Tag Archives: robots

Reflecting on 7 Weeks of Ed Tech Learning

How might we create professional learning experiences around TPACK?

How might we create professional learning experiences around TPACK?

The past seven weeks of my Teaching for Understanding with Technology course have flown by! Between launching global partnerships for my Pre-K to 2nd grade classes, setting up our new IDEA Studio, traveling to the Learning2 conference in Manila and, preparing classes for back to school night, life has been busy and I can’t believe my first course in the Graduate Certificate in Ed Tech at MSU is already over.

I had a chance to dive deeper into a variety of tech tools, including Popplet (mapping my PLN inspired me to reflect on how my PLN serves as a coach/mentor), Trello, Tinkercad, and our lower school Makerbot Replicator. Although what I am most excited about from this first course, more than any of the tools, is the new ways of processing and thinking about teaching and learning that I have explored.

I plan to keep testing and iterating my own version of the GTD approach and my visual task lists in Trello. I also want to continue exploring new 3D printing projects in Tinkercad and I feel like now that I have opened that door during this course, I can more easily walk through it with my students and support them in innovating with 3D printing technologies.

The idea of networked learning and using YouTube and help forums to learn new skills is also something I want to think about further. Since I am working with Pre-K to 2nd grade students, I want to invite my colleagues to share their pedagogical and content knowledge with me and co-construct a plan for using these tools in ways that would be both safe and meaningful for our young students. I am also excited to use the 21st century lesson plan I designed in the coming weeks in our kindergarten classes and support students in programing our robots to tell their stories.

Finally, I want to keep exploring the TPACK framework (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). I have used SAMR in professional learning experiences with the faculty at my school but I feel like that can limit the focus to the tools and run the risk of encouraging educators to be technocentric, something Dr. Mishra advises against (Mishra, 2012). I wonder if we need to take more time to talk about TPACK and the intersections between tools and teaching. Specifically, I think it could be helpful to focus on how tools can be used to redefine and transform learning when used in tandem with the pedagogical approaches and content that encourage deeper understanding.

The more I reflect on the different pieces of TPACK, the more I am convinced that no one piece can work alone. We have to look at our content and make sure it matches the world around us today (e.g., paper reading strategies vs. digital reading strategies), and do the same with our pedagogical approaches (e.g., teacher-directed learning vs. blended learning and inquiry-based teaching) and our technical tools (e.g., paper maps vs. Google Maps). I’m hoping to learn and reflect more on TPACK this year and find ways to talk more about it with my colleagues. I’m still unsure about the best ways to help more teachers and lessons apply the framework and successfully utilize the interconnectedness of technical pedagogical content knowledge. I’m also curious whether this framework can be a tool to build relationships and develop cross-disciplinary bridges. Can TPACK help break down silos between different subject areas and specials in schools?

The great thing about learning is that there are always new questions to consider and hopefully just as many opportunities to pause and reflect on how all of the pieces may or may not fit together.

References

 Mishra, P. (2012, March 26). Punya Mishra – keynote speaker @ 21st century learning conference – Hong Kong 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bwXYa91fvQ 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf download .pdf

Advertisements

Making Sense of NYC Maker Faire 2013

Back in September, I had the awesome opportunity to attend my first Maker Faire in NYC. I had read some different blogs posts and heard from some other Makers about what it would be like but I was still unsure exactly what to expect.

Maker Faire Map

What I discovered was a huge array of opportunitiesto learn, make, and be exposed to new ideas and materials. I also found out how challenging it could be to navigate the space (especially with the high winds and blowing dirt!) and see everything I wanted to see. There were more exhibits and new creations to see than I could possibly visit in two days so I had to figure out a system to try and catch the sessions I was most interested in.

making

I was particularly excited about the Education Cafe and all of the sessions by both students and educators about integrating making into schools and educational environments. I had the chance to listen in on Making in the Classroom: Reports from the Front Lines, where educators, including many  I had met at CMK, shared how they are creating Makerspaces, holding Maker Clubs, and integrating making into their curriculum. It was reassuring to hear that they experience many of the same challenges I have encountered, such as dealing with scheduling and time restrictions or finding ways to explain the value of making for our students.

I also loved hearing more about the Wiki Seat project and I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t heard about it, check it out! It’s a great example of how making can be integrated into a core academic subject and how inventive students can be when given the opportunity to make something meaningful.

On the Make Live Stage, I saw “Five Accomplished Young Makers,” ranging from 2nd grade to high school seniors, who shared their stories of making everything from a DIY Segway to a 3D scanner. These students shared how powerful it was for them to take up a project that they were passionate about and then have to learn new skills along the way to accomplish their goals. One student has even started his own business after running a successful crowdfunding campaign. Examples like these demonstrate the valuable life-skills that students can gain from engaging in making and the high levels of self-motivation that they find to learn new things and then share with others.

Another one of my favorite education sessions was Children as Makers, Makers as Children, by AnnMarie Thomas. She gave a great presentation on the abilities of very young children to begin making and the benefits of trusting them to use real tools and explore diverse materials. This resonated with me because it aligns with the Reggio practice of respecting young children and the hundreds of languages they (should) have to express themselves. Understandably, many parents are wary of having their young children use hammers and other potentially dangerous tools that may be common when making. Yet, if we scaffold and support children’s use of more complex materials and tools, maybe they would learn from a younger age how to use them safely and also feel more empowered to choose them when they would be the best tool to accomplish their goal.

3D Printing

Aside from the various education sessions I attend, I also listened in on some talks about Arduino and Raspberry Pi and a range of other new technologies and tools. I was amazed to see some of the small, affordable 3D printers in the 3D Printer Village. I also loved getting a chance to walk inside and explore the house that the Sketch Up team constructed in just a few days. Other favorite stops along my Maker Faire tour included seeing the homemade cars on the racetrack, the exhibits run by young makers from schools around the country, the life-size mousetrap and some of the amazing inventions inside the Hall of Science.

Although I gained a lot from listening, watching, and learning at different exhibits and sessions, it was an overwhelming experience. I wish there was some kind of starter guide for newbies that explained more of how Maker Faire works (for example, I didn’t realize so much of it would be outside or that all of the sessions would be so quick). It was great to have an app where I could select exhibits I wanted to see and talked I wanted to attend but there were still so many to sort through that in the end, I took a “let’s head this way and see what we find” approach. This worked out pretty well as I saw and learned things I’m sure I wouldn’t have otherwise but I think it could help to have a site where you could choose different options (e.g., “I want to … learn how to make things, hear from young makers, etc”) and then you could be given a sample itinerary to help guide you.

soldering

My absolute favorite thing at Maker Faire was having a chance to learn to solder! I had never had the time or tools to learn before and it was so exciting and empowering to pick up a new skill and apply it to make something fun like the Make Robot pin! It was also a great memento to bring back and wear at school because it served as a great conversation starter with students and teachers about making and Maker Faire! My one hope for future Maker Faires would be for them to incorporate more actual making. Of course, you might just need to know where to go, and I understand expense can be an issue, but I was hoping there would be more opportunities to learn to make things, whether it be an Arduino sketch, a Robot pin, or a 3D design (props to Google Maker Camp for having multiple making activities and giving away T-shirts to encourage people to join in the making).

For Maker Faire veterans,  what do you think … are there many opportunities to learn new skills and make things you can walk away with at Maker Faire? What are your favorite parts of going and what do you wish could change in the future?