Final Make:  A Maker Space Make                  April 25, 2015

Teacher agency

Interest –powered

Peer-supported

Academically oriented

Production centered

Openly networked

Shared purpose

                            The changing social and technological landscape is up-ending what is effective teaching.   The “banking model” of education in which teachers deposit knowledge into students who are not meant to critically examine it, or create meaning for themselves is no longer relevant.    There are additional barriers in science education for African American and Latino students because science is presented in a way that does not represent their interests, their realities and their identities.  Most of science is taught either with examples and contexts that are not relevant to students in urban schools or presented in a de-contextualized manner. Furthermore, most of the media related to science does not show black and Latino scientists and engineers. These issues make it that much more difficult for black and Latino youth to imagine themselves as scientists and engineers of the future.    

         I found a school that set up a new model that allows students to follow their interests and passions in afternoon two hour studio electives. In an attempt to work to counteract some of the inequity I see in science education I volunteered to offer a studio elective called Engineering and Science Design.   On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, students can either choose their own projects to work on, or work on some of the ideas I suggest.  On Wednesdays we do either a hands-on inquiry-based science experiment or an engineering challenge and then the students spend an hour reflecting and writing in their Design logs about their experiences.   I have specifically designed writing prompts to help them in applying their knowledge and skills from their making experiences as evidence of school wide competencies they must earn in scientific inquiry and habits of success” in order to graduate.   I encourage the students to take photos of their projects and write a few sentences about them in our class blog.  

              Many of the students have selected this studio because they did not earn the competencies they needed for graduation in their science class and are trying to catch up.  Some of them are in the studio because they enjoy making things with their hands.  Some of the students are there because they were deemed behavioral problems in other classes.  My hope was that they will see the power that comes from DIY projects and also make progress in creating their own identities.  

           The first Wednesday challenge I gave them was The Community Engineering Challenge,  in which student teams design a method that would move pool water out of the community recreation center pool, working within a set of limited resources.   I have one team of 3 students, one team of 2 students and a student working individually to design and build pinball machines from scratch.  I have one student creating a head scarf with an Arduino controlled circuit of LEDS. I have two students doing small crafts projects with plastics and one student experimenting and making skin care products.  On Wednesday the experiment we did was to design a way for some cheese business owners to improve the cost efficiency of their cheese making process in the Cheese Making Challenge.   The next design challenge they will be given is the Tissue Re-messaging Challenge.

     My  Reflections:

           When I was thinking about how this maker space illustrates the principles of connected learning I believe it demonstrates several of them, however still has some work to go before it fully applies them.  For me, this is an experiment that will go on after this class.  With my effort to reflect and evaluate on the mistakes I’m making along the way, I’m sure it will go through several iterations as I learn.

               Although I give the students engineering challenges, inquiry experiments and writing experiences once a week, students spend most of the time working on their creations which are student-interest driven.  I have ongoing individual conversations with students to see what they are interested in and then I help them try to find a way to pursue those interests. In this production centered class, students have been given the opportunity to tinker, experiment, explore, trouble shoot and problem solve.   They have been repositioned as producers and makers who are creating knowledge from their own experiences.  

           The equity comes from several facts.  The learning is based on student interest which helps them connect to their own lived realities and experiences.   Secondly, they are using the production processes scientists and engineers use to learn. This helps them see themselves as scientists and engineers.  This also makes them try to figure out what they need in order to be able to make or learn something. It changes their perspective of themselves in which they are the agent of their own learning.  They begin to see that their failures are stepping stones to deeper learning.  

            Another principle of connected learning demonstrated by this maker space is that students are publishing what they are doing through the class blog to a wider audience.  Sharing what they are doing and thinking about it with others in networked communities brings equity into education for the students. We have gone further than a blog yet but that is a goal. Most of these students are reading far below grade level and struggle with writing and mathematics.  However, the projects they are doing have embedded in them academic literacy practice.  By reaching out to authentic audiences, students will see their own                         power in being able to learn for themselves.  

             This maker space does not fulfill all of the connected learning principles to the extent that I had hoped.   The students have been helping each other on their projects, however it has been very difficult to get students to work in teams towards a shared purpose.  

  As I mentioned previously, an area to improve is also in social networking. I would like the results of the class blog to eventually connect with others with similar interests where students could interact and participate in a learning community.    

     Another area of needed improvement is the academic orientation of the class.  I am having them write and read and speak, however there needs to be more editing and revisions and more rigorous academic and critical literacy work built in.  

        Overall, after evaluating the strengths and weakness of this model,   I believe it just doesn’t do enough to break through the structural issues getting in the way of equity.  It needs a more powerful shared purpose that involves action to change a problem that the students care about.  This could motivate students to engage in the critical literacy work they need to help them catch up in their academic literacy skills. Additionally, it could help student bring about changes that solve real problems they have.

            Having students doing work to solve real problems, such as through YPAR-youth participatory action projects that they have identified could help students to work toward academic excellence.  However, right now I have not built this kind of opportunity into the class. The closest I have come is to create a STEM program at an after school program at a City Recreation center near the school and have planned for my students to lead a workshop for the younger children.  Unfortunately I feel that this idea needed to have come from them.   From my experience putting young people in a leadership role helps them build their self-confidence, however it may still not result in academic excellence.  In addition to making things, I believe the students need to be doing research that involves reading, collecting and analyzing data that involves computing skills, and presenting their work which requires presentation and communication skills.  Including a more critical approach to the maker space would give students more power and to be heard in ways that would engage them as agents of change in their communities.  

           I know I am pretty hard on myself given that I was pretty much doing this all by myself.   More support from the school or a partnership with more experienced maker coaches would be one avenue to try.  Just today at a workshop I attended at the iTAGS conference I met the coaches of one of the maker spaces of a school which happens to be in the same building as the school where I am.  I thought how wonderful it would be to work in a school where these goals are part of the school institutional structure.  It was helpful seeing how they approached their maker spaces for social justice.   Through my connected learning networks, I will be on the lookout for ideas for more ways I can try to accomplish these objectives.    

I enjoyed the ED677, especially with giving us a chance to experiment and make mistakes and learn from them.  I liked the way we could take our own paths based on our own interests and experience.  I enjoyed our shared purpose and support of each other. We got to experience connected learning as we learned about connected learning-a good way to learn.    Thanks to you all who have made it possible.           

                                          Signing off,  


                                                 Kathy

 

Final Make:  A Maker Space Make                  April 25, 2015

Teacher agency

Interest –powered

Peer-supported

Academically oriented

Production centered

Openly networked

Shared purpose

                            The changing social and technological landscape is up-ending what is effective teaching.   The “banking model” of education in which teachers deposit knowledge into students who are not meant to critically examine it, or create meaning for themselves is no longer relevant.    There are additional barriers in science education for African American and Latino students because science is presented in a way that does not represent their interests, their realities and their identities.  Most of science is taught either with examples and contexts that are not relevant to students in urban schools or presented in a de-contextualized manner. Furthermore, most of the media related to science does not show black and Latino scientists and engineers. These issues make it that much more difficult for black and Latino youth to imagine themselves as scientists and engineers of the future.    

         I found a school that set up a new model that allows students to follow their interests and passions in afternoon two hour studio electives. In an attempt to work to counteract some of the inequity I see in science education I volunteered to offer a studio elective called Engineering and Science Design.   On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, students can either choose their own projects to work on, or work on some of the ideas I suggest.  On Wednesdays we do either a hands-on inquiry-based science experiment or an engineering challenge and then the students spend an hour reflecting and writing in their Design logs about their experiences.   I have specifically designed writing prompts to help them in applying their knowledge and skills from their making experiences as evidence of school wide competencies they must earn in scientific inquiry and habits of success” in order to graduate.   I encourage the students to take photos of their projects and write a few sentences about them in our class blog.  

              Many of the students have selected this studio because they did not earn the competencies they needed for graduation in their science class and are trying to catch up.  Some of them are in the studio because they enjoy making things with their hands.  Some of the students are there because they were deemed behavioral problems in other classes.  My hope was that they will see the power that comes from DIY projects and also make progress in creating their own identities.  

           The first Wednesday challenge I gave them was The Community Engineering Challenge,  in which student teams design a method that would move pool water out of the community recreation center pool, working within a set of limited resources.   I have one team of 3 students, one team of 2 students and a student working individually to design and build pinball machines from scratch.  I have one student creating a head scarf with an Arduino controlled circuit of LEDS. I have two students doing small crafts projects with plastics and one student experimenting and making skin care products.  On Wednesday the experiment we did was to design a way for some cheese business owners to improve the cost efficiency of their cheese making process in the Cheese Making Challenge.   The next design challenge they will be given is the Tissue Re-messaging Challenge.

     My  Reflections:

           When I was thinking about how this maker space illustrates the principles of connected learning I believe it demonstrates several of them, however still has some work to go before it fully applies them.  For me, this is an experiment that will go on after this class.  With my effort to reflect and evaluate on the mistakes I’m making along the way, I’m sure it will go through several iterations as I learn.

               Although I give the students engineering challenges, inquiry experiments and writing experiences once a week, students spend most of the time working on their creations which are student-interest driven.  I have ongoing individual conversations with students to see what they are interested in and then I help them try to find a way to pursue those interests. In this production centered class, students have been given the opportunity to tinker, experiment, explore, trouble shoot and problem solve.   They have been repositioned as producers and makers who are creating knowledge from their own experiences.  

           The equity comes from several facts.  The learning is based on student interest which helps them connect to their own lived realities and experiences.   Secondly, they are using the production processes scientists and engineers use to learn. This helps them see themselves as scientists and engineers.  This also makes them try to figure out what they need in order to be able to make or learn something. It changes their perspective of themselves in which they are the agent of their own learning.  They begin to see that their failures are stepping stones to deeper learning.  

            Another principle of connected learning demonstrated by this maker space is that students are publishing what they are doing through the class blog to a wider audience.  Sharing what they are doing and thinking about it with others in networked communities brings equity into education for the students. We have gone further than a blog yet but that is a goal. Most of these students are reading far below grade level and struggle with writing and mathematics.  However, the projects they are doing have embedded in them academic literacy practice.  By reaching out to authentic audiences, students will see their own                         power in being able to learn for themselves.  

             This maker space does not fulfill all of the connected learning principles to the extent that I had hoped.   The students have been helping each other on their projects, however it has been very difficult to get students to work in teams towards a shared purpose.  

  As I mentioned previously, an area to improve is also in social networking. I would like the results of the class blog to eventually connect with others with similar interests where students could interact and participate in a learning community.    

     Another area of needed improvement is the academic orientation of the class.  I am having them write and read and speak, however there needs to be more editing and revisions and more rigorous academic and critical literacy work built in.  

        Overall, after evaluating the strengths and weakness of this model,   I believe it just doesn’t do enough to break through the structural issues getting in the way of equity.  It needs a more powerful shared purpose that involves action to change a problem that the students care about.  This could motivate students to engage in the critical literacy work they need to help them catch up in their academic literacy skills. Additionally, it could help student bring about changes that solve real problems they have.

            Having students doing work to solve real problems, such as through YPAR-youth participatory action projects that they have identified could help students to work toward academic excellence.  However, right now I have not built this kind of opportunity into the class. The closest I have come is to create a STEM program at an after school program at a City Recreation center near the school and have planned for my students to lead a workshop for the younger children.  Unfortunately I feel that this idea needed to have come from them.   From my experience putting young people in a leadership role helps them build their self-confidence, however it may still not result in academic excellence.  In addition to making things, I believe the students need to be doing research that involves reading, collecting and analyzing data that involves computing skills, and presenting their work which requires presentation and communication skills.  Including a more critical approach to the maker space would give students more power and to be heard in ways that would engage them as agents of change in their communities.  

           I know I am pretty hard on myself given that I was pretty much doing this all by myself.   More support from the school or a partnership with more experienced maker coaches would be one avenue to try.  Just today at a workshop I attended at the iTAGS conference I met the coaches of one of the maker spaces of a school which happens to be in the same building as the school where I am.  I thought how wonderful it would be to work in a school where these goals are part of the school institutional structure.  It was helpful seeing how they approached their maker spaces for social justice.   Through my connected learning networks, I will be on the lookout for ideas for more ways I can try to accomplish these objectives.    

I enjoyed the ED677, especially with giving us a chance to experiment and make mistakes and learn from them.  I liked the way we could take our own paths based on our own interests and experience.  I enjoyed our shared purpose and support of each other. We got to experience connected learning as we learned about connected learning-a good way to learn.    Thanks to you all who have made it possible.           

                                          Signing off,  


                                                 Kathy

 

My Final S7S

It is with a Heavy Heart and sad final week of classes that I have to report my last S7S for this term.

1) I appreciate all of my teachers this term, and their faith in my and I thank them for never giving up on me.

2) I appreciate my Where I am From poem that I have made as my make, and my books of quotes that I started this term. all of the positive vibes I received this semester has stuck with me.

3) I appreciate Christina Cantrill sharing with us her Six Images. It seems like an amazing idea that I can introduce students to when I start teaching.

4) I appreciate the teacher who asked her what they wished that she knew. Because I think it’s important that every teacher do this in all of their classes. I feel like this could be a way to give kids a safe haven or an outlet or anyway for the teacher to help them. .

5)I appreciate Badges, and Connected Learning in ways I didn’t think I would. Finding new ways to set up meetings and group meetings and different place to come together for a common purpose.

6) I appreciate Clequity, Techquity, and the ability to learn and teach through games.  I Lost the game AGAIN!

7) I appreciate that technology, and connected learning allow  teachers to teach children that the World Is round, and that I can hangout on google with someone in china via technology. I love technology and all it does to help us and our students.


emblazen 2015-04-15 01:06:59

During a routine cleaning of my computer bookmarks, I came across a number of videos and links that I’ve used to inspire or encourage students. They vary in subject matter…from social studies to science to just needing a laugh! Our standardized assessment period has begun and after today, I realized that I, too could use a little inspiring. So, here’s a curation of my favorite digital encouragement inspired by my students past and present!

Let’s begin with my all time favorite, Lower Merion School District’s version of Pharell’s “Happy.” At the beginning of this school year, teachers and students collaborated and choreographed to interpret their own wacky brand of “happy.” Although many school districts have done the same thing, it just brings a smile to my face to see people letting go of their inhibitions and just having fun! Hope it brings a smile to your face as well!

Lower Merion is Happy!

https://youtu.be/F8joYAIMjtI

I love seeing students light up when they realize just how clever they truly are. Whether it’s solving a challenging math problem or writing an impressive essay, the look says it all. It’s important for them to realize that deep inside of each of them are brilliant ideas just waiting to get out. The first time I showed this video years ago, my students made me replay it four times because they were so inspired…or maybe it was the fact that Justin Timberlake was in it? :-)

My Robot is Better Than Your Robot

https://youtu.be/bkOMd6HdpJ0

Ok, who can resist Kid President? He’s intelligent, funny, and has such an infectious smile! This is the perfect video to show before PSSA testing!

Kid President – A Pep Talk from Kid President to You

https://youtu.be/l-gQLqv9f4o

Talk about character education…I adore this commercial. My students were able to pick out themes like friendship, honesty, togetherness, support and collaboration. What a perfect way to remind us to honor differences, but let’s celebrate similarities as well!

Friends Furever

https://youtu.be/vnVuqfXohxc

This one was used as a movement break. When my kiddos were just spent after testing most of the day, I would say, “Push the desks back, it’s time for a movement break!” The funny thing is they never knew which video I was going to show, but the floor was packed with poorly coordinated kids…and one teacher laughing hysterically right in the middle of them all! Love it!

Sesame Street: Share it Maybe

https://youtu.be/-qTIGg3I5y8

Lately there’s been a lot of fuss about the word resiliency. All of sudden, “grit” matters. Catch up folks, it’s been around longer than we think.

Michael Jordan – Learn to fail

https://youtu.be/JA7G7AV-LT8

This one is amazing. I recently viewed this in a STEM class. Although I didn’t necessarily use it to inspire in the traditional sense, I utilized it to bring awareness to the world’s population and its dwindling resources. We easily brought in math, geography, and historic themes, but I believe the point was hit home. We have to take care of this planet. And they are not too young to help.

World Population (Population Education)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khFjdmp9sZk

I have tons more to share and will shortly. For now, I hope you can use these. May they inspire and “edutain!”


Readings re: Science and Social Justice Teaching

Excerpted compilation by Kathy Walsh, April 6 2015

I am reading a book called The Art of Critical Pedagogy:   Possibilities for Moving from theory to practice in urban schools,  which is filled with very empowering ways to engage students who have been marginalized in schools.  Other books I have read in the past month that have a lot of Student-driven action projects and ideas for engagement:  Deep Knowledge: learning to teach science for understanding and equity by Douglas B. Larkin; Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation by Christopher Emdin; Teaching Science for Social Justice by Angela Calabrese Barton, and Democratic Science Teaching: building expertise to empower low income minority youth in science by Basu, Calabrese, and Tan. and Empowering Science and Mathematics in Urban Schools by Tan, Calabrese, & Barton.   For science teachers there seems not to be a lot on the subject of teaching for social justice compared to teachers of other subjects so I thought this list could prove helpful if this is something you are interested in. 

Connected Learning Week 10

Wow, Week 10! It seems like the semester just started and we are already past the half way point. When I started this Journey into connected learning I definitely felt like I was taking these classes to not only get better at teaching computers, but helping my students do better work with technology.  Technology is a friend, not the enemy, and I find as I work with other teachers that are not tech-friendly they decide against using technology in their own classrooms. Heres what I have learned. Technology is an amazing way to connect with each other in so many lessons. I love the fact that in my class I’ve met several people from the many different Writing projects, as well as people who use Games to teach their classroom. ( I just lost the game)!  I am finding that when I was younger and wanted more than anything to just make different things whether it was cooking or baking, or a bead bracelet/ necklace, Now i can use technology and search for different communities of practice. Take for example author Jane Austen. If you type into your Google search box: Jane Austen there is a Jane Austen Society, you can also search for Jane Austen groups on twitter and Facebook and meet new people that way. I love that technology gives us freedoms to express ourselves as well as connect with amazing people. Connected learning is an amazing tool to have in every school and classroom.

Amy


My First Prezi…

…it’s interesting how we choose our paths in life. We arrive at various junctures sometimes willingly and others completely blindsided. This assignment asked me to examine my journey into Connected Learning; to ponder where it will take me and what I will do with the knowledge. It couldn’t have been more timely.

As my father is fighting the biggest battle of his life, I can’t help but notice that he has become the poster child for one of Erikson’s psychoanalytic stages: Integrity vs. Despair. Lately, he has settled into a stage of acceptance of what will be. Dad seems to be content in knowing that he has lived a “full life” and chooses not to wallow in pity or regret over what could have been. So, here I am middle-aged and walking down the proverbial middle of the road. What lies behind is simply that. But what concerns me more now, is what lies ahead. Erikson would call this stage Generativity vs Stagnation.

Have I done what I set out to do to support future generations? As an educator, I would hope so. I still feel as though I could and should be doing more. This is where STEM and Connected Learning efforts enter. Education needs a serious overhaul; that isn’t news. It needs the right people who are able to keep their fingers on the pulse of the world. It needs people who understand that the world’s problems are no longer isolated to individual countries; the borders have are blended and humanity is starved for collaboration. It needs the right blend of solid research, bold philosophy, and innovative pedagogy!

I hope the path I’ve chosen can help me to be the catalyst I’ve always wanted to be. In that way, I can choose integrity over despair as well.

https://prezi.com/embed/4nomzvgsjwbl/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0#” target=”_blank”>My First Prezi!


Manic Monday Fine 5 fun day?

Hi Everyone this is my f5f.

1) I appreciate all of our hangouts. That we get to meet, and chat and truly come together, and discuss Techquity, and clequity, as well as connected learning.

2) I appreciate that my classmates post thoughtful articles and stories that we can all respond to ( Eric’s post) and have a good discussion.

3) I appreciate that Connected learning is creating so many different jobs, as well as creating a purpose for students to come together as a group and share their findings.

4) I appreciate that we have been able to hack our own hacks, that when I write my S7S or S6S or F5F that we have been able to change that.

5) I appreciate our connected learning network as a connected learning discussion board. I love how we can come together online and just talk about connected learning and how we can help our students.

Happy Monday,

Amy


What am I passionate about?

Hi Everyone hope everyone has had an amazing weekend.  My prompt this week was what am I most passionate about with connected learning, and I have to say that truthfully I am most passionate about the fact that in my time as a teacher I will be able to give my students a way to connect with each other in class and out of class. I can create group chats, and hangouts and also a way to connect with their parents. Connected Learning is the future, and I think that being able to connect with the students parents is just another way to make sure that the parents stay active and involved in their child’s education. I also find it truly amazing to teach my students that with one google hangout they can speak to someone in China about one thing our class is discussing. I think that being able to remind our students that America is not the only country in the world, as i said previously the world is round, and I love being able to teach that to my students.

Enjoy your Monday

Amy


Seek 7 Sunday:

1.  I have had the good fortune of working with one of my community partners, a local recreation center in West Phylly that has been teaching me so much about how important rec centers and the people who work there are to the community.  Every day the women staff at the rec center make it a safe haven for the children who are there everyday after school.   One of the staff, helps the children with there homework, answers their questions and helps them grow and learn.  Another woman is the IT specialist in charge of the computer room, which she has completely renovated into a beautiful, orderly space for learning.  She is now working on gutting and refurbishing the kitchen.  Each day the women prepare dinner for the children.  There is even a resident cat.  

2.   My role is that I provide a STEM science and engineering program one day a week.  I also have been lending out robotics and other computer fun things such as a Makey Makey to the IT woman.  She is going to have it all figured out in a little bit.  We have been talking about Maker spaces and possible ideas for more things she could do with the computers with the children.   Immediately when she said she was interested in this, I began dreaming of wood dowels, spray paint, and PVC cutters as I always love working with students in engineering design, however, her little room is mostly computers and so that’s how its gonna be. We may go check out other Maker spaces together.  

3.  Working together to figure out how we can make this place a better learning environment and to living environment for the children is an example of the having a shared purpose by Jennifer Wooilven.  Rather than me just coming in and saying what I think, I am listening and trying to discern what is important to them.    This same idea can be applied to my students, as suggested by Jennifer Woolivern in Shared Purpose Leads to Civic Action.

4.  In my social justice class I am exploring the idea of doing a YPAR youth participatory Action Research project, whereby a group of students works together to find out about, critically thing about and do something about an issue or problem in their community or their lives.  I am still not sure what this will end up being about.  The important thing is to have it come from the students passions and interests.  

5. One area I am thinking about is Biology since I may be teaching that next year.  At first it was really hard to come up with ideas that would engage and interest students that also would have a social justice connection.  The more I have been examining my own biases and seeing the world through a social justice lens, the easier it has been to come up with ideas of how to teacher biology in a way that is relevant for students.  I want my students to feel that sense of shared purpose that makes learning biology purposeful for them.  

6.  As I think about connected learning and social justice, the best way to imagine a transformation to this model of teaching for me is to take the traditional biology curriculum I had been using and re-write it redesign it, re-imagine it in the new student driven way.  This is a project I will do in part this semester and then complete over the summer.   

7.  From being in so many different educational environments and schools I really get the idea of context driven education.  I really loved this quote by Antero Garcia in the Teaching in The connected Learning Classroom,  "The best practice for my classroom is going to be different both from a classroom anywhere else and from my classroom a year down the road".  I, along with my students will find what is best each year and in each situation.  By keeping this in my mind, I can be a more responsive teacher to my particular students.  

                                                           Kathy