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

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.

C4Wk2: Partners in Learning

Technology is just a tool. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s just a tool. Deep human connection is very different. It’s not a tool. It’s not a means to an end. It is the end – the purpose and the result of a meaningful life.

Melinda Gates, Philanthropist, Duke University Commencement Address, 2013

Images take from article: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning 

Deep Learning is quality learning… that sticks!

What really resonated with me this week was the importance of Michael Fullen’s New Pedagogies for Deep Learning with the emphasis on making learning exciting and the importance of building trust. He explained going about that quite simply by:

  1. Name it
  2. Model it
  3. Monitor it

“Trust” by Pro-Zak is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This leads me more towards looking into the leadership roles within a school:  and how new leaders “figure out how to relate to the group, to change the nature of the work” and even more importantly build collaboration that lasts beyond the leader leaving. Especially in an international school setting where turnover is usually quite high;  a collaborative group continues on after the leader has then left.  These leaders must focus on creating conditions that pull students’ and teachers’ initiative and potential forward; therefore, paving the way for new pedagogies that allow deep learning to take place. Without teacher initiative and recognizing the potential to move forward, it reminds me a lot of effect size and what the many factors are affecting student achievement.  With the teacher as Activator with an effect size of .72 (and as a facilitator at .19) it is crucial that as educators we continue to reflect on our current proven practices. This hold especially true in the field of SEN/SPED when in order to make a years plus growth in one years time, choosing interventions and teaching practices with effect sizes of at least 1 is the most beneficial for our students.  Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement is a great reminder of what those include. Specifically, Collective Teacher Efficacy is the highest at 1.57, which is the collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students’ lives in education. This also holds a strong correlation to job satisfaction; and during a pandemic year, one that has greatly been impacted.

Image Taken from Visible Learning: Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement

Another aspect I found quite helpful was his mentions of Assessment Literacy: or the ability to be skilled at looking at the data and how to proceed with it. Since now more than ever teachers are bombarded with data and evidence that leads to an overwhelming amount of it, but being able to decipher it and see how we’re doing as educators. I found that the Principal’s Training Center (PCT) course on assessment incredibly helpful towards making progress towards this and attempts at achieving mastery.

Image taken from Pixaby

In order for this deep learning to be possible and to then stick, human connections are even more important than ever… especially in a now Covid plagued world.

Teachers can no longer get away with saying, “I don’t care if they like me, they don’t need to like me, they need to learn.” Hopefully, with more and more research and understandings out there, teachers will begin or continue to acknowledge how important a safe environment and good rapport go hand in hand with student achievement. Especially in the world of SEN/SPED, if a child doesn’t like their teacher, walls go up and it makes any learning even that much harder to obtain.

“If kids know you care about them as human beings,it makes all the difference”-Pauline Roberts

Teachers need to (naturally) gravitate towards new pedagogies that offer a new way of teaching or new tools that sparks engagement and learning.

Photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash

As stated in the article, How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning, “Is it any wonder that studies from many countries show that less than 40% of upper secondary students are intellectually engaged at school?” If that number isn’t alarming and cause for a change, I don’t know what other motivation there could be.

Creating the freedom to learn and the freedom to contribute and participate on a global scale is a remarkable task one that wasn’t even in existence a decade ago and will take the continued transformation of technology within the classroom to achieve.

We need to continually push for more exciting lessons:

Image take from Michael Fullen's New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

Learning PartnershipsHandshake, Hands, Laptop, Monitor, Online, Digital

No matter if you call it digital learning, distance learning, or off-campus learning, the partnerships formed are more important now than ever. Not being in the ‘brick n mortar’ model of education where everyone is face to face and one can easily pop in and out of classrooms to bounce ideas off one another and more importantly give that specific regularly and timely feedback only became more and more challenging.

The learning partners must find a balance that will be different to each learning context; from my partnership in the Math 7 classroom with one teacher to my Humanities 7 classroom daily with another, to yet even a 3rd partnership with my instructional assistant in two pull out small group classes; each one offers a unique and specialized approach to collaboration.

Achieving the right balance between structure and independence is something that continually takes hard work, a massive amount of organization and on going communication depending on the subject, the complexity of the task at hand, and even greater impact…. the level of familiarity with the content.  We must be co-learners alongside our kids. Able to model the learning process that is required when answering great open-ended questions after a strong trust is built and engagement flows.

Throughout each learning process, it now becomes the focal point for all individuals to have mutual discovery, creation, and use of knowledge. To even attempt to tie in the frameworks more often than just during the large department’s meetings when establishing the year-long plans.

Fostering Partnerships to Support & Enhance

The ongoing teamwork and collaborative efforts allow for the greatest student achievement as we are able to build on one another strengths.

Learning outcomes are measured by:

  1. Capacities to build new knowledge and to lead their own learning effectively
  2. Proactive dispositions and their abilities to persevere through challenges
  3. The development of citizens who are life-long learners.

And it is through collaborative effective partnerships that we can achieve these learning outcomes and continually push for higher student engagement and deep learning… that STICKS!

Effective partnering is built on principles of equity, transparency, reciprocal accountability and mutual benefit.Through such partnering, teachers not only become learners themselves, but also begin to see learning through the eyes of their students. This ‘visibility’ is essential if teachers are to continuously challenge students to reach for the next step, and if they are to clearly see whether teaching and learning strategies are achieving their intended goals.

Hattie. J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge.

Embracing a New Model of Education

Our school has really been a focus on ensuring as much face to face time learning can take place while not compromising the safety and health of our community. Professional development and resources have been increased and extended to help compensate for these changing times, though at times the learning process can be hindered due to last minute changes or frequent change in teaching models at a moments notice (when a certain number of positive Covid cases has been reported) this effects any long term planning or even knowing which days classes will come next.  It has been a true testament to the flexibility and teaching our student to embrace

man using computer inside room spontaneity. A term not many educators are comfortable with, as we plan and have attempted to control every factor within our classrooms that are now on the other side of a screen.

Our school could be more accepting of new pedagogies and models by taking further action after completing a SEN/SPED audit through Next Frontiers: Inclusion.  They offered huge insight into our school’s teaching and inclusionary practices, as well as examples and models of different co-teaching methods: which we’ve found to be very useful and lead us to question the overall program and placement of students who receive specialized educational services.

In order for new pedagogies to spread,  teachers, students, and leaders must implement them and then collaborate to share their experiences. Only then will their experience and energy, help impact these learning practices that are being had on everyone involved.

My goal for deep learning partnerships at our school would be for teachers to embrace their partnerships with students to master the learning process; while continuing to expand their repertoire of teaching strategies in order to enhance the foundation of teacher’s pedagogical capacities.
I want teachers and students to not only master content knowledge, but the process of learning. Most importantly learning how to learn by:
  • Students defining their own learning goals and  success criteria
  • Students monitoring their own learning
  • Students critically examining their own work
  • Students incorporating feedback from anyone including, but not limited to: their peers, teachers, and parents 
  • Students use all of this to deepen their awareness of how they function in the learning process

After all of this happens and students begin to make progress in mastering the learning process, our role as educators can then move from ‘explicit structuring of learning tasks, and spend more time providing feedback, activating next-level learning challenges, and continuously developing the learning environment.’

Let’s Cross the Finish Line Together

Image taken from Toaster Masters International

Last, as we consider the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning all we need to focus on are the 6 C’. Whether it’s for project-based learning, through direct instruction, or through an inquiry-based mode of learning, having the teacher as an ‘activator’ (higher effect size) as opposed to ‘facilitator’ (lower effect size, even below the hinge point) will allow for deeper learning experiences to take place in our classrooms.

Character Education





Critical Thinking

Nerivill1, Ocean, Women, Sea, Summer, Beach, Woman

Based on this week’s readings, in order to engage and support deeper learning, I will shift my practice to continue to work on my questioning- especially when in the large classroom setting (non pull-out environment) to ensure all learners are achieving their level best. I like to activate my students through the use of greater questioning techniques, holding them accountable, setting clear/high expectations, and helping them set their own goals and monitor their own progress- especially around self-regulatory skills and constant reflection.

 How Do You ‘Activate’ Students?

My practice has deepened since the start of my COETAIL journey as I have gained many new tools to utilize in my classrooms, ended my protest of Twitter, and expanded my PLNs through blogging.  I’ve implemented many “new” technology features to enhance the learning of my students right alongside me.  Modeling every step of the way, that it’s more than okay to make mistakes and try new things while continually reminding one another

“Please be Patient we are learning”- Dr. Brent Mutsch

Week 4: A Mindset for Embedding Tech

Embedding technology into SEN is always a rabbit hole. There are so many different things to try to help students with their executive functioning skills. Finding ones that work for you and your students is important, but also something that changes each year as the needs of your students also change year to year.

In addition to using Reading Plus & Khan Academy on a regular basis to help my students set goals and close skill gaps to achieve grade-level mastery, Trello was another site we found useful in a classroom that is more small group or 1:1 to keep track of what needs to be completed for their general education classes or the APP Ace Your Self-Study to help students with scheduling their time. Whereas for a pull-out English for Academic Purposes class, I found Duolingo for Schools, incredibly helpful, especially when not all students in your small group share a mother tongue language.

When supporting Humanities and Math courses I found Good Reads & Desmos: an online graphing program are another two technology components that really should be added to any classroom lessons; that is both incredibly reliable and easy to use.

What other handy go-to sites would you recommend? These are only a drop in the bucket to what is out there.

I always have my fall back website of Super Teacher Tools that has allowed me to create and save customized review games for any class that students need help in. Other tech-rich lessons I’ve planned for usually happen directly after our Fall and Spring MAP testing. Once my students have completed their Reading, Language, and Math exams, we dissect the scores and set goals with many of the wonderful reports that NWEA offers: Student Growth and Student Profile pages to name a few. We are able to identify the areas where skill gaps exist along with celebrating their strengths. This NWEA Response to Intervention is an easy to use site that helps you target the specific skills and standards students need to focus on to build their confidence in the general education classroom and perform on grade level.

Here is a helpful PDF that explains more about MAP Skills Navigator.

What really stuck out to me this week was the importance of ensuring all lessons include:

Relevant real-world tasks & Authentic Audiences

I find any lessons that have an authentic audience, such as a project with a final parent expo, advice columns for younger grades, or self-advocacy/self-awareness projects for transition years (their next year’s teachers will be reading them) are more meaningful and students tend to put more effort into them. I would love to start incorporating more of a larger audience like things on-line to really engage students in what interests them most.

The example lesson plans from fellow special educators around portfolios incredibly useful and gave me great ideas on how to tweak my own student video reflections. The site Teachers Pay Teachers is yet another example where I would love to be a contributor and not just a lurker (with the occasional interaction).

The ted talk: The Power of belief – mindset and success | Eduardo Briceno | TEDxManhattanBeach does a great job of explaining how hard work, focus, and persistence are all byproducts that are critical for success and that when addressing student’s levels of grit and persistence, we, as educators must address the mindset the underlies the task at hand.

This is all backed by the research of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset. I find her Ted Talk on The Power of Believing that you can Improve even more inspiring.

But whether it’s fixed or growth mindset isn’t what truly matters, but the ability to recognize when you have each one and how to switch it that allows you to be reflective and grow.

What things cause you to have a Fixed Mindset? Change? Technology? How can you overcome this, or better yet, switch it to growth?