Congratulations CoETaIL Graduates!

Woohoo! You did it! Course 5 is complete and you are finished with the COETAIL program!

It’s hard to believe it’s already over, and how much you have all been able to accomplish in only a year and a half. Of course, we encourage you to continue your journey in whatever way feels right for you! Here are a few final announcements:

Amazing Course 5 Projects

Wow. Your projects were outstanding in so many different ways. We wanted to highlight a few that were particularly amazing so you have the opportunity to watch them if you haven’t already. Of course, that doesn’t mean if your project isn’t highlighted that it wasn’t outstanding, these are just the ones we want to make sure to share or stood out in some unique way!


Kate Hall: Student-led Conferences with Online Portfolios Middle School

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If you’re considering whether Online Portfolios are worth the effort or if you’re looking for ways to improve your class/school’s way of doing ePortfolios, then this final project video is a must-see!
Not only does Kate share reflective and detailed steps, she also shares her ideas for improving the whole process next year. Student ownership of learning is evident in this project!

Tricia Friedman: Dividends on an Investment

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This inspiring project demonstrates how exciting it can be when students blog authentically and by their own choice. And it’s High School students! It features students & teachers reflecting on the process and the essential foundations for successful and authentic blogging. There are a variety of tools present – each one purposeful and authentic in it’s use. Tricia also shares a very important message about “time”.


Amanda Shaw: Process Art in Year 6

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Amanda has always shared well-documented, thorough and reflective final projects throughout all of the CoETaIL program and her final course 5 project is no exception! It’s details include how the unit allowed technology to be used and it’s purpose for the use of the tool. It’s great to see students looking and sounding extremely engaged and in control of their own purposeful and meaningful learning.


Jocelyn Sutherland: CARP Jr: Design Principles Redefined for KG-G2

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What’s really interesting about this final project from Jocelyn is that she identified a gap in learning and created a unit to authentically address that gap. In this meaningful, purpose driven project authentic change helped students own the learning. And this was done with KG-G2 students!


Amanda McCloskey: A Minecraft Inquiry [Grades 1-5]

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There were a few projects revolving around Minecraft throughout our cohort and each had its own unique and successful approach to integrating it into the classroom. Amanda’s students went through elements of the design cycle to plan, design and construct a new school. This type of project encourages collaborative thinking and teamwork and proves to students and parents that Minecraft isn’t just for play!


Angela Langlands: Farm to Table Minecraft Integration [Grade 2]

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You know a project is going to be an interesting challenge when the post starts with, “African power outages got the best of us on a few occasions.” Angela says it all with, “The students were already so passionate about Minecraft, that the use it just played right in to their hands. The engagement level was at it’s peak and the students far exceeded our learning expectations.” And that’s part of the enticing nature of Minecraft – the natural engagement that so many students feel. But as she noted, that can (and surely is for many teachers) something that can be a bit too enticing if students have prior experience using MC as a game first and foremost. She walks the audience through an honest assessment of how this all came together.

Ann Durham: Major transitions for HS students (to College, etc) [Grades 11-12]

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Ann’s project is a prime example of empowering students to make decisions about how their preferred and ideal work environment. She allowed them to have a say in not only where and how they’d like to work but also which device, platform and communication method they’d prefer. There are powerful student interviews within the video which helps take the audience through their perspective.

Leah Bortolin: Badges for PYP Final Exhibition [Grade 5]

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Leah was always up for a challenge throughout our cohort. She continually pushed herself beyond the boundaries of her comfort zone and it sure did pay dividends. As with a couple of you, she switched schools midway through Coetail – what a challenge that must be! If you have any desire to learn more about badges or all the thinking and design that happens behind the scenes, this is highly recommended!


Matt Fron: Flipped Learning and Visual Readings [High School]

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Flipped classroom and similar models are often discussed but what are some of the actual challenges and pitfalls of trying it in a HS English setting? Check out what he has to say about it: “In the end, I created over 60 videos that spanned these categories. I also had students create their own flipped videos to demonstrate their learning. Through these, students were able to navigate their way through learning the key skills necessary for the unit in the order and at the pace that was right for them. It became a personal journey.”


Paul Browne: Improving student conceptual understanding in a Grade 10 electricity unit [High School]

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Differentiated learning is often a tangible benefit of tech integration. Paul walks us through the project with an honest and detailed evaluation of what worked and what was challenging with this unit. It’s clear that for many ESL/EAL students, the act of bringing voiceovers, diagrams and deep thinking together offers a chance to redefine learning experiences. It’s a powerful reminder to those of us working in international schools especially.

 Rob Langlands: Flipped Programming [High School]

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Rob has taken a complex unit and embraced the power of flipping lessons to free up his time in the classroom. The self-paced nature of the videos provides a similar benefit to what I noted about Paul’s project above. For those of us working internationally, this is an especially important reminder – students can watch, rewind, slow down and digest lessons on their terms and in their own time.


Tara Barth: Environmental Student Projects [Grade 1]

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Talk about tackling a challenge! Tara managed to get her Grade 1 students to not only collaborate with other classes around the world, but to learn about blogging, publishing, sharing, create videos about recycling, and the creation of a school garden. I’m not even sure I could tie my own shoes at that age and yet she’s successfully attempted things many students may not experience until middle school!

Tracy Blair: Global Book Clubs [Grade 4]

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Tracy’s students were able to reach out to other students around the world in real-time and students loved it. They were asking fantastic questions and were super engaged. By not only authoring content, but publishing, sharing and receiving comments, she’s preparing them for a world that’s increasingly connected and learning together despite physical borders. Student reflections bring the audience into the learning journey and provide a special perspective on their experience with this unit.



Outstanding Community Engagement Posts

We know this is a challenging task. Not only to take your COETAIL interactions to the next level to really be involved here in this community, or to create one of your own, but to then document it in a way that really represents your journey is not easy. However, we firmly believe that this is the most important learning in the entire COETAIL program: you creating your own PLN so that you can always be learning is what we want for you. Here are some great examples from your fellow COETAILers who are really walking the talk:

We love how different and unique each of these posts are. They all tell the story of a teachers journey with developing a PLN, but we all go through that process in different ways. There is no right or wrong way, there is no one way, but we hope all of you end this course feeling like you can make those connections both for yourselves as learners as well as to support your students in their personal learning journey.

Staying Connected

Well, this is pretty much the end for our cohort! Of course you will still have access to your blog and the COETAIL community, the Twitter hashtag, and the G+ group, so you won’t lose your COETAIL connection.

We absolutely encourage you to keep blogging on your COETAIL blog, to keep sharing in all of the awesome PLN spaces you have developed, and to keep challenging yourself to try new things. When something is awesome (or when you need a little help) don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Feedback for Us

There’s one last thing we’d love for you to do before we completely sign-off from our Online 4 Cohort Blog.  We would really appreciate your feedback on the CoETaIL course – warts and all, so please consider taking a few moments to fill out our feedback form below.

Thanks so much to all of you. It was a true pleasure working with you and we hope you’ll stay in touch!

Cheers, Brandon and Chrissy

Wrapping up Course 5

Wow, it’s been a busy first semester and the time has just flown by! I know you are all working hard on finishing up your Course 5 work so here is a brief update:

Due Dates

Please remember that all assignments for this course, including your final project, are due today (April 17th) This is to give us all time to watch and give each other peer feedback on the final projects (see more details below).

Sharing Your Final Project

As you complete your final project, don’t forget to share it via this form, which will automatically have your work show up on our blog (in the sidebar) and here.


feedback-520527_640Giving Peer Feedback – Important, Appreciated & Required

Once you have submitted your work, please make sure to watch a minimum of five (5) other projects and offer your feedback here (also linked in the sidebar of our blog).
We will copy and paste the individual (anonymous) peer feedback on your Final Project Presentation Video into your individual grading spreadsheet. (On the Peer Feedback tab)

If you can manage to watch & give feedback on more than 5 other projects,
it would be very much appreciated!

Please make sure to watch and complete the feedback over the next two weeks, so that all feedback is complete by May 1st, 2016.

Feedback Image: Licensed under Creative Commons- Public Domain

Community Engagement Post (Required)

There seems to be a little bit of confusion around the Community Engagement Post that Brandon and I would like to help clear up.

Your Community Engagement Post is completely separate to your Course 5 Final Project.  It is not an expectation that the two are “linked”. (Although there may be a connection because of a global collaboration component that you may be undertaking in your final project and you used your PLN in a way that links to your final project – please note this is NOT a requirement of either your Community Engagement Post or your Final Project).

We’re interested in how you are beginning to, or have been and are continuing to, develop your own personal learning network and how you are contributing to community online spaces.  The community engagement element requires sustained conversations. It’s not a post that you can complete the day before it is due.
In the past, some people have created (optional) and/or contribute to a specific G+ community that they are specifically interested in – you don’t have to be the creator of that space – you could be just contributing to it. (but more than just contributing stuff – actually getting involved in conversations).

Others have started and contribute or host regular twitter chats (ie: Pana A, Vivian C, Jason G, started  #KchatAP and now Pana has just started #KidsKodeX!)

Examples of Outstanding Community Engagement Posts

We know this is a challenging task. Not only to take your COETAIL interactions to the next level to really be involved here in this community, or to create one of your own, but to then document it in a way that really represents your journey is not easy. However, we firmly believe that this is the most important learning in the entire COETAIL program: you creating your own PLN so that you can always be learning is what we want for you. Here are some great examples from your fellow COETAILers who are really walking the talk:

Each of these posts are different and unique – as yours will be!

They all tell the story of a teachers journey with developing a PLN, but we all go through that process in different ways. There is no right or wrong way, there is no one way, but we hope all of you end this course feeling like you can make those connections both for yourselves as learners as well as to support your students in their personal learning journey.

Please ensure that you read Week 4’s Commenting and Extending Your Reach as it contains valuable information about this required post and some more examples to give you an idea of what we are expecting from you.

Any questions? Concerns?  Don’t hesitate to email Brandon or myself.  We’re here to help and support you as best we can.

Image Attribution: Hand: Foundry – Licensed under CC0 Public Domain

Welcome to Course 5!

You made it to the last and final course of the CoETaIL program! Brandon and I are very excited to be on this final leg of your CoETaIL journey with you!

Course 5 Overview

As mentioned a number of times, course 5 is very different than the rest of the courses. For starters, this course runs the entire semester, from January 18th – May 1st. All assignments for this course must be published/uploaded by April 17th, 2016. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will have readings and commenting every week! Between April 17 – May 1st, you’ll be leaving peer feedback on final projects – we’ll share more about this later on in the course.

Here’s an overview video of the course:

Introducing Course 5 from COETAIL on Vimeo.

Course 5 has three main components:

  • Blogging
  • Community Engagement
  • Final Project

Since you’re already familiar with the blogging aspect, the important thing to know is that you’ll only need to write 3 posts for this course, instead of the usual 6. If you’d like to write more, that’s great! (Check out Week 3 for more details.)
Also, there are NO commenting requirements for Course 5.

The Community Engagement element builds upon the commenting you’ve been doing in the previous four courses, and asks you to extend your reach beyond just commenting on COETAIL (and other) blogs. (Check out Week 4 for more details.)

The final project allows you to apply everything we’ve been discussing in the previous four courses in your classroom. You will take at least one of the project ideas you developed at the end of Course 4 and actually teach it, reflect on it, and get student feedback over the course of this semester. As you’re teaching, reflecting and hearing from students, you’ll be recording samples for your final project presentation (to be shared online by the end of this course). (Check out Week 2, 5 and 6 for more details.)

As you work through each of these components, please make sure to include the links on your grading spreadsheet so we can keep up with your work. You’ll notice that Course 5’s tab in your grading spreadsheet looks a little different to the previous courses!

All assignments for this course are due are due on April 17th. This gives you time to complete everything before the other participants watch your finished final product video. It’s very important for you to know that there is no room for any extensions beyond April 17th so please manage your time and commitment to your final course assignments carefully.

Networked & Flexible

Because we don’t have assigned reading and posts for each week of this course, the first six weeks of the course are “assignments” that describe the three components of this course.  You may want to read through all of them right away, or you may take them one week at a time – whatever works for you!

The most important part of Course 5 is to take what you’ve been thinking about in the previous four courses and really apply it and make it your own. We hope you’ll continue reflecting and sharing in online spaces after COETAIL is over, and Course 5 is that intermediary step between a very formalized structure for sharing, and finding your own process that works best for you.

Remember to use your network during this course! Use the #coetail hashtag on Twitter and Google+, add to the forums on the COETAIL site, and of course connect with the Course 5 Google+ Community created by Vivian as part of her Course 5 project for a great support network. (If you’re interested, she’s also happy to share management of that group – if you are, please let us know!) We’re all here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice!

Important Announcements & Reminders

Although we may not be posting here every week for this course, please make sure this blog stays in your RSS reader so you can catch up on any exciting news that is shared here! Deadlines and important assessment announcements will be made here too, so you don’t want to miss those.

Good luck and enjoy the final course!

Image Credits:

Finish by Jeff Turner, Creative Commons Licensed on Flickr

Week 6: Finishing up Course 4!

And it’s Week 6!

Good news! Week 6 is time for you to catch up on any missed work for Course 4 and to wrap up your Course 4 final project. Even better news – there’s actually an extra week (who doesn’t love an extra week??) thrown into Course 4 to compensate for the break most International Schools have during October.  If you haven’t had a chance yet, now is also a great time to catch up with other participants blog posts and leave comments as well.

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 5″ in Course 4 under “My Courses”
  • written 5 blog posts and 5 comments
  • recorded the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • Begun your final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Course 4 Deadlines

are you ready?

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All course work is due December 13.  I used to be a classroom teacher so I know how stressful this time of the year is but believe me, you will not want to get an extension because then you’ll be blogging on holiday and no one really wants to do that.  And to be honest, Brandon & I don’t really want to be marking everybody’s work when we’re with family over Christmas.  We totally understand that December is crazy time of year, so if you are truly struggling, or there is a family emergency, we will of course work with you to make it manageable. But please remember, communication is incredibly important.  (In case you’re wondering …… Course 5 begins January 18, 2016!)

Course 4 Final Project

As you prepare your Course 4 project, you’ll want to think about how you’re moving towards redefinition. The ultimate goal will be for you to actually teach this project next semester, so thinking about practicalities is also important. As you develop ideas and sketch them out in your Course 4 final project blog post, try to include as many details as possible – not only so that you are thinking through each idea, but also so that you can get quality feedback from other COETAILers. The purpose of this final project is to give yourself time to think through several options and get feedback, so it’s certainly worth taking some time to really flesh out a few different ideas.

Don’t forget, there are two options for the Course 4 final project.  Here’s a few key things to remember for your Reflection/ Final Project blog post:

  • Writing about 1 idea? Your blog post must include a UbD Unit Planner and include the answers to the four (4) questions listed under the Option 1 tab
  • Writing about 2-3 ideas?  You don’t have to include a UbD Unit Planner BUT your blog post must include the answers to the seven (7) questions listed under the Option 2 tab for each idea 

Final Project Collaboration

You are more than welcome to collaborate with another COETAILer on your final project. However, please remember that your actual blog posts (in Course 4 and Course 5) along with your Course 5 final project must be individual.

Preparing for Blogging in Course 5

It’s worth mentioning that there will not be weekly question prompts in Course 5. You’ve had lots of great practice with blogging, and the prompts are there to help you if you’re not sure what to write. Now that you’re almost finished with COETAIL, your topics for your blog posts in Course 5 will be up to you. This will be a great opportunity to take your blogging practice and really make it personal – you can choose to focus on your Course 5 project, or you can share learning that’s happening in your classroom, or you can write about whatever interests you. Hopefully after Course 5 finishes, you’ll stick with the blogging as a way to reflect on your own learning – one of the perks of COETAIL is that you get to keep your blog as an alumni!

Looking ahead to Course 5 – Project Examples

One way we love to inspire you is to showcase some of the fabulous Course 5 Final Projects that other cohorts have created.  We may have shared these before, but here they are again, just in case you haven’t had time to check some of them out yet.

The Online3 Cohort has just recently finished their Course 5 final projects.  If you go to the Cohort Blog – look at the sidebar on the right to see the embedded spreadsheet list of submitted projects!

It’s really well worth investing time watching some of these awesome final projects!

You can see lots of others on the COETAIL site, and join the Course 5 Google+ community to see what other COETAILers are talking and thinking about.

Special Thanks

A big thank you to my cohort participants for your patience and understanding over the past week and a bit! After 5 days of being on Bush Fire Watch & Act (meaning your car is packed and you’re ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice) a week of intermittent internet connectivity and two days of power cuts, we are finally back to normal.  Our local firefighters have done the most amazing job containing and bringing a VERY close bushfire under control – and it’s only the start of “bushfire season” here!

Week 5: The Technology Rich Classroom

Welcome to Week 5!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 4″ in Course 4 under “My Courses”
  • written 4 blog posts and 4 comments
  • recorded the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)



Parent Support and Involvement

IMG_2989 (1)We just finished hosting a tech centered parent coffee here at International School Manila. It was a fascinating session with excellent conversations, concerns expressed, a student panel, activities, etc. Creating a culture of sharing and open communication with parents is a huge part of successfully supporting a 1:1, BYOD or similar tech infused environment. How does your school currently help connect and involved parents in these important areas? How are parents informed as to the direction the school is moving in? How well do you feel training is provided for the parent community?

Kim previously highlighted a great example of the parent coffee tech program at her previous school, YIS. From Kim:

“In order to help our families develop those skills as well, we facilitate a monthly Parent Technology Coffee Morning for those parents. One of the most commonly requested sessions is one on managing distractions and maintaining balance. We often recommend that parents mirror our classroom at home – one of my favorites is the idea of a tech break. This session has become so popular that I’ve created a whole resource wiki for parents at YIS and other schools.”


A few highlights

Our awesome coach, Pana, and I have collected a few points of interest to share. Some are thought-provoking where others ask questions that the hive mind can help answer.


Matt was discussing PBL and CBL in his post, The Context Challenge. Take a look at his original post for more info, but his questions below are a challenge for you to think about.

The Challenge

BUT, we still come back to the same problem: literature. Yes, a literature teacher just called literature the problem. It’s not that I don’t love literature, or that I don’t see value in reading and appreciating the craft, but I’ve really struggled trying to think how an analytical essay of Hamlet’s first soliloquy can be put into a relevant context. Sure, students could pretend to be a psychologist analyzing the character’s suicidal tendencies, but that doesn’t really reflect the form, or assessment criteria, of the analytical essay.

Despite one-off assignments that come close (e.g. lobbying for a particular poem to be included in a literary magazine), I still can’t figure out how to universally contextualize close analysis or the literary essay.

So that’s my challenge to any readers: What suggestions do you have? How have you contextualized this most central of tasks? And if we can’t, perhaps English courses need to rethink the assessment that forms the current core of its identity.”

And another one he posted about flipped learning

One of the goals of flipped lessons is that the teacher is the one presenting the information so students feel a connection. The question still remains: does this method distance me from the students? If so, what solution do you have to allow text-heavy information, or multiple slides, without Screencast-o-matic? That’s right: this is a direct plea for feedback on my flipped video.

I annoyed my colleague Ross McGlothlin, who now has over 130 flipped videos, with my questions, which included:

  • Is it better to use a tool like Screencastomatic or stand in front of a whiteboard?
  • How do I go about planning and preparing a video?
  • How much time should I spend in editing?
  • How do I choose what should be covered in a video?


Did you happen to see Amanda’s post on student centered learning? Check out the results of her poll.

“I’m interested in hearing how other teachers manage the availability of technology in a student-centred inquiry classroom. Is it time to let the student’s decide?”


Ann shifts her thinking and views technology & social networks in a different light in this post.

“However, as technology becomes more prevalent in our lives and schools, it’s important that we hold on to the human element. We need to provide opportunities for students to interact on a human level – to laugh, to cry, to make mistakes, to collaborate. A few weeks ago I reflected on our students’ need for belonging after a day of shadowing. Not only do we need to create safe environments for students, but we also need to use technology in a way that keeps students connected, not isolated.”

Stephanie’s interpretation of a self-organized learning environment in elementary.

“I wondered how could help the children bridge the gap between what the kids thought of as play and the scientific process.Enter the self-organised learning environment.”

Week 4: The Future

Welcome to Week 4!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 3″ in Course 4 under “My Courses
  • written 3 blog posts and 3 comments
  • recorded the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Quick Announcements

I’ll be posting a few snippets of interestingness later this week from your blog posts. There have certainly been different perspectives shared and mixed feelings about a number of the concepts covered in this particular course. A few of you asked for feedback on some of your ideas from the cohort and wider community, so I’d like to share them on this blog for a potentially wider audience. Look for that later this week!

And also I believe our supporting coaches may be trying to put together a time to do a Google Hangout to help supplement the reading, answer your questions and perhaps share their perspectives and experience with you! More info on that soon.

Links to Explore Related to Course 4


The Future of Learning?

Such a fun topic! So much to explore and so many different perspectives. Of course we’ve all heard about the many ways that our current school system is failing our students, and back in Course 1 we looked at some big ideas for re-imagining what school could be, so this week we’ll explore some learning strategies that are becoming more and more popular and may have an impact on the way we think about schools. As an introduction, you might enjoy this RSA Animate: Re-Imagining Work (I think you’ll be able to make the comparison to schools quite easily):


The idea of badges is not new, but the development of digital badges, allowing verification, tracking and recognition across schools and universities has become quite a hot topic (and very polarizing). For an overview of (as they claim) everything you need to know about badges in the classroom, check this article from The Journal.

HASTAC also has a great introduction:

We’re developing badges for COETAIL right now, so it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on the concept – would you put a COETAIL badge on your website? Check out the COETAIL Coach badge on the main website to see what they look like!



Massively Open Online Courses –  What happens when universities start “giving away” their content (taught by their professors)? What happens when students can design the perfect program of instruction from outstanding universities, without paying for anything, and receive a verified digital badge as evidence of completion? Or is this isolated learning environment doomed to failure?

Definitely check out a few of the links in the opening section of this blog post. But be warned, you can get lost for hours/days/weeks in them!

Global Collaboration

Working in international schools we know the value of understanding different cultures, and how our experience living in different countries may change our own perspectives on the world, but what if you never left your home country? The concept of connecting students to their peers in different countries, to learn, collaborate and create together is one way that teachers are helping students develop those cross-cultural skills that are often quite common in international schools. If you’re interested in starting one of these projects, you might find this post helpful: A Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaboration. There are lots of other resources on Kim’s Connecting Classrooms Across Continents workshop wiki too.

One of the most well-known examples of these kinds of projects is Flat Connections (formerly Flat Classroom Projects), managed by Julie Lindsay. Yokohama International School hosted the Flat Classroom Conference in 2013 and had some amazing student-produced globally collaborative service projects proposed:


Now that you’ve experienced the majority of the COETAIL program, hopefully you’re getting a good feel for connectivism. If you’re ready to start implementing some elements of connectivism in your classroom, here’s a great introduction to what that could look like:

End of Week 2 and in to Week 3!

Welcome to Week 3!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2″ in Course 4 under “My Courses”
  • written 2 blog posts and 2 comments
  • continued recording the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Exploring Current Trends in Learning

I’m sure that in many of your schools, at least someone you know is testing out a flipped classroom model, using Minecraft, or finding ways to embrace play and or gaming in the classroom. These three are perhaps the most common learning strategies that have become quite popular in recent years. COETAILers from every cohort have developed projects using these current trends, some so successfully that they have transformed their entire classroom.

Reverse Instruction or Flipped Classroom

For a short overview of the Flipped Classroom, check out this introduction (and this network of educators, full of great resources)

Quite a few of our COETAIL graduates have had lots of success with the flipped classroom model – particularly those who have modified it to really suit their needs.  Have a look at Philip Arneil (who created his own definition of flipped classroom and it’s amazing), Jana Tanagawa (who used the flipped classroom model to ensure that her students kept learning while she was on an extended sick leave), or one of the many other COETAILers sharing their interpretation of the model.

There is lots of debate about this model, and I’m not 100% convinced about it yet. I’ve used mini tutorials with my students especially when I know they will want to refer back to the material over and over again. I’m not, however, a fan of lecture in any format (in person or via video), nor do I like the idea of taking a content heavy class and just delivering it at home instead of during the school day. I’ve been in a school that has taken advantage of the “flipped classroom model” when school was forced to close due to extreme weather.  As you can imagine, there were varying degrees of successfulness of the model, throughout the Elementary, Middle and High School areas – reasons why just as varied (and probably need to be a blog post of it’s own!).

Flipping the classroom doesn’t work for everyone, nor does it work for all subjects all the time.  But with some careful planning and equally careful preparation it does work and it can be powerful!  I’ve seen it work with high school students in a TOK class – that was fascinating – not the process of it, but watching the students adjust to a different way of learning and interacting with their teacher and peers.  Some thrived, some struggled, some looked bewildered but they certainly remembered the content and I’m sure that they were more active as learners than ever before.

Upside DownI’ve tried flipping my own classroom of 3rd graders.  Albeit on a much smaller scale and only for one topic in Social Studies. It was a struggle for some because it was a different way of doing things than we’d done in the past, but what isn’t when you do it for the first time?  I would definitely try it again.

How about you? Have you flipped your classroom before? Is this something you might consider doing in the future?

 Image Attribution: cc Johnny Jet

This list is from the IBO and includes feedback that students have given in regards to flipped classroom instruction videos:

  • videos should be no longer than 10 minutes
  • videos should be natural and include the normal mistakes that teachers would make when speaking in front of a class (ie: no excessive editing, just record and upload)
  • videos should reflect the teacher’s personality – jokes and side comments are appreciated (ie: just asking students to watch Khan Academy videos is not the same as a flipped classroom model)

Game Based Learning

Another one of my favorite TED Talks (and a great book) is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal:

Although Jane is talking about gaming on a much grander scale in her TED talk, this is a great place to start thinking about the power of games in the classroom – and not just playing games, but transforming the way we teach and learn with game-based-learning strategies.  Adrian Camm has a fantastic compilation of resources for those interested in learning more. Even though it’s now 2 years later, here’s his Learning2 Talk from Singapore (2013) to get you started:

Rebekah Madrid (one of our awesome COETAIL instructors and COETAIL graduate Alex Guenther, have been using Minecraft with middle school students in lots of interesting ways.  Still relevant two years later, here’s Rebekah’s Learning 2 Talk from 2013:

Suzanne Holloway lists four ideas to gamify your classroom (check the link for some ideas about what that means):

  1. Gamify your grading practices
  2. Recognize achievements with badges
  3. Integrate educational games and simulations into your curriculum
  4. Add an element of competition

Meredith at LearnBoost plays devil’s advocate and comes up with 3 reasons NOT to gamify education:

  1. Extrinsic v. Intrinsic motivation
  2. Token Economies
  3. Psychological Undermining

I’m not sure I agree with all of her points, especially the “psychological undermining”, but it is interesting to think about some of the arguments against gamification and what we can do to address some of them.

Bringing education and game elements together could turn out like peanut butter meeting chocolate: two great tastes working together,leading to results that are especially important for developing 21st century skills… By making play mandatory, gamification might create rule-based experiences that feel just like school. Instead of chocolate and peanut butter, such projects are more like chocolate-covered broccoli. (link added) –Lee and Hammer

Where do you stand on the debate? How have seen game mechanics being used effectively in classrooms to gamify ed? What experiences do you have with games and simulations in your teaching and learning? What do you think about badges and microcredentials and their place in schools?

Welcome to Course 4!

With courses 1 – 3 behind us, we’re really going to get practical with courses 4 and 5, bringing all of your CoETaIL learning together with a strong focus on pedagogy in course 4, and the practical implementation of all of these ideas in course 5.

Course 4 Overview

The focus for course 4 is exploring some of the different pedagogical approaches to using technology in the classroom. The course is structured so that we start by looking at the big ideas and concepts behind technology integration, including the SAMR and TPACK models (in week 1), then we move into the most widely known pedagogical approaches organized into “past” (week 2), “present” (week 3) and “future” (week 4) to give us an idea of where we came from and where we might be going, and then wrap up with a look at the technology rich classroom (in week 5).

It’s great to discuss some of the concepts we’ve talked about in passing in more depth, things like flipped classroom, game based learning, badges, and of course connectivism comes back around again! As usual, we’ll have our standard week 6 “catch up” time so you can wrap up course 4 and get moving on your course 5 project!

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments

All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet – please use the Course 4 tab of your spreadsheet.

Length of Course 4

You may have noticed on our Cohort Calendar (to the right of this blog) that Course 4 is seven (7) weeks long! That’s because we’ve factored in that many of you will be off for a week’s break at some stage between now and Christmas.  Some of you may already have had that break!  All course work is due for completion on or before December 13, 2015.

Some thoughts from Course 3

What do you think? As you write your blog posts, remember that it’s your thoughts, your ideas, and your application of the weekly readings that will be interesting to other participants (and readers beyond our immediate community). Because all of the articles are available online, just linking to them is enough of a summary, then share your ideas so we can get your unique perspective. As we’re now moving into the final courses of the program, please remember, you don’t have to respond directly to the weekly prompts – they’re just there for those that prefer them. Please use your blog to write about whatever inspires you about this week’s topic and readings.

Get practical! One of the most common highlights for our participants is the chance to actually implement so many of these ideas directly into their classroom, particularly during course 4. So, as you write your posts, please share with us how you’re trying out these new ideas, how your students are reacting, and how it’s enhancing (or not) the learning in your classroom. Although you may currently be writing these posts as “homework”, you may be surprised at how many people are reading them, and will come back to them time after time. The practical posts that describe what’s happening in your classroom are usually the most relevant and useful for others (and for you, too). Include a variety of relevant multimedia artefacts that enhance and support your thoughts and ideas.

Building Your Community: As we start looking ahead to course 5, one of the key elements of this programme (as you already know) is to help you build your own professional learning network. Finding the people that help push your thinking, contributing to the conversation, and reflecting on your learning can be the most effective, relevant and powerful professional learning that you have.

Preparing for Course 5

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

It seems kind of crazy to be thinking of course 5, when we’ve only just started this course, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind which of our course themes and ideas you really want to delve into for your final project. It’s also really important for you to have a strong understanding of SAMR model, which you will be exploring this week. Your final COETAIL project will have to demonstrate how you have used technology to redefine your classroom –  to create tasks that would be inconceivable without the computer/tablet/etc.  We will be helping you get ready for the final project throughout course 4 and sharing a lot more information as we go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Understanding Technology Integration

Many, if not all of us, are working in schools where technology is integrated into the core curriculum (meaning students don’t take technology as a separate class, or even if they do, it’s expected that key technology skills will be taught within the core content, “just in time” as a natural part of learning in today’s world). Often the system has been set up before we’ve arrived, or maybe we haven’t had much input into why students are learning this way. This week is all about why schools are integrating technology and how they’re doing it.

Check out this introduction to High Tech High in California:

Image credits

Final Projects from Course 3!

The final projects coming out of Course 3 are astonishingly great! There are a surprising number of you choosing to do a visual CV – is it hiring season by chance? 🙂

It was clearly evident that Course 3 has had a positive impact on your ability to rethink the nature of design in our lives and the effect it has on our communications. We saw evidence of your care and consideration in color schemes, font choices, alignment, storytelling, presentation re-designs, and the ability to redefine storytelling for students. I heard many of you state that this course was the most enjoyable thus far and has allowed you to directly implement the learning in practice.

That’s what this is all about – it’s not about getting through course work – it’s about the shift that inevitably happens when you start to rethink how you present yourself to the world, how you convey your knowledge to others, how you can capture the attention of an audience and captivate them with strong imagery. It’s about helping you to see the world differently and empowering you to offer this chance to your students and peers.

Both Chrissy and I would like to share a glimpse of your well-honed projects by reflecting on a few.


Visual Resume / CV

In terms of visual CVs, we noted the struggle many of you had to simplify your information in not only a graphical manner, but also having to be much more concise than in a traditional resume. The end results were astonishingly good and demonstrate a new way of representing ourselves and our experience.

Rob went through an intense process of seeking feedback and critique for his first visual CV. I love how the community jumped in and offered clear advice for his re-design.

“So based on that feedback, I gave my Infographic a serious facelift. The date is gone, the timeline has been streamlined, the question mark is gone, and most importantly I’ve added some of the things that highlight who I am as an educator.”

Angela’s was similar in design, so I won’t post it below, but it was equally as successful – check it out. Something else to share from her is her about page.

Check out Jocelyn’s Revamped Resume.

“I wanted my resume to represent my understanding of CARP principles of design, and stayed true to the following attributes on my poster”

You have to see both the old version and the newer version to get the visual impact so it’s not embedded here!  She also had time to update her About Me page as well!

Alexis had another take on the idea. I’ll include just a snippet, but check out her post to see more of the thinking behind the scenes.

“Throughout this course, I’ve learned that while designing with Zen in mind may take time, the quality of the end product is much richer and more meaningful for the consumer. Also, Zen principles can be applied to so many different formats – presentations, videos, infographics, digital stories – all of these are quickly becoming regular parts of learning in the 21st Century.”

Screenshot 2015-10-23 11.33.39

Randi worked on her resume too and decided to let her students give her feedback (what an awesome idea – how many times do we let our students critique our work?!) She says her 7th Grade boys being her toughest critics! Before even starting the physical creation process, Randi used this method to focus on her story as she transformed her CV into a visual story.

After I found my main visual, I sketched my plan out on paper. I literally cut up the page and rearranged the main items a few times until I thought my viewers eyes would go to my picture first and then the arrangement would naturally lead their attention along to the rest of my details. I wanted to make sure I stressed my passions and strengths, but did not add anything that visually led eyes to a blank area. I paid attention to the order, sizing, boldness, and font of my letters in an attempt for clarity and professionalism without being boring.


And Leah had another perspective on this project. Rather than seeing it from the recruitment side, she is newly settling in to a school and took this opportunity to define what she does. This helps coworkers and student clearly see where her time is spend and how she could be of help to them.

“When it comes to my purpose, I think this geeky infographic is a much faster and more humorous way to share something about myself with my colleagues. And, while infographics often involve less thought, this one has some deeper meaning and requires people to sit down and think about it. By presenting this to teachers, I am also able to share my process of creating an infographic with teachers so they can use them in the classroom.”

Again, check out the link above to see the post in its entirety, but here’s a quick snapshot.

Screenshot 2015-10-23 11.46.21


Digital storytelling

This option was challenging to many people, but again we saw some excellent examples of how it could be used in the classroom. Ann was open and honest as to how this project unfolded for her and I think she ends her post with a very important point, “Despite these obstacles, I’m glad I didn’t give up on the idea. It helped me reflect on my shadowing experience more deeply and encouraged me to think about the best way to communicate the experience to my audience. It stretched me in new ways and gave me a new perspective on the amount of work that goes into these projects when we ask students to “make a video.””

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Amanda raise two great points in relation to her story:

  1. What is your point?

Classrooms today are redefining what learning looks like. 

2. Why Does it Matter?

We can’t measure today’s learning by yesterdays standards because today’s skills are immeasurable. 

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We didn’t have too many students elect to construct an infographic for their final project, and yet there was real value in the process of describing a process, system or information in a visual manner. These can be authentically used and embedded in your school starting now. It can be a lot of work to create them, but the end result breaks down details into more manageable chunks for an audience.

Lizzie’s project is a good example of this in action.

“This project was really exciting for me. I know that all of our projects have authentic purpose and real application but this was something that my new department needed.”

Screenshot 2015-10-23 11.51.07

Creating an authentic product for use in the classroom was Amanda’s goal for her Course 3 Final Project.  Her Elements of Visual Art infographic Poster very cleverly incorporates all the different languages, to  help a lot of her ELL students.

“I wanted to create a visual aid that was would assist all of my students in understanding and recalling this key vocabulary, particularly my ESL contingent. I also empathised with my colleague’s dislike of the purchased posters, and appreciated her idea of using her own images.”




Blogging with students is something that Kate is very passionate about so when she knew she needed a new way to share blog addresses to the students for their upcoming QuadBlogging project she decided to create this for her final product. (Read the entire blog post to see what it looked like before the revamp!)

Private Student Portal where only students from the four schools involved can view

Anyone else suffering from Awesome Visuals Overload?!