Monthly Archive: January 2019

Beyond Lurking

When I first read the word “lurker” I had a somewhat adverse reaction. I am quite familiar with the term from being a long time lurker on Reddit. When I did try to connect and contribute to the community there was some very unnecessary and negative feedback. It was actually quite shocking, and without going into too much detail I simply suggested a book as one of my top five only to be called a very derogatory terms. This was also when I learned about trolls. Anyways, I still stood by my opinion thatThe Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most fantastic books I have ever read and brushed it off.

I suppose one thing that has stopped me from contributing more frequently to digital media could be that fear of rejection, negativity, confrontation, not being accepted, and the list of issues I am discovering about myself goes on. When thinking about our students, how many of them could be afraid of contributing to online discussions because of similar reasons or experiences, and in the context of the classroom how this can affect learning? We want our students to be creators, not consumers and I see these two terms as almost one and the same with a connector and lurker. As a learner, I need to overcome those trepidations and begin contributing more frequently to help me not only get feedback from others but also reflect and learn about my own practice. We know that so much learning takes place during the reflective process.  How can I find the time and right platform to take a quick step back and think about my practice and share ideas with others?

Has the one percent grown or shrank since 2013? Reading Utecht’s article had me think first about how I disconnect, and also connected to my own practice of how I encourage my students and even daughter how to create on the digital tools we use together. I disconnect as much as I can, from leaving my phone in my coat at home to not even bringing it on vacation (except sometimes for music). I think I am on the right track in my own teaching practice, but as a creator that remains a goal.

When I think about the research in Online Personas a question that came to mind is don’t we all want our students to be connectors in their digital world? Don’t we want them to bring the world together, to seek out ways to find information and connect that information with others who need it? Mavens are also awesome. I had a student find a resource and a technique in the classroom today and immediately airdropped it to the class. All of a sudden students started sharing all sorts of tips and tricks, they love to be the expert. Just some small glimpses of actions on the level of a nine-year-old inspired me to think about how I can take baby steps to move away from lurking. We wouldn’t expect our students to just be consumers so it is time to move out of the comfort zone. 



Goals for COETAIL

When thinking about my goals I first looked at the student standards as they are the ones who will be directly affected by how and what I learn during my COETAIL journey. After that, I looked at the educator standards to think about which ones will impact my students in the most positive way keeping in mind the learning needs of upper elementary students in the past few years in regards to digital literacy.  I chose the following goals as I think these will best shape my classroom practice. All the goals I chose are under the ISTE Standards for Educators. I will be doing the COETAIL certificate non-credit.

Citizen 3b
Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
Learning Goal
My classes always have a curiosity, and I think that a challenge of promoting research with digital literacy is to allow students to continue to curiously examine resources without getting frustrated because they can’t find appropriate sources to satisfy their needs. In the past we have worked closely with the librarians to used the model of “Take it APART” to analyze digital sources, we have found some success with this and students enjoy examining sites to see if they are reliable and appropriate. I would like to find new methods to do this more seamlessly and try new ways to help develop fluency, literacy, and examination to become more of the classroom culture as current world issues demand a sharp eye when viewing resources. The students have so much that they want to learn about and I want to help them the navigate information in a safe, responsible, and efficient way

Designer 5b
Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active deep learning.
Learning Goal
At the last Learning 2 in Tokyo, I attended a workshop (thanks Tanya) into the idea of student curation and how it can develop deeper connections. I tried a couple of times after returning and it was a great way to get students thinking and making connections. Making connections is what develops the deeper learning and my goal is to continue building authentic learning experiences that are connected to different strands of the curriculum that allow students to use technology and resources that help them dive deeper into content, ideas, and concepts. At the same time, it can be so much work to curate these resources for students. I want to find a better workflow that helps me design activities and platforms that can help students to develop their own agency and discover connections.

Facilitator 6c
Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
Learning Goal
In the PYP the inquiry cycle is so similar to the design cycle, but in my practice, I think I can do better incorporating language into more areas of learning.  I am trying to do it now with planning for service learning and started using computational thinking to help with teaching math concepts. I want to continue thinking of creative ways to integrate computational thinking and design thinking into lesson planning in a variety of subjects so students learn a systematic way to solve problems and be creative doing it. By working closely with the tech coach at the school along with my grade level team I hope to accomplish this.


My Learning Communities

Made with Padlet

When thinking about connectivism learning theory the first thing that came to mind is the students in the classroom and how they use their online learning journals as well as the countless prep periods and class time we have spent contributing to the feedback loop with the goal of enhancing learning. I suppose when we use blogs/learning journals like this can be a very effective way to learn as information is visited, added to, then revisited again.

I am fortunate to work in a school community that values peer feedback and has a constant cycle of listening and sharing ideas and then providing insight and support with colleagues. We spend a lot of afternoons together in groups across divisions thinking and implementing experiences to improve on student learning in a very structured way (joining COETAIL actually came out of one of these meetings).  This is always done face-to-face.

I don’t have a strong digital presence. After quitting Facebook over a year ago I felt a bit disconnected from other teachers I had met at previous workshops, and one of my goals in COETAIL is to improve those connections. I am looking forward to joining this community of learners.

I think that my family has to be included in this. Coming from a family of teachers and having a spouse who is also a colleague creates an opportunity for lively dinner table discussions about pedagogy.  This made me think about a question; where is the line between a social and professional learning community?


A bit about Flynn

Hey everyone, my name is Flynn McCreath and I hail from Gabriola Island, a little place off the west coast of Canada. I am currently teaching Grade Four at Yokohama International School in Japan.  I love the enthusiasm for learning and curiosity that students bring in this age group. I have a confession to make, I just created a Twitter account and have yet to use it, but I am not ashamed. Before teaching I worked in the marine industry towing barges and logs, driving yachts, and carrying passengers on fun little ferries.

I thought it was time for COETAIL after participating in Learning 2 and leading a teacher workshop there.  I am always looking for new ways to connect students with the world around them responsibly, helping students to think about media use and visual literacy, and developing the skills, attitudes and conceptual understanding in all disciplines through technology whether it be iPads, drones, or duct tape.

My current professional development plan at school is about using computational thinking and technology to improve collaboration and explore mathematical concepts. I thought that COETAIL would be a rewarding way to learn about why I am doing this plan, and where I will go with it next year.  I look forward to learning with you all.