Have a great week.

Header Image Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

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Why we should not just take the easy route Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:13:32 +0000 Alex Bunting Read More »]]> This past few weeks we have been teaching the grade 10 students at our school about failure, and why failure is a good thing. Using famous examples we are trying to demonstrate to the students why failure can often make you more successful, and a fear of failure will more often lead to nothing. The last few weeks have seen me making a decision, do I take the easy route in my COETAIL final project – take on what I see as an easy unit plan and just do that… or do I take on the big project, the one that could make a huge difference in how I teach, but risk failure?

I decided to take the big project…

The reason for my choice was that throughout this course, throughout the Learning 2.0 conferences and most tech related conferences, I have sat through TED Talks and workshops where speakers have talked about the need to reform what we do, and to use tech to make our classes highly individualized… but none have told me really how to do so. At some point I felt like if nobody was going to change from “do this” to “this is how you do this”, maybe I should actually have an attempt at it. I am not saying this is going to be the groundbreaking app that is going to reform the sector, but next time I hear someone tell us we are doing everything wrong, it might be nice to see them talk about how people are trying to change it.

So I will be creating an online and gamified environment for students to learn Physics.


The goals of the project are:

  • To create a greater level or learning autonomy with students – sage on the stage down to a fraction of class time with little direction from me.
  • To allow students to work at their own pace and earn a grade which is representative of what they DO know as opposed to how well they can write a test.
  • To allow high achieving students the chance to really extend their learning.
  • To allow me a greater amount of time to work with the students who really need my help understanding the material.
  • To give students a choice in how and what they learn.


Syllabi will still be followed for the most part, but the point of the system is to increase differentiation, direct me at needy students more and build better learners from the students we have. Me standing in front of students works for some but not many – activities work for many but not all, videos work for a some but not others. By allowing students to select the ways they want to learn and we start to build intrinsic motivation which will help them become better learners in the long run.



Currently the database and basic structure of the site is designed, with a Google sign in used to make it easy and secure to log into the site. The first module I am going to have students learn with it (I tried having the word ‘teach’ here but found it difficult to reconcile the word teach with this project…) Fluid Mechanics which should be in early April giving me plenty of time to get the rest of the requirements for the project sorted.

I think initially I should keep this simple. One key feature of the application is collaboration, however if I reduce the collaboration down to within the same physical space then that means I do not have to write chat tools or anything which requires peer-to-peer connections. It also makes things like experiments much easier to do, because of course students cannot do experimentation at home as easily as they can in school (although home experimentation and lab experimentation could be distinct ‘ways to learn’ on the site).

The site will make sure of several tried and tested activities to help students learn in a variety of ways. Each of these activities will be accompanied by questions which students can peer assess one anothers answers.

Students choose activities to learn the different material in the topic they are learning. Each activity has questions to assess their learning either by peers or by me.

How much of this will be possible by the launch is a question that depends upon the time available and the difficulties in getting the project underway. So far the site looks like this…

The current site basically has a google login, and a Fluid Mechanics module set up – although more is done in the database!

Thus it is not very far along, but it is progressing fast now I am back at work after the break for lunar new year.

As I complete this project I will post various updates via Twitter so make sure to follow me for screenshots and updates! The main event when its all up and running will be in April so be excited for the project end! Why should we not just take the easy route? Because sometimes to hard route delivers way better scenery, and really helps you understand why you set off at all 🙂


P.S. If you have any suggestions for how this could be way more awesome let me know in the comments below 🙂

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Remixing The Art of Storytelling Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:40:35 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 2 Audit, Analyze, Act Tue, 20 Feb 2018 01:00:13 +0000 Ken Fernandez Read More »]]> After a stretch of time, it’s good to be back amongst the COETAILers, and I’m looking forward to working through Course 5. It’s been exciting spending a bit of time on updating my blog, (my design was amongst those that were automatically changed through the COETAIL/WordPress updates) and now I’m ready to go!

Reflecting on my last post for my Course 5 project, I’ve decided to follow through with a focus on digital literacy and digital citizenship as it relates to our elementary curriculum at Lincoln School. More specifically, the deliberate planning and instruction within the classroom. It’s definitely more of a macro view, but I think it will help organize what we are currently doing as well as set a path for the next steps.

image credit-

I’ve decided to combine digital literacy and citizenship because I think they go hand-in. You need both to effectively prepare students for the “world.” I hope to raise the bar for both our students and teachers by creating a more defined curricular structure as well as clear expectations and outcomes, which will, in turn, build their capacity in these two areas. For now, I’ve decided to leave parents out; they can be part of another project.

From my last post, I mentioned TUPS, and as a first step, I reached out to them to better understand what assistance they may offer concerning a tech survey I can use at school. Doing an audit of where we are at makes sense and should include among other items, current faculty perceptions around tech, usage of tech trends within the curriculum, faculty areas of strength and growth, hardware needs, how ISTE standards are incorporated, and organization of our current apps/online subscriptions. While waiting to hear back from TUPS, I’m creating my list based on the above. The positive news two is that being a singleton school; I can get around to all the teachers easily to discuss these topics.

From the audit, I’ll have baseline data to analyze with my leadership team, tech integrator, and our tech director. While I know how/when digital citizenship is introduced in the elementary, I’m concerned about how effective and developmentally appropriate it is at different grade levels, plus instruction and assessment of these skills are not consistent throughout the year. I guess, in my opinion, what we have is a hodgepodge instead of a well-designed vertically aligned program.

Looking ahead, I’m predicting (and hoping) that the action from the analysis will include, more intentional use of the ISTE standards from both an instructional and professional standpoint, incorporation of rubrics around digital citizenship and literacy within the curriculum, and providing/creating professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.

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Let’s Get Started With Week Three! Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:29:51 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_image _builder_version=”3.0.105″ src=”” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” force_fullwidth=”off” show_bottom_space=”on” /][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.105″ background_layout=”light”]


Sarah and I check something off the dream list… Photo credit @arcticguideservice

Hello everyone and welcome to Week 3. My apologies if I wasn’t super active last week, like many of you I was off on February break and my wife and I flew as north as we could to honeymoon and hunt for Northern Lights, feed reindeer, and enjoy some dog sledding adventures!

I am thoroughly enjoying your detailed and thoughtful posts – my RSS feeder is blowing up – and I’m genuinely astounded by the deep level of dialogue in your comments. If your comments ever feel like they need to become blog posts of their own, don’t hold back!

Last week the readings guided you through the theories behind learning in a connected, networked, and increasingly digital world. It’s a great big idea to kick off the whole COETAIL learning experience as we rely on each other and the network of learners to build and share our ideas. Jessica focussed her writing on the creative energy that she saw in her daughter’s iPad use, and Agisa shared this gem of a link about being media mentors (and not the media police!).

Our cohort activity is starting to build as people hit publish on their first and second posts – here’s an up to date list of blog addresses to add to your RSS feeds.

And here’s a handy map of our locations (only Lauren and myself are outside of Asia), I think that our time zones will make for some relatively easy collaboration when that time comes up!

Week 3 Details

You can always refer to the Big Ideas, Understandings, and the Essential Questions to guide your blog posts each week (when there aren’t more specific instructions). This week I am looking forward to your views on the statement that all core content teachers are responsible for authentically embedding technology within their curriculum. Or your responses to the question How can we effectively, practically and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas? 

You do not need to limit yourself to the readings outlined in the course pages (follow the Flipboard link for a stack of great articles to choose from) and if you do come across some useful readings, please feel free to share them with me. Here’s a great Unicef publication shared by @vania-gross titled “Children in a Digital World” – it was published last year and the opening chapter Digital Opportunity: The Promise of Connectivity should get your fingers typing.

As you are polishing your blogs I would like to encourage you to play around with layouts and themes and see if there are any widgets that could be added to enhance the look you are going for (I’ve seen some folks adding their Instagram and Twitter feeds to the sidebar – neat!)

One more thing….Google for Education Certified Trainer (GET)

There are some specific GET requirements for this week – please make sure you check those if it applies to you! Here is a general overview of the requirements and how it lines up with COETAIL. I’ll post more about this (and the course 1 project) on Wednesday.




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Week 5: Infographics and Data Visualizations Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:44:39 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by JuralMin via Pixabay

As we continue to explore visual literacy for Course 3, this week we look at the use of infographics and data visualizations. This can be one of the more challenging aspects of visual literacy to address. If we are selecting infographics or data visualizations to share with students, how to we help them learn to decipher what they are being shown? (Critical Thinking Skills!) And if we ask them to construct an infographic or data visualization, which tools should they use and how should they present the information effectively? (for some fun, just Google “Bad Infographics” for some examples you could analyze with your students!)

A Couple Recommendations…

In this week’s readings, we share some additional resources including Nicki Hambleton’s site about Sketchnotes (aka Visual Notetaking). Nicki works with students and adults in developing ways to synthesis and organize ideas and information visually. You can find her on Twitter @itsallaboutart and check out her Learning 2.0 Talk “The Power of Visuals” here.

Another educator (and friend of Nicki’s) that also shares the power of visual notetaking is Sonya TerBorg. Just today she shared a blog post “Sketchnotes 101” with some basic strategies for visual notetaking. Sonya shares her own sketchnotes via her Twitter account @tersonya. Beyond sketchnoting, Sonya’s blog covers a wide range of topics, especially around student agency, innovation and inquiry

Progress Check for Week 5

  • 4 blog posts completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • Remember as a part of your GET certification it is important to start trying to incorporate ways you are planning trainings for your colleagues and using GSuite tools in your daily work
  • 4 comment completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • You are encouraged to comment more, but only log one per week. Try to keep them timely, not necessarily get them all done the first week.
  • Hopefully well into working on your final project for this course.

Note: I’ve had a few participants ask about how to know if they are on track for the GET certification. Your blog posts should evidence of how you are meeting those tasks listed in the GET tabs and/or in the assignments. Of course you can also use your blog to document any training you do. Let us know if you have additional questions about GET.

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Digital Storytelling: From a Professional Endeavor to a Homework Assignment Mon, 19 Feb 2018 05:03:38 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> If you could time travel and be transported to the early 90’s, is very likely you would be producing professional videos with Betacam. You would need to use huge cameras, half-inch magnetic tapes, and large machines for postproduction.  The editing back then was linear: you needed to find the chosen shot on one tape and transfer it to another one. If you needed to change something at the beginning, you had to start again.  I compare this process of editing with an old typewriter.  It was quite troublesome to move, add, or change shots or audio once you have started the process.

Caméra Betacam Ampex flickr photo by zigazou76 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Sony UVW1200 Players and recorder for Hire flickr photo by AV Hire London shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Digital Betacam tape flickr photo by DRs Kulturarvsprojekt shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license 


Fast forward to 2018 and it is easy to see how technology has advanced tremendously, and how simply with your smartphone, you have the tools and capability to embark on a multimedia production.  The cameras on new phones are so advanced that you could record videos in 4K high-resolution with incredible contrast and details.  Then, with the raw footage, you can use apps such as iMovie, WeVideo, Magisto, Clips for post-production (see more options, here).  It is as simple as cutting and pasting the different scenes, adding voice-over, text, transitions, and music.  In a little over 20 years, we have gone from having a small number of people monopolizing multimedia equipment — and, therefore, telling their story —  to having ubiquitous technology which has the potential to empower everyone to share their unique perspectives of the world.

But, is having the tech tools enough?

If we dissect a short story, a novel, or a memoir, we would be able to identify characteristics that grasp the reader’s attention  — or the listener. There should be no difference when we bring images, text, and music to convert the written story into a digital one.  Tiziana Saponaro in her blog, Digital Storytelling: An Efficient And Engaging Learning Activity, supports this idea:

Although the concept of digital storytelling is closely linked to the use of new technology, we shouldn’t forget that it is always the story and not the technology that teachers should focus on. We should merge the digital skills with the literate education; this is where teachers still have a role to play, even in the digital age.

So, teachers continue to be crucial at guiding students through the steps for creating digital stories. As with everything in education, it requires planning and various stages of deep probing to make sure students are on track. Here is a video that summarizes the following steps in the process:

  1. Start with an idea
  2. Write your story
  3. Create a storyboard
  4. Research and gather elements (recording original footage)
  5. Build your story
  6. Share it and receive feedback

Now, let’s go back and focus on item number four:

Research and gather elements (record original footage)

Here is where teachers need more explicit instruction. With the intention of using non-traditional ways to assess learning, we often assign video projects to students without a real notion of how much time it would take from beginning to end.   Very few teachers have embarked on the process of videomaking themselves, so it is hard to judge a realistic timeline for students to follow.  In addition, not many educators have learned video composition, the use of lighting or the different guidelines that the language of cinematography offers to convey the message that we intend. Therefore, teachers must learn along with students and become knowledgeable about visual literacy in order to teach basic principals and to be able to evaluate what their students produce. I found the resources below useful, and, before starting a digital storytelling project, I would share them with students (whether posting them in the (LMS) Learning Management System, or via other means).

Design: William Coonan/ CC-BY-NC

Design: William Coonan/ CC-BY-NC

Design: William Coonan/ CC-BY-NC























How would I use digital storytelling in the classroom?

There are unlimited ways to use digital storytelling in schools, such as an end product in a PBL project. Students can use video production to communicate, to document and to make any learning more visible.  One example where I witnessed high student engagement was in a Spanish class. Students wrote scripts for a production of a short film.   “Alto y Claro” written by Tony Vallés y Emilio Martinez — middle school students — had very little dialogue.  They had to convey the mood of the story with the use of light and shadows, camera framing, editing and startling music. The students were clearly knowledgeable about framing the scenes, using the 180-degree rule (to not confuse the viewer), and how to combine elements in the story to create suspense. Without the rubric, I am unable to judge if the students met all the criteria required by the teacher; however, as a viewer, it certainly kept me on edge. The students were not only engaged in learning but were applying visual literacy at its best.

For the writing of this blog, I also found the website Story Center which provides public free webinars to whoever wants to learn more about digital storytelling. I signed up for the upcoming one here.

What other resources have you used or intend to use when incorporating digital storytelling in your classroom?  No matter what they are, don´t forget to think about the entire process you are asking your students to undertake.  Your own clarity and realistic expectations will help lead to their success in visual communication.

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Work with the Willing Mon, 19 Feb 2018 00:00:11 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> Last week, we shared an overview of why everyone needs a coach. This week, we’re focusing on the first of five strategies you can use in your coaching toolkit, work with the willing.


Watch Kim Cofino’s video below:


Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and for teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!

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Week 4: Digital Storytelling Tue, 13 Feb 2018 13:03:19 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>  

image by thommas68 via Pixabay

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts for this course, the topics from this course around visual literacy really had an impact on my teaching. While teaching middle school Humanities at my previous school, I offered a digital storytelling elective and was able to integrate digital storytelling into my Humanities class as a way for students to share their learning. I also began to facilitate professional development sessions on digital storytelling in the content areas. (Here is a link to my Google Site for a workshop I did a few years ago – it does need some updating but it contains examples and many of my go-to resources for digital storytelling).

With the technology tools we have available and some preparation and planning, digital storytelling can be a powerful way to engage students in sharing their learning. There are many benefits to using digital storytelling beyond creativity and technology skills that can help students share their learning and teachers assess it. (6 Reasons You Should be Doing Digital Storytelling with Your Students; Digital Storytelling: An Efficient and Engaging Learning Activity)

Here is a story about one of my learnings from using digital storytelling…The first time I taught a digital storytelling elective was even before I started COETAIL and it was a steep learning curve for me. A couple of my students had iPhones with iMovie on them and even though I had set up a process for them to develop their story first, they said they’d have their story done by Monday. Keep in mind, I was not experienced with iMovie or how this worked on an iPhone at this time. On Monday, they shared this movie they created about spies in their apartment building including falling and exploding cars. At first I was impressed with the technology and what they were able to create visually. But once I watched it again, as a teacher assessing their work, I realized their story did not make much sense and it was mostly them improvising. Also, it was difficult to hear their dialogue and keep track of the characters. Was it impressive visually? Sure – mostly because it was a new format for me. Did they communicate their story effectively? Nope. So we as teachers we must keep in mind, that creating a digital story is more than just the software or app that is being used. Even if students are tech saavy in creating digital media, they still need guidance on creating an engaging story.


Here’s a TedEx video of iPad storyteller Joe Sabia about the evolution of technology and storytelling which relates to our essential question for this week: How does this new form of storytelling differ from forms in the past?

Looking forward to reading more about your learning and experiences with digital storytelling!

Note: For more about the power of storytelling > The magical science of storytelling By  David JP Phillips at TEDxStockholm (shared his presentation “How to avoid death by PowerPoint” in my Week 3 post.)

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Everyone Needs a Coach Tue, 13 Feb 2018 05:06:29 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> * Originally posted by Kim Cofino on

Remember when you were a kid and you played a team sport? Or maybe you were like me and played an instrument, or took fine arts lessons? Or maybe you just had a hobby or a class where you had some guidance for how to improve your skills?


All of those experiences were times in our lives when we were willing to be coached. We had someone looking out for us, helping us improve, wanting the best for us, so that we would be successful in our chosen sport, activity or interest.


When I decided I wanted to learn to do something new, lift heavy weights, the very first thing I did was seek out a coach (and then I moved and found another one, and then again, and so on). I am so appreciative of the relationship I can build with my coaches, and I realize that they are successful for three main reasons:

  • The coach has expertise in the area and knows how to help the learner improve.
  • The learner is willing to be coached and can share their goals with the coach.
  • Both parties understand the dynamics of the coaching relationship.


Considering that most, if not all of us, have had experience with a coach as children, and many as adults, I am consistently surprised to discover that instructional coaching, in a K-12 setting, is often confusing for teachers (and admin). For some reason, when schools employ coaches (yay!) and teachers have the opportunity to be coached, it doesn’t always happen (boo!).

In many schools, I see:

  • coaches struggling to find teachers to work with…
  • teachers struggling to understand the purpose of coaching…
  • admin looking for a vision of what the role can be, but don’t know what to ask or how to support the instructional coaching staff they have hired once they’re on site…


If so many of us have this common experience as children, why do we struggle so much to relate to it as adults in a professional setting?

  1. Is it because we’re already successful (which, for international school teachers, could be defined as any of the following: working in a good school, continue to get hired at good schools when we go recruiting, parents of our students are happy, get positive feedback from admin), and we suddenly think we have nothing to learn?
  2. Is it because we genuinely don’t understand what the role of an instructional coach means in a K12 environment?
  3. Is it because we don’t want to be seen as needing support? And are therefore vulnerable?
  4. Is it because we just don’t like either the coaches or the subject area they are supporting?


I’m guessing it’s a bit of all of them, and probably much more…

The thing is, students and adults I know who have had lots of coaching are:

  • open minded
  • willing to listen to different opinions
  • willing to hear about their mistakes and work towards improving them in a positive light
  • confident in their ability to learn and continually improve

To me, all of these qualities are very valuable, and ones that we would like to see in all of our teachers. So, regarding the four potential barriers listed above, here are my thoughts:


1.No matter how good we are at our jobs we always have something to learn. All of us.


If we expect our students to be risk takers and try new things, we should be modeling that behavior ourselves. I don’t know a single teacher that would be proud to say they teach the same thing the same way year after year, but many of us do it. We do it because we don’t have the energy or the time or even sometimes the interest.


How can your instructional coach help?


Most coaches I work with love to solve problems, it’s often one of the reasons we become coaches. We love to look at a unit, project, assessment, lesson, and see how we can effectively and efficiently use technology to enhance student learning. We want to start with your goals for what students should know and be able to do at the end of the unit, and develop (with the teacher) the best way to get there.


2. Instructional coaches are just like regular coaches. Our job is to help you be even more awesome than you already are.


In most schools (all of the ones I’ve worked in or consulted with), coaches are not evaluators. They do not come into a classroom looking for problems, or even worse, with plans to tell your administrator what you’re doing wrong. A coach’s job is to build relationships with teachers so that we can help them meet their goals. In fact an instructional coach’s job is exactly like the coaches you learned from as a kid! We want you to do your best and we have lots of strategies for how you can get there.


How can your instructional coach help?


Just like my current situation of wanting to learn how to lift heavy things, your coach can help in the following ways:

  • ask for, and understand, your goals – whether they be for you personally or for your students,
  • observe and review your current skills, strategies and techniques to see where there is room for growth,
  • model (in front of your students) effective teaching or technology techniques so that you know how to do it on your own next time,
  • identify and suggest other growth areas that will support you in reaching your goals – these might even be things you had never considered, or seem a little bit separate from your goals, but your coach will be able to see (and explain) how the “assistance” skills can support your main goals,
  • connect you with others who are working along the same path, and share resources that will help deepen your understanding,
  • and ideally, push you just a little bit out of your comfort zone, to encourage you to take risks that you might not do on your own.


3. Schools are learning environments. Being vulnerable is the first step to learning.


As a consultant myself, although I don’t necessarily like this reality of my job, I can see that teachers are more willing to be vulnerable to an outsider (me) because it’s less risky. It’s easier to be honest, and vulnerable, with someone who is not one of your peers. It’s also easier to let that someone be an “expert” and give advice, because they have specifically been hired and flown in for that very thing – even if there are people on staff who know (and would say) exactly the same thing. The problem is that consultants come and go, and only so much can be done in any one visit.


How can your instructional coach help?


As you might remember from your childhood experiences, coaching always works best if the person being coached wants to improve, and is willing to learn from mistakes as they do so. If your mom put you in swimming lessons but you hated it and did everything you could to avoid training, you probably didn’t get much better. The same goes for coaching.


Even though it might be scary to expose your insecurities to a peer, who you see day in and day out, coaches are not judging you. One of the big challenges for technology coaches in particular is that technology is always changing, and we don’t know all of the things you think we know. We have to be willing to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to Google that” because we can’t possibly know the answer to every tech question.


If anyone can understand the feeling of being vulnerable in front of others, it’s your technology coach. One of our best skills is knowing what we don’t know and how to find the answer – and that’s exactly what we can offer teachers. And of course, this means that teachers could be consistently learning and growing with their on site coaching peers throughout the year, if they let them.


4. Working with a technology coach is like planning an interdisciplinary project.


We all create interdisciplinary projects at some point, and we all know how challenging it can be to work with that other teacher from another subject area who appears to be looking at the world through a completely different lens. It can be a struggle to work with this person because we don’t see eye to eye, or we don’t value the same things in terms of content. Sometimes technology coaching can feel just like this. Why trust someone who doesn’t know my subject or understand my subject’s point of view on the world? Why work (voluntarily, in most schools) with someone I don’t get along with?


How can your instructional coach help?


It’s your coach’s job to work with everyone. They might also have personal issues with a specific teacher, or a dislike for a specific subject area. But they should not let that get in the way of a successful collaboration and neither should you! Particularly for technology coaching, your coach doesn’t actually need to have a deep understanding of your subject, because you will be working as partners. The classroom teacher is the expert in the content and the technology coach is the expert in the technology. When you work together, you’re creating a kind of interdisciplinary project. As long as you can see your partnership as a professional team with the goal of improving student learning, any other personal issues should fade into the background.


Final Thoughts


I really do believe that everyone can benefit from having a coach. Even though your first coaching experience (especially with a new-to-you coach) can be scary, aren’t the outcomes worth the risk?

We all remember learning from coaches as kids, and usually being forced to do so by our parents. Now that we’re adults, we can’t wait for our administrators to force us into the coaching process. We must make that leap and push ourselves out of our comfort zone, in order to grow professionally. We don’t want to stay in the shallow end of the pool, do we?

Are you interested in becoming a coach or improving your coaching skill set? Download this week’s free PDF, Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit. We outline our top 5 strategies you can use to improve your successes in different situations.

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Visually Navigating the Conceptual Age Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:16:28 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 3 It Is All in the Story You Tell Sat, 10 Feb 2018 20:59:03 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> In 2014, I took the challenge to introduce Mindfulness to the staff at my school.  I had been meditating for a while, and I was inspired by a recent two-day retreat geared towards educators. I wanted to share with staff how it had helped me and how this practice could help them with their well-being and their everyday challenges.   I had an hour to inspire and hopefully start a great practice among my coworkers.  I remember that in planning for the presentation, I wanted to do something simple, bare-bones, to match the idea of the simplicity of meditation. Therefore, I thought the best option was Haiku Deck: it didn’t allow a lot of text, and it had beautiful preset layouts for the slides.

Mindfulness – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Looking back at this presentation, I was shocked to see the amount of information I packed into each slide — and realized that I usually do that.  My belief has been that the slide presentation should be a document that stands on its own.  So, I often created eBooks instead of focusing on the images to support my narrative. The aha moment here: why would people want to come to my presentation if they could have the eBook later?  Thanks to Garr Reynolds and his blog, From design to meaning: a whole new way of presenting, I see the many aspects where I went wrong when starting to design the presentation.

“Design starts at the beginning not at the end; it’s not an afterthought.  It’s during the preparation stage that you slow down and “stop your busy mind” so that you may consider your topic and your objectives, your key messages, and your audience.” — Garr Reynolds 

My objective was to motivate teachers to start meditating; however, I spent too much time explaining the research that it had been done to justify the benefits of meditation. I never made it more personal; I never told my story about why I started the practice. At the end of the presentation, I led a walking meditation for about 10 minutes, but we had little time afterward to debrief the session.  After the presentation, there were a few teachers that became interested and talked to me about it; however, I don’t think my presentation was memorable.

So, if I could go back in time, I would use the new presentation below where I would include my personal story and why meditation had worked for me. I would tell that in 2010, I read the book by Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, which motivated me to start meditating.  It was at the same time as when my family and I moved to Marrakech, Morocco.  My daughters were small, and we experienced huge changes in our lives.  We didn’t understand the language, the food was very different, and my daughters missed Ecuador.  It was tough!  So, we began as a family to meditate every night, and, even though my daughters and husband weren’t as convinced, I continued my practice — on and off — until this day.

With more years of experience, now I know that people usually find meditation hard because they have the misconception that they should clear their mind, therefore, they quickly feel unsuccessful and quit.  So I would focus more on unpacking what happens during the actual meditation. I also know there are many aspects that get in the way when trying to establish new healthy habits in our lives.  Otherwise, everyone would eat better, exercise, and sleep more without too much hassle.

The new presentation has more pictures an less text.  It is meant to support what I would say during the presentation.  I followed David JP Phillips’ advice on his TEDTalk, How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint:

  1. Focus on one message per slide

  2. Use contrast to steer focus

  3. Use size to emphasize

  4. Avoid using sentences if speaking at the same time

  5. Have a dark background

  6. Use maximum of six objects per slide


Any additional feedback on what I would need to add or change in this new presentation?

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Week 3: Understanding Presentation Design Mon, 05 Feb 2018 16:46:56 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by Joanne1985 via Pixabay

Essential Question: How can visual presentations effectively communicate a message?

As we continue through Course 3 focusing on Visual Literacy, we now take a look at presentation design. As I’ve mentioned before, Course 3 really helped me reflect on my own presentation design AND delivery and make adjustments (both in my perspective and how I used the digital tools). Just like with any kind of communication, audience and purpose is key and impacts how you design your presentation and how you deliver it. One of my colleagues who is very skilled and designing and delivering presentations, would ask, “If you include all the information the audience needs in the visual presentation itself, why not just print it out for them and not waste their time talking about it?”

Not only has my design and delivery of presentations evolved over the years (a constant work in progress!) but I’ve made an effort to work with students in developing more effective presentations. (At one point I even banned fancy font, rotating words and explosion animations from presentations by middle schoolers!) My question is how do we get more educators (and schools) to invest time in helping students develop these valuable communication skills?

Don McMillan’s comedy routine “Life After Death by PowerPoint” is included this in Recommended Readings this week and is very funny but it also reminds us what is ineffective in digital presentations. There are lots of useful resources regarding Presentation Zen and presentation design as well in this week’s Recommended Readings. Another video resource I found is David JP Phillips TEDxStockholSalon presentation “How to avoid death by PowerPoint”. I think PowerPoint gets a bad rap, but as Mr. Phillips points out, “Use PowerPoint as it is supposed to be used.” 

Progress Check for Week 3

  • 2 blog posts completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • Remember as a part of your GET certification it is important to start trying to incorporate ways you are planning trainings for your colleagues and using GSuite tools in your daily work
  • 2 comment completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
    • You are encouraged to comment more, but only log one per week. Try to keep them timely, not necessarily get them all done the first week.
  • Please continue to check for and approve all comments on your own blog (and of course respond to them – keep the conversation going!).
  • Hopefully you’ve started thinking about the final project for this course. Remember you can start it at anytime. 

As always, let me know if you have any questions or would like any feedback about final project ideas!

Resource to share: Check Out Slides Carnival for free PowerPoint templates and Google Slides themes!

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Week 1 : Welcome to Online 10 Mon, 05 Feb 2018 14:50:23 +0000 Ange Molony Read More »]]> Hello everyone and welcome to COETAIL! My name is Ange Molony and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn with all of you over the next year. You have joined an incredible global community of learners and I hope that your COETAIL experience is as positive as mine was.

I’m an Aussie currently working at The International School of Brussels in Belgium. I teach high school maths and I’m the high school tech integration specialist (working on changing that title to Tech Coach!) Prior to moving to Brussels in August 2016, my wife and I were working at Graded Sao Paulo (that’s where my COETAIL journey began) and previous to that we were in Bangkok (that’s where my international school journey began!)

The COETAIL community is a truly global one and I encourage you to get active in conversations with the Online 10 cohort (I have Twitter details for @mypclassroom, @SaraKThompson, and @ms_rumphius. Edit: There’s @agisaa, @BrianJKasper, and @jessicarose325 too!) And never be shy about reaching out to the wider COETAIL gang via social media channels. The #COETAIL hashtag is always active on Twitter, the Google+ community continues to grow, and our very own Online10 Forum is ready for you!

What to do this week?

Hopefully, you have had some time to read through some of the expectations for Course 1: Information Literacy and Ourselves as Learners (Not yet? Here’s the link) and you will know that we will spend the first week getting ourselves set up and ready to blog/read/tweet/repeat. The first few weeks can feel a bit hectic as you create new routines and find your rhythm for getting through the readings and creating your blog posts, but I am here to help you get sorted!

Your tasks for Week 1 can be found on the My Courses drop-down menu but here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do:

  1. Get organised in Google Drive (for this week you really just need to create a copy of the gradesheet template fill out your details and then share it back with me)
  2. Set up an RSS to feed to manage your readings
  3. Read required (and suggested?) readings
  4. Write your first blog post and comment on blog posts from your peers

Once you have shared your blog addresses with me, I will share them with each of you so that it’s easier to add them to your reading lists.

I will let you all get started with the units for this week, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

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Looking ‘life-wide’ with digital literacy Mon, 05 Feb 2018 09:20:36 +0000 Tricia Friedman Read More »]]> 0 Unpacking Visual Literacy in Kindergarten Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:11:06 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 2 Deconstructing the Image Backstory Sat, 03 Feb 2018 20:46:37 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> Are we born with an instinctive appreciation of beauty? I believe we do, otherwise, art (in all its expressions) wouldn’t have an essential role in our society.  There is plenty of evidence of art expressions since the beginning of humankind. Look at these prehistoric animal painting of the Lascaux Cave in France that seemed to be composed about 20,000 years ago. Not only we are drawn towards images, but we possess an innate drive to want to tell our stories.

left wall of the hall of bulls flickr photo by subarcticmike shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“There is a belief, and some research to back it up, that we are hardwired to naturally be drawn to images that have proportions approaching the golden mean, just as we are often drawn to many things in the natural environment — or even to a particular “good-looking face” — with golden-mean like proportions.” – Garr Reynold, Zen Presentation

The Power of Images

In this time of visual overload, it is crucial for citizens to understand (in a savvy way) the true intentions of the images that we are exposed to. I find these particularly important for teenagers who seem to be more vulnerable, especially to the globalization of the ideal western beauty standard.  We seem to consume these images without objectivity, allowing them to shape our self-image and becoming depressed and frustrated when we can’t measure up against these photographs.  The documentary, The Illusionists exposes the worrisome reality of how the beauty industry wants people to look at these images and feel the need to consume the products, so they too can feel and look like the models.  However, consumers fail to understand that the goal would be unattainable because these images are not even real; they have been digitally altered.  It is all an illusion!

“Noticing the construction of a message helps one become a more critical, questioning reader and viewer— but this kind of noticing doesn’t come naturally to the process of reading or watching TV. It is a learned behavior.”…Understanding how media messages shape our visions of the world and our sense of our selves is a central concept in media literacy.” – Renee Hobbs

So, where do we start?

As educators, we are responsible for empowering or students, and teach them how messages are constructed. We are constantly using visuals to aid our students’ learning.  Let’s start by applying basic concepts of compositions such as the Rule of Thirds in our own work.

Rule of thirds flickr photo by LindaH shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It is essential to help students amplify their voices, and for them to see themselves as storytellers.  In the past, I would have loved to know about Keri-Lee Beasly´s free ebook, Design Secrets Revealed as a resource to teach other educators and students about the CARP principles. Last year, students in sixth grade created a make-believe society, and I was the facilitator for the group running the TV station.  The students decided that in addition to their journalist salary, they were going to make more money by selling advertising to promote the city varied businesses.  Let’s look at one poster a student created as a draft and think about what feedback I would have given him knowing what I know now.

Danie Robalino OsoNews Colegio Menor

First, I used TinEye to find out where my student got the picture from.  I couldn’t find a specific owner of the original picture, so assume my student just grabbed it – great opportunity to teach about copyright. The original picture wasn’t cropped, so no decision-making there; he used it as a background. His poster needed to have the name of the business (PlayStation VR), what the business sold (time with a VR visor), and the price ($5). I liked how he used contrasting colors of the font over the background; the color red evokes excitement as well as the type of font, however, it is hard to read. Placing the grid on the pictures helped me to see where the different elements were located.

His final design changed completely. You may see it originally published on Instagram.

What feedback would you give him?

A post shared by OsoNews (@osonews) on

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New Cohort Begins February 5! Tue, 30 Jan 2018 17:15:12 +0000 Lissa Layman Read More »]]> [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.97″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.97″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.105″ border_style=”solid”]

Starting February 5, we will begin our 10th fully online COETAIL cohort! This will be our third cohort incorporating our collaboration with Google for Education. Participants can choose to take COETAIL and fulfill the requirements to become a Google Education Certified Trainer at the same time!


Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Make sure you read the Program Policies page. It is vital that you understand the COETAIL philosophy and are aware of the cost of the program.
  2. If you are going to take this program for continuing education credit, read through all the Heritage related materials also found on the Program Policies page.
  3. Check the Class Schedule page to start putting your own calendar together. You can also subscribe to the Google Calendar.
  4. Payment for each course will need to be made before getting access to the materials for that course. Make sure you understand how payments work and the late payment or withdrawal fees.
  5. Once you’re ready, sign up here and we’ll get you started!

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Past students have told us that the courses take approximately 10 hours a week.
  2. You will be required to write 1 blog post per week, 5 comments on other blogs, and 1 final project each course.
  3. You can expect the learning curve in the first course to be very steep as we set up systems that will be used throughout the program.
  4. You can expect, like other COETAILers have stated, for this to be the best Professional Learning Journey you have ever embarked upon.

Register today to get started with Online 10 on February 5!

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The Doors to COETAIL are OPEN! Tue, 30 Jan 2018 01:01:04 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> After a month of engaging our community, it’s time to expand this community and formally welcome more educators into COETAIL…


Online 10 begins February 5th and is open for registration!


COETAIL is for any educator who is interested in learning & growing through a community approach. All educators are welcome – young & ‘old,’ tech savvy & apprehensive, experienced & new-to-education, classroom teachers & leadership. Does that sound like you? See below for more details!


Pedagogical Foundations


The design of this program is based on sound pedagogical foundations that aim to help students learn the material quickly and effectively within a community setting. This course is inspired by the connectivism learning theory, learning communities, mastery learning, and peer assessment and our own understanding of pedagogical techniques that contribute to student learning and engagement in online communities.


5 courses, 3 semesters


  • Course 1: Information Literacy and Ourselves as Learners
  • Course 2: 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues
  • Course 3: Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators
  • Course 4: Technology: A Catalyst for Learning
  • Course 5: Alive in the Classroom: Applied Web 2.0 Technology for Learning


Click here to see the full class schedule with dates.


Become a Google Certified Trainer


This will be our third cohort in our collaboration with Google for Education. Not only will you receive a COETAIL certificate in 3 semesters with no summer courses, you also have the opportunity to become a Google Certified Trainer!


2 Credit Options


Need continuing education credits? Heritage Institute has you covered. Prefer a non-credit option? We have that too! See our Program Policies for more details.


Ready to take the plunge? Click here!


Have a question? Comment below or contact us via any of our social media accounts or using #COETAIL.

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Week 2: Visual Literacy in the Classroom Mon, 29 Jan 2018 18:25:15 +0000 Diana Beabout Read More »]]>

image by crushman via Pixabay

As I mentioned last week, Course 3 really helped me reflect and self-assess on how I was communicating effectively with others (or not) through visual presentation. It also got me thinking about how important it was that I also help my students develop their own visual presentations. As I reviewed the Understandings and Essential Question for Week 2, I noticed that technology is not mentioned specifically in any of them! We need to consider how design is addressed in general communication skills and in various mediums (literacy!). However, we also need to examine how technology is used in crafting visual communication (benefits and challenges). Which leads to the focus of this week’s unit…What do we (and our students) need to know about communication and design?


  • Design and layout of information influence effective communication
  • Audience and purpose behind your communication affect how and what you communicate.
  • Different information mediums require different strategies when organizing information and communicating effectively.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How does the ability to use, create and/or manipulate imagery foster effective communication?

Two of my Visual Literacy and Design Gurus
In addition to this week’s resources, I’d like to share two influential and amazing resources I have found in Keri-Lee Beasley and Heather Dowd. I met both of them through the ed tech community when I was working at an international school in China and Keri-Lee and Heather were in Singapore. Among many other topics they are experts in regarding the use of technology in schools, they both did workshops and developed resources related to visual literacy and design. I am incredibly grateful for the openness in sharing their resources (which I have used myself in working with students on visual literacy and design).

Keri-Lee created an iBook, Design Secrets Revealed that presents the basics on CARP (instead of CRAP) design principles and it’s intended audience is students grades 2-9 but is a great resource for adults as well. She also has a blog “Tip of the Iceberg” that includes (among many great resources) a specific section on Design Resources and resources from her workshops including “Presentation Design for Kids”.

Heather has shared resources from her Learning 2.0 workshop on Visual Literacy including a section of Graphic Design Resources. She also has a slide show, “Graphic Design Tools and Rules” she developed for middle school students that you are welcome to copy and modify for your students (or staff).  You can also find more resources from other workshops such at her HD Workshops site that include “Visual Design for Pages” and “Tell Me with a Graphic”.

If you want some practical, student-tested materials about visual literacy and design, I recommend you check out Keri-Lee and Heather’s resources.

And just a reminder…
I know it’s only Week 2, but make sure to look over the options for the Course 3 Final Project!


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Kicking off Course 5 Sun, 28 Jan 2018 18:40:26 +0000 Ryan Harwood Read More »]]>

Welcome to Course 5!

CC0 Creative Commons

You’ve made it to the final COETAIL course! You’re well rested from a fantastic winter break, rejuvenated by an awesome start to the second semester and ready to tackle a final project. The finish is within reach and I’m excited to be a part of this culminating project of your COETAIL experience.

Course Overview

This one is a little different from all the others.

First, it is over a much longer period, January 29 – May 6. All work must be submitted for this course by April 30. The last week (April 30-May 6) of the course is for you to watch other cohort members’ videos and provide feedback. It’s very important for you to know that there is no room for any extensions beyond April 30 so please manage your time and commitment to your final course assignments carefully.

Second, you are not required to post to your blog every week.  However, as many of you have found throughout the other courses, blogging can be a great way to record and reflect on your progress as your project develops. You are only required to log 4 posts, including one about your final project during this course. Due to this, you will notice that the Course 5 tab of your grade sheet looks a little different. Be sure to read Weeks 3 & 4 carefully as they give you the details about specific blogging requirements for this course. There is no commenting requirement, but of course, your comments help each other out.

Independent & Flexible

CC0 Creative Commons

You’ve got a lot of freedom in this course to work in a way that meets your needs. I strongly suggest reading through the assignments for the entire course as you get started this week, just to get a sense of what lies ahead. There’s less structure, but still some specific requirements that need to be met.

The most important part of Course 5 is to take your work and reflections from the previous four courses and put it all into practice. Make this learning your own and continue to build your own blogging voice as well as your PLN. We hope that this course is not an end to your COETAIL journey, but a jumping off point for your continued learning and online presence.

Continue to use your PLN as you work through this course. Ask each other questions, use the #COETAIL hashtag on Twitter, jump into the Google+ community that’s over 500 members strong. You can always reach out to anyone in the COETAIL community for help. I’m always available via email and so are the Awesome Coetail Coaches.

Final Thoughts

Keep an eye on this blog as I’ll post some updates and remind you of deadlines here. I’ll also make sure to share all the awesomeness that you guys are producing throughout the course.

Its not a bad idea to rough out a timeline for the course either. The final project video might take you longer than you think. Leave yourself lots of wiggle room.

Now go and be awesome.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Visual Design Sun, 28 Jan 2018 18:29:13 +0000 Carolin Escobar Read More »]]> I was excited to read that in course 3 in COETAIL, we will be learning about visual literacy and design. I’ve often been drawn to tasks that required thinking in terms of images and design, and, although in the past I had not explicitly thought about what makes something aesthetically pleasing to the eye, I get a warm feeling when something is visually beautiful.

I recently attended a conference session where the presenter showed us how her students were learning about World War II and how they used video, instead of writing an essay, to showcase their learning.  She had written a very descriptive rubric to assess the content of the video, but the criteria to assess the production and aesthetics of the actual video were very limited. With the increase in video production and design tools in the market, students have an extensive array of choices; however, very few educators have the knowledge to teach about visual literacy and how to communicate assertively with images, sounds, and text.   We must develop a critical eye in the saturated media environment era.   The individuals who can master the language of effective communication will have a great advantage over others.

This is what the famous George Lucas film director thought in 2004 in the article about visual literacy in education; nonetheless, after 13 years, we continue to be in need of more explicit instruction on the subject.

Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we also need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.

Design Elements and Principals – Tips and Inspirations By Canva

In order to apply what I had learned from the readings about web design, I decided to focus on the header of my blog. I noticed my picture was too small in relation to the whole space.  The quote that I used was almost lost, and the calendar widget, placed in the right corner, served no purpose.  I came to the conclusion that I had not taken the time to learn the different design features that the site provided, and the task for this week was just what I needed to be motivated to learn.

At first, I started using the pictures that WordPress offered, but I wasn’t pleased with the results. Then, I realized that it was easier to create something using Canva to be able to play with colors and fonts. In addition, I found an infographic embedded in a blog post that summarized a few design principals mentioned in this week’s readings.

Even though I could spend hours and hours changing and tweaking the new header, I am satisfied with the improvement.  I used the principle of contrast to play with colors to highlight my name and the words.  I am also aware of how proximity can play an important role to separate aspects of the design. I changed the color of the menus to complement the main color, orange.

After I was prepared to download the desired image, I ran into a problem with the size of the file that the WordPress header required, so I had to carefully problem solved to produce a picture with dimensions 1380 px x 280 px. The paid version of Canva allows users to customize the image size, so I signed up for the free paid trial to solve the problem.

I am looking forward to learning more about visual literacy.  I am predicting that I will start looking at designs with different eyes now. I think I may become a bit obsessed!

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Embrace the Space Sun, 28 Jan 2018 12:57:36 +0000 Nick Garvin Read More »]]> 1 #COETAILchallenge Day 6 Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:43 +0000 marissa Read More »]]> Welcome to Day 6 of the COETAIL Challenge!


Missed Day 5 of the Challenge? Click here! Did you participate in Day 5? Watch your inbox for a special thank you!


This 6-day challenge is designed to engage and grow our community of educators and celebrate our collaboration with the Google for Education Certified Trainer Program. Each day we’ll post the challenge on the COETAIL blog and send a short email to your inbox with the day’s challenge. Not on our email list? Sign up to get the latest COETAIL info in your inbox here!


Wow…today is the LAST day of the Challenge! Throughout the last 5 days we’ve asked you to engage, share and be vulnerable in order to increase the value of our online community. We hope you’ve enjoyed another COETAIL Challenge…we are grateful that you have chosen to enhance our community with your presence!   


You’ve celebrated success and taken risks in order to connect with the community. Today, we’re all about the questions! COETAIL is a supportive community of educators where you can openly ask questions and receive honest answers. What do you need to know about COETAIL? What can you share about your COETAIL experience?


Today’s Challenge >>> No question is a bad question.


  • How do you find a balance between learning, implementing & sharing?
  • Thinking about taking the risk and becoming a COETAILer? Ask a question to the COETAIL community (via our social media channels).
  • Current or graduate COETAILer? Answer a question asked by a potential COETAILer from your unique perspective.


Connect >>> Post your completed challenge to Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Facebook with @COETAIL, #COETAIL & #GoogleET to be entered to win the giveaways and be connected with the community! Your posts can be as simple or as creative as you’d like.


Are you a current or graduate COETAILer? Have you started your GET application yet? What are you waiting for?! Check out the requirements! There are lots of COETAILers around the world who are already #GoogleET…connect with them in the process.

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