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.
- What are the chances that our children would choose school over another preferred activity?
- What are the chances a student will always love school? (Not just tolerate it…but literally LOVE it.)
- What should we do if a child is not captivated by school now?
- What if we gave our kids more opportunities to create and engineer in elementary school?
- How might we amplify student voice and foster a deep appreciation for authentic learning that transcends age or grade-level?
- Better yet…how can we make learning in school MORE authentic now?
- What if school was less about worksheets and filling in bubbles and more about creating and inventing?
- What might we have to give up to make school more student-centric, and are we truly willing to take that risk?
- Can students learn as much through experimentation and failure as they can through traditional means?
- How might we create a more personalized student learning experience where critical thinking and “dreaming big” were the norm?
- What would the dinnertime conversation feel like if you were able to ask your child, “What did you invent today and what challenges did you persevere through to make it happen?
The best part about education is that not only do WE get to ask the questions…WE get to answer them because WE are part of the solution! You can be part of a pilot project that is part of the work we are doing at Greenwood Elementary. Teachers are doing some amazing things and truly intent on fostering conditions that support an AMAZING learning experience for kids.
Will you help us usher in a new era of learning that builds upon the tradition of excellence in our district? We refuse to accept a disconnect between “real life” and school. We want our students to have limitless options and access to cutting-edge technology in a safe and supportive environment.
Will you please consider supporting our MakerBot 3D Printer for a new Mobile MakerSpace project on DonorsChoose.org?
If you donate by June 18, 2014 your contribution will receive matching funds. (Use the promo code INSPIRE to have your donation doubled!) If you know of anyone else that may be interested in supporting this project please pass this blog post along.
Image Credit: MakerSchmitt.blogspot.com