Together We’re Better for Kids

I took this photograph of a MakerBot while attending ISTE 2014.

I rely on my PLN to share innovative ideas about pedagogy and opportunities for students. I took this photograph of a MakerBot while attending ISTE 2014.

Being connected on Twitter, Voxer, etc. has been a powerful supplement to the relationships I cherish with the dedicated teachers in our school.  In fact, the connections we’re cultivating that started out on Twitter have had a direct impact on our students.

Our school has had a core group of teachers collaborating the past year on 21st century learning spaces to promote student engagement, creativity, and innovation.  Staff have conducted site visits at other schools and met after school to collaborate on a regular basis. Their work has been inspiring, and I could go on for days about how phenomenal our team is.

As part of our conversations we have discussed bringing a MakerSpace to our school.   The purpose of these conversations and a potential MakerSpace has been centered on cultivating an ethos of student learning made possible through passion-based learning, experimentation, creation, risk-taking, failure, and design iteration. I learned about the MakerSpace concept via my Personal Learning Network (PLN).

My connections on Twitter equipped me with additional research on MakerSpaces and 3D printers to contribute to the conversations. Drew Minock, a friend in my PLN that I met via Twitter, took time to explain how he wrote a DonorsChoose.org grant for a 3D printer in his classroom.  We spoke a couple times via the telephone until I was ready to work with teachers interested in writing a grant in our school.   We submitted a grant and our project is now fully-funded!  Members of my PLN helped spread the word and retweeted project information.  We even had several people that I only know through Twitter donate to our students.  The process has been humbling!

Twitter has been a game-changing tool that empowers educators to forge supportive, student-centered relationships with one another from anywhere on the planet.   Twitter was the primary tool I used to connect to research about MakerSpaces and 3D printers. Twitter was how I learned about DonorsChoose.org. Twitter connected me to caring parents and educators across the country that also wanted to support students and our 3D printer project. However, this story isn’t really about Twitter; it’s about what some of these connections will mean for our students. When school starts this fall, our students will have an unbelievable opportunity to innovate using cutting-edge technology.

Together we are better for kids, and our students are the ultimate winners when educators collaborate within and across classrooms, schools, and states! Our MakerSpace project would not have been possible without an AMAZING team of educators at Greenwood Elementary…and the positive power of PLN.

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About Dr. Brad Gustafson

I am an elementary principal and author in Minnesota. You can connect with me at www.BradGustafson.com or on Twitter via @GustafsonBrad

Posted on July 16, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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