Tag Archives: Tools

How powerful is failure?

As educators, we come across problems each and every day. However, some of these problems are hard to find answers to or potentially unsolvable. These are “Wicked Problems.”

Allow failure to be as powerful a learning mode as success.

My group of MAET colleagues and I was given that wicked problem. Failing is something that happens to everyone, but it’s all about what you do with that failure. After extensive research, surveying teachers in our PLN (Professional Learning Network), and bringing in our own experiences we came up with a few ‘best bad solutions.’

I created this infographic on Piktochart to show the research I conducted before my group began trying to solve our wicked problem.  Click here if the content does not appear.

 

Wicked Problem Infographic

By using Warren Berger’s Why, What if, How questioning sequence, we became closer to uncovering this wicked problem (2014). We came across many potential solutions, but because of how wicked our problem is we had to sort through our answers and ask more questions.

Below is my group’s final presentation representing our ideas and research. We used Easel.ly to create the image and ThingLink to attach various media. As you travel down the path, you learn what a wicked problem is, our wicked problem and our journey to solve it. Share your thoughts and questions on our Lino board linked at the end of the path; the #DreamTeam would love to hear your feedback! Click here if the image does not show up.

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

Burger, E. (2012, August 21). Essay on the importance of teaching failure | Inside Higher Ed.

Kapur, Manu. “Comparing Learning from Productive Failure and Vicarious Failure.”Journal of the Learning Sciences 23.4 (2014): 651-77. ProQuest. Web. 13 July 2016.

Kapur, M. (2016, April 7). Examining Productive Failure, Productive Success, Unproductive Failure, and Unproductive Success in Learning. Educational Psychologist, 51:2, 289-299. Retrieved July 13, 2016.

Smith, S. s. (2015). Epic Fails: Reconceptualizing Failure as a Catalyst for Developing Creative Persistence within Teaching and Learning Experiences. Journal Of Technology & Teacher Education, 23(3), 329-355.

Smith, S., & Henriksen, D. (2016, March 1). Fail Again, Fail Better: Embracing Failure as a Paradigm for Creative Learning in the Arts. Art Education, 69(2), 6-11. Retrieved July 13, 2016.

Wilcox, K. & Ray, E. (2015, March 2). Embracing Failure to Spur Success: A New Collaborative Innovation Model. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 50, no. 2. Retrieved July 13, 2016.

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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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I’m not in Nordstrom anymore…

I usually love department stores. The kind with clothes, shoes and accessories everywhere I turn. But take me out of that kind of department store and put me in the kind with doors, spray paint, nails, drywall and toilets; I’m lost.

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I hope the STOP sign wasn’t trying to tell me something…

That’s how I felt today when I went to Home Depot to get supplies to build my bookshelf. 

I had a list of what I needed and the dimensions of the wood I would need to buy from one of my resources, Ana White’s blog. This blog really helped me because it gave me a picture of what I was building and the dimensions in basic terms. She also listed other supplies I would need, so I knew what else I had to purchase if I didn’t already own it like wood glue, sandpaper and 2” screws.

From there, I could draw a sketch of my bookshelf.

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I walked to the ‘lumber’ aisle and was overwhelmed with the different types of wood there were. Thick, thin, dark, light; I really could go on. My biggest challenge was initially figuring out what type of wood I wanted. The website said one thing and I thought something else. I asked a Home Depot employee for help and asked him many questions about each type of wood.

Without Khalid’s help, I truly would not have known what to do. I explained to him what I was building and what I needed. He showed me a few types of wood and I decided to get a ¾” thick plywood that seemed perfect to build a bookshelf. He took the 4 ft by 8 ft piece off the stack and I gave him the dimensions of the pieces of wood I needed. He took the wood back to the vertical saw at the store and started cutting the wood for me. Honestly, there was no way I’d be able to fit that in my car!

I really wanted to learn how to use a table saw, but because I don’t have those resources available to me (or the $$), I used the resource at Home Depot to help me get closer to building my bookshelf.

Another challenge I faced was the plywood for the back of the bookshelf. The online blog I had been using said I should get plywood for the back of the bookshelf. Khalid explained to me the only piece he had was 4ft by 8ft which is way bigger than what I needed. Being a teacher on a budget, I also couldn’t afford to buy a huge piece of wood I would only use a quarter of. My solution on the spot was to just nix the back of the bookshelf. I figure I could make a bookshelf you can access from both sides instead of just one. I might change my mind later, but I can always go back and get the plywood I need.

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Who knew there were so many different types of screws?!

Before I get to the real building, I wanted to practice my gluing and sanding skills. I show these two new skills in the video below.  

I wanted to wait until my official building day to learn how to use a drill and hammer properly. I’ll be building the bookshelf at my dad’s store, Exercise Warehouse. He has a warehouse in the back with proper tools and a power drill. I’ve been researching how to use a power drill so I am familiar and comfortable enough with it before my dad shows me the real thing.

I’m excited to start building. It’s hard to visualize all of these planks of wood will be built into something substantial I can use in my house or in my classroom.

Maybe this will be my new Nordstrom? Maybe not… let’s see how it goes!


White, A. (n.d.). Willy Bookcase in Four Sizes [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.ana-white.com/2010/03/plans-simple-bookcases-in-4-sizes-the-willy-bookcase-that-you-can-build.html

 

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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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Networked Learning Project Plan

tom-wooden-bookcase-1I have decided to learn how to build a bookshelf for my networked learning project. Being a classroom teacher, there is never enough space to store my books, so why not learn how build a bookshelf to put in my classroom space?! I enjoy putting things together that start from nothing and using my toolbox. I am excited to begin the process of making something from just a few pieces of wood. 

After doing a quick search on Google, I have already discovered a ton of great resources that will assist me in accomplishing my goal.

The Family Handyman is a helpful ‘how to’ guide to building a bookshelf. They use photos to help make the directions come to life. This example is a fancier bookshelf than I had in mind, but it doesn’t hurt to set the standards high!

This YouTube video is also perfect for what my goal is. When I thought of this idea, I envisioned a very simple design. The woodworker in the video explains that this is a great design for beginners and it seems he goes through each step thoroughly. He also says right up front what tools I will need to begin building.

Ana White Blog‘s will also be a good tool for basic instructions on how to reach my goal. While briefly scrolling through this website, it is clear that Ana uses precise words and pictures to explain the directions. As a visual learner this really helps.

These are just three of the sources I have discovered to help me learn this new building skill. I am excited to get going on this project. Maybe after I’ll get to paint it too!

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