Category: Course 3

The Final Countdown (For course 3!)

Finishing off Course 3

The Final Countdown.. The end of course 3 is rapidly approaching (25th October) and it is a quick turn around before we delve into Course 4 (which starts on 2nd November.) It is time for a little music to get us in the mood! Click on the link below to get your blood pumping and start creating your COETAIL Course Countdown to do list! 

This last week of the course is for you to finish up on all your blog posts and comments and give you time to complete your final project. Please see the “Understanding the Course 3 Final Project” unit to review the details. 

The Final Project

Your Course 3 final project must be publicly viewable and linked/embedded in a blog post with a reflective write up about the learning experience. Here are some questions that might guide your reflection:

  • Why did you choose the option you chose?
  • Why did you choose this topic? These standards?
  • How did you grow as a collaborator and facilitator during Course 3?
  • How was this final project different from or similar to other learning experiences you have designed/facilitated?
  • How does this final project relate to what you learned in Course 3?
  • What has influenced you the most in Course 3 and how is that reflected in your final project?
  • What outcomes do you hope to see when students (or educators) complete this unit? How will you know that students (or educators) have learned the concepts?
  • If you facilitated this experience, how did the learners respond to it? What feedback did you collect to inform future experiences?

I am really looking forward to seeing what you have created in your global groups.

Please reach out to me if you have any last minute questions!


Breaking Down Barriers

Wow…so far during course 3 you have done some wonderful learning and exploring around how we can use visual mediums for teaching and learning. Through blog design updates, infographics, and presentation designs, you have shown that you are being thoughtful about how we use design to facilitate understanding.

Here are a some of the wonderful visual thinkery that you have been sharing  from Course 3 so far:

Andrea created an infographic which visualized the data from her Writing Post Assessment for Narrative Writing. Here is what she created:

Irena created this infographic to “help students to visualize their thinking process…(as)it helps clearly to present the content of the topic studied.”

Erika updated her blog design with new colours, menus and images.

Melanie created and shared infographics and some newly designed slides.

Breaking Down Barriers

This week you will be exploring how technology allows us to connect with diverse ideas and people. Some of the themes you will see are global connection, collaborating asynchronously, and the representation of social identities.

We know that technology is a great tool and without I wonder what school closure may have been like for all of us, over the past 9 months or so. Making connections, collaborating and learning from each other happens just as effectively asynchronously as it does synchronously. Using technology can also open our eyes to what is happening around the world and make us more aware of the challenges that are part of our globe.

One such group who are utilizing technology is the wonderful Global Nomads Group. The approach is around the important concept of being able to “leverage technology to foster authentic, global, youth driven dialogue.”


This idea of breaking down some of the barriers in the world and trying to make a more just system to live in, is something that I explored more over the Summer. I took part in a Project Zero workshop from JusticexDesign who explained that injustices are by design.

Implicit biases and systemic oppressions are built into systems like media, architecture, government, transportation, and time. These human-designed systems can empower or oppress, amplify or silence. Supporting young people to recognize inequities in the everyday designs of systems they encounter is a critical step toward reimagining a more just world.

In our current world how important is this concept to instill in our schools and society. 

Visible Thinking

As I was looking at the themes for this week and how we can use digital tools to collaborate and share ideas I couldn’t help but make a connection between a popular visible thinking trend and the Text Rendering Protocol.

In the Text Rendering Protocol students are finding meaningful phrases within a piece of text and sharing how it made them think or feel. A process that prompts students to explore different ideas and discuss their diverse understandings.

I made a connection to something I first saw on Twitter called #Booksnaps. Booksnaps, which was started by Tara Martin asks students to take a photo of a page of a book and “mark-up” that page using their iPad or tablet. They would highlight passages that mean something to them, annotate their thinking, and use emojis or bitmojis to communicate feeling.

It connected well to this weeks topic since they are often shared online to allow for discussion and further thinking to take place. Students can explore one another’s #Booksnaps asynchronously through their social network or LMS and gain a deeper understanding of different viewpoints. This activity is both fun (since it incorporates technology students are familiar with and enjoy), and a great way to generate further discussion.

This Week:

This week you will be using wonderful tool that promotes connection and collaboration, Flipgrid. You will be reading Harro’s chapter about the Cycle of Socialization and identifying 1 sentence, 1 phrase, and 1 word that is particularly important to you and your understanding of the cycle of socialization. You will then go to our community Flipgrid and add a video to the Community Text Rendering topic briefly introducing yourself and sharing your word, phrase, and sentence.

After that, you will switch over to the Community Discussion topic and add a video:

  • Reminding us who you are.
  • Sharing what you heard from others’ videos and what it says about the document/concept of the cycle of socialization.
  • Reflecting on how this cycle might impact your practice.
  • Debriefing the process – how might you use a similar process with your students?

In your blog post, share the QR code and link to our community Flipgrid. Share your blog post with your PLN and encourage them to add their voice to the conversation. 

I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on using Flipgrid for collaboration and gaining a deeper understanding of each others learning. It will also be a fun new way to see our Cohort in action!

And finally…

We are now entering the final two weeks of Course 3! It officially ends on 25th October. So if you are lagging a little behind then now is the time to get these reflections and comments posted.

I also want to make you aware that it is a quick turnaround for Course 4, as it begins on 2nd November and runs until 13th December.

Have a great week!


Becoming Communication Artists

Week 4 is all about the art of communication and how visuals can enhance our message. How and what we present to our audience matters greatly in the manner in which our messages will be received, and how impactful they might be. I read this article which resonated.

Every story begins with the foundation of language. Oftentimes, when we think about language, our minds default to written text and spoken conversation. But language is more than words—it’s any way of communicating across mediums that brings an idea, topic, or conversation to life. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual from 8 Designers’ Tips for Better Visual Storytelling

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Here are a few steps to take when building a visual presentation with the audience in mind:

  1. Less is most definitely more! Consider using fewer elements on a slide. In David JP Phillips brilliant TedTalk called Death by Powerpoint he explains that having no more than 6 elements on a slide is important. The audience won’t have enough cognitive resources to understand more than that. That includes text. Avoid including large pieces of text on your slides because people can’t read and listen at the same time.
  2. Ditch the flashy transitions! Your slide presentation is there to support you and not the other way around. Using different transitions and confusing animations can sometimes distract the audience and work against you.
  3. Synthesize your message! Consider giving a follow-up sheet containing the main points of your presentation. Rather than packing all your slides with as much information as possible, causing people to snap photos of each slide, considering giving out a one-pager with all your talking points. You can tell people this ahead of time and put some supporting images on your slides rather than text.

Your assignment for this week is to choose a visual aid (slide, poster, anchor chart, etc.) that you would like to update. Gather feedback from your students and/or colleagues about how well the visual aids their understanding. Based on their feedback, and the readings from this course thus far, redesign that resource. Please share your process on your blog post, as well as a reflection of how you think it went.

A wonderful example of someone going through the process of revising their visual presentations using Presentation Zen is this video by Cult of Pedagogy’s Jennifer Gonzalez. She outlines how she used to build presentations and how considering some key design elements changed her approach.

Inspiring each other

I have really enjoyed catching up with your posts this weekend. They are insightful and inspiring. You have all done some wonderful work in this course so far.  Keep up the awesome work! If you have not had the chance to read some of these blogs, make sure you check them out. Here are a few:

Luiz reflected in his post Social learning in IB Diploma Biology about the idea of handing over responsibility to his students, so that they continue to develop their skills (ATL’s) such as collaboration and communication. “In my view, the more time we spend developing Approaches to Learning, the less time it takes for students to learn content because they are more efficient, more independent, and more social. That’s why time, for me, is a non-issue.”

Cindy shared, in her Week 3 post, some  fantastic looking infographics which she created, using Apple Pages, to assist her students with their unit titled “Our How We Express Ourselves.”

Luis explained in his week 2 post that as educators we need to be modelling collaboration skills to our students to enhance collaboration skills in them. “We can always grow and generate changes in our peers, demonstrating, for example, a sense of leadership, responsibility, feedback, positive reinforcement, and so much more, when we work collaboratively, always coming from a place of empathy and respect for the individual.”


Remember that the Course 3 final project is an opportunity to experience an authentic global experience. and get to know in more detail, some of your COETAIL 12 cohort. If you are still in the need for a group then now is the time to ACT! Check out the document that I emailed you and join a group of like-minded professionals who are looking to redefine learning. We are in this together!

By the end of this week you should have completed:

  • 4 blog posts and inserted the links for each in the gradesheet
  • 4 comments on your peers blogs and links for them in the gradesheet
  • Work on the final project can be ongoing throughout the course.
  • If you have not yet, please take a few minutes to complete the Mid-Program Survey from the Welcome Week as soon as possible.

Week 3: See What I Mean

I am beginning to see a theme…after last week where I was waxing lyrical about visible thinking routines now I am hooking you into the importance of creatively visualizing our ideas and data to enhance understanding and communication.

But before we delve into some visual thinkery, I want to celebrate some of the posts that have started to roll in for Course 3.

  • Andrea has added a splash of minty freshness with her contrasting colours in background, font and headings. Here are the awesome results below

  • Cindy has stripped back on the colour and simplified the information that she wants her blog readers to see first. Check out the fantastic streamlined results.
  • Melanie  has thought about how her readers can navigate around her blog site and making it easier to hone in on her message by using bullet points, shorter sentences and images that help to tell a story.
  • Simon has been experimenting with using images that not only help to share his message but also break up content into manageable chunks. He has also “started to use the preview button on WordPress to look at what my post will look like before I post it.” Great idea!

Photo by Binit Sharma on Unsplash


As I was saying before, this week we are thinking about:

  • Effectively visualizing complex ideas and data is important in our content-rich world.
  • There are many different ways to communicate ideas, knowledge, and connections.

There is so much data and information that we are able to access with a click of a button (on any subject matter that you care to delve into – Jamie Vardy’s 100 premier league goals is a personal favorite of mine but you may not want to spend 55 minutes of your life watching this!)

So, how do we turn data into something accessible and usable to all of us? How do we share the data that we want to share? How do we tell the story behind the data?

This is a great video that unpacks some of these questions and how we use design principles to create meaningful data visualization. Because information is truly beautiful!

There are many ways in which we can represent the information that we want to share to our audience and Keri-Lee Beasley’s “Design Secrets Revealed” are a wonderful resource to begin thinking about this. As is Kathy Schrock’s infographic resources which give you practical ways of getting students to use ,and create infographics in their learning.

There are a heap of digital tools that can help you and your students create infographics. Canva is one of my go to tools when creating posters, infographics and breaking information into chunks. An alternative is Piktochart, which is really user friendly and allows you to turn heavy content into a visual story.

If creating infographics feels like a push right now, how about visual note taking instead? It is way more fun than creating notes, it enhances memory and improves understanding.

Or how about getting students to create their own memes?

Your turn…

Create an infographic to effectively & creatively communicate an idea or data. What is the purpose of your infographic? Who is the intended audience? 

Write a blog post reflecting on the creation of your infographic. Don’t forget to embed it! Some questions you might consider: How did this creation process differ from others? How did the purpose and intended audience impact the final product? If you used this infographic in a lesson, a presentation, or on your blog, how did others react to it? How did it impact their understanding of the idea/data/concept?

Getting ahead of Ourselves: Thinking about the Course 3 Final Project

You are required to collaborate on this project to deepen the experience of a globally collaborative project. Below are several options, however, the most important aspect of this project is the concept of global collaboration, not the content.

Each member of the group should be part of our COETAIL Cohort, but the more diverse you can make your group, the more realistic your global collaboration experience will be. Ideally, your group will have 3 to 4 participants and be made of participants outside of your school. Part of your challenge will be to communicate with the other members of your cohort to determine who might be interested in collaborating with you. How did creating groups for the Course 2 final project go? What might you need to change in order to better facilitate global collaboration this time around?

Like all COETAIL assignments, the intention of this project is to give you time and purpose to create something you will actually use so that you can continue transforming your learning environment in a way that is right for you and your community.

Although this final project is collaborative, you will each need to write your own individual, original reflective blog post with your unit plan and learning experience slidedeck embedded.

  • Option 1
    • Create a unit planner based on the enduring understandings of this course that support students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators (ISTE Standards for Students 6 and 7)
    • Choose one learning experience from your unit plan and develop it to the extent that you could facilitate it
  • Option 2
    • Create a 2-4 hour professional development program based on the enduring understandings from this course that support educators to grow as Collaborators and Facilitators (ISTE Standard for Educators 4 & 6)
    • Choose one learning experience from your PD plan and develop it to the extent that you could facilitate it
  • Option 3
    • Propose a group project to me! The project must have relevance to teaching and learning and the enduring understandings of this course.

Please note: You are NOT required to facilitate the unit plan/Professional development before the end of this course. But if you are able to, we would love to know how it went!

This week:

  • Ensure that you have published week 1 & 2 blog posts
  • Ensure you have added the URL for posts to the gradesheet
  • Ensure you have commented on at least 2 other blog posts (from weeks 1 and 2) and added links to gradesheet)

Week 2: Facilitating Collaboration

This week we are delving into a real favourite area of mine…the art of facilitating collaboration. I truly believe how we create these opportunities to learn with and from each other is such a crucial part of being an educator. When we make time for these collaborative moments on a regular basis it gives our students and colleagues an idea of what we value. And I really value collaboration.

Creating these structured opportunities for collaborative learning facilitates deeper understanding.

Setting up time in our busy schedules to sit down and learn from each other is a really valuable time as it supports some of the collaboration skills that we need students to develop during our time with us. These moments are ways in which we can embed the IB’s Approaches to Learning or Kath Murdoch’s Learner Assets into the heart of our day. Giving students (and colleagues) the opportunity to refine our collaborative skills and open our minds to other ways of thinking.

“Listening and questioning are the basis for positive classroom interactions that can in turn shape meaningful collaboration, which can then build a culture of thinking. At the heart of these two practices lies a respect for and interest in students’ thinking.” Ron Ritchhart

At the heart of this idea is that effective educators need to be facilitators, collaborators, and co-learners.

There are a variety of tools and strategies that can help and support these collaborations, whether it be in person or virtually. I love to use Visible Thinking Routines as a way of structuring these collaborative learning moments. They can be used in person in class (here is a peak into some documentation I did as Kindergarten Teacher around our inquiry into celebrations) and also virtually too. Using these routines virtually there are a whole heap of options; from Bookcreator, Pear Deck and my personal favorite Padlet.

Carol Geneix, and Jaime Chao-Mignano at Washington International School have put together a resource page in which thinking routines are matched to appropriate online tools. Check it out here.

Of course there are other ways in which we can structure collaboration. The Harkness protocol is a great way to empower students too. Parlay ideas is tool which you could use to help document the conversation. Flipgrid is also a wonderful tool that allows us to learn from each other asynchronously, around a prompt, question or protocol.

However we structure the collaboration or the tool that we use, it is important to remember that we want students to be talking, sharing and learning from each other. Technology can allow us to connect with diverse ideas and people. Some of the themes that you will see in your readings are global connection, collaborating asynchronously, and the representation of social identities. But use technology wisely because we know that it can limit student discussion—or encourage it.

This Week:

Facilitate a structured learning activity/discussion in your classroom or school (either virtually or in person.) Which structure/protocol/routine will you choose? How will you communicate your expectations and the process? How will this experience challenge students to use a design process and practice computational thinking? How will you incorporate technology in order to enhance/deepen the experience? How will you demonstrate cultural competency?

Write a blog post reflecting on the experience of facilitating a learning activity/discussion. Some questions you might consider: Which structure did you choose? What topic was explored? Which ISTE Standards for Students were the focus of this experience? How did technology enhance the experience? Did you have any complications with technology? How did you co-learn with students? How did this experience support collaboration, design and computational thinking?

If you have not yet, please take a few minutes to complete the Mid-Program Survey. Your feedback matters!

Don’t forget to read the posts from your cohort peers and leave meaningful comments!








Week 1: We Are All Designers

Welcome to Course 3! I hope you are well and have managed to enjoy some kind of break during the summer months. It has been a strange time to be a teacher as many of our usual Summer activities may not have been possible. Personally we have remained in Panama and are still in lock-down, nearly 6 months after the pandemic started. Whatever you did I hope that managed to get some down time away from a screen.

This is the course where we take a deep dive into all things visual. Over the next 6 weeks of this course we will aim to build understanding in the following key areas:

  • How to use the design and layout of information to influence effective communication
  • How different information mediums require different strategies when organizing information and communicating effectively
  • Using infographics and data visualizations to tell complex stories
  • How the audience and purpose behind your communication affect how and what you communicate

After all, we are all designers.

But how do we define visual literacy? According to Merriam-Webster, visual literacy is the “ability to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through visible actions or images.” explains that it is the “ability to read, write and create visual images. It is a concept that relates to art and design but it also has much wider applications. Visual literacy is about language, communication, and interaction. Visual media is a linguistic tool with which we communicate, exchange ideas and navigate our highly visual digital world.”

I really value this short video from Toledo Museum of Art who asked the attendees at the 47th International Visual Literacy Association were asked to define “visual literacy” in their own terms. It shares some different perspectives on what visual literacy is to them. What is it to you?

In week one our focal point will be ISTE Standard for Educators 6.d: Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

You will explore questions related to how you see visual media and your own design habits. You will also dig into some great resources explaining how design principles affect the way we perceive media.

There are lots of wonderful resources that can help to deepen our understanding about many of these principles. This article called “6 principles of visual hierarchy for designers” from 99designs does a really good job of explaining this both visually and with written word. Alternatively this infographic explains some of the numbers behind “How People Read Online”

One of my favorite concepts to consider when looking into design elements is the set of principles designers use called CARP. Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity (not to be confused with CRAP). One of my favorite resources for learning more about CARP is the ebook created by Keri-Lee Beasley called “Design Secrest Revealed.”It’s a clear and visual explanation of each principle and a great way to develop an understanding of basic design concepts.

This weeks tasks:

  • Plan a redesign of your COETAIL blog to make it more aesthetically appealing and easier to navigate (assuming you have no limitations). Choose 1 change to make.
  • Write a reflective blog post explaining your choices and design considerations. Include images and before/after screenshots.
  • Comment on at least one COETAIL-ers post and add the URL to the grade sheet.
  • Don’t forget to check out the GET tab if you’re going for the dual certificate!