COETAIL Final Project – Persuasive Speech with Amazing Audiovisuals

I am very happy to have been involved in helping design a new unit for our  Grade 10 English course, on Persuasive Presentation. This would not have happened without the quest for this COETAIL final project.

Collaboration

I wanted to work directly with students, and for the entire cycle of a new project, or have the opportunity to help remodel an existing one. As a Middle and High School Teacher-Librarian, the best option was therefore to collaborate with some classroom teachers.  You can read in this previous post how I ended up working closely with the three grade 10 English teachers, for a total of seven classes, populated with 124 students! (a little crazy I know)
As those teachers are redesigning the grade 10 curriculum this year, it was a perfect moment to build a new collaboration.

After our first meeting on February 23rd (see picture), we shared a Google Docs, adding information about the next steps and checking with each other by assigning tasks to a colleague: it is a very efficient way to work together and to make sure everyone read the new information. We were still in hybrid teaching mode at the time, and therefore some of my colleagues would sometimes be working from home. We also had impromptu quick meetings when we needed to clarify something about the organization: luckily our office spaces, although in different buildings,  are on the same connecting floor, which was very handy.

Persuasive Speech: The Spoken Word and the Power of Persuasion

We want our students, adults of tomorrow, to master the art of persuasion, as those skills will allow them to express themselves, and to step up to make the world a better place. More than ever, when considering all the pressing issues our society is facing, being articulate and able to convince others to take action is critical to bring positive changes in our communities, for example for fighting for social justice for example, or for promoting sustainability of the environment.

Students were invited to brainstorm and then to each choose a topic that they care about. They could use a question they recently addressed in their “Change and Challenge of the 21st Century” course or something else they were already knowledgable of. This unit was not about research skills this time, which was a change for me, who spend a substantial portion of my time teaching that part of an inquiry cycle!

Essentials Questions of Inquiry

  1. What language techniques do speakers use to persuade their target audience? 
  2. What role does non-verbal communication play in delivering a message effectively?
  3. How can audiovisual elements be effectively used to support the purpose of a speech?
  4. How can one self-assess their strengths and weaknesses as a speaker in order to improve the final product?

Unit Plan – Understanding by Design

Find here the Understanding by Design (UbD) document drafted for this project. It might be subject to revision with the input from the English Department when we will update this unit next year.

Project Details

ISTE Standards

Here are the ISTE Standards for students I was going to focus on:

6. Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

6.c. Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
6.d. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

7. Global Collaborators: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

7.b. Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
7.d. Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.

My COETAIL Final Project Video

Introducing the Project

The project was introduced by the English teachers during the week of March 15, which was a 3-days week,  due to Learning Conferences. The students were on Distance Learning those days due to the Hybrid teaching schedule still in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I attended all the classes on Zoom as I wanted to introduce myself and explain to students how I was going to be involved in this project with them.

Creating Amazing Audiovisuals and Using Tech Tools

I won’t be describing the entire project: obviously, the English teachers were responsible for their course content. I will concentrate on the “Amazing Audiovisuals” presentation that I created, the tech tools involved, the Google Form I designed to help students clarify their presentation aids’ choices. I will also explain why I implemented a self and peer-review of the practice speech they recorded either at home or at school with my help.

You can see at the beginning of my Google Slides below about “Amazing Audiovisuals” that I transformed my actual content (slides 2 & 4) into visually more interesting slides (3 & 5) to explain better to students how they should apply Garr Reynolds “Presentation Zen” concept. It was then followed by some examples. My own knowledge is based on the COETAIL course 3: “Visual Literacy: Effective Collaborators and Communicators”.

Besides urging students to apply those concepts and always tending towards simplicity in their presentation, I also shared some nice tools with them, like Slides Carnival, free Google Slides themes, searchable by category.

I also taught them how to find Copyright-free images by:
– selecting Creative Commons licenses
– using Unsplash or Pixabay
– taking their own pictures
And then how they can look for free music online, to use in any project, including this one.

All those tips are very important as students need to be aware of the ethical use of information, especially that they don’t always realize that it includes pictures and music that are easily found online, but not always copyright-free.
Of course, I reminded them to create a bibliography in Noodle Tools, which is the citation creator we use at our school.

At the end of the class, I asked students to fill in the Google Form “Amazing Audiovisuals” I designed to help them clarify their presentation aids’ choices. It also allowed me to gather details on their topic, and check if they needed help at that stage.

During the following week, I made sure to attend each class to offer help to students about their presentation. It was also a chance for me to get to know students better, as they explained their topic to me and why they chose it. It felt like a treat compared to the months spent teaching from behind a computer screen.
It was a great opportunity to give individualized support to each student: sometimes I was helping them to clarify their topic, guiding them to select the best visuals to build an effective presentation.

Nota Bene: in my original plans, I was going to offer a “Master Class” for students interested in creating their own audiovisual to be incorporated in their Slides presentation: short podcast, video, news-like presentation using our Creative Studio and its green screen room. Due to another lockdown in Belgium before the Easter holidays, we went back on Distance Learning, which, very sadly, made those plans impossible. I am looking forward to implementing this optional workshop next year! Who knows, it might even become part of the project for everyone at some point.

Recording the Practice Speech

Some student chose to record their practice speech at the library. I was, therefore, able to offer them a  practice set up in very similar conditions to their final presentation.

   

Students Collaboration

Nor the practice speech (obviously!) nor the final one were being assessed. The content of the speech itself will not be graded either. This decision was made to offer maximum freedom to the student: they could take risks, be creative, and really push themselves to enjoy their topic and make others passionate about it.
Therefore it was even more interesting to create a document for students to complete self and peer assessments for formative feedback. Summatively, they will be graded on a craft report in which they analyze their choices afterwards. They would be able to refer back to that document when finalizing their craft report about the decisions made and their motivations.

Students shared with 3 to 4 classmates their practice speech recording as well as the “Practice Presentation” feedback form I created. They were asked to give constructive feedback on the themes addressed in class to make a successful speech: tone, eye contact, gestures, audiovisual, engagement,…  rather than spotting small mistakes. Then they had to repeat the process on their own presentation for a self-evaluation. Here is, as an example,  Michael’s feedback form, filled in by three of his classmates, alongside his self-assessment.

Final Presentations

I thoroughly and truly enjoyed every step of this project. Obviously attending the final presentations was the highlight of it all! Students did an exceptional job with this project: they were involved, often passionate about their topic, they were making a conscient use of tone and gestures to engage with their audience,  and they created wonderful and powerful visual aids.

My only regret: I could not see all 124 speeches: two classes are scheduled during the same block (but I did run between both to see some students from each group), and two classes fell behind the original schedule, and by the time they started their presentations, my own schedule had filled up and I had to move on to working on other projects both in Middle school and in High school.

   

Challenges and Successes

When I first approached one of the English teachers to see if we could collaborate to implement a project on Social Justice, I thought it would mean working with her two grade 10 classes. Although enthusiastic about the idea, she quickly came to realize that she could not deviate too much from the other classes’ program, especially as her two colleagues and herself were in the process of rewriting the English curriculum this year. This is how I ended up working with all seven classes, or in other words, with 124 students.
One of the challenges encountered was the lack of schedule flexibility: unlike a classroom teacher, I needed to work with their planning. Secondly, working closely with so many students for a few weeks, on top of my other professional commitments, was a challenge.
It brought some frustration, at times. for example when I realized I couldn’t be involved in every speech being delivered (and I so much wanted that!).
At the beginning of the project, students in High School were still in hybrid teaching mode, at that point it meant alternating one full day on campus followed by one day at home with classes on Zoom. Unfortunately, due to a new lockdown, we went back to full Distance Learning before our Spring break in mid-April. Like so many of us since February 2020, I adapted my presentation but had to drop the “master class” workshops during which students were going to produce their own audiovisuals in our Creativity Studio.

In the end, I feel that this project brought a lot of learning opportunities for everyone, great collaboration moments, between colleagues but also between students, and it gave me the chance to teach students a different content than what I am used to as a Middle & High School Teacher-Librarian while building relationships with a lot of them. And that is precious. Learning happens better when there are relationships involved. I was really touched by how all students agreed to be filmed, and let me take pictures. Quite a few of them (and I am so sad I had to only select three) came to the library for a feedback interview, during their own time, “to help Mme Toilier with her own project”! <3

Final Words

Being part of this whole process was a great experience for me: it gave me the chance to “Be Alive in the Classroom” which is after all the COETAIL course 5 title and to apply some of the knowledge acquired in the last 16 months. Most importantly, I enjoyed working on redesigning a unit from the start and building a new collaboration that will continue.

COETAIL has impacted my practice as I am now fully aware of what new pedagogies look like concretely, and it allowed me to catch up with everything that is already happening in my own school. It also showed me how essential it is to keep learning and to stay connected with other educators.

Finally, I treasure all the relationships I built or developed thanks to this  COETAIL project: with those grade 10 students, with their English teachers Jess, Paul and Brian, with my COETAIL coach, Joel Bevans, and with Luis, and many other COETAIL-ers from our Cohort 12. My colleague and friend Charlotte helped me in many ways. And my family simply made that entire 16 months COETAIL journey possible. Thanks.

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A village and the whole world

Although there is a lot of debate (see NPR article here) on the precise origin of the claimed “African” proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child“,  it might originate from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb ‘Oran a azu nwa’, which means it takes a community or village to raise a child (Wikipedia).

The past fifteen months proved to me that it indeed takes a community to help you grow.

Fifteen months ago, in February 2020 is indeed when I started my COETAIL journey. I was not quite sure where I was heading to, nor what the program involved.
The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (COETAIL) was designed by international educators and consultants Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino to encourage other educators to learn and reflect on their teaching, pedagogy, and to implement true technology integration.  By essence, it also fosters global collaboration, and help participants to develop their PLN.

It is also a rather intense program, that forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and I won’t lie: it was painful at times. The aggravating factor was the start of the pandemic a few weeks later.
But the takeaways are huge: not only it broadened the scope of my knowledge, but it also challenged me to (re)evaluate my practices, both from the pedagogical point of view but also in terms of true and meaningful technology integration.

But the biggest learnings are definitely linked to the continuous exchanges with other educators: the program is constructed on a Cohort model, guided by a Coach (himself a former COETEIL-er obviously) and based on collaboration and exchange among participants, and… the rest of the world thanks to social media such as Twitter.

It was great to get to learn about my #Cohort12 members, who they are, where they teach and where they are from, what are they teaching style and what they tried and tested during the past 15 months. What I valued most were the direct exchanges, either through a blog post comment that they would leave me (see below, with my answer), or that I will write for them.

But there was also some direct conversation when we started to use Twitter private messages, at first mainly to get organized our group work for the Course 2 Final Project.

A the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, I also joined different educator focus groups on Facebook. For example “The Playful Librarian” (now renamed The Hands-on Hive), a place for “library workers and educators to share ideas for play-based learning”. Or Int’l School Library Connection, a group “for educators, particularly school librarians and others who have an interest in School Libraries from all over the globe”.
Keeping in mind all the COETAIL encouragement for collaboration, I started to interact, asking questions or trying to help when I could answer (but didn’t always think to keep evidence).

I joined Twitter at the beginning of the COETAIL program. Until then, I was only using my MHS Library account, posting about some of our events or projects with students. The targeted audience was mainly our own school community.
To be frank, I haven’t been an active Twitter community member (yet?), and I am still too much of a lurker as explained in one of my very first blog posts “To lurk or not to lurk?” published in February 2020.

I would explain this by the following:
– strangely enough, I have issues exposing myself on social media; put me in a room with a small or larger group, and I won’t have difficulties approaching different people even if I don’t know them, talking and mingling.
what is my validity? There are plenty of people “out there” that are more knowledgeable, and have a voice. I don’t believe my contributions can be meaningful enough to share them.
As an example, when co-#Cohort12  Cindy recently asked a question on Twitter, as I was about to write, I saw that she already got exactly the same answer (so what’s the point in posting the same answer?). This time I forced myself to reply anyway!

But as I was reading #Cohort12 Julija‘s blog post on her own Community Engagement reflection, I found it

Last month Luis organized a #Cohort12 video call with some of us that saw his message and were available to join, depending on our schedules and our time zone as we are spread across the globe. It happened so fast that Luis didn’t have time to prepare an agenda he said, but it was a very natural conversation, as we talked about our jobs, our own, yet shared COETAIL journey, and our final project. It felt great to feel part of the same community.

 

The COETAIL journey? It is definitely a trip worth taking… and the whole world is now my village. Thank you to all my co-COETAIL-ers that have inspired and encouraged me. Thanks to our Coach Joel for his support.

Audiovisuals and Apples

Audiovisual Elements during a Speech

Visual or audiovisual elements during a presentation can help as attention-grabbers, evidence, examples. Thanks to them, you can enhance your research and keep the audience engaged. Of course, they need to be carefully chosen and come naturally in your presentation.
Audiences who use more of their senses to engage during a presentation remember better the message, and for a longer period of time.

To help our grade 10 English students to achieve that goal during their new unit on “Persuasive Speech”, I used some of my COETAIL course 3 content,  as the purpose was related to “Visual Literacy: Effective Collaborators and Communicators”.

We planned my input on the following areas:

  1. help students to first understand what efficient audiovisual aids are and how to create effective Google Slides with those elements
  2. teach students how to use our Creativity Studio and its equipment, to create their own audiovisual support
  3. provide tech support during the entire process
  4. design online feedback forms for students to receive meaningful comments from their classmates after the practice speech

In The 7 Best Visual Presentation Tips You Will Ever Read we can find some interesting reminders on what a visual presentation should look like.
Of course, my main focus will be on Garr Reynolds’ What is Good Presentation. His Presentation Zen concept (and name of his website) is one of the “bible” in the domain. Without a doubt, I will reinforce his message to the students: “Simplicity is the key”!

Religions and babies – Hans Rosling (TEDTalk – 22 May 2012)

Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others — and how does this affect global population growth?
Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions.

Ten years later, this presentation is still considered a reference for how Rosling uses visuals to get his audience to easily understand complex data, with a pinch of humour. If you don’t know it, I encourage you to spend 13 minutes of your life watching the video: it is worth it!
It is also a great example of using great online animation AND physical props with the same purpose: to help his audience understand more complex data and concepts.

Going for the Apple

We are a 1:1 school, and our laptop hardware lease for Middle and High school was expiring in June 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required to delay that process one more year.

Luckily our IT department started the process early enough before the pandemic hit us and kept us at home last Spring: they researched and tested several different models, gathering input from faculty and students in the process. Arts and Performing Arts teachers note that Macs have significantly more creative capability for learning. Additionally, faculty who work across divisions have expressed a desire for a single platform: as I mentioned in a previous post, the Early Childhood Center (Preschool to grade 1) and the Elementary school (grade 2 to 6) have indeed already been using iPads and Macbooks for a few years. It is a rather unique situation, I believe, to have different platforms at one school. Did you ever come across such a model?
It makes sense to adopt a common one that will enable the tech team to better support the single hardware, and it will facilitate a school-wide professional development plan. It also addresses a need noted in our last CIS Accreditation report.

While students will receive the new MacBook Pro at the beginning of next school year, to ease the transition for teachers, those will receive theirs after the Easter break, mid-April. The idea is to give them time to work with the new MacBook Pro while still using their Lenovo during this school year in order to become familiar with the new laptop. It was decided that the library team will get trained ahead of colleagues, to be able to help the IT team support the faculty and staff (yes I know!). We soon created a Google website where we could share tutorials and our own “exercises” (for example, recording a podcast). I did not choose the name: Mac Vanguard. I would not have dared.

It also includes the tutorial below that my colleague found, and linked to Eeyore‘s picture “Be Brave“… as it reflected how we felt we needed to be at that moment.

Indeed, it felt scary at first to change years of practice and habits using our laptops.
I was lucky enough to receive three nearly individual & professional Apple training sessions with Joe Moretti, who was first presented to me as “an Apple Guru”… which alarmed me more than anything else. Gurus don’t have the reputation of being great teachers I thought.
I was wrong. At least when it comes to Joe! All teachers in the world should be as knowledgeable on their topic as he on his while adapting their expertise to your level of learning. And doing that with empathy. On his site Intuition, you can read: “Using technology to facilitate and enhance learning” which particularly resonates with the COETAIL program!

Our Technology Integration Teacher from the ECC / ES divisions, by default our Apple specialist on campus, just sent us the link to a library of videos to support faculty and staff further learning: “Mac Basics by Apple Professional Learning Specialists”.
How does your own tech support look like in your school?

Obviously, I am still learning to get used to the Apple environment… If you have any tips or other tutorials that could help, don’t hesitate to send them my way!

The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is part of the communications process and persuasion skills refer to:  “the talent of changing the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviours of a person or group towards another person, group, event, object, or idea. It is usually done by conveying, in a message, some feelings, information, reasoning, or a combination” (Source: Cleverism).

Mastering those skills are essential for success in every stage of life and are, therefore, one of the most important assets that students can develop. More than ever, when considering all the pressing issues our society is facing, the art of persuasion becomes the ultimate skill for bringing about any positive changes, for example in ecology, or social justice…

Colleagues AND collaborators

In the past year, I had a few chats with Matt, our HS English Department Head, about my COETAIL journey. He is indeed a former COETAIL-er, information that I found out thanks to his final project video seen online! This is why I naturally approached him when it was time to think about what my own final project would be. He was very open to the idea of building a collaboration that would work for me. But as he currently teaches IB English in grade 11 and 12, we quickly decided that it wasn’t the best fit to implement something new in the Spring.
As I was still considering designing a project within the Social Justice theme, I was about to contact the English 10 teachers, and more specifically Jess. As I explained in Course 5 – The Beginning of the End, the next morning, she walked into the library, which these days, with all the building access restrictions for safety reasons in a pandemic year,  was not something usual.
You might call it a coincidence or one could say that the stars aligned for me… But what I certainly didn’t expect when I started to tell her about my course and its final project, was her reply: she is herself a former COETAIL-er too!
Frankly, that was such a relief for me that she knew the program and exactly what I was looking for in terms of collaboration!

As the three colleagues teaching grade 10 are redesigning the curriculum this year, working with those English classes seemed a great opportunity: there was room for implementing something new (and for me!). For Jess to stay with the common program, it was finally decided that instead of working with her two classes only, I could work with all seven (!).
Another change was the theme to work on: the English team already decided on their next unit, as they have to cover some pre-defined content through the school year, and it was: Persuasive Speech. As I will explain later, students would be free to find a topic of interest and could even use the content of their recent unit on Social Equity from the Change and Challenges in the 21st Century course. At that point, no lesson plan had been crafted yet.


During our first meeting on February 25th (see picture above), once my colleagues explained to me which skills they were looking for their students to develop, we brainstormed on how my contribution could bring an added value to the students final presentations.

How to Organize a Persuasive Speech or Presentation – by Alex Lyon

A persuasive presentation is similar to an informative one but with a big difference in the desired outcome:  you are actually trying to convince listeners to change their minds or behaviours as the result of your persuasive speech.

One of the major aspects of a successful presentation is the appropriate use of voice, gestures, and posture.

Depending on their age, students might first need to realize that speaking in a clear and audible voice is critical. They indeed tend to deliver a presentation in their normal speaking voice, or sometimes even in a softer one if they are intimidated, making it difficult for classmates in the back of the room to hear what is being said. No need to add that, in the current pandemic situation, doing this with a mask on will add another layer of challenge.
Avoiding a monotonous tone is important too, especially in a persuasive speech.

The Youtube video below on “Why students should have mental health days” is a great example of a great persuasive presentation in which Hailey Hardcastle applies well different techniques to keep her audience engaged.

Adopting appropriate posture and gestures are necessary to keep the audience focused and attentive. Besides, actively participating in their own presentation will help the presenter keep the nervous fidgeting under control. Common gestures during a speech or oral presentation include listing numbered points with the fingers, using a solid fist to show intensity, or showing an open palm to build trust.

Obviously, the English teachers were going to teach the content: my role was to bring to the table different elements to broaden the students’ experience when delivering their persuasive speech. Referring back to my COETAIL course 3, “Visual Literacy: Effective Collaborators and Communicators”, I could definitely help students to first understand what efficient audiovisual aids are, and how technology might indeed enhance their presentations. Secondly, I will provide some tech support during the entire process.
As Amelia Harper explains in The benefits of collaborating with school librarians, school libraries are “increasingly being converted into learning commons, where learning takes place on a level not imaginable a few decades ago. […] Teachers can collaborate on the development of teaching modules.”

And I don’t have to mention again that collaboration is part of the COETAIL course DNA, do I?

Before ending this post, I will share another “sign” that was actually sitting next to my desk, on the brand new books cart: a couple of months ago, as I was putting together a book order for our library, I added the following title, thinking that our students could use it:

At the time I had no idea that the English 10 would be working on this topic, and even less that I would be reading that book to understand better my COETAIL course Final Project topic!

What is your best advice to students starting to prepare such a presentation? What should they pay more attention to in order to deliver a great persuasive speech?
As an educator, one can say (or at least hope!) that you are – or have become – an expert presenter, right? How did you grow in this role? What helped you most? And as a tech specialist, what are the tools you would recommend for students?

 

 

 

 

 

On coaching and on being a specialized teacher

As we entered the final part of the COETAIL course and started to dive into a full experience of implementing or redesigning a unit of our choice, to be taught at our school,  I  was skimming through some of the Eduro Learning publications, and quickly came up with a topic of interest: I have been meaning to find out more about a coach’s role.  Finding out on my own first might take away the apprehension to contact our own team of coaches (I know, I know! I am being honest here…).
Actually, some of my Cohort 12 COETAIL-ers have that role in their respective schools, or will next year, and it further prompted my curiosity.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

What is an Instructional Coach?

The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching defines an instructional coach as “someone whose chief professional responsibility is to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms by working with teachers and other school leaders.” Coaches are often experienced educators who have moved away from full-time teaching to work directly with other teachers and help them improve their practice. Sometimes, they are still teaching in the classroom part-time, or hold an administrative position.

Why Should Teachers Work with Coaches

In this short video which, like the others in this series produced by Eduro Learning, is less than 5 minutes long, educator, Technology & Learning Coach & librarian @nzchrissy explains what are the three main benefits for teachers to work with coaches:

  1. make your teaching better
  2. get support
  3. be exposed to a different perspective.

The proven bonus of working with a coach is to shorten the learning curve inherent to absorbing new knowledge. And that is especially true in the technology domain: the coach can help you find a solution for your specific need, or help you understand how to directly use new tech tools.

I remember those former training sessions aimed at all staff, which seems logical until the moment you find yourself alone in front of your PC screen and unable to replicate the steps, with no one to ask for help. I believe instructional coaching is a tremendous addition when schools embed professional learning opportunities into the day-to-day work of teachers. Coaches can directly support the development of specific teacher knowledge, skills, and motivation while fostering collaboration.

“Coaching is an essential component of an effective professional development program” explains Elena Aguilar in How Coaching Can Impact Teachers, Principals, and Students, adding that a “coach can foster conditions in which deep reflection and learning can take place, where a teacher can take risks to change her practise, where powerful conversations can take place and where growth is recognized and celebrated”.

Copyright Luis Carlos Moreno (ISP)

As another Cohort 12 COETAIL-er, Luis Carlos Moreno, aka Mr Luis Teach, published in a recent blog post, titled Coaching à la Carte, the list of what coaches can help with and came up with a rather long list!

With his team, he then organized all those detailed options into a structured program “à la carte” (choose your favourite from the menu).
Finally, he turned it into an easily readable infographic (see right) that can now be found on their school website (see more information in Luis Carlos next blog post: Taking Coaching Online). I am quite confident that it will help promote what coaches can bring to colleagues in the classrooms!

 

Indeed, it helped me realized that I could myself approach a coach for a specific (smaller) question, or for support request, and not only for developing an entire coaching program.

The past year, the COVID 19 pandemic and its consequences modified all our landmarks and forced us to adapt our practices. In Virtual Coaching Takes Off, American literacy coach Kimberly Blumke explain that coaching online is at the core of instructional coaching, as the entire process becomes more efficient and effective.
Despite so many difficult situations, we were forced to innovate and quickly learn how to use new tech tools for Distance Learning, and I am sure that we will keep some practices implemented during the past year. Working with coaches online, or having learn to value the help coaches bring to us might be one of them.

Through some other readings I also understood that even if you are not a coach in the title, as a specialized teacher, you are probably having coaching conversations – with your colleagues, parents of your students, maybe even your students!

As a school teacher-librarian, our roles are surely diversified (and I love it!), and as we can’t always teach all classes of every subject in each grade, the best option is to model some classes with teachers who can then deliver the content to their students, or help with the follow-up.
For example, I used to spend a lot of time teaching academic honesty along with how to create bibliographies and citations. I still do, but whenever possible, I try to involve middle and high school teachers by transferring at least part of this knowledge to them: after all, I will only be in their class occasionally while they can help their students who have questions afterwards.

At some point, we also wanted to help parents experience what their kids get familiar with at school. Therefore both library teams organized workshops for Early Childhood Center and Elementary schools parents. We could say that we played the role of a coach during those technology workshop sessions.
It was a success and everyone enjoyed those fun mornings.
We will plan some more as soon as parents are allowed on campus again!

 

Although there have been tech integrators at my school for quite a while, it was always a part-time divisional role added to another teaching assignment. In  2019-2020, the first full time and cross-divisional middle and high school Tech Integrator was hired with the following official title: Media Resource & Tech Integration Teacher. Obviously, it was a blessing when we started to prepare for a then “possible” lockdown, in February 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic (if only we knew that we even went back for a short time on Distance Learning earlier this month, in April 2021!!).
For information, our Head Librarian’s title is Head of Digital Media and Libraries. But another great decision was to combine the Tech and Libray teams in the same space: everyone has their own area of expertise but we are working towards the same goal in term of promoting the integration of technology. While we continue to encourage reading, the library’s role is also evolving to become a Technology Hub: not only do we have a Creativity studio with a green screen, and other sound or image recording, but also have 3D printers that students can use for projects outside specific classes, iPads, a GoPro, etc. Although we couldn’t run some activities or clubs this school year (here again, the pandemic is to blame), the library has become in the past few years a busy place, replacing its image of a quiet reference room with dusty books with a more modern one, involving lots of cool tech tools, bookbowl quizzes… and nice smiling librarians 😉  (I hope so!)

Coach.Better: Ep 6: We’re All on the Same Team: A Librarians Perspective with Philip Williams

Finally, coming back to the Eduro Learning material, I watched this “Coach Better” episode, featuring a discussion between Kim CofinoClint Hamada and Philip Williams, Head Librarian at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. As a librarian at NIST, Philip is part of the coaching team, so this episode in particular highlights the overlaps of how a modern librarian fits into a culture of coaching at a school. Philip shares lots of great examples of how, even in schools without a coaching team, a librarian can be a stepping stone into building that coaching culture – with librarians as an information literacy coach.

And what about you? Did you ever work with a coach? How would you describe the experience?  What about your school library?

Course 5 – The Beginning of the End

We all have heard the phrase “The beginning of the End” and have most probably used it before. The question is: did you mean “the point where something starts to get gradually worse until it fails or ends completely”  (Cambridge Dictionary)? Or was your intent more neutral, such as: “the start of a series of events that leads to the end” (Merriam-Webster)? Interesting to compare both definitions, isn’t it?
And what if we wanted to use it in a positive sense: being happy to see the end start, as it will inaugurate new chapters afterwards? 

This is how it felt, a few weeks ago, when I started the last stretch of my COETAIL journey. Indeed, Course 5 is all about implementing what we have learned in the past 12 months in concrete ways, in our own professional environment. Therefore it is definitely the beginning of new professional practices and projects. It will be the end that brings a new beginning.

Photo by Csaba Talaber on Unsplash

While I considered different options for this final COETAIL work and wrote about them in this Course 4 blog post, as it quite often happens, it finally took a completely different path. For various reasons: this idea might not have met all the final project criteria, or the timing for teaching this other one wasn’t going to be right. Or it would have required working with too many people, including the administration, within a very tight planning frame if I wanted to address all grades in the Middle School for example. 

Or maybe another collaboration was meant to be? You know, this moment when you think of someone and BAM!: that colleague enters your library at that precise moment. And furthermore, when you explain your project and mention COETAIL: BAM! again, as I had no clue this new colleague would know precisely what I was talking about, being a (former) COETAIL-er herself!
It appeared quickly that Grade 10 English classes were the best group to work with, as this year their curriculum is being re-designed, unit per unit, as things progress… Meaning opportunities for me to collaborate with those classes! <3
#everythingfallsinplace (details will follow!)

I tried to hold on to the Social Justice theme, but for some of the above reasons, it didn’t work out.  Luckily there are a lot of initiatives taken at the school in the past year, either campus-wide, either specific ones in each division. It also includes some follow up work based on our two Professional Development sessions with Cornelius Minor.
Here are some examples geared towards faculty and staff, and actually often initiated by colleagues:

  • Anti-Racism Next Steps survey
  • Opportunity to join different discussion/planning groups
  • Diversity Equity and Inclusion Newsletter and website
  • Professional Development opportunities;  for example joining:  “Designing an Inclusive Curriculum Within International Schools.
  • And a few others…

Both libraries are also in the process of analysing their collections through the lens of diversity, focusing on the story but also on the author’ origin. We know we have always paid attention to add on our shelves books that include differences in gender, sexuality, ethnicity or culture, religion or spirituality, family, socioeconomic level, in short everything that make us unique, yet part of a whole.
But we are now investigating if we can cross-reference our students’ country of origin with those data from the books. The purpose is to check that all our students are represented in the books found at their school libraries.

What about your school?
What is put in place for helping educators and staff raise awareness about
social justice and diversity in meaningful ways?
And personally, where are you on that road? 

When I recently came across this article, it also made me think about some aspects of education in international schools, that might not always give a true “international” exposure at the end. Rebecca Stevens A. explains how in the 1980’s she “[…] Went To An International School And Didn’t Have A Single Black Teacher – And that in itself is problematic.”
Together, my two children add up 30 years as an international school student, in the years 2000 (’16 and ’19) and indeed, I can count on ONE hand (well, maybe one and a half) the number of teachers of colour they encountered. Notice that the student population was also (still is) mostly caucasian. 

Why Teachers of Color Matter for Students of Color to Succeed

 

 

 

 

Course 4 Final Project

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

When it was time to consider Course 5, and the project of (re-)designing completely a unit to “enhance student learning through the meaningful and authentic embedding of the ISTE Standards”, and put into practice what we learned during this COETAIL journey, I was playing with different ideas, especially that nothing was obvious, especially not being a classroom teacher.

The first thing to decide was if I were going to create a project connected to my ‘natural environment’: the library, with for example a project that has been on the table for a while: mapping a continuum of online workshops on referencing, moving up from grade 7 in Middle School to the IB program delivered in the High School. It already exists, but mainly for grade 11 and 12.
Or if I were going to reach out to a classroom colleague and suggest collaborating on designing a project together. The latter one would give me access to students directly, and therefore became my preferred choice.

Our last Professional Development afternoon, in January 2021, was focusing on “Social Justice and Anti-racism in the Classroom”, and held remotely by the amazing Cornelius Minor. I quickly became very enthusiastic about working on that topic for the final project.

OPTION 1

My first thought was to create a program on Social Justice for our Middle Schoolers to be delivered during their PL (Personal Learning) sessions.
Plus: there is room to run such a “capsule” program as the class meets for 30 minutes daily. Most of the regular activities had to be canceled due to the pandemic regulations, and the free-choice,  mixed-grades workshops are not running this school year.
Minus: the students are sometimes less engaged. The way it is being delivered in the different PL small groups of +- 10 students: it will have to be taught by the different PL teachers and it might depend on those teachers’ commitment to it.

OPTION 1 B

I will create a unit on Social Justice that would fit that program, and model it with my own PL group as a pilot project with those 10 students that I know well. That will allow me to test the activities and, based on the student’s feedback, modify it before offering it to the entire Middle School PL classes.
Plus/Minus: I will have some flexibility but those students will also need to follow part of the program planned for their grade (a combination of wellbeing activities, organizational skills, watching the news, working on their Bulb portfolios, playing games for the team spirit etc).

What will your students be able to do? What will they understand? What skills will they build?

After a general presentation with some examples, I would help students find a social justice issue they are passionate about or have an interest in exploring.
Using PBL (project-based learning) will help students explore issues that matter to them, in the format that is appealing to them: an open-ended work could be: writing an argumentative letter addressed to a person of their choice, filming community members interviews, choosing of form of persuasive art (digital or traditional), using the green screen to create either a (mini) short movie, or create a news debate.

These are the ISTE Standards for Students that will be prioritized:

6. Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats, and digital media appropriate to their goals.

I think that this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project because it can combine different elements examined through the COETAIL journey.

At the end of the project, students will present to their peers their creation, in our own PL group OR all their creations will be added to a digital “Student bulletin” viewed by the other PL groups. Those will be asked to leave meaningful comments online.

OPTION 2

The other idea was to develop a series of more contained lessons and teach them myself within the MS Social Studies classrooms.

Plus: I can work with the SS teachers and therefore get more chances to engage students in a meaningful way. Hopefully, those lessons could fit in the existing curriculum.
Minus: Teachers need to adapt the lessons planned and give me some class time

 OPTION 3

Approach the HS English Department Head, and check with him if there is room for developing a unit on Social Justice, probably for grade 10 (besides what is already in place on the topic)
Minus: timing?
UPDATE: After speaking to him with him, and although he does not teach gr10 this year, he could see something happening in the Powerless unit, or even in grade 11 English through the multiculturalism lens. He will think about those possibilities before our next meeting.

 

 

 

Putting Deep Learning into Practice

At some point, enough reading, enough thinking… it becomes time to put theories into practice. Obviously, those lesson plans and projects should be based on effective methods and strategies, those that we learned about during this COETAIL journey, those that will facilitate deep learning.

Here are some concrete frameworks and tools to achieve that goal, some that will get students excited and involved!

Image by Jan Kosmowski from Pixabay

Challenge-Based Learning (CBL)

Challenge-based learning (CBL) is a framework for learning while solving real-world Challenges. The approach is collaborative and hands-on, asking all participants (students, teachers, families, and community members) to identify Big Ideas, ask good questions, discover and solve Challenges, gain in-depth subject area knowledge, develop 21st-century skills, and share their thoughts with the world. The process and the result are authentic and lead to global discussion about real issues.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR)  is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g. video games) and education (e.g. medical or military training).

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.

Virtual and Augmented Reality:
Stepping Into the New Frontier of Learning (Maya Georgieva & Emory Craig )

During a Tech Fair (see below) I had the chance to visit the Eiffel tower while on campus in Brussels. I have been to Paris many times but never climbed this world-famous site as I don’t do well with heights (but visited the original underground hydraulic lift system though, on a specific Heritage Day, much more special). It was incredible as it felt so real (of course, I even screamed when I got too close to the edge); I loved how I could choose the time of the day, and see the sun rising on Paris roofs.
Another experience: a camera had been fixed on one of our American football player’s helmet during a practice game: it was amazing to be IN the game (although I still don’t get the rules lol). The objective was to help all players to analyze their tactics from within the game.
There are many possible educational use of this newest technology, for sure!

Game-based learning

Gaming is playing (that’s the case to say!) a great role nowadays in children and teenagers’ lives, and acknowledging this and using their interest for learning objectives. Check it out in the following blog post: Gameful Design: A Potential Game Changer. And you can find some workshop resources in The ALLURE of Play: Game Design for Deep Learning.

Project-based learning

Project-based learning (PBL): What is it? It is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Student are given time to explore a topic and/or answer a more complex question, and will deliver they findings or share their creation to an audience other than their teacher alone.

Don’t hesitate to join this 30-minute free webinar on Getting Started with P.B.L.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

Design Thinking

Collaboration, here again, is a key concept, along with and problem-solving. The design process is a structured framework for identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions. Design thinking is used to enhance learning and support creative thinking, teamwork, and student responsibility for learning.
Here are some resources for Getting Started with DesignThinking.   You can also join this Webinar developed by Dr John Spencer, or look at the Design Thinking in Education (HGSE) where you will also find links to ready-made activities, workbooks, and curricular guides.
d.school from Stanford University also curated a collection of resources from their classes and workshops for us to explore. Have fun!

At my school

Teaching and learning at the International School of Brussels is anchored in five interrelated, research-based principles. A lot of those principles are aligned with what we have been exploring in the COETAIL program, including with most of the above frameworks and tools, as the school states that:

  1. Learning is maximized when individuals own the process through personal relevance, choice, autonomy, and creation.
  2. Learning involves ongoing construction of meaning through a constant cycle of inquiry, critical thinking, feedback, and reflection.
  3. Learning is enhanced through connections, communication, and collaboration across diverse perspectives.
  4. Learning in a rapidly changing landscape requires high levels of information fluency, media literacy, and technology integration.
  5. Learning can best be transferred when it is embedded in authentic contexts and is used to address real-world issues in creative ways.

ISB hosted an Open Door Technology Fair that opened to the whole community in November 2019. The event brought together a range of technology companies with a focus on education. The purpose of the fair was to consider our ISB Learning Principles and how new and emerging technologies might help us achieve them. The fair gives students and teachers a hands-on opportunity to explore and create, thereby gaining insights into the possibilities and future of educational technology. 

Apple: a pop-up classroom allowing participants to unleash their creativity through drawing, photography, video, music, coding, and augmented reality.
DELL a programming workshop and  VR devices with interactive educational software.
Lenovo: VR in the Classroom, eSports, and the Orchestration Solution and showcase Google Expeditions.
Microsoft: “Hack your classroom with Hacking STEM” for teachers and  Minecraft: Education Edition for students. From computer science and mathematics to chemistry, Minecraft: Education Edition offers endless possibilities for students to learn programming and to stimulate digital knowledge acquisition.
HP: is presenting  VR/AR/XR Learning Experience , E-Sports Arena experiencelatex printing  and  scanning & 3D printing .
Pi-top: opportunity for visitors to experience first hand the initial “out of the box” challenge with a pi-top. 

Unleashing Deep Learning!

Deep Learning and Technology

Fullan and Donnelly (2013) in “Alive in the Swamp” report

In the fourth chapter of “A seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning”, Fullan and Langworthy look at digital tools and resources in education, starting with the “present state” of technology use, which, according to a study, has  [had at the time**] a “below-average impact on learning relative to other interventions” or approaches such as peer tutoring or effective feedback to learners.
**I think we can assume that the results would be quite different if the survey was done now, after nearly a year of craziness brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent lockdown, and Distance Learning sometimes followed by a Hybrid teaching model.

Nevertheless, here again, we are reminded that technology in the classroom for the sake of using new tools won’t be effective. Technology can only play an essential role in education if used in powerful and creative ways. And associated with New Pedagogies: the whole teaching model had to be revised.

Digital Tools and Resources in “A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning” (Fullan)

The SAMR Model for Technology Integration

We already talked about the four stages of Dr. Ruben Puenedura’s SAMR model but it is relevant to come back to it, as we have expanded our own learning, and moved to the Deep Learning concepts: it makes even more sense to look at the different stages now.
I personally like the graphic description below very much, as it shows very clearly the roadmap (or should I say the “ocean map”?) to the integration of technology into classroom settings.
We have used it at my school and although I have a much deeper understanding of the different steps now, I remember thinking that, unlike some other concepts, this one, and especially with this representation, was extremely clear.

Image credit: Sylvia Duckworth, via @DavidGuerin

Vulnerability, Shame,  and Courage

Brené Brown is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host whose research, and interest, focus on the themes of authentic leadership and sincerity in families, schools, and organizations. She spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In 2010, Brown’s TEDx talk on her research results went viral, gaining millions of views right away, and launched her onto a national, even international, platform.
Although she also wrote five #1 New York Times bestsellers, this was new to me. But as soon as I started watching the video below, I understood the reasons for her huge success: she is a great orator with interesting and inspiring content!

I spent a couple of hours that evening reading, listening, or watching more of Brené Brown… I haven’t seen the Netflix program “The Call to Courage” yet, but it is on my list!

Brené Brown in Daring Classrooms

Shame:  focus on self =>  ‘I am bad’
There is something inherently wrong with me; how it shows up is by favoritism, name-calling, gossip

Guilt: focus on behavior => ‘I did something bad’

Educators need to find a way to develop shame-resilient classrooms and remember that the antidote to shame is empathy. It helps to know that all of us (at least most) use”shields” as protection from shame. Knowing which one they are can shed a different light on some students’ attitudes!

THE DARING WAY™ (Brené Brown, 2015)

According to Brown, those shields make us:
* moving away: withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping
secrets
* moving toward: seeking to appease and please
* moving against: trying to gain power over others, being aggressive,  and using shame to fight shame.

Enthusiasm and attraction should not let us forget our critical sense though. Christina Torres loved how Brené Brown exposed “the need to question who we allow to shame us and how we reclaim our own narratives”. But in her article On Shame and ‘Daring Classrooms’: We Need to Fix Systems, Not Kids, Torres also explains how some of Brown’s “Daring Classrooms” lesson plans need to be handle with care particularly if given without context: it could be hurtful and triggering for some students, particularly “those who had experienced trauma already”.

In her July 2020 podcast, Brené on Shame and Accountability, Brown shares her thoughts about “why accountability is a prerequisite for change, and why we need to get our heads and hearts around the difference between being held accountable for racism and feeling shame and being shamed.” I was able to make connections between her explanations and the recent professional development on “Social Justice and Anti-racism in the Classroom”, held by the amazing Cornelius Minor. Definitely great food for thought!
I also bookmarked a few other interviews or talks, and I encourage you to browse through the “Unlocking Us” podcast series and its “Conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.”

I believe that I will also go back to Brené’s talk about Shame, and will keep in mind the shields concepts, to help me reflect on what I do and what I say to students. I can also see how those concepts apply to our personal lives and our interactions in general.

Dialogical Learning

The book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed written by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire in 1968, is still, in 2021, referred to when it comes to education. I haven’t read it (it seems to be a substantial read according to some reviews), but it has been written about and analyzed quite a lot.
Recognizing the learner as an equal is essential for true learning to take place, Freire claims.  He exposes five ideas that he holds essential for dialogue:

Humility = A humble approach that acknowledges students’ powerful role is a great way to ensure improved student learning as well as improved instruction.

Hope
= belief in students’ capacity to learn can help them to believe in themselves

Faith
= This faith in students paves the way for a deeper trust to be established, and trust is critical in any relationship where real, meaningful learning is a goal.

Love
= Acknowledging the importance of love can be difficult because it requires us to be vulnerable, but love is an essential element to any meaningful relationship, especially for relationships seeking growth and learning

Critical Thinking 
= Connecting learning to student interests – Asking good questions – Using learning structures and teaching strategies that prompt student thinking

But this dialogue is not only important between students and their teachers: it should also take place between teachers, coaches,  and administrators. These conversations will lead to deeper and meaningful learning – Freire the importance of a dialogical approach.

———————————————————————————————–

How are you vulnerable with your students? 
As a non-English speaker, it happens that I am looking for a word, or can’t pronounce one correctly. Years ago, this situation could have been painful for me. Now, I just say it: “I can’t remember / I don’t know how to say it / this word is difficult for me to pronounce”. A majority of our students are bilingual (or more), and some of them are still developing their English proficiency. Therefore, I show them that what really matters is to make yourself understood. And if you make some mistakes along the way, this is not the most important. Recognizing some vulnerability and asking for help is healthy. Role-modeling in those areas is very important too.

How do you recognize learners as equals so that true learning can take place?
Respect is, I believe, the best way to show students that you treat them on equal footing. This is then a great starting point to develop good conversation, and in some cases good relationships, sometimes over years. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same regular contact time with our students, but my bonus point is being in contact with students up to six years when they attend Middle School and High School at ISB.

Learning Deeply, Digitally

A fellow COETAIL-er, Shalene, recently wrote in a post this catchy phrase on Deep Learning that helps us to remember well its definition: “Deep Learning is quality learning… that sticks!”
What I like best is the emphasis put on the quality (so important!), but alongside the fact that the learning is acquired “for good”.

Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

To help us achieve this ultimate goal, if we keep reading “A seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning”, Fullan and Langworthy describe, in the third chapter, how to implement deep learning through specific tasks. As we already know (see my previous post), it needs to happen through a partnership between and among students, and teachers, to be authentic and problem-solving based. And, obviously, where digital learning is a strategy.

Deep Learning Tasks

But the crucial question always comes down to: how to get there? What does Deep Learning look like? 
Fullam explains that deep learning tasks are stimulated by the notion of ‘learning leadership’: students need to take ownership of their own learning,  by defining and pursuing their own learning goals using the resources, tools, and connections that digital access makes possible.

 

The Learning Design Process (Fullan)

The examples detailed in this article written on the ASCD‘s blog also helped me to recognize what DL looks like in the classroom: What is Deep Learning?  Who are the Deep Learning Teachers?
The author details one example of the more traditional learning, and one of the deep learning. It is very clear how students in the latter are fully engaged in an authentic experience that helps them deepen their understanding and develop complex learning skills. Another essential aspect is how much their learning bring value beyond school, as they are working from potentially real-world experiences, some that students may face later.

Teachers can make a [lot of] difference in their classrooms, but they can’t change the school’s philosophy without the leadership team’s involvement and support. In his book “The Moral Imperative Realized“, Fullan examines the moral purpose of school leadership and its critical role in “changing the context” to commit to serve every student. Look at his explanations in the short video below (start at 00:28!):

Dr. Monica R. Martinez is a vehement advocate both for inclusion and new pedagogies: schools need to meet the challenge of preparing ALL students** for college, careers, and the world today, through a new framework for educators and schools, excellently detailed in Deeper Learning Resources. Actually, I can’t resist adding the subtitle here, as it represents well her objectives: “Creating a foundation for a collaborative learning community, where teachers are learning designers, and students are active Learners“.
** You NEED to watch her enlightening TEDx Talks “A Latinas Story of Attaining A Higher Education” on her personal story, and in which she urges for a truly inclusive education system.

For Martinez, Deeper Learning is indeed “a set of student outcomes that includes mastery of essential academic content; thinking critically and solving complex problems; working collaboratively and communicating effectively; having an academic mindset, and being empowered through self-directed learning” … and it should become the “new normal” in schools.

Deeper Learning - Theory Of Action
By Monica R. Martinez, with Dennis McGrath

Making sure that the learning is equitable for all the students is indeed another responsibility that lies with educators. Jacquelyn Whiting put in place a great exercise to show students that Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It.
Bias and Social Justice are themes that became more prominent in the past year, mainly through the Black Lives Matters movement

For the first time in a few years, I didn’t mind starting the new year with a Professional Development day: usually, back to school during the coldest Belgian month, with no students on campus, and the challenge to sit in meetings all day after the Christmas break… The COVID-19 pandemic brings very few (very few!) positive adjustments, but this is one of them: first of all, we were granted some planning time at home in the morning, which was a very cozy transition from the Holidays.
Secondly, the afternoon was (well!) spent attending a “
Workshop on Social Justice and Anti-racism in the Classroom with Cornelius Minor“. It definitely gave us cause for hope and optimism for the work ahead, although we know it will take time to deconstruct and reconstruct some of our bias and habits, but we are now formally committed, as a school, to address the issue, as specified in this the framework of “We all need to return to better” published on our school website.
I found those 4 hours very inspiring and energizing. But obviously, it also brought a lot of questions: How can I start that journey? And most importantly, how can I, as a teacher-librarian, offer support to my colleagues? And our students?

Then it struck me: I NEED / WANT to develop a project on that topic, and here is, finally, the first idea for my COETAIL Final Project!!!
I still don’t know what I should put in place, and with who, nor how, of course. But I want it to be on a Social Justice theme.
If you have any suggestions to work with grade 7 to 12, on this theme, don’t hesitate to contact me!

New Pedagogies at the International School of Brussels

Personally, I have witnessed some significant shifts in focus at my school in the last few years, from mainly a content-based education, with daily homework in all courses (still in place in 2013, when my daughter was in grade 9), to problem-solving inquiries lessons and the implementation of 90-minutes blocks (allowing to structure lessons in a completely new way!), the redesign of the space to create Commons, to self-evaluation, and finally the growth of student agency, to name a few. One of the main objective is now to “teach students to learn, rather than feeding them with content”.

Learning Principles: Teaching and learning at ISB is anchored in five interrelated, research-based principles:

  1. Learning is maximized when individuals own the process through personal relevance, choice, autonomy, and creation.
  2. Learning involves ongoing construction of meaning through a constant cycle of inquiry, critical thinking, feedback, and reflection.
  3. Learning is enhanced through connections, communication, and collaboration across diverse perspectives.
  4. Learning in a rapidly changing landscape requires high levels of information fluency, media literacy, and technology integration.
  5. Learning can best be transferred when it is embedded in authentic contexts and is used to address real-world issues in creative ways.