And That’s a Wrap!

Can you believe it? You made it!  Your “official” CoETaIL Course learning journey is almost complete!

As of May 10 you should have done the following:

  • Submitted your Final Project Blog Post (with embedded presentation video) here
  • Completed a total of 4 blog posts (details here), URLs pasted in your gradesheet
* Jigsaw *

Photo Credit: pareeerica via Compfight cc

Now, there’s just one last piece to complete.

By May 20th, please watch a minimum of 5 videos and provide feedback using this form each time. (If you can watch & give feedback on more than 5, please do so – as that would be very much appreciated!) If you want to, you could watch all of the videos (but only provide feedback on at least 5).

If you look at the right sidebar, you can see the embedded spreadsheet for the choice of Final Project URLs to click on. (If you scroll along horizontally, you can see the grade of the students worked with in the project. You might like to watch all the projects that interest you or are at similar grade levels to you).  
Your assessment of their work will be anonymous and they will receive the feedback on their grading spreadsheet. Likewise, you will receive the anonymous feedback on your grading spreadsheet.

Between May 20th and May 28th, your cohort instructor will be in touch (either via email/gradesheet) with your other blog posts feedback, your Final Project feedback and your Final Grade.  You will also receive your CoETaIL Certificate of Completion via email shortly thereafter.  In a few weeks, your instructor will ask for your feedback on the CoETaIL Course – we really appreciate the honest feedback (warts & all) and we’re always looking for ways to improve the five courses.

Jeff, Clint and myself have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of you throughout your CoETaIL learning journey.  We hope that you have been able to cultivate and grow a network of amazing educators, gained much more than you hoped from this course and that you will continue to share your thoughts, ideas and learning through your blog.

Three Cheers

Photo Credit: _heycarsten via Compfight cc


Cheers to a well-earned, CoETaIL-free Summer Break.
Safe travels where ever you may be!

What on earth are you going to do with all your spare time now???

It’s the Final Countdown!

Less than a month to go!  Yes, that’s right – I don’t mean to scare you ……… but yes, there is less than a month to go before the deadline for all Course 5 work – 10 May 2015 will be upon us!

Just in case you’re not sure what’s needing to be complete, here’s a little reminder list to cross the Finish Line:

By May 10, 2015 you only need to have four (4) blog posts published. It is NOT possible to extend the deadline for you beyond this date. (And please don’t forget to fill out your GradeSheet for your instructor!)

Three (3) of these blog posts are compulsory and they are:

  1. An introduction to your Final Project
    Remember to include answers to the following questions
    How do you plan to implement your COETAIL learning with your students?
    What do you plan to do and why? How do you think you might get there?
    What are you hoping to see in your students learning as you conduct the project?
  2. Community Engagement & Involvement
    This blog post must describe your Community Engagement experience with documented evidence of ongoing, back-and-forth communication. This reflection should include your participation in your personal learning network over the course of this program as well as your continued plans for future growth. It must show the ways have you connected with others both within and beyond the COETAIL community (this is outside of the required blogging practice) and you must mention how this participation has enhanced your learning and professional development.
  3. Final Project Video & Reflection
    This blog post must include the following:
    A reflection of your Course 5 Final Project (similar to your reflections for all previous courses)
    All related materials (slides, videos, unit planners, etc) for your final project
    The embedded video of your Course 5 Final Project
    Please remember to answer the following questions in your reflection (either in the blog post or in your actual video):

    1. What were your goals for your lesson/project (Standards)?
    2. What tools did you use? Why did you choose this/these tools for this/these task(s)?
    3. How did you go about introducing your lesson/project?
    4. How did the students react? Include actual samples of student reflection (video, images, etc)
    5. Outcome? Did you meet your goals?
    6. Evidence of learning? Remember to include student evidence like video, images, reflections.
    7. What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? (Reflection)
    8. How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues?
    9. What was your greatest learning in this course?
    10. Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?

When your Final Project Video & Reflection blog post has been published on your blog – please remember to fill in this form so that others can give their feedback on your Final Project Video.

The 4th blog post is a choice post – you can write a blog post about anything you like.  Keep in mind that it still must meet the criteria on our CoETaIL Blogging Rubric.

And that will be it!
Done, done, done
(insert instructors’ sad sobbing)


Starting with the End in Mind

First, let me say welcome back and Happy New Year to everybody in Online Cohort 2!

At the end of Course 4, we asked you to create a new unit or to overhaul an existing one as a way to think about possible ideas for your final project. There were so many awesome ideas put out there that implemented various bits and pieces from problem-based learning, gamification, flipped learning and connectivism. There were ideas that brought together elements of visual literacy like infographics or Presentation Zen. There were others that took a look at our rights and responsibilities online, including concepts of privacy, ownership, copyright and Creative Commons.

Your final post for Course 4 was just a starting point to get you thinking about what could happen in Course 5. If you had a flash of inspiration or have developed another brilliant idea, you should definitely pursue that idea! Don’t forget that the focus of this project is to rebuild an entire unit of work from the ground up based on your new understanding of technology integration and use from this program and from the connections and community we have developed.

As you develop your unit, perhaps the most powerful tool at your disposal is the SAMR model. It is a great way to get you thinking first and foremost about why you are integrating technology into your unit. The purpose of this project is to transform learning experiences in your classroom through the purposeful use of technology. Also, the rubric that will be used to assess your project and to give you feedback is based on SAMR.

There are lots of avenues for support during this process. Of course, there is Jeff, Chrissy and myself. Feel free to contact us at any time with any questions. There are also a lot of examples of Course 5 projects out there from previous COETAILers. Be sure to take a look at some of them in order to get an idea of how others have approached this – both the idea for the unit and how it has been presented – in the past. There is the Google+ community that is a place to specifically discuss your thoughts, ideas and progress on your Course 5 project.

I’m really excited to see how these projects develop over the next few months. Please keep in mind the requirements for the final presentation as you start documenting the work that you and your students are doing to ensure that you have the evidence of growth and learning (both from you and your students) that you will want/need. Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you more details on the other aspects of assessment such as blogging and community involvement for Course 5. Until then…


Let’s Get This Party Started!

Welcome back everyone! And a big welcome to Course 5!

We hope you are feeling re-freshed, re-charged & re-ady to begin! You’ve made it to the last course of CoETaIL and of course, we’ve saved the best for last!

Now you need to know that Course 5 is very different than the rest of the courses. For starters, this course runs the entire semester, from January 26th – May 10th 2015. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will have readings and commenting every week!

Also, in this course you will be on your own to implement many of the tools, applications, and theories we have covered throughout the program. We will not have weekly themes like the other courses, and each of your projects will be very unique to your current working environment. The longer time frame, and individualized nature of this course, is intended to give you the opportunity to put into practice everything we’ve been discussing in the first four courses.

To help you work your way through the various parts of this course, each aspect of the course will be highlighted one week at a time during the first six weeks of this course. Of course, you’re welcome to read ahead to get the details on each element (or take them one week at a time – whatever works for you)!

Your grade for this course is based on your application of what you have learned in your own classroom or working environment, your blog posts, and your own reflection and involvement in the COETAIL community.

The finish line

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

Yes, that’s right, you did read it right – as you proceed through Course 5 there will be no formal weekly blogging prompts. Instead, we encourage you to continue to develop your own blogging routines, as well as your voice. There are four required posts for Course 5, three of which have a required topic (see Week 3: Ideas for Blog Posts), the topic of the fourth post is your choice. Of course, you are always welcome to publish more than the minimum number of posts!

We will talk more about CoETaIL Community Involvement and what that should look like in a later post!

This it! The home-stretch CoETaILers! Let’s bring it!

As always, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor, Jeff, Clint or Chrissy if you’re not sure about anything! We’re here to help!


Preparing for the Finale

Well here we are…the last week of Course 4. Your final project for this course is to simply start planning what you are going to do for your Course 5 project. I highly recommend reading over the Course 5 Expectations if you have questions please do leave them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them as soon as possible. Once we get back from Winter Break we’ll be opening up Course 5 registration where you’ll have more details about the final project. For now we just want you to start planning, brainstorming, and thinking about what you might be able to accomplish for your Course 5 project.

The following video came across my screen thanks to the COETAIL Google+ community and Wired.

This video does a great job of framing what we’re looking for in your Course 5 project. Does technology replace the teacher? No….but it does allow for things to be different. Whether you revolutionize redefine your classroom/school is up to you but the process of COETAIL has hopefully lead you to a point where you can take a risk, try something new, and push the boundaries of what is known at your school in how technology is used within the classroom setting to truly impact the educational process.

For some inspiration head over the the Online1 Cohort Blog where you can view the latest Course 5 Final projects as that cohort finishes up their COETAIL program this week. Congrats to them!

We’re here to help..we’re here to support…and we’re looking forward to what Course 5 brings!

Not Failure, Just 10,000 Ways That Won’t Work

A method of learning and teaching which allows students to focus on how and what they will learn is referred to as Problem-based learning (PBL).

An unfamiliar problem, situation or task is presented to the students (by the teacher) and students are required to determine for themselves how they will go about solving the problem.

PBL is a student-centred approach to learning that encourages students to be self-directed, interdependent and independent as they attempt to solve the set problem, but as we all know, sometimes this is not always the reality for learning and teaching in our classrooms or with or school schedules!

Based on steps suggested in Study Guides & Strategies’ Cooperative Learning Series, here are the steps that I take my elementary (G3-5) students through when trying to incorporate authentic PBL in the classroom. This usually occurs through small group work and students are encouraged to use their prior knowledge in the topic area and identify the gaps in their knowledge as they attempt to solve the problem.

  1. Explore the Issues
    Introduce the problem to students, discuss, (hopefully students will identify that they don’t know enough to solve the problem) identify significant parts.
  2. List “What do we Know?”
    In small groups students identify what they know to solve the problem (lots of cooperative learning strategies engaged here).
  3. Develop, and write out, the problem statement in your own words
  4. List Possible Solutions
    List all ideas, then order from strongest to weakest. Choose the best one (usually a lot of teacher facilitation is required in this step).
  5. Actions / Timeline
    What do we have to know and do to solve the problem?  (I’ve tried doing this in groups with varying success – more on the not-so-successful-scale, so now we do this as a whole class as it requires scaffolding with younger students).
  6. List “What do we need to Know?”
    This is the hands-on part of the learning! (laptops, ipads and the most valuable lady in all the land – our librarian are engaged!)
  7. Submit Your Findings
    Students always present their findings to a groups or to the whole class.  If I haven’t done so already, I “tuck in” presentation skills teaching.
  8. Reflect
    Students use a cooperative learning rubric to reflect on their work as a group and as an individual in that group.
  9. Celebrate our Work!
    Using either our class blog or individual student blogs, we will share and celebrate our work with the school and wider global community.  If there’s a lot of written or wall display work, we’ll use QR codes to help us share.

How about you? What do you do to help incorporate PBL in your classroom?

What’s the problem?

If there is one thing that Education is great at, it’s generating jargon, buzzwords and TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). Gamification? UBD? GBL? CBL? PBL? The other PBL? X-BL? Wait… there are two different types of PBL? If you want to really geek out on edu-speak, take a look at this infographic that charts the different learning theories:

click for full size

When I was in high school, 99% of what I was taught was content-based. Classes normally went something like this:

  • <teacher>: Read pages 7 – 45 in the textbook tonight for homework and answer discussion questions 1 – 12.
  • <students>: grumble, grumble, grumble.
  • <teacher>: (the next day) Mr Hamada, what is the answer to discussion question #1?…
  • <me>: (flipping the pages furiously) The war of 1812 took place in, uh, 1812?
  • <teacher>: Well done! Tomorrow we will have a test on the chapter that was made by the textbook publisher and asks you to regurgitate what is written in the book. I’ll also ask you to write an essay that I will grade arbitrarily based on how I’m feeling at the time.

Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration… but not by much!

Now, of course, we realize that content is dead and that concepts, inquiry and critical thinking are the coins of the realm.

MYP Design Cycle by Ray Gentleman

What better way to encourage inquiry and critical thinking than to give our students authentic problems to engage with? A good problem provides relevance, motivation, and natural pathways for differentiation and extension. John Larmer lists the “[typical] prescribed steps” of problem-based learning as:

  1. presentation of an “ill-structured” (open-ended, “messy”) problem
  2. problem definition or formulation (writing a “problem statement”)
  3. generation of a “knowledge inventory” (creating a list of “what we know about the problem” and “what we need to know”)
  4. generation of possible solutions
  5. formulation of learning issues for self-directed and coached learning
  6. sharing of findings and solutions

(As I read through these six steps, it sounds an awful lot like the process that I guide my students though in our MYP Design classes!)

When thinking about PBL (project based learning) vs. PBL (problem based learning), I challenge you to share how you have incorporated one or both into your classroom. How is the increasing ubiquity of technology changing the size and scope of the projects and/or problems you are introducing to your students?


Connectivism: The foundation of COETAIL

Our very own Chrissy Hellyer in her COETAIl class back in 2009 creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by superkimbo

Our very own Chrissy Hellyer in her COETAIl class back in 2009creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by superkimbo

It’s only fitting I guess that I get to post this week dealing with Connectivism. It was a theory I was introduced to in 2007 and is the driving force behind the creation of COETAIL and why COETAIL is set up the way it is. I find it fascinating that here is a learning theory that has been out since 2005 that really looks at how teaching and learning change in a connected classroom yet schools continue to try to “change teaching and learning” without considering new learning theories. Once you put the power of the Internet in the hands of students it changes everything!

I thought I would look at the founding principals of Connectivism as found here and add my own thinking of how this applies to COETAIL and the learning experience we hope we introduce you to here.

  • The integration of cognition and emotions in meaning-making is important. Thinking and emotions influence each other. A theory of learning that only considers one dimension excludes a large part of how learning happens.

We know emotions play a large role in learners. The emotion that you bring to the class everyday as a student need to be considered. At COETAIL we try and recognize the emotions of teachers who are felling over worked or over whelmed by the course content. We try to do our best to allow people the flexibility they need to manage their own emotions of having a full time job and taking these courses.

  • Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to “do something”. This increased competence might be in a practical sense (i.e. developing the ability to use a new software tool or learning how to skate) or in the ability to function more effectively in a knowledge era (self-awareness, personal information management, etc.). The “whole of learning” is not only gaining skill and understanding – actuation is a needed element. Principles of motivation and rapid decision making often determine whether or not a learner will actuate known principles.

Through the journey that is COETAIL we hope that you learn how to “do something” whether that is create a video, embed an image, create a presentation, etc as well as “function more effectively in a knowledge era” by taking time to talk about Copyright, issues, students today, and theories and approaches here in course 4. At the end of the journey (course 5) we hope that you are able to put all this new learning to practice in your classroom creating new learning for both you and your students along the way.

  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. A learner can exponentially improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network.

This is the foundation of COETAIL from course 1. Helping you to understand how this is done and connecting you with those specialized nodes of information sources. This is otherwise known as your PLN.

  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances. Learning (in the sense that something is known, but not necessarily actuated) can rest in a community, a network, or a database.

I think there is a lot of ways of looking at this….either through learning via things like or by watching YouTube videos. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime and when you need it. Our goal is not only to have you learn through the community but to put that learning into action in your classroom.

  • The capacity to know more is more critical that what is currently known. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing information.

This to me is a HUGE shift for education. This is what moves education as a whole from a “Just in case” learning world to a “Just in time” learning world. Knowing where to find information and how to learn from it once you do find it is the skill of today…that one skill alone changes everything we do and how we should approach teaching and learning. You’ll notice through COETAIL we continue to encourage you to go search for yourself, learn from your own searches. We need to move past the “Here are the things the teacher wants me to read and do” to a place where the student is given a question and can find the answer themselves. Our goal is to give you the skills, confidence, and freedom to do just that.

  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate learning. Connection making provides far greater returns on effort than simply seeking to understand a single concept.

The only way we “force” you to maintain connections is by blogging and commenting on other blogs. That’s the forced connection part to get you started……are real hope is that you find the connections that you want to maintain and nurture those. At the end of course 4 the “forced connections” stop and you are left to find your communities, networks and nods and continue to maintain those connections. For some that is still blogging, for others that’s Twitter, Google+, or a host of other places. We want to show you the power of connections in a globally connected world.

  • Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.

Which is why we have all of you blog around a given idea. Numerous people all sharing their own thoughts, beliefs and knowledge on a given subject or question leads to greater learning for all.

  • Learning happens in many different ways. Courses, email, communities, conversations, web search, email lists, reading blogs, etc. Courses are not the primary conduit for learning.

This is why we continue to push different ways for you to connect. There is your blog, the COETAIL groups, the #coetail, the Google+ community and thanks to our coaches the new #coetailchat Learning happens in all these places. Our job as the “teacher” is to set these networks up for you and allow you and the collective yous to decide which ones work and for what purpose.

  • Different approaches and personal skills are needed to learn effectively in today’s society. For example, the ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.

This is the hardest part I think….as we all learned to learn one way and now there are different approaches when you learn in a connected world. We have to rethink our own personal skills as well as the approaches we use in learning ourselves.

  • Organizational and personal learning are integrated tasks. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network and continue to provide learning for the individual. Connectivism attempts to provide an understanding of how both learners and organizations learn.

I see this as your blog (personal learning) and the organization (the front page of COETAIL) working together. It’s all the ways that things feed each other. Your blog post feeds into the organization and the organization learns from that and feeds back to you. It’s a constant give and take learning process.

  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning.

This is part of the reason we started using Flipboard this year. Trying to keep the links up-to-date within course units is difficult as the information is constantly changing. So a new more accurate and up-to-date system needed to be developed…..hence the reason we use Flipboard.

  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate impacting the decision.

I’m personally still struggling with how to teach this. How do we teach people that they truly have the power to choose what to learn? Many times I hear people say “We don’t know what we don’t know”….so how do you chose to learn something when you don’t even know that something exists? If anyone has a better way of looking at this I’m all ears!

  • Learning is a knowledge creation process…not only knowledge consumption. Learning tools and design methodologies should seek to capitalize on this trait of learning.

Yes…you create many things along your journey here with COETAIL. You create lesson plans, videos, presentations, infographics, Acceptable Use Policies and to top it all of a new unit plan to implement in course 5. I believe learning only truly happens when you create something new from what you just learned. Consuming is one thing….to create something new from what you consumed…that’s learning!

Do you see yourself as a learner of connectivism?

What are we missing here at COETAIL to make your connectivst learning better?


Flip My Week’s Post?

I try to be clever, really I do ……

Sometimes it works ……

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Today it doesn’t!

My big idea (trying to keep with this week’s theme of the readings) was to flip the blog post. Get you all to do the content of the post, but I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.  (btw, if you have any ideas please feel free to pop them in the comments!)

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 Down 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

Shall we play a game?

When you think about it schools are already kind of like video games. If you do well on tests and quizzes you are rewarded with letter grades. Those who earn all As, never miss school, or never get in trouble are usually rewarded in some small way. Gamification takes that aspect of education and expands upon it. Gamification pushes students to perform better in class and even outside of school. The real reward of learning something new is the knowledge you gain, but many students don’t quite grasp that concept at a young age. Gamification is a way to make learning more of a fun experience for students and can also help teachers track student data and achievements. The important part is that it promotes learning and makes education more enjoyable for students. (emphasis added) – Ben Bertoli, ClassRealm

When I first started teaching, I started playing this game with my students. It was called “Guess what is going to be on the test!” It was not a very exciting game, and the rules and the objective were pretty easy to figure out: If you (the student) were me (the teacher), what 10 questions do you think I’d put on your test tomorrow? It was a much more interesting way to engage the students in preparing for their upcoming test.

We know that games are universal, and that they have the ability to motivate and engage, to encourage persistence and resilience when presented at the right level. How else can we account for the 3 billion hours spent every week playing video and online games? (Check out more statistics in this infographic from Knewton.) How can we, or should we even try to, harness the power of games and gamification? Jane McGonigal has a great TED talk on the power of games:

YouTube Preview Image

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?