Reflection for Week 10 EDET677 Essential Question: Why does “Lewis Angapak Memorial School (LAMS)” need a makerspace?

Aleta May

I really gave this initial post a lot of consideration. I have noticed that at the lower levels, there is a new emphasis on having students depend on each other more rather than sit and wait for a teacher. Also, I have noticed that teachers are beginning to incorporate the use of our computer programs for a blended learning environment. These are definitely improvements; and yet as an observer, I noticed that there is something more missing. Now, having been through this class, and this post in particular that causes me to pause and think about this; I am sure that making and all that it involves is one very big piece that is missing!

Making includes so much! Electronics, programming (making games, following codes for crafting and experimenting), it is now very difficult for me to imagine not including so many hands-on ways to express learning, incorporate new knowledge into their current schema, and move from the initial stage of learning on up through creating, inventing, and solving real world problems.

LAMS needs this! LAMS needs to incorporate the arts into learning, learn about programming / coding, and making as individuals and in groups; researching and asking peers for answers. At one school in Oconomowoc (WI), they started with one shared cart where they could spend one hour weekly in a makerspace in their own classrooms. Later, they had four carts. Since the materials and activity binders on the carts were available, the learning resource teacher said that “teachers design lessons around the materials that fit right into the curriculum” (Ullman, 2016). It started with one cart, and then gaining funding after this was much easier since students gained so much from the use. I believe LAMS teachers would use these if there were someone to write out the activities and manage supplies.

Following are replies to my Initial post and the alternating conversations that were generated:

I relate when you write about the fixed mindset of poor income students. I witness it daily in my class. I have also found these same students are my most resourceful. I see them as being more at ease and excited using a makerspace than my typical ‘A’ students. Sometimes the ‘A’ students are the ones who are most uncomfortable, because suddenly they aren’t quite sure what is expected of them. There isn’t a strict set of steps to how they earn their grade. I can totally imagine your kiddos bringing in items they have at home or that could be recycled to use in their tinkering. I am excited for you and your school to create a makerspace! I watched the video about Richard Turere and I am crazy inspired. I have already downloaded a copy for myself to show to my students. I think it is important for them to see other people their age doing amazing things. Thanks for the great post!

Reply to Catherine, who wrote on my post:

Catherine,

I am so glad you are inspired by that YouTube clip. Although it is 7 mins. it was so inspiring to me as well! One big need our students have is how to fix their bicycles–from chains to leaky tires. I wonder if the dump could start sorting trash into metals, like bicycles, with the idea in mind of reusing. Catherine, our kids are Can Do kids–and I am so proud of those ‘A’ students because often they swim against the odds in life. However, I’m ready to ‘shake it up’ as well.

Aleta

Catherine’s Post and my response:

Catherine,

Since we have heard how we need to use higher-order problem-solving for several years now, I believe that slow turning wheel (or spiral) that supports teachers with makerspaces and supplies needed to have occurred a very long time ago. This is our time now. Of course the budgets at our schools will need to be dealt with—I suppose we will need to find those grants as well. Meanwhile, I am investing in myself by getting my own supplies so I can be “ready to go.”

I really like that you wrote about well-planned and established makerspaces.

That is a very strong statement—“the jobs of the future do not need scientists who have memorized the periodic table. . . they need to be creative, independent problem solvers. I will add that they need to also be collaborative problem solvers—group intellect. As I have mentioned in makerspace online in our sessions, I was a homeschool teacher/parent. One of my daughters attended community college instead of high school. She was taking chemistry at the same time her high school friend from the tennis team was. I fully believe the reason my daughter was learning at such a higher level, successfully, than that of her same age peer, was that the college course had many more hands-on applications to help students understand what that periodic table means. This tells me that we need to incorporate problem solving, hands-on learning at the high school level!!

Yes, making is a vessel to reach out to the community. Your statement here helped me visualize finding ways to make the lives of the elders more convenient through finding a need and making.

Thank you for a great post!

Aleta

Gerald,

Great examples of recycling through e-waste! Environmental science at its best J When I was 16, I had a back surgery and a home tutor came by once a week with adapted lessons for me from teachers at the high school. One of my classes was arts and crafts. Since my mom was an itinerate art teacher in Anchorage for a couple of years, she had me covered. My assignment was to make it unique. I used weaving. Tree branches at the top and bottom provided my frame. Then I wove in everything, LOL. Pipecleaners, breadbags, left over yarn from my grandmother’s crochet basket. This piece of art reminds me now of a bird’s nest; from the kid’s book My Nest is Best. If electronics were the inspiration of that day, I’m sure Mom would have taught me how to light it up with LEDs.

I like the way Chibitronics helps learn the basics of electronics with paper. What great tree examples!

Yup, I want a wall mural with electronics now! I watched that dandelion video. Living out in a village is a perfect place to create beautiful wall décor without needing to try to have the typical store bought picture sent out in a large cumbersome box.

I am interested in the sewable electronics as well.   The FLORA looks like an easy way to get started.

Aleta

Amy,

I totally agree that there are Many barriers to teaching creatively!   More often than not, the grandiose ideas fall to the teachers who are asked to do and be more than ever before; being social workers is just one of those demands I’d like to add to your list. I think this is why I would like for an IT person to start me off with kits we can incorporate into our electronics, programming, problem solving and more—that weave into content areas across the grade levels. We have a very big job!

You have a great solution built in. We can begin engaging the students who are not typically doing well “in the traditional school system of taking tests.” Writing can be encourage along by storytelling with creating paper pictures or play dough circuitry.

One issue I have with the Common Core Standards is when administrators who evaluate us wear side blinders on their eyes and lock us into their perception of how these standards “should be focused on in certain ways.” With a little more peripheral vision, administrators can see us making these connections in a creative and engaging manner. We may need to start small and post the results of student learning wherever they can be seen, so it will catch on and spread. Also, you really had me thinking about how helping other teachers is so important. We share, we learn, all benefit.

Aleta

Amy’s reply to my initial post:

tessiesim says

Aleta,

I also see students who are overly dependent on teacher support to do any tasks, and even to get started. Even in a small group, they can suck all of my time and energy or just sit when there is no one to directly help them. I agree that teaching a Growth Mindset and modeling it ourselves is important to get these students to try and realize that it’s okay to make mistakes. I like the stages you describe in transitioning to a Maker Model. It’s important that we scaffold this idea rather than expect overnight change in how our students function independently. I think your idea of starting with kits and more specific tasks is key to gradually letting them create more independently. I hope to hear more about how you implement these changes in your school.

My reply to Amy,

Amy,

Scaffolding seems to make sense to me–and breaking the cycle at the early primary stages. Maybe this is where blended learning comes in as well. Students may need to work on computer assignments, then rotate to a making station. Again, time and grade level of students affects all of this. Also, teachers need IT support and kits at least in the beginning as part of that scaffold.

Thank you for your feedback, as it keeps my dreams into the top end of moving forward, but in a successful way teachers can manage.

Aleta

Kate reflected and I replied:

katemullin17 commented on Initial Post Week 10, EDET677: Essential Question: Why does “Lewis Angapak Memorial School (LAMS)” need a Makerspace?

Aleta May Initial blog week 10 EDET677 Essential Question: Why does “Lewis Angapak Memorial School (LAMS)” need a …

I love your transitioning levels to get students to be independent users of the makerspace! In fact, I really enjoyed everything about your post: the video clip, the two different makerspaces for your school, and the idea that your students view the world differently than the textbook (absolutely!). I was prepared to write about one or all of these in depth, but then I got to the comments, and those are what truly grabbed my heart.

“Scaffolding seems to make sense to me–and breaking the cycle at the early primary stages.” The cycle of teacher dependence is so detrimental to students actually learning material. Discovery is such an important part of the process, but often educators just “spoon-feed” information as a means to cover all the material or simply because it is easier. Helping students understand their part in the process, their responsibility in being an active part of the learning process, is a very real challenge, especially when working with students use to the system of teacher-led learning.

I started my career as a secondary teacher in rural Alaska. I had never been more frustrated in my life. Each day, as I worked with my students who were barely able to read, who couldn’t write, who didn’t understand math, I wondered to myself, “Where did the system fail these kids?” (One example was the student who had passed prealgebra the previous year with an A by redoing the same eight lessons until she received 90% or better on each of those lesson…except there were 165 lessons to cover in the prealgebra curriculum, 157 of which she never did). I wasn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon of allowing minimal effort for full credit, further perpetuating the cycle, but as a first year teacher, I had no experience and very few resources to draw upon. To make matters worse, I kept hearing over and over, “They are just village kids,” as if to say they were born with different learning abilities than the rest of the kids in the world or they didn’t deserve to be educated at the same level.

This experience is what spurred me to return to the land of student loans to pursue a degree in elementary education. One cannot simply sit on the sidelines and hope for change to happen. I needed to be a part of that change. I needed to experience the difficulty of changing that fixed mindset, from my students, to their parents, to staff members. I taught the youngest students (K-3) and even this group showed resistance to owning their education, but over time and with a lot of hard work from ALL of us, this group of students learned to value their role in learning.

Every child deserves a great education, and the students at your school are lucky to have you!

Kate, You truly got to the point of what I have seen in our village schools. We did have someone come out the last two years to make sure teachers were focused on using computerized formative assessments to show growth. Though we saw some growth, one class seemed to need continual reminders that they “could do the work.” There was no time for discovery-education, however, since this elementary class only had half a day to teach a very required curriculum at two different grade levels.

Last year, a new science teacher for middle to high school asked us the same questions over and over–re: why can’t they do their work without help at this age? One major problem I saw was the extremely small room with no cabinets for science lab equipment. However, I did loan a Science Activity book to her I had at home in case I needed activity ideas for sped students I teach. And her interactive notebooks were awesome–the students referred back to them often.

Thank you for such encouraging words! Your school is very blessed to have you as well! Going back into debt to meet the needs where they start is a very, very big deal! Aleta

 

References

(May 2016). Trending: The latest news & stats affecting the K-12 edtech community. Top 10 Web Stories from www.techlearning.com/may16

Which led to this article:

Ullman, E. (April 2016). Making the Grade: If you build it, they will create. How to take the concepts of the maker movement and use them into day-to-day classroom activity.

 

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