Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Adventures in Icelandic Schools #MakerEd #MakerMentality

I have been very lucky to spend a couple of days exploring Icelandic schools before providing workshops for the Icelandic educational community. I have been so impressed with the amazing things I have seen in the classrooms. Here are a few things that stuck out to me.

Here are a couple of photos of the woodshop class that students in grades 1-8 all take at Arskoli. They work on projects to learn various skills. I love that this is a required class for students in this age group. The more work I do with Makerspaces, the more I see the value in getting students comfortable using these types of tools at a young age. It really opens up the possibilities for projects down the line when they have a wider base of skills.

Here is a Home Ec class that these 3rd grade students are taking. They are making cookies and the teacher is recording them and posting their explanation of the baking process to SeeSaw. This is a wonderful way for students to work with their hands and demonstrate understanding of what was covered in class. Adding the video to SeeSaw for parents and students to see is an awesome addition to the process. 

In this photo, students are in Textiles class learning to knit, sew, crochet, and more. Again, all project based and students produce artifacts to demonstrate their learning.  

Art class students are making with clay. Students were making candle holders and small animals. One group was spending time making clay mice. I figured I would give it a go, but the side-eye from this young student suggests she was wary of my clay skills. 

The nice part about all of this is that these skills are all transferable to all of the other classes the students attend. Maths, English, Science, etc. are all using Project Based Learning to explore ideas and the students have the skills to create varied artifacts to demonstrate their learning.

Being able to present and connect with the amazing teachers from Iceland was an amazing experience. I also was able to spend some time with some fabulous educators from North America as well.

It was such an amazing opportunity to learn about the educational culture of another country and see how I can implement what they have done in my school so we can all be better together. There are more posts to come on my Icelandic Adventure, I just need more time to unpack them all.

Hugs and High Fives,


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Don't Forget the A when talking STEM #MakerEd

One of the things that has bothered me over the years has been the dismissal of the Arts as part of an important, well-rounded education. I don't want to think that it has been intentional, but I do know that many schools around the country will cuts the Arts programs before anything else.

With the push for a heavier focus on Science for our students, STEM has become the go to buzzword for educators around the country. We need STEM if we are going to be competitive in the world. We need more time to focus on STEM activities in the class. STEM is the only way we can prepare our students for the world ahead. These are the types of things that are being said. It drives me nuts because everyone seems to forget about the value and need for the Arts. It also seems to be cyclical.

We move away from the Arts, then someone does a study and realizes that the Arts are an important part of the education process. People act completely surprised and Arts teachers nod their head as they read the report telling them something they already know. It does not have to be this way though.

Ditch the idea of STEM and use STEAM. The Arts are an important part of becoming a well rounded learner. I'm tired of hearing, "But not all students are going to be artists, dancers, or musicians." No kidding. Not everyone is going to be a writer, scientist, historian, or mathematician. Yet, we drill these subjects into our students because they have been deemed an important part of becoming a well rounded individual.

We teach Math because it helps students grow problem solving skills. We teach history because it is important to know about the past as we live in the present and consider the future. We teach Science because it is important for students to have a basic understanding of the world around them. We teach these things because they are important. The arts are extremely important. They make students better learners. Here is a study that says so.

For all of the teachers/librarians out there that are thinking about Makerspaces and are hearing about how Makerspaces support STEM learning, push back a little and remind those people that a Makerspace can support all learning when you make it STEAM.