Reflection on Questions by Julie Kelly
Reflection on Questions by Julie Kelly
Chapters 10, 11 & 12 by Angela Marshall
Chapter 10 – STUFF
The quote from Thomas Edison at the beginning of this section is the perfect chapter summary: “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
The supplies listed barely scratch the surface of what can be used in a making environment. Electronic parts, computer technology (both hardware and software), craft supplies, building materials and tools as well as pre-assembled kits are discussed. Budgets and donations are also touched upon. The bottom line is the chapter could also be called Hoarding 101.
Chapter 11 – SHAPING THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
This chapter discusses conditions that are necessary for a successful “intellectual design space”. Gender, mindset, collaboration as well as physical space are all touched upon. My biggest take away was recommendation against showing examples of completed projects.
(Side comment: As a science teacher, I have to note that my favorite line in this entire chapter is on page 204 which talks about 5th grade student Hugo building a robot car and getting a “yardstick (because Americans are still taking a “wait and see” attitude on the whole metric deal).” )
Chapter 12 – STUDENT LEADERSHIP
Chapter 12 addresses allowing students to take ownership of their learning. If we believe that our role is to empower students to make independent choices, we must relinquish control/management/planning to them.
Chapters 7, 8 & 9 Summary by Miranda Farren
Fabrication and Physical Computing and Programming, Oh my! I have definitely been taken out of my comfort zone in reading these chapters. I had no clue how many options are out there. 3D printers, laser cutters, Raspberry Pi, and Scratch to name a few. I was initially reading through these chapters as an educator but quickly started thinking about my own three children and wondering what I can do to provide them opportunities in computer science. Should I purchase a Makey Makey Kit or a Hummingbird Robotics Kit? As stated on Pg. 160 “Computer science is a pathway to a plethora of career options that extend well beyond obvious high-tech jobs.” As a teacher, I kept thinking about my animation project that I do with my above-grade level sixth grade math class and on-grade level seventh grade math class. My students begin by making a flipbook by hand. The flipbook must contain reflections, rotations and transformations. Once their idea has been developed by hand, they then produce their flipbook using PowerPoint and create the animation. Last year I taught the same group of students who had created animations the year prior and the students asked to do another animation this past school year. I was totally onboard with it and had the students include dilations in their new animations. The student’s second animations were even better than their first. When you give students time to make and create they really are energized and focused. As stated on Pg. 108 “Learning from peers with classroom experience is valuable.” Does anyone have suggestions on how I can take my animations project a step further? What have your schools purchased to provide students the time to “tinker?”
Reflection on Questions by Julie Kelly
Chapter 5/6 Discussion Question: by Angela Marshall
The Next Generation Science Standards make explicit calls for meaningful assessment, interdisciplinary knowledge, inquiry, and engineering. Will this happen in your school?
The Week 3 question regarding NGSS is very interesting from my perspective. At Blessed Sacrament, I am the primary science teacher for Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade and one Sixth Grade class. I provide supplemental labs for the Fourth and Fifth Grade classes. My background is in Science Education which supports my knowledge of the AOW science curriculum and standards. I believe that in my classes there is strong interdisciplinary knowledge and a large amount of inquiry. I strive to include as much engineering as possible but always bump up against the fact that I am an itinerant teacher. As a result of reading Chapters 5 and 6, the “meaningful assessment” part has me a bit stumped. Pages 83 and 84 point out how rubrics may be counterproductive and that the emphasis of learning “should be on process and creating the conditions in which learners grow.” I understand what this means but not how to qualify/quantify it.
Chapter 5 Discussion Question by Deigh Young
Do you agree or disagree with the list of reasons in Chapter 5 that rubrics may be counterproductive?
First of all, I agree that students will give minimal effort to receive the grade they desire. Unfortunately, I have seen this before with my 4th graders, especially with intelligent students who haven't "bought-in" to the assignment or who want to get done as fast as possible. In this case, the rubric stunts the students' creativity.
With that being said, I still plan to use rubrics in the future. I feel that students appreciate rubrics because they know what is expected and what they're being graded on. I just have to make sure that I carefully word my expectations in a way that doesn't limit the students. Also, students' work needs to be graded somehow, and rubrics are a way to communicate to the parents how the students did on the assignment.
Chapter 5 Summary by Aileen Shaffer
This chapter challenges us to shift our mindset as teachers. A key quote highlighting this shift is “Learning is not the direct result of having been taught.” We are challenged to move the responsibility for learning to the student. Our new motto as teachers should be LUMT - “Less Us, More Them.” The educational model suggested is one of constructivism - learner centered (learning results from experiences) vs. Instructionism - teacher directed (learning is a result of being taught). Shifting mindsets is the “most difficult part of adopting a tinkering mindset for the classroom.”
Our role is to demonstrate something then ask the student to become a problem solver. We are called to eliminate the fear of failure and embrace the iterative learning process. Allow students space to create different paths to a solution. Give only the smallest amount of information that is needed to progress the student forward. Teachers are to help students make connections by finding out what they already know, collecting evidence of learning, managing tools and resources, and guiding student inquiry.
One place to start is with an idea or a problem to be solved. Help students progress through the iterative process of planning, making, testing, feedback, adjusting, and then back to planning. Teach students about this process and then let them experience it. One way to transition to this way of thinking is to try cutting your direct instruction time in half which will help you focus your teaching on the big ideas and leave more time for your students to explore the topic and solve problems their own way.
Assessments grades and rubrics can interrupt the learning process. It is an artificial judgement imposed by the teacher and should be designed as to be least distracting to learning. Tinkering takes time and is in opposition to grading systems which value being “done.” Grading diminishes creativity.
A making and innovation approach results in greater teacher satisfaction.
Chapter 6 Summary by Aileen Shaffer
“The best way to activate your classroom is for your students to make something.” Provide variety in the ways that students can demonstrate mastery. As schools increasingly become 1:1 computing, students have great access to many creative tools which enable them to explore ideas in a variety of ways. Publishing, blogging, podcasting, digital media, art, and film making are just a few of the tools available in a 1:1 environment. New technologies like 3D printers open up new tinkering possibilities. However, basic supplies like cardboard and paper can also be used for making.
The book provides one example of shifting to a tinkering mentality to teach electricity. It highlights a creative conductive materials to allow students to explore electric circuits. Check it out using this link:
If possible, a well supplied maker space provides a variety of resources to enable students to explore. 3D printers, cutting machines, power and hand tools, and decorative materials are great resources to get started. Any space that is creative, fun, and comfortable is a good place to start and can be added to and tailored as time goes on. Some names for these spaces are Hackerspace, Makerspace, Fablab, and FabLearn Lab. Your school can name your space anything you feel will provide inspiration. Consider partnering with makers in your community or other schools to keep stay inspired. The idea is to open students’ imaginations to a world of possibilities and there is no wrong way to start.
Chapter 3 Summary by Melanie Ness
Chapter 3 explores thinking and the evidence of thinking. Observation of a child’s making and
tinkering gives clues about what a child is thinking and how they think. Making helps students
learn as they gain knowledge through their own experiences using their current knowledge as a
spring board for learning. This differs from the more traditional school trend of transference of
knowledge and the practice of learning a linear set of procedures or steps.
Several design models from the real world were presented. The use of computers and
technology has helped to minimize the risk of making mistakes which gives freedom to learners
to tinker, explore, and make mistakes without the risk of making dangerous or costly mistakes.
Design models that are cyclical in nature lend themselves well to making. They allow for
iteration and improvement throughout the design process. These models also allow learners to
jump right into making instead of spending valuable time planning. I liked the TMI (Think, Make
Improve) model as it simplifies the process and gives a list of actions that can be used at each
stage. This model will work well in the middle school math enrichment program at my school
and I plan to post it in my classroom this coming year.
Tinkering allows learners to incorporate the arts into their learning in a very natural way. The
addition of art to STEM activities, rebranded as STEAM, allows for more varied results and more
personalization of a product or design. The educational movement is towards students learning
independently via the computer and the ability to reach out beyond the traditional classroom
community. This allows learners to gain knowledge and expand opportunities for collaboration
that were previously unavailable.
Chapter 4 Summary by Melanie Ness
Chapter 4 focuses on the elements of a good project. The classroom experience referred to as
project/problem-based learning or inquiry learning centers around a well-designed prompt. The
eight elements of a good project were given: purpose and relevance, time, complexity,
intensity, connection, access, shareability, and novelty. The reader was cautioned to be sure
that a project is substantial as opposed to monumental.
A good prompt should be brief (should fit on a post-it note), should be ambiguous enough to
allow the learners to express themselves and to respond in their own unique way. The project
or product produced in response to the prompt should not be assessed for formal grade. Peer
review or editing can take the place of a grade. When a learner is provided a prompt that is
thoughtful and in addition is provided with appropriate time, materials, and support, the results
should be remarkable. The reader is reminded to keep thing fresh and interesting in the
classroom by looking for something different than usual, such as which machine is slowest, can
something pull rather than push, etc.
Just when I was beginning to think that this all sounds great, but what about all of the standards
we are expected meet, the book addresses this issue. Teachers can meet standards and help
children make sense of the world through interesting work as long as they are knowledgeable
on their curriculum and standards, can be flexible, organized, and resourceful. I do believe that
continued professional development in this area would go a long way towards helping teachers
work toward this educational transition to raise standards and create enduring projects.
Finally, teachers should be providing the guidance to help students to make memories that will
stay with them through a lifetime. Students will remember the projects and hands on
experience, not worksheets and standardized testing.
Hard and Soft Mastery Reflection by Angela Marshall
The book seems to indicate that soft mastery uses tinkering as an approach to science while hard mastery is linear and analytical in its approach. It was only after reading the entire posted article that I became aware that soft mastery seems to also be painted as feminine and delicate while hard mastery is masculine and straight forward (as least with regard to computer science).
The authors describe how giving human traits to the computer as well as using certain language to describe programs (crashes, executes, kills) can cause conflict among female programmers because they become dependent on the machine but know that “relationships are for people”.
With this in mind, I am reminded of a first grade project in which the students build a shade structure that will keep “monsters” safe from UV rays. I used to have the students work with their table group or pod until I overhead a little boy declare that the engineering had to be completed by the boys while the decorations had to be completed by the girls. It was an eye opening moment. While I would prefer to have boys and girls work together, it seems that mixed groups comprised of six year old tend to align with girls having soft mastery and boys having hard mastery.
"If every child were to be given access to a computer, computers would be cheap enough for every child to be given access to a computer."
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