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.

#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


Communicate Your Content

COETAIL has stretched me so much in terms of thinking on how to apply my learning into my current role of assistant principal, it has also made me miss being in the classroom something fierce. For this week’s assignment I found tons of interesting infographics full of data about the teaching profession, but I wanted to be more pointed in what I use with my teachers.

Application #1// Standards Based Grading

One of my main jobs this year is priming the pumps of our community (teachers, parents, and students) to move to standards based grading and reporting next year. This process has been purposefully slow and erring on the side of providing too much information. It is a huge shift for our school and because of Brazilian educational laws we are being creative on how to make it work within the confines of the mandated system. So after reading this week’s assignment I immediately thought an infographic either describing standards based grading or visualizing the data supporting it would be powerful and clear.  

Infographic credit: @CVULearns


The first infographic from @CVULearns can be used to explain the why of standards based grading to parents and students. I like how it created a story of a bunny moving from curious to skeptical to concerned, and finally to satisfied. I think this is a start for my school, I would remix it pulling different aspects from it, but using our school common language, for example exceeds, meets, approaches, and beginning as opposed to advanced, proficient, below proficient, and basic.

Infographic credited by sstephens


The second infographic could be used to explain why standards based grading is best for kids. It was created by another COETAILer using Piktochart. Again, I would have to tweak this to fit the needs of my school, but it is a great starting off point.

Application #2// Reading and Writing Workshop

Another idea I had was to use infographics in the creation of our rubrics for Reading Workshop. Since we are in this weird limbo period of not being standards based yet, but going there next year teachers are creating rubrics that build a bridge between where we are and where we want to be.  I created a dull conversion chart for standard based grading language and percentages to be put in PowerSchool. I took that information and added some more reasoning (from a great pamphlet) and made an infographic that would better explain it to parents.  

Created on Piktochart
Created on Piktochart


At the same time I want to play around with creating a template for student progression as an infographic and then teachers can fill in their grade level criteria. Hunting and gathering for progress indicators I didn’t come up with much, but I did find pieces of things that I think I could weave together to create something for my school.  I like the student language in this self-assessment and then thought of using a gas tank or other data visual to match the language.

Application #3// Syllabus

Lastly, and not applying to me in my current role, I love the idea of doing the class syllabus as an infographic. What a quick and easy way for students (and parents) to know the expectations, design, and goals of the class at the beginning of the year. I will definitely keep this in mind if I go back into the classroom.  Here are some more examples: Madame Farabaugh (French teacher), Laura (Spanish teacher), and an English class.


infographic syllabus
Syllabus created by Cynthia Early

Over the course of this year I have made several different pieces of literature to communicate new programs and initiatives to parents. We have a very high EAL parent population and I think these pieces have helped communicate to them what we are working with their children on.  I wouldn’t consider these infographics, but they have visuals and different spacing that I think is easier to read and less threatening.

EAC Library Final

Literacy at EAC (2)

First Semester Reflections

This past semester was a whirlwind, returning from maternity leave and starting a new job as elementary assistant principal. Over the course of the semester I kept a document where I wrote little notes to myself about learnings`.  Since I finally have time to write them out I thought I’d use my COETAIL site as the place to house my thoughts.

I have so much more to learn, but here are TOP 10:

1. Relationships: Spend time to build relationships with your staff, parents, and most importantly the students. Having a trusting relationship makes things easier down the road.

2. Feedback: Teachers crave this, not just a “good job”, but specific timely feedback. This is something I can improve on, I get into classrooms but feedback isn’t always right away.  I think I will start carrying a post-it pad around so I can write feedback and leave it for them right away.

3. Communicate Cleary (and Concisely): I made the mistake of assuming people understood things from previous meetings and/or discussions so in my emails I just referred to them, rather than explaining the why and specific how.

4. Be Fair: This is for discipline issues mainly, but could apply to working with my teachers too. What is fair for one person may not be fair for another. Again, by knowing your staff and students this becomes easier to figure out what is fair for each student/teacher and what’s not.

5. Empathize: Everyone is coming from a different place, don’t expect everyone to be on the same level. Understand that people are trying their hardest and meet them where they are with understanding.

6. Be Flexible, but consistent: Things come up. People forget. Emails get lost. Be flexible, but not a wet noodle. People need to know that there are expectations and consequences, but don’t take out the human aspect. I think this ties into number 5.

7. Lead by Example: Work alongside teachers, with parents and students. People will watch your actions more than they listen to your words. Of course we have all heard this, but I found this to be so true.

8. Follow Through: Easier said than done. I never knew how crazy an administrator’s schedule was. I will come into work with an idea of how they day will go and things will always come up. I have to make it a point to prioritize and make sure I get to the things I promised. Also, this goes along with #6–it’s okay to shift your schedule around and push things back (hard for my Type A personality, but I’m learning!)

9. Take the Blame, Share the Success: Even if it isn’t your fault, take the blame. It goes a long way, same goes for complimenting others and giving them credit for their roles.

Lastly, and most important…

10. Don’t Forget the WHY: It is easy to get caught up in the logistics, planning, communication, discipline, emails, professional development, assessment, program coordination, and more–I don’t want to forget why I started teaching…to impact students. I started writing past and current students’ names in my planner and it is a little trigger for my brain to remember it all goes back to the students.