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

Course 4-Final Project

“Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, Know What You Need, Know How To Get It.”                              -Nancy Suzanne James

Unit Planner-Advocacy Projects

My unit planner for an authentic purposeful learning experience incorporates the ISTE Standards for Students:

#1- Empowered Learner

#6- Creative Communicator 

I feel this unit is a great match for my Course 5 Project, as it is the main piece that ties all the lessons together in one final culminating activity.  The “All About Me- Advocacy Project” takes everything the students have learned about themselves throughout their time in Middle School and are preparing to introduce themselves as learners to their high school teachers. They share the details from their Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) in a personal video, that introduces themselves: their strengths, and areas for growth, how they learn best, their goals, and accommodation. They also talk about any strategies they use to help keep them overcome any learning challenges they face and anything they would like their teachers to know about them.

Walnut, Nut, Shell, Nutshell, Open, Brain, Head, Coils
Image taken from Pixaby

The standards of “Empowered Learner” & “Creative Communicator” help enhance students’ understandings of themselves. They take time reflecting on their Middle School Journey and see how much they’ve grown since their transition to middle school after grade 5.  Putting all the pieces together, focusing on their strengths to grow their confidence and esteem in the Learning Resource Classroom (LRC) to hopefully generalize all the newly acquired study skills and executive functioning skills to their general education classes.


By the completion of this unit, students will have a deeper understanding of themselves as learners and be more comfortable talking about themselves and taking ownership of their learning processes.  I will know that they have taken on the responsibility of “sitting in the driver’s seat” for their education, as many students openly share at what level and how comfortable they are with assuming these tasks. It is also really great to see them fully articulate what they need, even if that includes members of their support team still aiding them with specific tasks that they themselves can describe in detail- what they (students) need from them (support team).


  • I don’t really have any concerns about my unit redesign, though I am sure upon actual implementation and final necessary adjustments- concerns will arise.
  • This revamped or “Coetailed” unit will require my students to utilize their skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, communication, collaboration and mainly have a growth mindset and a positive attitude as they dive into personal dialogue truly sharing vulnerable details about themselves as humans. It will also, hopefully, lead to more shifts in general education (content) teacher’s pedagogies because they will have a better idea of the students as learners and as individuals in their classrooms.

Unit Reflection

Week 2’s learning partnerships have really influenced me the most during this final project, with a focus not only on my collaborating teachers but within the student relationships as well. Especially with being a case manager and focusing on those partnerships between students, I advocate for, but don’t necessarily have in the classroom and focus on their relationships with all their different classroom teachers as well.

This unit has been different from other lessons I’ve chosen in the past, during COETAIL, to design/facilitate; as I chose to do a unit within my own pull-out class- LRC, instead of focusing on the lessons I teach during my co-taught math/humanities classes.  It is similar, in the sense that I still keep many of the 6 c’s at the forefront of my planning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, citizenship, and character.

As I was revamping this unit, I incorporated what I learned about in week 1 on google add-on’s and how to enhance my google slides for increased student engagement.  As I was deciding which unit to alter, I wanted students to be comfortable thinking about ways to talk about themselves and share their learning process with their teachers and therefore redefining what the learning process means to them and how they see themselves fitting into it.  I wanted to make sure that the technology components added into the unit were done with a purpose- to enhance the learning and to make new learning possible.

Advocacy Quotes - BrainyQuote

C2 W2: Connecting with Friends & Family

After 6 weeks of leading four thirty minute recorded Google Meet calls a week, I have learned so much from the students I call my advisees. Distance Learning has provided me a no longer “unique” experience, but a new learning experience to dive head-on into a steep learning curve of which is digital everything. From assignments, discussions, assessments, feedback, and planning, Distance Learning has really allowed us to hit pause on the academic side and further explore the social-emotional health and well-being side of our students. Having four regularly scheduled times to meet with my small group of Penguins (mascot at the Anglo-American School of Moscow) this “advisory time” allowed us to take a break from the school day and just hang out, play games, get creative, and share thoughts and feelings about the ever-changing situation of being “overseas”.

  • I’ve learned that how I connected with my friends at their age was much different, than what they experience in 2020. They no longer have memorized telephone numbers, or have to wait for a parent to get off the phone before getting on the internet (they’ll never truly understand the struggles with dial-up and America Online). Or even younger, just riding a bike down the street to see if your friend was home. Though as an adult, my connections are much more similar to my students based on two things: technology and the international community. Third Culture Kids and international teachers will already have mixed similarities when it comes to communication because it is the life chosen. How many of my friends back home had no idea about the “What’s App” app for easy worldwide communication, or evening just dialing the plus sign before a telephone number. TCK’s are now communicating more than ever through SnapChat and TikTok, apps I have yet had any interest in exploring. Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Skype are still three of the most common social media formats I use to stay close with my friends and family. Even my 90 year old Grandmother is on Facebook, regularly liking posts and knows how to operate a webcam for regular chats on skype, yet all three main formats I use are “not cool” amongst my middle school Penguins.

I especially loved the article: Where Weird Facebook is King, where at the end, he writes the RIP section for all social media who have just disappeared or are no longer common amongst his circle of friends. When seeing that list I couldn’t help but think of all the different apps and platforms that are out there, that I haven’t even heard of, yet were at one time #trending even if just for a brief period. Unlike ones that I thought wouldn’t last, like Twitter, just seem to stick around and I find my self needing to continue learning about.

Or his take on the “emphasis on videos over text has made the platform more engaging and shareable, since videos are (currently) one of the most engaging formats” yet how many people in those videos do you actually know? We surround ourselves every day with short video clips of complete strangers, yet stress the importance of making real-life connections.

Do you have the courage to create something of your very own?… And Post it for the world to see.

  • I used to think social media in the hands of my students was just an open unsupervised doorway for bullying and dangerous situations for them to get themselves into. But now, as an educator, I see the amount of time and effort spent on helping guide students through this new digital age, where every 5th grader has cell phone. I can also start to see the positives, such as: -Creative dances and humor expressed in the latest TikToks Dance moves. -Shared opinions and heartfelt debates in recorded Podcasts. -Fancy videos with editing skills for “picture in picture” explaining the latest Algebraic Math problems along with Advocating for their own Special Educational Needs. It’s with all these things, I think how wonderful it is our students have literally everything at their fingertips helping guide what kind of human they will be and all the things they will create and share in their lifetime. Literally with recordings and photos to capture everything. I’m certainly glad that embarrassing teenage moments were much harder to capture on film in the 80’s and 90’s than they are now.
  • Social interactions and communication are changing, as with all the different digital formats it allows people to participate as much and as extensively as they would like, to as little as they may desire (back to the lurker stage).

To be honest, I don’t use social media in my classroom, at least not often or in the creative ways, I know great educators are doing, but I am confident that in my Learning Resource Class for students who have identified learning needs, students are learning to communicate appropriately and effectively in their general education classrooms and hopefully taking these skills outside the classroom and generalizing them in their on-line behaviors off-campus.

We need to not only value the social spaces of our students but role model and demonstrate to them that we value their digital identities and importance that social media plays as they continue to navigate their path in life.

We continue to encourage our students to participate in all of it, for me, specifically within Individualized Learning Plan goals & constant on-going reflection and teaching and monitoring self-regulatory skills.

I support my colleagues in understanding the effect social media has on our communication by regularly sharing and keeping the dialogue open about the communication taking place. I also encourage “out of office” communication time, hosting zoom calls, and placing an emphasis on personal lives more than on “work talk”. It is equally important to share with friends and colleagues when you may see a post that isn’t aligned with your morals and values and start an open honest dialogue about it vs. the easy route of blocking, unfollowing, pausing, or muting, or even the most extreme- unfriending.

“The real threat isn’t smartphones. It’s this campaign of misinformation and the generation of fear among parents and educators.”

The Kids (Who Use Tech) Seem to be Alright Scientific American

Other interesting reads related to this topic, I found taken from Psychology Today: “What Can You Learn About People From Facebook?” it explores the different personality traits one can exhibit based on the types of posts they create or share. It makes me think…..

What do your posts say about you?

I’d like to think mine would show the world I am a humorous, creative individual or known as a crazy cat woman, but at times I now know my post also reflect my massive hatred for Trump2020.

Can all readers tell I am fluent in sarcasm as well? Maybe, but maybe not.