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And One

Image Credit: imgkid.com

Image Credit: imgkid.com

In basketball, you might hear a player yell the phrase, “And one” after somebody is fouled attempting to make a basket.  If a player makes the basket in the process of being fouled, the referee can award an additional shot attempt.   In other words, “And one” can be unexpectedly awesome because it means that a player made a basket and gets the chance to score again.

Life is full of “And one” opportunities, but you have to be purposeful in creating them. 

University teacher preparation programs play a significant role in education.  Earlier this year, our school welcomed a busload of more than 20 future educators.  The undergrads were taking their first education class.  Our goal in engaging with the university and undergraduate students at such an early stage of their preparation was simple; we wanted to provide an authentic glimpse into the 21st century student learning experience in a way that no single semester-long technology class ever could.

Our students will be better served if we are more intentional about formal & informal induction processes.

Teacher preparation programs must interact with the mind-blowing possibilities that a relevant and connected pedagogy represent.  Technology can be a transformational tool and future educators should be made aware of this expectation early in their studies.  The moment we pigeonhole technology to an app or electronic worksheet we limit student potential.  We need to shine the light on current best-practice!  Hence, our “And one” moment was born.

After the busload of future educators arrived, we started our day by convening in our media center to review the rotations we’d set-up in advance.  Flanked by a few of our Mobile MakerSpace carts we conversed about pedagogy and discussed important “look fors” prior to visiting classrooms.  Then, we initiated some rotations that provided university students a variety of opportunities to observe what our teachers were doing to cultivate skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.  Towards the end of the visit we reconvened to reflect on the rotations and discuss important questions.  The entire experience was an “And one” moment for me.

NW College 1

When we invest in the capacity of others we’re not only living in the moment, but we’re adding value to tomorrow’s generation of learners.

I knew that the 20 or more future teachers on that bus would be profoundly impacted by seeing the inspiring everyday work occurring in our classrooms, but I didn’t expect to be so deeply moved by the experience myself.  I am convinced that schools need to be more actively engaged with universities and teacher preparation programs if we are to collectively rise to the challenges we face together.

What’s an “And one” moment you experienced this school year?  What was unexpectedly awesome and how did you make a difference for kids?

I challenge you to respond by sharing your #AndOneMoment. Then tag two additional educators you respect to add to the conversation!

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I’ll Never Forget

Our teachers have been doing some truly ground-breaking work. The level of innovation and passion in our school is palpable.  We have classrooms participating in Genius Hour, coding, connecting with other schools, 3D printing, green-screen video production, flipped instruction, team teaching, augmented reality, and re-imagining learning spaces. I thought that I had grown accustomed to the general level of “awesomeness” in our school…but I’ll never forget what happened last week.

This past week Mrs. Kirchner’s 4th graders had the chance to take one of our “Mobile MakerSpace” carts for a test spin. The cart was loaded with Circuit-Scribe kits that enabled students to draw their own working circuits.  As you can see from the short video clip below…student engagement was off the charts!

The most inspiring part of the lesson was the process that Mrs. Kirchner used to introduce the new technology to students. Students were assigned partners and given time to experiment, collaborate, and fail. That’s right…FAIL.

They talked about why their circuits were not working, compared notes, wrestled with frustration and tried again. It was beautiful. When the guided inquiry time was over every single group had successfully created their own working circuit from scratch. Students drew the conductive lines themselves and created unique battery configurations to power their projects.

I was fortunate to be a part of the experience and it was absolutely amazing. I’m talking jaw-dropping amazing.  It’s one thing to be issued a science kit full of wires and directions. It’s another to see a group of kids wrestle with failure and overcome it using skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

I will never forget the power of failure in the learning process!

11 Questions We Need to Ask

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  1. What are the chances that our children would choose school over another preferred activity?
  2. What are the chances a student will always love school? (Not just tolerate it…but literally LOVE it.)
  3. What should we do if a child is not captivated by school now?
  4. What if we gave our kids more opportunities to create and engineer in elementary school?
  5. How might we amplify student voice and foster a deep appreciation for authentic learning that transcends age or grade-level?
  6. Better yet…how can we make learning in school MORE authentic now?
  7. What if school was less about worksheets and filling in bubbles and more about creating and inventing?
  8. What might we have to give up to make school more student-centric, and are we truly willing to take that risk?
  9. Can students learn as much through experimentation and failure as they can through traditional means?
  10. How might we create a more personalized student learning experience where critical thinking and “dreaming big” were the norm?
  11. 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

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