Online 13 Final Project Wrap Up

Image by nck_gsl from Pixabay

Our COETAIL Online 13 cohort did amazing work as learners and educators over the past year and a half given the challenges of completing coursework during the academic year with all the usual personal and professional demands coupled with the unprecedented impacts of a global pandemic and geopolitical events. When we put the results of the learning, planning, implementation, and reflection they share in their final project post and videos in that context, we can’t help but be inspired. Here is a round-up of our COETAIL Online 13 cohort graduates.

Justin’s Final Project Video summarizes a six-week “Sharing the Planet” unit of inquiry. He document the different component of the grade 4 unit planned and implemented by his team in blog posts found here. As just one part of the project, “…students created explanation texts… [to] serve as catalysts to sharing this knowledge with their peers, giving them an authentic audience (more on that below)…the summative text pieces offered a rich demonstration of the learning and knowledge that children inquired into, offered them a choice in what they were interested in learning about, and students were given a lot of flexibility in terms of medium and style in which they were to present their work.”

Megan explored reflection as part of her digital storytelling project with her grade 7 EAL (English as an Additional Language) students and shares her and her students’ journey in “Don’t Skip the Reflection!” post. “I had internalized the belief that once the final product was done so was the learning. I thought that the arc of the unit had passed its climax and the denouement didn’t really matter. But I was wrong. There is so much to be gained from deep reflection. And so, my advice to teachers everywhere is “Don’t skip the reflection!””

“Although We’ve Come To the End of the Road…” brings together Brandon’s Student-Paced Math Class concept. Inspired by an episode of Cult of Pedagogy, Brandon set up a system for his elementary students and incorporated technology with his main goal “..for students to use technology to gain a sense of autonomy and continue learning on their own terms.” Additionally, he considered the use of translanguaging in the classroom as “Students can also help each other in Thai, their native language, when they are having issues with English.” One outcome that he highlights in that “The time that I was able to spend with students one-on-one was truly amazing.”

In Michael’s “My Final Project – Design An App” post and video, he shares his intentions in working with elementary students on how to design an app. “We got off to a great start, the kids were super motivated. We discussed everything, everyone was able to get involved, we were in the same boat.” He also reflects on the challenges presented given local lockdowns in China on his work with students and how priorities have had to be adjusted in these situations. Despite the interruption to the plan, Michael remains hopeful. “So the small learning results of the children were amazing. And made the project very amazing from the start. It touched me and showed me that we are on the right track. I am confident that the children will continue to explore the topic of apps, technology, learning, a better future.”

Coleton redesigned her grade four’s Unit of Inquiry for Energy and shares the highlights of the unit in her post and video “COETAIL – Final Project “Energy Unit”. Coleton reflects that “…by having the students use technology to create a video presentation of their experiment and learning I was able to transform their summative project using technology. They were able to be so much more creative in how they shared their learning and were able to reach their new broader audience.” And with the changes to the unit, teachers and students were able to adapt their learning and video presentation when lockdowns put everyone out of school and into online learning. 

As detailed in his Course Five Final Blog, David re-designed a unit for Middle Years Programme (MYP) 1 (Grade 6) for Individuals and Societies, an IB course, based around an exploration into the systems that define an ancient civilization. The unit was organized around the following phases: Build Background Context, Refine Research Skills, Prepare/Plan Research Steps, Collect and Process Information, and Produce Product based on student choice. David shares a lot of reflection but particularly focuses on student agency…”there was a huge range of products created reflecting a wide range of interests. Seeing the breadth of ideas and preferences students had, and the length some were willing to go to create something they are passionate about, highlights the need for more student choice in curriculum.”

Lana and her team focused on building global connections and collaborations for their grade 5 Primary Years Programme (PYP) Exhibition as she details in her post and video PYPX: Always Expect The Unexpected. Despite a variety of challenges, this experience has inspired her and her team to continue to incorporate the ideas and connections in the future. “There have been many challenges and mistakes… but the process we all went through together has been amazingly fulfilling and uplifting. I have seen my students grow immensely as communicators and collaborators, reaching out in search for answers and solutions. I have noticed how they own the learning process proudly. And these are our community’s  biggest achievements.”




Online 13 Inspires Community Engagement

The Community Engagement element of Course 5 calls for us “to continue on our own to stay involved in the COETAIL community, build our own PLN, and collaborate with educators around the world.”

The Online 13 Cohort has exceeded this goal and continues to inspire the program with so much passion, talent and insight. Please take a moment to review their fantastic contributions to community engagement and global collaboration. 

Brandon writes about Staying Connected in a Time of Disconnection and how his COETAIL colleagues have served as a support during this journey.

Megan highlights the myriad of engagements and risks she has taken throughout her time in COETAIL in her Community Engagement post. She highlights the numerous opportunities she has embraced, including serving as an educational leader with much insight to share. 

Coleton writes about Building her PLN by accident, which is often the best way to sustain a practice as it is derived from authentic iteration. She has even embraced buddy classes for her students, so they are now growing their PLN as well. 

Justin writes about the importance of Staying Connected. In this post, he also shares a number of opportunities he has had to engage globally and present his expertise, alongside discussing the importance of the backchannel. 

Michael shares a metaphor, noting We’re All in the Same Boat, and the boat is planet earth. He shares the many opportunities we’ve had to connect, both within and outside of COETAIL. 

David shares his growth from lurker to learning to engage more online and writes that “COETAIL has GREATLY increased my awareness, knowledge, and confidence in my own learning.” 

In each of these posts, we see authenticity, vulnerability and a commitment to ongoing learning and growth. It is a testament to COETAIL, the ongoing engagement of this community, and it is also a testament to Online 13, their commitment to deep learning. They are a community of truly engaged learners!


More Blogging Through Course 5

With about five weeks left in Course 5, Online 13 COETAILers continue blogging on a variety of topics. There are no formal weekly blogging prompts in Course 5 and they are encouraged to continue to develop their own voice and blogging routines. 

Check out some recent blog posts for ideas, inspiration, and connections.

“Building a Community”

Brandon shares his personal experience and current experiences addressing the benefits of community for students through weekly “circles” and activities as part of their PYP exhibition launch. 

“With so many different emotions happening in my class this week, I am reminded of the important role that teachers play in the social-emotional well-being of their students. The past couple of years have been so hard on all of our students and I sometimes forget that my fifth graders have not had a “normal” school year since they were in the second grade.”

“Going Further and Sorting Out”

Justin provides many examples of how he’s applied and extended ideas and concepts from COETAIL courses. Here is another post on his team’s Sharing the Planet unit which provides lots of resources and models on how to plan and implement an engaging PYP unit.

“Essentially, students would choose and become mini-experts within one of these five areas [climate change issues]. Teachers would take the lead in one area, then collate or synthesizing some kid-friendly research media. In addition, the teacher facilitators for each domain would model research skills and create exemplars to help scaffold the skills needed in order for the students to create the explanation text brochures that was part of the summative task of this unit.”

“I – We & The World”

Michael reflects on his schools slogan “I, We & the World” and connects to life in general and his experience with COETAIL. Reflecting on his work through COETAIL over that past year he recognizes the learning and growth he has experienced. 

“I, we and the world – three small inconspicuous words with great power. What’s your motto? Is there anything similar at your school?”

“COETAIL….What Has It Done For You Lately?”

Coleton reflects on her renewed interest in professional learning, including COETAIL, and it’s impact on a new role for her as an instructional coach! 

“…thanks to COETAIL I have so much more confidence in myself. It wasn’t always easy to do the coursework and teach, but it was never unmanageable. The work I did throughout the courses also inspired me to learn more. Suddenly, I wanted to keep learning and building my resume. I sometimes can’t seem to help myself, I am so thirsty for more professional knowledge.”

“How Has COETAIL Changed My Pedagogy”

David shares how COETAIL has impacted his teaching especially around pedagogy and leveraging technology. David references how his students are experiencing more agency, having spaces to share learning, creating digital artifacts,and interacting positively online. 

“To link my action with current best practices and to understand the benefit of increasing student agency, focusing on positive comments, pushing tasks beyond the classroom, and focusing on SAMR have been just a few of the ways I have benefited from COETAIL.”

“On Modeling and Mentor Texts”

Megan shares some very useful resources on modeling and applies them to the creation of digital stories in her classroom (as part of her COETAIL Course 5 final project). In addition to modeling the digital storytelling process for her students, she created “mentor texts” to guide them in own creations. 

“I think that creating my story first – and then allowing the students to help me improve it – made them feel more comfortable soliciting feedback from each other. I had to allow myself to be vulnerable and open to critique.”

As Online 13 finishes up Course 5, look for more blog posts on Community Engagement and their Course 5 Final Projects. 


Now that you are living your story, how will you choose to tell it?

Course 5 projects are well underway and the deep, rich learning happening across the COETAIL world is exciting. From energy summits to digital stories, service projects to exploring ancient civilizations, personalized mathematics to sharing the planet, there is a plethora of transformational learning underway. These are the stories we are currently living with our students and the first part of our final project: redesign and implement a unit.

The second phase of our project poses the exciting question: how will we tell this story? 

Your final project involves creating a 10-minute digital story that outlines your journey from redefinition to implementation. Why did you design the unit you chose? How did you implement it? What happened? What was the impact on your practice and on student learning? 

Your story can take on a myriad of creative forms and should include images, video clips, interviews or survey data. Most importantly, it should include a storyline that incorporates your voice along with essential elements of digital storytelling. 

Bernajean Porter, author of DigiTales and numerous articles around digital storytelling shares this definition:

“Digital Storytelling takes the ancient art of oral storytelling and engages a palette of technical tools to weave personal tales using images, graphics, music and sound mixed together with the author’s own story voice. Digital storytelling is an emerging art form of personal, heartful expression that enables individuals and communities to reclaim their personal cultures while exploring their artistic creativity.”

Creating digital stories is challenging, but it is also a fun and inspiring art form that allows us to share our work in an engaging and creative medium. Here are some resources that may help!

  • Our very own Megan Vosk is using digital storytelling for her final project. Check out her journey here along with many brilliant resources and a poster of essential elements made by her students. 
  • Take 6 elements of digital storytelling.
  • DigiTales Resources
  • ISTE Digital Storytelling Network resource site 

A myriad of resources exist that will inform and inspire great stories. You may also wish to checkout this playlist of COETAIL final projects to spark your imagination!

Enjoy this next part of the journey–creating and reflecting!


Blogging Through Course 5

Image by Edar from Pixabay

We are about 6 weeks in to Course 5 and Online 13 COETAILers have been blogging on a variety of topics. There are no formal weekly blogging prompts in Course 5 and you are encouraged to continue to develop your own voice and blogging routines. 

Check out some recent blog posts for ideas, inspiration, and connections.

Brandon addresses teacher burnout and the “Great Resignation” and offers some ways to support teachers in “We Volunteer YOU For Tribute!”. He shares, There are many things that can be done to retain teachers but I think that the most important thing that leaders can do is just listen. Stephen Covey said, ‘Seek first to understand and then to be understood.’” 

In “Finding Out – Weeks One and Two”,Justin shares the work (and pay off) that goes into collaboration as his team and grade 12 CAS (Community Action Service) students prepare and implement lessons for the grade 4 unit on “Sharing the Planet”. 

“We could embark in a cross-campus student learning experience where we could help grade 12s with a CAS project of theirs and they could help us by teaching grade four students about climate change, some causes, and more!”

Michael covers the topic of “Evolution”, especially in relation to communication, technology, and his own journey with COETAIL.

“I made a conscious decision to focus on evolution. Because, in my opinion, it can be applied not only to people but also to technology. Human evolution goes hand in hand with our technology. Should mean no human = no technology.”

Coleton kicks off Course 5 with enthusiasm about her Course 5 project which centers on redesigning a fourth grade unit on energy. 

”While I still wanted to give my students agency and voice by allowing them to choose a topic to learn more about, I felt like we could use technology in a more transformative way.” Read more about the adjustments she made to accomplish this in “Course 5…Let’s Go!”

Megan reflects on who influences, encourages, and supports her as an educator. She shares, “As a teacher, I think a lot about the concept of the Guru. I spend most of my day giving lessons to others. I provide feedback, support, advice, and suggestions. I tell students what to do and how to do it. I critique their work and push their thinking forward. But how do my students see me? And who is my teacher?” Read more about what she discovers in “In search of the ever elusive Guru…”

We look forward to hearing more from our Online 13 Cohort over the next couple of months as they share their ideas, experiences, and reflections as they continue their COETAIL journey.