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

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?


C2 W5: Contributing Responsibly

….Get out of their (students) way and let them be amazing…

Scott McLeod Ted Talk: Extracurricular empowerment

I think is the simplest thing educators can do. When we allow our students to grow in these skills (listed below) we are truly allowing them to take control over their education. Finding ways to turn more of these into the curriculum would be an amazing endeavor, one that I hope all educators are attempting to do with the inclusion of technology. We can empower students to use technology to positively impact the world by allowing them the creative liberties to express themselves within the mandated curriculum. Giving students choices and options to demonstrate their learning is one way that can empower students. As we help them grow and become “better humans” we can then hopefully watch as they unfold into being positive contributing members of society as well as online as they continue to transform their digital identities.

Extracurricular empowerment: Scott McLeod at TEDxDesMoines
  • I think we could thrive in participatory culture by doing just that. Focusing on passion projects that allow room for self-direction, would allow students to be enthusiastic and curious. Teaching them discipline along the way, and encouraging them to think critically and problem-solve for their own problems they create vs. just giving them the correct answers and consistently telling them what to do or even further, how to do it.
  • I think we teach students about empathy, especially those in the SEN world whos disability could fall under this being especially challenging, through role modeling it and first understanding what it is and the difference between empathy and sympathy. Continually engaging in discussions using a set of shared vocabulary is important in every educational setting.

Below is my school’s policy around Digital Citizenship, at the Anglo-American School of Moscow (AAS):

Digital Citizenship
AAS develops student digital citizenship throughout our integrated curriculum. Our Elementary School Digital Citizenship Agreement​ and Middle and High School Digital Citizenship Agreement​ support students and families in developing positive citizenship in the digital world. As members of the AAS community, students and families agree that digital citizenship applies in and out of school, with school-owned devices, BYODs, and other personal devices.

digital citizenship poster with student pledges
Taken from the AAS Website
  • My school’s agreements empower stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities through a number of charitable drives and programs. Though at times, upon further reflection, I think the reason for giving and diving deeper into the meaning of “positive contributions” needs to be explored especially in a school where so many of our students are coming from very affluent backgrounds.
  • My school shares these documents with all the necessary stakeholders via their website. Though when accessing it, it was proven not to be the most readily available.
  • Though I feel that my school and it’s stakeholders fully believe and live these documents, especially through things like “respect others when online,” “citing sources,” and “manage personal data & security” the lack of transparency getting to these policies I think has room to grow. In other words, digital citizenship shouldn’t justs be a slip of paper everyone signs and then get locked away in a file. The same with my SEN Individualized Learning Plans, important documents such as these need to be “living” out in the open, something to be proud of and active referenced and utilized every day in and out of the classroom.
  • The actions I will take to continually improve my own media literacy are continuing Professional development opportunities and using new social media platforms to continually learn and grow.
  • I will then further my actions by spreading what I learn to my students and colleagues, through revised lesson plans and better collaborative efforts.

You learn not because you have to, but because it’s who you are.

  • I wouldn’t say I thrive in our participatory culture, as I am still learning and finding my balance. But though I have many attempts at creating and curating, I still find myself at times “dumping” or “lurking” even though I know better.
  • I think being empathetic takes time and practice. I don’t feel one has ever truly mastered this, though with an increase in life experiences and seeing the world beyond one’s comfort levels have truly allowed me to practice this. Having a brother on the autism spectrum has also allowed me and my family numerous occasions to explicitly teach empathy and see first hand how challenging it can truly be.
  • I regularly support my students and peers in becoming more empathetic through questions and reminding them of the difference between sympathy and empathy. As a team, we embed, many of these lessons regularly into our advisory program at the middle school level, and agree on using a common language. As an advisor, we pose questions individually and in small groups to help our students grow in empathy and learn to take a more vulnerable stance with and in front of their peers.

Yet when diving deeper to see what students actually sign as this is a topic “widely published, but rarely read” meaning, though we talk about it and hold students to a very high standard when it comes to their digital life, I feel as though some of the details and components to it are represented with the following:

It would be great to see more of the online education and teaching things like empowerment and media literacy not just in their one-quarter long technology class or 45-minute elective classes, but in every classroom they go to.

The Digital Citizenship Curriculum , from Common, is well organized and offers a wide range of topics. I’m surprised more schools don’t utilize within their advisory programs. I know as a grade level leader, I will certainly be sharing more of these topics with my grade level team and hoping to add mini-lessons into our program that directly teach these matters.

Everything needs to change and it has to start today.

Greta Thunberg Ted Talk

I especially like talking to my students about Greta Thunberg and her actions she’s taken towards climate change, and pointing out how she is a person on the spectrum. It is amazing to see unique students actively taking a stand to make the world a better place, and showing what good is learning all the facts in the educational system if the political system won’t even listen to them. Hopefully, students of this generation will be making a greater impact than all those that have come before them.

The disarming case to act right now on climate change | Greta Thunberg / Ted Talk