Tag Archives: learning

A New Adventure – Getting an Ed Tech Certificate with MSU

Creating a night light for the gingerbread babies

I am excited to be starting a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology online with Michigan State University! I started my first course, Teaching for Understanding with Technology, this week and I will be using my blog to share my course work, reflect on what I’m learning and document my experience. My first assignment was to write an expository essay after reading the first three chapters of How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000). In my essay, I responded to the questions: “What is Learning?” and “What teaching methods support learning and its related concepts — understanding and conceptual change?”

You can read the entire piece here but my general takeaways are that learning involves hands-on, active engagement in new experiences that challenge students to think deeply about their understanding of a concept. Learning also involves constructing understanding by transferring knowledge from past learning to current experiences and building upon them. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) also encourage teachers to approach learning with the goal of helping students develop the ability to apply their learning in diverse contexts.

In my essay, I reference two examples from my work as a Tech Coordinator – a first grade coding project (recently posted as a Graphite Lesson Flow) and a design thinking challenge I facilitated with kindergarten. These two projects demonstrate both the importance of transference from previous learning experiences to new ones and applying knowledge in new contexts. They also show the power of empathy and problem-based learning in motivating students to engage in learning for understanding (versus memorization). Feel free to leave comments and feedback here or in the Google Doc about these ideas and my thoughts on learning.  


The CMK Series – Part 3


To conclude my CMK Series, I wanted to reflect on some of the amazing people and ideas that were a part of the Institute.

There was no shortage of impressive and inspiring speakers at #CMK13. The list included people from a variety of fields, who brought unique perspectives to making and learning. For example, Eleanor Duckworth, an inspiration for all educators and particularly those of us passionate about early childhood education, paired up with Deborah Meier and together they shared their views on discovery learning, wonderful ideas, and democracy in education.

Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen

In stark contrast to their dialogue on education, we heard from jazz musicians Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen, who spoke of mentorship, improv, and creating something unique that connects with people and speaks to them. At the MIT Media Lab we heard innovative and even mind blowing ideas about what can be done when you invite an entire city to create something together using music and technology from Tod Machover and we were treated to thoughtful and amusing commentary by Dr. Marvin Minsky.

And yet, as diverse as all of the these and the other speakers were at #CMK13, I found that they were all united by three things: storytelling, passion, and courage.

Each person had engaging, personal stories to tell of working on their projects and what they learned from those experiences. Listening to these stories, you could hear the passion in their voices and understand, at least a little bit, why their project was so meaningful and important, even if you had never done anything similar before.

Duckworth spoke of making colored tubes and experimenting with science; Meier spoke of the courage they needed to persevere when Harvard didn’t want to give credit for their course; Heath shared tales of playing in Philadelphia, learning from talented peers and Cohen shared the power of just working together with a mentor like Heath. We were regaled with stories about Machover visiting Toronto and working with thousands of different people to create and capture sounds and in hearing these stories you could begin to understand how the power of their work spread.

As a listener, I wanted to jump right into those projects and I wanted to go out and start researching and learning more about them to see how I might be able to do something similar or recreate them in a completely new way. Their stories were inspirational and empowering and most important, they shared passion and passed on courage to all of us as listeners.

These same concepts – storytelling, passion, courage – united the CMK participants. If we didn’t already, we all now have our own stories to tell from #CMK13 and I think we were all drawn to the Institute by our passion – for making, tinkering, and learning. That passion is what will continue to inspire us to share our stories with friends and colleagues both virtually and in-person so that we might be able to encourage others to dive into this “maker movement” they’ve heard about and bring it to their students too.

Finally, like the speakers we heard, I think everyone at #CMK13 has a good dose of courage that they pull on when they hit funding or ideological roadblocks, when they’re stuck on a project or feeling isolated and even getting pushback against integrating making into the classroom or curriculum. This courage is what will help bring making into professional development and into our classrooms! Are you ready to start? Let’s get Making!