Monday, March 14, 2016
Thursday, November 19, 2015
I introduced Padlet to my 5th graders this week. I really didn’t know much about Padlet but thought it had the “cool factor” and would prove to be a very interesting way for my students to share their new investigations of non-fiction. I set up our collaborative group in Padlet, made a WELCOME page with a few notes for students to read with links to follow, and sent each student a note (in their google drive) introducing our new adventure. I knew I didn’t know everything there was to know about this new app, but I do know 5th graders and I draw comfort from the fact that whatever I don’t know, they will figure out in a fraction of the time it would take me to resolve any issue. Ten year olds are not intimidated, they are intuitive.It’s been two days since Padlet became a new buzz word in our classroom and I’ve experienced a few F.A.I.L.s (First Attempts In Learning) but each hiccup was quickly resolved because my students possess two qualities that big businesses look for in their prospective employees; they are skilled problem solvers and they are digitally literate. Digital literacy is a fairly new term that marries the two words, digital and literacy. Yet it is so much more than just the words; it’s a way of life, a way of interacting with the world, a way of solving problems and communicating. In my 5th grade classroom, it’s me being comfortable with the fact that I will never know as much as my students; I teach them, they teach me. We raise the bar everyday.
Padlet has proven to be an effective collaborative learning tool thus far. My students have now created shared Padlets as reading partners and are busy linking additional media to inform their learning. In a brief check-in ‘round the room the consensus was that we should continue to use Padlet, that it was easy to take notes on and it was a good way to organize thinking to share with a group. And so we shall...
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
This summer I was fortunate to be invited to tour the makerspace/design labs of Teacher’s College Columbia University with a colleague. Our host was Richard Jochum, professor of art and art education as well as the visionary who wrote the curriculum for their new program in Creative Technologies. What I learned that day was both inspirational and affirming.
The first room we toured was their original digital photography lab. Walls were lined with computers, scanners and printers. Shelves housed 3D printers and several storage carts caught my eye: Makey Makey kits, alligator clips, wire, batteries - basically the exact same supplies that were in my makerspace! Here I was in a prestigious university and the students there are using the same exact materials that my students are using! Validation of the highest form! The second room we toured was more sophisticated in it’s tools and technologies but very similar to what our high school is planning for their design lab. Again, validation! The walls were adorned with examples of student work; a small gallery celebrating student learning, a final project highlighting the integration of making and writing, a work in progress waiting for it’s owner to return. In all, it was a beautiful sight knowing that audience is a vital part of student motivation and planning for new ways to celebrate learning in our makerspace.
Beyond the materials and machines lay a glorious commonality within the maker world no matter the age of the student; educators want to promote a community of risk takers and problem solvers. Professor Jochum sat with my colleague and I for over an hour talking about the future of makerspaces, the importance of vertical curriculum and how we play a part in creating such students. Change is happening in education on all levels, it’s slow but it is happening. Changing the space, we have all come to learn, is the easy part. It’s the culture change within individual school buildings that is more challenging. However, after this day, thinking about the parallels between my students and the students at Columbia University, I was inspired to start a new school year and “make” it amazing!
Monday, August 10, 2015
August is like one long Sunday for teachers. Watching the hours tick away too quickly, because there's still so much to be done in preparation for the new students that will be crossing the threshold of our classroom in a few short hours (days really but it seems like hours).
The room has to be just right - a mix of inspiration and warm welcome is what I strive for. And it's never the same two years in a row. How could it be? The students aren't the same and this group of 5th graders should have the opportunity to personalize their learning space just as others have before them. Even the curriculum changes from year to year with each group taking the conversations in a new direction, needing a little more here and pushing the envelope a little more there. Just think...what would happen if your favorite basketball team cleared their roster every year and started new, how might that change the game? The rules remain the same, the stadium is a bit spiffier, and the coach is still the coach. That's what makes it exciting!
So while August is a long Sunday that certainly keeps me on my toes, I'm anticipating the journey that lies ahead. This new group of 5th graders will be comprised of boys, girls, mathematicians, scientists, athletes, musicians, dreamers, writers, and most importantly adventurers. So I ask that you all come prepared for the journey. Bring something to read, something to write with and a positive attitude. It's going to be an amazing year!
WELCOME to 5th Grade!!!