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. Seriously. You guys blew us away. 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!

Mark Mouck: Collaborative Notetaking in 9th Grade English

Mark has captured his students talking about collaborative notetaking in class warts and all. I really enjoyed and appreciated the variety of their reasonings for doing (or not doing) notetaking in this way.  His project is both student-centred and student-driven.

Annie Hall Paulson: Technology in PE Class

What I really love about Annie’s Course 5 project is that despite the challenges, she demonstrates a growth mindset and flexibility. Her students make cute appearances all through the video sharing their learning with us all.  This project will definitely inspire you to try technology in a curriculum area that you may not think you can.

Sonya terBorg:  Student Blogs in the Junior School

If you are wondering how to blog with students – especially in the Junior School, then you really need to watch Sonya’s Course 5 project! Even with a number of obstacles, often times, beyond her control, Sonya remained flexible and with her growth mindset, was able to work around those challenges.   You’ll hear from both students and teachers and gain some really great tips that apply to anyone working with students/teachers and technology.

Colleen McCabe: TourBuilder in Literacy

A very student-orientated Course 5 project! You’ll get to hear students talk about what they did in Colleen and Angela’s combined TourBuilder Unit. There’s great modelling of the tool and the task and what’s even cooler is that the students want to continue to learn in this way.  A great example of how technology can be integrated in powerful ways.

Ann Lautrette: The End but really the Beginning

Ann has done something “different” with the presentation of her Course 5 project (I don’t want to give too much away – but just so you know, I really enjoyed watching it!!).  If you’re interested in a redesign of the core of IB – using blogs instead of an exercise book for TOK, then you really need to watch this one!  What I really like about this project is that it is an awesome example of a student-centred, student-driven project that shows that the sharing of student work really reflects the power of blogging and how you can make it work for IB.

Erika van Vogt: Introduction of A Class Blog

It’s quite obvious that I’m a big fan of blogging with students. Erika’s student-driven (through roles) Introduction of a Class Blog has digital citizenship deliberately and authentically entwined throughout.  Her students explain what’s going on and it’s very powerful to see inside Erika’s classroom as the students work on their tasks.  The enthusiasm of the student interviews in this video presentation is fabulous to see!

Becca Allen: Making Thinking Visible

Becca did an outstanding job of not only sharing her learning from Course 5 (along with all of the other elements of this project like student feedback, student learning in action and student samples), but she also constructed her video in such an organized, clear and thoughtful way so that the viewer can really understand her entire process. Personally, I also always love to see examples of technology being integrated seamlessly into regular classroom routines like visible thinking routines. It’s a great way to see how technology can support good pedagogy without becoming a massive project.

Kara Cole: Minecraft in the Classroom

Kara did an amazing job of both structuring this project for student success and letting it be completely student centered and student directed. For me, this project is an outstanding example of the importance of being structured and organized, but how you can make that experience all about the students. I loooove the very first few seconds of the video where her grade 5 students are in the computer lab and the noise level is out of control with their enthusiasm and energy about learning, but when you get closer you can hear that they’re so engaged and purposeful. For me, this is what a classroom should be. Thanks for bringing it to life so clearly in your video, Kara!

Kristy Godbout iStop Motion with the Who Am I? Unit of Inquiry

Kristy has done such a fantastic job of connecting hands on learning with visible thinking and technology in her kindergarten classroom. Kristy has so many great examples of her students learning in action, as well as their finished product. Her video is so well organized and thorough, including all of the elements required for the project in such an engaging and inspiring way. It’s always fantastic to see young learners using technology so purposefully, and for it to be so well integrated into the classroom environment, rather than an add-on.

Daena Greig: Animated .gifs in PE

I have to admit, I can’t stop talking about this project. It’s such a simple idea technologically speaking, but one that has such a far reaching impact, not just for PE but for so many other subject areas. Daena and David have worked together to use animated .gifs in PE (and David has worked with other subject area teachers along the same lines as well, so it’s not just great for PE, it’s great for lots of subjects), so that students are able to record very short, repeating, animated images of themselves demonstrating PE skills. The addition of an animated rubric for them to evaluate themselves takes this project to another level. I know this idea is going to spread!

Angela Spitzman: Tour Builder for Literature Circles

I love this idea from Angela! I’ve used TourBuilder a number of times, but never in the way that Angela describes it here. She has her students delving deeply into the stories they are reading to create animated tours of either the actual story or a possible continued version of the story. The students are truly interacting with the characters of the story as they plan and map the path of their adventures right on Google Earth.

Carly Thomas: Global Collaboration with Ning in AP Environmental Science

I am so appreciative of the fact that Carly took a risk and created a globally collaborative project for Course 5! I think we can all appreciate how hard it is to create a global project – and she did it from China with tons of restrictions on what kinds of tools she could use, in a very content heavy subject area as well. It’s great to see the value her students have placed on having that global interaction, as well as her ideas to continue to further the collaboration.

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:

For me, I 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 loose 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!

An Opportunity in Bangkok in Feb 2015

For those of you that are in Asia, Chrissy and I will be running our first Eduro Learning Institute here at NIST in February. We hope you will join us! It’s going to be an awesome weekend of learning, connecting and pushing our COETAIL learning even further. Plus, we get to meet each other in person! Check out more details here.


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 (November 23rd)! This is to give us all time to watch and give feedback on final projects (see more details below), which is due by November 30th.

Sharing Your Final Project & Feedback

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.

Once you have submitted your work, please make sure to watch a few (up to 5) other projects and offer your feedback here (also linked in the sidebar of our blog). The individual feedback for you will later be copied and pasted into your individual grading spreadsheet.

Please make sure to watch and complete the feedback over the next week, so that all feedback is complete by November 30th.

Course 5 Begins!

Woohoo! You made it to the last and final course of the COETAIL program!

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 September 7th – December 7th. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will have readings and commenting every week!

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.)

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 I can keep up with your work.

All assignments for this course are due are due on November 23rd. This gives you time to complete everything before the other participants watch your finished final product video.

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 me know!) We’re all here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice!

Important Announcements & Reminders

Although I 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

Fantastic Course 4 Final Projects

Even though we’re officially finished with Course 4, Chrissy and I just wanted to share with you a few of the fantastic Course 4 Final Projects we’ve been reading. If you haven’t had a chance to see these yet, please drop by and leave them a comment.

As you know, we had two options for the final project, so here are some highlights organized by the type of project (most people chose to brainstorm a few project ideas):

Unit Planners

Becca has created an outstanding UbD unit planner to make student thinking visible (enhanced through the use of technology) in her classroom throughout the year.  One thing that’s really exciting to me about Becca’s idea is that she’s going to bring these kinds of experiences to all the different subject areas she teaches and it’s going to be an ongoing process throughout the year. Often our COETAILers choose “project” ideas that are actually more like a mindshift about the way we teach and learn or total classroom experience that is ongoing throughout the year or the semester and this is a great example of that.

Ann has been developing her ideas for her Course 5 project and shares a UbD unit planner for IB Core for Year 12.  With IB usually following a more traditional model, it is exciting to read an innovative approach to the IB program.  Not only will students be learning through their own inquiry, Ann will be working collaboratively with a team of teachers with various comfort levels with technology.

Erika created this UbD planner because she always felt as though the unit lacked technology. In her words, “Why not hit the ground running at the start of the year?” What’s exciting about this unit is that Erika is not only taking a risk herself (as she explains in her post) but she’s also creating an environment in which she will be empowering her students (and a fellow colleague) to take risks in their learning and experience learning that might get a little messy!

Multiple Project Ideas

Andrea has two fantastic ideas for her final project. For the social justice project, it’s particularly exciting to see that she is thinking about connecting her future students (after she moves this summer) with her current students making this a global collaboration project. Thinking about transformation, this opportunity to connect students on a global level is something that certainly was not possible a few years ago.

Kristy has two great ideas for her kindergarten classroom. Similar to Becca’s these projects can be infused throughout the school year to really build on student understanding as they grow. It’s great to see a new way of thinking about Readers and Writers workshop, as well as exploring the ideas of makerspaces and DIY in the younger years. I also appreciate that Kristy wrote out her ideas in a Google Doc and then embedded the doc – whichever way works for you, works for us!

Daena shared three(!) awesome ideas for her final project. It’s great to see that all of these options are really building on what she already does to not only take advantage of all that she’s learned in COETAIL, but to help engage her students in new and creative ways of reflecting on and sharing their learning. I have to admit, the images Daena chose also really pulled me into her post. I currently have the blogging quote open in another tab to use for another workshop too – visual literacy makes an impact!

Karen is considering letting her Grade 5 students, as a class, by voting, decide which of her two awesome ideas she has shared here. Both ideas give her students an active role in creating a community of learners within the classroom and beyond.

TW’s two interesting ideas hope to empower his students to take responsibility for their own learning. Both ideas focus on solidifying foundational skills across Grade 9 and beyond. There is potential for global connections, authentic audience and improvement of organisation and presenting skills for these lucky students!

Overall Thoughts

Some of the things that make these projects stand out is their direct impact on student learning during “traditional” class time. Many of us have the option to work with students after school, or to lead groups of teachers, and these can often be an easier option for a Course 5 project (because there is so much more flexibility in what we can do). But, we think you will find the most value from projects that happen in your classroom (or a partner teacher’s classroom). The experience of actually redesigning a unit to focus on transformation gives you so many opportunities to practice what you’ve learned here in COETAIL and to see how it actually works in the “real world.” For your actual Course 5 final project, you’ll also need to have video footage of the learning that happens as well as reflections from your students, so the more you can be in an actual classroom, the richer your Course 5 project will be!

COETAIL Flipboard Reminder

And while we’re here, just a quick reminder that we’re often posting new and interesting articles into the COETAIL Flipboard magazines. You don’t have to read them, but I find myself sharing interesting reads there (including many of your posts) pretty much every day and I know the other instructors do too, so they’re a great resource!

Happy Summer!

Well, that’s about it from us until we start up again in Course 5! Enjoy your summer holidays and we will see you back here on September 7th! If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

It’s Almost Summer Holidays!


You have now completed the first four courses!

As of today, you should have completed (and linked on your spreadsheet):

  • All 5 posts
  • All 5 comments
  • Your final project

Chrissy and I will be doing a final round of Course 4 grading this week. If for some reason you haven’t completed your work yet, please get in touch with us so we can support you in finishing Course 4.

As we wrap up the last bits and pieces of Course 4, I wanted to wish you all a fabulous summer holiday. This is going to be a big one for my husband, Alex, and I, as we’re moving back to Bangkok in July. Plus Chrissy and I will both be involved in our exciting Eduro Learning events in Seattle during the first week of July, so if you’re in the Pacific Northwest this summer, come meet us (and Jeff and Clint will be there too!)

I hope your summer is exactly what you’re looking for and we’re looking forward to hearing about your travels when we catch up again next semester!


Course 5 Highlights

For those that are really thinking ahead, a few things to remember about Course 5:

  • Course 5 runs the entire fall semester from September 7th to December 7th. This is to allow you enough time to actually complete the project and have time to reflect (and collect student samples and feedback).
  • Your final project will be in the form of a 10-minute video. These videos will be shared publicly on your blog, as well as featured on various COETAIL forums – like our G+ community.
  • Your Course 4 project should have given you a few options to choose from for your Course 5 project. As you settle back into your routine in August, that would be a good time to select which project you plan to actually complete.
  • As you work through your Course 5 project there will be no formal blogging prompts. Writing about your project is a great way to keep up your blogging practice.
  • The other element in Course 5 is to document the growth of your personal learning network and how you are contributing to your personal online community. This is also a great topic for blog posts.

More details about Course 5 will come in September, but hopefully this will get you started thinking.

#waikiki by superkimbo, CC Licensed on Flickr

Week 6: Finishing Course 4!

Woohoo! You’re almost there!

Welcome to Week 6!

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!)

Catching up and Wrapping up

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. 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.

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.

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.

Final Project Inspiration

A few articles and videos that struck me as interesting inspiration for your Course 5 project:

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!

Course 5 Project Examples

Note: I’m reposting this here from Week 3 just in case you haven’t had a chance to look at them yet since you will probably be focused on your final project ideas this week:

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.

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!)

The Technology Rich Classroom

Many of us are working in 1:1 schools, (and at YIS we even have a 2:1 learning environment – iPad Mini + MacBook Air 11″ for all grade 7 students). We are (or are becoming) comfortable with students having at least one device in the classroom, and we know we can use those devices to enhance the learning that happens both in the classroom and outside. However, working in these environments does require some different kinds of thinking about the way we manage time, distractions and use of devices.

At YIS, we have a shared set of expectations for all students in our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program), which work really well for us. The key being that we model some specific behaviors related to balance (no laptops at break or lunch, except in designated supervised workrooms), and that we continue to revisit and revise our strategies based on what students and teachers need.

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.

This list of strategies and practices that works for YIS, might not work at your school – every community is different. What kinds of strategies are working well in your classroom? Does your school have expectations as a whole? What’s working well?


Week 4: The Future of Learning

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!)

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):

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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.

One of my favorite organizations (and a great source innovative thinking) HASTAC also has a great introduction:

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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!


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Massively Open Online Courses – I know a number of our cohort participants have been involved in several MOOCS (Bart has blogged about his experiences quite a bit) so this should be a very interesting discussion. 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?

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. I have lots of other resources here on my 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. YIS was lucky to host the Flat Classroom Conference in 2013 and we 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:

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And a great example from a TOK class in Hawaii (side note: I visited this school when I was in Hawaii for Christmas – looks like a lovely place to work if anyone is interested in moving back to the US!).

Looking Ahead to Course 5

Hopefully these different learning styles that we’ve been exploring the last few weeks have inspired you! This is a great time to really start thinking about your Course 5 project to see how you might implement one (or some) of them in your final project. If you’d like to see some examples of Course 5 projects, here is a list of highlights from my last online cohort, as well as my last cohort hosted at YIS :

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.

Week 3: Current Learning Strategies

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 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)

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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 for me, the jury is still out. I love using mini tutorials for my students especially when I know they will want to refer back to the material over and over again, but I’m not a fan of lecture in any format (in person or via video), or the idea of taking a content heavy class and just delivering it at home instead of during the school day. One of the things that makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of a flipped classroom is the feedback that students have given including (this list is from the IBO):

  • 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:

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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 (a Learning2Leader at two recent Learning2 Conferences) has a fantastic compilation of resources for those interested in learning more. Here’s his Learning2 Talk from Singapore (2013) to get you started:

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Here at YIS, our Humanities teachers, Rebekah Madrid (one of our awesome COETAIL instructors) and (my husband, and COETAIL graduate) Alex Guenther, have been using Minecraft with middle school students in lots of interesting ways. Here’s Rebekah’s Learning 2 Talk from 2013:

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And one final video about Minecraft in education from PBS Idea Channel (one of my favorite YouTube channels – tons of great stuff there!)

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And Alex’s final project for COETAIL:

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I know both Rebekah and Alex (and Adrian) love to talk about these projects – so feel free to connect with them on Twitter if you have questions!


It’s usually easy to see how play can be an integral part of the classroom in early elementary, but thinking about play in middle or high school can be challenging for some. There has been lots of discussion lately about the value of play all throughout school in order to build problem solving skills and develop innovation. Here’s Tony Wagner at TEDxNY talking about that very topic:

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For some research about play (from Henry Jenkis at USC) as well as a framework for thinking about play in learning, check out Project New Media Literacies. If you’d like to read more, this whitepaper out of the same group is really interesting. For a practical look, Rebekah has been experimenting a lot with play in her classroom as well. And you might enjoy Jamie Raskins L2Talk from Africa 2014 about “genius hour” or passion projects:

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More Great Learning Opportunities

The last few weeks have been extra busy at YIS. We just hosted our fifth annual #beyondlaptops conference (where it was great to see quite a few COETAILers), and it was once again an outstanding learning experience. Lots of conversations were started, particularly about action research, as well as creativity and innovation, that might be interesting to you. In fact, we had such a great presentation from Tico Oms (his L2Talk from Learning2 last year is below, to give you an idea of what we talked about) that we started a virtual book club (thanks Kristy, for the idea!) based on the ideas Tico presented – please feel free to join!

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Registration for Learning2 opened last week – for both the Asia conference (in Manila in October) and the Africa conference (in Johannesburg in November). By far the most innovative and engaging learning conference in Asia, if you haven’t been to #learning2 before, I highly recommend you give it a try! Our new experiment this year (at the Asia conference) is the Disrupt Strand (featuring COETAIL grad and instructor, Rebekah Madrid, as well as me and Jeff) – we’re super excited to see how this develops in Manila this year!

And, you might have also seen that we’ll have our first conference in Europe in 2016 (in Milan), as well as in the Middle East (location still to be announced). So, almost wherever you are in the world, there is a Learning2 conference for you! And if there isn’t one yet, let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

Week 2: Going Old School with “Past” Learning Strategies

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 1″ in Course 4 under “My Courses”
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 4″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment 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, some slightly different options from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Blast From the Past: PBL & CBL

This week focuses on established learning strategies project-based learning and challenge-based learning. So they’re not really that far in the past, in fact these learning strategies are still relevant today and can be combined with many of the current and future ideas we’ll be looking at in the following weeks (which is why we’re starting here).

A solid understanding of these strategies and why they’re so powerful will be really helpful as you begin to explore with some of the newer approaches. Fostering student independence, working toward student-centered learning, and building up to longer term projects will all provide support for differentiation and creativity both with and without technology.

One of my all-time favorite books on this topic is Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe (there’s one chapter available for preview on the ASCD site, or you can purchase on Amazon). If you haven’t already explored this one, I highly recommend it!

Because these pedagogical approaches are quite well established, there are tons of great resources available (some of our favorites are in the readings for this week). One “non-traditional” example is Caine’s Arcade:

One of the things I enjoy about teaching in a project-based classroom, which my MYP Technology class always is, is the opportunity to fail, to learn from mistakes and to try again. When we have that overarching goal or purpose, particularly one that is individual to each student, there are so many chances to be independent in our learning and take risks and explore. This short mini-documentary from Honda explains the power of failure really well:

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And, this TEDxTalk from Diana Laufenberg, currently at SLA, highlights the value project-based learning, and failure, as well:

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And one more for the mathematically inclined, Dan Meyer’s TEDxTalk, Math Class Needs a Makeover:

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Hopefully these examples can help you start thinking about your own Course 5 project opportunities too!

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