Monthly Archives: November 2015

StuConnect Classroom Twitter Chat

#STUCONNECT

Join classrooms across the country as we celebrate student passion on December 1st at 9:30am CST.  Click HERE to watch a short (3 minute) podcast prepared by students in two different states.  Then join the conversation this Tuesday by tagging your classroom Tweets with the hashtag #StuConnect.

The entire chat will only last 20-30 minutes.  Feel free to join us for one question or stick around for the entire chat.  All grade-levels are welcome to participate.  We will share out a new question every 6-7 minutes.  Classrooms can respond to specific questions by starting their Tweets with the letter “A” (stands for Answer) and adding the hashtag #StuConnect to the very end of each Tweet.

A preview of the questions is below:

  • Introduce your classroom or school and share what state you are from. #StuConnect
  • Q1 What are your passions and talents? #StuConnect
  • Q2 Why is knowing what you are talented at important? #StuConnect
  • Q3 How do you get to ‘practice your passion’ in school? #StuConnect
  • Q4 Where else do you get to spend time in an area interest? How might school help with this? #StuConnect

Special thanks to my #StuConnect co-moderators John Fritzky (NJ) and Tony Sinanis (NY) as well as one of our fabulous student-teachers, Ms. Frick, for helping produce the podcast.  We hope you can join us for the Twitter chat at 9:30am CST on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015!

 

 

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Are You the next MakerStar?!

Students showcase their Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Students showcase their Sphero Mobile MakerSpace.

Our school is looking for somebody to design the next Mobile MakerSpace cart at Greenwood.  We’ll supply the budget and pay for the materials, but we need kids, teachers, and parents to provide the creativity, voice, and ideas!  Who knows….your class or students just might be the next #MakerStar!  To submit an idea for a new cart follow the rules below:

Rules:

  • Be persuasive…WHY would your idea be great for our students?!
  • Stay on budget with supplies ($750 max.)
  • Stay succinct (provide a focused plan, drawing, or video)
  • Include costs, quantities, and any relevant ordering information
  • Your idea must fit inside (or on top of) the cart pictured below. Shelves are removable.
  • This design opportunity is open to students, groups of students, classrooms, parents, and educators everywhere.
  • Submit your idea to hashtag #MakerStar on Twitter by January 15, 2016.
  • We’ll be empowering our students to make the final decision and to announce the winners!

Maker Cart

Ready to Take the Design Plunge?!

Are you ready to dive in? If not, click HERE to see an inspiring motivational video by Steve Harvey! His “Jump” video applies to many things in life, but it gets me fired up every time I watch it.

Now that you’re ready to jump, just remember to post design submissions to hashtag #MakerStar on Twitter.  Submissions can be in any format (short video, diagram, photo, etc.).  If you don’t do Twitter don’t worry! Feel free to contact me and we can arrange a way for the design(s) to be e-mailed. The video below demonstrates how our students and staff are using some of the different carts, so be sure to check it out for possible design ideas.

Background Information

We currently have a fleet of carts capable of transporting hands-on, collaborative learning tools to virtually every classroom and hallway in our school.  Click HERE to see our carts in action.  A complete list of all our current carts is below.

Cart 1: Cardboard Construction – Makedo Kits

Cart 2: Circuit Scribe – Conducive Ink and Writable Circuitry

Cart 3: Edison Robots

Cart 4: K’Nex

Cart 5: Knitting – Yarn and Assorted Looms

Cart 6: Legos – Motors, Creative Tubs, Base-plates, and Education Kit

Cart 7: Legos – Simple and Powered Machines, Wheels, and Creative Tubs

Cart 8: Lego Friends Kits

Cart 9: MakerBot 3D Printer – with 14 colors of filament

Cart 10: Makey-Makey Kits and Bee-Bots

Cart 11: Modular Robotics – Cubelets

Cart 12: Sphero – 31 Robot Droids, Turbo Covers, and Accessories

**Special thanks to my summer administrative intern, EmaKate, for collaborating with me on this student design opportunity.  We’re excited to see what kids can create!

The Rush

There is no shortage of passion in education. Teachers work tirelessly to meet the needs of their students, often sacrificing family time and resources in the process. Their commitment to discover new tools and techniques to make a difference for kids is one of the best untold stories in education.

At the same time, external pressures and conflicting mandates have created some very challenging conditions for teachers. I’ve noticed that all of these factors have perpetuated a rush of sorts.

Notably absent in the rush is a deeper dialog about pedagogy. Educators rush to new ideas in pursuit of different ways to inspire students, or just the opposite. We may rush to repeat the same routines that worked well in previous year(s). Whether we are rushing to bring new opportunities to our students, or confronted by the lure of efficiency that the status quo offers; pedagogy needs to play a more prominent role in the rush.

  • Before we rush to [insert educational trend here] we need to reflect upon the purpose.
  • Before we rush to [insert past-practice here] we need to consider a more relevant and connected pedagogy.

Communicating precisely what a connected pedagogy is (and is not) becomes vitally important to ensuring we’re rushing to the right (and relevant) things for our students. The short video below is a humorous take on what happens when we say the same thing, but understand it differently than others. Pedagogy is an example of a word that many educators use, but we all understand it differently.

I’ve identified four tenets of a connected pedagogy that will empower educators to do the difficult work they’ve dedicated their lives to. The tenets take the ambiguity out of the term “pedagogy” and illuminate a path that will cultivate skills for today’s learners. The blog posts that I’ve linked to each tenet are basic conversation starters.

  1. Collaboration
  2. Student Agency
  3. Digital-Connectivity
  4. Experiential Learning

When we prioritize purpose and rush to a relevant & connected pedagogy the work becomes more significant.

Perspective

What do you notice about this picture? It doesn’t really bother me that the people are moving in different directions. In fact, I think moving in the same direction without questioning our purpose could be dangerous. In some ways this is analogous to education.

Education is filled with some of the most dedicated and selfless individuals on the planet. These people are trying to make a difference for kids in the best way they know how. Some strive to integrate technology while others question its utility. Neither approach is inherently wrong, but there has to be a purpose and pedagogy behind our teaching that is just as important as the teaching itself.

Before we dip our oars in the water we should be able to identify two things:

  • Purpose: Why is the direction, idea, or path we’re pursuing important to our students?
  • Pedagogy: How might the approach we take be more relevant to the lives of our students?

All students deserve the opportunity to experience a relevant and connected pedagogy that leverages the promises of the digital age. This does not mean that every learning experience needs to involve a device or Wi-Fi.  It does mean that the context in which we are teaching has changed dramatically and the pedagogy we implore must be responsive to these changes. Creativity and collaboration are not soft skills that can be sacrificed in the pursuit of student achievement. The pedagogy we implore must prioritize digital age skills and tools while helping all students learn at a high level.

Perhaps a new direction is warranted. What’s your perspective?

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