Course 1, Week 6: Final Project

Google COETAIL HWOO PYP Planner 2020-21
  • Erika Tabor and I are on a Grade 2 team together and decided for our project to work on our Unit of Inquiry (UOI), How We Organize Ourselves (HWOO). The reason we chose to revamp this unit is it was an opportunity we saw to specifically be able to improve upon our student research lessons with the Google Search tricks and tips we learned during this course.
  • This learning experience (unit plan) was different from and similar to other learning experiences (unit plans) we have designed. Usually, we use technology apps and tools with students to provide different choices for learning and producing products. In addition, technology is still a huge motivator for students to complete their work. Second graders are slow to handwrite their answers so anytime students can use technology to facilitate creating their responses, it is helpful for students to be able to describe their learning. One difference was viewing the planning through the lens of technology. Typically, I focus on the needs of English learners and students with learning support needs. In addition to keeping these students in mind, I tweezed out areas that could be enhanced with technology.
  • This learning experience (unit plan) relates to what we learned in Course 1. As the Understanding by Design instructs us, we focus the students on what they will learn and be able to do at the end of the unit. Also, we will be able to help students better research on the topics they choose for their final products.
  • I believe Course One has influenced me the most by bringing the importance of appropriate technology integration in my lesson planning and keeping in mind what students should be able to do by the end of the unit.
  • One outcome I hope to see when students complete this learning is to be more successful and independent when researching their topics and have a conceptual understanding of human systems, they will see themselves as researchers, inquirers, and thinkers.

Image by marcos robledo from Pixabay

Course 1, Week 5: From LOTS to HOTS

I’ve been reflecting on how I use learning theories in my everyday practice to support student learning and I thought of a few examples of Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Connectivism.

First, I had a parent meeting this week about a student I’ve started a reading intervention with. One thing the mom pointed out that works for her daughter is positive reinforcement. I agree with Mom and think it’s really important to remember how effective positive reinforcement is for a lot of students. This student struggles with reading and by telling her how great she’s doing and talking about the positive progress she’s makes helps to keep her motivated.

Next, as a support teacher, I sometimes go into other teachers’ classrooms and teach their class. Our behavior management styles can differ and I was reminded this week how I need to start a lesson by telling the class my particular behavior expectations. Once I start then I consistently let them know when they are in line with or falling off the grid from my expectations. If I have a student who is off task, I point this out to them. As soon as I see them back on task, I point this out to them. Seven-year-olds respond to this type of reinforcement.

Students solving problems to learn is a part of the Constructivism theory. So often, students will ask for others to solve their problems for them. For example, I give my students wait time to think about how to read a word-I don’t tell them right away what the word is when they’re reading. If a student asks me how to spell a word, I ask them how they spell it. I don’t take their learning away from them by giving up the answer too soon. They need time to think about it and try to solve it on their own so they’ll learn that word.

Connectivism was a bit more difficult for me to think of examples of how I use it in my everyday practice. Siemens (2005) reiterated when he explained Connectivism is the digital age’s theory for learning. He explained the theory of Conneectivism takes into account how we work and learn today with technology whereas other learning theories such as behaviorism did not take this into account. I do recognize how when my grade 2 team is planning units we bounce ideas off each other and create better learning opportunities for our students. As Aristotle told us, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” With the vast use of the internet, we no longer have to work and learn in isolation. We can synergize for the best learning outcomes.

Part of our reading from this week came from Living with New Technology. I had a couple of takeaways. Teachers, parents, and other adults should take into account kids today can’t be treated like our parents raised us. On one hand, we’re interfering with our kids when we take away their access to the internet. This keeps them away from their peers-their common culture. On the other hand, educators are not communicating with the teens and adult leaders in the gaming and creative production worlds. We have to take people in those areas seriously because our kids are. The authors suggested to “build bridges” of communication in order to gain awareness. We need to stay in the know and ask our kids what they’re messing around with online.

Images by OpenClipart-Vectors and Diese lizenzfreien Fotos darfst du zwar verwenden from Pixabay

Course 1, Week 4: Used to have a little, now I have a lot

What exactly does “tech-rich learning” mean? Is there a Likert scale for the richness of the tech we use in our teaching? Does it mean there is a little or a lot of tech in our lessons? Without a clear understanding of this question, I first sought a definition. IGI Global defined technology-rich learning as, “The purposeful integration of appropriate technology into student learning to enhance motivation and active engagement in learning processes.” This makes sense to me. In our reading, we’re thinking about how to appropriately use technology with our students by first thinking of the learning objectives and what we want our students to learn. In the past, I have explored new technology with my students by trying them out. It was more of a technology for technology’s sake. Now I try to use technology so it will improve the learning outcomes. For example, I have a student diagnosed on the Autism spectrum who I’m working with on improving how he treats others. In addition to reading a book on manners with him, he is also creating a digital copy of the story with iMovie. He is taking pictures of the book and narrating it. By using this technology, it will help him be actively engaged with the ideas in the book and it is highly motivating to him. Once he completes the digital story, he will be able to save a copy in his Google Drive and access it for future episodes when he is not being kind or respectful to others.

Another topic I am considering this week is the possibility of having to teach from a distance. With all the hoopla about teaching and learning online, things are getting a bit confusing to me. It seems now any teacher is going to be qualified to teach online and this is concerning to me. Penelope Adams Moon, the Director of Online Learning Strategy at the University of Washington tweeted about my concern on March 4th. She said it clearly and concisely-the emergency situation of schools closing and teachers needing to provide instruction online is only a stop-gap measure to deliver their instruction and it is not the same as online teaching. In response to her tweet, D. Christopher Brooks, Ph.D. proposed the idea this could be an opportunity for teachers effected to be more open to online learning in the future and lead to long term change. I find myself considering the silver lining in this stressful time we are experiencing.

This week, the focus of our reading from Living with New Media was Geeking Out. The authors defined it as, “an intense commitment to or engagement with media or technology, often one particular media property, genre, or type of technology. Geeking out involves learning to navigate esoteric domains of knowledge and practice and participating in communities that traffic in these forms of expertise. It is a mode of learning that is peer-driven, but focused on gaining deep knowledge and expertise in specific areas of interest.” (p. 28) I reflect on my students’ practices and I can’t think of an example of how they show Geeking Out. Possibly this is an engagement that will soon make its debut among the second graders.

The authors go one to explain how Geeking Out can be social, “Just as in the case of messing around, geeking out requires the time, space, and resources to experiment and follow interests in a self-directed way. Furthermore, it requires access to specialized communities of expertise. Contrary to popular images of the socially isolated geek, almost all geeking out practices we observed are highly social and engaged, although not necessarily expressed as friendship-driven social practices. ” (p.28)

Reading about Geeking Out and the support people reach out for when in that type of situation reminds me of learning to play World of Warcraft (WOW). My support started with my children. They tutored me on downloading the game, basic key commands, and such. Once I was away from them and I had more complicated questions about the game, I started searching for answers online-the game help page, Youtube, and Reddit. I discovered Youtube videos of expert players completing the tasks I was struggling with. When I mentioned this to my kids, they responded with answers like “of course.” To them, Youtube was an obvious place to find answers whereas I’m behind in this learning curve and I was surprised and delighted to find such a great resource.

In the section about Feedback and Learning, a teenager doing writing for said, “It’s something I can do in my spare time, be creative and write and not have to be graded,” because, “you know how in school you’re creative, but you’re doing it for a grade so it doesn’t really count?” This makes me wonder about the transfer of learning in school to her hobby of writing for the online role-playing. I constantly struggle to get my 7-year-old students to recognize they should remember to take what I’m teaching them about writing in our small-group back to the classroom and use in their every day writing assignments in class.

As an aside, the article mentions Myspace several times so I decided to do a little research to find out if people are really using it. I found out Myspace is still a thing! It seems music is now the main topic. I signed up and searched for my old account and found it’s still there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t log into my old account. I’m not sure how Myspace fits into my social media scrolling but maybe there are a few minutes I can find to check out the latest pop culture.

Photo by Gil Ribeiro on Unsplash 
Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🍌 on Unsplash

Course 1, Week 3: Lights, camera, action plan.

Last night I attended a Toastmasters meeting and as usual, we had our Table Topics session. In this session, you’re given a question to discuss impromptu in front of the group. One of the lesser know rules about this session is if you don’t understand or maybe don’t like the question, you can give a random answer on any topic of your choosing. Which brings me to this week’s blog post assignment. I’m having a heck-of-a-time coming up with a new skill or concept to learn. I’ve tried to brainstorm by taking advantage of my network-I’ve sent emails, I’ve messaged my COETAIL group for ideas, I’ve talked to colleagues to brainstorm ideas. After all this, I’ve still not come up with an idea, and now I’ve let myself get behind in the course. I believe I have enough I’m already learning and I am not motivated to learn something new. Taking a page out of the Table Topics rule book, I’m going to twist this blog post task to meet my needs.

First, I am currently learning Russian. I’ve been studying Russian for almost five years but I can barely comprehend or speak. I need to do something more so I have come up with the following action plan for the month of March.

  • Duolingo Russian app daily goal (currently 50XP)
  • Send at least one text (sentence) in Russian to a Russian speaker daily
  • Listen to at least one story on weekly
  • Add Russian language teachers on Twitter and read their posts
  • Add Russian language blogs on Feedly and read them
  • Add Russian captions to my English Instagram posts when possible

Second, I am currently learning to play the viola. I’ve been going to strings practice with my colleagues since the beginning of the 2018 school year. We meet once a week when school is in session. Recently I’ve decided to try and do more. I found a tutor and I’m attempting to practice more. We have a little concert on March 20th we are preparing for. I will play the three songs to the best of my ability. Here’s my plan:

  • Practice daily for 30 minutes
  • Attend weekly strings practice on Thursdays 4:30-5:15
  • Meet with my tutor on Mondays 12:15-12:45
  • Meet with my tutor on Saturdays 11:00-12:00
  • Watch videos of experts playing the songs I’m learning
  • Listen to the songs I’m learning on iTunes
  • Video myself playing the songs and ask for feedback from my tutors

Learning new skills is a lot on the front end and once you’re at the top of the learning curve, it’s a long row to hoe.

image created by me using Google drawing

My takeaways from The first 20 hours — how to learn anything (TEDx, Kaufman).

  • The 10K hour rule was based on people at the tipy-top of competitive professions.
  • The learning curve is the graph showing how incompetent people are when they start to learn a new skill. The early improvement happens fast then the growth slows or tapers off.
  • The speaker says with 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice into your new skill you will become decent at it.
  • First, decompose what it is you want to be able to do to discover the little skills, then practice those.
  • Next, learn enough to practice and self-correct. Find three to five resources to help you-books, videos, etc. Get better at noticing you’re making a mistake so you can do something different.
  • Third, remove the barriers keeping you from your practice-social media, etc.
  • Finally, practice 20 hours.
  • Kaufman makes the point you don’t have to learn the 100s of details, you really just need to learn the major important parts to get decent. The major barrier is to get over is feeling stupid (emotional).

My takeaways (favorite quotes) from Pages 4 – 12 Living with New Media (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

  • “…new media empower youth to challenge the social norms and educational agendas of their elders in unique ways.”
  • “What is generally lacking in the research literature overall, and in the United States in particular, is an understanding of how new media practices are embedded in a broader social and cultural ecology.”
  • “We aimed to transcribe and translate the ways youth understand their own use of new media and, at times, the barriers they encounter in their desires to use them.”
  • “An ethnographic approach means that we work to understand how media and technology are meaningful to people in their everyday lives.”

Messing Around

Course 1, Week 2: Becoming a Researcher

Coetailing while in France. February break 2020.

There were two probing questions this week: (a.) How will you actively seek out knowledge instead of letting it come to you? and (b.) How might being an active researcher impact your practice? Can knowledge just come to us? I believe we always have to do something to find knowledge. Therefore, since I did learn some new tips this week for searching for information, I decided to give it a go. I did a Google search for “Who coined the phrase fake news?” I found several articles with .com domains and I tried a sites: .edu search but I didn’t find anything for who coined the phrase. Interestingly, it seems the term has been around quite a while. Defined by, “Fake news ‘journalism that is deliberately misleading’ is attested from 1894; popularized in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.” Trump took credit for the term; however, Craig Silverman an editor at Buzzfeed, also claims he popularized the term during the election campaign, even though he has decided to no longer use it (Beaujon, 2019). As I spiraled down this rabbit hole, I also learned the United Kingdom government also decided to no longer use the term “fake news” (Hern, 2018). Since I could not find supporting evidence on a domain other than .com’s, I checked the name of a source Hern cited, Dr. Claire Wardle. I found her on so I have decided this bit of news is probably trustworthy and maybe Beujon’s article is accurate but without more reliable sources, I leave it as only a possible truth. The second question was about how being an active researcher will impact my practice. This question has true-to-life significance for me in my current position. I am educated to teach languages, was hired as an English as a second language teacher, but three years ago I was voluntold to also teach students with learning disabilities. I have enjoyed the experience immensely and have learned so much. One of the ways I have made it through this experience so far is through finding information online to help the students I’m working with now. Don’t know what ASD is? You can find thousands of hits online. Don’t know how to write a social story? You can find examples for any topic on teachers-pay-teachers or Pinterest. Maybe my example is not exactly the type of “active researcher” the question was implying; however, the practical research I have to do to be better at my job is spot on.

First reading of the week and my takeaways from Children in a Digital World: I was surprised to read, children who “speak minority languages often can’t find relevant content online.” I wasn’t surprised this is true, I was surprised the idea had not occurred to me. As a native English speaker, I think I’m spoiled and have this expectation the whole world understands English. “Ninety-two percent of all child sexual abuse URLs identified globally by the Internet Watch Foundation are hosted in just five countries: the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, France and the Russian Federation.” Since the URLs are based in those countries, does this mean the abuse is happening there too? Information and communication technology (ICT) lacks the needed research on children’s health like it’s effect on obesity and depression. The authors recommended we should be “focusing more on what children are doing online and less on how long they are online.” They also suggested, “internet companies should work with partners to create more locally developed and locally relevant content,
especially content for children who speak minority languages, live in remote locations and belong to marginalized groups.” Should it be internet companies’ responsibility? I wouldn’t trust corporations to do the right thing. My next thought is should the government be able to regulate this? I definitely don’t trust governments to do the right thing either.

Second reading of the week and my takeaways from Pages 13 – 20 of Living with New Media: Genres of Participation with New Media. The main idea of this section was the three genres of participation, “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out are three genres of participation that describe different forms of commitment to media engagement, and they correspond to different social and learning dynamics.” The study found adults see using new media while hanging out with friends as a waste of time. In response to restrictions on hanging out, teenagers find workarounds. The first genre was hanging out. “While hanging out with their friends, youth develop and discuss their taste in music, their knowledge of television and movies, and their expertise in gaming. They also engage in a variety of new media practices, such as looking around online or playing games, when they are together with friends.” “Young people use new media to build friendships and romantic relationships as well as to hang out with each other as much and as often as possible.” The second genre was, “messing around represents the beginning of a more intense, media-centric form of engagement. When messing around, young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding. The third genre was, “‘geeking out’ —an intense commitment to or engagement with media or technology, often one particular media property, genre, or type of technology.” TLDR: Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out are three ways kids are using technology in their lives but to different extents.

My takeaways from Google Search Tricks for Research: Search operators target whatever I’m searching for. First, quotation marks give more exact results for what’s in the quotes. Second, use OR in caps; for example, climate change OR global warming. Third, the minus sign, for example, apple -fruit will give results for apple but not the fruit. Finally, site: – you can search within a specific website for search terms. You can also include university domains with .edu and country domains like .de for Germany.

Course 1, The real week 1 (aka week 2)

I hate to disconnect; however, I love short but sweet articles and What does it mean to disconnect? (Utecht) hit that sweet spot for me. Going into the lurker debate, I was confident I was not one; however, after reading this article I started to think about how much content I’m creating, or rather not creating. I have room to grow to reach the 80/20 rule. I would guess I’m closer to 5/95. I’m going to make a point to keep a balance of my screen time while increasing my production time. I am creating a video this week for a presentation coming up and I’m having a great time doing it. I’m recording videos, uploading them to my drive, to be edited together this week to create teaching points for the impending presentation. It doesn’t feel like work at all and I’m excited about it. Although I’m spending more time creating the video for the presentation than I am preparing for the presentation. Another one of those lack of balance moments. Make adjustment, move forward.

What did I learn new this week? I’d heard about UbD so a refresher on that was good but not new. Google Synergyse was definitely new since I’d never heard of it. Of course, I had to Google it, Google acquires Synergyse, an interactive training service for Google Apps. It’s some sort of training on Google Apps for workers outside of Education. I’m so deep into my own little educational world, the thought hadn’t occurred to me companies would be using Google Apps and of course they’d need a way to learn how to use them. I ran across a new term, in the white paper,  Living with New Media, so I consulted the handy-dandy, go-to Wikipedia page and it was able to explain media ecology fairly well. They still used really big words so I had to read it more than once. I also learned leeches are a type of participant found in social media. I hope to avoid that title if at all possible!

My take-aways from Living with New Media. There were two research questions: (a.) How are new media being integrated into youth practices and agendas? and (b.) How do these practices change the dynamics of youth-adult negotiations over literacy, learning, and authoritative knowledge? I only read the introduction and the conclusion, which was all the energy I could put into it. I thought it was interesting how they explained social media is the new hangout compared to when I was hanging out at friends’ houses whose parents were away. As a mom, I think back to my kids growing up and I felt better about my kids being at home and not out getting into trouble. I was ignorant of the online dangers but luckily we survived it ok. Recently they’ve been teaching me to play WOW. I’ve not made any new online friends yet, but I expect I will eventually. I discovered another way we’re messing up our kids-when we don’t allow them access to the internet we are keeping them away from their peers, their common culture. We’re isolating them and probably causing them depression! Yikes. The writers told us girls are more stigmatized for participating in these online social groups, “highly technical interest groups and complex forms of gaming.” I checked the publication date of this article and it was published in 2008. Which means the study was probably done around 2005. It’s way too old for us to trust what they’re saying is still relevant. Girls are geeks too and we let our freek flag fly! Girl power! If you doubt the irrelevance and obsoleteness of the article, they spout Myspace and Facebook as the means of social communication of the youth (p. 36). Educators are not communicating with the teens and adult leaders in the gaming and creative production worlds. The authors suggested to “build bridges” of communication in order to gain awareness (p. 37). I would make a guess the gamers of 2008 are now current educators and perhaps they are more intune and aware of the online social norms of today and better able to make connections.

My takeaways from Online Personas: Who We Become When We Learn with Others Online. “who does the work in an online network and how rich are the roles that they adopt.” concluded Lloyd, Skyring, and Fraser in the last line of this paper. Let’s call them LSF for short. My initial thought was we’re talking about a multiple personality disorder. Aren’t I still me regardless of which online group I’m connecting with? LSF introduced, “This paper contends that people take on multiple online identities, here called personas, depending on context. These emphasise the “social” in social media and mediate our relationship with others and how we fit within the networks we join.” Maybe they’re talking about a switch of mindset? Like when we switch between formal and informal language depending on our audience? Gladwell (2000) identified the roles, “connectors, mavens and salesmen;” which are new-to-me terms cropping up in this paper. What are they in this context? I control F for the term “connect” and do a word inquiry. I got 82 hits including the terms connectors, connections, connectivism, and connecting. Finally, on page 161 I found the explanation and I re-cite from the paper, Gladwell (2000) “roles can be comparatively described as: “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people – salesmen – with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing.” LSF went on to explain the roles deeper then concluded the findings: The roles are still current and it was found people can switch between these roles. LSF found, “Those outside of these roles were categorised as: lurkers, core participants, challengers, facilitators, irritants and leeches.” I personally find leeches a colorful role title. how personally engaged participants in personal learning networks are. Lastly, LSF found in their study participants were as personally engaged in their online professional learning networks (PLNs) as they are when in face-to-face situations. “They (the participants) were as concerned with their fellow participants as they were with the topics under discussion.” This is nice to hear. #coetail , you care! You really really care!

Course 1, orientation week 1

I wonder if anyone else struggles like I do to figure out the way new communities work? Not the read this, then write that, and finally respond to a classmate’s post of typical online courses. I’m thinking on the parts I don’t know. Someone said they’re the unknown unknowns. Comprehensively, I feel like I’m missing stuff.

Something new to me is the RSS feed. I’m not sure what it is yet but I’ve started a Feedly and added some instructional technology blogs. I even found it in the Play Store so I added it to my phone. I’m sure it’ll make sense eventually. Just like everything else, hopefully, maybe it will eventually make sense.

ISTE Standards. I am looking through the ISTE standards and two jump out at me, (a.) Designer (Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability) and (b.) Analyst (Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals). I have a passion for designing instruction and I look for designing opportunities in my everyday lesson planning. I enjoy trying out new apps and learning how to implement them for my students’ learning experiences. Second, analyst is where I can see providing the big impact on my students’ learning. We are currently talking formative assessment throughout the school and here is where I see the possibilities of implementing different ways of assessing my students to plan for their needs. My goal for this course is to show growth in using instructional technology, specifically in the areas of designing and analyzing. I hope to come away with new ideas and improve my practice.

This orientation week has not been easy! However, I feel excited about the learning about to happen and I’m looking forward to collaborating with everyone in the cohort. Now, I wonder what I’ve forgotten to do…

Course 1, my introduction

My name is Holly and I’m originally from North Carolina, USA. I currently live and work in Moscow, Russia with trips back home to NC twice a year to visit friends and family. This school year I am working as a grade 2 support teacher. I mainly work with students with learning differences and/or English as an additional language. I’m in Cohort 12 and you can find me on Twitter @holly28428.

My school suggested the opportunity to do the COETAIL courses. I am the typical teacher – a life long learner. I am always learning something new and I am looking forward to what I will learn next with this online learning experience!