My team member Rosalind Ali and myself lead the Science/ Technology PLC. During our monthly sessions we start with a World of Wonder and a tech tip. We also allow teachers to participate in whatever the upcoming building-wide STEM challenge that the students will do, below are some pictures to highlight our teacher workshops. Also we lead a P.D. to coach teachers through creating an a professional online portfolio. The theme of this year’s Professional Development for the Science and Technology PLC is creating a digital footprint and documenting your successes. Something that I still struggle with this. This commitment to teachers and students to promote STEM is the basis of what this school years focus is.
Throughout this journey I can truly say that I learned a lot. One of the biggest takeaways was learning to let go of controlling how my students construct their knowledge, using students as collaborative partners during planning, as well as collaborating with colleagues from various disciplines to help me troubleshoot ideas. From the start I believe that my Imagine IT project was a huge idea for me. I had a clear vision of what the end result would be, however the process getting there was full of new insights and alternative approaches. Using technology to track my progress snapping pictures is something that I have always done but I have not embraced Twitter or going public with my work like I should. Now I realize how easy to track progress as well as using others within my TWITTER-SPHERE to contribute to some of my ideals.
I was so fortunate to acquire a Little Bits Kit at the inception of the school year. I’ll admit to feeling a bit intimidated with the kits because I too was struggling with developing my own maker's mindset. I attempted to allow students to just play around with it and they would always have tons of questions. I knew that during my shift I had to allow the students to be in an uncomfortable place to develop the overarching goals of being makers. At the start, the students seemed just as intimidated as I did. I would step back and tell them I was pretending not to have answers but I truly didn’t. Eventually I used the students that were excelling at manipulating the Little Bits to act as group leaders for the other students. Amazingly it was the students that usually don’t do very well in class. This shot of confidence took them a long way in my class. I was so impressed with how patient they were as they guided their peers through some of the modules. I used module cards that I found on a teacher site as a way to get students familiar with the bits. The students progressed through the challenges well.
The goal of my Imagine It Project was for student to create some form of wearable technology. So the students would play with light up LED tubes and bulbs a lot. I realized that each group only had 1 kit. As noted with me problematizing my project I needed to select more building materials that were cheaper so that each student could create their own projects. Due to budget cuts I was unable to order all of the materials I needed but was ecstatic to have the little bits. So I had to let the students create in groups and not as individuals at the start.
I began the school year with World of Wonders and just being comfortable with exploring questions they wandered about in the month of September. I had the students participate in the Caine's Arcade Cardboard Challenge to promote making for the month of October. They were challenged to create a Robot that included some aspect of being a game. They truly enjoyed it. I must say that watching them work through their problems and being strategic about how they used materials was also great to see. They displayed their projects on Friday before Halloween outside their classrooms and I had all of the student to do a building walkthrough to see the display of cardboard robots.
The month of November I spent trying to refine my project. Post implementation I realized that I am still far away from where I want my class and students to be. I will continue to use Invent to Learn as a resource for creating my maker space and building the maker mindset for my student. Upcoming field trips for December will be to the Museum of Science and Industry to visit the Numbers in Nature Exhibit and explore STEM Careers, Depaul University for Hour of Code Event, January STEM Skating Trip, February Adler Planetarium, March Intuit Art Workshop (STEAM Workshop), April Forest Preserves, Many Architectural Tour/Argonne Laboratory, June Chicago Center for Green Technology. As mentioned before the overarching goal is to create solutions for everyday life challenges. I will integrate Imagine It into every field experience to keep the students minds solution focused.
As I navigated my way through my Imagine It project, I used the Book of delimmas to refer back to as a guide to foresee obstables. Planning for delimmas make all the sense in the World. Cosidering that implementing the Maker Movement within my classroom was a platform to allow students to lead the charge on their own personal journeys to solve a problem. Limiting and/or planning for deliemmas made this process alot easier.
Being a collaborative partner with my collegues and my students was another victory. Allowing students to brainstorm ideas with me increased student buy-in. They were excited discussing their contributions with their peers which is a way to promote leadership and collaboration, two key characteristics of building young students thinkers and tinkers. In the past I have struggled with implementing ideas and framing student instructions that are geared towards them being independent thinkers. Within my own school, we model for student exactly what they should be doing, even how to move and stand. These actions are opposite of the direction that I want my class to go. However my collegues helped me to see my project from different perspectives.
As I move forward implementing my Imagine It Project, I will continue to promote student creativity and allow them the freedom to have downfalls. Problem solving is an everyday life skill which students need to embrace. Lets teach our students to embrace their recovery and plan their next move.
During round 2 of makerme2020 I will question students more to push their thinking. I will also open up my room to have students to work on projects after school. I will Tweet more and allow students more time to reflect their thoughts around their projects. Giving students a public platform or audience makes students more critical when I am not the only assessor. I’m excited to see what they would’ve created by April 2016 for our building-wide STEAM Fair. Imagine It has been a great reflective project that has forced me to evaluate my practice. Looking forward to seeing more amazing student created projects.