In Aleta's post she found some great videos to supplement her blog. Most of these videos talked about how education is not keeping up with the present day. The world is changing and we need to change with it, rather than staying stuck int he past. In a YouTube video she found Andreas Schleicher made the point that we don't need to try to teach kids everything because Google already knows the answer. This made me chuckle. Rather trying to cram students brains full of information, we need to teach kids to apply their knowledge in new situations. She also found a strategy by Dr. Pravin Bhatia that sounds like what I have heard of as jigsaw. I didn't think about using this in a makerspace, but it does sound like it would be perfect to wrap up students thoughts and share what they are learning.
Anastasia gave a recount of her personal learning experience with technology. I really appreciated this because I believe everyone can relate to it in some way, even if it is with something other than technology. She explained that she learned technology because it was a requirement to get where she wanted to be. You learn things to get better at something you want to get better at. I love the quote she picked: “Piaget reminds us that knowledge is the consequence of experience. Working on personally meaningful projects, within the curriculum or as a hobby, is a powerful way to learn.” Learning is a natural process of doing something you enjoy. I think this is a huge takeaway for me in realizing that student learning does not have to look like what everyone envisions in a classroom. Students can do things they love, learning will just look different. But, this does not mean that they are not learning. She also found a list of 15 characteristics of a 21st century teacher that I also found. This is a great list and I picked 3 that I have been looking into more: Twitter, PBL, and coding.
Teresa commented on my blog about the camaraderie of this class. A lot of 21st century learning is based on collaboration and peer support. You work together and I believe this class fosters that idea. Even though we can't physically meet in the same location we are able to work together and trouble shoot. It is always nice to know that others are working and struggling the same as you are. Gerald gave me some resources for coding that I will be checking out.
Gerald did a great job connecting his school's vision to why the schools would benefit from a makerspace. This was a great idea and really made a compelling argument that could be taken to administrators. He also talked about starting the makerspace with what the school already had. Then other things could be added based on student interest. This way money and time would not be wasted getting and learning about materials students could care less about. The video he shared was very powerful in that is showed some of the materials that I have just purchased to play around with. I just got a makey makey and a little bits kit, both of which were in the video. The more and more I read and watch about makerspaces the more on board I get to turn my classroom into one. I have had such great success with donorschoose that I imagine I could get a lot of stuff from there. Especially since one of their vendors is amazon.
Genevieve used the advice from Invent to Learn about how to phase things to make a makerspace seem that much more important. Even if it is the same thing I would have thought to say, the way it was put in the book made it feel that much more convincing. So much of what I read seemed intuitive. When I read the statements they made sense, but the problem was there wasn't proof. For someone in the classroom you may not need proof, but thinking to those on they outside they may not agree with statements that have no evidence. Genevieve started out with one really good piece of evidence: "creativity and STEM-based making are top priorities for today’s young people, according to business leaders, politicians, and futurists (Martinez, et.al, loc. 4191)." My suggestion to her was that she either find studies that show the importance of PBL (there are a lot of studies on this) or find quotes or videos with anecdotal evidence that support a makerspace. In my opinion, this would help outsiders see a clearer picture of the importance of a makerspace. Hopefully this would be enough to convince them to support it.
Teresa shared an amazing article on brain research that had a video (below). It literally blew my mind. Our brain is not that big and for scientists to have discovered 97 new regions seems crazy to me. Our brain is so complex, and I feel like I know nothing about it. Maybe some of this research could be used to help give evidence for making?
This week I was also able to post a video about my experimentation with Lego Mindstorms. This is such a great resource my school already has, as I borrowed the kit from the school. I also experimented a little bit with the LittleBits Arduino Coding Kit. I have not done much but really appreciate this kit because it allows you to get into the coding while not having to mess with the wires. The wiring is already in magnetic blocks that you just connect. This makes the "circuit" building part easy. Hopefully this week I will get into this kit more.
This week was a very interesting assignment. After reading so much about making I feel more prepared to implement either a maker day or add to some of my classes. I have just purchased a makey makey and a little bits kit for arduino. I am really excited to try out some new technology. The arduino has been getting a little frustrating. This week I took a little bit of a break and explored lego robotics. I borrowed the kit from our school before leaving. I had a lot of fun with this one. I think it was more fun because I made something on my own. The coding is block coding and much easier.
Josie talked about having her maker day at the park. This is such a great idea because I think it would encourage more community members to come. I only wish there was a park in the community that I teach so that I could steal this idea. I did suggest that she have more help with planning. I was unsure of if she meant that others would be part of the planning or not. She talked about having people help out with each station which would definitely help people feel more comfortable. I think it is important to have a team help with planning because there is really too much for just one person to plan. Especially with trying to get sponsors. Sponsors are huge to keeping maker days sustainable and being able to have them more than once.
Anastasia had a good idea of setting up a planning meeting and then delegating jobs from their. This is a good way to get input from others while also spreading out responsibility. Planning a maker day alone would be a lot of work and would be a way to burn yourself out the first go around. I also like how she mentioned the schedule in the toolkit. This schedule is stuck in my mind but I did not write about it. I used it more as a framework. I have never experienced a maker day and it is hard to plan something you only know from reading. The schedule really helps me to visualize what a maker day might look like.
Josie and Gerald both made great comments on my blog that had a somewhat similar undertone. Things go out of date very quickly because our society is just evolving too fast. There are great intentions behind the standards but they just aren't practical in the society we live in. I believe the new NGSS science standards look very promising, in that they allow more teacher creativity and aren't extremely narrow.
Jeff wrote about student empowerment and I really liked the way he wrote his post. I wrote about student empowerment a little bit on my post. I like how he related it to coaching. A coach isn't the coach because they are the best at the sport. They coach because they are good at motivating athletes to achieve at a higher level. They provide encouragement, suggestions, and sometimes even help other athletes help each other. I feel like my biggest role as a cross country coach is to always be positive and encourage my runners to keep going. My other role is to convince runners to not always run with friends but to make sure they are challenging themselves sometimes as well. I'm not a coach because I am a great runner. I think as teachers we need to change our roles. We are teachers because we want to help students succeed. When we start to focus on this goal I think it might change the way we teach.
Teresa first talked about a very positive environment she was able to achieve in one of her classrooms. This is a very good point to make because without a positive environment I don't think you will ever be able to teach more than you know. Students won't feel comfortable and will refuse to work to help the classroom. It goes with what Jeff wrote about in empowering students. We need to help students feel like they can do things and in turn can help and teach others. It is hard to build this environment in a MS/HS classroom where students are in and out all day long. Next year we will have less classes per day and they will be longer. I'm hoping with this change I can work to provide a classroom where students will take more ownership.
Teresa also talked about how we teach, and that determining if we can teach more than we know. If you lecture it will be nearly impossible to teach more than you know simply because the classroom is focused on the teacher and what they know. If the classroom were student centered then you can have more than one teacher. Everyone can be a teacher and depending on the classroom that could be 20-30 brains working together. It goes with the saying "2 brains are better than 1." If we combine all of this knowledge so much more can be accomplished than on our own. Each student will have their own unique set of skills and teachers could really capitalize on this.
I definitely think that if a teacher sets up their classroom in a way that is student centered, then teaching more than you know is easily possible. When students are empowered and feel like they have an active role in their education they will take it. They also like to help each other, if given the opportunity. This is where the first days of school are important to set up a positive and encouraging environment.
This week I have worked up to project 7, which I am still currently working on. For some reason the 1st button is not working but the other 3 are.
On my own blog post Gerald reminded me of the importance of wording and making sure everything is clear to students. You can't leave any ambiguity.
I love how Josie used the categories like in the Dallas makerspace wiki we read. It seems easier to conceptualize. I thought about doing this after I wrote my blog but decided since I was done to just leave it for now. I can always make it better for the final project. Going back and reading my rules it just seems like so much. I know they are all necessary but I wonder if I created a few categories if it would look more visually appealing to read? This way students might be able to ignore a category if they aren't doing a project that deals with those rules.
Anastasia also had categories for her rules. She only really had one makerspace rule: "students are inventors and creators. They take charge of their own project and make mistakes and learn from them as we go along." All the rest of her rules fell under other categories. I think this is a really good approach because otherwise students just see a lot of reading and will choose not to read it all, if any of it. She will still cover all of the necessary rules but it will just be easier to read.
Jeff also categorized his rules. All 3 categorized their rules differently but it makes the rules easier to read. I now have some good ideas as to how I could change the arrangement of my rules to make them more manageable.
This week my post was late. Unfortunately with travel and getting over the jet leg it took me longer to get through the material and write up my post. I also was curious as to what I had missed in class so I watched the video recordings before getting into this weeks material. I am eager to get back to working on the projects. I finished the first 2 before I left on vacation.
I read Josie's blog and was glad to hear that her thoughts were similar to mine. I felt like I need to include high end things because it is just a list, but I really wanted mine to be realistic. My budget was $300 and hers was $250 so this made me feel even better. Starting out small seems like a better route for me so that I can just get my feet wet and see how things go. I don't want to order a bunch of something that the students never touch. I feel like starting out they will ask for things and then I can add that to a list. Maybe I will even put a request list in the classroom and order every so often.
Teresa had a very extensive list with tons of tech. I was too apprehensive to go that far right now. I can't take a lot of new stuff all at once. I loved her ideas on organization with color coding. This is my favorite thing to do with my classes. I'm thinking I could keep the categories I used for my list and then attach a list to the front of a container, put a colored piece of duck tape on the container, and use that duck tape on non consumable items. Then I would have a different class in charge of clean up each week. I was also thinking maybe a sheet of item requests would we helpful as well. Teresa also included many sources for funding. Because my amount is so small I don't think I would need as many as her, but she definitely gave good ideas for the future. DonorsChoose has worked wonders for my small projects. I even got new tables that cost about $2500 through them.
Unfortunately I had to miss our first class. I was in Bali on a surf and yoga retreat! I tried to get to writing this reflection, but honestly ran out of time. There was just so much fun stuff going on.
I made it through the first 2 Arduino project before I left. With this next week I am hoping I can get caught up and at least complete the 3rd project.
I first read Kate's blog and she made a great connection to teaching and learning. "Teaching and learning can happily coexist when teaching meets the needs of the learner!" Her blog focused on the need to let students curiosity drive learning because only when a student connects will they learn. "Learning, therefore, is how our students respond to our teaching. " I have been saying this all semester but I really need to change the structure of my classes. I feel like many things are centered around what I want or the district or state wants. This is not a student centered environment which makes connecting students to what they are learning more difficult if not nearly impossible. Students need to be at the center because if they are then their curiosity will lead them to learn more than we, as teachers, will ever be able to teach them.
Next I read Teresa's blog and I believe her second sentence "learning often takes place without being taught" is key. We learn so much on our own because we choose the path that interests us. With direct teaching, teachers want to transfer knowledge, but this is more often than not, not effective. Students need to connect on their own level. She connected what we read to her own learning "I am a better and more engaged teacher when I am open to learning, when I incorporate best practices, and when I sometimes try new things." I think this is true for me as well. Collaboration and working with others helps form connections and makes the learning that much stronger. This is so much more than a lecture that only requires you to look like you are listening.
Teaching and learning are so intertwined, but each person's perspective of each can be different. The more I read the more I believe that teaching is about connection and allowing students to explore their own curiosity because this is where learning soars.
I read Aleta's blog and she reminded me that “The facilitator/educator does not need to be an expert on everything students come in to work on.” This is huge and something that many teachers, including me, have trouble with. In my education program we were taught to plan and make sure we knew what we were teaching. This is very contradictory to that idea. We must have an idea in mind and match it to a standard, but the rest should be open to interpretation. A big idea was HOTs (Higher-Order Thinking Questions). This is a main premise of the maker movement and project based learning. Creating questions that promote thinking and allowing students to fill in the blank rather than just rushing to help. I also really like her idea of adding a makerspace to the library, even if it is small. So many schools are doing this and our library is small on only used by elementary students. If we had a makerspace, maybe our older students would visit the library more.
I also read Anastasia's post. I love how she is connecting content and culture with the making pedagogy. This is where our students will really thrive. I know this last semester we had a new Yup'ik teacher who focused a lot on hands on making. I noticed a shift in student interest. They were excited to go to class and they have been excited to show others the work they are doing. I had never seen many projects from the Yup'ik class before. Knowing this I believe Anastasia will really reach her students. They will gain practical skills while also learning necessary content for their grade area.
This week, and the previous weeks, have really posed a lot of things to think about. I am very interested in incorporating making into my classroom, and it is hard to not want to go full force. I think it will take getting my feet wet for at least one semester, by only trying to implement this in one class. Otherwise I am afraid I will lose steam or be too overwhelmed. There is just so much to take in. It will also require me to change some of my teaching, which will be tough, but I believe will be worth it for both my students and I.
A healthy struggle is something a teacher always strives for but I have never thought about it this much. It was just something in the back of my mind. I am always thinking of how to challenge students, as I am sure every teacher does. This issue becomes how do we get students to struggle just the right amount and in a safe environment?
Amy gave a great example of her daughter struggling in younger grades. She kept trying and eventually caught up. She was pushed enough to still be motivated. She is a hard line to find. I know as a kid I always tried my best and it worked out. I was usually a top student. What I realized after getting to college is that being a top student does not always mean you have the skills to be on your own in the real world. I struggled in college but continually tried my best. I learned a lot. Then I moved to a remote part of Alaska and had to learn more than I ever expected. I am definitely doing things I never thought I would need to do. For example, I learned how to replace a hard drive and hard drive cable in my computer last year. I have learned how to cut my own hair. Just last month I learned how to replace and iphone battery. I had to figure these things out for myself. I have learned other things but people taught me. It was different because I struggled less when someone taught me, whereas when I had to learn on my own I struggled a lot. It was trial and error. When you need something or some skill it motivates you to learn. I learn more than I would’ve otherwise because I am engaged and interested. It is something I want to do. In the end I agree with Amy in that struggle is a necessary part of learning.
Kate talked about the zone of proximal development. This is the healthy struggle that we as teachers are aiming for. I remember trying a PBL type of project last semester. During this project, I noticed a healthy amount of struggle was easy to reach. Students were engaged and interested and therefore they wanted to learn more. The problem is the project took over a month to mostly complete (I cut out some of the final reflections due to running up til the end of school.). With current curriculum I would hardly fit one project in, and if I get to a project I won’t cover the requirements of my curriculum. So how can we fit the requirements while also challenging our students at their level? How do we reach this zone of proximal development for every student. I wish there was an easy answer to this question. I think PBL or design thinking offer a lot of promise, but many curriculum changes will have to be made to allow for this to happen.
In the end struggle is good if it is in a safe environment and the students are motivated. The student must feel they can achieve the goal, so we as teachers need to create a healthy amount of struggle.
I read Gerald’s blog first and 2 points really stuck with me. He talked about safety being a limiting factor in tinkering. This is so true! At what point can kids be kids? Not everything is safe and we need to prepare them for the real world. I think this comes back to the educational policy. Can changes be made? I’m not saying we should go crazy and let them do what they want. But with supervision could students be allowed to learn even if a situation is not perfectly safe? The next thing that really stuck out in his post was his comment about awards ceremonies. It always seems like the same students are awarded. This does not promote a growth mindset. What should be done instead becomes a big question. Should we award everyone? Should we eliminate awards ceremonies? I don’t know if there is a right answer.
I also read Aleta’s post. I really like how she reminded me of “not yet.” When I hear this phrase to me it implies I need to work harder. I would be more determined to make changes and try again than if I received a letter grade. It implies you still have room to grow and provides encouragement in itself. I also really like how she talked about not focusing on a predetermined curriculum because it may not be relevant to every student. This really implies the importance of differentiation. If students feel that what they are learning is important then they are more willing to learn more. They will participate and try their best, which in turn will increase the amount of knowledge they have.
This week was really motivating for me. It made me contemplate how I could change my classes to incorporate some of what we are learning. I’m really thinking about my lowest level, high school, science class. Earth science has the lowest pass rate. So I think it would be the perfect place to start. I have nothing to lose. I have also been looking at how to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into my practice. These standards hold a lot of promise. Engineering standards are embedded and the tasks are not so specific. It makes the objectives more open and