Tuesday, August 19, 2014

STE@M on Pinterest

One way that our team is collaboratively collecting and sharing resources, not just among ourselves, but with a global community, is through our STE@M Inspired board on Pinterest.  

It's an easy tool to share resources and is very popular with educators, perhaps because it is so visually appealing.  In any case, we are using our board to collect ideas and inspirations.  We hope some of it inspires you too.  

Moonshot Thinking

Our STE@M project is inspired by Moonshot Thinking: "have the courage to try".  We don't know how to do this yet, but we are going to do it anyways.

"Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall." - Ray Bradbury

Meg's Reflections

Create,Make, and Learn's Essential Question:
What role does creating and making play in designing innovative approaches to teaching and learning?

Reflecting upon the intense, but exciting, week of learning at Create, Make, and Learn in July, coupled with both a busy month constructing a physical “maker space” classroom in our school in addition with an interdisciplinary curriculum and schedule involving five educators and three grade levels is making my head swim.  In a good way.  But, swimming and swirling nevertheless.  Much like the fabled Mad River that runs through the heart of Moretown, as is the inspiration for our “creating and making”.

We ask our students to take risks everyday.  We cajole them to step outside their comfort zones.  We nudge them to explore new ways of learning.  We guide them toward deep inquiry.  We try to light the sparks of curiosity and to nurture the stamina and perseverance it takes to keep going.  In a sense, this foray into collaboratively building a “maker space” at the Moretown School is a lot like being a student.  I’m being asked to stretch, to think about new possibilities, to step outside my library “silo” to co-plan, co-teach, co-create, and co-make a model of innovative learning for our students. It’s messy and unwieldy and grows larger by the addition of many cooks in the kitchen, but boy is it exciting and full of possibilities.  Thank goodness for laughter, smart colleagues, innovative administrators, and a shared vision to “raise the roof”, literally.  (Yes, literally.  We removed the ceiling tiles from our space!).

So, back to the essential question.  What is at the heart of creating and making?  Let’s look closer at their definitions:

Create: bring (something) into existence.
synonyms: produce, generate, bring into being, make, fabricate, fashion, build, construct

Make: form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; construct; create.
synonyms: construct, build, assemble, put together, manufacture, produce, fabricate, create, form, fashion, model

My first impressions are that these are powerful verbs.  “To bring (something) into existence”.  Who doesn't think about birth?  Powerful stuff, indeed.  To be more metaphoric, creating in a school is about the birth of ideas, of bringing ideas to fruition. We do this with students by creating learning environments for them that allow them to produce good questions, to generate  ideas, and to make/build/fabricate/construct meaning, be it concrete or mental.  The learning environment that is best for these germinations is a constructivist (a la John Dewey), hands-on, student-centered, and project-based environment.  Messy and unwieldy, too.  But, rich with possibilities, risk-taking, and growth.  

Which brings me full circle.  Innovative approaches to student learning require innovative approaches to teaching. Being a singular teacher-librarian in my bricks-and-mortar library does not lend itself to this kind of teaching, nor learning, for my students.  I am inspired by my colleagues, and validated by my administrator who sees my role as an educator who can help guide our students toward authentic creating and learning.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Plan

After an exciting week creating, making and learning, we are ready to begin planning how this will look at Moretown.  Diana Puffer, Duane Pierson, Jason Stevenson, Meg Allison, and Terry Hopper, have had many meetings to discuss what this may look like.  We are hoping to use the STE@M lab to enhance student understanding.   In order to assure success we are beginning with using STE@M as part of our science and social studies lessons.  We came up with a theme of "A River Runs Through It".   Students will learn academic standards through an exploration of the Mad River and its connection with the Moretown community and world.
One of the exciting parts of this project is creating our space.  This is the focus of our project.  The room we are using was a 3rd grade classroom.  Here are images of the room ready to be turned into STE@M.


Although we have not set up the room yet we have added some furniture.  After scrounging in the basement and beyond we found some tables and a work table with a vise grip.  There are already several shelves we can use.  One of my colleagues found a rolling cart and some buckets.  The buckets are full of materials for students to use.
Tables from basement
Worktable with vise

Cart with supplies


We were inspired by the Generator and the open feel of the space and the tall ceilings.  We decided to simulate that feeling in our space.


Money is not something we have the luxury of with this project.  In an attempt to save money my colleague, Terry Hopper, and I decided to check out a few yard sales.  We had an exciting find!  A custom made workbench.  It was beautiful, sturdy and well made.

I will continue to post updates to the space.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Create Make and Learn

This is a picture of one of the highlights of my week attending the Create, Make and Learn workshop. Throughout the week I learned about ebooks, green screens, etextiles, toy hacking and so much more. As I initiate a new STE@M program with my colleagues I will be able to put a lot of my new learning to use.  This blog is my attempt at tracking the progress of this project and reflecting on how it changes my teaching.  It is the end of July and there is a month left until school.  I am feeling that there is too much to do and too little time.  It is time to motivate and start creating.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Week at a Glance

WI was able ro create many things during my week at Create Make and Learn.  I made a "robot" (mine is the one in the middle) out of led lights and other miscellaneous textiles.  To make the eyes light up I used conductive play dough which was really amazing to me.  This was one of my first creations of the week.  This will be such a great activity to help kids learn about circuits.  It will also address many of the NGSS.  Modeling, problem solving, creating an experiment....these are just a few of the standards that can be addressed with this activity.

I had a lot of fun with little bits.  These are magnetic circuits that do all sorts of fun things.  I created a long train that involved lights and movement.  It is hard to see in this picture but I was able to put a paper clip on a circuit and a jelly bean on the paper clip.  When the motor was on the paper clipand jelly bean noved in a circle.  I can't wait to use the kits we ordered to use in the classroom next year!  

A co-worker of mine even got his phone to connect with a circuit to play music.

Toy hacking has to be one of the best activities ever!  I used a toy turtle that lit up and played sounds to make a hat.  This is a picture of the circuit that was in the turtle.  I got the lights to work after several adjustments, but had trouble with the sound. 

After gluing the circuit into the hat and decorating it, my new friend and I created this light up hat.

A colleague of mine was a bit more adventurous and used a robot dinosaur....

...to create this.

Although making was certainly a hlight of the week I also had rhe opportunity to work with Wes Frye to learn about multi media.  With a group of teachers I made a paper slide video, video posted on Youtube, and an eBook.