My Final COETAIL Project- Course 5: Self-Advocacy Presentations

Unit Introduction

  • As we entered the final quarter of the year,  I started our Advocacy presentation unit off with a brainstorming session around their transition to grade 8 and what kinds of things they would want to share with their teachers. It was a group discussion allowing them to start looking for the words to help describe themselves as learners & individuals. Further lessons would then give them more vocabulary around how to speak about themselves in that same way with confidence and expand their self-awareness and demonstrate how to articulate what they need to get the most out of their learning and more importantly, enjoy the process!
  • Check out our Unit Planner linked here with some slight alterations made that will be shared in the video at the bottom of this post.

The Learning Process

  • After our brainstorming sessions, we had numerous SMART skills lessons allowing us to grow in educational vocabulary and reflect on ourselves as learners. I transformed an old pen and paper Executive Functioning survey to being a google doc, and found success with the reflection piece and debriefing the students with their own personal data.
From this... 

to this...

allowing for a greater level of independence and mini lessons on the vocabulary within the survey to add to their personalized Vocabulary journals.

  • From offering choice selections lessons through “bingo boards” (as seen in the final video) to direct instruction reading lessons my EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and LRC (Learning Resource Class) has a fine balance between independent activities and lessons that require active engagement. Allowing them to choose all activities in 1 language domain or complete one activity from each of the 4 domains (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking).
  • Many of which we started the year off completing together as a class and as the year went on similar activities then became some that they could complete independently- such as the Nearpod listening lessons.
  • As we got closer to the final assessment for our project, we dove back into their goals and charts of their progress and continued the reflection process. Partnering up to work on skills in similar areas as well as different partners whose strengths and weaknesses were opposite to them was beneficial. In these partnerships, they were able to discuss strategies and ways they focus on their strengths to help with things that are more challenging for them.
  • Here are a few altered (for confidentiality) screenshots of the final projects showcasing slides of the student’s work and some of their excitement to celebrate not only their growth and success around meeting their goals but to celebrate their differences and truly value the unique individualness of each and every one. Be sure to check out the final video reflection at the end of this post, to see parts of the presentations in action!

ISTE Standards for Students

Empowered Learner

Creative Communicator

Both Images taken by Shalene Huth
  • As an empowered learner my students (1a),  “Articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.” and  (1c) “Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.”
  • As creative communicators my students (6a), “Choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication” and (6d) “Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.”
  • Allowing students the option of which platform they wanted to use to complete their project authentically embedded the ISTE Standards for students into my content area. It has gotten better as it has become easier to identify which units are using which ISTE standards, and how to go about planning meaningful lessons to help with significantly re-designing the task or to create an entirely new one.

    ISTE Standards for Educators

Image taken by Shalene Huth.      I have deepened my practice of the  educator ISTE standards, by using them in my unit and becoming more reflective in the designing stage, opposed to only at the completion of the unit. Looking at not only the standards I wanted the kids to model, but those designed for educators has allowed me to grow in the planning and implementation of this unit, ensuring that almost each standard is somehow incorporated into this final project.

I also realized that for the future I’d also like to focus on and continue to grow in Standard 3-Digital Citizenship:where "Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibilty partcipate in the digital world."

ISTE Standards I was proud to meet through the implementation of my final project:

    • “Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.”
          • Specifically: “Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.”
    • “Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning.”
          • Specifically: “Educators: Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.” and “Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.”
    • “Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.”
        • Specifically, “Educators: Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.” and “Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.”
    • “Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.”
      • Specifically, “Educators: Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.”
    • “Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.
        • Specifically, “Educators: Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.”
    • “Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals.”
        • Specifically, “Educators: Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.” and “Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents, and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.”

Meeting Our Goals

  • The main goal for this unit was to present a video recording about themselves as a learner demonstrating clear English speaking and knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses while reflecting on their goals from this year.
  • For myself and this unit, I wanted to open it up to doing the project, not from a standard template- I’ve provided in the past, with explicit step-by-step instructions, but to give them the end goal and give them choice on how to reach it and bring, what I cherish and value: creativity, into my lessons.
Showing my students first hand, it can be extra rewarding to just "go rogue" as you can see here with a painting class I experienced... where I took the liberties to ask for black paint created my own pink and followed instructions in a different way. 


Photos taken by Shalene Huth
  • I think this project has challenged me to rethink traditional approaches, in the sense of breaking away from set graphic organizers and templates to allow more room for student choice. Then once students begin follow up with bringing in sentence starters, prompts, or graphic organizers to aid them.
  • It was also a goal of mine, to explore utilizing my own photos and to begin taking more “abstract” ones that could, later on, be used in blog posts- a goal of which I was thrilled to see come full circle in this post and within the images of my final video.

Adding to Our Toolbelt

  •  Movie Maker
  • Screen Casetify
  • Google forms-surveys
  • Google Docs.
  • Padlet & Flipgrid
  • Nearpod
  • Read & Write assistive tech.
  • Most of my students were familiar with a number of these and it’s great to see more and more teachers using them regularly within their classes. So what may be new to you, more often than not, is not new for our students.
  • Choosing the tool to match the task, is also an easy feat once you have a broader knowledge of what’s available to you.  Being able to start with knowing what you want and select a tech tool to best support it allows the focus to stay on the task with technology simply enhancing the redefinition of what we thought was possible in the many learner objectives and endless opportunities to show demonstrate of the expected outcomes. 

Sharing our Transformation

  • Being that I am the only SEN teacher for my grade level I shared this unit with the transition team and next year’s teachers. Teachers received an e-mail with links to each of the students’ videos for whom they will teach for grade 8. I will initiate collaboration through setting up the transition meetings and holding end-of-year progress meetings and support plan meetings with parents and classroom teachers. During this time, teachers will be able to ask the students directly any clarifying questions on their projects. We have been unable to have any of these meetings yet, due to Covid-19.
  • I will continue to share out my learning experiences with my colleagues as we implement new TTT (Teacher’s Training Teachers) sessions at our weekly Faculty and Dept. meetings (not just the monthly PD days) as well as through engaging them in the transition meetings and student support meetings.  Sharing these types of projects and the lessons leading up to our final outcome will also empower teachers better serve diverse groups of learners.
  • All of this will greatly impact the students I service, by taking these skills of self-awareness, self-advocacy, and empowerment and generalizing them into their general education classrooms and with a larger setting and in a subject that may be more challenging to them.

Learning Outcomes

  • Greater self-awareness, confidence, and advocacy skills!
  • Assessment task: creating a presentation (of any kind) with visuals and demonstrating speaking skills that can reflect on themselves as a learner and how they set goals and worked towards achieving them.
  •  They also learned about collaboration and speaking with their classmates and the classroom teacher is of utmost importance to continue to grow as a learner and to take more control over their education.
  • The enduring understandings that students walked away with were the different tools and vocabulary to utilize in ensuring they are getting the most out of every class lesson.
  • In end, the final transition piece will occur after the results of their WIDA language assessment in 2 weeks’ time. I am confident that all the students I worked with this year will reach a level 4 or 5 in the speaking domain as it has been a joy seeing their confidence grow and have some wonderful discussions, debates, and informal dialogue week after week.
Image taken from:

Final Reflection

My COETAIL experience will impact my future practice, with whatever field I go into. As I am unexpectedly leaving my job and home in Moscow and on the search for something new and exciting back in Wisconsin! Everything I have gained through COETAIL, I am confident, has allowed me to take the next steps in whatever is to come.  I don’t know what my role will be in the fall, within education, but the COETAIL experience has given me numerous opportunities to expand my PLN and countless new tips and tricks with innovative tech skills that I am sure I will find success.  I will look for a position that allows me to continue to spread the joys of what it means to be a life long learner, eager to try new things, gather data, and continually reflect and meet the needs of ALL learners, who are eager to take control of their own learning and help make this world a better place

Be sure to check out the video for further reflection on the project itself!

From everything available on Google, Youtube, Twitter, our PLN, and helpful links provided by the COETAIL instructor, the 2 tips I really took with me for the creation of my video were:

“…You have to be able to see the feeling…” & “…just lift your chin up, go forward and don’t worry about nothing…”

Take from:

Final Project Video Reflection

My Community Engagement

Personal Learning Networks

As our COETAIL journey is winding down and coming to an end, I’ve realized how much my Personalized Learning Network has grown since the start of this course well over a year ago and before experiencing a global pandemic that forever changed what teaching and learning can look like worldwide.

From full digital models to different hybrid models, to “Modified Full On-Campus Learning” with each passing week we continued to evolve our craft to meet the needs of our diverse learning group. From those stuck out of the country due to VISA restrictions to those at home quarantining, to those who remained in other time zones well on the opposite side of the world, it has never been more clear how much teachers care and are willing and able to put in the time to engage, teach, and inspire their learners no matter their location or given learning mode.

Throughout this year I have relied on a number of different groups to learn from and share different lesson plans and activity ideas with.  You can see from my original post from back in February 2020 all of my learning communities in yellow, where then I have added my newer ones in green since on this COETAIL journey.

CEESA- Learning Support

To start, having our school being a part of CEESA (Central & Eastern European Schools Association) has had numerous opportunities for growth and development. Even after Covid hit, a number of the Learning Support teachers would continue to pose questions to the group and seek solutions and ideas for ways to best serve students in the Special Education Program. After a few months of countless e-mail replies, we took our lengthy e-mail chats to a more formalized meeting.  A poll went out, we selected re-occurring days (monthly) to meet. It wasn’t too tricky with the time zones being that it was all CEESA schools, but generally, the meetings lasted about an hour and were recorded for people who couldn’t attend. An agenda was set up such as this:

1. CEESA learning support website
2. Screening, identifying, and referring students
3. Measuring progress in hybrid or virtual learning scenario
4. Takeaways from the CEESA conference
It was a great way to connect to others who share the same passions with SEN and in similar international schools facing similar challenges.

Google for Education

Next, the Google Educator Groups have been extremely helpful as I applied to the program and am working towards my Google Educator Trainer exam. Using things like to help you study and prepare, it was also great having access to people who have already done their level 1 and 2 exam to ask questions and practice more tips and tricks for short cuts, activties,and simply new fun ways to utalize all things Google!

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Global Online Academy

With plenty of workshops to choose from, Global Online Academy offers a wide range of courses depending on your current skill level. I found their lessons and discussion boards beneficial during the start of our lockdown, when moving to a full digital teaching and learning model. But I quickly learned that the resources provided by my school and the level of tech. skills I had already acquired, led me more to answering questions through this community than getting my own questions answered. It was a great experience that really allowed me to see where we stood in terms of supporting our students during a crazy time in education and also allowed me to grow in confidence about all the great things we were already doing and using with our students to increase engagement and ensure learning was taking place.

Even in the “end of quarter student reflections”, I was thrilled to see one comment that read,

“Even during a pandemic we can learn”

Sometimes I think as educators who are constantly thinking 10 steps ahead while simultaneously reflecting on the past 2 weeks and assessments and attendance all while not forgetting SELF CARE ….. we forget how resilient kids can truly be and that when modeling positivity and optimism for what the future has in store, only great things can happen. Which also led me to seeing that despite me thinking that this year would be hard to show two plus years growth… from the students point of view they are on track for meeting their goals or in some cases have already met them and would like to set new ones!


This leads me to my own academic goal- which was to sign up for Twitter and actually attempt Tweeting. I have never been a huge fan of this platform, being from the original Facebook Generation, but I found out I was able be extra selective on who to follow and was also able to get a few helpful hashtags from friends along the way which proved to be a great resource.

Not only was I able to Tweet out my COETAIL blog posts, but I was able to stay better connected with my cohort, for the times when we planned a meeting to touch base and see how everything was going and everyone was doing on their final projects.

More specifically I really enjoyed using Twitter during some fun grade level projects like March Book Madness… with Harry Potter as this year’s champion and getting to tag the authors of some amazing work in young adult and children’s literature.

Or getting to share out fun class lessons on the sustainability of our oceans. Teaching students about Exclusive Economic Zones and what’s going on in today’s world on top of the environment and pollution of those oceans with plastics- while being sure to use biodegradable materials and doing a fun lesson on bottled water vs. the tap! What are you really paying for??

Without expanding my personal learning networks many of these lessons and activities would have stayed with their creators as opposed to having great lessons reach as many students as possible.

Lesson Plan – Living Lands & Waters found here 


Joining the group- “Teaching During Covid-19” allowed me to see numerous examples of what others around the world were doing in place of the in-person learning activities. I loved all the Bitmoji classrooms people were using, but never found quite the right lesson to use with it. When we introduced our literary terms for a past unit, I saw others who created “escape rooms” with their Bitmoji classrooms. So I decided I wanted to take it one step further by incorporating a Google Form into it and the special features like “Section based questions” or “Conditional” and “text contains” allowed us to really have some fun with our new terms and challenged them to check their work and see if they were correct- allowing them to “escape”.

Webex Teams

At first, Webex Teams was just another platform for communication. Yet- another thing to put on the list to have to check daily from e-mails to what's app groups, to Facebook messenger, to your Twitter feed... I found it regualrly exhausting attempting to keep up with everything. But in the end, it was useful to connect with different people who you don't see throughout your typical school day, and allow for opportunities like Moderating WIDA writing samples across grade levels. It allowed for easy sharing of writing samples and rubrics and quick and easy communication for shared scoring and reasonings. I know this tool will also be exteremly handy towards the end of the year as we begin to have our final ILP and SSP meetings along with all the transition meetings taking place from ES to MS and MS to HS. 


Last- our Monthly Happy Hour Zoom meetings with former colleagues, allowed that time for Self-Care that everyone so greatly needed during these past 15 months. Getting to talk about how other schools are handling the Covid situation, but more importantly, connecting with old friends who share your passion for education was vital to surviving this school year.

From synchronous to asynchronous learning styles, with a lot to a little notice, I’ve come to realize how wonderful and supportive colleagues around the world are: sharing ideas, resources, and availability to offer feedback and simply be available for a group brainstorming session. I am thankful for my Personalized Learning Network and can only hope it continues to grow as I move towards a new chapter of life, leaving my school in Moscow for the unknown!  I am excited about all the new connections I will make and know the relationships established during my 10 years of international teaching will continue to be there, for a lifetime.

C4Wk4: Unleashing Deep Learning

“It’s about helping students to build attitudes and confidence through doing purposeful things that make a difference in the world”

Hands, World, Map, Global, Earth, Globe, Blue, Creative

Image taken from Pixaby

The evidence I have seen that “technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far” was sadly most apparent in Figure 7, from chapter 4 of A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning.

From this, I concluded that many of the assignments, classroom projects, and assessments do not fall into the higher “knowledge creation” end, but are still a fair amount within the “high-level uses of technology”side.  I especially found it interesting that my own pull out courses focused around remedial work and executive functioning skills all primarily fall within the lower third of “information consumption.” I think upon further reflection it would be beneficial to look more towards increasing opportunities within those top technology uses of developing & using simulations or animations and working with others from outside class.  Only then we will really be able to accelerate teachers’ abilities to put students more in control of the learning process as well as continue to form the must-have learning partnerships between teachers and students.

With all this in mind, I would also keep the goal of having core components of new pedagogies strategically integrated with technology to really unlock authentic and meaningful deep learning.  When these are clearly defined and developed, our students will be able to:

  1. Discover and mastery new content knowledge
  2. Collaborate and connect learning
  3. Low-cost creation and iteration of new knowledge
  4. Use of new knowledge with authentic audiences for “real” purposes;
  5. Enhancement of teachers’ ability to put students in control of the learning process, accelerating learner autonomy.

Technology contributes to dialogical learning in my classroom as I am a firm believer in modeling risk-taking and growing critical thinking skills. Ways to do this include:

  1. Connecting learning to student interests
  2. Asking good questions
  3. Using learning structures and teaching strategies that prompt student thinking

All of this impacts student learning because I communicate effectively with my students and constantly look for ways to celebrate their accomplishments and grow their own belief in their capacity to learn. This in turn can help them believe more in themselves.  Reflecting on Paulo’s Freire’s 5 ideas for dialogical learning was also very helpful and creating new classroom goals and how to continue to build courage within my students as well as the importance of demonstrating humility, hope, faith, love, and critical thinking by showing them I don’t have all the answers, but we will work together to continually overcome the challenges we are faced with, and most importantly during these “Covid times” we’re in it together.

Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning

  1. Humility
  2. Hope
  3. Faith
  4. Love
  5. Critical Thinking

Teaching with humility means knowing that teaching begins with students, not teachers.

I also really resonated with the fact we must have faith in our students as it can instill a true and profound sense of self-worth and help them to value themselves in all future relationships.

Holi, Colors, Festival, Color In Hand

All of this taken into consideration, it will not only improve student learning but improve overall instruction as well.

Image taken from Pixaby

In our classroom, we constantly are using technology for collaboration in terms of teacher feedback and input around progress made on ILP goals and accommodation use. We also look at the strengths and greatly dissect areas of improvement and how to use our strengths to overcome them.

I think when it comes to using technology to really unleash deep learning combined with new pedagogy is still an area of growth and one I am looking forward to continuing to improve on.  With the change to almost full digital learning this school year, it has really opened the door and forced educators to relook at lesson plans and rethink them using new pedagogy and how to transform them into deep meaningful learning opportunities.

For students to become independent learners who effectively design and manage the learning process, we as educators really need to help model and demonstrate how to go about doing this. I think many students can easily manage it (something I work on heavily with my diverse group of learners) and others can even go higher with the design component, but it’s the word “effectively” that I think takes a lot of time and explicit feedback to guide them towards accomplishing this. I found the 6 Powerful Strategies For Deeper Learning In Your Classroom  (listed below) as another great resource and my ability to focus on how to reflect and improve on the different strategies used within our classes.

  1. Connect: Create a Community of Learners
  2. Empower: Activate Students to Lead Their Own Learning
  3. Contextualize: Use Human Themes
  4. Reach: Network Beyond School Walls
  5. Inspire: Personalize The Learning
  6. Wire: Make Technology the Servant, Not the Master

The best part is- the love for “finding the spark” that I think all educators share when working with students and seeing a subject, idea,  or project that really makes a student light up. Fire, Smoke, Match, Burn, Ignition

Image taken from Pixaby

“Working the hard edges of love”                                                -Brene Brown

In  Daring Classrooms, we all know that learning is inherently vulnerable, and therefore without vulnerability, no learning can take place.

I am vulnerable with my students by sharing in their successes and supporting them when things don’t go as expected. I also share stories of my own personal life through my professional and personal goals and how I continually set new challenges for myself and they share in my opportunities and failures, both positive and negative.  Building rapport with your students while holding levels of respect between an educator and their pupil is crucial for trust to be established and then deeper learning to take place, with bigger risks also at stake.

I teach my students courage by constantly reminding them that we have a mistake making risk-taking classroom. Providing a safe space for learning where there is no place for humiliation and embarrassment.  We develop a courageous classroom by bringing all conversations out to the open and keeping ongoing meaningful communication about our goals and progress alive. Allowing students some choice in the topics they explore and the methods they use,  not only keeps them more highly engaged but will allow them to see the greater purpose.  The “why” are they doing this.

I work really hard to develop a “shame resilient” classroom, where hopefully, none of the students I work with will ever feel unworthy of love and belonging. Many whom we can’t control their home lives, it is only that much more important than when they walk into our classroom or log into our Webex they instantly feel not only welcome but loved and a real sense of belonging and ownership to what we are accomplishing together. Any shame that happens through secrecy, silence, and judgment is instantly fixed through empathy and ensuring that any student I work with never feels alone. As I would hope shame is not something happening in our classroom as it is devasting and will change how a student views themself as a learner. Sadly, by the time I teach students in Middle School, most if not all have probably already experienced some form of shame or guilt.  I  strive to be an educator whose students think of them as someone who believed in them and hopefully only added to increase their self-worth.

When completing a VIA character survey, at my old school in the UAE, we spent weeks around these traits, sharing and talking about what everyone brings into the classroom and how to grow in other characteristics that were not listed as main strengths (such as humility for me). Really emphasizing that even if something was not listed as a strength, it is still something that can be developed- not only within myself but in my students as well.

My strengths as reported from the character survey:

Having bravery as my first listed strength I think matches well with my use of humor and zest for life when working with students who some deem “more challenging” especially when back in the USA and primarily working with those with Emotional Behavioral Disorders along with creating that courageous classroom. Recognizing learners as equals so true learning can take place can be very challenging at times when the opportunities aren’t always met with a 50-50 mindset, many times it’s a 90%-10% split with the student expecting more from you and them giving very little if not any buy into their education. I must continually change up the strategies to what is needed so any form of learning can take place.

Reminding myself that when you are brave enough often enough you WILL fall at some point and that having resiliency is important. The 4 main skills sets being:

  1. Vulnerability
  2. Clarity of Values
  3. Trust
  4. Rising Skills (resiliency)

All of these are opportunities I provide my students with through the ongoing communication and “real talk” we have constantly around their goals and progress. And when students apologize for something,  like coming late to class, we change the focus from it’s not THEM being disrespectful because they are inherently disrespectful or whatever it may be, but with the mindset that it is only behavior and one of which they have control over and with time and set intentions- can change. Especially now with digital learning, to “lean into the joy” of being vulnerable, and showing gratitude and ways to always remind us to be grateful and appreciative for what we have is more important than ever.

When my students deeply grasp the meaning of Self-Advocacy, I know they are truly ready for whatever comes next, beyond the 8th grade and highschool.  Incorporating school with home and the world, I know whatever life challenges they face they will be able to advocate and get what they need in order to achieve success.

Course 3- Final Project

Creating & Sharing Digital Books

(Option 1: Unit Planner)

Books, Smartphone, Hand, Keep

Image was taken from

My group members Julija & Simon are teaching from Lithuania & China, with myself in Russia; we were two Learning Support teachers and a Tech. integrationist.  We chose option 1 and created our own unit planner as each of us had already completed options 2 or 3 during course 2.

We went with the topic of personal narratives and reading fluency as it was a broad enough topic that worked well for everyone across early ES, late ES, and MS. Our lesson design and unit planner can easily be modified and adapted to suit all our grade levels. It also served as a great unit plan for upcoming lessons taking place in our classrooms.

boy's writing on bookwoman in black long sleeve shirt using macbook

Photo by Andrew Ebrahim  and  Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This time around I found myself taking on more of the organizational role than during course 2.  Administering the What’s App group, initiating the Zoom calls, and sharing the planning document that allowed us to link all the UbD template, Slide Deck, and Google Sheet rubric for convenience.

As for collaboration, my group was very easy going and flexible. Everyone’s ideas were brought together and evenly contributed to each component of our project. It also helped that we were only working out of two time zones

and only 5 hours ahead/behind one another.  We had four 40 minute meetings, which allowed us to go through the process of a truly great collaborative group project: brainstorming, drafting, revising, and finalizing. Each member bringing their own unique piece to the project.

This project was different than the past designed learning experience as it was directed at students and was able to be tailored to meet multiple grade levels. It allowed us to combine personal reading goals, writing narratives, and sharing book recommendations or original writing pieces to a larger audience. While teaching literary elements, steps in the writing process, and how to self-reflect and leave constructive feedback. Not to mention a number of tech pieces throughout as well such as: Writer Reader, Book Creator, FlipGrid, and Thinglink.

Here is our Unit Planner for Creating and sharing written work and book recommendations and.  Slide Deck for interactive student participation. 

Two things I learned over the course three-time frame were the two Google add-ons: NearPod and Peardeck. These add-ons turn any presentation with google slides into something that allows students to interact with the content as you teach, offering you real-time feedback throughout the lesson to help with pacing and guide the next day’s lessons.

If you’re not familiar with these Add-ons I highly recommend them and am confident they will transform your content delivery into true art.

Here is the Nearpod tutorial  and Peardeck tutorial .  I found Nearpod to have more available features whereas Peardeck allowed me to customize things to great detail.  Though I use both for grade 7 students, I think that younger students would like the Peardeck features more and older students would gravitate more towards the Nearpod features. Then once you’ve had the chance to experience them both, I’d watch the  Nearpod VS. Peardeck to see even more similarities and differences between the two great add-ons.Premium Photo | Hands of two men with blue and red boxing gloves bumped their fistsImage is taken from Freepik

The shared article: The Cycle of Socialization resonated with me the most during course 3, but isn’t directly reflected within the group project. As I move to facilitate this project in my co-caught classes, remembering to continually advocate for students, by questioning and challenging our current systems and providing students with a safe space that allows for them to do the same.  We must continue to break down barriers and build that safe environment for all collaborative discussions to take place.

Sometimes collaboration can even be easier with complete strangers on the other side of the world than with fellow colleagues you see day in and day out.  Why might that be??

Other aspects that have influenced me and are directly reflected within our project would be: Using design principles as students design their own pages in book creator, using the collaborative practices for students (from week 2) as they work together to share ideas and give feedback in the writing process, but what I think has influenced me the most during this course that came out the strongest within our project was the use of the Peardeck add-on.  This project was only the 2nd time I’ve designed lessons through this feature and I still find it as one of the greatest tools I’ve added to my tool belt.Tool Belt

After completion of this unit, I would hope that our students are feeling empowered to comfortably share their writing work or reading passages with classmates as well as learn how to give appropriate feedback and accept feedback with a growth mindset. I will be able to see evidence that students have learned these concepts when conferencing with them and hearing about how they have grown through goal setting, progress monitoring, and self-reflection. I will also see evidence that fellow teachers have learned something by seeing more interactive lessons with an increase in student engagement during content delivery times and taking risks when trying “new” digital platforms for student discussions and empowerment.

Prior to the break, we were able to plan and film FlipGrid book recommendations. That allowed our students to take 3 days to reflect on their reading goals, plan, and film a book talk that was posted on FlipGrid. Focusing on character and plot development, a chosen quote, and making recommendations tailored to specific audiences. I wasn’t able to facilitate the entire unit plan as we broke for October break. But I am continually looking for new ways to present content like in this Online Escape Room.  I hope to implement something like this when introducing literary elements after the break.  These book talks were the second “presentation” our 7th graders have given so far this year. The first one being an in-person cultural info-graphic (also greatly influenced by COETAIL Course 3 design principles) Based on student feedback, I would have changed the order of these presentations allowing the first one to be filmed and able to “re-do” as many times as needed with editing features of cropping and deleting and saving the in-person presentation for later on. Though with the Covid situation and not knowing when or how long we will get to have our kids face to face, it makes longer lesson planning more challenging. We’ve been flexible this year, really trying to slow down and just

take things one day at a time.

person sitting on stack of books while reading

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

What have been some of your mottos to make the most of your planning for unplannable times?


C3W2: Collaboration Facilitation

Collaboration enhances and deepens learning because multiple people are coming together to share their experiences and methods of teaching. It’s a magical thing that can grow organically

when trust has been established and everyone participating feels safe and empowered to contribute.

Greater learning takes place when students can see teachers working together and building off of one another (vs. contradiction) and there is consistency with expectations and guidelines for everything: from work production to in-class participation.

(Image taken from: Digital Capability at

I chose to facilitate a study group through the use of FlipGrid & Padlet.

Our activity was to prepare for an upcoming Assessment of Learning, and have a discussion around any misconceptions about any of the “I Can statements” for the Math 8 classroom standards.

It started by posting the expectations and process directions on our google classroom page, with clear step by step directions and links that take them directly to the different sites. When clicking on the first link to Flipgrid, the expectations and guidelines for the activity were also given as a short video clip, with again repeated directions written out. This way students were able to not only read what to do, b

ut hear about it directly from me, their teacher, in a short 2-minute video. Having the Padlet in addition to the flipgrid feedback, allowed each “I Can Statement” to have their own section, but all within the same place- yet not allow it to get too busy with all the student videos, then making it cumbersome to study from or work off of.

This experience challenged my students, as they had to not only watch the review, re-teach videos, for any concepts they were struggling with, but also post their own flipgrid videos with the extra practice problems and commenting on others’ videos if they agreed with the work being shown or any feedback on how to better show their understanding. Using both Flipgrid and Padlet has challenged some of my shyer students to get use to filming themselves as well as putting themselves out there to accept criticism given from their peers about their work, especially on something that has thrown them into “the learning pit.” For some students who are uncomfortable with the videoing of themselves, whether it was a cultural reason or not, they were allowed to submit their thinking and feedback in alternative ways by means of an e-mail or voice recording (if they were comfortable do that) other students were also able to complete the videos but used the different features offered within flipgrid to hid their face behind an emoji or simply cover up with written text that supported what they were saying.

Facilitating these types of activities and discussions was extremely helpful especially as we moved into a hybrid learning style this year and have half our student population learning from home or even engaging in the learning opportunities asynchronously from other countries/time zones.

I think this specific activity and facilitated discussion hits a number of the  ISTE student standards:

1.Empowered Learner- showing & developing competency in their learning goals

2.Digital Citizen- being respectful towards one another when leaving their feedback and commenting on others’ work

5. Computational Thinker- showing different ways of solving the problems

6. Creative Communicator- clearly expressing themselves creatively using thew given platform

                    Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Being a culturally competent educator supports relationships, especially in an international school setting, by providing that safe and welcoming environment for students to thrive in.  Where their differences and unique backgrounds aren’t just known but celebrated.  Along with challenging students with the “new normal” or learning to appreciate what is “normal” for other people coming from their own unique set of experiences.

We watched this video, celebrating and challenging what each person considers to be a “typical morning breakfast” and reach outside their comfort zones to yet again get rid of the word- normal.

Appreciating cultural competency would also apply on a larger scale, outside of the classroom, for the school as a community. How many international schools still value the “North American” passport holders or native English speakers? It won’t be until a staff of teachers within a school not only shows cultural diversity but celebrates it by welcoming all to the classrooms as teachers. (Which understandably can come with its own unique challenges i.e. obtaining visas).

How will you celebrate a “new normal”???