Course 5: Community Engagement

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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

Although the blog post on this topic may not be done until later in the course, a plan on how to continue to engage with other educators will be important. 

(COETAILers – for more details, check out the Course 5 Community Engagement Rubric in the Welcome to Course 5! Module – Assessments tab)

COETAIL Online 14 has started and these new COETAILers would appreciate additional comments on their blog posts. Please take a few minutes and take a look through some of their latest posts and share your experience and feedback. 

COETAIL Online 14 Blogs

And here are some examples of how a few COETAILers from COETAIL Online 12 engaged in their PLN communities and documented their experiences. 

Andrea shares how she connected and collaborated with others throughout Course 5 in a variety of ways in “Collaborating and Connecting”

In “Professional Learning on Twitter”, Luiz writes about the way he was inspired to connect and collaborate with others through Twitter Chats including co-hosting an IB cross-program chat on Twitter.

Cindy documents how she used many different ways of connecting via Twitter Chats, guest blog posts, interactions with future colleagues, and educator cohorts that she is part of. See “Community Engagement”

What are some ideas you have for Community Engagement
(digital or in-person)?

Look what’s coming next!

Course 4 focused on exploring deep learning pedagogies while we engaged in planning for our final project in Course 5. Online Cohort 13 reflections were deep, insightful, and awe-some, in the truest sense of the world.

Online 13, as we embark upon our final stretch of this journey, we hope you will take a moment to peruse the ideas of your colleagues and draw inspiration from them. There are so many great plans presented – innovative, divergent, engaging and exciting! 

We hope this list will energize and excite you as we embark upon Course 5 together. 

Megan Vosk is developing a digital storytelling unit titled Speak Your Truth, with the goal to develop a space for sharing stories. Check out her plan, which allows students to share their authentic voice as creators while also developing empathy as viewers and listeners.  

Danielle Richert shares two ideas to inspire learner agency with meaning and purpose in PHE and Grade 3. In her coaching role, she presents ideas for working with students and adults in order to deepen agency across the school. In addition, she shares some wonderful advice for us all about how we spend our time:

“I want what I dig into, focus on, give my time and energy towards, and especially create to have a purpose beyond the creation itself.”  

Brandon Inman is considering sharing our experience as reflective bloggers with his students, empowering them to blog and share their unique voices and perspectives. How amazing for students to blog about justice as fifth graders and learn about the power of global collaboration and making an impact. 

Justin Ouellette is encouraging his students to take responsibility and become climate experts. He also shared some fantastic COETAIL Takeaways:

“Key learning from COETAIL that I have intentionally embedded in this proposed unit are:

  • Co-construction of success criteria with students

  • Student agency in personally meaningful guided inquiries and in the way to demonstrate knowledge at the end of the unit via the brochure medium.

  • Incorporating the ISTE Standards – particularly Knowledge Constructor and Creative Communicator

  • Collaborative planning, teaching and learning

  • Thoughtful and intentional design to make learning engagements more accessible and aesthetically pleasing for the intended audience”

Coleton Tillett shared an exciting proposal in which her students will become scientists and present their learnings at their culminating Energy Summit. She has shared a wealth of resources that are definitely worth exploring. 

Colin Spitler has embraced New Pedagogies for Deep Learning and plans to work with a grade level to inspire students to plan their own service projects. He plans to lead from the emerging future as he learns alongside students with the goal to truly inspire agency and student-led projects.

Abigail Lopez-Salazar is exploring concepts around independence and agency, focusing on how students can take greater ownership of their learning. She has drawn inspiration from Simon Sinek’s ‘why’ with the goal for the ‘why’ to become a “naturally occurring pattern” in her students’ thinking. 

Michael Juntke plans to embrace the power of design as his students design their own app. Not only will his students develop their technical skills, but the design process will inspire their creativity. 

Lana Yashchyna plans to redesign the PYP Exhibition, adding tools for deeper learning and focusing on the ISTE standards. 

David Berg will inspire his students to become historical explorers by engaging their agency as they investigate an ancient civilization of their choice in a presentation format of their choice. His ideas about creating flexible unit structures in which the topic can be interchanged but the core of inquiry, research and agency for students remains is an interesting idea as we embrace the design elements of our roles as educators.

“Essentially, I want to be able to create units that can be scaled up or down depending on the grade and switched in and out for different content.” 

While our projects represent the diversity of our experiences, there are many common themes, including student agency, service, collaboration, and a focus on rich topics such as the environment and social justice.

We hope you are as inspired as us by the ideas, and we encourage everyone to keep blogging as you embark upon this process, keep commenting and supporting one another, and continue asking questions and sharing ideas.


Week 5: What wants to happen next?

As we near the end of Week 5, please be reminded of the Course 4 final project, which is designed to help you plan for Course 5, in which you will redesign a unit and share your journey in a compelling digital story.

While the theme of Week 5 is “putting deep learning into practice,” this is an ongoing theme and one you will revisit time and again in Course 5. In fact, you have all been putting deep learning into practice as you engage in your own COETAIL journey and share your classroom practices and experiences. Bravo!

As you reflect upon the myriad of options presented this week, what inspires you? What do you wish to try in your own classroom? What will you design or re-design? If you already have experience with a concept such as project based learning, why not try augmented reality or game-based learning? This is an exciting time to dream, imagine and play. 

What wants to happen next?

This is a great question to pose of oneself and comes out of futures thinking protocols. As you pause to reflect before your next action, observe your space, your students and your own passions. What wants to happen next? What feels right to try as you enter this next phase of learning? 

In your final project for Course 4, you have two options:

  1. Design a unit planner for your Course 5 final project. Use this option if you already know what you wish to create in Course 5.
  2. Share 2-3 options for your Course 5 final project and reflect upon the questions posed.

Please refer to the Course 4 Final Project for more details. Enjoy the exploration and the space to plan and create! 


Week 4: Deep Learning is Love

In week 4, we were reminded of Paulo Freire’s revolutionary ideas in which he advocates a pedagogy of love. Discourse and dialogue make up two major components of Freire’s ideas, and in his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, he writes

“Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself” (2005).

How often do we speak about love in education? We speak a lot about empathy, equity, compassion, and even hope, but do we acknowledge that all of these are ingredients to love. 

Some years ago, I was privileged to hear a powerful keynote by Tara Reynolds, in which she stood on stage in front of 400 school leaders and challenged them to consider love. She noted that love is the hardest work we do. 

Despite this powerful experience and the ideas presented by Freire, I rarely hear the concept of love discussed in school. And yet, love is why we do the work. We love our students. We love our schools. We love our colleagues. And we love the work of building units, co-creation, and collaboration. Yes, it is deep, hard work, but it is work we do because of our passion and our love. 

And because of this love of our work and our students, we invent, innovate and co-create. 

In his week 3 post, Justin Ouellette states that agency “is not something we ‘give’ or ‘let’ people have. It is something only taken away.”

Brandon Inman shares that “Our job as educators is to foster their innate humanity and allow it to call them to action.” 

Michael Juntke notes the need for us to embed “freedom, heart, reason, time, empathy, care.”

What Justin, Brandon and Michael all allude to is the revolutionary pedagogy of love. An engaged pedagogy, that, as bell hooks argues, is the practice of freedom. A pedagogy of deep learning, embracing the 6Cs presented by Michael Fullan. 

There are a myriad of important terms for our work, and at the base lies the notion of love. What might schools look like if we embed the term more fully in our schools? How does love serve deep learning? Technology integration? Our work as educators? 


Course 3 Final Projects

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For Course 3, our Online 13 participants collaborated on their final Course 3 project to deepen their experience of a globally collaborative project. Groups had a couple of options for their project. They could…

Create a unit planner based on the enduring understandings of this course that supports students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators (ISTE Standards for Students 6 and 7). 


Create a 2-4 hour professional development program based on the enduring understandings from this course that support educators to grow as Collaborators and Facilitators (ISTE Standard for Educators 4 & 6). 

The Online 13 COETAILers organized into three collaborative groups with members across the globe and created three amazing units that could be adapted and implemented in a variety of contexts. They also include many useful and relevant resources and provide guidance for implementation and options for differentiation and choice. See below for more information about their units and links to unit planners and additional resources. 


Digital Wellness + How we express ourselves with media

Group members: Megan, Justin, David, and Danielle

The goal of this unit is to create a digital piece of media that explains an aspect of digital well-being for a specific audience adapting lessons from Common Sense Education’s curriculum (grade 12). Additionally, each member created digital media workshops for students focused on communicating messages effectively. 

Persuasive Posters (Justin)
How to Write Killer Blogs (David)
What’s the Story? Infographics (Danielle)
Creating Influential Short Films (Megan)

Learn more from their Digital Wellness + How we express ourselves with media unit plan and their individual blog posts which include their process, inspiration, context, and reflections. 

Sharing Knowledge with Infographics

Group members: Michael, Civen, Brandon, and Coleton

The goal of this project is for students to design an infographic to share and inform others on a self-selected topic for younger students. After exploring different infographics to understand the purpose and function of this particular text type, students apply their understanding by creating their own infographic on a particular area of interest. Students also use effective research strategies and peer feedback to create their infographics. 

Here is their Sharing Knowledge with Infographics unit planner and a slide deck to support and guide students and teachers through the process

For individual perspectives and reflections on their collaborative project, see their Course 3 Final Project blog posts. 

A Self-Led Inquiry Into Fostering Collaborative and Creative Community of Critical Thinkers and Effective Empathetic Communicators 

Group Members: Abigail, Lana, and Colin

This unit is focused on adult learning by facilitating a multi-session professional development course that helps colleagues learn how to use GSuite for Educaiton tools for greater communication and collaboration with colleagues and their students. The goal is to create community building using G-Suite tools for Educators by developing the knowledge and skills through learning challenges while improving their instruction in the areas of communication, collaboration, and creativity. 

Each session includes engaging and relevant activities, resources, and digital tools shared in the unit plan

For more background information on the collaborative projects, check out these individual blog posts….

All of these groups overcame the challenges of busy schedules and time zone differences to create outstanding unit planners on relevant and engaging topics for students and teachers which reflects all of their variety of experiences coupled with their Course 3 learning and their openness to collaboration.