After the last few weeks away learning, sharing and presenting it's great to be back in the Makerspace.
I absolutely love this whimsical book by Kiwi illustrator Nikki Spade Robinson, it tugs at my creative heart strings while also aligning beautifully with the Maker Movement. Robinson also wrote the book "Little Kiwi's Matariki" which I plan to use later in the term. I chose this book as the Year 2 teams planning reflected a trip to the local art gallery which had an 'interactive art' focus and they would bring this theme into their classroom learning..
Remember that the book is an ignitor to rich discussion, to stimulate ideas and creativity so you need to spend time asking questions to promote deeper thinking. I was also able to draw on the students experiences of the art gallery visit the week before. I asked lots of who, what, where, why and how questions and also talked about the fact that not everybody likes or appreciates the same things and this is what makes art even ,more powerful as we explore our feelings....... "Why do we have art galleries?" and "What is an artist?".
I set up four stations (rather than STEAM focused this time they were action focused)
So what did the stations look like?
CREATE: I role modelled how to use the app through the Apple TV to the whole group, this then meant that both teacher and students new its features.. The ideal would have been to have been outside in our sand pit but unfortunately it was raining so I used trays and each learner had their own 'beach' (for supervision this actually worked well). Students created a picture of their face in the sand using natural resources gathered from our local beach. Many students also chose to create a creature just like our 'beach artist' did in the book we had read. Many of this year level had older technology which wouldn't run the TalkingPhotos app so they photographed their creations which they would then airdrop to another device later and complete the challenge back in class, this meant that many of them finished early so we chose to rotate this group with the Sphero group to build more 'expert' groups.
MAKE: Each learner had a heavy duty wire (that was still 'twistable), they threaded a raft of materials onto it (we also had a cordless drill which was only operated with me present) and separated the chosen treasures with modelling clay so that they were separated and could move within their own sections (we hoped they might also 'make music' when the 'wind' blew). Learners were also able to choose lengths of ribbon and crepe paper to tie on. Much of the problem solving involved in the 'Make' station was unplanned...learners realised once we tested the 'wind' that many of them had not tied their wires on very securely and the metal fan 'clicked' on them each time it attempted to turn. Each of the 4 classes repeated this challenge station and now each have a moving art installation inn their classrooms - the ribbons 'fly' through the air......the wires are very heavy but still look effective.
CAPTURE: Unfortunately I didn't capture any record of the Sphero station where the classroom teacher was stationed (so that I can build capacity teaching the teachers how to use the technology and then by sending devices with them back to their classes ensure the follow up and next steps) - they were situated under our large bench top unit which was then 'barricaded' in by our flip tables.....this made it super dark and very effective. We positioned some of our heavy duty cardboard tubes along the ground to ensure our Sphero's stayed within reach on our many test runs. On reflection my expectations were too high to expect that learners would also be able to layer using the Slow Shutter app on top during this activity. 1, the space was too small and full of little bodies.....as well as the teacher (who in one case was over 6 foot tall, which was hilarious, he was fantastic, so motivated and engaged), 2, both teacher and learners need time just to have fun and engage with the technology, 3, we ended up rotating this station as all learners wanted to have a go.
The ultimate goal of this station is to capture an image using the Slow Shutter Cam app which enables you to see the dramatic light 'beams' that the moving Sphero creates. For this initial exploration learners used the Sphero in 'drive' mode but would then be introduced to the coding concepts (they have used DASH and the LEGO Boost robots before so this is not new to them). I was inspired to replicate this experience after reading fellow ADE Cathy Hunt's blog post which you can read HERE.
BUILD: Learners airdropped the Amaziograph creations to my laptop so that I could print them out, they then glued them onto 'construction' boxes making sure they only covered one or 'opposite' sides with their design. This then meant when the boxes were completed they could be rotated to show different patterns and combinations. They looked stunning! I'd love to see a 'forest' of them that learners could move through and interact with.
After a long almost 9 hour wait at the Washington airport our flight to Chicago was cancelled, given the weather patterns and scary stories of flights that did go through from other cities and airlines that I heard later, I'm glad it was. I spent an extra night in Washington and boarded a plane to Chicago the following day with fingers crossed hoping for the weather in the skies to change, it was over 30 degrees on the ground and stunning by the way, the pilot turned up almost 2 hours after we boarded the plane though!. After collecting my bags I headed straight for an Uber and off to visit an educator who inspires not just me but all of our staff - Tricia Fuglestad. Tricia is a specialist art teacher, she threads and embeds digital technology within her programme. Another art teacher from a private school, Cassidy, in Oklahoma also joined us. You can visit Tricias blog HERE - but just a warning......if you are a creative like me and technology passionate.....this will change your life.
Tricia teaches at Dryden Elementary school in Arlington Illinois, it's about an hour and a half from Chicago city central and just a 20 minute drive from the O'Hare airport. The school is a public school with the same age students as a NZ Primary School. She teaches all year levels and has students for a timetabled slot, on the same day every week for the whole year eg the youngest students have half an hour and the oldest 45 minutes. Teachers are not present during the sessions, this is their planning time. Projects are ongoing and not finished in one session, eg the older students may take a whole term to produce one digital object either individually or as part of a collaborative project. Tricias animation app of choice is DoInk and I love that she would much rather use one app and know it inside and out that provide a range of apps (and spend countless hours wondering 'what else is out there') when DoInk does everything she wants and more.
iPad plays a role in many of the projects that Tricia facilitates and you can see many many examples, often with lesson overviews and resources on her blog, she is also an avid tweeter.
Here's some photos of the learning environment...
How Tricia stores ongoing projects was of interest to me and even though her school role is 500 she manages to do this effectively - I did notice that many of the class projects are collaborative and done in small table sized groups eg 5 or 6 to a group. In the Makerspace I currently do very few collaborative projects, this is something aI need to give more thought to.
Professional Learning - Rotoscope in a Retro Mutoscope
Tricia has done so many inspirational projects but one that stood out for me was the liner dance animation this was not just for the reason that it looked 'cool' (which every learner that ever sees it agrees) but also for the reason that she extended it to include high tech and low tech and linked it back to the layered processes of new and old. I particular like this. We discussed the why and the how and I explored the possibility of using the same concept across curricula areas.
Another learning opportunity for me was when Tricia shared the story of her progression animation journey.
Click here to read her blog post This is such a simple idea but is layered with opportunities for students to design, create, problem solve and innovate. This is a definite learning opportunity to will see happening in our Makerspace in the future and once I share this with staff I can see it happening across all year levels.
My must have piece of equipment
The images are not great sorry, but this is an animation iPad stand, Tricia had nothing but glowing things to say about it and after seeing it used to get such brilliant results it is definitely on my must have list. I will have to explore the cost of getting one in NZ.
When your inspiration is inspired...
I shared our journey and this blog with Tricia and I love that she was inspired by the way we do things too and we swapped many lesson ideas. I love that she was also looking for feedback on up and coming projects she is designing so we had rich discussion on the possibilities and implications of changing the parameters of each lesson.
This visit will stick with me because as a teacher you take away far more than the focus that you went for, this visit has challenged my thinking on several levels and also affirmed the current direction and thinking I have around STEAM and the importance of art threaded through all that we do. Tricia has given me several links and educators to follow up on so I look forwarded to the new learning that those bring.
Yesterday started out brilliantly with a visit to this indie bookshop I discovered while walking to the hop on hop off bus stop in the DuPont Circle, Washington DC. I walked away with 3 gems - Perfect Square by Michael Hall, A house that once was by Julie Foiano and At the same time around the world by Clotilde Perrin.
Perfect Square tells the week long story of a perfectly happy square, which each day is cut apart, torn, or crumpled. Being creative, the square is undaunted and persistent and using his ingenuity, he transforms himself into something new like a babbling fountain, mountain, a river, etc. I have already thought of loads of activities I can set up for students at any year level. Everything from using a coloured square of paper or textured card to get hands on and creating their own tangram style artwork to coding within a square to create a ‘dot to dot’ picture, to origami. So many possibilities.
Today I have arrived in Chicago and had an amazing afternoon meeting someone very special in the digital art world......that’s tomorrow’s blog post!
Today I’m blogging from the bustling city of New York. This is my second attempt as my first (very lengthy post I did on my phone never posted.....grrrr). So this morning we (Bruce Jepsen, our Principal and I) visited a central city New York school nestled on the side of the bustling Central Park - Mary Mount School of New York. You could easily have walked past this school thinking it was a stunning 1800's mansion (which originally it was, three in fact). This private, all girls ADS school has 700 students thriving in a multi storied (no lifts!) historical building made up of a warren of rooms of every shape and size, each steeped in history with its first day of education starting with just 2 pupils back in the 1800's. We were met by their Director of STEM education who filled us in on the schools story and answered our questions related to curriculum, student agency, technology, assessment, culture, diversity - all the 'usual' stuff educators want to know. Our stories were aligned in lots of ways. We were then met by a Senior student who took us on a school tour, she answered our questions with pride and a quiet confidence, she had been at the school since kindergarten and new every nook and cranny like the back of her hand. Next we got to spend time with the schools Creative Technologist and to spend time in both the junior and senior maker spaces and ideas lab - I am literally still buzzing! We could have spent days swapping ideas and experiences and even though the research I've done clearly shows that the US is years ahead of NZ in the Maker Movement she felt that we were clearly years ahead of them at integrating technology in these spaces and especially at giving our students voice and choice in the classroom through the use of iPad. She was particularly interested our next community Maker project and wants us to keep her posted with updates as she would like to replicate this initiative in her school. Schools are all so different but I love that when we keep student learning at the centre, follow our passions and strive to stay at the edge of what is possible we form these common threads and links no matter where we are......even in little old New Zealand!
Next week we are attending the Apple Distinguished Schools Global Innovation Summit in Chicago, where Bruce will present a showcase and then we both facilitate a workshop together. This is the first time a NZ school has ever been invited to attend and we are proud to represent our Kura and our country.
We also visit two Chicago schools so I'll keep you posted with more photo's.
Recently I was asked these four questions......I thought you all might be interested in the answers (I have emailed them back to the teacher who asked them)
Are there any examples of how the students have used the makerspace to solve real world problems in their community?
No, at this stage there isn't as we are fairly new to all this (this is our second year operating a Makerspace and the first year in our new home and filtering the maker culture into all classrooms) we have initially only focused on aligning the learning with the needs of the students and the learning in the classroom. This is where we would like to go next in the Year 5/6 team but I see this as better suited to infused through their daily classroom learning eg writing, reading, maths and done as more of an inquiry project where maker and problem solving naturally occurred. Our Makerspace lessons are currently 'student choice and voice' and 'passion' driven. I love that your question has sparked my thinking though and I will definitely explore this further in the future.
Do you use any other sources of literacy works (eg Articles, news items) to stimulate ideas or activities?
I have used video, poems and artwork as stimuli in the past. You could also use the Kiwi Kids news website as a starting point https://kiwikidsnews.co.nz. Actually the choices are unlimited, I have specifically chosen to use a hardcopy resource as our main ignitor to foster a love of reading and to ensure that being a 1:1 iPad school doesn't mean we always choose technology over tradition.
Do you take extension/gifted and talented groups? How do you cater for their strengths?
Yes, I do take extension groups. At this stage the focus of these groups is to either build capacity (eg they become 'experts') to then teach other students in their class or team (year level) or as tuakana-teina (to teach a lower year group) or to extend on learning the class are doing eg to take it to the 'next level'. With balancing my Makerspace facilitation with Assistant Principal and managing the networking and infrastructure there isn't really enough time to cater for this. Our classroom learning is all individualised an d differentiated so every learner is being catered for in their own classroom environment but I do like the idea of 'passion' projects...we have an igloo project and a 'spools' project in the wings at the moment. We've collected the 600 milk bottles.....and for the 'spools' we have the cardboard spills and the timber cutouts to strengthen them and have researched for ideas and inspiration we now just need to 'get doing'.
Do you have a particular process or inquiry cycle that drives questioning/problem solving? Is it consistent across the school?
We don't have an inquiry cycle as such but have a set of TAKP skills and attitudes, which are consistent across the whole school and students self assess these with evidence shared on their Seesaw learning Journals (we also report to these at our 3 way conferences). I will upload a resource that outlines all of this for you to look at into the iTunes U course. In the Makerspace I use the design process "Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve" (which you would have seen displayed on the walls. In my planning I always include the questioning and prompts to support the book I am using as well as the vocab for each of the STEAM stations which I am wanting to introduce.
We also use our 'wonder wall' to prompt questioning (which was down the lefthandside of the space - I'll add the image below).
When reflecting on the feedback from our first Open Day and PLD last week teachers appreciated our way of delivering both the session and the resources - via an iTunes U course. Many had never heard of the tool before and were intrigued at how easy it was to have a rich 'kete' of learning (either for teacher or student). I have added a 'What's it all about' video to this post to give you all an insight into what makes our Makerspace tick and what my thinking is behind it. After completing my post grad this year and digging deep into the research behind Makerspaces I feel confident and reassured in the direction we are heading. I had some interesting conversations about play based learning with teachers last week. In my opinion (and I have the data to back this up), play based learning alone in a primary school environment is NOT enough. It needs to be more than this, more directed, more supported, with questions to provoke and encourage deeper thinking. I'm not saying there isn't a place for play based learning in the Early Years - just don't throw the 'baby out with the bath water'. Our Makerspace is NOT technology based, it is curiosity based, it is technology enhanced. Pedagogy is the vehicle and technology is the accelerator!
We do things differently...
Our Makerspace Open Day and PLD is on Friday. I have had a few teachers pull out today due to unforeseen circumstances so now have space if you’d like to see and hear more. Message or email me for more info firstname.lastname@example.org
Come and see some of our cost effective ‘hacks’...
These two books are so inspiring and absolutely perfect to support the Maker movement. I didn’t read the books word for word but discussed the concept and ideas then introduced the ‘creations’. We shared the attributes and special characteristics then focused on the mathematical and scientific concepts eg Symmetry and design similarities. We delved deeper into the Aquatica book as this supported the current learning theme back in class.
I had four challenge stations set up for this weeks sessions with our 8 Year 5/6 classes. Each station was interdisciplinary infusing science, technology, maths and art. Planning is becoming more challenging to document as each curriculum area melds with the next. I can clearly articulate it but documenting it is challenging, I’m still not sure I have the best format.
Today’s stations were
1. BUILD - designing, creating and building a ‘Mechanica’ creature.
2. CREATE - creating an intricate symmetrical design and using the iMotion app to record its creation. (Last week in Australia I facilitated an Early Years ‘Inspiration Station’ called Nature Mandala and I adapted this idea to suit our learning context and level).
3. DESIGN - explore the app ‘Creature Garden’ and design your creature. Explore habitats and features of your creature and consider it’s features and ability to adapt to its surroundings.
4. EXPERIMENT- experimenting with symmetry and printmaking. Using a CD as a base and exploring colour and technique to produce a unique artwork.
This book does also have an online open source piece of software but I chose not to use it as I felt it was better suited for an older age group (I think it would be excellent for Years 7 and 8).
This was a learner ‘experimenting’ with design and symmetry before using technology:
Here’s an example of what was created on station 2 with layering technology:
Here’s a couple of examples of what was created on station 4:
This week I am working across Australia, Keynoting and running STEM workshops at a series of Early Years conferences in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Although this week will be crazy busy I am also taking the opportunity to reflect on where we are now in our TAKP journey and what lies ahead (the bonus of a body clock that has no idea what time it actually is is I’ve been up since 3am Perth time!). Our schools Skills and Attitudes sit at the core of all I do in the Makerspace. I’ve been scrolling through photos and celebrating the power of the iPad in capturing stunning evidence of those Skills and Attitudes in action. I’m left wondering how often are teachers still focusing on ‘apps’ and missing the one most powerful tool of all? The iPad has changed the way teachers teach but more importantly, the way students learn.
Capture thinking, problem solving and learning in action...
We are Collaborators!
Two Makerspace sessions with the Year 5’s and 6’s and then a lunchtime webinar - SeeSaw in the Makerspace, then an afternoon of network and infrastructure sorting for me. These SeeSaw events are great free PLD and even though I’ve been immersed in the Maker culture for several years now I picked up a couple of new products I want to investigate, a couple of lesson ideas and there were two statements they repeated more than once that have stuck with me.....we want our learners to be ‘Problem Seekers’ not just problem solvers (I LOVE this) and ‘Voice and Choice’, we do this well but I liked the simple word association as I think it will stick with our classroom teachers. If you are still thinking about our Makerspace open day and PLD coming up get in touch as we are thinkers by about running .two days as there’s been so much interest. I’m confirming spots for Friday 6th tomorrow. Feel free to email me on email@example.com
I wonder what the kids will call me, today one said "I'm looking for the Apple Teacher"......and another said "Are you Mrs Maker?" ......funny.