COETAIL Final Project

Empowering Students Through Choice, Voice, and Action



Goodrich-COETAIL Final Project Goals

A Unit Redefined

The unit I redefined for my final project was a Reading & Writing Unit on Social Justice Issues. In this unit, students would choose a social issue using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals asking, “What does it take to create change?”

To be able to answer this question as well as present their issue to an audience, students would read both fiction & nonfiction texts on their topic, and then write a persuasive TED TALK speech for an audience of their choice.

Feeling good after finishing their presentations!

This got me thinking, how could I make this unit more collaborative and how could I utilize experts to help broaden students’ knowledge of their topic?  What if I made the 4th Graders collaborate to research and write a persuasive TED TALK? Would this benefit their learning? And another question I would face, how would I modify the unit when my school suddenly went to home learning? 

Deep learning opportunity

My first thought on redesigning the unit would be to create an experience that utilized the 6Cs of Deep Learning: creativity, communication, citizenship, critical thinking, character, and collaboration. In order to do this, I would change the final product from a persuasive essay to a collaborative, persuasive TED TALK Speech delivered to an authentic audience (communication & collaboration). Furthermore, I would reach out to experts in the areas my students chose to foster new learning partnerships that would broaden students’ views on their issues as well as potentially lead them to possible solutions (critical thinking). Without the use of technology, all of this would not have been possible.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Utilizing PLN 

Before I taught the unit, I reached out to a few people I knew had some good resources.  First, I reached out to an old colleague of mine in Korea who taught a similar unit to her 4th-grade students. Marie shared ideas and resources to get me started!  Next, I reached out to a teacher working at another international school in Vietnam, who had presented on “Empowering Students to Share an Authentic Voice.”  Her Grade 4 students had also created Talks. These Grade 4 Talks would become our mentor speeches throughout the unit. With these resources along with my own ideas, I was able to redesign my unit.

Utilizing my PLN, helped make this unit a success!

Make it Collaborative!

When considering this unit and the fact that I wanted students to give a Talk at the end as an assessment, I felt that it would benefit students to work in learning partnerships. This would be their first-time students would be giving a speech like this in front of an audience. Plus, it would give students the opportunity to work together. Students could read both fiction and nonfiction books together, discuss their texts, conduct research, share notes, and finally, write a persuasive speech (creativity). This set-up also worked really well when we shifted to home learning halfway through the unit. Students were still able to continue with this project because of technology.

Connecting with experts, even during Home Learning!

I also collaborated with 3 local businesses to organize a learning opportunity for students. Our plan was to visit these three local social enterprises in Hanoi. Students would be able to visit Simple Coffee, a coffee shop that employs and trains individuals with intellectual disabilities, KOTO Villa, a restaurant that trains at-risk youth culinary skills so that they can find jobs in the hospitality industry, and Humanity Hanoi, a concept store celebrating socially conscious fashion, beauty & more. Unfortunately, this field trip had to be postponed due to a 3 week COVID shut down in March, but we will finally be able to go on May 12. 

Students in Hanoi listen to Marine Ecology and Conservation researcher, Ms. Garg from Alberta, Canada.

And although we were unable to do the field trip during the unit, I did, however, find ways to be CREATIVE, when trying to connect students with real-world learning opportunities. I knew that I wanted to have a global collaboration component to the project, so it felt right to take advantage of digital tools like Google Meet and Zoom to connect with experts on my students’ topics. Connecting digitally ended up working out well as we weren’t allowed to have guests on campus. These “virtual field trips” were a fun added component that technology allowed us to do! A field tip redefined!

Retrieved from :

Launching the Unit

I began the unit by having students begin to think about the question, “What does it take to create change?” As students thought about this question, they began to explore real-world issues by reading picture books that explored different social issues. Students then used Flip Grid to respond to the different issues they recognized in those books. Students also viewed a local news story about an American family living in Hanoi who has a son with down syndrome. This family recognized the need for opportunities like their own son and eventually started a training center for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Seeing their story was a great way for students to start generating ideas for “What it takes to create change?” It also allowed students to see that one person can truly make a difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

We also spent time reading two NY Times articles about kids creating change, took a deep look at the SDGs, and viewed sample TED Talks asking “What makes a good speech?”. Once students had some background knowledge on the issues that exist in the world, they chose their top 3 issues to tackle using a Google Form. From there, I was able to pair students and now they were ready to begin their research.

Conducting research with an expert on Gender Equality in Vietnam.

Reading Workshop

Learning from picture books.

Once students had selected a topic and were partnered up, they were ready to begin broadening their perspectives on the issue they had selected. During reading, students would read both fiction and nonfiction texts. 

Since the topics were student-selected, I did not necessarily have fiction books for every group. Therefore, I made use of digital resources such as the SORA app, EPIC, and Newsela. Here I was able to find books and articles for each group. This would allow them to analyze characters’ responses to social issues while also reading multiple sources of nonfiction texts on the same issue to deepen their understanding. Furthermore, I curated a list of resources for each group that was stored on the Social Justice Issues Website I created for students to access resources. I used the book Amal Unbound as a Read Aloud text during this unit.

Writing Workshop

Students would use the knowledge they gained from both digital resources, as well as print, to construct a persuasive argument connected to a social issue. This knowledge would help students create their TED Talk.

We began writing, by generating ideas. 2nd students began gathering parts of their speech. This was also when we went back to home learning. But the research slide decks that I created so that students could collaborate made it easy to move online. Using the research slides also allowed me and my EAL support teacher, easy access to students’ work which allowed us to give regular feedback. We were also able to utilize Breakout Rooms in Zoom to meet with groups. Empowering our learners to use feedback to strengthen their work.

It was easier to work on-campus though!

Furthermore, students were provided with lessons on finding credible sources, pulling data and statistics that would support their arguments, and citing their sources. Throughout this bend, we frequently went back to our Mentor Talks with the lens of, “What makes these Talks Powerful?” Using these mentors, students gathered ideas on how to angle their ideas to convince their audience. 

Back to Campus Learning

During Bend 3, we were back in person and students started to prepare their Talk Scripts using a template shared by a 4th-grade teacher at Saigon South International School. I also introduced fair use policies before students gathered images for their presentations and how to correctly give credit. We also reviewed the CARP Design Principles that students have used throughout the year to create presentations.

Design by Kelly Bisogno

Cross School Collaboration

Lastly, during bend 4, students prepared to present their Talks. I paired up with the HS communications teachers and had his students come by to offer individual groups’ feedback. Students took this feedback and made changes or added things like gestures or emphasis to words that would make the Talk more convincing.

Utilizing our HS Communications class for feedback!

We also had a practice day where my students were able to present for the other 4th-grade class. By filming the presentations, students were able to go back and watch themselves identifying areas of strength and areas to improve upon. This was also a good opportunity for students to practice with the headset mics and work out their jitters.

Practicing before the final presentation.

The Big Day

Finally, it was time to present to our authentic audience. Originally, I had planned to make this a huge event: inviting multiple grade levels, parents, and staff. But Because of COVID restrictions, we had some limitations. BUT we were so happy that we could still hold even some sort of event with an audience. My class was able to present for each other and all of their parents were able to join in our black box theater. It was a huge success and the kids loved being up on the big stage!

Students felt good up on the big stage & the parents were so proud!


Following our TED Talks, students spent time reflecting on the unit using Flip Grid. I provided students with feedback using a rubric. And as a class, we reflected back to our question, “What does it take to create change?” 

Not only did the students produce a TED Talk that allowed them to be creative communicators, but they also learned how to collaborate both on-campus and off, and they learned the value of utilizing both local and global experts to strengthen their understanding of an issue. Students were learning from each other, both at home and on campus as well as from others near and far. Furthermore, Because the 4th Graders identified their audience early on, they had a vested interest in creating a speech that would be convincing and powerful.

Another outcome that was surprising for me is that the digital tools I had created before knowing we would go online for three weeks of this unit, made the transition to home learning go smoothly. Once again, I was reminded how powerful digital tools can be especially during this time!

What would I change?

If I were to teach this unit again, I would have students choose less complex topics. Many of the issues chosen required a lot of research and background knowledge. When I look back at the mentor talks we used from Saigon South, those students chose topics that they were already familiar with such as how can video games benefit children? By choosing topics that students already know about, the unit requires less time on research. 

Additionally, I would have loved to extend the unit after the TALKS by having students take some sort of action related to their issue. For example, one group presented on Academic Pressure put on children from parents. This Talk would be perfect to present at a PSO Parent Coffee Meeting. Their strong evidence and reasons may have changed a few parents’ minds. However, with COVID restrictions we weren’t allowed to gather a large parent group besides our own classroom parents.


My greatest takeaway from this project is that our kids are capable of so much. At the beginning of the unit, my team was a bit skeptical of whether or not students would be able to accomplish the learning goals of this unit; especially with such big topic choices. However, with the right scaffolding, mentor texts, or speeches, in this case, teacher feedback, and collaboration, students were able to do it! My students as well as I learned that through hard work and perseverance, anything is possible

Students had an authentic audience to write for, which gave them the motivation to create the best persuasive speeches they could. While the technology was not new or fancy, it provided the path for students to connect with each other and share ideas during home learning as well as on campus.

Was this a unit redefined?

I think so! Without technology, students would not have been able to collaborate as easily. By using the research slide deck, students could easily collaborate both on-campus as well as off-campus. I was also able to connect students with our mentor speeches from Saigon South through YouTube. These speeches were so helpful because students could see what the final product would look like as well as get some ideas for making their own speech powerful! Additionally, students used up-to-date online resources to deepen their content knowledge and connect with global experts, something that would not have been possible without technology! 

Additionally, with access to digital reading resources, students were able to broaden their knowledge on the topics they chose. This allowed students choice and access to the knowledge they needed to construct a persuasive argument. Furthermore, access to digital images allowed students to communicate their ideas through the use of visualizations in the image slides used during their Talks.

This was a true deep learning experience that allowed students to discover, create and use knowledge in the real world and with authentic audiences. 

Throughout this unit, students have seen, read, and watched individuals who made a big impact. My hope is that they are the ones the future generation is watching and learning from.


Although my COETAIL journey is coming to an end, I look forward to what the future holds.  I am leaving my COETAIL journey with a toolbox full of new resources and ideas, plus a larger PLN! A special thanks to Joel Bevans, our cohort 12 instructor, for guiding us all along this journey. Your support, feedback, and encouragement have made this learning journey truly enjoyable and meaningful! Thanks, COETAIL for pushing me to do better!





Exploring with Google Arts & Culture

New Learning Tool

Recently a colleague of mine asked me to help him run an Elementary After School Activity (ASA). He would be introducing students to the website and app, Google Arts & Culture. I had never used this website or app before, but I love learning about new tech tools, so I agreed.

Since both my colleague and I were pretty new to this learning tool, our main goal for students was to explore the different ways Google Arts & Culture could be used. We met with our ASA group of 17 students once a week after school. Each week we introduced something new from the Google Arts & Culture site.  I’ll share what we did each week. Maybe you will get some ideas! Or let me know how you’ve used this tool with your students!

  • Week 1 Explore

During our first session together, we introduced the site and the various ways it could be used. We also spent some time talking about responsible use of the site since students may find some nudity in the art they come across. It is important; especially for young users, to know how to handle seeing nudity in art.

Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash

I found the website appropriate for the students we were working with (our students ranged from grades 3-5), but I can see how some of the content is for older students. Common Sense Media says the app is appropriate for ages 12+.  So when considering that students may see some nudity in art, you may want to take a look at this guide on Addressing Nudity in Art from The Museum of Art and Archaeology University of Missouri.

With Blob Opera, you can create your own opera-inspired song (with no musical skills needed). Before students explored this fun tool, my colleague and I offered students some background knowledge of opera music with a few short YouTube videos and this fun one on “Kids Meet an Opera Singer.”

We also gave students the option to explore Incredibox, another music-creating site (this was their favorite!).  Then we gave them time to play. As students created songs, they shared the links on our Google Arts & Culture Padlet. At the end of each 50-minute session, we took 5 minutes in the end to share. Here’s an example one.

  • Week 3 Art Filter/ Art Coloring Book

This session was all about using famous pieces of art to have fun! To start our third session off, we began by giving students some background information on the different types of paintings. Then we looked at the  12 Most Famous Paintings of All Time.  Then it was time to try all the fun tools out!

Art Filter & Art Transfer (on app)

These two features can only be used on the app, but they are fun to play around with. Art Filter allows you to try filters based on iconic artifacts. While Art Transfer, lets you transform your photos with inspiration from renowned artists. To find these features from the app, click on the camera button and the options will appear.

This student used the Art Filter feature to transform the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Vermeer.

Art Puzzle Party

If you enjoy puzzles, this is a fun tool! You can choose from a variety of art pieces, then the site turns it into a puzzle for you to reconstruct. An added bonus is that they give you the option to add friends so they can help you build the puzzle virtually!

You can even make this interactive by adding friends!

Art Coloring Book

The Art Coloring Book feature allows you to choose the colors for a famous piece of art. It’s basically a virtual coloring book. This tool might be useful when teaching contrasting colors too!

Students can “repaint” the famous Frida Kahlo painting.


This tool extracts colors from the pictures you take with your camera in real-time. Then it takes the color extracted from your photo and applies it to a famous painting.

I tried one using “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Week 4 Virtual Tours/ 360 Tours

If you’ve ever used Google Expeditions, some of these tours may be familiar to you. Expeditions is moving all of their tours over to Google Arts & Culture, and Expeditions will no longer exist after this summer.

Students can tour a range of places such as famous sites and landmarks, Museums, and 360-degree videos. This is a great way to escape the classroom; especially, during COVID, when we can’t all go on field trips.

Because I am new to this learning tool, I haven’t had much time integrating its use into my classroom yet. It was fun having the chance to explore it with students as an After School Activity though. Plus, I got to see how it could be used and now I have some ideas of what I may do next.

Integration in the classroom

The first thing I tried out with my own class was using some of the images related to historical time periods. I am currently teaching a Historical Fiction Book Club Unit and one of the lessons asks students to use a primary source from a particular time period. Then the student has to connect that image or document to their text.

For example, this Star of David taken from a Jewish ghetto in Lodz will help my students connect to the Star of David in our read-aloud text, “Number the Stars.” By using the image provided by Google Arts & Culture students get to see what the real Star of David that was placed on Jewish people looked like in the concentration camps. They also get some background information about the person who it came from. This is a great way to get readers to connect to the story and the history behind the story.

I put together a list of resources on Google Classroom for students from Google Arts & Culture connected to the book club topics in my classroom.

I hope to find more useful ways to use this learning tool in my classroom. If you have used Google Arts & Culture in your classroom, please share some of your ideas! I’ve also included a few resources I came across. Hopefully, you find some meaningful ways to use this fun tool with your students. Or you can even check out the fun ways to get your family involved!


Tips for Teachers

3 Way Google Arts & Culture Can Enrich Your Lessons

15 History Lesson Ideas for Google Arts & Culture

Bringing it Back to Brené

Being Vulnerable

As I have mentioned in other posts, I generally try to go out of my way to avoid situations that make me feel vulnerable. I like to know the outcome of a situation, so I can prepare myself mentally. I do not like going into situations with uncertainty. But I’ve been working on being more vulnerable in my life, so when an Elementary S.T.E.M. teaching position became available at my school, I applied. I felt excited about the opportunity as I was encouraged by my peers and principal to go for it.

As I mentally prepared myself for uncertainty, I went back to Brené Brown’s keynote on Daring Classrooms. I reflected back to the time I wrote my persuasive essay as a mentor text for students on building my own self-confidence. These things were sources of motivation for me. I knew there was the possibility of not getting the job, but I knew I had to at least try. If I want my students to be vulnerable and do hard things, I must model this same behavior.

The Perfect Ending

Inside, I had a few doubts about my qualifications as I haven’t had too much experience with coding or robotics, but I am always up for the challenge of learning. Plus, going through the COETAIL program made me feel confident about my knowledge of meaningful educational technology integration.

Getting this opportunity also felt like the perfect ending to my COETAIL experience. I started to picture myself in one of those COETAIL success story posts on Twitter like Patrick Holt’s down below.  Additionally, I would be doing a podcast with Kim Cofino soon for the Coach Better Podcast. They’d ask questions like:

  • What was the key outcome of graduating from COETAIL for you? (could be learnings, mind shifts, next steps career-wise, etc)
  • How did COETAIL impact / change your career trajectory?

If I got the job, this would be the perfect news to share!

Maybe I’ll be the next success story!                                              (Photo taken from the COETAIL Twitter page)

A different Plan

After interviewing, I felt pretty confident. There were a few other strong candidates interviewing as well, but I still had a good feeling I would get it.

I was wrong. I interviewed on Wednesday and by Friday afternoon I got the email. They had chosen another candidate. I’m not going to lie, I had to read the email a few times to make sure I had read it correctly. However, I had read the email correctly; I hadn’t gotten the job.

“Vulnerability is not  winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” -Brene Brown

So the outcome was not what I had wanted, but I felt good about going for the opportunity. More importantly, the outcome made me reflect on a realization I had come to while preparing for my interview. 

Leaving my Mark

Before I had my interview, I practiced thinking of possible questions and answers with my husband. When my husband asked me why I wanted the job, I explained to him that I do not feel like I had left my mark on my current school yet. When I leave my school, I want to be remembered for making a difference. We aren’t planning on leaving anytime soon, but after three years, I felt like time was going by quickly and I had not yet made a lasting impression. I hadn’t left my mark, yet. Or had I?

Image by Jo Christian Oterhals on Flickr

At my previous school, I left feeling like I had contributed to making the school a better place. I helped develop a new curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, led a fundraiser for Heifer International that raised more than $15,000, and spent weeks organizing years of boxed up science materials that could be used by teachers and students, and I turned an unused space into a Science Room for teachers to bring their students for lessons. When I prepared to move onto my current school, I could feel that I would be missed because of the work I had done there. I had started things that would be around for a while. I made a lasting impression. I could feel my value.

The night before my interview, I explained to my husband that I wasn’t confident that I would have that same feeling if I were to leave my current school at this moment. I felt that if I were given the  S.T.E.M. teaching position, this would be my opportunity to make my mark on the school. The program is new. There is room to grow and lots of work to be done. I shared these feelings during my interview.

I shared this sentiment with the Head of School and Elementary Vice-Principal during my interview when they asked me why I wanted the job. However, after hearing I had not gotten the job, I quickly came to the reality that my plan for making a mark wasn’t the plan they had for me. I would have to find a way to make my mark in a different way.


At this moment, I am not sure what my mark will be. What if I have already started making my mark? Maybe, I am just not aware of it yet. Or perhaps not getting the S.T.E.M position helped me realize that I have done more than I think I have.

As I thought about this some more,  I thought back to Brown’s keynote again. In addition to vulnerability, Brown speaks about The Four Pillars of Courage. Rising Skills, which is having the ability to get back up when we fall, is one of them.

The Four Pillars of Courage

  1. Vulnerability
  2. Clarity of Values
  3. Trust
  4. Rising Skills

After hearing I didn’t get the job, I was disappointed. But instead of being down and out about it, I looked at the bright side. I got back up! I reminded myself that I love being a classroom teacher with the ability to have a huge impact on the 20 or so students I teach each year. Leaving my mark doesn’t have to come through the opportunity to build a program. Maybe leaving my mark, had already begun right here in my very own classroom.

Beginnings of a Mark

I want my students to be change-makers. I want to foster students who care about others and the world around them. Being in the classroom gives me the power to spark a passion in children that leads them to do something that makes the world a better place. I want to nurture students who are good citizens of the world!

By being given the opportunity to teach grade 4 this year, I was able to ignite a passion for making the world a better place through my Social Justice Issues Unit (my Final COETAIL Project). Students not only learned about injustices using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a start, but they saw first-hand how these goals impact the place we live right here in Vietnam. They got to speak with experts and explore solutions to complex issues. Throughout the unit, they developed empathy for others. They learned how the actions of one person can have a huge impact. They saw what it takes to make a change.

Maybe this unit was the start of something bigger. Maybe my mark will be the passion I spark in students to make the world a better place.  Since teaching my Social Justice Issues Unit, I notice students recognizing injustices around them. I’ve seen students paying closer attention to picking up trash they find lying on the playground. I’ve seen students reminding each other not to use single-use plastic.

Ultimately, I want to help foster students to become caring, citizens of the world. If I am able to inspire, even just one student, to make the world a better place, I am happy with that. This will be my mark on the school. My ability to leave a mark doesn’t have to come in the form of a new job opportunity.

If I can be vulnerable and do things that are hard for me, they can do hard things too! We all can! It’s how we model vulnerability for our students. It’s how we face those obstacles and get back up when we fail that matters. It’s how we treat people and care for the world that matters.

Future change-makers!

Instead of feeling sad about not getting the job, I will forge ahead and continue to make my mark.


Collaborating & Connecting


I have always enjoyed seeking out resources from current and former colleagues and my PLN both near and far.  I may not have all the answers or solutions, but I can use my resources to seek out answers and solutions. Having the ability to find and use available resources to achieve goals opens up new opportunities for myself as well as my students.

It’s not the lack of resources that cause failure, it’s the lack of resourcefullness that causes failure.

-Tony Robbins

During the past few months, I have utilized my resourcefulness to build a final unit project that would have a great impact on students as well as our community. Being resourceful was a major component of my final project. Let me take you on a “tour” of how resourcefulness played a major role in the success of my final project.

Former Colleagues

At my former school, the fourth-grade class did a Social Justice Issues Unit each year that ended with TED Talks. Seeing this unit play out at my former school, inspired me to start this project at my current school. Our fourth graders have done a Social Justice Issues Unit each year, and now that I was teaching fourth grade this year, I knew that this was the unit I wanted to revamp for my COETAIL final project.

Before I started planning out my unit, I first reached out to the fourth-grade teacher at my last school.  My former colleague gladly shared her insights and resources to get me started.  Not only were her resources helpful, but so was the advice she gave along the way. It was also a good feeling to be able to share all the new resources I had created with her as she begins to teach this unit to her students in Korea.

After finishing my unit, I was happy to share the new resources I had created!
Marie generously shared her resources to get my going.
Social media makes it easy to connect with former colleagues!

Blog Post Comments

Although I felt super busy throughout the teaching of my final project, I did my best to check in with what the other COETAILers were doing.  Reading the blog posts was a great source of inspiration, not only during Course 5 but throughout my COETAIL experience.

My husband kept telling me each week as I put off writing another blog post, “You overthink your blog posts. It doesn’t have to be something big or groundbreaking. Just write about what you are doing at school.” He was right and I was reminded of this each week as I read the cohort 12 blogs. Some posts were “big” like Luis’s post “Speak Up,” while others were about the great work being done in the classroom like Holly’s post, which was a great reminder of the resources I have available to assist students with writing.

Connecting with COETAILers

In addition to using the Cohort 12 blog posts as inspiration, I was able to lean on my cohort for advice, tips, and encouragement. Using a Twitter group chat, we were able to connect easily. This was a great place to go when I needed clarification about a deadline or just a boost of motivation.

Luis also organized a Google Meet session for all of us to meet “face to face.” This was a nice way to put a face to a name since we had all been reading each other’s blog posts and collaborating on group projects during each course.

Cohort 12 supporting each other along the way.

Sharing Resources & Learning on Twitter

Although I used Twitter before COETAIL, I have been more interactive on Twitter recently. Rather than only sharing something cool that I did with my students, I am trying to share resources I find useful more often. I even found some good resources from the new Cohort 13 group! I also utilized my PLN to find ideas and inspiration.

Local & Global Connections

During Course 5, I sought out deep learning opportunities that would support the 6 C’s for my students. One way that I was able to build citizenship and character was by connecting students with both global and local experts. By connecting students with experts on the social issues they were researching, students gained knowledge that deepened their empathy towards others. Their connections with these experts also gave them a first-hand account of real-world issues and how they might be solved.

The Marketing Director at my school helped me connect students researching gender equality with EuroCham in Vietnam’s co-chair of Human Resouces and Employment Rights. We were able to connect with Mrs. Galeski via Google Meet. This was an excellent way for my students to learn about what is being done right here in the country we live in to support gender equality.

Another group of students researching the long-lasting effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam was able to connect through Zoom with Vietnam War Veteran, Mr. Searcy. Mr. Searcy is living in Vietnam and works with Project Renew, a group dedicated to cleaning up Agent Orange and landmines left over from decades of war.

(Connecting with Mr. Searcy to arrange a Zoom time)

Additionally, I connected students with Dr. Plastic, a local Vietnamese man who runs a small recycling center dedicated to educating locals about the plastic issue in Vietnam and an environmental scientist living in Canada.

Students connected with Dr. Plastic via Zoom.
Making global connections through Skype a Scientist.

Building Character by Showing IT!

One of the things I wanted to do with my students is take them on a tour of several different social enterprises within our community. There are so many people doing great things right here in Hanoi, and this unit on Social Justice Issues was the perfect fit for connecting students with people who are actually doing something to make a difference.

I connected with KOTO Villa and Simple Coffee to arrange for a field trip during the teaching of my final project. We were all set to go on March 19, but then sadly there was a small COVID outbreak and we had to cancel our trip as we went to home learning.

Emails setting up a plan for our field tip.

Although we were unable to go on the field trip, I was able to share and watch this inspiring TV interview with the owners of Simple Coffee who also run Imago Work, a training facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Students were particularly inspired as one of the owners is a former teacher at our school. It was cool to hear that a few of my students even went to visit Simple Coffee on their own after watching the interview.

Utilizing School Community

I also found good opportunities to involve those within my school community. Our marketing department caught wind of our Social Justice Issues Unit and helped connect us with experts. They also interviewed my students and wrote a Facebook post on our school’s page.

I also reached out to a high school teacher after learning that our high school communications class would be preparing TED Talks. These students came to offer feedback to my students before giving their final presentations.

Upcoming Opportunities to Expand My PLN

Recently I was contacted by Kim Cofino asking if I would be interested in appearing on the Podcast Coach Better. I’ve never done a podcast before, but I thought this would be a great experience! I’ll be joining a group for their new series on Women Who Lead and The Coach on April 27.

Lastly, our cohort leader, Joel, Tweeted about a project his Grade 1 students were doing at ISP. I’ll be connecting my students in Vietnam with a class in Panama as we track patterns in the sky. We will hopefully be doing a virtual meetup over Google Meet soon as well!

Connecting and collaborating with others has taught me that people genuinely want to help, share, and support each other! I am surprised at how much I was able to use my PLN to create a deep learning experience for students. Even though my COETAIL journey is coming to an end, I will continue to be resourceful and utilize those both near and far!


As my personal COETAIL experience comes to an end, I want to hopefully inspire some of you out there who are considering joining. Check out my video below to hear more about my experience!

My Journey to COETAIL

Back in 2013, a teaching couple that I was working with in Seoul, South Korea told me about COETAIL. I was looking for a professional development opportunity in the area of educational technology and COETAIL sounded like the perfect fit for me. However, I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction instead.

During the time I was getting my master’s degree, I met several other educators through conferences I attended that had completed COETAIL. All of these educators impressed me with their skills, leadership, and knowledge. They were a great reminder that I should still join COETAIL!

After a few years, I had completed my Master’s Degree and was ready for a new challenge. In 2020, I was finally ready to begin.

SEt a Goal

At the beginning of each school year, my principal asks each teacher to set 3 goals for the year. To hold myself accountable for finally signing up for COETAIL, I made it one of my yearly goals. This meant I had to do it! There was no backing out or putting it off another year. I was also encouraged because my principal was enthusiastic about the idea!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Because two other teachers at our school had already completed the program, my principal was familiar with COETAIL. This was helpful because she was aware of the opportunities COETAIL would offer me as well as the benefits my students would reap from it. Furthermore, I had seen one of the COETAIL alumni from my school move from a classroom teacher to a S.T.E.M. teacher. Her COETAIL certificate had opened up this opportunity for her.  Seeing those doors open for this teacher, motivated me even more.

COVID adds an extra Challenge!

Six months or so after setting my goal of joining COETAIL, I joined cohort 12 that began in February of 2020. Right around the same time, schools were starting to shift from on-campus learning to home learning because of COVID-19. Doing home learning while working on COETAIL was challenging.

Spending hours on Zoom with students each day, creating video-recorded lessons, and keeping up with grading was time-consuming. It was difficult to find the motivation to complete my COETAIL work because I had already been on my computer all day.

Cohort 12 supporting each other along the way.

However, we (my cohort and instructor) were all in the same boat. Our instructor, Joel, was patient (as our work came in slowly) and our cohort was able to support one another by offering ideas and suggestions. Doing home learning while working on COETAIL allowed me to explore new technology tools I had never used before while building deep learning opportunities that students could access from home. Plus, I was able to use the material I was creating for COETAIL in the home learning environment.


As my COETAIL journey comes to an end, I can honestly say that this has been one of the best professional development opportunities I have been apart of. I have grown my PLN, added a trunkload of new resources and tools to my teaching “toolbox,” and witnessed my students benefit from the deep learning experiences I have created throughout the past year.

If you are looking to grow your PLN, engage in global collaborations, and transform student learning, COETAIL is the place to go! You’ll be supported by your instructor, cohort, and COETAIL Alumni. Don’t put it off like me. Make a plan and achieve your goal!

I’m also interested in hearing your journey to COETAIL stories! How did you hear about COETAIL? Did you join right away or put it off like me? What advice do you have for future COETAILers?



Learning Goals in Action!

Let’s Get This Started!

The past month has been a bit crazy. Our school went back on Home Learning for three weeks following a small COVID outbreak in Vietnam. This has been the only time we have been online this school year, so I feel very fortunate as I know some of you are just returning to on-campus learning after a full year.

My students are currently about 3/4 of the way through my final course project. Going online was an easy transition as I had everything for my final project unit set-up for the kids digitally anyways. This allowed the students to continue to work collaboratively and for me to offer feedback and small group instruction through Zoom.

The time to complete the Course 5 Project is already going by quickly, so it about time I start blogging again!

Going Back to the Beginning

To begin, I went back to my Orientation blog post on My Learning Goals this week.  Back in February of 2020, I identified ISTE Student Goal 7: Global Collaborator and ISTE Educator Goal 4: Collaborator as an area I wanted to focus on throughout my COETAIL experience.  I had a strong desire to give students opportunities to collaborate with others outside of the classroom, which would give them an early appreciation for authentic, real-world learning experiences.

My Course 5 Final Project is a Social Justice Issues Unit that will end with students doing a Ted Talk on their issues. One of my goals for this unit is to connect students with experts on their topics. What better time than now to connect students virtually!

A year after setting my learning goals for COETAIL and, I am finally taking ACTION to make these experiences happen.  Here’s how…

Skype a Scientist

I believe I was introduced to Skype a Scientist while reading one of the Online 12 Blog posts (not sure who it was). Skype a Scientist connects classrooms across the globe with real scientists. All you have to do is fill-out a Google Form, which includes the best times for your class to connect and what type of scientist you are looking to connect with.  After that, you wait to get an email like this telling you that a match has been found.

“We’ve Found a Match!”

Soon after receiving the email, I reached out to the scientist who is living in Alberta, Canada. We were able to set a time that worked for our polar opposite time zones, which ending up aligning with students coming back to on-campus learning as well!

Students in Hanoi listen to Marine Ecology and Conservation researcher, Ms. Garg from Alberta, Canada.

Five groups (10 students) are researching environmental issues for their Social Justice Issues Project. Having the opportunity to speak with Ms. Garg, allowed these students to hear first-hand from a real scientist what is being done to protect the oceans (particularly coral reefs) from human activity.

Not only was this experience insightful for those students researching that particular topic, but it was also inspiring for others as well. One group of girls is researching gender quality.  Ms. Garg was able to offer some advice to these girls about getting more women interested in S.T.E.M.

Skype a Scientist was so easy to do! It was a good step in what I hope is just the beginning of making more global connections. I can’t wait to share some more ways I have been able to make meaningful connections outside of the classroom for my students during Course 5.