My Maker Space Journey

Each year our school offers electives to students in Grades 4 – 8.  These electives, better known as “clubs” include activities ranging from lacrosse, handball, and photography to Zumba.  There’s even a crew of Star Wars enthusiasts.  Learning this, I thought I would jump at the chance to launch a club for makers in Grades 4 – 6.  You might recall from some of my earlier posts my previous attempts at starting a maker space.  Learning from that experience, I decided to try again.  With that said, the next few posts are a reflection of my attempts to get the ball going.  Again.  In this post, I wanted to document some of those processes.  I might add I didn’t quite have time to develop the mission statement nor a collection of materials to furnish this space, and I was comfortable with that.  I simply wanted to get started.

sgadobeTo better my own understanding during the process, I wanted to comb through some reputable resources, as well as connect with some folks who knew what they were doing (smile).  That’s where Shawn Grimes and the folks over at Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) come in.  Consider following them on Social Media at @dhfoundation.  From their site, Digital Harbor “is dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, productivity, and community through education.”  What seems to be so cool about what they’re doing is that they seem to value the idea of reimagining and reclaiming used things.  In particular, their current home is housed in a former recreation facility in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore City.  What they’ve done is transformed this space into a vibrant community hub for kids, educators, and maker enthusiasts, both young and old.  After their first year, DHF launched the Center of Excellence to provide training and support to others, like me, on how to incorporate making into their own learning environments.  I might add that among others, they also offer a mean workshop on 3D Printing for Educators… That’s my next stop.  However, I digress.

During today’s Maker workshop, we explored the “why’s” of making and learning to see making as a means of developing productive habits of mind like adaptability, creativity and much more you’re likely aware of.  One thing that stood out to me, however, is that making also equips students with skills and understandings for jobs that do not yet exist!

Over the two days of the workshop, Jonathan Prozzi and Andy O’Neill walked us through various projects we could easily take back to our schools and replicate, one thing I liked about this workshop – definitely not a passive experience.

During the workshop, we made LED name tags, Galaxy Bots, Paper Circuits and more.  In addition to the cool projects, we talked a lot about the types of maker spaces, how to get started, how to fund your maker space, how to teach making, building maker culture, prompt development and how to deal with frustration during a project.  We even received a box of supplies valued at $300 to help us get started.

To date, I’ve been able to complete a few of the projects with my students.  My next post will cover our first day of making in the Maker Club and the projects our students tackled along the way.  Don’t forget to check out the footage from my Funky Wind Tube Challenge. The challenge required us to create an object that covers in the blue zone for at least 10 seconds and guess what?  She did that…

Til next time.

Sources:

Digital harbor foundation. (2017). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://blueprint.digitalharbor.org/

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6 Principles for a Robust Technology Integration Plan

Originally, I was thinking of penning this post, “Survival of the Fittest for Your Tech Integration Strategy”.  Read more to find out why.  As a former biology teacher, turned tech integrator, I found Martin Reeves, Simon Levin and Daichi Ueda’s recent article featured in the Harvard Business Review interesting.  The Biology of Corporate Survival offers a unique perspective on what causes corporations to fail or succeed, juxtaposed with survival principles from natural ecosystems.  You can also find some of these ideas revealed in Reeves’ co-authored book, Your Strategy Needs a Strategy.
R1601B_REEVES_NESTEDCOMPLEX     Screenshot 2016-05-09 08.48.03

Image taken from “The Biology Of Corporate Survival”  – January – February 2016 (c) HBR.org

The writers investigated 30,000 public firms in the US and came to the conclusion that businesses are disappearing like never before for their failure to adapt to the complexity of their environment.  If we were to align this idea to our various school contexts, we could then pose the question of why technology integration efforts fail?  In what ways do we anticipate, build and sustain complexity?

Their research takes a rather interesting look at the  intersection of business strategy, biology and complex systems and what makes each of the systems more robust.  Think about it, the more biologically diverse an environment and ecosystem are, the better their chances of natural survival and sustainability.  Additionally, it is known that healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.  The writers refer to these systems as “complex adaptive systems”.  In this vein, not only are businesses and biological species complex adaptive systems (CAS), but so are schools.m15-fig1-mikhail-rogov

In a complex adaptive system, the interactions between local events and organisms shape the system, resulting in a never-ending feedback loop, where systems are influenced by the individuals and the individuals by the system.  Such systems are nested in broader systems —  i.e. Teachers and students are nested in broader systems of school and local culture.

The authors propose six (6) principles that make a CAS robust and I would argue the same in light of technology integration efforts.  Over the next few posts, my plan is to tackle each one of these in the context of technology adoption and integration.  I hope you will join me on this journey as I try to make sense of this.

As Reeves, et. al., see it, here are those six principles:

  1. maintain heterogeneity of people, ideas and endeavors
  2. sustain a modular structure
  3. preserve redundancy among components
  4. expect surprise, but reduce uncertainty
  5. create feedback loops and adaptive mechanisms
  6. foster trust and reciprocity in their business ecosystems 

And please, by all means, feel free to challenge me on these ideas – it helps me solidify my own understanding – that’s the point – right?

Sources:

Life.  (2014, January 19).  Why is Biodiversity Important?  Who cares? – global issues. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares.

Reeves, M., Levin, S., & Ueda, D. (2016, January 1).  The biology of corporate survival. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from Managing uncertainty, https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-biology-of-corporate-survival.

Science for designers:  Complex Adaptive Systems – Point of View – August 2012. (2012, August 6).  Retrieved May 9, 2016 from http://www.metroplismag.com/Point-of-View/August-2012/Science-for-Designers-Complex-Adaptive-Systems/Retrieved May 9,

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Google Slides… Now accepting audience questions.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Dude!!!

Did you know you can now accept questions from the audience while presenting in Google Slides? How dope is this?!  Well, maybe I’m late to this, but for me, this is a game changer… Think about students in your class who might be reluctant to raise their hand or speak in front of their peers?  This creates a way for them to insert their voice in a less-threatening way.  It could also be a means of developing confidence in that student and helping to provide additional opportunities for students to feel included.

I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself!  See Google Science Fair Winner Shree Bose in action as she shares with students.

Source: ATLIS Deep Dive 2016 – Google Slides

 

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Audience Q&A Functionality within Google Slides

 

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Yoda is waiting for your next question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chromebooks in the Classroom 101

Join me today, as I present on “The Top 5 Chrome App Extensions” for Simple K12’s Chromebooks in the Classroom Online Conference at 3 pm EST.  To register and for additional information, visit the Simple K12 website.

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The Association for Technology Leaders in Independent Schools Conference 2016 @theatlis

Two weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of attending and co-presenting at my first ATLIS Conference.  ATLIS, or the Association for Technology Leaders in Independent Schools is an amazing network of educational technologists, information technology specialists, IT Directors and more all in one consortium.

I haven’t presented in a while and thought this would make a great opportunity to get my work out in front of an audience – remember my earlier post?  fail fast – shipping included

My Co-Presenter was the fabulous Ms. Chris Stephenson from St. Edwards School, located in Vero Beach, Florida, where the weather is nice.  Because of our separation in space, we planned the entire presentation remotely over Google Hangouts.  Our session was a 3-hour deep dive session, entitled, “Technology You Have, Integrate You Will!“.  During our session planning, Chris and I noted how our parallel our career paths and experiences had been, which brought us to a common understanding of the importance of rationalizing a case for technology integration.  In our talk, we used Stanford University’s D.School Design framework to facilitate the discussion, wherein we asked session participants to use the design framework ATLIS Deep Dive 2016to explore some of the issues or challenges they were experiencing in their schools.  With this approach, groups of peers empathized, defined and ideate, reiterated and prototyped solutions to their problems.   and refined that problem,

Here is the presentation deck from the event.  We both are looking forward to sharing again next year, but until that time, hit us up!  Chris can be found on Twitter at @geographywee and I can be found @theberknologist.

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Shipping Included

I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s Linchpin audio book.  In his work, he refers to the concept of “shipping” as the notion of getting your creative works before an audience – often, early.  The idea of failing early and quickly, in addition to iterating rapidly is also referred to in Stanford’s D.School Design Thinking Process Guide  talk.

I know, I know… getting your ideas in front of an audience can be intimidating, but it’s one path in the pursuit of learning, growing and improving.  As a perfectionist and as one who constantly questions my work, I usually wait until the ninth hour to ship.  This way, I protect myself from the critique and much-needed feedback I could actually benefit from.  Crazy huh?  I hold no guilt, however, as I know of others who, like myself fail to get their creative works before others.  One such example is this blog.  As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve contemplated this blog’s genesis over five years ago. But it’s all good you know… I’ve done it and here it is.

I digress… In this blog post, I wanted to connect the idea of shipping to the construction of the Maker Space I am working on.  I am attempting to capture images of it along the way, as this “space” is not a dedicated “space”.  Instead, it resides in the corner of one of the rooms in our library.  Here are a few images of that space… While this space is in no way what I have fully envisioned, it’s a start.  In additional to material items and goods, I also wanted to provide some inspirational reading material.  I am hoping to use the vinyl cutter to create a few quotes for posting in the space.  Stay tuned.  More to come.

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Makerspace R & D

Since my last post and thanks to Laura Fleming’s Worlds of Making, I’ve been able to gather additional information and insight on creating the Makerspace I envision.  As mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to devote some thought towards why such a space is needed and important and how I would articulate this to a community.  One thing I tend to do is wait until something is perfected before sharing it – totally contrary to the idea of a Makerspace.  Makerspaces are all about creating safe spaces to risk and fail forward.  In that same spirit, I have come up with the following mission for this space:

“To cultivate a community of learners, who are open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives, cross-generational learning and shared learning experiences through material goods. Learners of all ages are welcome.”
IMG_1903
After giving this some thought, I set about with some of the more easier planning considerations, such as location, budget and supplies, programming and advertising, among a range of other things, which I hope to cover in later posts… Laura’s book shared so many useful resources to assist me during this phase.
An essential, but often overlooked component is that of community engagement.  Engaging the members of your community will not only be important to launching such a space, but will contribute to its longevity and community influence.  Part of my planning involved creating an informal committee of students who helped to shape what they wanted to see in such a space.  Students were involved throughout the process from advertisement and community engagement , to having them brainstorm what projects they would like to work on in the space.  The students even created a survey to come up with a name for our venture.   Exciting times!
Stay tuned, there’s more to come…

til next time,
– theberknologist has spoken

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Thanks Nanowrimo!

wonthearitYou have my fellow colleagues and Nanowrimo to thank for this post, as I’m on a two-day streak here.  That inner voice will often attempt to persuade me to abandon my writing efforts… Shame on you Ms. Inner Voice!

In the spirit of Nanowrimo and for those who have no clue as to what Nanowrimo is, here goes…

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, usually held during the month of November, originated in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999.  During the month, writers from all over are encouraged to sign up to work towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.

Don’t even go there… I know, I know, this is a blog, not a novel… Well, who cares?!  The point is to get writing and guess what?!  She did that!  You like my 3rd person reference don’t ya?  Anyway, back to business here…IMG_1903

As I return to my discussion on developing a Makerspace, I came across another interesting read from ISTE by Laura Fleming, Worlds of Making, Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School. In this best-selling work, Fleming begins with an introduction to the history of Makerspaces, beginning in the mid 1990’s, with the first Hackspaces in Germany, eventually spreading throughout the rest of Europe into North America in the early 2000s. During the early years, Makerspaces were also known as “Hackerspaces” or “Fablabs“, many of which can still be found today.

The FabLab Foundation describes the concept in this way, “A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent. To be a Fab Lab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers and innovators- -a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones. Because all Fab Labs share common tools and processes, the program is building a global network, a distributed laboratory for research and invention.”

It is with this in mind, I set about to create a space where students and adults, young and old, from diverse backgrounds, explore their creative talents, play, learn and share with one another.  I like to think of it as an incubator of sorts.  I’ve heard that “diversity = innovation”.  Such a space that hosts a broad and varied network can help level the playing field for underrepresented groups by providing access to knowledge, information and resources to improve one’s life and that of their community.  How fitting for libraries and public community gathering places to provide spaces like these for anyone to grow and better their quality of life.  Now how freaking cool is that?!

til next time,
– theberknologist has spoken

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The Berknologist Speaks by Dawn Berkeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.theberknologistspeaks.wordpress.com.

My second post…

Man! What a streak! It’s been little less than a year since my first post.  Huffington Post watch out!

I digress… Well anyway, in this post, I plan to share what I’ve been working on for the past few months or so… And since I’ve been working on a variety of things, it would be best to focus in on one thing.  Today, that one thing will be my plans to collaborate with our school’s library experts on the development of a MakerSpace in my school’s library.  Think of this as part of my MakerSpace diary.

Before delving into what this space should be and look like, one must ask, “Why?”.  “Why have this space?”, “Why is this important?” and perhaps most important of these, “Who cares?”.  While unable to fully answer these questions, I thought it would be great to start with building my understanding of the latest in the educational movement.  I referenced the following resources for this task:  Invent to Learn Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.

inventAs a former secondary science teacher, I often relied upon materials and the environment to explain and teach scientific concepts.  In Invent to Learn, Martinez and Stager say, “Children’s seminal learning experiences come through direct experience with materials.”  I have witnessed this first hand with children who are schooled under the Montessori philosophy. Students who learn under this philosophy are encouraged to make sense of the natural world and beyond through their respect and interactions with the physical environment.  As children manipulate and interact with materials, they are able to contextualize the new knowledge and  use it to synthesize and create new meaning.

While eager to begin the planning for this new space where students can create meaning from materials and the environment, I want to continue exploring various approaches in an effort to develop a sound rationale for having this space.

til next time,
– theberknologist has spoken

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The Berknologist Speaks by Dawn Berkeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.theberknologistspeaks.wordpress.com.

Here goes… my first post

After spending years of reading, consuming and immersing myself in others’ blogs, I thought now would be a great time to begin my own blog.IMG_1914

This blog is a place to —

  • Collaboratively explore and share cool ideas, thoughts and resources.  Any comments or posts which detract from that will be removed – immediately.
  • Crowdsource feedback on thoughts and ideas
  • Collectively solidify and articulate understanding of various educational philosophies and teaching methods
  • Find inspiration and encouragement towards one’s goals
  • Engage in healthy disagreement and challenging of ideas

IMG_1910-1What this blog is not —

  • A medium to marginalize, negatively criticize any one individual or group of persons

Finally, I would like to preface this blog by saying that musings contained in this blog are my own and do not reflect that of my employer.  Now that we have that out of the way, back to business.

While I’ve always wanted to start my own blog, finding the courage, motivation and time to write one has been a struggle. I might also note I’ve considered blogging to be one of those things set aside for those with outstanding writing skills, those for whom words just flow.  Yet and still, this is something I’ve wanted to do for some time now, but either lacked the time, energy or quite frankly — the guts.

What I hope to gain from this blog is a safe space to collaborate and share ideas with other like-minded educators and professionals.  At any time, you can expect to find a wide range of topics covered here, ranging from principles of leadership, to what I’m learning now, to projects I’m currently working on, to instructional videos on the latest technology tools, not to mention app and book reviews.

Needless to say, I’m excited about this first post and hope that I can use this as a medium to enhance my writing, as well as move from being a consumer of information and ideas to a creator of ideas and thought, a catalyst to spark the thoughts of others.  Feel free to leave me a comment and I will do my best to reply.

til next time,
– theberknologist has spoken

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The Berknologist Speaks by Dawn Berkeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.theberknologistspeaks.wordpress.com.