The Power of Choice

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I can’t believe this is my last official COETAIL post. Wow! It seems like we just began. We’ve been through SAMR, design, copyright,  and finally we were charged to bring all of our learning together to create our final project. It’s been a good run.


I’m really happy with the project that I chose to do because it is something that has changed the way I conduct my class. I feel like I am giving my students choices that matter and they are beginning to take ownership of how they learn in the classroom.


Thinking about how to document my work along the way has made me realize that I should be doing more of that documentation all the time. Cool things are happening in my classroom-I should share more! I bet that applies to many other educators as well. We get caught up in what we are doing and forget how important it is to share with others.

Now, let’s talk about my video.

When creating my video, I had to think about design. First, I was thinking about the flow of the video. What did I need to talk more about? What did I want to highlight? What would be on the screen? I thought about images that would convey the meaning that I was thinking about. For me, choosing images is really tough. I am such a word oriented person. COETAIL has been exercising that part of my brain and has encouraged me to grow as a visual learner. It is still an effort for me, but I am working on it.

As I was piecing my video together, I realized that I had a lot of still shots, but one thing I would do differently is to use more video to show what the students were working on or how they talk a lot while they work and help each other. I think it would be interesting to see and easier to watch than a lot of still pictures.


The last year and a bit has been amazing! I am so happy that I had the chance to begin to learn with such a great group of people and look forward to learning more from all of you in the future!


Creating Connections



Some rights reserved by Chris Isherwood


Moving from a large city of connected educators that work together frequently to the suburbs of Seoul was a tough transition. The education community in Seoul is alive and well although harder to access. Less flexibility in scheduling without co-teachers/librarians and less chances to come together with people from other schools created a need for a new community.


When I heard that there was going to be a new online Coetail, I knew that I found a solution to my problem. I had been stalking the Coetail program and Learning 2 from New York already, so I knew that a lot of big thinking and questions were coming from people associated with these learning experiences. My assumption was that I could build a new, international PLN through my Coetail experiences.


Check out the future of my connections:

 Some rights reserved by Michael Coghlan

Some rights reserved by Michael Coghlan


Let me tell you about how Coetail has helped me connect to other educators.

1. I have found is that Coetail participants are widespread. No matter where you are, if it is heard that you are a Coetailer, others will find you and reach out.

2. One specific way that Coetailers reach out is through having meet-ups at conferences. Whether it is Learning 2 or EARCOS, Coetailers find a way to interact.

3. Because of the program Coetailers have gone through, they are more likely to use social media tools to build and sustain their PLNs.


How This Has Worked for Me Specifically

I have formed relationships through reading and interacting with blog posts, twitter,  and then meeting people. Attending Learning 2 for the last two years has connected the process of being a coetailer for me. Being able to connect in person helps me to feel comfortable continuing and strengthening those relationships I have formed online.

Even at local events in Seoul, such as KORCOS, I mostly made connections with people because we had Coetail in common. These Seoul connections gave me the opportunity to assist in bringing a new conference to Seoul, EDULAN along with several other Coetailers.

Taken by Rolly Maiquez

As an organizer, we were required to present. I was able to meet so many new people through speed-geeking and presenting on a digital writer’s workshop. That helps me have a more local network in addition to those that are spread throughout the world.


My Plan for the Future

edcamp Seoul Logo



The next big thing on our horizon is edcamp Seoul. @dorakio and I have been trying to bring the edcamp model to Seoul since we arrived. Edcamp is an unconference whose purpose is to build teachers as learners. We believe that we have found a school that is willing to host and are hoping to have the first edCamp in April or May.

No matter which school or city we are in next. I believe that I will continue to build relationships with Coetailers that I meet and continue to recommend the Coetail program to people that are wondering how to build an international PLN.

Starting the School Year in a Slightly New Way


I had an idea that I wanted to test. It was more of an inquiry project for myself that would affect and inform my teaching. I wanted to give my students a chance to apply their learning and understanding of technology and sharing. What I have learned over the years about good teaching is that it is timely and in response to the needs of our students. In response to that idea, I would introduce apps when I knew that students had a reason to use them.

Some rights reserved

Some rights reserved

I started wondering if I could give more power to the students. Instead of me dictating when to use what. How could I collaborate with my students and allow them to make more choices and take ownership in their learning?

And that is where my idea came from…

What if I gave them access to the apps that we use throughout the year to express our understanding in the beginning of the year? If I introduce the apps and the students explore and discover uses for them, would they then be able to make choices that would benefit their learning? Would they be willing to take ownership over sharing their learning?


Here are the Nets Student standards that I am trying to address:

1. Creativity and innovation
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression


2. Communication and collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats








Why the Future of Education is Wearable Technology

 Some rights reserved by Rain Rabbit

Some rights reserved by Rain Rabbit

Is the next step in education wearable technology? Will our students be coming to school with Google Glass and Fit Bits?

I think so. This is why:

1. People are obsessed with technology. Everyone, including teachers and students, want to “stay current” and keep up with new trends. Having the latest tech item is a kind of social capital and people want that power.

2. Schools are mirroring public technological trends. People want schools to prepare and use the tools that are being used in the real world.

3. These pieces of technology can change the experience in a classroom starting with primary students and going all the way through higher education.

4. Some of these items are beginning to create a connected, seamless experience with the world outside of school. This will make it easier for schools to be global and give opportunities for students to experience more of the world.

What Are Some of the Big Ideas Now?

Some rights reserved by Ted Eytan

Some rights reserved by Ted Eytan

Some of the tech has already been developed. The cost for some of these items is a bit prohibitive now, but I’m sure it will decrease.

Physical Education teachers can already monitor the heart rates of their students as they are participating in wellness activities using items like the Fit Bit. Google Glass(es?) can enable teachers to give students their point of view when doing a disection or on a class field trip to a garden. Guest speakers can give new meaning to a virtual field trip and actually walk the entire class around a historic site.

I am so excited to see what other people are thinking about how to include these items to enhance curriculum. Is anyone using any of these items now?

Final Project Ideas

 Some rights reserved by Raymond Bryson

Some rights reserved by Raymond Bryson

I have been thinking about this for a while. What should I do? I feel like I am always experimenting and revamping. I just don’t always document it.

At the end of the school year, we started using a few new apps that became resources that the children ask to use for different purposes all the time now. I feel like they could have done so much more if I had introduced these resources in the beginning of the year. It’s interesting because I feel like we should use technology to enhance our pedagogy. Usually that means that we introduce things as we need to use them to support learning. I have an idea that the children might be able to create more of their own project ideas if they know what resources are available. So, I am going to do an experiment next year. I am going to plan tech workshops for my students to get to know the Applications that this year’s students have found the most useful. Then, they will have knowledge of the tools available and I will not be the only person determining what is best to use. They can be involved in the decision making. This will require me to plan out introductions that help the students to get to know the tools as well as help organize what they do in a way that the children can keep track. I will also have to observe how and if the children are able to think about what tools will fit their work. I might have to guide them to help them understand why certain tools are best for different purposes.

This project will stretch my pedagogy because I will be giving the students more choice on what they best learning tool is for their experience. While I will have some input, my intention is to let the class chose and then at the end reflect on if the tool allowed them to create what they wanted to. Next year’s students will stretch their thinking to meet my expectations that they understand these tools and organize/understand them in a way that they can apply their knowledge of how they work to which tool will be best for each circumstance. I am concerned about this project because it requires my future students to listen and discuss the pros and cons of apps without much practice on having conversations. I think this will be a good possibility for my final project because I am about 50% as likely to consider it a failure and go back to they way I have done things before. This is important because I will learn more about how I like integrating technology into my class and how students at my school respond to different methods of that integration. That might be of interest to others thinking about their practices.

Another idea that I have is to create a unit on digital citizenship and how to implement using creative commons in an early grades classroom. There is a new push for focusing on digital citizenship at our school and I feel like that is something that needs to be addressed everywhere. I sometimes let these kids slide because they are so young, but I know that the best practice is to teach them young, so they don’t have to relearn what they could have done in the first place. The children have encountered this topic a bit in first grade, but I believe that a lot of the information would be new to them and they would be applying it in different ways.

This year I only mentioned digital citizenship in our community building discussions. I would like to integrate digital citizenship into the bigger picture of citizenship. While my school is thinking about creating rules and consequences for each tech offense, I would like to have more discussions and teach about how being a good digital citizen is about having integrity, honesty and kindness. The students at my school are great at following the rules, but they can be unkind to each other at times, so I am hoping they can stretch to develop these character traits inside and outside the classroom. At my old school, we had concepts for each grade that all teachers would work at developing. I didn’t have any overall concepts in my class this year, but I think if I can focus on those three qualities (integrity, honesty and kindness) the students and I will start to create a change in our school.

I get it! (A Little Late to the Badge Game…)

As an avid Foursquare user, I have been collecting badges for the restaurants and parks I have been visiting for years.

Tabitha's Badges

Tabitha’s Badges

I love getting an update like “1 more restaurant until you reach Bento Level 8.” I also like to accumulate points for going places and look to see if maybe, possibly I’m beating my friend @karenblumberg. I am competitive with this to the point that @dorakio has Foursquare on his phone just in case I forget my phone and because he is so kind.


I just didn’t understand how badges really related to education in an authentic way. I read through the ideas about badges in our readings just the other day. It made me wonder again about what people see in the badges. Today, some Ed Techs and a few teachers in Seoul met to have a mini-unconference with Jeff Utecht.

 Some Rights Reserved by Lazlo Ilyes

Some Rights Reserved by Lazlo Ilyes

I finally had a mental breakthrough.

Digital badges can be the digital girl scout vests of the future. They can be given based on accomplishments/learning outcome/skill in the classroom that proves they have mastered an area. There might be several chances to earn different badges in one unit of study. The badges can add up to another level.

I think children can be turned away with a bit of guidance if they haven’t accomplished the task properly saying that they can try again at another time. It could be a really good way to keep track of what you need to review further with certain students. It also helps them accomplish and proceed at their own pace if you have designed a unit that is a bit modular and student driven.

One school was talking about creating digital badges for teachers to put on their webpages as proof of going to Tech PD. They could reach new levels of Tech savviness through collecting badges. They were even considering giving prizes to people that have the most badges.

Do you use any kind of digital badge at your school? If so, where do you display them? What makes it a desirable game to play into?


Incorporating Play

 Some Rights Reserved

Some Rights Reserved

A few weeks ago I shared this article with my faculty. It has some great insight on why play is essential for learning and development. Please read it if you have time.

I think that play is really important. I feel lucky that my students get to go outside for recess two times every day because I know there is a lot of learning happening in their play. Some of that learning is social and some leads to academic discoveries, but in the end I think it’s all about relationships and problem solving.

Every Friday, my second grade class has an academic choice time. I struggle with my ideas about this time: Should I make it more structured? Should I only give them this time every other week? Is it a waste of time to let them spend 30-40 minutes drawing comics,  playing coding games, Scribblenaut, legos, and other things?


I don’t think so.

What I see during this time is teamwork. Students working together to solve problems and come up with solutions.

Students showcasing their expertise in different areas. Students that are not always leading the class in traditional subjects leading others and teaching them how to accomplish a task.

I see creativity and tenacity when facing challenges. They don’t stop and say “I can’t do it!” They try again and use different methods and strategies.

I see happy students who are invested in their learning/play.

Maybe I should be struggling with how I can make the rest of their learning more like these experiences on Friday afternoons.


Where do my Ideas about Publishing for Writer’s Workshop fit into the SAMR Framework? Part Two

 Some Rights Reserved

Some Rights Reserved

In my last post, I introduced some of my basic ideas about integrating technology into Writer’s Workshop. Now, my goal is to hash out some of my thinking about where different kinds of publishing or products lie within the SAMR framework.


Here are the phases in the SAMR Framework:






One basic way to publish writing with an iPad is to take pictures of the final piece and record the author reading his or her work. Some useful apps for this are: StoryRobe and Sonic Pics (@sonicpics).





Where does it fit in the SAMR framework?

At first, thinking about the task of publishing by recording and taking pictures, substitution comes to mind. However, the tool for writing wasn’t altered. It was still a pen and paper activity. So, I think you have to think about the experience of sharing the published work. Originally, readers would be able to read and written work and see the pictures if they were in physical proximity. Recording and photographing the work allows the piece to be shared online. Then, the experience becomes one where the published piece can be accessed anywhere. I think it fits into SAMR somewhere around Substitution and Augmentation because it doesn’t really change the task, but it does enhance the ability to share and have additional interactions with the work based on the expanded audience.


Creating eBooks as the final product

Currently, my class is working on publishing nonfiction books. They chose their topics based on what they already knew a little about and were interested in finding out more. They wrote and researched both on paper and using an app called Notability. When they were ready to write their final draft, we explored Book Creator and they begin to publish.



As they are publishing, if they have a feature they would like to incorporate into their eBook, they write it on a poster we have in class. When someone (myself or a student) figures out how to do that, we meet on the carpet to share to people that are interested in incorporating that element. It has been really cool to see how they are choosing to make their books include elements like pictures in a different way. With Book Creator, they have the option of drawing a picture, taking a picture of something they have drawn and searching for images online. The children get to decide which kind of picture best fits in each location. They can create videos and embed them into their books for others to see.

We have been using many apps to supplement the features of Book Creator.


PicCollage to organize our photos and add cool word art where we need it.



Strip Designer to create comics for their books.


I think that the process of creating and publishing non-fiction books has really been redefined through the use of Book Creator and  the integration of the other apps. Students are able to create and use different kinds of understanding and showcase how they like to learn through several modes. Students are becoming the experts in our classroom when they teach us about the apps we are using and solve problems that are authentic. Students also have a new audience in the iBook store.

It has been a great experience that we are currently still working on. Students are coming in talking about the books they are making at home and have been inspired by how easy it is to share their writing with others. I am excited because I am teaching an interactive publishing afterschool class starting Thursday to the K-2 students at SIS. I have the opportunity to keep exploring and learning with a new set of students.




Where do my Ideas about Publishing for Writer’s Workshop fit into the SAMR Framework? An Introduction…

 Some Rights Reserved

Some Rights Reserved

I went to Teacher’s College so I could study under Lucy Calkins. I was young and just out of undergrad when I began. After leaving the program to go to library school, I was fortunate to be hired at The School at Columbia University, which is an amazing school. In addition to being able to work with all the brilliant thinkers at The School, another perk is free tuition at Columbia. So, I was able to continue my Literacy Specialist Masters.

Something interesting about my courses there is that everything remained the same pre and post iPad and seemed to be without acknowledgement of  laptops as well. Of course, that could be because they were trying to appeal to all schools despite their technological assets. Could be…

The School didn’t follow TCRW religiously and has a mission to integrate technology into learning, so over the last five years I saw many great ideas discussed and used in the classroom showing how writing can be integrated even into our youngest learners’ writing.

As influenced by The School at Columbia, TCRW and my PLN,

Here are some ideas I have (especially for K-2):

Start on paper. 

  •   Even if your end goal is having typed or recorded work, let the students write draft after draft and piece after piece on paper. This is what they feel comfortable doing and my guess is that you have set your routines by writing on paper.

Have a time of exploration.

  • Before giving your students an assignment to use an app in a certain way, let them explore it to see what they can figure out. Allow them to share what they noticed. Try to remember who figured things out so they can teach others how to do it.

It’s okay to use tech instruction as your writing mini-lesson.

  • One of my mini-lessons this past week was how to create an interactive glossary in Book Creator.

Students don’t have to have a digital version of every piece they publish.

  • There is value in their writing above all.
  • However, if you want them to have access to it for a long time, digital is something to consider.

Creating space for students to share with an audience gives them a Voice.

  • I think an audience begins with their peers and families.
  • Creating ways to share with classes in other schools gives students a new audience, new risks, and adds value for the students.


Revision can be FUN.

 Some rights reserved by tanakawho

Some rights reserved by tanakawho


Akio and I finished revising our final project/presentation for @korcos today.  I am so happy to be done! I am also really happy with the changes that we made. I hope that we improved our presentation with the changes that we made rather than created a distraction from our message.

The two big changes that we made were to remove quotes that we are using to connect our presentation to the research behind why we are doing it and to change the background to a plain black screen. I think that the simplicity of the blank screen improves the overall feel.Then, we changed the quotes into visual representations. Most of them are images, but one slide is composed of  text. It started as this quote, “Learning mathematics for understanding is fundamentally a different task than memorizing procedures and was modified to become this slide:  Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.39.40 PM.  We will read the quotes and use a handout to allow the attendees to see them. We decided to use the space on the paper efficiently, so we also included the apps we were sharing and a QR code to our presentation. While finding images that represented the parts of the quotations that we wanted was challenging, the effect was better and I feel satisfied by the process.

I highly recommend reading this book: makingthinkingvisible

Their research and ideas are well-written and enjoyable to read. It also gives you a lot of insight into learning.