COETAIL Final Project

Video Reflection Link 


I wanted to excite some of my students about reading and, hopefully, inspire them to practice their reading skills at home.  As part of the reading intervention program, students are asked to read easily decodable texts that, to be completely honest, are not exactly the most thrilling tales. Students are expected to reread these passages to practice comprehension and oral reading fluency and prosody. In order to enthuse students about reading, I decided to try alternate texts in class and then create a project whereby students could practice reading with a text that they had chosen.

Promoting Agency

I went back and forth on whether students should choose their own texts or whether I should select them. In the end, I took a step back and considered the final outcome. What skill did I want students to build for the future? Did I want their choice of book to be dictated for them or did I want them to develop a sense of agency when choosing their own literature? The choice was obvious. I believe it is important for students to choose their own texts to read aloud because this fosters interest and intrinsic motivation. However, I still needed to have some parameters to ensure that they weren’t going to choose a book that was too difficult to read in one sitting. I also was concerned that some students would feel overwhelmed by having an abundance of choice.

I asked the students to choose picturebooks that they felt would be suitable to share with kindergarteners. I was really pleased with how seriously the students took this task. They really kept the audience at the forefront of their minds when selecting texts to share. Some thought of stories that they had enjoyed when they were younger, while others chose stories that they knew had a message that they felt strongly about.

Changes Throughout the Unit

During the pre-planning stages, I had a clear goal in mind: present a novel way for students to work on their fluency and prosody in order to build confidence in their ability to read aloud. As soon as I began the unit, however, my goals shifted. One of the most important things I gained from this project was a deeper understanding of my students’ attitude towards reading for enjoyment. The hard truth is that for many students, reading is not enjoyable. It is something that they have to work hard at and therefore, they will try to avoid reading while at home. In their free time, they will choose to relax after a day of working hard at school. I think we all relate to this feeling.

After these surveys, I expanded my goal by presenting them with a motivating reason to practice their reading skills independently. I only see the students I work with for an hour or two per week which, in all honesty, never feels like enough time. I wanted to foster in them an intrinsic motivation to take control over their learning,

ISTE Standards for Students

When planning this unit, I wanted to hit the following ISTE standards for students:

1: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.

1a: Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.

6: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

I chose these ISTE standards for students because they seemed to correlate closely with what I wanted the students to achieve. I wanted my students to harness the power of technology in order to work towards their own personal goals. I used a PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) with the students just before our Student-Led Conferences so that they could discuss what they wanted to work on and so that we could develop a plan as to how they could meet their goals. The majority of my students wanted to become stronger readers and so that helped lead the conversation as to how we could achieve that.

When we discussed methods of achieving these goals, my students recognized that they needed to practice reading at home. This allowed me to present the idea of creating a read aloud to share. I felt as though it had to be the student’s choice as to whether or not they participated in this project, as they would be doing the majority of the work at home, by themselves and with their family’s support.

Then came the method of sharing. Once I began to talk about the project with my students, they were all concerned that their faces would be seen and that other students would see them.  We discussed ways that we could avoid this such as using images, rather than showing the students, while they read aloud. This is where I made a mistake, but more on that later.

ISTE Standards for Educators

6a: Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.

7a : Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
7b: Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.
7c: Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.
These standards really appealed to me and helped me build my final project because I knew that I wanted to help students take ownership of their goals. All too often I have written IEP and ILP goals for students and met with parents and teachers to discuss them without the student present. Partly this is to do with the students’ age. I have only ever worked with students in grades K – 6 and whilst I have had some 6th Graders join IEP meetings, I always felt, and possibly wrongly so, that students younger than that may find these meetings intimidating and demotivating. Following these meetings, I have always just expected students to receive additional support towards their goals, without the students necessarily fully knowing the reason why or what we are working towards. This project really helped me see the importance of students knowing what they are working towards. How could I expect students to take control of their learning if they didn’t know what they were working towards? This was a revelation, to say the least.


I began the unit by having students perform a cold read of their chosen book while being recorded. I was then able to chart progress by comparing recordings of their reads. I was pleased to see the progress that the majority of the students made in terms of their reading fluency. More telling, however, was in the interviews with students at the end of the project. All of the students said that they had ended up reading more often as a result of this project. Goal achieved, right? Well, not yet.

The final goal was for this unit to provide students with the motivation to continue their reading practice, once it was completed. I took another survey after two weeks of finishing the unit and the results were far more telling. Two of the students I had been working with had kept up with their reading practice and one student had even started to make a follow-up video on his own. With all of the students now I have had meetings to plan what next steps they can take to achieve their goals. I feel as though many of my students are taking grat strides in taking control of their learning and choosing the areas they feel are important for them to work on.


Things that went well

First and foremost each student who took part in my final project read more frequently than they had at the beginning. When I spoke to the participants, they talked about how they found the process motivating and it galvanized them to practice reading at home. I really felt too that this project allowed the students to take more control over their own learning than if I had just set them reading homework. They identified areas that they wanted to work on, as well as, how they could do that and this project served as a means for them to take charge of their learning.

The students’ reflections were good to hear too, especially as a number of students admitted they had fun reading.  I was really happy to hear about the positive reactions they had to reading books.

I also really liked seeing the ways students bonded while editing their videos. Many were familiar with iMovie but for those that weren’t the other students in the class were happy to show and teach. This collaboration was not something I had planned for, but it was great to see the students work together and share knowledge with one another.

Student Videos


Things that I would change

I would have liked to have more opportunities for students to give feedback to one another. I feel as though I could have set up anonymous feedback opportunities using Google forms so that my students could continue developing their performances. Initially, I worried that the students would take constructive criticism too personally, but on reflection, I think it would have been a valuable addition to this project.

I would really like to have had more time for this unit. By the time I started, there were only six weeks left and, in all honesty, I needed an additional four weeks, as then students could have recorded more than one book by the time I wrote this final post.

Final reflections

I had a student ask me during their final reflection why they couldn’t just read aloud in front of the kindergarten class.

Good question.

I asked him if that’s something he wanted to do and he shook his head straight away, “I don’t want to do that, they’ll know it’s me reading and I don’t want them to know if I make a mistake.”

I then asked him if he thought it was okay that they would potentially hear him read, without knowing it was him. He responded with, “Yeah, that’s good.”

I feel as though by embracing tech for this unit, I was able to provide an opportunity for my struggling readers to share their work in a safe way that they were in control of. There was no final performance, if they made a mistake they could record their story again, interestingly though none of them did. I’m proud of what they accomplished and their reflections on the steps they have taken towards meeting their goals.

Gathering Data

As part of student services, we gather and use data in a variety of different ways in order to serve our population. There are several tools that we currently use to achieve this, but I always feel there is so much more we can do. There is currently a fairly even divide in how data is gathered, some digitally and some recorded using handwritten notes. A goal for my department this year was to digitize all existing data and ensure that we had hard digital copies of all existing documentation on students. A huge part of this drive was to allow ease of access when sharing information amongst teachers and other members of the Student Services Department.

turned on black and grey laptop computer
Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash


Jotform has been the backbone of our department this year. This subscription service allows users to tailor how reports are shared and to whom. We currently use Jotform for two different purposes. The first is to file incident reports and the second is to refer students who may benefit from additional supports. The forms themselves are customizable by the user and so they can be tailored for a number of uses.

Through Jotform teachers are able to file incident reports from either their phone or computer. These are hugely beneficial for my department as they help us identify antecedents, behaviors, and consequences that teachers are seeing and employing in their classrooms. In some cases too we have been able to support teachers and students earlier than if the teacher was going to just make a referral for support. We have also been able to use these reports to analyze times of day when individual students might struggle the most and so introduce specific interventions during those times.

Teachers are also able to use Jotform to refer students who may need additional supports from Student Services. One of the huge advantages of these reports is that they allow teachers to specify which branch of Student Support they feel would most impact their students. This could be from our ESOL teachers, Learning support, or Speech and Language. Teachers are also able to give detailed descriptions of what they have observed from their students, as well as, the interventions that they have already put into place. This has allowed support teachers to come to meetings prepared with ideas of how to support the individual.

brown wooden triangle ruler
Photo by Dawid Małecki on Unsplash

School-Wide Assessments

One area I am working towards this year is putting the data we gather from the NWEA Map tests to use. In Student Services I have been analyzing data from this Autumn’s MAP test to identify students who show low achievement and low growth and meet with teachers to gather further information. The current pandemic has made gathering this data more difficult than usual as this is an additional factor to think of when analyzing how a student is performing academically.

We also use WIDA testing at my school in order to measure the growth of language learners. The ESOL department at my school just moved their reports from this year and the previous years onto a SharePoint document to allow for easy sharing between departments. This has made a huge difference when analyzing student data and has streamlined the process. Through the use of the WIDA data, we have an additional source of information when determining whether a student may have a learning disability or not.

person catching light bulb
Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash


With all of this aside, I feel as though the way I am using data is still fairly rudimentary. I feel I may be missing something. I am aware that there are many ways technology can be integrated and used to create more seamless ways of gathering, synthesizing, and distributing information, however, I simply lack the experience to know what is the best technology intervention for my department’s services. Fortunately, I have a few new members of staff that I know have served as tech coordinators at their previous schools. I plan to meet with these colleagues to brainstorm how my department can better integrate the use of technology to help us streamline what we do. I am really open to feedback so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.


Building a PLN

Community Involvement

I always knew going into COETAIL that this element was going to be the hardest for me. As a self-confessed lurker, I knew that I wanted to move out of the shadows but I still find myself getting all ‘anxty’ any time I go to post anything online. This is to the point where Facebook checked in with me recently to remind me that I hadn’t posted a status update in over 3 years. So is it possible for a lurker to come out in the daytime or will they be doomed to stay in darkness and shadow for eternity? I’m not quite sure where this analogy is going but let’s find out.


LEAD Inclusion

Despite COVID coming along and taking away opportunities to meet face to face, professional development opportunities have continued to abound this year. I have been helping organize and participate in Lead Inclusion at my school this year. This has been a tremendous opportunity to get to meet Lee Ann Jung, Abigail Love, and a host of other teachers from around the world. Throughout the course we have been connecting through two different online platforms. We started by using Schoology and then migrated to Thinkific to share our discussions with one another asynchronously.

In addition to discussion boards, we have also been taking part in synchroneous online discussions through Zoom. These were really useful to connect with other educators and we spent time in small groups as well as as a class sharing our reflections on how to build an inclusive school. From my school, we had a team of 13 teachers so it has been great to work alongside teachers from my own school who I don’t always have the opportunity to work with.

One of the exciting learning opportunities came from our last session where the class started to talk about supporting students with intellectual disabilities. One of the teachers from the International School Bangkok started to talk about the opportunities her school provided learners. At my school we have a student with an intellectual disability who is about to transition into middle school and so we are going to meet with the other teacher next week to get a better understanding of what middle school might look like for her.

Buidling community with families and teachers

In February my department had a new member join us from New Zealand named Kylie. She is a speech language pathologist who had been waiting for an opportunity to get into the country since July 2020. I feel as though I have learned much from her, particularly in how to build deeper connections with families. Where we have students who cross over we have formed WeChat groups with both myself and her where we share how our students are progressing. These groups also allow us to see what each other is doing as well as helping monitor the student’s progress.

One of the most beneficial outcomes from this is that these conversations have helped families know more about what we are working on in class and empower them to help their children at home. Kylie has been an amazing coach to me since joining us a couple of months ago and I have been extremely grateful to get her insight and support on the students who we are working with to support.

Contact with COETAILers

Cindy set up a group chat for the members of COETAIL 12 back in September of last year. It was really helpful for me to get an idea of where other members of the cohort were with their projects throughout course 5. I have to admit  here that I came pretty late to the party, however, I was grateful for the help and support that the other COETAIL educators were sharing.

Beginnings of a PLN

I feel as though COETAIL really helped me realize the possibilities when it comes to connecting with other educators. Twitter still remains far too intemidating for me to use with any regularity. I’m not sure if it’s possible to feel social anxiety about tweeting but if it is then I certainly have it. I have used Twitter in the past during the Global Read Aloud, however, when it comes to sharing blog posts or personal ideas I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve drafted a message and thought, “Ah, I’ll post that later.”

In some respects I am guilty of still being a lurker, however, I am so grateful for the opportunities that COETAIL has provided me in getting to meet other educators. Additionally, this blog post has definitely helped me see that I may not totally be living in the gloom anymore. I think, at the very least, I may have taken a step outside the shadows and it’s a direction I want to keep heading in.

In the Loop

clear hour glass
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

With only a few weeks remaining of COETAIL, I thought this may be a good opportunity to reflect on how my practice has changed over the past year.  It’s strange to think of my time with COETAIL coming to an end as it’s been a rewarding experience and yet the end is just a few weeks away.

Changing position

This year brought a change and a new role. My training and, to be honest, the whole reason I became an Educator was in this field. One of the biggest shifts for working in this position has been the importance of fostering relationships with students, families, and classroom teachers. I’m lucky to have been working with a number of colleagues for a few years now, however, previously I was a classroom teacher and now I am working with lower school students K – 5. When working as a homeroom teacher, I sometimes felt that there was a disconnect between what was happening to support student progress towards ILP goals and what I was working on in the classroom.

In order to try and build deeper relationships with colleagues, I have tried to inform them of the progress our students are making during pullout classes. Updates contain a short summary of learning, sometimes accompanied by photos of student work. My hope is to ensure that classroom teachers know exactly what we are working on and ensure that reported progress is being carried over into the general education setting.

I am currently using WeChat to share these reports and progress updates with other teachers. My aim is to make them as convenient as possible without taking away from the classroom teacher’s day. This has been new to me since February and I am still trying to roll it out to all students I work with. In all honesty, it is far easier for me to report on students in one-to-one classes, as I am finding it easier to make time for these to be individualized rather than referring to the group.

person holding black iphone 4
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

We use Managebac at my school for storing reports, unit planners, and notices regarding students. A huge advantage to this is that I am able to look at students’ Units of Inquiry, Literacy, and Maths units so that I can effectively plan support. This has also empowered me to come to meetings with other teachers prepared with ideas of how to support students. Having been a classroom teacher, I know the feeling of wanting to help a student succeed, but running out of ideas of how to do that. I am guilty of being a solutions-oriented person, so I like to come to meetings prepared with ideas of what can be done. 

My overarching hope is that all of this will help build closer relationships between myself and homeroom teachers and help us move past the false paradigm of “my kids and your kids” that can follow when a student receives extra support.  One of my personal goals for this year was to try and keep teachers in the loop as much as I could and I hope that this will help us work as a team to support learning.

Using Tech for Inclusion

As part of the Fifth Grade students’ last year in PYP, they have been working on their Exhibition of Mastery projects for the past six weeks. I have been amazed at the effort and dedication they have shown in preparing their displays and presentations and I was excited to see the final projects last Friday. Teachers from throughout the school have been involved in mentoring students, providing everything from moral support and encouragement to resources and examples that the students could build off. This is the first year that my school put together a full Exhibition of Mastery and it has been an exciting time for the students.

Ready to go

Using prerecorded audio

Throughout the time I have been working on COETAIL, I have also been taking the LEAD Inclusion courses with Dr. Lee Ann Jung. I wholeheartedly recommend this course if you are working to building an inclusive learning environment for all students.  The reason why I mention this is that both COETAIL and LEAD Inclusion have really inspired me to take new approaches in order to ensure that all students have been able to participate and access the resources they have needed.

One of the students with whom I work has been diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Their disability can make it difficult for them to present all of their ideas sequentially and their thoughts can sometimes become jumbled and come out in the “wrong” order. In order to help this student demonstrate their learning, I worked with them to create a podcast. They wrote the script, decided which information they wanted to include, and then we set about recording the ideas.

After the audio was recorded, the student choose images they felt would enhance their video. We reviewed the importance of remembering the rights of the creator and I bored them all, once again, with my epic tale of betrayal at the hands of a friend who “stole” my photograph. See my post Copyrights and Wrongs posted a year ago pretty much to the day for a more detailed explanation. When we watched the student’s finished video, they were proud of themselves and their creation. It took a lot of time and audio edits, but I’m excited that they feel empowered by this.

Photo by Inbetween Architects on Unsplash

Using visuals

I was also able to teach some of what I learned from course 3 regarding PowerPoint. One of my students wanted to create a PowerPoint that showed all of her research and she had reams of text on each slide. She knew what she wanted to say, but as she presented, she read from the slides. To help her, I showed her excerpts from the first five minutes of How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint.

Following this, I showed her the example sides from What is good Presentation design? (Presentation Zen) and we discussed what made the slides more effective. The final result was a PowerPoint full of visuals that she was able to talk about while facing her audience.


A decision made

For my final COETAIL project I chose to focus on what I consider to be one of the greatest challenges my students face: reading as part of their home learning routine. For the majority of students I work with, reading is challenging and so often, by their own admission, students avoid reading at home. I hope to address this by providing students with a purpose for practicing reading. I have prompted students to record themselves reading aloud to create videos to share with younger students as part of my school’s “Bedtime Stories” program. Bedtime stories are read alouds by adults in our community for students to listen to at home and this will be the first time we have some created and shared by students.  In the interests of confidentiality, I won’t be including students’ names or photos of their faces in this project, however, I hope to include video/ audio samples as well as student feedback and reflections.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on

I began this project by simply asking my students how often they read in English in order to get an idea of the groups I should be targeting.

Graph to show minutes read per week

When first discussing their reading habits, most of my students began by assuring me that they read for X number of minutes per night as outlined by their homeroom teacher.  This is with the exception of one fourth-grader who, and I respect his honesty, told me that he added the total time required for the week and read for that long on Monday so that he didn’t have to read for the rest of the week. Once I reassured each student that I wouldn’t be discussing their answers with their teachers they started opening up more and being more honest about the time they spent reading. When I asked about the reasons they avoided reading, there were a few trends. Time was a contributing factor for many, as too was homework in Chinese, however, the most telling response was from a student who told me that reading isn’t fun for her. Elaborating, she admitted that reading for her is tiring and frustrating; she would rather be doing things she enjoyed doing instead. Fair enough.

I have ended up with a shortlist of 11 students. Four grade two students, four grade three students, and three grade four students. The majority of these students read between 20 – 30 minutes per week at the moment. I would love to see that time change to 20 – 30 minutes every day. I am excited to see if this project can help to develop this group of students’ reading habits and make reading more appealing.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on unsplash

My Concern

I worry that I am too fixated on just having the students build fluency. I hope to inspire them to include reading as part of their daily routines, however, what if all I am doing is having them read words without comprehension. I can read Korean *cue slightly sarcastic woo* but just because I can sound out the characters doesn’t mean I actually understand the words. Does this mean that my scope is too narrow or is it better to target one area of reading?

This article  does a great job of explaining the different facets of reading fluency and how they contribute to developing a reader’s ability. Through developing a struggling reader’s automatic processing, they can start to expand more energy on making sense of what they are reading. In our classes, I am working to develop and introduce strategies for students to use across all areas of literacy, so I feel as though targeting one area may be okay. I also keep coming back to the overall goal. Providing students with something that is fun and motivating in order to develop reading habits.

Final thoughts

I am going to start by selecting a range of texts for students to choose from for their first reads, but then I would quite like them to start choosing their own books. This may be a hard process though, so if you have any suggestions of books that you enjoy reading aloud or remember enjoying having them read aloud to you, please feel free to suggest them!






End of Course 4

The Sitch

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

The majority of students I work with admit that they are not currently reading at home as they find it difficult and frustrating. My hope is that this project will provide them with a purpose for daily independent reading practice that can be monitored and measured. I will work with six students from grades 2, 4, and 5 for this project.


The First Plan


How does this project reflect your learning during COETAIL? How might this unit be different from or similar to other units you have designed/facilitated?


My first idea for a unit really builds off the project that Shalene, Julija, and I worked on during course 3, experiences over this semester, and some feedback from students during distance learning. My struggling readers have always enjoyed the opportunity to read stories aloud to younger students. The lexile level tends to be closer to their independent reading level and they are able to build confidence in their ability to read aloud while developing fluency comprehension skills. The difference between this and my previous units is a greater emphasis on independent reading at home. By providing students with higher levels of technology use, I hope to also encourage daily reading practice and therefore support students’ progress towards their reading goals.



Describe the unit: What will your students be able to do? What will they understand? What skills will they build? What ISTE Standards for Students will you prioritize?


Throughout this 10 week unit, the students will be selecting books to read aloud in front of the camera with an intended audience of students in younger grade levels. The goal is for the students to read 5 books aloud in order to build reading fluency and comprehension skills as measured by DIBELS and Fountas & Pinnell assessments. I want to prioritize the Empowered Learner ISTE standards as students will be creating content and sharing it with the school community.


Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?


I think this is a good course 5 project as it helps tackle a big issue I am seeing with my students. Namely that they are avoiding reading when they are outside school. Reading aloud is frustrating and some students report that they do not see the purpose behind cultivating this skill. It will also provide an opportunity for both myself and homeroom teachers to monitor student progress and allow us to give feedback. I want to improve in aligning SSP and ILP goals with the classroom teacher’s goals to allow for greater transparency with how I am supporting students.


What evidence might you collect to support students in demonstrating their understandings?


Weekly reflections will be a big part of this. I want to make the reflections easy enough so that students will complete them, but also use this as a tool to hold students accountable. In order to monitor students’ comprehension, I plan on adapting the Wilson reading recount rubric.


What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?


My biggest concern is that students still try to avoid reading at home. I am struggling with how to ensure that they are held accountable in a way that is empowering. My larger goal is to instill a love of reading in each of my students, but I am worried that this could backfire. By increasing the expectation for independent reading, I am cautious not to inadvertently causing more stress or pressure around an already challenging task.

My other big concern is related to how students share their readings. Living in China means that I am limited in some of the programs I can use. My school’s technology policy restricts me from using any apps with students that require a VPN so that means no YouTube, Google Drive, or (frustratingly) Thinglink. I’m also unable to use Padlet or FlipGrid as they are currently unreliable in China. I am leaning towards students sharing content through SharePoint and using Handbrake to shrink video sizes.


What shifts in pedagogy might this new unit require from you?

This unit will require me to share more of what I am doing with classroom teachers, something that I really want to do. It will also provide me with an opportunity for getting back to new learning partnerships. I have found myself more in the role of a traditional teacher during class times and I want my students to feel as though they are doing more than being passive learners. I want to put them in charge of their progress towards their learning goals.

What skills and/or attitudes might this new unit require from your students?

The students will need to show grit throughout this 10 week unit. I would like to provide them with the opportunity to discuss difficulties and frustrations while simultaneously providing them with an opportunity to plan for their next steps.

The Second Sitch

person holding a book and pen
Photo by Lewis Keegan – on Unsplash

My second idea stemmed from working with a few students who are finding Maths frustrating. This unit would focus on fewer students. Four individuals in grades 4 and 5. These students are struggling to make progress towards their Maths goals as they do not know their multiplication facts and have found learning them frustrating. As a result, these students are becoming increasingly disengaged in Maths classes as they feel they are unable to do the work.

The Alternative Plan


Describe the unit: What will your students be able to do? What will they understand? What skills will they build? What ISTE Standards for Students will you prioritize?


This six-week unit will harness the concept of remixing and have students create Maths music videos for multiplication facts. They can have the freedom to choose from their favorite songs so that they can take ownership of their work. We would begin the unit by looking at examples that already exist online and then students would have the opportunity to write their own lyrics and produce their own videos in collaborative groups. The ISTE standards I would focus on for this unit would come from the Creative Communicator strand.



How does this project reflect your learning during COETAIL? How might this unit be different from or similar to other units you have designed/facilitated?


This idea really started to grow over course 4. From the very beginning, I had my first idea taking shape and I was excited about starting it. Then, I started thinking more about how I could use technology to support student’s learning in meaningful ways and I tried helping a fifth-grade student by having her create a video to walk herself through the process of two-digit division. This really helped her and she started to become more confident in herself. This opportunity to use technology at a higher level instead of just for information consumption really helped to jolt my thinking. It got me excited for other ways to integrate technology meaningfully and provide students with more deep learning opportunities.




Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?


I think this unit would be great for taking technology integration beyond simple substitution and augmentation. I also believe that it could help excite students about a subject that they are finding difficult and frustrating. The combination of integrating technology in a meaningful way through supporting student growth towards their goals is something that I feel excited and passionate about.


What evidence might you collect to support students in demonstrating their understandings?


The end goal would be for students to be able to apply their new-found knowledge of multiplication facts to solve maths problems with greater confidence and fluency. I think the use of personal reflections from students would be paramount to see if they felt a change in their attitudes towards Maths, as well as their own abilities. Just today, I had a student tell me that she felt “stupid” because she could not solve a fractions problem in the classroom. I think that having pre- and post-unit reflections from students would be vital evidence.


What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?


My biggest concern for this is that the end product might only prove to be valuable for the creator rather than for any audience. I am questioning whether this is necessarily a big issue or not and I am settled somewhere in the middle. My intention is to have these four students learn their multiplication facts in a meaningful way and then share them with each other and their classmates. This feels a lot smaller in scale to my other unit idea, however, and I am worried that the focus is too narrow. I am also thinking about the enduring understandings box on the UBD planner and I am unsure of what the enduring understandings are for this unit.


What shifts in pedagogy might this new unit require from you?


I think that one of the things that really came to the fore for me over course 4 is that I have found myself drifting away from incorporating technology in meaningful and authentic ways. This has definitely come with the change in my role this year and feeling as though my time with students is very limited. I also believe, however, that this unit can be integrated into students’ service hours.


What skills and/or attitudes might this new unit require from your students?


Video production skills will be a review for all of these students. They have all participated in filming and editing projects either in the classroom or as part of after school clubs. Choreography, lip-syncing, and a shift in attitude towards Maths classes will also be necessary.


How Deep is your Learning?

blue scissor near papers
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

My first thought when it came to evaluating the effectiveness of new pedagogies was to create a student survey. As Paulo Freire said, “Teaching begins with students, not teachers.” As I mentioned previously, I arrived at my current school when the PYP was being introduced. This proved to be a challenging yet rewarding experience for both myself and my students. Just before the end of the year I sat down with a group of five students and asked them how they felt this year was different from the previous.  A couple of students mentioned that they enjoyed a greater emphasis on asking questions and, as the year progressed, a feeling that they could shape our units of inquiry. The thing they all agreed on was they enjoyed the opportunities for collaboration more than anything else. When students are happy they are more engaged and so I feel that this is a good starting point. I was curious how else I could measure the effectiveness of new pedagogies.

With each year I have worked at my current school, a new model for measuring student growth has been introduced. If I take writing as an example, my first year we had grade-level rubrics designed for assessing students, the following year teachers and students created rubrics, after that a skills rubric for writing was introduced, this year that rubric has been refined to correlate to the How Language Works training that teachers have taken this semester. I feel as though changes are nothing new to educators, however, without consistent rubrics, I do feel as though it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness year to year as to how writing has been taught. We are still working towards implementing assessments that are “comparable across different types of tasks, subjects, schools and systems,” just as Fullen mentions in chapter 5 of A Rich Seam.

One area I was interested in digging deeper about was the use of the Tripod survey as a tool for measuring student engagement. I feel as though surveys that are aligned with the 7 C’s framework could be a useful tool for measuring the effectiveness of new pedagogies and curricula as they are introduced to the school.

“Making assessment much more intrinsically formative is a starting place, as it would develop students’ capacity for incorporating feedback in ways that are much more like how performance is measured in non-school contexts.” – Fullen, Langworthy, A Rich Seam.

Much of the feedback I currently give to students is formative in order to guide them towards the ILP and SSP goals. I am currently using the Wilson reading intervention program with a few students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. This program is highly explicit and involves a lot of questioning in order to help students solidify their understanding of the English language. I am currently in the process of preparing for the possibility of returning to distance learning at some point in the future. Looking back at how my department supported students before it seems as though the learning specialist helped individual students work through assignments set by classroom teachers. While I feel this would be highly important to ensure student engagement I am also wondering how reading intervention can be successfully integrated into an online-only program that is engaging and allows for the level of feedback that students need in order to make progress.


When I look at the 6 C’s of Deep Learning I feel as though I am doing a pretty good job of planning lessons that help build the competency of character. I try to build resilience in students by showing them how their hard work has resulted in their progress towards goals. Where I want to get to is to feel as though I am delivering lessons that consistently include all of the 6 Competencies for deep learning. I am hoping that through my COETAIL Course 5 project I will be able to do this and, just as importantly, that I will be able to assess this.

The Wrath of Khan Academy

The above video is the oldest memory I have of using a computer in school. It was on an old 8 bit BBC Microcomputer gathering dust in the back of our classroom featuring the newest 8-inch floppy disk drive. The game itself was a basic text adventure but at the time to my friends and I it was glorious, even if all I really remember doing is endlessly trying to use a rope to fix a broken bridge. Except for some nostalgia, however, it’s difficult to point out what, if anything, I got from this experience. I consumed 8-bit music and graphics in all the different ways the BBC Micro could throw at me but I didn’t actually create anything. Instead I learned some rudimentary keyboard skills and that certain trees may contain magic.

One thing that first surprised me when I first read chapter 4 of A Rich Seam was that, “up until now, technology use has had a below-average impact on learning relative to other interventions” (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning Fullen Langworthy.) In order to prepare for my basic skills exam while I was training to become a qualified teacher, I used Khan Academy to prepare for the maths component. I found it a useful tool, however, I can certainly see the limitations that come from repetitive practice. I’ve always been a little hesitant in recommending Khan Academy’s use for elementary students as Sal Khan often speaks very quickly in the videos and I felt that the feedback system could be more frustrating than helpful for younger students. NWEA scores can be plugged into Khan Academy to help drill students on their ‘weak’ areas in maths but, to me at least, there seems little opportunity for knowledge construction over consumption.

Alphabet, Communication, Emotion, English, Feeling

At the beginning of the school year, I started to re-learn Japanese. In order to support my learning, I ordered the basic package of Rosetta Stone Japanese. I already have a basic daily conversation level of language so I assumed I’d be able to pick things up fairly quickly. When I originally learned the language, however, I would meet with a teacher and then we would go out to a restaurant or bar after to practice on the unsuspecting Japanese public. It was this human interaction that helped me to learn how to speak as much as I can and, without that, it has stopped being as meaningful.

This thought made me reflect on how I use Lexia to support students’ reading. On the one hand, there is a lot of repetition and students are encouraged to practice the same skill over and over again. If they make more than one mistake they receive “instructions” from an unskippable video and are forced to start over. I feel that this cycle is pretty frustrating for students and I wouldn’t recommend this program were it not for the way it tracks student progress and has intervention lessons alongside resources for teachers to use. I go back and forth on my feelings about this program and whether it is truly making a difference in supporting students’ reading. On the one hand, I have a data source where I can follow my student’s progress and look at where they need support, however, I worry that the repetitive nature could lead to them falling out of love with reading. Last week I had a student with moderate dyslexia read aloud to some kindergardeners. She came away from that experience feeling proud of herself and motivated to keep on practicing her reading. I feel like that experience alone proves that technology, by itself, does not promote learning. Instead, it is the opportunities we create for students to interact with “authentic audiences” that make a difference.

Mistakes, Mishapes, Misfits

As much as I can, I try to own my mistakes when I make them in front of students and model appropriate reactions. I speak openly about things I know I find difficult or that I found hard in the past. When I was in primary school I found multi-digit multiplication and division really frustrating. I’m not sure I really understood the concept behind either until secondary school. Now maths is one of my favorite subjects to teach but I really had to work at it and it never came easily to me. I don’t mind sharing those experiences and frustrations with students as I hope it demonstrates what it means to have a growth mindset.

Head, Silhouette, Mindset, Mental Health, Speedometer
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Dweck’s research seems to have become synonymous with modern education and more than one of the grade levels at my school begin with an Inquiry into Growth Mindset as part of there Who We Are UOI. I feel as though these are important lessons for students in order to promote the idea of showing grit in the face of adversity. Last year my class designed surveys asking their parents or family about a time when they had to show a growth mindset. Some of the conversations that this inspired were amazing and most of my students came back having learned something new about their parents. Looking back at this activity my students definitely used technology in a basic way, we formed questions as a class, they drafted a reflection, and then typed their findings. Looking back I think that this could have been a great opportunity for students to create a presentation or an animation of what they found out in order to allow for a higher use of technology.

Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning really resonated with me, particularly where the International Coaching Group talk about their belief that “recognizing the learner as an equal is essential for true learning to take place.” After hosting a workshop on difficult behaviors a few weeks ago I had a teacher ask me what they could do to repair a relationship with a student after they called them out in class. My answer was to show humility. To own the mistake, apologize for it and then address the behavior that led to that frustration.  I really like the sentence, “Simple actions we take that encourage connection–praise, smiles, words of encouragement, signs of respect, genuine interest, and concern-can encourage more meaningful dialogue and increase the chances for learning to take place.” By showing vulnerability, honesty, and integrity I believe we can create an environement where students can do the same.



Red Wine is Healthy

Glass, Wine, Drip, Red Wine, Drink, Liquid, Alcohol
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Reading through the article Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It (Jacquelyn Whiting). I immediately began to reflect on the story of Kyle who wanted nothing more than to show his teacher “I know what I’m going to say!” and so embarked on a quest to “seek only sources that validate that pre-formed position”.  After the first few paragraphs I started to think to myself, “To what degree am I a Kyle?” When I find a food (or drink) that I really enjoy I often find myself Googling, “Is XYZ healthy?” To which I will usually scroll down through the endless warnings from baseless fake news sites such as the BBC, Mayo Clinic, and The American Heart Association until I find a source confirming that of course, the food (or drink) that I am consuming is fine for me, in fact, I should probably enjoy it more often than I currently do. I am, therefore, left with the conclusion that I might just be a bit of a Kyle.

Invisible Bias

Invisible, Bowler, Suit, Hat, Glasses, Retro, Anonymous
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Invisible bias is a prejudice that is unconscious and you may not realize you have. Whiting’s article talks about how many of these prejudices can affect the world around us. She references the article Girlhood Interrupted published by The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality in 2017 when she states that, “adults see black girls as less innocent than white peers.” This is deeply troubling, particularly in education as, “Another study found that white teachers were 30 percent less likely than black teachers to predict a black student of theirs would graduate college.” We all run the risk of falling into the “bias confirmation trap” where, just as Kyle did, we actively search for information that confirms what we want to know and disregard the facts that we disagree with declaring them false.

I thought that the lesson Whiting described, a mad-libs approach to discovering bias, would be a highly engaging task for students. In particular, the impact language has on the tone of a paragraph would spark some deep conversations amongst students while, simultaneously, revealing some of their own biases. As I think again about my own invisible biases I am thinking more about how I use online sources to validate my own pre-formed ideas. I want to move away from being yet another Kyle and am prepared to explore sources that may disprove my own preformed opinions.

Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention for its health benefits. – Mayo Clinic –Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Truly, Madly, Deeply Learning

Algorithm, Mockup, Images, By Machine, Learn
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reading through chapter 3 of A Rich Seam by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy made me think about how exciting it is to be an educator right now. Deep learning tasks lead to students constructing knowledge and then applying it to the world around them. The example of Dog River from the article is perfect for showing students taking action and using their knowledge. After learning about environmental issues 10th-grade students were tasked with doing something that could make a difference. The students chose to clean up their local river and created an action plan that helped build awareness about the levels of pollution. These opportunities to take learning beyond the classroom  give students “authentic choice over what they learn and how they execute the learning.”

Agfa, Vintage, Camera, Film, Retro, Analog, Lens
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

As part of their inquiry into digital citizenship, my fourth-grade students were tasked with creating videos that would teach their peers how to be good digital citizens and stay safe online. The students were given specific criteria for their videos and they then formed questions that they wanted their films to answer. They had control over their creations and it was great to see the students learning from each other as they put their creations together. There was a real sense of agency amongst the students and they were taking pride in their creations as it had a greater meaning to them than a simple written report.

I am excited to start integrating more deeper learning opportunities this year that tie into student’s ILP goals. I feel as though since the start of this year I have been focused on Old pedagogies, namely explicit, direct instruction without providing enough opportunity for students to apply that learning outside of the classroom. This is certainly something that has been on my mind this year and something I will be implementing next semester.