Kuwait: Year 2!

I cannot believe it’s already September! We had a great summer: spent quality time with lots of friends & family, traveled for a month in the US, and mostly disconnected. Now we’re back in Kuwait for year 2 (year 5 teaching) and school is already under way!

It was incredibly refreshing to disconnect from my PLN this summer. I didn’t blog, keep up with Twitter or read my RSS feeds. During the last 2.5 weeks back “home,” I’ve been trying to get used to the heat while getting ready to dive in full force this semester. Today starts COETAIL Course 3 and EDL 661 with UKSTL. I’ll be taking 12 graduate credits this semester and have already started to feel a bit overwhelmed. However, I’m incredibly ready to be challenged, fulfilled and rewarded. Looking at the outlines for all 4 courses has made me eager and excited. I can’t wait to start learning and growing professionally!

I plan to continue to reflect professionally and share resources on this blog. However with a total of 21 graduate credits while working full-time this year, I may not be posting regularly (not that I did before either!). I would, however, like to continue to grow my PLN and collaborate with educators around the world.

I’ve tried incredibly hard to come back to school this year with a positive, go-with-the-flow attitude. I’ve decided to make myself stand out in my position (as technology coach) by intentionally showing teachers that I care about how they’re doing and supporting them. The first week with new & returning staff was an amazing week of professional discussion and collaboration organized by the middle & high school principals. It set a great tone for the start of the school year. The entire 6-12 staff participated in several protocols (including Compass Points – I’m a north with tendencies towards east & west). I particularly liked the text-based protocols and the articles chosen. Our HS principal also shared a video with me that is worth slowint down and watching for 20 minutes: Celebrate What’s Right with the World. If only more human beings had this attitude…what a world it could be!

Happy September, happy school year and happy new beginnings!


Advice needed for Technology Coaches

In February, my husband and I were hired as Technology Coaches at an international school going 1:1 this fall with iPads. This position was a brand new position and we were told we were hired because of our experiences working in 1:1 environments and giving PD. We found out a couple months later that they had hired a 3rd coach to work with us (no longer would we be working as a husband-wife team, but with another person whom we had never met). Upon arrival in August, we found out that the three of us would be working as a K-12 team (our school has about 1800 students and is divided into divisions – elementary, middle, high). We are excited about this new venture, but are in need of all the help we can get in order to be successful. As a team, the three of us came up with the following job description….

The primary role of the technology coach is to collaborate with teachers in order to
integrate technology in a meaningful and effective way in their classrooms. Responsibilities may include:
– assisting teachers in lesson planning regarding the integration of technology in ways
that support teacher goals and further student achievement.
– facilitating school-based high-quality professional development across all grade levels
(prek-12) and subject areas.
– meeting and working with teachers in teams or individually on an ongoing basis to refine
 their knowledge and skills. Examples include in-class coaching, peer observing,
and/or modeling of instructional strategies.

It is up to the three of us to make the K-12 vision of the admin a successful reality. If you have experience as a Technology Integration Coach (or a similar title), working as a K-12 team of teachers…or any other relevant expertise, please share below!


First day of school

It’s been an interesting experience to start the year off teaching when my mindset had completely changed. Since February I’ve been preparing myself to be a Technology Coach…not a teacher. Especially not a teacher in an international school. I just finished my first of 2 classes for the day. First day of school, first class I taught at AIS, first class I’ve ever taught made of up entirely 9th graders! They are eager to please but sneaky at the same time and wow are they squirrelly! There were 21 of them in a room half the size of a normal classroom.


If you didn’t notice…there is no computer or projector in this room. It is a brand new classroom and not entirely ready for classes to be taking place. Very interesting to teach with no technology!

In groups they made lists of words/phrases they remembered and then put their best 6 on the board. First impressions on their ability…they learn faster and have better pronunciation than the American students I’ve taught. This is their 3rd year of French and is equivalent to my level 2 class in the US. They remembered quite a bit and we had a good discussion about nouns and verbs. Their first formative assignment (I need to get used to the lingo in an IB school!) due tomorrow is a family tree. I’m giving them lots of freedom, hoping I get some good results 😉

I did not tell them that I won’t be there teacher for the entire year, although I briefly mentioned no gum, no food, no cell phones and no online translators. Their new teacher is supposed to arrive late Sunday night so I’m not exactly sure when she’ll be taking over. I may just be teaching through Sunday, I may be teaching 2 full weeks. I’m planning on telling them during our 2nd or 3rd class together that there will be a different teacher. I want to balance between them getting attached and the misbehaving because I’m not staying. We shall see!

This afternoon I have my first DP class. I imagine it will be quite the opposite…grade 11 students taking their first French class. The schedule here is really different. I’ll have to share it another time!

Review with #iPads

**I meant to do this post awhile ago, but it’s been crazy around here.**

At the beginning of the year, I always do weeks and weeks of review with my French 2 & 3 students. I start with a pre-test to see where my students strengths and weaknesses are. I was going to embed these, but they’re too long! French 2 & French 3 pre-tets. Usually the results aren’t so positive 😦

Since I’ve already taught all of this information, I don’t really feel like teaching it again. I put my students in charge of their own learning, making sure they understand that if they can teach somebody else something they are that much closer to mastering it. This year I decided to allow the students to create their lessons using the iPads and Keynote. I’ve used the iPods a lot, but having only 5 iPads doesn’t allow me to use them very often.

**Note: I really enjoyed using iPads for this project and would definitely do it again. We bought Keynote but I think it was worth it. Since this project I have been told about a couple other apps that I think would work great for a stand-alone tutorial although I haven’t experimented (ScreenChomp and ShowMe interactive whiteboard).**

Based on the pre-test and discussions with students, I made a list of review groups. For my French 3 class, these were 1) useful vocab, present -ir & -re verbs and faire; 2) object pronouns; 3) passé composé & imparfait and present tense avoir & être; 4) futur proche & passé récent, reflexive verbs and present tense aller & venir. I randomly drew students names and allowed them to sign up for their desired group. Groups were capped at 6 people (for my large French 2 class) but most groups but most groups had 4-5.

**Note: Next time I would probably put them into groups taking into account their strengths and weaknesses, their ability level and how they work with other students. I would also limit the group size to 3 or 4 instead of 5 or 6.**

After the groups were figured out, I asked students to choose a job. All the students were responsible for finding the information for the presentation (using the textbooks, dictionaries, online textbook and any other sources they wanted). I promoted google docs for collaboration, but its awesomeness doesn’t always sink in. One to two students were in charge of finding the correct answers for a section of the pre-test.




A couple other students (2-3) started creating activities for the class to do after learning about their topic. In order to help them create engaging activities so that the class could use the learned information, we had a class discussion about what type of activities they would be interested in. They were most interested in activities that got them up and moving and involved video. I have lots of kinesthetic and visual learners! Lastly, one person was in charge of creating the Keynote slide show for their lesson. I asked that this person be tech savvy but I did not tell them that they would be using the iPads. 😉 I took these students out in the hallway, gave each an iPad and had them walk themselves through the tutorial provided when you purchase Keynote. Then I had them create their own presentation to mess around with.




**Note: I think it is extremely important to allow students to to play around with the new technology first. After having iPods for a year, I have learned to explicitly teach them how to use new programs and to let them explore before allowing them to create the final product. This takes quite a bit of time up front, but is always worth it in the end.**

The next day, after I allowed them to get started, we created the rubric together. I told them that there were two non-negotiable criteria for the rubric – depth of content and accuracy of content. Then I had them complete an anonymous google form to gather information from them.

Here are some of their responses:
As you can see, many of them had similar ideas. These similarities appeared not only within the same classes, but across classes and levels. This is our final rubric. Lastly, I asked them who they thought should grade each portion of the rubric. With a little bit of guiding from me (only a little!), all classes decided that I should grade on both of the content criteria but that all students should have some say in how creative & original the lesson was and how engaging and educational the activity was. They also decided that the group members should decide on the grades of the other members of the group.

**Note: I had never allowed students input in the rubric and I thought it was a great experience! I was surprised at how similar their responses were. I think they took more ownership of the project and their grades because of the input I allowed them.**

This has been very long winded! Later I’ll be back with how we set up the lessons & activities, how I collected student input for the group grades, final student products & their thoughts on the project and some final notes 🙂