My Final Project: A Global Book Club

What were your goals for your lesson/project (Standards)?

I used the ISTE Standards for Administrators to define my goals for the project:

  • Visionary Leadership: e-Learning Vision at EAC

1b. Engage in an ongoing process to develop, implement, and communicate technology-infused
strategic plans aligned with a shared vision

  • Digital Age Learning Culture: Themes of the Book

2e. Promote and participate in local, national,and global learning communities that stimulate innovation, creativity, and digital age collaboration

  • Excellence in Professional Practice: Model by Being a Learning Leader

3b. Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology

In addition to these standards I also had the goal to pull in different aspects of each course. I wanted to work on visual design, connecting, playing around to figure out new things for myself, and attributing credit where due to name a few.

What tools did you use? Why did you choose this/these tools for this/these task(s)?

I used a variety of tools for my project (see below), but to make my video I used iMovie. I’ve worked on iMovie before, but mainly for fun personal videos of my son or short clips to share with parents for work.  Creating a storyboard, voice, and finding visuals was hard work.  I used icons from The Noun Project and created my avatar on Bitmoji (I feel like one of the cool kids now!).

Google Hangout Air

Youtube Streaming



Vimeo (watched videos from book’s website)

GAFE (Docs, Forms, Email)

I choose some of these because over the course of COETAIL they have become my favorites and others because I wanted to challenge myself.

How did you go about introducing your lesson/project?

I shared my project and asked for participation through my PLN on Twitter. I also shared the project with colleagues at my school.  I realized through this process how hard it is to promote and publicize a project. I wanted to audience to be any educator that was interested, which is different from projects I’ve done with my classes.  I had to tweak my approach, but find the balance between spamming people and putting #GBCreatingInnovators out there.  

How did the students react? Include actual samples of student reflection (video, images, etc)

The members in our group enjoyed the meetings and learned a lot. They would send me brief messages throughout the project thanking or sharing something they learned.  I would love to continue meeting or sharing, though not as frequently to see how implementation at our respective schools goes.

Outcome? Did you meet your goals?

Yes, I met the goals I set, but there’s always room for improvement.  I think if I did another global book club I would have a clearer idea of potential pitfalls and get/give constant feedback.  I would also like to expand it to possibly have parents involved (gasp!).

Evidence of learning? Remember to include student evidence like video, images, reflections.

I think the learning that happened wasn’t always shared out, it was the wrestling with ideas in our heads and ideating how to implement it at our school. I know there was tons of reflection going on as far as the opportunities we provide for students, the language we use, and the lives we model. This project has and the group members I learned with have inspired me to find little ways to look for innovation in each day, as well as push the norms of traditional teaching.

#GBCreatingInnovators Meeting 1

#GBCreatingInnovators Meeting 2

#GBCreatingInnovators Meeting 3

So, COETAILers that’s it…for now.  I am so thankful for COETAIL and its amazing community that has challenged my thinking, encouraged exploration, and improved my teaching.  Tchau for now.

PS: I wanted to give credit to the outline of questions I saw on another COETAILER’s final reflection, but in the midst of a million tabs being open I lost it.  If you know who created these straightforward questions to clearly outline the process please let me know so I can give him or her credit.

Tweaks and Improvements

After our first #GBCreatingInnovators meeting I realized that going a month between meetings would be too long and I was afraid that our momentum might fade. I brainstormed ways to publicize our group and keep up the discussion open in the time between meetings.  I posted articles I found that connected to the themes in our book and started/shared a Flipboard with our group members. But still I didn’t feel that was enough to keep it fresh on all of our busy brains.

Photo Credit: Shin.Shin Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Shin.Shin Flickr via Compfight cc

I wrote Rebekah asking for some ideas and feedback.  When I got her response I had a Homer Simpson moment, duh why didn’t I think of those ideas.  She suggested creating little challenges for the group, doing a slow chat on Twitter between meetings, and sharing in the Google+ community.

A snippet of Rebekah’s email

I took her up on two of her ideas, I didn’t attempt the Google+ community idea because I felt like my PLN and connections were stronger on Twitter than Google+. I thought back to things that inspired me in our previous COETAIL courses and created a list of challenges ideas.  The one that stuck and others liked trying was visual notetaking. We shared our visual notetaking during the meetings and briefly talked about what we liked, didn’t like, what we could improve, and how we could use it with our students.  


I also did my first (and unsuccessful in my opinion) slow chat. I created an infographic with questions and icons on Piktochart and Tweeted it out to the world.  Looking back I needed to be clearer on the length of the slow chat and I needed to send it out to a broader group than just the #GBCreatingInnovators group. Another thing I would do is bring the slow chat to my school, sharing my learning with the #wearegiants community.  If I do another slow chat in the future I will create a bulletin board or another avenue to share and get input from the teachers at my school.


Those are two little tweaks/additions I made to make the #GBCreatingInnovators more meaningful and embedded into our lives. I would’ve liked to try more, but I had to find the balance of things I could do well and commit to with the rest of the happenings in my life.

It Takes a Village

Personal photo taken in the village of Cusco, Peru


To be honest I started #coetail because of my PLN.  There were people I respected and followed that were former COETAILers who raved about it. I also saw the #coetail popping up on lots of posts, so I took a journey down the rabbit hole and was hooked.  After the first reading of the first course, I knew this was the right decision to join the COETAIL community. Since my first course I feel I have moved from between Stages 4-5 to between Stages 6-7 of Silvia Rosenthal’s Seven Degrees of Connectedness infographic. I feel that throughout my COETAIL journey I have become a more connected educator through continuing to build my PLN and strengthen connections in a more authentic way. COEATIL has been my village to help me expand my thinking, gather ideas, solicit feedback, and grow as an educator.  Thanks to my final project I feel like I am more friends than colleagues with the wonderful educators and people I learned alongside.


Stronger Relationships Through #GBCreatingInnovators 

I learned how to think deeply about students’ developmental readiness and how to encourage little moments of innovation from Joy.  

Thomas taught me how to be flexible and to transfer the big concepts of our book across grade levels, as well as how to listen intently with an open mind.

Suzy inspired me with her final project and her keen ability to reflect upon her practices in order to engage students and parents in the learning process and collaboration.

Katherine, who joined our group at the recommendation of Joy, gave insight into providing time for prototyping and reflection. She shared many classroom experiences and I appreciated her transparency.

Liz only got to join us for the last meeting, but her constant support and sharing throughout the #GBCreatingInnovators project spurred ideas and gave me new perspectives.  

Collaboration and Passing the Spark 

I titled my blog SPARK, because of this quote 

The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have the idea spark another.  ~Marva Collins

Throughout this journey I have been so inspired by fellow COETAILers (past and present), and although I am not in the classroom right now I have tried to spread their projects/ideas to my teachers at my school.  

Joel’s final project immediately sparked my interest, to which I shared it with our early education teachers and through Twitter.  To me it is such a powerful combination of all aspects of COETAIL and so empowering for the students and classes involved, I just had to share. 


Another little collaboration I tried to organize and pass on was to connect our 1st grade teachers with other teachers around the world.  I knew Joy, Suzy, and Joel all taught lower grades so I created a Google doc for people to sign up and share about their students’ and class responsibilities in their respective locations.

Prior to deciding upon my final project idea I created a Final Project Feedback document for COETAILers to share their ideas and give/receive feedback about final projects.  I tweeted it out to get a wider audience.  I loved reading others ideas and also valued the feedback I got.


I feel one of my responsibilities as a learning leader in my school is to share and connect teachers. Twitter and my PLN have enabled me to do this far more easily than before.  Before I was active and built my PLN I spent hours researching and finding articles that applied to teachers (and my needs).  Thanks to my PLN and the beauty of #hashtags I find more relevant articles, examples, and connections almost momentarily.

One educator, whom I deeply respect and who challenges me to rethink my approaches to learning is a fellow COETAILer, Tricia.  I was on the COETAIL site one day and read one of her posts, and from there I was hooked.  She has such a divergent view of the school culture and environment, I enjoy listening to her podcasts and reading her posts.  


I have followed #sisrocks for years, stealing ideas like an artist from their teachers and administrators. Through the hashtag I have deepened my PLN connections and passed on ideas to our teachers. Their hashtag encouraged me to start a hashtag for our school, #wearegiants.

I value my PLN so much, it is the genesis of my learning and ideas. I find it much more useful and relevant than traditional courses and books.  It is real time, authentic, needs based, and encouraging to me as an educator.  I can only hope to grow my PLN as I progress in this wonderful field of education. And thanks to being in the #coetail sorority I will forever be a lifetime member of a network of professionals who value learning.

#GBCreatingInnovators Meeting 1

Sunday morning I woke up and my husband informed me our internet wasn’t working. Normally that means more focused time with family, but this particular morning it meant moving into problem solving mode because the first meeting of #GBCreatingInnovators was scheduled.  My husband and I brainstormed ways to work around the blackhole of connection and finally realized I could just host the global book club in our apartment building’s lobby.  I went down beforehand to test the connectivity and it was all a go.

The meeting went well, but there is always room for improvement. As far as preparations one thing I learned is I should check with the members to make sure that they understand how to join the Google Hangout before actually sending the invitation to them.  Another thing I want to work on is not talking as much, I think I was so eager to share all that I learned that I spoke too much.

YouTube Preview Image

I’m working on a little synopsis of the first two chapters to share out with my colleagues, PLN, and our parent committee at school.  This will help refine my design skills and inform our school community of important learnings from the book. I’m hoping it will lead to further discussions with teachers and parents.

Here are some connections or resources we discussed:

When Success Leads to Failure  (article)

Redefining Failure (video)

Videos from the book 

I want to give a huge shout out to the members that could attend the first meeting of our global book club and thank you pushing my thinking and sharing your ideas.

Joy is having her 1st graders create digital portfolios for her final COETAIL project.

Suzy‘s continuous effort to grow her PLN and spread her ideas truly inspires me.

Thomas Hammerlund  gave interesting insight from a middle school perspective to all of us elementary educators.

Katherine whom I had never met before, but she jumped right in and shared some very great ideas and reminded me to allow for students (and teachers) to play and plan for multiple opportunities.

I’m going to end this with a complete geek out moment, Tony Wagner retweeted my tweet! Day = made.


Ready or not…

YouTube Preview Image

I just got home from our weekly elementary PD session and am so encouraged and reflecting a lot.  Our teacher tech leaders from the eLearning committee lead the session on SAMR. They started with the why and then modeled how to start with the standard first to SAMR.  The discussion and questions were so lively, there was such a buzz going on in the room my principal and I decided to put off what we had planned for a later date.  We wanted to capture this energy and let teachers collaborate, discuss their fears and confusion, and review their standards for opportunities.

I’m so encouraged because I gave a SAMR training to the whole school three years ago and I was frustrated beyond belief. At the time I was so focused and excited to share and have people start using SAMR, I forgot to take read the school culture and readiness. Looking back it was very apparent that as a school we just weren’t ready for it yet, but I tried to force it. Fast forward three years and I am wiser more experienced and have COETAIL to thank for helping me realize that it’s all relative and all about the needs of our schools. We can’t force something people aren’t ready for, it will just be frustrating for all people involved. Instead we need to respect each other and meet people where they are. Our teachers have been resilient and have accepted new instructional strategies, programs, and other huge changes…they just weren’t ready.  Until today.

Today I saw teachers’ lightbulbs going on off, I watched team initiated collaboration, and I heard teachers being open and honest about where they were in their tech comfort levels. Teachers that normally sit back asked hard questions, questions that lead to long in depth conversations and it made my heart so happy.

Proud of these teachers

I think in teaching we are so immersed in our profession we forget to take time to sit and reflect at how far we (ourselves, our students, our colleagues, our school) have come.  Today I did that, and man did it feel great. I’m so proud of the fact we now have an eLearning committee with teacher leading the training. I’m proud of teachers for taking the risk and asking their questions.  I’m proud that we are adopting the SAMR model. I’m proud of teachers for stretching themselves outside of their comfort zones.

Today was a good day.

Final Project Planning: Learn Together

In all my courses in COETAIL I keep circling back to the idea of connectedness and the power of PLNs. The final project for course 5 needs to be big, Redefinition big. What better way to harness the power of my amazing PLN than to learn together through a book. I’ll be honest, I am stealing an idea I saw on Twitter.

Ben Sheridan's Twitter
Ben Sheridan‘s Twitter


While this isn’t a novel redefinition, I think it will combine all aspects of things I’ve learned in COETAIL, challenge my organizational skills, and lead to great discussion and learning that fits the theme of COETAIL from Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators.

QR Code to videos within the book
QR Code to videos within the book


Here’s where I need your help.  I am recruiting educators from around the world to join our book club and would love if you could pass this Form around. #creatinginnovators


Ashamed or Amazed?

I’ve noticed a trend on blogs and websites, such as Medium, and I can’t decide if I’m ashamed or amazed by it.  Underneath the title of an article there is a little line that tells you how long it will/should take you to read it.

Made with PicMonkey
Made with PicMonkey

Part of me says, “Brilliant!” I can decide what I want to read and what isn’t worth my time. However the other part of me is wondering if this is what’s next in our lives. Will I miss a great read or some interesting information because it is a “16 min read”? Is this time reminder weeding out good reads for the sake of time. It also made me wonder who figures out the length of time to read it.  Will it make struggling readers more aware of their weakness? I’m sure there is a science behind it, people are probably more likely to read an article that takes less time.

Possible Course 5 Projects

Throughout COETAIL I have been challenged, in my pedagogy, tech savviness, and in how to make what I’m learning fit into my current job.  At times it has been very frustrating, I asked myself why didn’t I take COETAIL earlier when I was in the classroom. I would read fellow COETAILers posts with envy at what they were able to apply and do with their students. It took a mindshift on my part to find and celebrate the times I could apply my learnings with students (meaning my colleagues and sometimes the actual students in our school).

Coming up with a final project is challenging to me for a few reasons: there is so much I have learned that I want to try it all out, I’m not quite sure the route to take–do I take over a class of students or do I try and diffuse my learning amongst the staff?, and finally what is feasible within our school’s budget and readiness. I’m over ambitious by nature, but through lots of COETAIL reflection I have learned that pushing people or pulling them to where you want them to be isn’t always the best way to get there. I need to have patience and look for little bits of COETAILness I can introduce or fit into the already large amount of things we are asking teachers to do. I’ve learned that a lot of what my application of COETAIL looks like is setting the example for teachers through modeling, pushing the conversations further, and asking probing questions in meetings that cause teachers to reflect and think upon their current practices. 

Photo Credit: Hello World by David
Photo Credit: Hello World by David


Here are two options I have thought about, and I’m not done brainstorming.  I am still fumbling with an idea of a global book club for administrators, but right now it’s still marinating in my brain. Without further ado…


Describe the project: What will your students do?

Students would do Passion Projects (Genius Hour) during their Dynamic Learning class. Students would learn how to blog about their progress, process, presentations, and reflections.  The blog would be a school wide blog so students could comment on other students in different grade levels. At the end of each learning period we would have a celebration in the form of EACTalks. Eventually I would love for our students to connect with other classes around the world or share our EACTalks. Ideally students would collaborate on a passion project with a student from another school like they are doing from a similiar COETAIL project I started in 5th grade.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Students will learn how to be prosumers, consumers, and digesters of digital literacy.  They would also learn the power of connecting with other learners around the world and creating a positive digital footprint during their research and sharing. The blogging would be a new tool at our school and would empower students to share their learning and comment on other’s’ learning. The EACTalks students prepare will focus on presentation design.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I want students to take ownership of their learning and understand they have something to contribute to our world. In addition to all the learning objectives for students, I want to model and set an example of ways teachers can integrate technology in an authentic and meaningful way.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

This combines learning outcomes from each of the courses into a multigrade level project. This will be a challenge to pull off because I am not technically responsible for these classes, so I will have to work closely with the assistants in charge of them. I will need to balance the instruction, management, and leadership at the same time.  I also think this is a great possibility for our school because blogging isn’t utilized and I’m hoping this opens teachers up to the idea of starting class/grade blogs.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

I am not in charge of the classes, so managing them and making sure they are following the unit plan will require me to be in constant communication with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade assistants.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

The student-driven aspect and it being their choice will be a big shift for the assistants to manage.  We introduced it this year and some of them really struggled with letting students be free to make mistakes and reflecting with students on the process. Also, the presentation design will be a huge shift, the whole Zen approach. In essence, everything really revolves around the shift from “I am the teacher and you will do this project” to “I am a coach in your learning process, how can I help you?”.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Honestly, I think the students already have the skills and attitudes that are required for this unit, it will just be about revealing them. On the skills side I predict students will have to learn how to create guiding questions,  search and filter information, find creative commons images for their presentations, and design great presentations.  As far as attitude, I think students will be surprised at how they can connect and learn from others around the world, and I also some students might need help in seeing themselves as the person in charge of their learning.


Describe the project: What will your students do?

I want to create portable Makerspaces for students around the elementary school.  I would want the students involved in the whole process to get the Spaces: brainstorming, fundraising/campaigning, creation of the space, making, and reflecting. Throughout the process students would create videos, PSAs, procedures, and displays about the Makerspaces.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Before COETAIL I read about Makerspaces, but didn’t think it was possible at my school (right now). COETAIL helped me see that pushing my school, myself, and my teachers, and my students is worth it because they will blow my mind. Also, I would really have to rely on my PLN to be creative with the spaces we have available and also with budget. I already got some feedback and resources on the Final Project Feedback doc I created.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I hope to empower students to create, make connections, imagine, problem solve, collaborate, and discover new things about themselves through the Makerspaces. I also hope to transform or cause people to rethink the learning environments in a school.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

It would stretch my school in its approach to learning and give opportunities to make connections with students in a safe and innovative learning environment. For the project I would pull from all aspects of the course, mainly connectivism, design, PLN, problem based learning, game based learning, and social media.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Money, money, money.  Due to the economic conditions in Brazil our budget is very tight.  I’m not sure this can even happen due to the budget. I plan to fundraise or campaign to the board/parents for funds for the Makerspaces.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Valuing all learning and its importance to the whole child, even if it is outside the traditional curricular areas.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will need to go through the design process, this will require them to track their progress and reflect on their different attempts and failures. In regard to the videos, PSAs, and displays students will need to learn good design principles. Students will need to be very open minded, flexible, collaborative, and reflective.

Flexibility for All

Balance is so important to me, something I try to find in all areas of my life: work and family, health, socializing, educational trends, and of course technology. I struggle with finding and keeping the balance of all these things daily.

Photo by Jim Allen
Photo by Jim Allen


Technology is a wonderful tool that has allowed me to do many things, professionally and personally,  I never could have done without it.  I met 4 of my nieces and nephews in the hospital via Skype, I’ve connected to authors of books I’ve read, I get current basketball scores without having to stay up and watch the game, learn from other educators across the world, reconnect with friends from childhood on FB, and of course I can binge watch my favorite shows thanks to Netflix.  While none of these things are completely necessary, being able to experience them makes me happier and a better person/educator. Could I live without them, of course, but do I want to?  No.  

Flexibility is needed in order for learning, with or without technology, to happen. Looking back on my days as a college student I appreciated the professors that gave me both of these things. When I had the flexibility to make the learning my own and I had the consistent presence of support I knew I could go to.  Pre-technology it was laying under my desk to read the class text or doodling with markers while listening to the lecture. When I was allowed to figure out who I was as a learner I felt more connected to the teacher and therefore was more interested in her class. I’m not sure if that is because teachers like these tend to have more dynamic and engaging classes or I felt obligated to after the flexibility I was given in class, either way it led to me being interested.

We can see how technology has changed our lives for the better, and just because it might distract students doesn’t mean we push it out. Instead, we should embrace it with balance.  When doing my own learning for COETAIL and my Masters courses I needed Facebook breaks to help me refocus, and sometimes through mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed a brilliant thought would hit me and further my learning. Common Sense Media shares about different types of screen time not all being equal and how to try and find the balance of it all.

  • Passive consumption = watching TV, listening to music
  • Interactive consumption  = browsing the internet, gaming
  • Communication = social media, video chatting
  • Content creation = creating digital art and/or music
Generation Y by Margaux-Marguerite Duquesnoy
Generation Y by Margaux-Marguerite Duquesnoy


I don’t appreciate the negative fear mongers out there that infringe on my learning with a computer/device. Just because I am on my device during a meeting (or in class) does not mean I’m avoiding work or entering the friend portal, in fact I may be deepening Rushkoff’s principles of time, place, choice, complexity, scale, and identifying and through my reflection I can make connections to the content, myself, and the world around me. I don’t fully agree with the study against multitasking, but rather see it is a way to get supplemental information whilst the professor or a classmate is sharing.  In Megan’s post she shares her assumptions about professors that banned technology, I couldn’t agree more.  

The most powerful learning experiences I have been a part of had one thing in common…student engagement. It didn’t matter if it was playing Oregon Trail or writing a bill to present to our class Congress, if I was enthusiastic about the learning task I wasn’t distracted by outward things. For me I see technology as a tool, how I use that tool is up to the professor.  They can encourage me to access more information or discourage me to make connections outside of their classroom, I prefer the former.