Tag Archives: Make

STEAMlab

At first, going to a conference with MAET sounded great. I couldn’t wait to sit with peers in my program and learning from other educators about great tools and resources involving STEAM.

DFHDonMXsAAvAU5.jpgThen I come to find out that I’ll be one of those presenters, too. When the project was initially announced, I was apprehensive about presenting in front of teachers who have been teaching for longer than I have and to even figure out a topic. But with the help of my friends and group members, Bridget Bennett [@MsBennett4th] and Mary Ciotta [@MsCiotta], we figured it out.

Infographics. STEAM-Y Infographics. An infographic is a tool we have all used in our classrooms and with our students the past school year. We felt comfortable presenting and sharing this tool with other teachers.

The day of 517STEAMlab arrived and we were excited. We had eight educators in our audience including teachers and administrators. We started with a poll to gauge our attendees and we were happy to see that we had mostly novices and we could really impact their teaching.

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Our presentation went well and we felt successful as we had never had the opportunity to present at a conference. This experience made me realize that I, too, have something to share with the educational world.

 

Specifically for CEP 800

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My Red Bookshelf

Building a bookshelf seemed easy when I first came up with the idea. I am good at building things, I like to build and put things together. My friends call me when they buy something from Target or Ikea and have me come over to build it for them.

But this was a different story. Starting with a 4ft by 8ft piece of wood was not something familiar to me. My bookshelf came out just the way I envisioned it, but I did have some hiccups along the way.

Here’s what happened. I first started to put the pieces together only to realize the wood wasn’t cut right. I think the template I used called for 1” plywood and I had ¾”. Oops. I remixed and was pleased to realize that Khalid, my new friend at Home Depot, had cut extra wood for me. These extra pieces saved my bookshelf. I was able to use those to create the shelves and the top. It ended up working perfectly.

I also learned how to use a power drill more efficiently and change a drill bit. That was tedious. Who knew you couldn’t just drill a screw into a piece of wood? You have to drill a pilot hole first. Each time I needed to use a screw, I had to use the pilot hole drill bit first, then switch to use the one for the screw. This was what frustrated me the most; if I didn’t have to continuously switch the drill bit, I could have gotten it done in half the time.

By using my network of resources, it allowed me to realize how many great tools are out there to utilize. You might have to sort through the bad ones to find a good one, but there are so many people who are doing the same thing as you.  

After reflecting on this project, I am really proud of myself. Working through problems is what makes you better. Learn from mistakes and from splitting wood because each time you get better and better.

Similar to A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger, the more beautiful questions you ask the better outcome you will have. You will be more creative, innovative and be able to solve problems in a way that makes you think deeper about the answer (2014).

I feel like through this process, I was able to create and innovate. I had to remix many times to ensure my bookshelf would come out looking good and usable. In my head, I asked many questions about how to better improve my project.

As I learn from doing, just like kids do, I was able to make something out of nothing that shows evidence of perseverance, determination and creativity.

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

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My Dream Space

By following Berger’s flow of questioning, I can rethink how I want my classroom to look (2014).

Why does my classroom need to be redesigned?

Empathize: Room 105 needs a makeover. Although the construction is being done at Hillel Day School, this is what I want my classroom to look like. Right now, it’s a box. It’s boring, the space feels contained, it’s dull and outdated. There is a chalkboard. This isn’t the 90’s any more, we can upgrade.  When moving into my classroom, I made it bright and colorful to look visually appealing to my students. But I wonder if my students would have been more successful in a redesigned space.IMG_8838 Define: My classroom is small and I don’t have enough money to make changes myself. I want to create a space allowing creativity and idea generation. But how can I create this environment that can please my administration while allowing my students to coexist with one another as different learners?

According to Barrett, Zhang, Moffat and Kobbacy, students perform better based on multiple factors including color, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light (2013). I have to redesign my classroom with these factors in mind.

What if I take away standard desks and create flexible seating?

Ideate: What do my students need? They need to be able to move around and be comfortable in the classroom. To learn best, they need the flexibility and choice of modular seating. I want wheels.

“Allow students time and space to choose what they want to do — their choices will illuminate their individual strengths” (Mau, O’Donnell, Wicklund, Pigozzi, Peterson 2010). This reflects the concept of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner. Giving students the choice, I can expand their creativity and collaboration in addition to letting them grow and feel comfortable.

Changing the way the room is set up allows for a sense of veja du. This concept spoken about by Punya Mishra makes the familiar seem strange (2008). My students and I know this classroom, but when it is transformed they won’t feel the same way. I want to remix the space and make it a more successful learning environment.

How can I make this happen?

Prototype: If I had the unlimited budget and ability to transform my classroom this is what it would look like as designed on SketchUp.Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 2.35.42 PM
The walls and floor are painted with warm colors just as Barrett, Zhang, Moffat and Kobbacy suggested (2013). I have two dry erase boards on either side of the SmartBoard. I added cubbies to serve as storage for both myself and my students. Underneath the quote is a painted dry erase wall. The other wall is filled with windows allowing natural light to shine through.

I chose to have multiple options for students’ seating arrangements. There are three pods with stools and chairs. These are all on wheels to accommodate for students who need to wiggle and give me the ability to rearrange the tables. By having this option, students can work individually or in groups without the hassle of dragging a desk across the room. I have chosen to also have a high top table where students can sit or stand. In addition, there is a couch with small tables for a laptop or paperwork. These different seating options can be comfortable for all students as they get the choice to decide where they work best.

Click here to view a 3D model of my redesigned classroom.

Test: My vision for the new classroom might not be successful. But testing it out in phases can give me the knowledge to decide if it will work. I can bring in new types of chairs for kids to sit in and bring in a high top table. Students can play around through trial and error to see where they are most successful.

Right now, the space I have redesigned is small and might not be able to accommodate my big visions. Another implication is I might miss more open space for students to gather and move more fluidly throughout the room. If I were able to expand the space, I would feel more comfortable teaching here.

I want my students to have the flexibility to make connections with one another. By having the opportunity to redesign my classroom, I have seen how there are many factors to consider and each detail can make all the difference.

How would you redesign your classroom?

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment, 59, 678-689. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.09.016

Mau, B., O’Donnell, Wicklund, Pigozzi, & Peterson. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning. New York: Abrams.

Mishra, P. (2008, August 4). Véjà du for the first time ever! Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/2008/08/04/veja-du-for-the-first-time-ever/

 

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#SpartansMake #SayCircuits

#SayCircuits was a blast to implement at the #SpartansMake Maker Faire. My MAET colleagues and I successfully planned our faire with seven different stations in just over a week’s time. At our booth, participants created an electrical circuit; to understand how energy transfers from a source, through a path to the load.

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Image Credit: Emily Sherbin

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First stop, photo booth!

When participants first came to our station, they took a photo at our photo booth. While they were waiting for their photo to print, they played with the LED light, copper tape and coin cell battery we provided. Participants were to build a complete circuit on the paper in turn creating an illuminated frame for their family photo taken at the photo booth.

Making a circuit was something new to me a little over a week ago. I knew about positives and negatives and how there needs to be a closed circle to make the ‘thing,’ or in our case the light, work. But I never had the experience of making it happen. And now, I had to teach it.

“We want our kids so engaged in projects that they lose track of time or wake up in the middle of the night counting the minutes until they get to return to school. Never before have there been more exciting materials and technology for children to use as intellectual laboratories or vehicles for self-expression” (Martinez, Stager 2014). This idea was so evident at our maker faire. I saw so many kids and families who struggled to make their circuit work, but persevered until it did. Families stayed at our station for up to 30 minutes and enjoyed themselves making their frames beautiful to showcase the fun day they shared.

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A grandmother and granddaughter proudly display their illuminated frame!

The article, Making Matters! How the Maker Movement Is Transforming Education says, “Fortunately for teachers, the Maker Movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing” (Martinez, Stager). Children learn best by doing and my partner, Bridget Bennett, and I felt it was important to let the families play. However, I learned there needs to be some teaching and context of the task. With young participants, I found myself often asking “What do you notice about the legs on the light?” Almost always they could tell one was longer than the other and I was able to teach them the longer leg has to be connected to the positive side of the battery. This question showed the kids how they have to play around with their supplies and ‘do’ to learn and be successful with this activity.  

“This blurring of boundaries [learning and schooling] is evident in events such as Maker Faires, where participants ranging from adult makerspace members to kids participating in robotics clubs come together to share what they have created” (Halverson, Sheridan 2014). When children, parents and grandparents came to our station it was amazing to watch them interact. With one another’s help, they figured out how to make their circuit work. And the best part, they didn’t realize they were learning. The boundaries were blurred and any age group could enjoy the making process.

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Working together to make their frame illuminate

Throughout the planning process, I learned how important it is to have a learning goal in mind. Without a goal for your audience, you lose focus for the activity.

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Each maker received directions and supplies in a bag

The planning process shed light on how I can implement maker activities with my students. I learned how once you set a goal, you can pull tools that will enhance the content being taught. “But whether it’s a stone-age tool, a Guttenberg printing press, the simple crayon, or a high-tech digital simulation, any form of technology is a tool for living, working, teaching and learning” (Mishra, The Deep Play Research Group 2012). No matter the tool I choose to use to teach a concept, I am using technology. But the thing to remember when using technology is to let kids play, too.

The maker movement is allowing students to bring their original ideas to life. Students don’t often get the chance to show their individuality within the classroom. By allowing students to make and be free to fail forward after trial and error, they can learn more than sitting and listening to their teacher lecture.

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Click this image for more tips and tricks to try our #SayCircuits activity!

When going back to school in the fall, I have a new mindset on making. I have the privilege of a makerspace in my school, but I feel like I can utilize it more because of this “illuminating” experience.

Check out the #SayCircuits infographic to get information on how to use this station in your classroom or your next Maker Faire!

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Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465. Retrieved fromhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0T9DOVhrGV7S21ZWDljUGNpeHc/view

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2014, July 21). The maker movement: A learning revolution. Retrieved June 29, 2016, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=106

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. S. (n.d.). WeAreTeachers: Making Matters! How the Maker Movement Is Transforming Education. Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2015/04/03/how-the-maker-movement-is-transforming-education

Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking technology and creativity in the 21st century: Crayons are the future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16. Retrieved from: http://punya.educ.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Mishra-crayons-techtrends1.pdf

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Image Credit: Bridget Bennett

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Make, Maker, Making

Maker. Ever heard of it? That is, until a year ago when I was introduced to the “Maker Movement” at Hillel Day School.

What is a maker? A maker is an adult or child that creates something. An adult or child who is defined as a maker can collaborate, discover, build, tinker and most importantly, play. But what does making have to do with education?

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MAET students brainstormed the definition of these four new concepts.

The maker culture is growing rapidly. It is becoming a way to express creativity and community (Halverson, Sheridan 2014). So, along with this explosion comes makerspaces. A makerspace is a workshop where there is no right or wrong. It is an exploratory toolbox that allows for makers to thrive and bring their innovative ideas to life.

“Learning through making reaches across the divide between formal and informal learning; pushing us to think more expansively about where and how learning happens” (Halverson, Sheridan 2014). This informal type of learning allows for students to have the flexibility they crave. Students are showing this through projects that spark interest on a different level.

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Hillel Day School’s Makerspace

Skeptics may believe that learning isn’t going on when students have the freedom to make. However, I encourage them to step into a makerspace when students are working. They will quickly see how even though so many activities are going on, students are engaged. Students are working toward a goal and trying to solve a problem. Each student that enters a makerspace will feel empowered that they have the ability to play and create.

Keep Calm

As humans, we are curious. We question what’s around us. Even though we may stop after age five, we still ask questions in our heads and inquire. Fear of asking the wrong question or having the wrong answer stands in our way of asking more questions (Berger 2014). It is important as educators and questioners ourselves to promote curiosity and inquiry. Making can encourage us to continue questioning aloud.

“In a sense, we’re all ‘makers’ now, or, at least, we would do well to think of ourselves that way. Whether or not we were ever properly taught how to question, we can develop the skill now, on our own, in our own spaces” (Berger 2014). Seeing yourself as a maker allows you to ask questions even more. We can question topics that don’t make sense to us. We can question the tools around us. We can ask a question to answer with another question. We have the power to make, by asking the world a simple question.

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A 6th grade student learning how to use a drill press for the first time during the Shark Tank Unit.

Hillel Day School’s makerspace has tools that students in kindergarten through eighth grade can use; once properly trained. When first starting at Hillel, I didn’t know how to utilize this place. I didn’t know that students in 6th grade could use a drill press or 3rd graders could safely use a hot glue gun or even 8th graders could fluently use 3D software to print on the MakerBot. This was new to me, but it was exciting.

Not until October did my colleagues and I find a way to pull tools from the space for a project. We simulated Shark Tank. Just like ABC’s hit show, we had students ask a question. What is a problem they see in their lives? How can they improve upon it? After extensive research on the background of their existing product, students began to work in the makerspace to make their product better. Each work day, I couldn’t direct my attention to one student. I had kids working at a drill press, students using a 3D pen, exacto knives were in use; kids were painting, students were cutting styrofoam with a hot wire cutter and so on. I had makers.

At first, I didn’t think my students were learning anything. But after talking with them one-on-one and hearing them present their pitches to a panel of judges, and getting ‘offers’ from investors, I was certain they learned. Through this experience, it taught students how to be successful people in the world; not just people who can memorize. As Berger said, “these are the kids who will have the skills to rise to the top.”

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These 6th graders invented a car that ran on both solar power and gasoline. “Investors” offered over $1 Million.

This teaching was extremely informal. I guided students with focus questions, but I had to sit back and let them figure things out. This unit opened my eyes to the power of making and how students can take an idea and bring it to life.

What beautiful question do you have? I bet it can change the world.

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0T9DOVhrGV7S21ZWDljUGNpeHc/view

All photos taken or created by Emily Sherbin

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