Coetail Online 7, Course 5 Final Projects and Reflections

You made it! What an astonishing achievement professionally and personally for you all!
I’d like to take some time to highlight a few of the projects that stood out in one way or another. This doesn’t mean the others weren’t special – but rather to recognize some unique qualities about some of the final projects.
Your cohort clearly demonstrated an ability to bring concepts from all five courses together, assembling elements of everything we’ve covered in a succinct and effective manner. You’ve told stories of overcoming challenges, reaching out to PLNs, collaborating within your schools, or sometimes abroad, and your projects shed light on the power of learning collaboratively as adults. Well done and I hope you’ll continue to stay in contact both in our cohort and in the wider Coetail community!

Alexis’s 4th Grade students re-did a writing unit on informational picture books. Students had lots of choice and freedom to explore. Alexis embraced the Coetail mentality of reaching out to her PLN to help with collaboration – another Coetailer, Tara Barth provided that connection.

A comment left for Alexis stated,

“What an immense learning experience for grade 4 students, making a picture book for a target audience and getting feedback from them. It’s impressive to see how your students have used different apps especially Google Keep. Their excitement is evident from their responses. Your students have clearly attained the redefinition level.”

Here’s more:

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Sitwat had highly ambitious goals for her project – and she managed to hit them – WHILE moving countries and jobs in the middle of the course!?

She noted: My Goals for this project were :

  • to have a unit on Digital Citizenship;
  • use of seesaw to develop a digital portfolio;
  • to create a Flipped classroom culture using Edpuzzle so the classroom time can be used to facilitate learning;
  • to have a Project-based learning;
  • to do a Global collaborative project ;
  • to create students Blogging culture;
  • to have a Skype or google session with an expert; and
  • enable students to redefine task according to SAMR
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Steve commented, “It’s obvious that your students gained a great deal from your project. You covered a lot of ground with them: flipped classroom, blogging, making videos, digital citizenship, global collaboration. It is always relevant to consider when one is thinking about ‘transformation’ the context in which one is working, and as you make clear, your students’ experience of computers in the classroom was previously limited to the lab. You have expanded their horizons in terms of what is possible at school. The students’ responses were very enthusiastic and you should be proud of what you have brought into their school experience.”

Michelle said: For my final project I created a unit called “Toymaker’s Challenge” to teach a design thinking framework to my students and give them an opportunity to share their designs with the world.

My three main goals for this project were:

  1. Teach design thinking (purpose, process) to elementary students
  2. Collaborate with other teachers in our 3-5 team
  3. Collaborate with other classes outside of our school
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Feedback for Michelle included:

“What a wonderful project for you and for your students. It’s obvious how much all of you learned in the process and that the kids really loved the project. I like how thoughtful you were in laying out the process. You didn’t just throw a bunch of material in their direction, you were deliberate about implementing the steps from the design cycle, and that was evident in both their own words and in seeing their final toys.”

“You have planned the project meticulously and your students were able to attain all steps of design thinking process. Introducing design thinking challenge at grade 3 level will help students to be innovative and think out of the box.I wish you all the best and hope we continue to share stories of our classroom even after the COETAIL.”

“Your students seemed to gain a lot from your project. I’m also a fan of the writing of AJ Juliani and I was interested how you put into practice concrete steps to promote the student’s creative thinking. It was a good decision to take the students out into the community to the play space to see that what they are doing in class is also valued in the world outside. The final celebration activity looked fun and validated the students’ hard work. In their interviews, your students made clear that they had understood that the process is important and that it leads to a better product.”

Kim took on an immense challenge of introducing coding in the classroom – in the Grade 2-5 levels!

The final project was a great source of motivation for me to make a stronger effort to bring coding to the classroom. I had tried in the past but was only able to occasionally teach what was considered one or two “coding” classes school wide.  I think this may be partly due to everyones busy schedule, a lack of knowledge between coding logic and  curriculum connections and/or  the fear of limited resource and lack of knowledge of how coding works.

This year, as coding was my final project, I knew I had to take a different approach at integration.  Being an Ed Tech Coach, I don’t have the opportunity to consistently work with my own students.  To remedy this, I sought out two to three teachers who would be willing and able to consistency provide class time for coding integration. I knew I also had to find teachers who would be able and interested in meeting on a regular basis to discuss the curriculum connections.  Fortunately, I connected with three eager teachers from Grades 2, 4 and 5 EAL.

Feedback for Kim stated: “Kim – what a great final project! I loved seeing just how transformative coding can be across the curriculum. It is very easy to teach coding as a standalone unit of work, but you showed just how well it can enhance the entire curriculum. I loved hearing your students speak so confidently about their work and also how they were the ones to highlight all of the different skills it is teaching them.”

And with that – it’s a wrap! Wishing you all the best for a relaxing and well-deserved holiday season!

EARCOS + Learning 2 Asia

Hi everyone, I’d just like to let you know that I’ll be traveling for the next two weeks for the EARCOS Leadership Conference in Bangkok and then directly to Shanghai for the Learning 2 Asia 2017 conference.

I’ll strive to keep up with grading and assessment (and am current as of today), but there may be a lull in feedback for the next two weeks. If you need anything urgently, please reach out to me via email.

New / returning members

This is just a quick post to welcome two new (returning) members to our cohort – and to ensure that you add them to your feed so they’re not shouting into the wind.

Alexis was actually a member of a previous cohort I instructed – Online 4. She’ll be joining us to wrap up her final course 5 project. You can find her blog here:

Chris was a member of Online 6, and also will be finishing up with our cohort. His blog is:

So please strive to add them to your feed, bookmark, etc and include them in your commenting and feedback.

On a completely separate note, I’d like to have our library purchase some additional books. If you have any recent recommendations or favs, please share on this spreadsheet. I’m sure you’ll also find value in these recommendations!

I got it started with a few that I’ll be likely purchasing.

Hive Mind Book Recommendations


Course 5 completion date update

Hi all – in an effort to help alleviate coursework that bleeds into the December holidays, final assessments, report cards, etc, I’d like to propose a change to our final dates. That should allow us to wrap things up before the break, so you can have a restful holiday without the pressure of Course 5 on your shoulders.

This change would mean that the final video would be due Nov 19th, and then the feedback and final completion date of Dec. 3. Please let me know asap if you find this time-frame difficult or have questions.

I hope everyone is doing well – I’ve only seen one blog active thus far – (Valerie’s reflection on Iceland)

A few nuggets from the web



This site (they also have a Chrome extension) works well for quick and easy background white noise for relaxing, productivity or perhaps while students are working. You can choose a number of different sounds or combine them.


WSJ – “Why All My Emails Are the Lengths of Texts
WSJ – “Want to Spy on Your Children? Call It Monitoring…and Get Their Blessing
Atlantic – “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Psychology Today – “No, Smartphones are Not Destroying a Generation

The Beginning of the End!

Hi Everyone! I emailed you all last week, but will also continue to blog here to help fill in any blanks. Welcome to Course 5 and the final stretch of your Coetail journey.

As noted previously, this course is much more self-sufficient. However, it’s important to work with the requirements and framework of the course, and fortunately, you have most of the semester to complete the work.

To best understand the blogging requirements for Course 5, please revisit the post which clarifies this here.

Course Structure

This course is intended as a practical implementation of everything discussed in the first four courses. There will be three main components:

  • Blogging (just like the other courses)
  • Community Involvement (a little more in depth than previous courses)
  • Your final project video (10-minutes or less, demonstrating your final project in action)

Rather than going over these requirements in depth in this post, please read through all the modules under “My Courses” section of the blog. Also, you may wish to browse through other Course 5 content here.

The three required blog posts can be published at any time during the course, but we encourage you to write the introductory post at the beginning of the course, and the other two reflective posts towards the end of the course, when you’ve had time to build your PLN, as well as implement your project.

Final Project (Video) Overview

Your final presentation video will be a mini-documentary of a unit that you have taken and rebuilt from the bottom up based on your new understandings from the COETAIL courses. Your video will need to show student learning and students actively engaged in the learning process. This could be through images, video, interviews, surveys, etc. It’s important to note that you will need to document the learning in your classroom throughout the course so you can embed different elements in your final video.

And lastly, the new Coetail website is looking great and is much improved, however, if you do notice any quirks or issues, please drop me a line.

Best of luck as you get started and I look forward to you all making it to the finish line!


For those of you who listen to podcasts, you may know, Note to Self – if not, do check it out! The host recently did a TED Talk that I think is relevant to all of us.

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Exploring Current Trends in Learning

Exploring Current Trends in Learning

I’ll be referencing a post that our very own Chrissy put together last year as it’s very much still relevant and interesting and pertains to what we’re discussing in Course 4. So credit goes to her for this post!

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.

Chrissy, another Coetail instructor stated,

“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 its 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 DownChrissy continued with,

“I’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

You may not 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 micro-credentials 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 May 29, 2017.

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 artifacts 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 program (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

Wrapping up Course 3

Just like our last course, the final week of Course 3 is a time for you to catch up and make sure you’ve completed all the work over the last five weeks. Here’s what you should have:

  • One blog post for each week of the course (for a total of 5 posts)
  • A final project (with reflection) embedded into your last blog post for Course 3
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)

All of these items should be listed on your grading spreadsheet so that we can give you feedback.

Course 3 Final Projects & Sharing Media on Your Blog

CCO Public Domain:

CCO Public Domain:

Because Course 3 is very heavy with visual media, a few great questions have come up about how to best share media on your blog. You may have already noticed that there is a limit to the file sizes you can upload to your blog. This is because there are great places to host your media on the web where lots of other users will be able to find it and connect with you (and of course, we don’t have unlimited server space to host all the files everyone could possibly want to upload).

So, as you create your final projects for Course 3, you may want to think about where you’re going to upload your finished products.

Uploading & sharing Images:

Personally, we love Flickr. The free accounts are really generous, the sharing is super easy, and the community is really active. Of course, you can host all your images within Google Photos if you have an account already (which used to be Picasa). Another popular resource is SmugMug.

Uploading & sharing Videos:

Mostly people tend to use YouTube. The fact that it’s integrated with Google Apps makes it easy to manage. When we have longer videos, we tend to use Vimeo. You can upload videos to your Google Drive account and embed them in other places on the web if that feels more comfortable for you.

Uploading & sharing Presentations:

Google Slides has gotten so amazingly good in the last few months, that several of us at CoETaIL have almost entirely stopped using any desktop software – you can now use transparent colors to fill shapes, mask images to have them be different shapes, crop images and even enhance image properties – all right within Google Presentations.

If we have a lot of custom designing on a presentation and we don’t want to upload to Google Presentations, we usually create in Keynote or PowerPoint and then upload to Slideshare. Again, it’s easy to embed presentations from Slideshare pretty much anywhere on the web, there’s a good community there, and lots of great resources to look at for inspiration too.

If you’re planning to create a presentation and narrate the slides, you have a number of options. You can import your slides as images into your video editing software (iMovie or MovieMaker for example) and then record your audio and upload the video files as suggested above. You might also want to try making a screencast (here is a great guide from Kathy Schrok with a list of some tools you might want to try). If you have a Mac, QuickTime is so easy to use for screencasting with audio. If you do make a screencast, you can also upload that video file to the same services listed above.

Uploading & sharing Other File Types:

Pretty much anything else that we need to upload and share, we use Google Drive. It’s easy to publish almost any kind of file to the web on Google Drive, and then embed that work into a blog (or anywhere else).

Where do you prefer to host your files? Please feel free to share suggestions in the comments!

Comments Awaiting Moderation

Just a little reminder to be checking your blog regularly for comments awaiting approval.  We are noticing that there are many comments awaiting approval – it’s considerate to be approving comments as quickly as possible as people have taken the time to comment thoughtfully on your posts.

comment_discussions-10-16_at_4_50_34_pmYou might not realize this, but you can change the settings of comment approval – so that you do not have to approve any comments (you might be ok with this, personally I like to know when someone comments).

You can also get an email whenever someone comments (that way you can approve them quickly too).commenting

Welcome to Weeks 3/4!

Welcome to Week 3/4!

I say weeks 3/4 because I realize many schools in Asia may have had a Chinese New Year break just as we got started. I personally have two spring breaks this year with the first starting this Friday, so our cohort’s timing may be a bit asynchronous at the moment.

By now hopefully you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2 / 3″ in Course 3 under “My Courses”
  • written 2 or 3 blog posts and 2 or 3 comments
  • started using the “Course 3″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recorded the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • recorded the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • read through of the final project for Course 3 – it’s a little different than Course 1 or 2 – with even more opportunities for exploring and experimenting with different types of media

Making a Lasting Impact

This week’s focus is on presentation design, particularly the Presentation Zen style. Here’s an introduction:

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You might also enjoy his overview of several other interpretations of the Presentation Zen principals:

Kim Cofino chimed in about her thoughts on this:

“I still remember first time I saw the Presentation Zen book (lots of his resources are available online, some of the key elements are shared in this week’s readings) and realized I would have to re-think my entire presentation process. Thankfully, I saw the book a few weeks before I made a series of presentations, I think at one of the Learning 2.0 conferences, and my presentations were a thousand times better for it!

Now that I’ve been through this process a few times, I feel like I have my own “style” of presentation design, based on Garr Reynolds’s principles (check this week’s readings for a overview of how both Jeff and I design our presentations). Personally, I really like the idea that when someone else views one of my presentations, they know it’s mine by the style and design, rather than the by-line. As you continue through this course, think about the ideas that really resonate with you, along with the styles and the design aesthetic, so you can begin to create your own personalized version of visual design.”

Keep in mind that it may take a while to develop this personalized “look” to your work. This visualization based on a story by Ira Glass is a great reminder that we all need time and practice to develop the skills necessary to create the image we have in our minds:

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

As you’re developing your style, you may find this process helpful. Please feel free to share your thinking in the comments below, or of course, in your blog posts!

Applying Design Principles on Your Blog

After reading your posts for Week 1, I noticed that lots of you are interested in applying the design principles we’re learning about to your blog, and you’re looking for some “how to” tips on these skills.

Many of you have noticed that you have limited formatting features in your posts – this is primarily because the designer of the theme has selected the font they think fits best, as well as sizes and colors. At a first glance, it seems that you can’t do much editing because there aren’t as many options as you might be used to seeing in an app like Pages or Word, but you can still do almost anything in your posts! The secret is HTML.

Using the text editor tab (rather than the visual tab) will allow you to use any HMTL you would like – which basically means you can change pretty much anything in your posts. Having said that, I would generally recommend that you don’t change much – the designer has gone through the time and energy to determine what looks best on your theme and they’ve made those choices for a reason. But, if you’d really like to change more, check out these HTML tutorials. You can also use HTML in comments and a text widget on your sidebar (to add a map widget, for example) as well!

For those who would rather stay within the WordPress visual tab menu, here is an article with some formatting tips, and the official WordPress visual editor support guide, as well as this video tutorial.

You will notice that we have some extra features here on our COETAIL blog – this is because we have a custom WP install – which actually gives us (and you!) lots more customization options. I love using the YouTube and Vimeo embed button to make embedding videos easy.

As I’m sure you’ve already discovered, there are so many tutorial videos about WordPress – so if there’s anything you want to do, and you don’t know how, I’m sure there is someone who’s done a screencast for you! Have fun exploring!

Quick reminder

Just a brief reminder that while considering the use of Creative Commons images, that I previously posted about this very topic in November and it may be worth another quick read.

Also, if you have any issues accessing the readings for the week, it may be an issue that can be fixed by removing the “s” in the “https” of the link to the reading.

Screenshot 2017-02-04 14.31.11