Category Archives: Info

Taking the Leap: Thinking about Course 5

This is it.

Star jump

CC Licenc

This is the moment in COETAIL where you are set free to show what you’ve learned, show your classroom, show your learning, and show your students’ learning. This blog post is going to be pretty nitty gritty, but hopefully by getting the details out of the way, you’ll feel comfortable about going out there and doing incredible things.

Top Tips

Tip #1


by Felipe González (CC Licenced)

Choose a unit that interests you and redesign it in a way that excites you. You are going to be working on the Course 5 project for weeks. Make sure you are geeked out by what you’re doing. Make sure your students are geeked about what they are doing. If you’re a little scared, that’s probably a good sign.

Tip #2

Take what you have learned in all the prior courses and put it into action. Maybe you will mash-up gamification and digital citizenship. Maybe you’ll make a digital story with people around the world, tapping into your PLN. Perhaps you will have kids from around the world building in Minecraft or have a kindergarten inquiry sparked by Twitter. Perhaps you try Problem-Based Learning in an higher level math class, allowing for open books and open computers.  It could be that you find a way for your kids to design something for that 3D printer your school bought. Maybe you move from the sage on the stage to the meddler in the middle. And hopefully this will give you the push to try something that you haven’t done before but you’ve always wanted to try. Or even better, try something that you didn’t even know was possible a year ago.

Tip #3

Make sure you are really thinking about SAMR model as you plan your unit. Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 8.28.29 PM A lot of people discussed in their blogs at how they don’t feel like they are at the Redefinition level in their classroom. If there is ever a time to get there, this is it. We are asking you to redefine your classroom for one unit in one class. Think about how you are using technology to support learning in ways that we inconceivable without technology.


Tip #4 

As much as this assignment is about you, it has to be about your students too. Tell your kids what you are doing. My kids thought it was awesome that I was stressing out about an assignment. Make sure you are showing them that you are a learner too. And then, hopefully, they’ll be kind if you make a mistake along the way.

Tip #5

Make sure you are documenting EVERYTHING in the unit. Take pictures of your students working. Reviewing a danceScan copies of their work. Take video asking your students what they learned. One reason is that you have to show student learning, interest and authenticity of the unit.  Having too much evidence is a good problem to have. Also, you will be creating a digital story documenting the unit and you want lots of media to draw on.


Tip #6

Read the criteria. And read them again. To Do public art in DumboThere are 9 criteria that you will be marked on and in a 10 minute video you will need to show your thinking in regards to all nine. I’m not going to overwhelm you here with them (find them in the Week 8 page), but trust me when I tell you that as soon as you get back to school in January you will want to know this stuff backward and forward. And the two questions that would make me really think would have to be:  “Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school? ” and  “Is student work reflective of their interests or passions?”. But that might be just me. There is a lot to think about there.

Tip #7

You will need to do a unit planner and best practice is that you do that before the unit is started. So perhaps that is the first thing you do in January (after reading the criteria one more time). You are encouraged to use Understanding by Design planner as it will address many of the criteria. But the planner should also be useful to you. Perhaps a PYP or MYP planner is best for you. Or your school has its own style. Do whatever you can to make this a sustainable project that you could do again next year.

Tip #8

2013-10-18 Collaborative Video Editing

cc licenced by mrsdkrebs

Plan your time wisely. You all know how long the technical bits of putting together a digital story took during course 3. You will be creating a 10 minute video and you need to make sure you plan for that amount of time. Check out previous course 5 project here, which had different criteria but do show what is expected in terms of the video.

Tip #9

Keep blogging. There are no minimum blogging requirements for Course 5, though there is a Community Engagement requirement. But I would suggest that you keep blogging. I found the process of blogging my ideas for Course 5 really helpful. And then you can get feedback and more ideas from COETAILers and others who read your blog. Hopefully you have the intrinsic motivation to share and reflect on your blog, even when it’s no longer a specific requirement.

Tip #10

Take risks. Ask for help when you need it. Take control of your learning and let go of control in your classroom. And have fun!!


This will be my last blog post for you. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and getting a chance to blog on a regular basis again. Thanks for letting me jump in. Please let me know if I can help with project in any way. I can’t wait to see them!

And most importantly have a safe, relaxing, rejuvenating break!



What’s in a name?

I hope those that celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday. And I hope that everyone in this time of craziness is having moments of calm, with good friends and good food. Holidays are in sight, even if reports are a hurdle in the way for most of us.

Don’t let the name fool you.

Throughout Course 4 the confusion around the loaded educational terminology has been constant (gamification isn’t about playing games?!? Flipped Classroom isn’t just watching videoed lectures?!?). Honestly, the people who name these pedagogies aren’t making life easy for COETAILers.

Want to be overwhelmed? Click here

So before I launch into a discussion of some of the ___________-based learning, I think it’s important to not get too hung up on the names. Learn about the theory. Learn about the strategies. Reflect on how the ideas in each pedagogy could be brought into your classroom. Try out bits and pieces that speak to you.Think about how you’re going to mash-up these pedagoies until you have created your own _______________-based thinking that is best for your students.

Problems and Empowerment

I have to admit that before I started teaching this course I had never heard of Problem Based Learning. I had heard of Project Based Learning. I had heard of Challenge Based Learning.  But there is something evocative about structuring our learning around problems.  Because my mission as a teacher is to empower my students to be problem solvers and to be agent of change. Anything – a skill, an idea, a technology, a protocol – that will help my students feel empowered has to be considered.

I found this article (recommended on Twitter—sorry don’t remember who!!) really helpful in wrapping my head around Problem-Based Learning.


And this quote made me feel better:

The semantics aren’t worth worrying about, for very long anyway. The two PBLs are really two sides of the same coin. What type of PBL you decide to call your, er… extended learning experience just depends on how you frame it. The bottom line is the same: both PBLs can powerfully engage and effectively teach your students!  – Project Based Learning vs. Problem Based Learning vs. XBL

Project-Based Learning – Not “Doing Projects” 

PBL is a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. – Introduction to Project Based Learning

I actually think elementary school teachers, who based their instruction around inquiry, grasp PBL really quickly.  One of the benefits I found in COETAIL was reading PYP teacher blogs and seeing how they helped kids learn. The idea of presenting a provocation and then let students take the learning where their questioning goes seems natural to teacher of younger students. In many ways, this is what PBL is doing — giving real-world problems to students as provocations and having them direct their own learning.

YouTube Preview Image

One definition of project learning as an “in-depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of children’s attention and effort. This article (Project-Based Learning: Real-World Issues Motivate Students) has great examples of what this looks like in classrooms and a protocol making it happen.

In middle school humanities we do loads of fun projects.  But “doing projects” is not Project Based Learning. And implementing Project-Based Learning can be messy and challenging. But, man, can it be fun and rich experience.

Thinking about Blogging

A little off-topic from the week, but I’m going to challenge you a little this week in your blogging. Before the end of the course, I would really love to get a feeling for your classroom. Some of you are doing this already. And I know that a lot of you are using your blogs as a place to reflect on the big ideas and the readings, but sometimes it becomes too academic and not about the kids. And I find my best blog posts (and the ones that respond with people reading my blog) are ones where I honestly share what’s going on in my classroom. In some ways this challenge will prepare you for Course 5, where you will be set free from any topics of choice and you will be asked to think critically about what you are doing in your classroom. I would love to see pictures of your classroom or of student work. I would love to hear/read your student voices. When I read your blog, it should be clear that only YOU could have written your blog. Don’t worry too much about quoting readings. The theme this week is how technology supports Problem-Based Learning, but feel free to talk about how technologies support other methods of teaching pedagogies as Project-Based Learning, Inquiry-Based Learning, Design Thinking, Challenge-Based Learning, etc. This should be open-ended enough to allow you to direct your own learning. Which makes it a much richer experience for you.



Schedule for Today: Play! Be HAPPY. Go Home.

kid to do list, list, Be happy and go home

kid to do list, list, Be happy and go home. CC Licensed by Carissa Rogers. For more to kid to-do list go to

I’m going to take this week as my mini-COETAIL blogging break, as the realities of the end of the semester are becoming more real. I promise to write more about problem-based learning, as this is the new pedagogy that is probably the most exciting for me. Project Based Learning, Challenge Based Learning, and (more recently) Design Thinking) are the “new” pedagogies I find myself practicing and reflecting on the most, which is why I don’t want to rush a post. But I did want to leave you with some quick resources, if you are looking for some blogging inspiration.

  • Kim Cofino (co-founder of COETAIL) has put together this incredible resource for a workshop she did at Saigon South International School on Transforming your Classroom. If you’re looking for more ideas on MOOCs, Global Collaborative Projects, Open Badges, Play in the Classroom, Networked Classrooms, or Maker Culture this would be a good jumping off place.
  • If you want some examples of just some of some Course 5 projects, these are the ones we are showing at YIS this week.

Brent Fullerton (EARCOS)
Kathy Sandler & Nancy Gorneau (TAS)
Alex Guenther (YIS)
Adam Seldis (YIS)
Jamie Payne (St. Maur)
Find more on the COETAIL site!

Way more to come on Course 5 soon, but I thought some people may want to start brainstorming. Do be aware that the rubric for these projects was a little different than the one you will be using, but it should give you an idea of what you’re moving towards.

  • Seriously do think about arranging a Google Hangout with other members of the cohort.Today's latte, Start a hangout. There are great conversations happening in the blog comments, but it would be great to add a face-to-face element. You could structure it around one of the pedagogies we have been discussing or to start brainstorming course 5 projects. It’s up to you, totally optional, but could be the next level of COETAIL.
  • Like Brandon said in the prior post on Connectivism, the strength of COETAIL as an online course become apparent if you are involved in the conversation. Please do make your best attempt to keep up as much as possible and to keep commenting as you go. (Trust me, I see the irony of writing this in a blog post where I’ve annoying complained of being busy.) Also, please be updating your Google Spreadsheet. This is the only way for me and Brandon to make sure we are seeing everything that you post. So make sure that has your most current blog posts and comments on there.

Thanks all! Have a great week. Looking forward to this week’s conversations!

The Answer is Yes


The big question for this week is: Will education as we know it change because of technology?

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier


If after three and half COETAIL courses your answer isn’t “yes”, then I wonder if you can get a refund. (I doubt it, in case you’re actually considering asking).

The only thing I’m sure about concerning the future of education is that there will be learners. I’m not sure about much else. Students and teachers roles are changing. Classrooms are changing…you all know that as participants of an online course. The school day is changing. It’s impossible to imagine that  in an age of open educational resources (OERs) and massive open online courses (MOOCs) things aren’t changing.

Of course these changes aren’t happening in a vacuum. Schools and universities have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Teachers rightly demand proof that changes in pedagogy are effective and researchers can barely keep up. Different schools (or pockets within the same school) are implementing new pedagogies at different speeds and different levels of enthusiasm. We’re emotionally attached to our experiences in a school (as teacher and learner and parents) and hate to sacrifice how we remember schools. Sometimes we get tired of learning and of changing.

The reality is that knowledge and understanding of the world have always been changing. Facts have a half-life. What we learn in COETAIL this year may very well be old-fashioned quicker than we may like. But we have never lived in a static world. And for me, this is a comforting truth.

A New Pedagogy is Emerging

One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time about new pedagogies was put together by Ontario’s Distance Education group. It states that new pedagogies are emerging because of :

  • New Demands of a Knowledge-Based Society  
  • New Student Expectations
  • New Technologies 

So it’s not just the technologies changing, but the entire culture around learning.

The challenge is not creating new learning experiences from memory, but to create new, amazing learning experiences. In other words, to move from substitution to redefinition in learning at the culture-wide level.


Our ability to connect is what redefines us as a culture. Sometimes we connect face-to-face after long flights. Sometimes we connect on a Google+ Hangout. Hopefully you all have connected with each other through reading each other’s blogs for the past few months. I would love to see COETAIL hangouts that are driven by the participants, instead of the instructors. The more we are in the world, the smaller it gets.

My Connect Folder on my phone. I don’t care what App I use as long as I can connect to the people I love.

I store my knowledge in my friends’ (undated)”

This idea lies at the heart of Connectivism. Connectivism is the belief that knowledge exists in the world, not in our head. So we have to go out and seek it.

In many ways an ability to connect with others is what pushes our classroom into the redefinition level.  It’s this connection that allows a Twitter to spark a maths inquiry in kindergarten. It’s this connection that allows a stop motion animation made in Borneo to be remixed by students around the world.  It’s the connection that allows for people to create Acceptable Use Policies with “strangers” around the world. It’s the connection that allows IBDP English teacher to Skype in a creator (great Course 5 project).  It’s this connection that has students taking online courses for credit or not for credit.  It’s the connection that has me watching Dave Cormier’s “What is a MOOC?” video and scrolling through Google Scholar articles on Connectivism in writing this blog post. These connections mean that hyperlinks and embed code are the best part of the Internet. It’s developing a PLN to improve our practice as teachers or letting students use their own learning network to answer the big questions that need solving. It’s this connection that let’s me join three different MOOCS, and the fact that none of the them were lecture based.  It’s this connection that means that this tweet resonates with all of us. 

Our role

Information without context, as we know, is useless. As teachers, our job is changing, but still vitally important. Ontario Online states that with this new world, we are going to have to:

  1. A move to opening up learning, making it more accessible and flexible.
  2. An increased sharing of power between the professor and the learner.
  3. An increased use of technology not only to deliver teaching, but also to support and assist students and to provide new forms of student assessment.

We’re also going to need to focus on search skills, evaluation skills, and critical thinking skills. We are already moving towards new school models that allow for real, connected learning. It’s interesting the Universities are leading the MOOC movement (even if sticking close to traditional format in a virtual space), suggesting that universities are rethinking their mission. Universities are looking at offering credit for competence, not hours sitting in a lecture hall. Our schools are becoming more flexible, naturally.  And in this more connected world, I think we’re really going to need to know our students. We are going to need to know what kids respond best to extrinsic motivation. We are going to need to know what kids can work independently on a MOOC. We are going to need to know what kids have the resilience to have an epic fail and get back up. We are going to need to know what kids are introverted on social media. As I learn more about schools that a project-based, inquiry-based, challenged-based, service-learning based (etc), the more realize how important knowing the kids is. 

So, as always, connectivism (and all other pedagogies) is about the kids.

A lot of words to get to that simple answer.






Flipped Classroom and The Kitchen Sink

Watch this Video

Watch this video for as long as you’re interested and not a second more.

Did you last more than 30 seconds? Did the bad lighting, the corny jokes, and poor sound quality annoy you? Was the subject matter of unclogging sinks not interesting? Did you wonder why I was making you watch it?

Now imagine, your sink was clogged. This is BIG and REAL problem that need to be solved IMMEDIATELY. And what if you lived in a country where you didn’t speak the language of the plumber? And perhaps the plumber doesn’t work on the day that you desperately need him?  How attentively would you watch the above video? How grateful would you be to these guys for taking the time to create the videos?  How many times would you pause, rewind and rematch that video?

For me, this sets up the challenges and the opportunities of Flipped Classroom.  We have the ability to make videos and to change how content is delivered. But do our students understand why they are watching the videos? Are they engaged in the videos? Are they grateful for the work you put into creating the videos? Are our students using videos to solve BIG and REAL problems?

Flipped Classroom: Not for the Passive Learner

Good teaching, regardless of discipline, should always limit passive transfer of knowledge in class, and promote learning environments built on the tenants of inquiry, collaboration and critical thinking. We, as educators, must strive to guide students through perplexing situations, and more importantly, work with one another to develop the pedagogical skills to do so. Keeping this in mind, good teaching comes in many forms, and the flipped classroom mentality can be one of many solutions for educators. – Should You Flip Your Classroom? Edutopia


To be honest, I have struggled with the idea of Flipped Classroom. I am a little wary of the hype around Flipped Classroom. Many articles (often written by non-educators) celebrate Khan Academy, Neo K-12Teacher Tube (just to list a few) for freeing up more time to get through content. Getting through content is the least inspiring reason to make changes to pedagogy. And they forget that just because something is on YouTube, it doesn’t mean our kids want to watch it. And just because a video is on their iPad, it doesn’t mean that our kids will rewind and rewatch. I’ve watched kids fall asleep watching boring videos in-class. And as someone who enjoys lecturing (though I’m doing less of it each year), I know that the best lectures are interactive and actually feed off of an audience.  And, as Jeff says, lecture as a content delivery is dead. So I know that showing a video is not enough.

That said, if introducing flipped instruction allows a teacher to differentiate instruction and create a more learner-centered classroom, I’m all for it. And if the videos can be used to quickly assess understanding and student learning, then we’re moving in the right direction. And if a teacher has found a way to have students want to watch the videos (or learn independently in general), then that’s amazing.

 Redefining Flipped Classrooms

In actuality, reverse instruction is more than videos. And it’s more than just technology.

At it’s best, reversed instruction is about empowering learners. 

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by m rkt:

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by m rkt:

Reversed instruction allows the walls of the classroom come down. And it can extend the school day, so that learning doesn’t stop at the bell. So if we are changing the very nature of school, we better make sure we are doing great things with our students.

Perhaps, you engage your students in a passion projectgenius hour20% time or a DIY project. Your students go home and learn what they want to learn. They Skype family, watch experts explain how to do something on YouTube, or poll friends on Googleforms or Survey Monkey. Perhaps they join Code Academy or a MOOC to learn more about something they are passionate about. They want to do work at home, because they’re geeked.

Perhaps, you flip who is learning from who. Have students read each others blog posts in preparation for a fishbowl discussion (link with a great description of what this looks like in a DP English Class). This can also mean teachers look to learn from their students.

Perhaps, you create problems that kids want to solve. The great math teacher Dan Meyers is a great example of someone who creates real problems where kids need/want to learn how to answer the problem. They watch videos about derivatives and functions, because they are desperate to know the answer.

Perhaps, students recognize their own problems worth solving. Design Thinking talks a lot about how students can recognize problems and find ways to solve them. Moonshot Thinking is about choosing to bothered by something, being inspired, and hard work.  A flipped classroom can help our students solve problems that we as teachers don’t even recognize as problems.

These are just some ways that we can redefine what the classroom looks like using reversed instruction. And maybe this resonates for your classroom. Or maybe you’re finding the  “traditional” model of Flipped Classroom is working for you and your students (I’m willing to be convinced!). So the question is – How is your classroom being disrupted, redefined, and flipped?


A few more things on Gamification

It’s great to see in your blogs so many of you embracing gamification and an equal number (or more?) of you struggling with gamification. That should be the space we are in during this course. Two more quick things about gamification as we wrap up week 2.

Livestream of EARCOS Weekend Workshop of Gamification and Game-Based Learning with Adrian Camm

  • What: YIS will be livestreaming (assuming the technology works) the workshop Inspiring Learners Through STEM: Mindsets, The Maker Movement & Digital Culture with Adrian Camm next weekend. A big focus will be on gamification, game-based learning and interactive fiction, with some 3D printing and other cool stuff thrown in. The YIS COETAIL cohort (which is also doing course 4 at the moment) will be there and you’re invited to check out the livestream and follow the Twitter stream. More info will be posted here on the day and on Twitter for links and such. Let me know if you have questions.
  • When: November 16-17, 9AM-4PM (obviously just pop in if you can)
  • Who: Adrian Camm (he’s who we have to thank for the Games in Education wiki I shared in my last post). Check out his #Learning2 Talk about the value of gaming.

 And one more infographic about gamifying instruction I stumbled across this week. 

Have a great weekend!


Gamification: An Epic Quest

The Game of School

The particular offense of playing the Game of School lies in the disengagement of our intellect and our feelings from tasks that deserve to be taken seriously; task like writing, reading, thinking, planning, listening, researching, analyzing, performing, applying evaluating. We do harm when we reduce these acts of intellect, creativity, and judgement to rote exercises, perfunctory deeds, or meaningless gestures. Faced with the stress of daily life in school, it can seem easier, at times, to pretend to believe rather than to truly believe in the value of what we are about. The Game of School: Why We All Play It, How it Hurts, and What it Will Take to Change it. By Rober L Fried

I have pronounced, loudly, that I am not a gamer. But one game I was excellent at what the game of school. It’s a game a lot of our students are used to. A few of the rules I held as sacrosanct by grade 12 (and college and grad school) included.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Duncan Hull

  • Rule 1: For bonus points and the reward of a time bonus, always volunteer to answer a question at the start of class. Once one question was answered I was rewarded with extra time, the teacher left me alone and I could go back doing my homework for the next class. Points also added for class participation.
  • Rule 2: When completing a mission (project or essay), follow the formula you mastered in level 9th grade. Find the rubric, as that’s basically a cheat code for successful missions.  Follow the structure for an essay. Points always rewarded for being neat.
  • Rule 3: Paying attention to test taking strategies was time best spent.  Tests by level 12th grade were nothing more than game strategy.
  • Rule 4: Points were almost deducted for doing something different from what The Teacher dictated, so only do so if you’re feeling brave. The rewards could be great if I was creative. But be aware, failure will never be rewarded and it is hard to recover from any mistakes made.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved school, I had some wonderful teachers, and I loved learning. But I had the Game of School mastered from an early age, as do a lot of our students.

In reality, the game of school was designed for kids like me. School can be for the kids who are pleasant, who do the tasks, and follow the rules. But the more I am in schools, the more I realize that the Game of School, as it is currently structured, is not designed for all students. It’s most definitely not designed for our most vulnerable students. And this is where game-based learning and gamification can play a role.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Game play has traversed the realm of recreation and has infiltrated
the worlds of commerce, productivity, and education,  proving to be a useful training and motivation tool. While a growing number of educational institutions
and programs are experimenting with game-play, there has also been increased attention surrounding gamification — the integration of game elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios – New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2013

When we are talking about game based learning and gamification, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

  • Gamification and Game Based Learning is not about entertaining students. It’s about engaging students in their learning.
  • Including games and simulations into our classroom can create authentic learning experiences that tie to curriculum. Check out this incredible Games in Education Wiki for a comprehensive list of games, for all subjects and all ages. Minecraft has proved to be an excellent way to combine student interest with necessary content and skills. The Google Ninja Program is another great example of how Game Based Learning can encourage our kids to learn skills. This is fun stuff and our kid want to learn. 
  • The best games should be “hard fun” for our students. As we apply game mechanics and include Game Based Learning in our classroom, we should be thinking about how we can allow for creativity and inquiry. We should be creating games where our students want to engage and ask questions. Moreover, the best games allow students to fail, go the wrong way, and try new things. Because that’s the best way to learn.
  • All games have a goal. As you gamify your curriculum, knowing where you want your students to go is essential. And as you gamifiy your units, Understanding by Design can be an excellent model to use as you mix in game mechanics.  Remember, gamification is not just playing games.
  • Gamification and Game Based Learning can help build empathy and grit in our students. But watching them playing games, I am less concerned with their abilitiy to deal with failure. When they are engaged in the game (and their learning) they just try again when they fail. That’s amazing. Don’t believe me…watch this must-view Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal

YouTube Preview Image

Leveling Up

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by artnoose

In case you haven’t guessed it, games are serious business.

So the next big question, is how are you going to use games in your classroom? Are you going to gamifiy your grading system? Are you going to redo a whole unit as a quest for your students to explore? Are you going to remix an existing game with your own curriculum? Are you going to play games that push your students a little further in their thinking?  Are you going to use badges at your school, with students or teachers? Are you going to try to play a game, to see how games really work and how the best ones are designed? Are you going to have students create a game? Can you gamify COETAIL?

Our students are already learning rules for success and failure in school. And some parents (and our students) will be reluctant to change the game. And so, the final question is, are we having them play a game that is worth playing?

Course 4 Announcement – Marking

Hi all-

It’s been nice to see your blog posts, tweets, and comments as we’ve started course 4. Just a quick heads up about grading and feedback.

  • If your first name starts with an A-J, Brandon will be giving you feedback.
  • If your first name starts with a K-Z, Rebekah will be giving you feedback.

It would be great if you could hyperlink (CMD-K is the shortcut) each blog post in your grade sheet, to make it a little easier to go between the blog and the googledoc. Even better would be if you put your twitter handle on the course 4 sheet, so that if we tweet out your post, we can give you credit.

If you have any questions or issues come up throughout the course, the first person you should contact would be the instructor assigned to you. The same general procedures and rubrics will be used as in prior courses.   Let either of us know if you have any questions.




Thinking Big – Course 4

Kicking off Course 4


I loved having the space and time to talk about pedagogy. I don’t know if I ever said the word pedagogy as much as I have since I started thinking about technology in the classroom. Being able to debate and talk and share ideas with other educators in an incredible opportunity.  – From my post-COETAIL reflection Things I know and things I don’t know: COETAIL Edition

First off, let me say how excited I am to be able to work with all of you (and Brandon) on course 4. While every single course in COETAIL influenced my teaching in profound ways, I love how course 4 focuses on pedagogy. This is the session where we can really think about how technology can redefine our classroom. This is the session where we can really think BIG. And for me that’s exciting to learn, think, and blog about. And for our students, it can be transformational.

(Some of) The Big Ideas

cc licensed ( BY NC SA )
flickr photo shared by Xurxo Martíne

I have a feeling that the Big Ideas discussed in Course 4 could change every week if Jeff wanted them to. It should come as no surprise that the Big Ideas about technology and pedagogy is a dynamic list. That’s one of the reasons we start Week 1 looking at technology integration models, particularly TPAC and SAMR.  For me, this discussion was a gamechanger. These ideas surrounding tech integration allowed me, as a classroom teacher, to develop criteria to judge whether I was using technology in a beneficial way for my students. And with this criteria in place, I developed a critical eye when it came to other Big Ideas. More importantly, it helped me develop an open-mind when it came to new, big pedagogical ideas. This open-mind, coupled with a critical eye, has given me the guts to try new things in my classroom. And I think with this mindset, amazing things can happen.

Just some of the Big Ideas we will be discussing in this course are Gamification, Reversed Instruction, Connectivism, and Problem Based Learning. Trust me when I tell you, I get geeked about these topics. Brandon and I will be introducing each new pedagogical idea as we move through the course and there are some fantastic resources to kickstart your blogging in the course site. Moreover, you’ve probably started to find other Big Ideas in your Twitter stream and RSS reader that you want to experiment with and reflect upon.  I really look forward to learning more from all of you and how these ideas fit (or don’t fit) with your classroom or school environment.

The Long View

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

Start Brainstorming
cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

Another aspect of COETAIL that we will be addressing in Course 4 is your final project. Seems kind of crazy to be thinking of course 5, when we’ve only just started this course, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind which Big Idea you really want to delve into for your final project. It’s also really important for you to have a strong understanding of SAMR model, which you will be exploring this week. Your final COETAIL project will have to demonstrate how you have used technology to redefine your classroom –  to create tasks that would be inconceivable without the computer/tablet/etc. Brandon and I will be helping you get ready for the final project throughout course 4 and sharing a lot more information as we go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Final Thoughts

Again, I’m thrilled to be able to act, with Brandon, as an instructor for this course. There are so many of you that I’ve met in person and even more I follow on Twitter. I’ve probably read some of your blog posts as the #coetail hastag is a go-to when I need inspiration. Please say hi and introduce yourself on Twitter (I’m @ndbekah and Brandon is @javajive)  or in the comments.  I’ve also been on the journey of COETAIL (complete with last-minute blog posting) and if you have any questions please let us know ( and . Brandon and I will be figuring out the logistics of how this course will run as we go and both of us will be blogging in the space. You should be expecting some more blog posts about specific expectations of this course soon, but overall the course will run the same as when Jeff was teaching it. And trust me when I say we really want to support you in your learning. The focus of this course is reflections through your blogs (a little different from Course 3’s projects) and we hope to see glimpses of your classroom through your blogs. Because we plan on learning a lot from you too.

Now I leave you with a video from one of the most inspirational schools I know, High Tech High, a public school in San Diego. This is a school that doesn’t just think about Big Ideas but actually makes them happen. Which is really the point of thinking big.



My Field of Tulips

color overdose I still find this whole Internet thing so amazing. Not so much the fact that I’m cruising at 35,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains right now as I write and post this blog post to you…although that is amazing. But more the fact that I’m still trying to figure out what an educators role is when you live in a connected learning environment. I need to do some thinking typing out-loud here as it’s my way of reflecting on my own understanding of my changing role as I see it when it comes to being an instructor in this type of environment.

The weather has turned beautiful here in Seattle and the tulips are in full bloom and if you know Seattle; when the weather is nice you get outside. Over the past couple of days I have disconnected mostly and enjoyed the outdoors with my wife and friends running in a 12K race and playing golf. The problem with this is even though I’ve taken a couple of days off you haven’t. So yesterday I opened up my Google Reader and found I had over 100 blog posts to read. I settled myself in to start going through them and as I went from blog post to blog post I was finding some amazing conversations already happening some already complete. I found myself not being able to add to the conversation in an authentic way.

The community (that’s all of you) have taken on a learning culture of your own….you don’t need me…..really….you don’t. My comments, if not authentic, mean nothing, do nothing to forward the conversation and really are what we would consider spam. However the teacher inside of me says I “must” respond as I am the teacher and that’s what teachers are suppose to do. Does that hold true in this type of learning environment? An environment so rich in conversation and discussion that I am but just a node among nodes?

I am finding myself more of a group facilitator…or a farmer (coming from a farming family). I feel like you (the community) are my field of tulips. More than anything I oversee the field to make sure everyone gets what they need. Everyone needs the basics water,  sun, food. Or in the case of this course the structure; outline, tasks, space. But each of you are individuals within the community and need certain things as well. Some of you need more time, some of you need special attention due to Internet or personal situations, and others of you need provoking. Not all of you get the same amount of attention and not all of you need it. You are all individuals in the field and beautiful in your own thoughts, reflections and projects. Yet as a community you are truly amazing! So…as we continue to move through this program together know that I am here for you to help you grow to give you what you need both as individuals and as a community. There will be times (like these last couple of days) where I’ll back off and let the community grow, and then other times where I’ll be highly active. My hope and thinking is my involvement matters much less than your growth and learning….and I hope you feel that way too.

….enough pondering for now……

Spring Break

There is a Spring Break week in this course. I put it for next week but you can take it whenever you need it. Some of you I know already have while others still have it to spare. No worries…again the only thing that matters is the final date of May 19th. I know as we get into May things get crazy. IB teachers are in full swing already and elementary teachers are headed into their last report cards. It is always a stressful part of the year this month of May and I hope COETAIL isn’t part of it…..if you need anything, or if there is anything I can do to relieve some stress I’m just an e-mail away.