Some strategies for effective teaching and learning

Student agency and teacher’s responsiveness and adaptability are probably some of the most important components of an effective and inclusive classroom. In order to observe this effectiveness and modeling personalized learning with teachers, I am in favour of the cognitive coaching approach where the coachee and the coach first meet to determine what the goal is, and how data will be collected during the observation. This sets the basis of trust and objectivity for classroom observation. The teacher can decide to self-observe by videotaping her/himself or by asking a coach to observe. Data gathering can take the form of anecdotal notes, can be a record of student/teacher talk time ratio, can be a script of the questions the learners or teacher asked etc. Through this qualitative process, teachers can reflect by themselves on what they think they might want to focus on, to continuously catalyse learning and grow as professionals.

I have not moved into a supervision role in my capacity as a Coach but I have experimented with a walkthrough tool created by Highlander Institute that has allowed me to self-observe. This template includes different aspects: classroom culture, student agency, pacing and self-directedness.

Strategies for helping teachers to engage learners and increase learning retention

For me, the most effective way to support educators to engage learners and increase learning retention is Cognitive Coaching. The mission of Cognitive Coaching is to produce self-directed persons. With the skills of coaching patterns, building rapport, listening and inquiring to explore or specify thinking, we are able to clarify thoughts and go deeper into a our instructional practices to find practical solutions to support student learning. Having those conversations builds trust and focuses on teachers’ strengths while revealing areas of growth. Coaching conversations have been transformational because coachees find the resourcefulness within themselves and develop empowerment.

As we continue undergoing the implementation of instructional coaching in my current school, the pace of professional learning is becoming more flexible and personalized. Teachers focus on quality over quantity, they self-assess and understand their strengths and “stretches”. They develop their own goals, track their progress and identify their plan of action autonomously.

As I use Adaptive School strategies with team members, I have also noticed a shift from assumptions to data. Teachers focusing on learning data are able to move forward in solution finding and impact student learning in the long run.

Peer observations is another effective practice to consider when it comes to making significant impact on student learning. Teachers can share practices with colleagues by modeling and can learn by observing practices in action. This can also be done with video-taping, to some extent. Those experiences are transformational when time is committed to unpacking the observation afterward (with a reflective conversation).

My experience with CBE

My experience in personalizing learning through the use of Competency Based Education (CBE) revolves around knowing my student’s learner profile (strengths, interests, aspirations, needs, IEP if any, and any relevant standardized test scores), being flexible with their learning pace (some learners are engaged in completely different tasks within the same class), and collecting learning evidence to monitor their advancements (data that demonstrates how learners advance in their learning, and which becomes part of their portfolio).

In the beginning of the school year, I assessed the learners with a diagnostic test I created to understand their prior competencies. Based on their results, we co-created individualized goals that are appropriately challenging for each learner and we decided how exactly we will track learning data.

Throughout the unit of inquiry, I provide non-judgemental, scaffolded feedback and integrate assessments ‘just in time’. As the learners are self-directed, they track their own data and move from one performance level to another when they achieve proficiency in the competency.

The data we collect is qualitative and quantitative, depending on the student’s goal and we can measure using 3 levels of proficiency (3-Meets, 2-Approaches and 1- Below Expectations).

In my French classroom, learners own the learning environment because they keep co-designing it with me, whether we are talking about the physical space or the socio-emotional and virtual spheres. We start all our classes with a grounding or inclusive activity (greetings, mindfulness…), and then I engage and activate learning by letting learners break out to work on their goals. I monitor the learning during the lesson using various strategies and before the students leave, they have a mini exit ticket that relates to their goal. This structured routine allows students to be present to the content of their learning as well as reflect on how they learn. This way, they take ownership of the learning.

I use a blended environment in my classes to offer various pathways (both offline and online) to ensure the integration of various sensory needs and promote equity and inclusion. We make regular use of Seesaw and Google Classroom and integrate third-party tools as necessary (for example Thinglinks to showcase interactive and non-linear content that is co-created with the learners). Because the environment is designed for Personalized Learning, there are multiple learning zones that can be created on the spot (campfire, waterhole, mountain top, cave, sandpit…) and the learning modalities (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, vestibular…) makes the learning visible and tangible.

In this context, students and teachers bond: they develop trust and strong relationships. Learners become increasingly self-directed and are able to articulate their needs, know themselves as learners and make decisions that impact their learning positively (for example by choosing the pace or the process to demonstrate their understanding of a concept). Learning is released and retained in a sustainable way and fewer gaps occur.


I have been quite impressed at how much we can get from the ‘discipline’ of journaling.

Closeup Photo of Journal Book and Pencils

Journaling allows us to dive deep into ourselves. We think about ourselves, our learning, we reflect and we become more aware of things we want to accomplish, things that are important to us and how we might get there.

I have noticed that journaling is an excellent tool for self-reflection, a great habit for self-improvement and for learning, and teaching!

I am starting an experiment with my students very soon where they will use their own journal at every class (or at least every week) to record their growing awareness(es) about their learning (while they are learning French) as well as writing down what they notice/d about themselves as learners (and simply as humans / persons)!

I am looking forward to seeing them involved in this exercise and finding out how this might contribute to showcasing learning evidence.

Paper electronics resources

Jie Qi (Chibitronics) had share many resources with participants to her ISTE18 session. I thought that might be useful to share it back (I know she is ok with that!):



Video tutorials:

Full Circuit Sticker Sketchbook download:

Simple card template:



Love to Code:

Text editor:

Makecode block editor:





Conductive patch tutorial:

Soldering on paper tutorial:

USB cable hack tutorial:



Jie’s PhD defense presentation:

ISTE & SEPT (June 2016):

ISTE 2017:



Electronic Pop-up Book:

Self-folding paper:

Dandelion Painting:

Heart blush card:

Circuit Stickers intro:

Sample Sketchbook:



General useful electronic components:

General guide on textiles and crafts blended with electronics:


Bulk coin cell batteries:

Conductive fabric:

Conductive double-sided adhesive:

Soldering iron:

Lead-free solder:

General conductive materials:

Velostat for making pressure sensors:



21st Century Notebooking Google Group:

Nexmap Hack Your Notebook:

Exploratorium Paper Circuits:

Instructables Chibitronics tutorials:

Bling the Book: Circuits on Paper:

Paper Circuits Code resources:

Sparkfun Paper Electronics page:



PhD dissertation:

Paper Electronics: Circuits on Paper for Learning and Self-Expression

By Jie Qi


Paper Electronics with Circuit Stickers

By Jie Qi, Jennifer Dick and David Cole


Sketching in Circuits: Designing and Building Electronics on Paper

By Jie Qi and Leah Buechley


Electronic Popables: Exploring Paper-Based Computing through an Interactive Pop-up Book

By Jie Qi and Leah Buechley


Felted Paper Circuits Using Joomchi

By Nicholas A. Knouf



Art of Tinkering

by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrarch


Make: Paper Inventions: Machines that Move, Drawings that Light Up, and Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll Paperback

by Kathy Ceceri


Big Book of Makerspace Projects: Inspiring Makers to Experiment, Create, and Learn

By Colleen Graves and Aaron Graves


Makeology: Makerspaces as Learning Environments (Volume 1)

Edited by Kylie Peppler, Erica Halverson, Yasmin B. Kafai



Makeology: Makers as Learners (Volume 2)

Edited by Kylie Peppler, Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, Yasmin B. Kafai


Invent to Learn

By Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager


Invent to Learn: Guide to Fun

By Josh Burker and Sylvia Martinez