Thursday, January 22, 2015

I don't want to lose my FitBit again! Here is what I created!

Do you have a FitBit?
Has it fallen off?

I had a problem, I lost my FitBit one morning and I was VERY upset with myself. I also found myself unmotivated to park a few spaces further because it wasn't like I was counting steps anymore. I didn't realize how a little piece of rubbery-plastic with a glorified pedometer on it would motivate me to walk a few more steps.

I have had my FitBit for about 7 months. I wasn't as competitive, then, as I am now. I joined the Fitbit Challenges using the Fitbit app, a Work Week Challenge and then a Weekend Challenge. I found myself being a bit more competitive being around such great people in our new neighborhood who are active and very supportive!

SO, you can see why I was so disappointed when I thought I lost it. (I ended up finding it in our home, which is another story in itself.)

SOLUTION: I needed something to keep the clasp together. I found a few ideas online that were a bit too expensive for something so little. Backing up a few months, as an Instructional Technology Consultant I heard a lot about 3D printers, saw a few, been awed by them, but never thought I would learn to actually use it. I made a goal that by Spring Break  I would learn how to use SketchUp and print something on the 3D printer. I told a colleague about this one day and she said "well download SketchUp". So, I did. I spent the rest of the day creating and then a few hours .... sad to admit... figuring out how to convert the file to an STL file because that is what our 3D printer needed to print my product. It was a Friday, and I don't like leaving projects undone, but I had no choice. forward 4 days, Thursday. I, finally, got my product completed... for now. It isn't final, because I want to improve it by putting some more details on it, but I need to find someone who has some more knowledge of Sketchup then I have taught myself already.

Here is a picture of my first few drafts. The very first one was the best, then I stopped measuring and estimated (not recommended.) I learned more about millimeters designing this then I remember from grade school.)

The middle one was my first attempt. I like this photo because it shows my thinking and learning about Sketchup. 


My latest attempt. 

A big thanks to the Creative Services Department at Heartland Area Education Agency for putting up with me and helping me through this process. 

Up next I will share the file and screenshots of my project. 

Happy learning, happy making!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Invent to Learn -Part 2- Tinkering is much like Writer's Workshop

This is Part 2 of my book review on Invent to Learn by Silvia Martinez. Here is  a link to Part 1 Link Here

Part 2:

"The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge. - Seymour Papert. Invent to Learn pg158.

Tinkering is much like how my teacher partner @JHoulahanP and I ran writer's workshop in our kindergarten class. The acronym, TMI, was explained in the book Invent to Learn, in Chapter 3.


T= Think
Students followed the structure of thinking about something you have done, want to do, or share, and write about it.

M= Make
Students then drew a picture and wrote about the picture. They "made" their story. With minimal teacher distractions, students were expected to get their idea on paper. They were asked to draw a picture, label it, and write words that told their story. They had to be able to share this with a peer, who would help them improve it.

Throughout the year the expectation was to improve their writing. They had to re-read to make sure they could read it themselves before they could share it with someone else. When they shared it with someone they were supposed to help them improve their drawing and writing to help the reader better understand their writing.

And another aspect that was much like our writer's workshop was that WE WERE NEVER DONE! Their writing was either in progress or ready to publish. When they were done with one piece of writing they could get another piece of paper and start another story. The expectation during writer's workshop was that students were either writing, drawing, editing, or sharing.

There was curriculum we covered throughout that process, but we never assigned grades, it was kindergarten so that isn't unusual, we rarely told them what to write about it, we did have "challenges" such as a "How To" unit and an "All About Unit," but there were little, if any guidelines.

In comparing these two ideas, Writer’s Workshop and a Makerspace, I was able to make connections to the importance of the learning environment. The environment the teacher thoughtfully and purposefully structures is essential to facilitate childrens’ learning. The students are responsible for their own learning, in the setting their teacher has created, with careful guidance and facilitation from their teacher.

After making this correlation, between the writer’s workshop structure I led my kindergarten students in, and the ideas of a Makerspace, I am able to  better understand how Makerspaces work, and how building a Makerspace on a stable foundation with purpose and learning in mind is essential for student learning and success.

Quotes worth tweeting:

"The deepest problem for us is not technology, nor teaching, nor school bureaucracies - it's the limits of our own thinking." Invent to Learn pg56.

"When the risk of making a mistake is costly, it makes sense to use the waterfall method. However, if the risks of making a mistake are not expensive or dangerous, then it makes sense to explore different design methodologies." Invent to Learn pg 47.

Further Reading:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Invent to Learn- Part 1 of My Virtual Book Club Learning Series

"It will go away, it is a fad."
"It is all junk in a corner."
"We need structure not a free for all."
"How can it be assessed."

Do you want to build a Makerspace/innovation corner/tinkering room...or whatever you’d like to call it? I’m sure you’ve heard of many of these ideas, or you may be thinking them yourself. This isn't an area I am familiar with {yet}.

While I was at ISTE last summer in Atlanta, GA, I forced myself go to sessions that were out of my comfort zone. The theme of the conference could have been "PLAY."  The stress on the importance of the concept of “PLAY” was evident throughout the entire three days of the conference.

Fast forward six months and I am still yearning to learn more about this “innovation space” concept. So I picked up the book Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez for my winter break reading.

Here are my additional thoughts and key ideas as I read the first few chapters of the book.

Making/tinkering is not new. Did you ever build a paper airplane or a cootie catcher in grade school? (If you don't know what a “cootie catcher” is I provided a link, or if you’d like to make one.)

Farmers are tinkerers, hunters are tinkerers, and they are not taking part in any “fad.” A friend of mine, whose husband likes to hunt, has built his own quiver (a bag that holds arrows) out of an animal he hunted. He wasn't doing it because it was a fad, he was doing it because he needed something and wanted to build it himself.

Again, making/tinkering is not new, and I can't believe that it would be referred to as a fad. Would anyone refer to math as a fad? I would hope not. So instead of saying Makerspaces are a fad, we could say we are incorporating more self-exploration into our day by providing a place where students can invent, make, and tinker. Having a Makerspace in a school is not a place to go to fill-up time it has to have a purpose. Much of the school day is standardized, if you don’t like that, make the time that isn’t, just like we have a set math/science/music time. “If you are choosing to teach X, you are choosing to not teach Y, make X count!”

Everything in moderation, from standardization, tinkering, assessing, physical activity… we don’t want students to be sitting all day, recess all day, looking at a computer screen all day, we need to evaluate the whole package that makes up a students’ day.

Students need time in a school day to think past the academics and go/do something that has no rubrics, guidelines, grades, or rules. Google wasn't created in a classroom with a teacher in the front, it was created in a garage with people innovating. Most of the technology we use every day, and depend on, was created by people doing what they wanted to do because they had an idea to create/make/tinker, not to do something they were asked to do or told to do using guidelines, instructions, or rules.

Here a few quotes to think about:

"Personalized learning is redundant. All learning is personalized! Always!"

"Every child needs access to tools, knowledge, and problem-solving skills."

Back to reading.... Part 2 coming soon!

Please let me know if you have additional resources that helped you create a Makerspace or implement an Innovation Time in your class. I would love to see what you are doing. What do you think of Makerspaces?

Mistakes happen, but I am a lifelong learner!

I am not the person I was 10 years ago, I am not the teacher I was 8 years ago either. I feel bad for my first class of 5-year-olds. If I could go back and teach them 180 days again I would. I would be a much better teacher now than I was. I want to be a better teacher today than I was yesterday, that requires learning every day! I made mistakes last week, don't expect the same mistakes again, I grew. But I may regress, but I promise I will learn and grow even more. I may have taken two steps backward, but hopefully next time I can take 4 steps ahead.

I love my new job, I love learning. I go to conferences and I learn so many new things. I will never stop learning new things, I feel like I am always catching up to where others are. I want to learn new things because I want to, not because someone else knows it and I want to know it too. I started reading Invent to Learn, I want to learn more about Makerspaces. But I also signed up for a photography class...this is where I am going with this post!

I got my Canon SL1 last Christmas, and to be honest, I never got off Auto. Until last month. A friend of mine too a photography class and learned how to take photos that I admire! I like the ones that are focused upfront and blurred in the background (I am sure there is a technical term for that but I haven't learned it yet).  I experimented with ISO and Aperture over winter break, but I need some instruction.

I am not one to need someone to teach me something to learn, I love to learn and experiment. But this camera intimidates me! Hand me a new cell phone, an iPad, a computer and I can teach, train, learn, make mistakes and recover, but with this camera it is all a language I don't speak.

While I was perusing Best Buy over break, I found a DVD on the Basics of Canon DLSR cameras. I thought about purchasing it, but I don't learn by long drawn out videos, I learn by a little instruction, then some doing, and then relearning. (I don't mind watching a screencast that is less than 5 min to learn something, but I admit I fast forward, pause, and repeat only the part I need).

As I think about going into a learning experience with something that is new for me, I think about the multiple times others have the same experience. However, they may be forced or highly recommended to attend these professional development sessions. I choose this learning experience and it's something I want to learn about. I hope to learn how to better understand how to facilitate adult learning when what you are learning is something out of your comfort zone that may also be a bit intimidating. All while learning how to use my Canon SL1 to get better pictures of my kids. More to come on my experience. I am also glad to have great friends joining me in this learning experience.