Tag Archives: VisualLiteracy

Course 5 Final Project: My COETAIL Learning Journey

The final version of my Course 5 Final Project is here! I have titled it My COETAIL Learning Journey because most of what I have learned through the course of this program is demonstrated in my final project video. My project itself is explained in quite a bit of detail within my video, so I will spare you those details for now. First, I’d like to highlight some important points.

Use of Technology

My final project video shows obvious evidence of technology use in my classroom. I have chosen to show examples of technology use at each level of the SAMR model – technology that both enhances AND transforms my teaching practice. Within this particular unit, as you will see in my video, the technology used by my students (and myself) allowed for the creation of new learning experiences, made possible by current technology not previously possible. Such examples include using the various capabilities of Google Docs and the creation of a video documentary.

Active Learning

Student-centered activities were at the heart of this unit plan (see below). Using a Google Doc as their notebook (including much of the functionality that comes along with such an app), actively engaging in a Socrative quiz, participating in an online game, and creating a video documentary allowed my students to become independently and actively engaged in their learning process nearly all of the time. Especially with the documentary, students were asked to make most of the decisions for this project on their own, and I was surprisingly pleased with the results!

Classroom Management

The classroom management piece may be the least obvious component as you watch my final project video; however I can honestly say that I have had very little classroom management issues during this unit. I attribute this to the fact that I was actively aware of what all of my students were doing. I was able to freely interact with my students and personally challenge them as they worked. I was also able to connect with them through their Google Doc notebook and the Google Doc that they were using for their documentary project. This unit plan was very well thought out and organized, thank you to the fact that I was able to work on the planning of this project during course 4! During the course of this unit, my students worked in the classroom area, the lab area, and the learning commons (library), which gave them a variety of spaces in which to work creatively. We also invited the librarian into our classroom, as well as visiting her in the library to help us with finding relevant resources, properly citing our sources (especially for the documentary project), and using a resource called Noodle Tools.

School Technology Standards

The ISTE Standards for students have been authentically embedded into their learning experiences during this unit as you will see in my final project video, as well as in the embedded unit planner above. Students were informed of these standards in the beginning of and throughout the unit. The chosen standards are appropriate for this content and age group, and they have been assessed during the unit.

Authentic Assessment

Their were two major products within this unit among many smaller formative assessments along the way. These two products were: The Energy of Evaporation Lab Report and the Documentary Video Project both of which effectively match to our learning outcomes. Both of these assessment tasks reflect real-world application of learning. The lab report allowed the students to communicate like real scientists communicate, and the documentary project allowed the students to create a meaningful video that could inspire others to change how they treat our planet earth. Students were inspired by a documentary that we watched earlier in the school year, titled Before the Flood. Here are some of the documentaries created by my students 🙂


As you will see in my final project video below, I have included citations for all images and sources that were used to create my video. I also required the same of my students for their video documentary project as evidenced in their rubric for the project. I didn’t feel completely confident imparting this information to my students alone, so I asked our librarian (as previously mentioned) to help me with this task before my students began their project. Our librarian did an absolutely amazing job explaining copyright and fair use guidelines in a way that our students could easily understand.

Visual Literacy

I am hoping that this visual literacy piece is evident in my final project video. My classroom lessons, as well as this video have been enhanced by effective use of visual literacy strategies that I have learned about in my COETAIL courses. The video documentary project is the second video project that our students have completed in grade 9 science this year, and we went over some of these important strategies after the first video project when we realized that we really needed to! We also went over the importance of specific visual literacy strategies for creating a video documentary and how that might differ from any other videos that the students create. A documentary has a specific purpose, and our students were challenged with creating a video that effectively communicated their message.

Now, presenting my Course 5 Final Project Video…

Final Reflection

In conclusion, I can honestly say that I am very happy to be done with this project! The COETAIL courses and the final project itself have proved to be quite challenging for me in many ways. I have learned a lot through the duration of these courses, and I believe that I am a more equipped teacher as a result of having taken these courses. It, for sure, was time well spent. My hope, as always, is to continue being a lifelong learner, especially in regards to technology! I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

Who Are YOU? Revisted

Who doesn’t love a good story? My personal favorite is a story that I hear first hand from the person it happened to. For me, those stories always seem to be the best because the storyteller has that experience. They know what it looked like, what it felt like, what it smelled like, what it sounded like…

Some Rights Reserved: bgblogging

I have NEVER used digital storytelling in my class, and I am having a hard time coming up with how it could be used in my classroom or even in my subject area. As stated in one of my previous blog posts,

I am THE worst storyteller ever!

I am working on that with including visuals into my presentations that allow me to “tell the story” of the scientific concept that we are discussing in class. Check out this TED Talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about “The danger of a single story” and why storytelling can be SO important in our lives.

YouTube Preview Image


I have come up with one idea so far. In the middle of January, my students finished their “Chemical Identity Mask Projects,” which were a part of my Course 1 Final Project. After much scaffolding on my part and much research on my students’ part, my students created a physical mask of their own face. They decorated their mask so that it was representative of themselves (answering the question, Who Are YOU?) AND an element from the periodic table. In addition to the mask, students were also asked to create an artist statement video that communicated their “chemical identity.”

CC0 Public Domain: johnhain

This year was the first time that I had my students create a video. In years past, students would always submit an essay that described how their mask depicted their personality and the unique characteristics of an element from the periodic table. Since this was the first time I incorporated a technological component, I left the video requirements quite open.

BUT, what if, next year, I require my students to create a digital story to accomplish the artist statement video portion of this project? This would allow my students to explore the use of digital storytelling and give them more concrete requirements as to what I expect for their video. (I would have loved to post some of my students’ videos. Since my students appear in these videos, and I did not feel comfortable asking parents for permission, I will not be able to post any of their videos.)

Again, I am not the most creative person, but I am working on it! I can see digital storytelling as an excellent tool for both learning and assessment. I am trying to bring back creativity to my science classroom, which all too often gets lost in everything else that needs to get done!

Some Rights Reserved: Wesley Fryer

How do YOU use digital storytelling in your classroom? How do you think I could use it in my classroom (please, help!)? I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution Curves & Periodic Trends

That’s some science talk! As a science teacher, I am constantly using images during class – in my presentations, to aid ELL learners, to figure out a concept that I too struggle with! I am new to the IB curriculum, and chemistry can be difficult 😉 So, not only do images aid in the learning of my students, but they help me to become a better teacher of my scientific discipline.

I usually just Google an image and plop it into my presentation – DONE! And I also usually have no idea if I am really allowed to use those images. BUT with the Creative Commons image search that I am now aware of, I know that the images I am using are appropriate to use in the classes that I teach.

IB Chemistry Standard Level Year II

Here is the first image that I searched for on the Creative Commons image search, and I searched, “Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution,” and this is one of the first images that came up. In my year 2 chemistry class, we are currently learning about chemical kinetics, which includes what affects the rate of a reaction. This image is now a part of our Chemical Kinetics presentation (see slide 8). I linked the actual image in the presentation to show where this image came from. (I am wondering if it would be appropriate to include a caption as well.) I have already used this image in my lesson, and I asked my students the following questions about the image:

  • Which noble gas do you think has the highest temperature? How do you know this?
  • Which noble gas do you think has the highest energy? How do you know this?
  • Why do each of these noble gases have particles of varying speeds?

Visual imagery definitely supports our curricular content in chemistry. Oftentimes, chemistry is such an abstract subject, and it is difficult for students to “see” what is happening at the molecular level. Including images allows students to “see” and better understand how chemistry works 🙂


IB Chemistry Higher Level Year I

Here is the second image that I searched for on the Creative Commons image search, and I searched, “Periodic trends,” and this is the very first image that came up. In my year 1 chemistry class, we are currently learning about the periodic table, which includes various trends that are associated with the periodic table. This image is now a part of our Periodic Table presentation (see slide 12). I plan to use this image in my class this week, and I was thinking about asking them questions similar to the following:

  • Why do you think electron affinity and ionization energy have the same trend?
  • Why does atomic radius increase down a group?
  • Why does atomic radius decrease across a period? Does this answer contradict your previous answer? If so, does that make sense?
  • What does metallic and nonmetallic character have to do with electron affinity and/or ionization energy (if anything)?

As stated above, visual imagery is an integral part of our curricular content in chemistry. It allows our students to “see” the unseen or at least try to make some sense of it 🙂


I am a HUGE fan of visuals especially in the classroom, but I am not all that sure that I am making the most of them. I think I can do better. Any suggestions? How do you use visual imagery to support your curricular content? Ideas wanted! I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂