Monday, March 17, 2014

Invent to Learn Week 8: Making the Case and Do Unto Ourselves

"The design of professional development, especially efforts involving technology, is too often predicated on a presumption of adult inferiority. We are told that teachers are digital immigrants, that they need more professional development, and that our expectations need to be modest." What do you think of this quote? Have you been given or have you sought out opportunities to learn by making? After reading chapter 12, do you have thoughts on how you would "make the case" for the maker movement to members of your school community?

Next week we will celebrate the first full week of spring with the end of the Spring eLearning Book Club. We'll finish up our conversation about the book next week.


  1. Actually I am an older teacher and I don't mind the attitude that I am inferior in technology. That way a facilitator does not assume that a group of people know something and end up leaving me frustrated and totally confused. I believe that a group leader, just like a teacher, needs to assess the baseline of a group's knowledge at the beginning of the professional development. Some people forget that adults have different learning styles just as the students in our classrooms do.

    Since participating in this book discussion, I have become more open to the idea of making things and doing projects in my classroom. Currently, my 10th grade students are making a budget and trip plan for travel to Salinas, CA as part of my unit on John Steinbeck. This is a replacement of lecture or the dry background video that I used to use to introduce Steinbeck to the class.

  2. In regard to what I think about the following quote:

    "The design of professional development, especially efforts involving technology, is too often predicated on a presumption of adult inferiority. We are told that teachers are digital immigrants, that they need more professional development, and that our expectations need to be modest."

    I have mixed feelings. I feel like this statement is mostly true. While I don’t believe our “exceptions need to be modest,’ I do consider many teachers to be “digital immigrants.” They want and feel they need me to do some “hand holding.” This dynamic has been successful in that reluctant teachers are willing to try more things. They know that I will be there to help with their efforts until they feel comfortable flying solo. This gives them confidence and a sense of trust that their efforts will not be a waste of time and the experience will be good for their students. However, this does lead to dependence on me. I am treating them like a “vessel to be filled” and not “a lamp to be lit.” This dependence has not and will not lead to real and/or independent growth in technology integration.

    Since I now see why my efforts aren’t bringing about the change I want to see, I need to think about how to change my approach. This is where the point about “giving opportunities to learn by making” comes into play. While I have had valuable experiences with making in my personal life, I had not translated the benefit of those experiences into a procedural change for how I approach technology integration with teachers. I picture the change I would like to make taking a form as close to the “Constructing Modern Knowledge” experience as possible. I love the idea of starting off such an experience by asking participants to brainstorm what they would like to make. The general experience that was provided at the “CMK” session is something I will definitely reexamine when planning my next professional development offering.

    As far as promoting the maker movement to stakeholders in my district, the best place to start is at the “grassroots level.” I can envision working with students in afterschool programs, doing professional development with teachers, and having families come to school in the evening for such an experience. Once interest is built up, then the task of convincing the administration at the district level to truly invest in the growth of the movement. This is when I will be really glad to have read chapter 12!

  3. Teachers have been given lots of opportunities for PD, but until they actually need that skill, they will soon forget the skills they were taught. Therefore, the maker model is the perfect opportunity for students and teachers to learn technology skills hand-in-hand in the context of real world applications. I am trying a maker club after school with a group of students. So far it has been great. Students were engaged, collaborating and troubleshooting. I am documenting their process through photos and video to show at one of our faculty meetings to inspire other teachers to migrate to this model within their classroom curriculum..

  4. Our expectations need to be modest......." What do you think of this quote? Like everything else- I think the term "immigrant" becomes an excuse as to why we can't do something or accomplish the task. It is assumed in many corporations that veteran teachers aren't willing to change or will have a difficult time adjusting to teaching with technology. In some cases this may be true- however, we need to establish high expectations for ourselves as we do for our students. As a veteran teacher myself, I challenge myself every day to learn something new; I do not count on PD- I hold myself accountable for my learning. It's very easy to make excuses for ourselves.

    Unfortunately, I have not been given opportunities to learn by making? However, this book has provided the ground work towards that goal. I have a clearer picture of a maker space- and feel as though this book is a great starting point.

    After reading chapter 12, there are several suggestions on how to "make the case" for the maker movement to members of my school community? Starting with existing space and utilizing existing technology is a start. I also like to open door policy- where the space begins as a place for students to create outside of the scheduled time slots throughout the day. Additionally, stocking the space with parts from our local recycling plant for free would provide equipment for projects at no cost. Engaging families in the space would be a key component early on in the year. We already have a 3D printer, which is used by very few- as not many teachers even know we have one- let alone how to use it.

    Finally- this chapter provides several scenarios for making a case towards maker spaces in our schools. Additionally, there is an abundant amount of research within the chapter that can be used to present a case. My hope is to coordinate the idea of a maker space with our project lead the way teacher, who has also introduced robotics this year. Together, I believe we can make a case for Maker Ed.

  5. I would agree that the quote is mostly true. My school corporation took a leap of faith two years ago in becoming a 1:1 school and purchased MacBook Air laptops for all teachers and students. At the time, the vast majority of our teachers did not feel "ready," but the attitude of our administrators has gone a long way in making teachers feel more comfortable. They trusted us to hop right in and get started along with the students. So, yes, I have been given opportunities to learn by making! We have had hands-on learning, professional development, and two years to shift from the more traditional form of teaching to this new, evolving way of teaching students.
    Sometimes the teachers have brought technology to the students, and sometimes the students have brought technology to the teachers! Teachers in my corporation were asked to use the laptops the first year and increase our comfort level by trying something new in the classroom each nine weeks. This year, we expanded our adventure by becoming one of the first districts in the state to incorporate eLearning Days to count as snow days. By doing this, we only have one day added to the end of the school year to make up. Additionally, we are ramping up our digital resources and designing curriculum this year in new ways. Our teachers have definitely been given opportunities to engage in learning by making. I think we are given tremendous freedom and support, so I feel confident teachers could start to incorporate more projects and maker spaces into their classrooms.

  6. The ironic part of “do unto others” is something we have been working on in some of my classes. One particular lab class had that as part of their introduction to the lesson on 3/17. It is not just a phrase students should say to make a point but one they should encompass in everyday living and make as a way of life.

    It is difficult to change the attitude of some administrators and co-workers. I love the quote, “Are the very same employees charged with inspiring teachers to use computers creating dependency and helplessness instead?” I will be first to admit as an educator I have learned a lot in the 21st century. Not just about technology, but what will allow our students to gain the most educationally and make them functional adults. The interesting part in teaching 21st century students; I am flexible enough to realize they can teach me too. A few of my high tech computer students that have taught me several things, and I love the moments I can teach them something related to technology or being more creative.

    As a Family & Consumer Science teacher, I have always had students involved in a lot of project based learning. It is rewarding and inspiring to see their success. Today a young man compared how a surgeon would use sewing skills in possibly saving a life. A social studies teacher that sees value in the “maker” in our educational environment also encouraged me today. I could see getting her involved in these ideas.

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  8. The quote, "The design of professional development...expectation to be modest" is one that I highlighted myself when I read this chapter. I think that we need to understand that our teachers are operating at all kinds of drastic levels of ability when it comes to technology. Just like in our classrooms, we have understand that what might bore one teacher may frustrate and overwhelm another. Putting us all into one catagory and making general assumptions like this quote is unfair and inaccurate. While I believe it may be true for some it is equally untrue for others.

    While there are wonderful tips and ideas in the book for "making a case" for the maker movement" I believe it will have to start in our classrooms first. Afterwards, you can approach your staff, parents and community with solid proof and examples of how it worked. Have the students themselves share about how they learned and the difference it made. Excitement is contagious. Who wouldn't want to learn this way?

  9. As we were on spring break- I didn't get to post... I hope you received my email... After reading the book- I believe there is definitely a needed move towards this type of learning environment. As with all change- there will be a learning curve and some resistance. I agree that professional development is a must- and I believe it needs to start small. Learning is contagious- especially when others see the excitement in the learning that's taking place.

    The book is filled with great ideas on how to initiate the movement. I feel as though our corporation is fairly progressive and open to new ideas and challenges. We have already opened the gates to robotics and coding... this is another step in the right direction. I hope that the ideas from this book do not become dust on the shelf- and yet- an opportunity for change.

    Thank you for the opportunity and the book this month.....