So here I am at the end of 18 months of transformative learning.
Honestly, I thought I was quite knowledgeable about technology and learning before I started. I wasn’t sure how much Coetail would change what I did when I began, but I can say now that Coetail has completely transformed the way I think about planning learning experiences for students. And in my school, it has totally transformed the way students learn in the IB Core.
For me Coetail was timely. Changes were afoot in the Core of IB and in my school and Coetail brought these changes together into something coherent. Since starting Coetail, I, quite unexpectedly really, became IB Coordinator in my school (last year – this year my official title is Head of Sixth Form/IBDP Coordinator). Then, in January of this year, Approaches To Learning became a required part of the DP. Then in September of this year my school went 1:1.
So putting these three things together with Coetail meant a redesign of the Core of IB. I knew I wanted to make it so that one teacher worked with one group of students on TOK, CAS, explicitly building Approaches to Learning and PSHE. The benefit of this being increased pastoral support as well as a real coherence in the Core which is often seen as more of an add-on than at the heart of the IB Diploma. Doing this obviously involved initial timetabling implications, but then beyond that we had a fairly blank slate. Yes, there is a guide for TOK and CAS and there is the IB’s ATL website, but really these are all based on outcomes and pretty content free.
The next step then was to develop a curriculum of holistic units which we did. Then we took away an exercise book for TOK and replaced it with a blog for each student. Then we took away Managebac for CAS reflections and replaced it with the blog because it allows for more flexibility of reflection. Then we decided to use digital badges as a way to record progress in ATL skills, drawing on evidence from subjects. There are a number of other facets, but I explain this in the video, I think.
And so here it is, my Course 5 final project. Frankly, its cringeworthy as I decided to do a news special with me playing the part of the reporter and myself. But, I did it.
And so to reflect – Coetail has influenced me enormously which I hope is evident from the video and our blog network blogs.bsj.sch.id. I have to say I am really happy with the way blogging is going for our students. They have surpassed what we imagined in terms of engagement and blogging style. But for all the benefits I think blogging and redesigning the Core has had, one thing stands out. And that’s what we know about the students. We have some extremely quiet students in our school, some who it is difficult to get to know anything about. But through their blogs, I know how they think, how well they can relate TOK to their subjects, how engaged they are in CAS, how well they can write and reflect, how good their ATL skills are, how they feel about their studies and school, what they do outside of school and much much more. And I know this for 95 students. In terms of personal approach to learning, giving students independent learning skills and increasing pastoral care, blogging has definitely been a winner!