Coaching: Learning along with the Learners

As a coach, I have been thrown into the world of 3d printing. This is my story:

Im pretty new to 3D printing. About 3 months ago a few Grade 2 students asked me if they could print something on the 3D printer during their iTime (See this post by Kath Murdoch on iTime). I was pretty excited to use the 3D printer in an authentic way to help students in learning and wondering. This post is from my notes from the experience.

We’ve been engaging in iTime at my school for a little over a year now. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. I am fortunate to work across the primary school assisting teachers and students with technology integration. We didn’t just set out to print something but had a carefully drawn up plan or attack. As Kath puts it:

We need to be crystal clear about the broader learning intentions of such things as passion projects or iTime. This means, amongst other things:

Taking time to develop clear criteria and guidelines with students agreeing on ways to ensure accountability explicitly identifying the skill sets accompanying the learning tasks students design building self assessment and reflection into the process Kath Murdoch (2015)- Seeing Beyond the Cupcakes- What iTime Should Really be About

Our criteria and guidelines for this project is briefly outlined below.

Session 1: We sat down and brainstormed and made some agreements on the way forward and what we would achieve in our meetings. Students had all sorts of questions about how the 3D printer worked. To them it seemed a minor miracle that I printed a Yoda Head that I hadn’t designed myself but merely found the .stl file on Thingyverse. Cool nonetheless right? I didn’t see much value in just finding something and printing it. Whatever these 4 boys wanted to print there had to be some sort of independent design and thought involved. For session 1, we drew, talked, wondered and examined the 3D printer in the Makerpsace that happened to be in action printing something (no, not another Yoda head). At the end of the session, we had many ideas from 3D printing a drone to a ‘mini me’ statue to a robot. We wrote about our blue sky thinking in our Easyblog Learning Stories for documentation. Skills: communication, critical thinking, asking good questions. Dispositions: Resourceful

Session 2: I had pondered the kids ideas all week, they were imaginative ideas but not so practical. Session 2 provided more clarity for us all. Over the week, the learners had (thankfully) changed their minds and wanted to print..a fidget spinner! My first reaction was ‘gah’! but I sat and listed to their proposal and they had some crude drawings on their plan. The had some sound ideas. They also had a few more questions of 3D printing. We addressed some of those questions and misconceptions first through teacher guided research. Then back to the plan. I had listened to the kids discuss how they could make the spinner, and then what I heard surprised me a bit, they were talking about math. Measurements to be exact. I had some sealed bearings on hand and we grabbed a ruler and measured the bearings, and roughly figured out the spinners dimensions (with my help). One of the biggest things I learned is that I had to give the kids TIME to explore the materials they needed (like the bearings) which led to more wonderings like- how does a ball-bearing spin? What is inside it? How can we open one?….The kids were stoked and couldn’t wait for the next session to print. Skills: communication, numeracy, Dispositions: Resourceful, Resilience.

Session 3: Students were a bit disappointed to learn we weren’t printing today. We hadn’t designed it yet! We used Tinkercad to make our design (I had to take some time myself to learn how to do this first). We used our accurate measurements and plugged them into the design starting with the basic shapes they drew. The kids did this by themselves but took a while as each learner had their own part to design on my Macbook which was super impressive. This process was again recorded on their iPads then put in Easyblog to record their progress. Skills: self-management, patience. Dispositions: Resourceful, Resilience.

Session 4: Print Day! We hurried down to the Makerspace to print our spinners. I printed one the day before just to see if we had the measurements right and it all worked out well. We made 4 copies- 1 for each learner in the project and began the print. While it printed, we had time to further observe, record and explore our wonderings and reflect on the process. Skills: communication, data gathering, observation, asking good questions. Dispositions: Resilience

Session 5: Play and Presentation. I cleaned up the prints for them as it required sharp tools but let them struggle a bit with the tight ball bearing fit. They were pretty happy with their design and and final product. We debriefed a bit, examining the challenges, what we would do next time without over analysing it all, however the presentation part of this I wish we could have done a bit better. More celebration. Maybe even showing our spinners at a school assembly or making a little video clip of the process to share with the school community. Skills: communication.
Dispositions: Reflective

One of the students wanted to improve the design and make a more complicated spinner, different shapes with more bearings while another wants to make a car to attach a motor to it and make it move. All 3D designed and printed of course. I’ll have to do my homework and figure it out myself because I dont really know how to do it yet. The best part of working with kids in this way is that I often don’t know myself and I need to learn along WITH the children which essentially makes us learning partners. I must admit it’s pretty fun.

I’d like to thank my 2 awesome colleagues @janeinjava and @hugoindratno for inspiration and teamwork as I love stealing their ideas and seeing the cool stuff they make with 3D printing and design. Worth a follow on Twitter and Instagram if you are interested in levelling up your maker skills.

Feedback for Current #COETAIL-ers

As the school year winds down, there’s a lot of activity on the COETAIL feed! Online 4 just finished Course 5 while Online 5 just finished Course 4. This time of year is a great opportunity to get involved in the COETAIL community. There are Course 5 final projects waiting to be watched. There are Course 4 final project ideas waiting for feedback. When you need a short break from end of the year activities, check out #COETAIL on Twitter or the COETAIL feed. If the recent feed on the homepage isn’t organized enough for you, the tags page will help you quickly find relevant blog posts. Below is a guide to clarifying & probing questions and warm & cool feedback. I love this community and can’t wait to see all the great things happening from the current and recently graduated COETAIL-ers!

#COETAILchat 3.6.16

On Sunday Megan and I co-hosted a #COETAILchat at a different time in order to allow more people in various time zones to participate. An hour and a couple hundred tweets later, I think it worked!


#COETAILchat March 6, 2016   Megan connected with Joel and a #COETAILchat about the COETAIL continuum, social media and collaboration was born. &nbsp Thank you to everyone who contributed to and participated in the chat…near and far! Although this chat was only an hour, feel free to continue to share your story!



#COETAILchat March 6, 2016 (1)


Disrupting Professional Development #CoetailChat

I think this was the biggest turnout for a CoetailChat yet. Feel free to look back through the chat, and come to #CoetailChat to continue the discussion

#CoetailChat happens on the last Sunday of each month around 9 pm Japan Standard Time (1pm GMT+0).

Everyone in the Coetail Community is welcomed to suggest topics for further chats and to moderate it with us (if you so desire).

The #CoetailChat team is @robert @shary-marshall @thammerlund @jasongraham99 @chezvivian

-Thomas Hammerlund

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If I were to start it all over again…

When I was 20 years old and living in Melbourne, I worked at an old world Italian restaurant. It was a tiny place. Sandro, the owner, had emigrated to Australia in the 1950’s, and he had some great stories to tell. One night he struck up a nostalgic conversation with me, talking about his youth. He looked at me and wheezed through a smile, “Ah, Marcello, to be your age, and have my money…” I had no idea what he meant. I felt young and pretty clueless. I felt like my age was a bit of a handicap…

As I have become older I have often thought back at episodes in my life and thought what I might do thing differently if I faced those same opportunities and challenges now. Not in terms of money, but in terms of confidence, experience, and in terms of learning.

Watching new Coetail cohorts spring up, bringing new faces and ideas into the community, has made me think back my own Coetail experience. It was not long ago that I began reading and writing online as part of the first online cohort. Mine are not the sepia stained memories one usually associates with contemplative reflection. But Coetail was my very first foray into being a connected learner, and dealing with all that that notion entails, so it does seems like a long time ago to me. So what would be different if I started it all again?


Well, I think that I would arm myself with the understanding that yes, sharing your ideas with strangers is a very powerful opportunity to learn, but it is not that simple. Connecting your ideas,thoughts, and your learning journey to that of other learners, it all takes courage. And it takes a willingness to make yourself vulnerable. So in retrospect, if I started Coetail tomorrow, I would try to live my new learning journey in a sustained state of vulnerability. In the words of Brenee Brown, I would strive to always be willing to show up and be seen in your new learning community.

Transformation starts with yourself

by Reid Wilson

by Reid Wilson

Image by Reid Wilson @WayfaringPath


Welcome to another cohort of Coetailers!  Congratulations, you’re one of the cool kids on the block now 😉

I came across this web article by Forbes, via my twitter feed, during the summer.  It is not a new article. The date on it is April 2012. Still, it really resonates with me.  I think it is an excellent encapsulation of what Coetail is about.

The web article is about “Creating Innovators” (Let’s disregard the fact that the article is pointed to the United States and remember that all education systems in the world are working towards fostering innovators.)

If I had to pick one overarching theme for Coetail, it would be:

Raising Innovators:  pushing the boundaries of good practice to use technology in innovative ways, so that we can be innovative teachers, in order to raise our young people to be Innovators of the future.  

Why the need for Transformation?

Young people need more than to be filled with content and knowledge, while in school.  “Content and knowledge is no longer a competitive advantage” (Forbes) when everything is easily googled at our fingertips.  We carry more computing power in our pockets in the form of smart phones than what they carried to the first moon landing.

The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know (Forbes).

The workforce has changed a great deal because of the Information Age.  Past expectations were that you got a degree at a university and then a job.  Nowadays, young people might be expected to create their own jobs, through their own start-ups.


Core Competencies that Transform

Research cited by Forbes identified the core competencies that need to be developed in young people to make them Innovators:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)
  • Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • Accessing and analyzing information
  • Effective written and oral communication
  • Curiosity and imagination

I think that one of the reasons that this article seems to encapsulate Coetail so well for me is that our studies and participation in the community develops all of these above attributes.

You’ll see Coetailers:

  • asking hard questions via our blogposts, G+ communities here and here, twitter, and through twitter chats (including #CoetailChat)
  • working together across the globe and timezones, and rising up in leadership when they hear the call
  • blogging, tweeting, re-writing unit plans to integrate redefining technology, mentoring & coaching colleagues, managing apps & devices, as well as classrooms.  Isn’t this the very picture of agility and adaptability?
  • organizing and spreading Learning 2.0 conferences  around the globe, forming Eduro Learning  for theme-based online professional development, teaching in international conferences
  • helping students search, research, and present more effectively in the Information Age
  • sharing our professional expertise through blogging, creating videos, making infographics, publishing ebooks, publishing youtube tutorials etc. etc.
  • always searching for new and better ways to equip our students for a future that is quite unknown

You see, transforming the educational landscape isn’t about getting the right tools or getting the right governmental or administrative oversight.  It’s really about transforming ourselves first. We can’t grow a generation of Innovators without being Innovators ourselves.


How we’re doing it

Forbes list some ways to re-invent education.  I also see all these in our community:

  1. Innovation is a team sport so the focus is not on individual competitive achievement
  2. Innovation is about integration across multiple disciplines to meet multiple situations.  It’s not about teaching the discrete subject of ICT.
  3. Encouragement and reward for risk-taking, instead of punishment for failure
  4. A focus on creating new content instead of just consuming content
  5. Harnessing your passions so they are the driver of your learning, and not just letter grades

I hope the thought of participating in a new educational paradigm excites you.  We can’t ever hope to deliver a new thing, without being a new thing first.  (There’s an analogy about pouring new wine into old wineskins that would fit in here, if you know it.  😉 )

I wish everyone a fantastic school year and a transformative learning journey along the way.   Remember, the entire Coetail community is here to support you!