Category Archives: Course 1

Week 6: The Final Stretch

Week 6 is our final week of Course 1! This week is intended to give you time to catch up on any work you have missed, and to complete your final project (the UBD unit planner and reflective blog post).

We are extra lucky in this cohort as somehow the calendaring means we have ended up with our first three courses having 6 weeks plus 4 extra days!  By October 22 you’ll officially be finished with Course 1 (as long as all your work is completed, of course).

Important: All Course 1 work is due on October 22:

  • All 5 blog posts completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
  • All 5 comments completed and listed on your grading spreadsheet
  • Your final project embedded in a 6th blog post with a short reflection about what you chose to do, why, and how you think it will enhance teaching and learning.
  • Your final project inside this Course 1 Google Drive folder for easy access for everyone in our cohort.

Here are some samples from a previous cohort (Kim’s YIS cohort) to help give you an idea of how it could look.

An important point about the final project (UBD planner): you do not have to actually complete the project with students before Course 1 ends, we’re just asking you to plan the project and share a little bit about why you chose this particular project and how you think it will impact learning in your classroom. Ideally, it will be a project that you actually plan on doing later in the year, so that you can share your learning from that experience in a later course.

Your final project as explained in the video must be publicly viewable and linked on your blog in a blog post with a reflective write up about the lesson. If you have already done the unit with your students share with us how it went (please note: you are not required to complete the unit before the end of this course). We follow this same format for every course so you’ll have 4 units planned by the time you are done and one complete new unit that you’ll actually teach and reflect on (in course 5).

Looking forward to reading them!

Our Very Own CoETaIL Coaches! coetailcoaches

I’d like to introduce a really helpful new initiative Coetail is trying out – coaches linked directly to a cohort to provide another layer of support and feedback. We’re very fortunate to have two talented and experienced coaches join us for the remaining two courses. So if you see them posting comments or presenting thought-provoking questions, please know they’re here to help! Here they are:


kristiKristi Lonheim  |  @lonheim

Kristi currently works as a 5th Grade classroom teacher at an international school in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.  She is a COETAIL graduate from our very first fully Online 12-13 cohort.

Kristi shares her own insights on her blog, I’m Writing Too.  Kristi tweets from @lonheim

tarawaudbyTara Waudby  |  @tarawaudby

In her own words Tara Waudby is  “a true TCK, who has never felt more at home than when in the world, not being at “home.”  Since 2005 she’s been at the American School of Kuwait as the High School Assistant Principal, but now is the Assistant Superintendent of Learning for ISG.  A mum to two gorgeous girls, Tara is also a poet and is working on a second masters, an MFA in poetry. (She may be finished this now).   Tara has also worked in the US and Taiwan.

Tara shares her thoughts and ideas on her blog Behind the Closed Door (also a graduate of our first fully Online12-13 cohort) and tweets from @tarawaudby

COETAILers can connect with or seek support or encouragement from either of our coaches via twitter or by replying to their comments they are already leaving on your blog posts!

Week 5: Going Global

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to “Week 5” in the “My Courses” tab
  • gotten started on your final project, and as you do, add your project into this Google Drive folder
  • written 4 blog posts (you should have 5 by the end of this week)
  • continue recording the URLs of each of the posts you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet
  • continue recording the URL of each of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet
  • completed the application process for SUNY (only if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit)

Highlights – Blog Posts

I’m excited that every week my thinking has been challenged or inspired by the quality of blog posts happening around this cohort.  Some standouts for me have been:

  • Lindsay’s post Reflections on Ahmed and the Clock, her connections to students and the way she has used relevant multimedia to enhance and support the content of this post
  • To Structure or Not to Structure by Rob showing that changes are already being made to his classroom practise
  • Sean’s post New Eyes also demonstrates that making connections between what’s going on in the classroom and the weekly readings is a great way to begin a post.  The use relevant multimedia artefacts enhance and support the content of a posts and bold headings “chunk” the text for the reader making the content easy to follow and process.
  • Purposeful hyperlinking to relevant external resources is a standout in Pamela’s post Doodling with a Purpose. I’m hoping that Pamela keeps us update with how this is going for her and her students

Highlights – Comments

There are some outstanding comments worth sharing too.  Often I am asked “what’s makes a good comment?”  Here are two comments, that demonstrate exactly that:


Pamela’s comment – responding to original post, asking thought-provoking questions to further the conversation as well as including relevant external hyperlinked resource to support thoughts & ideas mentioned


Laura’s comment – responds to original post, another commenter & further extends the conversation by sharing relevant external link to another resource

Your Digital Footprint

As you begin to develop your online presence through your COETAIL blog, possibly a Twitter, Google+ and/or Facebook account, and other blogs or social media tools as well, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the “footprint” you’re leaving behind. While this will be a large focus for Course 2, here is a bit of a teaser for where we’re going:

And a few further readings that may interest you:

And one more video:

Of course the posts you’re writing now are just the beginning of the footprint (along with any other spaces where you share publicly online), but it’s worth taking some time to think about the following themes as you write:

Your Audience

Your blogs are public, so although the primary audience may be COETAIL members, your reflective space represents you as a learner. People will find your posts through tweets and comments and links – probably many more people than you may initially expect. As you begin to see who is leaving comments, what they’re interested in, and which posts end up with the most comments, you’ll start to learn who your active audience is. In that sense, your blog may begin to develop a theme or a tone relative to what you share and how people respond.

Also, it’s a general rule of thumb that for every single comment you get, 100 people have read your post. I don’t think this applies to COETAIL participant comments, but when you start to get comments beyond our cohort and other COETAILers, that’s a good barometer.


Writing is a powerful form of communication as we all know. The words you choose have impact. Thinking about how others may perceive what you write may help you present “your best you” to the world. Rants, a consistently negative tone, or ridiculing others probably isn’t the way you want others to perceive you.

Praise Locally, Criticize Globally

Although we all face challenges in our current schools, it’s so important to focus on the positive, and to ensure that you’re not bringing negative attention to your school (or certain individuals, even if you don’t use their name). When your colleagues find out that you’re blogging, they may read your posts, and even without using names, they may know who you’re talking about. It’s worth asking yourself: “will this offend anyone at school?” before you publish. (Actually, in general this is a good rule of thumb for all public writing, unless you’re intentionally being offensive.)


Many COETAILers end up using their blog as a portal for future employers. As such, you may want to think of the posts you write as a way to share your professional learning and perspectives, as well as the ways that you’re implementing these new ideas into your classroom.

Final Thoughts

This is definitely not intended to add more pressure on you as you develop your blog, but just to give you some ideas to think about as you select what to share in this public space. What kind of footprint do you want to leave behind?

As you’re thinking about “Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out” with your blog and in this new space, you might also enjoy this short clip from the New Learning Institute featuring researcher Mimi Ito:

Mimi Ito from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.


Week 3: Half Way There!

We’re already halfway through Course 1! Can you believe it?

So, by now, you should have:

  • Published your first two posts, possibly three or at least working on your third post.
  • Left your first two comments and be ready to leave your third.
  • Made a copy of the Gradesheet Template and shared with me.
  • Explored the resources in the Google Drive folder I shared with you.
  • Navigated your way around the COETAIL site, and our Cohort Blog in particular.

The first round of feedback is now complete – so please check your gradesheet.  You’ll notice that you have comments and a grade for all of the post that you have recorded in your gradesheet (as of yesterday – 24 September 2015).   I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading ALL of the posts. I’ve giggled, I’ve pondered, and I’ve been inspired – which shows that you’re on the right track with your blogging!

Becoming Bloggers


CC image GotCredit

Rebekah (one of the Online 5 cohort instructors) wrote this great reminder for us all.

The way COETAIL requires you to document your thinking, learning and reflecting on a public blog is one of the things that makes COETAIL so very special. This isn’t an academic essay, with parenthetical citations and a third party distance from the course content. And this isn’t a closed commenting system where no one sees what you write, except for perhaps the teaching assistant. And it’s not a paper portfolio sent off to someone to evaluate, only to collect dust years later.

Just like Rebekah’s,  my blog (which is currently offline at the moment with some technical difficulties) is also something that is an archive of my learning, of my students work, the work I do with teachers and of my progress as a learner. Some of my posts are definitely NOT amazing!  (And coming up with catchy blog post titles is certainly NOT a strength!) But it’s my thinking, it’s my learning and it shows that I am willing to try to become a better learner.

So a few words of advice (thanks Rebekah) as you start your blogging journey:

  • A lot of people (yes, me too!) get nervous hitting the publish button…do it anyway!

When you’ve got a minute, (yes, I know – a joke right?) Check out the Words of Wisdom (scroll down a little in this post) from current and previous CoETaILers!

Humming Along to the End of Week 2

It’s now the end of Week 2 and hopefully you are beginning to get into a routine that works for you as you make your way through Course 1.

By now, you should have:

  • Created your blog on the COETAIL site.
  • Published your first two posts.
  • Left your first two comments.
  • Added your URL and associated details to the AIS-R Cohort Blog List.
  • Made a copy of the Gradesheet Template and shared with me. (Remember to rename your copy with your name so that I know whose gradesheet it is).
  • Explored the resources in the Google Drive folder I shared with you.
  • Navigated your way around the COETAIL site, and our Cohort Blog in particular.

Now that we’re all organized and into the site properly, it’s time to get into the routine of the weekly course tasks and assignments. It’s great to see that so many of you have already completed Weeks 1 and 2, and are moving ahead to the following tasks in the first course. If you haven’t gotten started yet, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Access Course Materials

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 6.09.22 pmOn the Menu Bar of this blog you will now see “My Courses”. (Make sure you are logged in). Once you click on that you will see a pull down for “Course 1″, when you click on that you will enter the course, organized by weeks.

You will be able to keep track on where you are at by clicking “Mark as Complete” at the end of each week’s lesson. I can also see how far you’ve progressed in the course so please make sure you click “Mark as Complete”.

Keep in mind that you can move forward at your own pace.

Write Posts

As you complete the weekly readings, you’ll be asked to write a blog post that highlights your learning for the week. You’ll notice that there are writing prompts, however you are not required to respond exactly to that prompt, it’s simply a prompt designed for those who need one. If you have an idea that really resonates with you based on the week’s readings and enduring understandings, then go for it! Basically, you’ll be writing at least one post a week for COETAIL. Of course, you can always write more as the mood strikes you!

Leave Comments

In addition to your weekly blog post, you’ll need to leave at least one comment a week somewhere on the web. I recommend that you start by leaving comments on other COETAILers blogs, particularly your cohort members (you can find all their blogs in the AIS-R Cohort Blog Roll. This helps us get to know each other and to start forming a community. As you start exploring more blogs, you’ll see connections with others and begin linking to their work, quoting and commenting regularly on the blogs that really resonate with you.

Keep Track of Your Work

As you write blog posts and leave comments, make sure to note them on your Google Spreadsheet. This is how I’ll know which posts you would like to be assessed on (of course this means that we’re hoping that you start writing more posts than just the required ones!).

Creating Routines

As we continue through the weeks, you’ll start to develop a routine that works for you. Although you may all be doing something different, you’ll want to make sure you include:

  • Checking your RSS Reader (make sure this blog is in your RSS Reader because updates will not come through e-mail, they will be posted here).
  • Checking in with the My Courses tab to see if something is new.
  • Completing the weekly readings.
  • Writing a weekly blog post.
  • Writing a weekly comment.
  • Documenting your work on your Grading Spreadsheet.

Feedback from Your Instructor

As you know already, your instructor for this course is me (Chrissy), so you will see comments primarily from me, and occasionally from Jeff (our Course Faciliator).

We will leave you feedback in two places:

  • On your blog, as a comment: Feedback that can be public and is appropriate to share with a wider audience will be left as a comment on your blog. Jeff is more likely to leave feedback in this way.
  • On your grading spreadsheet, in the Feedback from Instructor column: This is where I will mostly leave your feedback.  It is private, and focused on constructive improvements and will be left in each row that you leave a URL of a blog post or a comment.

Please note:  In general, we may not be as quick with the feedback as you are with writing your posts. Sometimes we’ll leave a comment on your blog first and won’t get to your spreadsheet until later or vice versa. This doesn’t mean we’re not reading, it just means we may need time to gather our thoughts :)

If this isn’t making sense, or you have questions or concerns, please let me know. This course is very independent, so you can really move at your own pace. I’ll keep an eye on where everyone is in the course units, but it’s really your job to keep up with the weekly readings as listed.

Getting Started with Google Drive

Woohoo! You’ve made it through Week 1!

Since there are quite a lot of things to get set up in Course 1, and now that you know quite a bit about the COETAIL site, it’s time to get organized with our Google Drive documents.

We don’t do too much in Google Drive because we know access is limited in different parts of the world, but there are a few things that Google Drive does extremely well, and we want to be as efficient as possible. If, for any reason, you are not able to access Google Drive, please let me know.

Step 1: Explore the Google Drive Folder

I recently shared a Google Drive folder with you that has all of the important documents we will use (including the grading spreadsheet we talked about in Course 1, Week 1 Gradesheet Setup). Jeff and I will be adding more as the course continues.

If you’re having trouble accessing this folder, please make sure you are logged in with the e-mail address you used to sign up. If it’s still a problem, please let me know.

Step 2: Create Your Gradesheet & share it with your Instructor

To facilitate instructor feedback, please make a copy (if you haven’t done so already of this Gradesheet Template, rename it with your name, and share with me – ( Please fill in the info on the first sheet of the spreadsheet as well. We’ll use different tabs for each course in the program for you to record the URLs of your posts and comments, and for me to share private feedback with you. Here’s a step-by-step video to show you how:

Setting Up Your Gradesheet from COETAIL on Vimeo.