Monday, June 10, 2019

The Power of Student Agency @UniLiggett #EdChat #PBL

I've just finished my second year at University Liggett School. Seniors shared their amazing ARP projects last week and I was blown away. ARP is our version of Senior Capstone projects. I showcased some of the ones that I helped students finish in my last post, but I wanted to make sure I shared another project that is simply amazing.

Katriel Tolin wrote and illustrated a book about mental health in the black community and it is amazing. The book is available on Amazon right now. People always wonder about the types of things that students can produce when they are given time and provided guidance. This is just one of many different examples I have seen over the past two years working in the Makerspace and teaching at University Liggett School.

This book is a powerful reminder of students are capable of doing if teachers just let them. They have stories to tell, messages to share, and ideas to grow if educators can move past the "sage on the stage" approach to education and give more time to student agency. It is not easy. Students are going to resist it because they have never had it before, but that doesn't mean we do not try. Not every student is going to publish a book, invent an app, or solve a world problem, but we will never know if we do not give them a chance to explore what is important to them and give them the time and means to share.

I encourage you to pick up this book, especially if you teach African American students who deal with mental health issues. A student wrote this book and I hope it serves as a way to help other children dealing with mental health issues and I also hope it serves to inspire students to write, draw, and pursue the things that interest them. Ms. Tolin's book, "It's Not a Big Deal!" But It Feels Like Oneis just one example of the amazing things that students are creating at University Liggett School because we have embraced Project Based Learning and Student Agency. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Where have all the blog posts gone? #MakerEd

Where have all the blog posts gone? It's been over a month since my last post and a few people asked if I was alright. Lolz. Someone as verbose as me not writing was really surprising to some people. The main reason I have not been writing this past month is that I have been super crazy busy.

Below you can check out some of the Instagram posts I've been creating of student work and some of my work. It is so much easier to share the great things students are doing in the Makerspace on Instagram than it is on a blog post. Plus, kids love being tagged and seeing their stuff on the feed. It is a more direct connection to them and their work.

Some of the things that have been keeping me busy in the Makerspace were the student projects in the high school, senior capstone projects, and learning new things myself as I build a design class for 6th graders next year.

High school students were taking a History of Math class this semester. It is a class that students can choose to take as a Social Studies or Math credit. A love that idea. Anyway, for an end of the year project, students were creating pyramids. Some students came down to use the Dremel LC40 laser cutter to cut the wood perfectly to assemble their project. However, it turned out to be more difficult than they thought because, not surprisingly, there was a ton of math needed to make sure the base was wide enough so all four points can come together correctly at the top. It was fun watching them break out their math skills as a team to solve the problem. A great couple of weeks for learning in the Makerspace.

In another class, students were designing and building toys based on conversations with first graders. Rocking horses, slime assembly lines, and a mini tank were just some of the things that students were building. The space was active every day they had class and they all came together and helped one another when they needed it. It was awesome watching students teacher one another how to use drills, saws, nail guns and more.

Another amazing thing happened in the Makerspace that has been taking up my time. I've been mentoring a Junior who has fallen in love with wood working. She started the semester having never held a drill and quickly took the lead in her group in the Engineering class she was taken. She was the only Junior in the class and was all by herself for two weeks when the Seniors got out. She came to the Makerspace and just started to tinker. I was out sick for three days and when I came back, she showed me a ring she carved out of a solid block of wood! She has decided to change her Senior capstone project to something woodworking related. We might work together and create a woodworking class in the first semester and then she would take it second semester. Still have some things to work out, but she is super excited to make a large epoxy table and some chairs for a final project. That is why I needed to learn to make my own table. Check it out.

Speaking of student capstone projects (We call them ARP projects. Follow the link for more info on ARP), I spent some time helping students with their project artifacts for their presentations to the community. One student, Madison, was building model rooms to showcase what she learned about Feng Shui and room design and how it impacts a teenager's mind. It was very interesting. Another student explored facial reconstruction. I 3D printed a skull for her to to reconstruct. It was awesome! Another student spent her time exploring what was going on in the brain of people that had near death experiences. She took all of the accounts she read and created a VR experience using and an Oculus Go headset I let her borrow for the semester. It was an amazing bit of work that was almost a little too real.

There is so much more I could write and share about the great things happening in the Knight's Forge Innovation Lab. The space is growing and evolving in amazing ways. It wouldn't be possible without the amazing support of teacher who are dedicated to project based learning and administrators that believe in them. If you want to keep up to date on the different projects that are being created in the space, follow my Instagram.

Friday, April 26, 2019

New Podcast Episode: Talking Creativity with Jaime Casap (@JCasap) #MakerEd

I'm so happy I was able to sit down with Jaime Casap and talk about Creativity and its value inside and outside of the world of education. As Google's Educational Evangelist, he shares what he sees in education and has decided to share more of insights on a new YouTube channel.

Here is the episode that can also be found on all of your favorite podcasting stations.

Here is an episode of Jaime's new YouTube channel. 

Thanks for listening and feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions for guests on the show. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Deconstruction Lab #MakerEd

Deconstruction Lab

I had the chance to work with my friend and colleague Michael Medvinsky on a fun project with elementary school students. We had a Deconstruction Lab! We had lots of old computer monitors, printers, and projectors that would normally be tossed or recycled, but Mike's idea to let students take them apart and see what's inside is a way better way to use the old tech before it is thrown out.

We used the Fabrication Lab and brought out different sizes of screwdrivers for the students to use. We had some wire clippers  and pliers as well. We emphasized the different between deconstruction and demolition. The students were all on board and excited to see if they could take apart different pieces of technology.

The wonder and excitement of the room over the course of an hour and half was amazing. Students helping one another unscrew things, borrowing and sharing tools, excited statements and new things discovered, and so much more. Students were above and beyond excited to take these things apart. The students wanted to take home motherboards to show their parents. They were able to take apart screens and printers without much damage at all. It was very impressive at how precise they could be.

At the end, which brought sad faces to all of them, students asked if they could take some of the untouched old tech home to deconstruct there. One said, "I really want to have something to do over the Summer." What a wonderful way to engage students in technology and spark some interest in what is going on underneath the hood of many of the tools they see and use every day. Check out some of the picture taken during the deconstruction lab.