A Journey Through Technology

Week 11: How have you, and will you continue to “Learn the 21st Century” and allow your students this experience in your classroom?

Learning has changed so much, even since I graduated high school in 2005. The way that I learned, and the way that my current and future students will learn are not the same, and I expect that it will continue to change as new technology and teaching tools are developed. The only way I can hope to be able to teach and help my students learn, is if I am learning in the same fashion. “It is impossible to teach 21st century learners if you have not learned in this century.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4477) I think that my experiences in this degree program have been so crucial to me being able to teach 21st century learners, because I have become one over the past 2 years.

I started this program in the spring of 2015, and since then my approach to teaching and student learning has changed drastically. At the time, I was in the middle of my fifth year of teaching, and was honestly struggling. I was attempting to teach the way I had been taught in high school, and it wasn’t really working. I felt like I was hitting a wall in my career, and knew that something needed to change if I wanted to continue teaching. That first semester was so hard for me, because I was forced to move beyond my comfort zone into a realm of teaching and learning that was beyond anything I had ever really experienced. In hindsight, I now know that this was the best decision I’ve ever made because my entire outlook on teaching and learning has been forever changed. I know that even when I’m finished with my coursework, my research about education will continue on, because I will also want to be the best teacher I can for my students. This is the first way for me to continue to “Learn the 21st Century”, both for my students, and myself.

Tsisana Palmer (2015) shares 15 characteristics of a 21st century teacher and I think that each of these should be goals to shoot for to allow my students to be 21st century learners. A few of these characteristics, such as “learner-centered classroom and personalized instruction”, “students as producers”, and “project-based learning” are ideas that I am already working on trying to implement in my classroom, so I figure that I am already moving in the right direction. There are some characteristics on her list, however, that I am not yet working towards, including going global and coding. To continue on the path of a 21st century teacher, I will eventually need to at least try these out in the classroom, even if I don’t use them consistently with students.

“Learning in the 21st century requires critical thinking, adept use of technology, and global collaboration, and we should offer all these to our students on a regular basis.” (Oates, 2009) In order to allow students to really become 21st century learners, I need to allow them opportunities to use 21st century skills. I can continue to learn about the new technology and how to use it in class, but I also need to make sure that I am giving students those same opportunities in class. The biggest issue that I think I will face in this is letting go of what I’m comfortable with, and helping students to do the same. When you have learned a particular way for all of your life, whether you are 15 or 50, it can be hard to adjust to a new way of learning. I need to remember that if I’m struggling with this change, my students are as well, and I have to support them through this and not expect them to pick it up right away. “Schools and teachers must be challenged to use the tools and techniques of today, not the ones of the past.” (Oates, 2009) Adapting to a new way of teaching and learning will be a challenge, and who knows how many years it will end up taking. My goal is to not give up and make sure that I am working just as hard, if not harder, than my students to help us all become 21st century learners.

References:

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Oates, R. (2009) How to Learn in the 21st Century. Educational Leadership, (67)1. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/How-to-Learn-in-the-21st-Century.aspx

Palmer, T. (2015) 15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher. Edutopia. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/15-characteristics-21st-century-teacher

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Week 10 Reflection

This week really helped me to start putting all of my thoughts and resources about makerspaces together so I can start planning out my makerspace proposal. All of the resources we’ve collected throughout this course will be important in developing my proposal, and so many of them are full of reasons why makerspaces should be used in school.

This week I read and commented on Jule’s and Brian’s blogs. Jule shared the vision statement for her district and then explained how each part would be supported by the implementation of a makerspace. I found the community connection piece very helpful because connecting to the community can be a very hard thing for schools to do. Jule’s post also showed me that I need to look at my district’s mission/vision in addition to my school’s mission.

Brian summarized the NMC Horizon Report 2015, which detailed multiple reasons for why makerspaces are a good educational tool. Two aspects he summarized, real-world connection and preparing students for the future resonated with me because those are both parts of my school’s mission statement. The resources that Brian shared will be very useful to me when I write my proposal.

This week really helped me feel more comfortable with my abilities to argue in favor of a makerspace in my school and I feel confident that my proposal will be convincing enough to actually get a makerspace in my school.

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Week 10: Why does Palmer High School need a makerspace?

Throughout the previous nine weeks, we’ve looked at constructionism as a theory of learning, and how to provide students with this type of learning, mainly via makerspaces. So why does Palmer High School need a makerspace? Our mission statement is the first place to look for the need of a makerspace. “This mission of Palmer High School is to prepare life-long learners, community assets, and citizens of integrity.” (Palmer High School) Based on my research throughout this course, I think that getting students into makerspaces could help prepare them for life-long learning. But what are some of the other benefits of makerspaces?

“Students who complete maker-based projects create real-world things.” (O’Brien, 2016) There can be a real struggle to connect students’ learning to the real world, and makerspaces provide the perfect opportunity for real-world application. Makerspaces also provide students a chance to take charge of their learning, making it more meaningful to them. “Creating a classroom makerspace is an opportunity to give students ownership of their own learning as they explore their own passions.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 3968) Student-centered learning is the main focus of the constructivist learning theory, from which constructionism was developed. When students take charge of their learning, they get more engaged and tend to learn more than traditional teacher-centered instruction.

Another reason for a makerspace is to help a variety of students succeed. “Makerspace projects have the ability to help struggling students see the value of their classroom work — why it’s relevant and how it shakes out in real, tangible, ways.” (O’Brien, 2016) Students who don’t normal excel in the traditional school model may find themselves seeing greater success in a makerspace classroom because they can see how what they are doing connects to real life.

According to Carrie and Alton Barron (2016), there are seven benefits of makerspaces. to those who use them:

  1. They keep them in the present.
  2. They keep their blood flowing.
  3. They foster independence.
  4. They spark the brain boost that comes from using one’s hands.
  5. They improve people’s moods.
  6. They offer a sense of community.
  7. They break the habit of wastefulness.

“Making is crucial for happiness, health, and mind expansion.” (Barron & Barron, 2016) Based on my research and learning about makerspaces this summer, I really don’t see any reasons to not have a makerspace. If there are any negatives, I haven’t found them. I can’t even imagine how having a makerspace when I was in school could have changed how I learned and what I learned. I think that all students deserve a chance to try making, so why not give them that chance at Palmer High?

References

Barron, C. & Barron, A. (2016) Seven Surprising Benefits of Makerspaces. School Library Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.slj.com/2016/08/technology/seven-surprising-benefits-of-maker-spaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

O’Brien, C. (2016) Makerspaces Lead to School and Community Successes. Edutopia. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/makerspaces-school-and-community-successes-chris-obrien

Palmer High School. (n.d.) Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.matsuk12.us/phs

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Week 9 Reflection

This week we looked at planning “Maker Day”, which I found to be a very intriguing idea. I almost feel as thought I could plan a “Maker Day” before trying to actually build a makerspace, to try and build support for funding and get students excited about the idea of a makerspace. A “Maker Day” seems a little less daunting that starting a full-on makerspace, especially if I can recruit volunteers from the community and the school.

I read and commented on Mariah’s and Douglas’s blogs this week. Douglas had an interesting comment about the purpose making a national event out of Maker Days. I can only imagine the extra support and funding that could follow if schools everywhere sponsored a Maker Day on the same day every year. I think I read somewhere this week that June 18th is National Maker Day, which isn’t very helpful for schools, since quite a few are either already done for the year, or just wrapping up. Maybe June 18th as National Maker Day would be a fun way to end the school year, and get the community and students excited for what’s to come the next year.

Mariah had a wonderful idea in her post about the culminating project of her makerspace being the Maker Day where students use the expertise they have gained from using the makerspace to become presenters for the Maker Day. This really makes me think about the order of things, because I think this would provide students the opportunity to really take charge of the Maker Day. I think this could really be awesome if there was an actual makerspace class offered at my school.

This week got me thinking about so many ways that a Maker Day could work. I could do a Maker Day first, to get people excited about a potential makerspace, or, thanks to Mariah, could use the makerspace as a gateway to hosting a Maker Day, with students taking on a lot of the organizational and presentation duties as a final project for the makerspace. I definitely have a lot to think about as I start preparing my makerspace, or possibly Maker Day, proposal.

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Week 9: What would you need to coordinate a “Maker Day” for your school?

A “Maker Day” is an interesting concept. “A Maker Day is about creativity and collaboration.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4046) Essentially a “Maker Day” is a chance to share the idea of a Makerspace with the community by providing a place and materials for those not familiar with makerspaces a chance to try making something themselves. There is quite a bit that would go into planning a “Maker Day”, though it would be a good precursor to developing a permanent makerspace.

According to the Maker Day 2014 toolkit, some of the first things you should in planning a “Maker Day” are to pick a date and find a venue. You also need to develop an agenda for the “Maker Day”, set a budget and find funding.  Another important piece of a “Maker Day” is finding volunteers and possible guest speakers, and also who you would like to invite to the event. (2014) Besides picking a date, each of these honestly fits right with building a makerspace, and would probably result in quite a few similarities between my makerspace plan and my “Maker Day” plan. For me, I think a good venue would be the high school where I teach, so that would be one part of the planning that would be easily established for me.

In terms of date, this could be tough. The school year is always so packed with extra-curricular activities that it might be hard to find time to host a “Maker Day” event, so a better choice might be National Maker Day, June 18, which occurs during summer break. I think regardless of the date that is chosen, people would have conflicts, so trying something in the summer might be a good way to start. It would probably limit the number of students that I could recruit to help, as well as other staff members from the school, but that is something that would only be revealed as the event is planned. Once a date is established, then an agenda could start to be developed.

I think one of the biggest pieces of this “Maker Day” would be the budget and funding sources. Ideally, we would be able to ask local businesses and the community for donations to our event, using the supply list from the Makerspace in a Box list by Hlubinka (2013). Summer is also garage sale season, so perhaps some good materials could be scrounged up by event volunteers using funds for the event. My hopes it that we could do a fundraiser or two for the event, maybe through a Maker club that could be started at the school. I think a decent budget for the event could be between $500-$1000, depending on the types of donations we can get from the local community.

In terms of trying to find volunteers for the event, I think students should be the main workforce. “Involve kids in as much of the planning, organizing, and running of the Maker Day as possible.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4059) In order to get students involved, I think a Maker Club would need to be established at the school, if a makerspace were not already in place before the event. This could help introduce students to the idea of making and get them on board as hosts of the “Maker Day”.

Parents and community members could also make great volunteers for the event. “Ask parents who work in engineering, computing, construction, mechanics, or carpentry fields to share their expertise in hands-on activities.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Locatino 4132) It’s possible that parents or other community members might also be able to be guest speakers at the event, possibly giving an introduction speech as suggested by Maker Day 2014. (2014)

With most of the housekeeping out of the way, the last, and possibly most important piece of this “Maker Day” would be the projects that would be made. “Usually, 10-20 activities mixed between drop-in and longer workshops is the right amount.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4086) Some ideas shared by Caleb Kraft (2015) are Papercraft Makey’s, No Carve Stamps, and Scribble Machines. Kraft shares a few other ideas as well, any of which could be utilized for a “Maker Day”.

While this isn’t an exhaustive preparation for a “Maker Day”, I believe most of the important issues are outlined here. A “Maker Day” sounds like a great way to introduce both students and the community to the idea of makerspaces, and might even be a way to secure funding for future maker events. This type of event almost seems like it would be easier to do for a first attempt at a makerspace-type endeavor, and might be a great way to get administrator buy-in for a permanent makerspace.

References

Kraft, C. (2015) What Will You Create for the National Day of Making? Make: Retreieved July 13, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2015/06/18/will-create-national-day-making/

Faculty of Education. (2014) Maker Day 2014. The University of British Columbia. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from http://www.itabc.ca/sites/default/files/docs/discover/Final%20MakerDayToolKit.pdf

Hlubinka, M. (2013) Stocking up School MakerspacesMake: Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2013/08/21/stocking-up-school-makerspaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Week 8 Reflection

This week we looked at if it is possible to teach something we don’t know, and I think that this is absolutely possible, especially as we move towards more student-centered classrooms and teaching styles. Teachers take on a facilitator role, providing students with the proper opportunities to learn, in their own way, possible learning things that I may not be as knowledgeable about. This requires me to give up some of the control in my classroom, which is uncomfortable, but may be just what my students need to get the most out of their education with me.

This week I read and commented on Jule’s and Brian’s blogs. Jule had some really good points about teachers being “guides and inspirers”, as well as being a lifelong learner. I think wanting to be a lifelong learner myself can help students in their journey to become lifelong learners by taking control of their education. Jule’s post this week made me think of how I taught something that I didn’t know everything about this past year in my Forensics class. Sometimes in class, I was learning right along with my students, but that isn’t necessarily bad. This next year I will have another opportunity for this as I prepare to teach Forensics II, and extension of the forensics class I taught last year.

Brian’ post was very interesting this week, because he started out by saying that teachers cannot teach what we don’t know, but finished his first paragraph by saying that “What a teacher can do is give each student the skills to teach themselves and others.” To me, this is what teaching is actually becoming. We aren’t as much needed to share our content knowledge with students as we are needed to help them learn how to learn on their own. Brian’s perspective really made me think more in depth about what it means to teach, in a traditional sense and also in a student-centered sense.

This week really got me thinking about what it means to teach, and what my goal as a teacher is for my students. I am starting to work on my plans for teaching this next school year, and this will definitely be something I think about as I work on those plans.

 

 

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Week 8: Can you teach more than you know?

The question this week really made me think about what it actually means to teach in schools today, and where that is headed in the future. When it comes to my content area, in most cases, I know more about chemistry than my students. I use my knowledge to help them learn and understand chemistry. But when it comes to technology, I often feel like my students know more than me, even though I feel very comfortable with most of the technology I use on a daily basis. So how can I hope to teach students how to utilize new technologies that I may not be as familiar with?

This is where I think the role of teacher as facilitator comes into play. In an ever-changing world, I think it would be unreasonable to expect teachers to know everything in their classrooms, but they should know how to help students learn things the teacher may not know everything about. “The challenge for educators is not to dismiss or keep up with students’ latest technological know-how, but to create meaningful learning experiences in which students are taught how to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems.” (Daggett, 2010) Teaching isn’t as much about sharing information anymore as it is providing a sufficient learning environment for students to discover that information on their own. Makerspaces are perfect for providing this opportunity. I can not even imagine all of the possible creations that students could come up with in a makerspace, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning because I don’t now what they are making.

According to the constructivist learning theory, “people actively construct new knowledge by combining their experiences with what they already know.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 812) If I can, as a teacher, provide more opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning and construct new knowledge through experiences, learning can become more meaningful. “Creating a classroom makerspace is an opportunity to give students ownership of their own learning as they explore their own passions.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 3968)

According to Tina Barseghian (2011), there are three trends that will be key in the future of teaching and learning: collaboration, tech-powered, and blended. Each of these provides an opportunity for students to take the lead in their learning, given the right environment from me as the teacher. “Students are collaborating with each other through social media to learn more about specific subjects, to test out ideas and theories, to learn facts, and to gauge each others’ opinions.” (Barseghian, 2011) Using collaboration, students can learn a variety of things without the teacher being directly involved or “teaching” them. Technology offers multiple platforms for collaboration to occur, and blended learning, or “combining computers with traditional learning” (Barseghian, 2011) also provide students opportunities to learn in ways that were previously unheard of.

Can I teach a student something I don’t know? If “teach” means the same thing as providing students with opportunities to create their own understanding through making and collaboration, then yes, I think I can.

References

Barseghian, T. (2011) Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning. KQED News. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/05/three-trends-that-define-the-future-of-teaching-and-learning/

Daggett, W.R. (2010) Preparing Students for Their Technological Future. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.leadered.com/pdf/Preparing%20Students%20for%20Tech%20Future%20white%20paper.pdf

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Week 7 Reflection

This week was a big week for me in terms of my vision of my makerspace. I initially intended for my makerspace to be something I create within my classroom, using some of the space in my already crowded classroom. For some reason, the idea of using a separate room never really occurred to me until this week. We will have two empty classrooms in the science hall starting this year, and while they might not always be empty, one of them could very easily be converted into a makerspace for the time being. With this new possible location becoming part of my vision, it was a little easier to come up with some basic starting rules for my makerspace.

My learning this week was impacted by the readings for this week, as well as reading Mariah’s and Douglas’s blogs. Mariah shared her school rules of “Responsible, Respectful, and Safe”, which I really think cover any rules you would need in a makerspace. She also went into detail on each of those, giving you a better idea of what it means to be “Responsible, Respectful, and Safe” in a makerspace specifically. She also shared her “Big, Basic Rules” which would be very useful in a makerspace, one of which is having students get a signed permission slip to take part in the makerspace. I would imagine this is similar to the safety contracts I have my chemistry students sign, and makes complete sense for a makespace where some of the same hazards, and even more dangerous ones, can arise.

Douglas shared a list of rules from the Dallas Makerspace that made me think about whether or not my makerspace would be open to the public. Being open to the public would require quite a few more rules to be in place, and also having the makerspace better established, so I think to start my makerspace would only be open to students and staff at the school.

I impacted the learning of others through my blog post. Mariah read and commented on my post this week.

All in all this was a productive week. I am much more comfortable with the idea of starting a makerspace, especially because now that I think I have a location outside of my classroom where I could start one. I think the rules for my makerspace will evolve more over time, but I really like the idea of having kids get signed permission slips before they use the makerspace and potentially opening the makerspace to the public in the future.

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