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Can MakerSpaces Invent the Future? (Video)

YouTube SpheroExoIt is incredible what kids can do when we believe in them, coach them, and get out of their way! Our students recently participated in a robotics competition that was invented from the ground up by staff and students.  We designed and printed 3D “exoskeletons” that fit over our Sphero robotic droids…and SpheroExo was born.  The rest is history.

Check out the 5 minute video below and prepare to be amazed at what kids can do.

http://tinyurl.com/SpheroExo

We are so proud of our students and all they are creating, engineering, and achieving.  Watch for our students next week as they present SpheroExo to teachers at EdCamp Eau Claire!  Students will be sharing their design process and how they’re inventing the future at #EdCampEC.

I’m not sure that MakerSpaces can actually invent the future, but I’m very confident that cutting-edge tools and a culture conducive to innovation helps.  A relevant and connected pedagogy empowers all kids to create, connect, and dream bigger.

 

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!

True Learner Empowerment

Drone 3D

We recently had a couple remote controls from our educational drones drop to the ground resulting in broken joysticks.  Accidents happen and we completely understand this, but thanks to our amazing staff and students this is not the end of the story.

An elementary student was empowered to help engineer a new joystick using our school’s 3D printer.  She worked with Mr. Hinnenkamp to create a tiny joystick sleeve that fit over the broken drone remote controls using a design program called Tinkercad.  Everything works as good as new now, and our students had the opportunity to experience authentic innovation and learner empowerment.

This is precisely why we feel it is critical to put students in the center of their learning (even if it means things get messy or broken every once in a while).  Kids have the capacity to innovate, engineer, think critically, and solve a myriad of real problems; they don’t require worksheets to do so!  All students deserve the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology in a safe and supportive learning environment.  If the first time students have the opportunity to innovate and invent using real-world tools is high school or college, then we will have failed them.

This is more than a story about drones or a 3D printer.  I took the opportunity to speak with the student that helped repair her drone remote control.  The pride she exuded when she explained to me how she had fixed something that was accidentally broken was unmistakable.  There was a humble confidence that I had not seen before.  As we finished chatting I asked her how this experience made her feel and her response literally choked me up…I nearly cried.  Suffice it to say, the opportunity she was given to fix her drone remote meant the world to her.  And THAT means the world to me.

Thank you, teachers.  Thank you for truly empowering our students.  I honestly LOVE how our entire team empowers students and supports our kids in learning skills they will need to thrive today and excel tomorrow.

Drone Controls

Mobile MakerSpaces

Click picture to link to cart ordering options.

Click picture to link to cart ordering options.

This year we introduced Mobile MakerSpaces at our school.  A team of Greenwood teachers and I collaborated on the concept over the past year, and I earmarked some funding in our budget that we invested into the Mobile MakerSpace fleet and supplies.  Our goal was to create an ethos of innovation and design-thinking.  We wanted students to have the opportunity to create, build, tinker, fail, and think critically from any classroom or hallway in our school.  At our summer teacher workshops we embedded the “welcome back” content into a MakerSpace approach to demonstrate how learning and sharing through creative construction was possible.  Fast-forward to today…

Student-led Professional Development using our Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Student-led Professional Development using our Sphero Mobile MakerSpace cart.

Our Mobile MakerSpace fleet is one of the many things our students LOVE about school!  Combined with the Genius Hour time that many teachers are doing…I sometimes catch myself wishing that I was an elementary student again!  Students are creating mini-golf courses using coding and Spheros. They are knitting, building, drawing, constructing, collaborating, and communicating their way through the school day.  Students have world-class opportunities and they are learning right alongside a dedicated team of teachers that continues to learn as well.  We even had a group of students lead professional development for some teachers and their principal (me). The student-ownership was AWESOME!

We’ve also had some classrooms start their own MakerSpaces and MakerSpace challenges to continue providing students opportunities to unleash their passions and creativity throughout the day.  During observations, I’ve observed firsthand how teachers are seamlessly integrating Mobile MakerSpaces into the student learning experience using clear learning targets and standards.  The creative materials and opportunities for student design-thinking have taken student engagement to levels I had not previously observed while students were completing worksheets.

Students have responded with a tenacity for learning.  One of our grade-levels schedules MakerSpace time 1st thing each morning, and our students can’t wait to get to school!  You do NOT need fancy supplies or expensive carts to create an ethos of innovation in your school.  (You can use everyday objects and miscellaneous supplies from home.)  However, I am including a list of our Mobile MakerSpace fleet supplies in case you’d like to bring any of the opportunities to your classroom or school.

Cart 1: MakerBot 3D Printer

Cart 2: LEGO

Cart 3: LEGO

Cart 4: K’Nex

Cart 5: CircuitScribe (Writeable Circuits)

Cart 6: Knitting Looms and Yarn

Cart 7: Sphero Robotic Droids

Cart 8: Modular Robotics Educator Pack

Cart 9: Edison Robotics (compatible with LEGO)

Cart 10: Bee-Bots & Makey-Makey Kits

Cart 11: Makedo Guided Kits & Creative Construction Bundles

Please feel free to view the videos below showing our students in action.  To see more of our students’ work, you can go to our school’s hashtag on Twitter #GWgreats.

Flipped School Board Meeting

Background Information: We believe that the most important voices in a school are those of its students; they are central to our mission.  The purpose for highlighting pedagogy via video is to amplify student voice when we are together in person.  We want the walls of the Wayzata City Hall to reverberate with authentic student sharing and stories about their learning experiences at Greenwood Elementary.

Providing content prior to a lesson or presentation is often referred to as “flipped” instruction.  We’re applying the same basic principles to maximize our face-to-face time and to facilitate deeper conversation at the School Board meeting.  Please watch our five minute video before April 13.

Focus: Meaningful Technology Integration

Learning Targets:

  • I can identify at least two approaches teachers are using to help students discover their unique talents.
  • I can evaluate how students are experiencing a “connected pedagogy” by articulating how technology is being used to transform learning in order to prepare students for their future.

School Board Presentation Agenda

Students will share two-three minute presentations with the support of their teachers. A copy of the PowerPoint we’ll be using is below.

  1. Sphero Robotic Droids featuring students taught by Carrie Lunetta & Joe McAuliff
  2. Mobile MakerSpace Carts featuring students taught by Ginny Adams
  3. Genius Hour featuring students taught by Joe Vrudny & Elle Zeman
  4. 3D Printing featuring students taught by Adam Hinnenkamp
  5. Drone Technology featuring students taught by Madeline Ray & Brad Gustafson
  6. EPIC Reading featuring students taught by Ashley Drill & Jamie Tewksbury
  7. Question & Answer Time facilitated by Greenwood students and staff

Additional Resources:

Good Things come in Small Packages

Red cube

It might not look like much, but it is ours. We printed the small red cube on our school’s 3D printer, but that’s really not the important part. What’s important is what’s inside. The cube contains part of our school’s story. You can access it by scanning the QR code inside the cube or by simply watching the video below.

The most amazing thing is that our school’s story will soon become part of a larger narrative. Schools around the planet have the opportunity to print their own 3D cubes and send them to a central location for display. The collaborative work of art will feature cubes of different shapes and sizes from kids all over the world. We hope you’ll consider joining us on this epic adventure. Click HERE for more information on the #ThatsMyCube project.

Our cube may be small, but our students’ voices are not…and their stories matter. Good things come in small packages!
That's my cube

Sharing Your Story in 3D

ThatsMYcube

Click the flyer to participate!

The past several weeks I have been collaborating with an inspiring group of educators from around the country. Our goal is to connect students to one another using art, storytelling, and 3D printers!

We’re inviting students, teachers, and schools everywhere to create a unique cube on their 3D printers. We’ll combine all the cubes we receive into a large, shared work-of-art that represents the heart, soul, creativity, and stories from every person that contributes.

Getting started is easy and we’re developing tools and tutorials so even the most novice 3D printers (like myself) can connect their students to this collaborative global project. Feel free to embellish your 3D printed cube so it represents you…or your classroom. You could even add a QR code linking to a short video about your school.

We’re hoping that the connections that are forged from this project lead to mind-blowing creativity and “possibility thinking” in our students. Be sure to click on the flyer above to learn more. Also, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ThatsMyCube on Twitter to see how the shared art piece grows over time.

We’re really excited for our students to connect, learn, and share in an innovative manner. Don’t miss this opportunity to share your story with us in 3D!

Skills for Today

When I reflect upon the important work our staff is doing I’m inspired. The commitment we’ve made to creativity is palpable, and we’re seeking new and innovative ways to put students in the center of their learning. I’m seeing our team amplify student voice while providing kids an authentic audience for their work. Some of the “learning work” our team is involved with includes:

  • Genius Hour
  • Passion-Based Learning
  • 3D Printing
  • MakerSpaces
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Flipped Instruction
  • Social Media as Learning Media
  • Project-Based Learning (Cane’s Arcade, etc.)
  • Augmented Reality
  • Back-Channeling via “TodaysMeet”

Teachers are exploring new ways to help build students capacity to connect responsibly in a digital world.  Best of all…we’ve kept a keen focus on the importance of relationships; our students are responding in amazing ways! Our staff has embraced meaningful technology integration as one of our three school priorities. We know that the work we are doing will help students develop skills for today will ultimately help them excel tomorrow.

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