News Ways of Engaging

Course 4 has to be one of my favorite courses in the COETAIL program. It’s a course that takes everything we’ve talked about already and starts putting it together. Framing, if you will, new ways of teaching and learning. Over the summer when we were updating this course we had a lot of discussion over what to add and where this course should go. Flipped Learning is still a hot topic on both sides of the love/hate relationship. Gamification continues to be making positive steps in changing classroom practice….especially in middle schools. No matter which one of these new theories, ideas, or approaches to learning have you interested, we take a look at what we feel are some of the bigger ones being discussed in education right now, how technology has allowed us to teach in new ways and really at the end of the day create new learning opportunities for our students. If there are ones that you are interested in exploring that we don’t cover in this course….please by all means…blog about it!

Teachers drawing their understanding of Personalized Learning

Teachers drawing their understanding of Personalized Learning

I’ve been spending this week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa working with and talking with teachers around some of these changes. Yesterday I attended and presented at a full day workshop on Personalized Learning. I heard from a group of high school science teachers who are personalizing their science curriculum and allowing students to chose their own way to study science. A pair of elementary teachers who are gamifying the writing process and engaging students in exciting ways to write and “level up” based on the writing they choose to write. We heard from a group of Iowa Big high schoolers at Iowa’s experimental project-based high school that talk about the projects they are involved in. Personally I haven’t heard high schoolers talk about high school this way ever. Their passion for learning, their passion for life and what they saw themselves doing after high school was amazing. It’s hard not to smile when one student had to excuse himself because he had to drive 30 miles to the town over because he had a funding meeting where he was asking an investor for $30,000 to fund his company that he started at Iowa Big. Take a look at their website and what they are trying to do. Their first year they had 30 students now they are at 60 and are looking to expand to 90 students. They have a waiting list of over 200 students who want into the program. That’s pretty powerful.

While listening to teachers present yesterday there were four high school students who were doing a panel at lunch time that were hanging out listing to these “boring” teacher presentations. During a break I went over and talked to them…breaking the ice I simply walked up to them sat at their table and said:

“OK….Facebook or Twitter?”


“Twitter or Instagram?”


“Instagram or …….?”


I was afraid that was the answer……

I then asked them if they wanted to work on a project for me to help train the teacher later in the day. Besides getting them out of the room, they got to work next to the coffee and donut holes out in the hallway.

I showed them Reid Wilson’s Profile of a Modern Teacher infographic:


I then asked them if they would do me a favor. I asked them to look at Reid’s work and then come up with their own graphic that was “The Profile of a Modern Student”. It took them about 45 minutes but @sierralpope @kammiemorrow @Brittni_Gilbert @IssacKnock came up with this.

Profile of a modern student


As you head into course 4, I hope that you can come back to this image and think about how the topics we discuss tie into what these four students believe their learning should be. Feel free to hit any of them up on Twitter as well. 🙂

4 thoughts on “News Ways of Engaging

  1. I love the children’s graphic, especially their definition of a 21st century learner below. Truly amazing stuff! Great thinking by you as well, Jeff, getting them to help you in such a creative way.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Is it possible to get an updated list of course participants who are enduring to the end of COETAIL so I can update my blog feed and delete those blogs from people who are no longer active? Course 4 participants.


    1. Hi Dianne,

      I’ve just added a participants page to the menu of this blog. I’ll do my best to keep that list updated.


  3. Thanks for this, Jeff. The one component I like about Coetail is that it’s challidating….or vallenging.



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