Maker Space Proposal Presentation

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

I have learned a lot this year since starting my Master’s degree in educational technology. I had no idea what to expect when I started in January. I felt that I had a pretty good handle on technology in the classroom, but I was mistaken. I had no idea about things like Chibitronics or 3D printers. It’s hard to teach something if you don’t know it exists. It reminds me of a quote I read by Donald Rumsfeld, “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don’t know we don’t know” (Goodreads, Inc., n.d.). For me, much of what we covered over the summer were unknowns unknowns. I simply was not aware of some of the really amazing technology that my students could use to enhance their learning.

Now that our class is almost over, I can say that I feel confident that I am a 21st century learner. One of the most thought provoking quotes I read this week was from our text. Martinez and Stager (2013) wrote, “It is impossible to teach 21st century learners if you have not learned in this century. Professional development suffers from being too ‘meta.’ Teachers are asked to teach in ways in which they have no personal experience with tools in short supply.” I feel this is exactly what is happening in my school district and it is a key reason there is a gap between what students can do with technology and what teachers are able to do. There are many reasons that teachers don’t have the experience with technology and no easy way to fix the issue. Personally, I am finding that this class is helping me gain the experience and confidence I need to teach 21st century learners. I’m excited about my Chibitronics unit this fall. I also have found resources and ideas on the blogs of my classmates and other websites through this class. I bookmarked a page from Edutopia about the characteristics of a 21st century teacher and in it, Palmer (2015) writes, “Obviously, teaching in the 21-century is an altogether different phenomenon; never before could learning be happening the way it is now — everywhere, all the time, on any possible topic, supporting any possible learning style or preference.” I feel that this is exactly what I need to keep in mind as I move forward as an educator. Things have changed and are going to continue to change. My students need me to help them keep up with the changes, which means I have to change too.

References

Goodreads, Inc. (n.d.). Donald Rumsfeld Quotes. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from Goodreads, Inc.: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/936753.Donald_Rumsfeld

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Palmer, T. (2015, June 20). 15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/15-characteristics-21st-century-teacher

Week Ten Reflection (Robotics)

Let me start by stating that my new computer should be here tomorrow. It is a huge step in my quest to overcome the technology issues that have been plaguing me this summer. I am stressed because I am behind, but I’m still fighting. I have requested a meeting with the interim principal at my school so I can pitch my makerspace idea to her. It is very likely that she will be our permanent school principal next year. I feel that if I can show her the benefits this year with my own class, then she will be more likely to allow me to expand next year. I think what I was most impressed with this week was how good ASD’s tech plan is because I really struggled with FNSBSD’s tech plan. I actually looked back at the plan before the current one and found it to be more helpful to me. The goals that ASD has are very straightforward and it is very easy to see how a MakerSpace Club would support the goals. I do believe that a MakerSpace club would appeal to “the masses” because it offers something for everyone’s interests. I think what really appeals to me is how it may expand a student’s interests because they may see what others are doing and want to try it as well. I just don’t see a real downside to having a MakerSpace. My main concern is getting others to agree and want to help out.

Why Does My School Need A Makerspace?

My school needs a makerspace for a couple important reasons. First, it helps students learn problem solving and higher order thinking skills, which is essential to their future as students, employees, parents, and community members. Second, it allows them to create things with their hands. They get to design, build, revise and improve their own creations. According to Cooper (2013), “Makerspaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering.” As an educator, I have had countless talks with numerous people about the importance of teaching science and engineering in my classroom. I feel that a makerspace will allow teachers to that in a way that makes learning enjoyable to students while challenging them.

I believe it is important for my school to foster creativity in students, while challenging them to become self-reliant problem solvers. This is important because “failure to embrace the kids’ competence, capacity, and creativity leads educators to deprive children of opportunities to achieve their potential. Worst of all, it cheats children out of the rich 21st century childhood they deserve” (Martinez & Stager, 2013). The teachers and administrators in our Title 1 school work hard to make sure our students reach their potential. It is especially important for us because our students come from military families and are typically only with us for three years before they move out of state and to a new school. We have a narrow window of opportunity and we need to make the most of it. This is not something that we can continually put off thinking that they will get it as they progress through their educational career because we have no knowledge of where they will be and what educational opportunities they will receive.

We need to keep in mind that “making requires two sets of skills and the confidence to try something new. The first is simply tool skills – knowing which tool to use and how to use it safely…The second set of skills can be thought of as diagnostic and problem-solving skills. These are the skills required to figure out why something won’t work, come up with a creative solution and to manage one’s emotions through the process. These skills probably can be taught, but they are typically learned through practice and coaching (a key skill for a teacher in a makerspace). But before kids even start a project, they need the confidence to even try” (Thomas, 2013). The second set of skills is what is important for our students’ futures. They need to learn to take chances now, in elementary school. We need to coach them and give them time to practice finding solutions. I think this process is especially important to our struggling students before they feel demoralized or humiliated. We need to let them express their ideas in new and different ways.

References

Cooper, J. (2013, September 30). Designing a School Makerspace. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-a-school-makerspace-jennifer-cooper

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Thomas, P. (2013, August 11). 3 Key Qualities for a School Makerspace. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from Makezine: http://makezine.com/2013/08/11/key-qualities-for-a-school-makerspace/

Week Nine Reflection (Robotics)

I love maker spaces and after this week, I’m more determined than ever to have one in my classroom. However, I am still unsure of how I would have a Maker Day at my school. I like the idea of having one to kick off a maker space club. It would be a great way to introduce the idea to parents and students, but I really feel that I need to start smaller and work my way up and I have definitely gotten positive feedback from my classmates for this idea. My plan is to expand each year, kind of like a rollout. This year it will be my class, next year I would like to do K-2, then in the third year open it up K-6. I figure by the third year, I will have enough experience and volunteers to help out. I know we can use the art and science room and expand into other empty classroom as needed. The biggest issue I had this week was that my comments did not post. I used my iPad app and it looked like they all went through, but they are not on any of the blogs I posted to, which is beyond frustrating because it was a huge waste of my time. Now, I am going to have to repost them as I post for this weeks blogs. I just can’t seem to get a break this summer when it comes to technology. I find this to be very ironic. I’m trying to keep my humor and go with the flow, but I’m feeling really disheartened.

What I Would Need to Coordinate a “Maker Day”

I am not planning on starting a Maker Club at my school this coming year. I just don’t think it is something I am ready to take on as a second year teacher. However, I am planning on having a Mini Maker Club for my class of first graders and expanding from there. With this in mind, I would love to have an open house for parents to come in and experience our maker space with their child. Even doing a “Maker Day” on this small level would take a lot of work and coordination. Regardless of the size, I agree with Martinez and Stager (2013) as they wrote, “A Maker Day is not the same as a science fair. There is often too much ‘show and tell’ or competition at a science fair. A Maker Day is about creativity and collaboration. It celebrates individual ingenuity within the context of the creative culture of shared values.” I realize that the different between a Maker Day and a Science Fair, but I think the planning of them are somewhat the same. So, I am going to chat with our Science Fair coordinator and get ideas and suggestions from her before having my classroom Maker Day.

I have experience putting together one parent night, which equals almost no experience at all. I know I am going to struggle with pulling together something as complex as a Maker Day. However, I found a great checklist for planning a Maker Day that will help me consider which supplies I will want to include, recruiting volunteers, finding an appropriate space, and planning a schedule (Industry Training Authority British Columbia, n.d.). Being a new to running a club, there are things that I need to consider that I may not think of on my own, which is why having a checklist is key.

Two of the most important things that I will need are supplies and activities for the Maker Day. People will need to be able to build something and I need have items available for them. I found a webpage for Farmhamville Elementary School in Iowa that had a list of ideas that I could use for my own Maker Day. They had their Maker Day event to kick off their Maker Space for their school. Some of the ideas they had that I would like to use in my classroom are paper circuits, build your own musical instrument, 3-D design, straw building challenge, cardboard maze/tunnel, and the marble run. The school’s website also has pictures of the Maker Day, videos, and a supply list (Southeast Valley Schools, n.d.). I could also add a pottery station, since our school has a kiln and I know how to use it. I should have between twenty-two and twenty-seven students in my classroom, so I think that having five to six making stations should be enough. I feel like this week has given me enough information and a good handle on what I will need to have a classroom Maker Day.

References

Industry Training Authority British Columbia. (n.d.). Maker Day 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from Industry Training Authority British Columbia: http://www.itabc.ca/sites/default/files/docs/discover/Final%20MakerDayToolKit.pdf

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Southeast Valley Schools. (n.d.). PV Elementary Maker Day. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from Southeast Valley Schools: http://www.southeastvalley.org/vnews/display.v/ART/54f0b5ae0f4d7

Week Eight Reflection (Robotics)

I learned a lot about teaching more than I know this week thanks to both this course and the other graduate course I am taking (Emerging Technology). In my Emerging Technology class, I got a glimpse into the world of Minecraft and how it can be used in education. I still know very little about how to play Minecraft, but I am extremely excited to develop and teach a unit to my first graders using it. I am going to explore and play a bit more with the program and set up our own Minecraft world, but mostly I would like my students to play, learn and teach each other while I provide background support. I also read a lot of really good blog posts about the importance of all students having access to technology. I specifically identified with Ali’s comment on Megan’s blog about the different levels of technology that is available in schools within the same district. Not only do I find it frustrating, but I also find it unfair to the students. It may be unfair to me as their teacher, but it really upsets me because it is an imbalance of educational resources that all students should have access to use. The great things about children is that they are resourceful and many will find a way around the imbalance. One way is to allow them to bring their own device, which is something Scott was able to write about and explain. I can see the byod benefits now. There were a lot of great opinions and ideas on the blogs this week!