Friday, March 01, 2019

Day 1: Framing the Conversation Around Makerspaces

This March we're going to kick off  our third annual  30 posts in 30 days series around Creating, Making, and Learning.  This  2019  March Madness Maker Series will be focused on some of the questions that I've been using to frame the conversation around making  over the past few years.




The earlier conversations are usually focused around the WHAT questions.     Just exactly WHAT is a maker space?  I was once sitting across the desk from a principal who shared that she  had just googled "makerspaces' during our conversation so she would know what we are talking about.    The term Makerspaces conjures up different images in almost everybody who uses it.  Personally I like to use Space for Creating and Making  as a way to shake preconceptions that come with the term Makerspace.   A makerspace can be many different things to each of us.  It can have all types of tools, supplies, and equipment.   We've traveled to many makerspaces across the country and have yet to find any two alike. 

We have visited many different Makerspaces in our bus, and each of them have different tools and take on different formats.  This month I hope to introduce you to a few different configurations of makerspaces,  each with their own unique sets of tools and supplies.   
We have visited many different Makerspaces in our bus, and each of them have different tools and take on different formats.  This month I hope to introduce you to a few different configurations of makerspaces, each with their own unique sets of tools and supplies. 


Another area that many want to talk about is HOW do people MAKE?  There are so many different ways to approach making.  In this series we will explore different types of makes that you might see in a makerspace. This could range from a skill building make to a quirky expression of self.  I look forward to introducing you to some of the comments types of makes as we share projects from different schools. 



Probably one of the most important questions is the WHY question.  Simon Sinek encourages us to KNOW OUR WHY! And while I agree that knowing your why is one of the most important things you can talk about in the conversation about makerspaces,  it is NOT necessarily the first question you need to find the answers to.  Sometimes you just need to start Making!  And the more you make the more you will be able to articulate your why.  Too many people think that you have to know your why BEFORE you move forward.  I think knowing your why is a process and sometimes you just have to LAUNCH and the clarity about WHY will happen as you reflect on your process. 



 The WHO questions are not always obvious.  But they are important ones.  Without explicit attention to the WHO questions, you might accidentally end up creating a space that is not inclusive.  Unfortunately that is a challenging condition to remedy.  There are several ways to talk about WHO is making in your makerspace, and making sure that you have someone on your team who wears an equity lens in your conversations about making is helpful.


These conversations are not linear or hierarchal.  So don't expect a recipe or a step by step guide. We'll interview various members of the CREATE MAKE LEARN community and come at this conversation from many different perspectives, each meant to to get the gears turning helping to  frame your own conversations around making in education.


and of course we'll invite you to join the conversations already happening in our CREATE MAKE LEARN community. 







Sunday, February 24, 2019

Planning Educational Technology Conferences with Pedagogy in mind

As I was commenting on Katie Martin's recent post, I felt my comment was getting a bit long and though maybe I should expand as a blog post.

Katie's post  was timely as I am on a committee that is  in the middle of planning our annual spring conference in our state and having conversations about types of sessions.  I agree with Katie's comment that

"Technology is a part of our world and is increasingly changing how we live, work, and learn.  If we are really going to create experiences in schools that spark curiosity, ignite passion, and unleash genius as I believe we should, it’s about both the instructional practices and how we can leverage the technology to provide new and better experiences for students."


If we are to model sound instructional practices,  our conferences should include different types of session for different learner needs.










ALL teachers need to see models of  instructional practice that are supported or augmented by powerful use of technology.

Sometimes teachers need to see a project that inspires them to freshen up a tired unit or lesson or completely redesign it.

Sometimes educators need a HOW to use a tool that they have seen others use in powerful ways, but need to build their own confidence or fluency before they try it.

Perhaps a tweak to the way we approach these could help us refocus on the WHY and the pedagogy.

What if we changed a How to session to something like this:  "How to use Voicethread to support Multiple modes of Representation (UBD).

or perhaps change the  20 apps in 60 minutes to  20 Apps to increase Student Voice.


I also believe  there is value in just playing with technology in the Playground area to help us stay curious and ask questions like "How might I use this feature of this robot platform" with my students.  Sessions like this lead by teachers and students can generate some amazing conversations and ideation.

Walking through the vendor areas with a pedagogy lens,  curious teachers will quickly discern which tools might connect with their instructional strategies and which ones are just flashy tech.

Partnership with vendors who value the input of educators to shape their products to meet the needs of our schools are essential.  There are vendors out there who truly listen and make changes to their product based on educator feedback on what works for kids and what we need to do a better job with designing learning.  I still remember the day when I met a CEO  from WeVideo at a conference and shared with him a barrier to using WeVideo in my classroom.  He had no idea this was a barrier.  The next day I bumped into him again, and he said " I contacted headquarters last night and we fixed that!"  Wow!  We need vendors who  are responsive to our needs. They are out there.  It's a win win!

I think a great conference has lots of different opportunities to meet the needs of different learners.

Planning this experience is not easy, but we can do it.  Especially if student learning is on our #1 goal.



Saturday, February 02, 2019

Leveling up on our Digital Literacy skills with Twitter

Walking along the Riverbank in Austin during SxSw

Using Twitter is like taking a walk by a river
Sometimes you walk by and hardly notice the river 
Sometimes you walk by and notice the river, but keep on walking
Sometimes you walk by and dip your toe in
Sometimes you jump in and take a deep dive
You might even play hooky from work, rent a kayak or paddleboard and come back even more productive than ever from having refueled

I still remember that Twitter/River metaphor from  Sheryl NussbaumBeach . @snbeach  many moons ago. I might have added the playing hooky part. ;-) 

I must confess that lately I've been the person who dips their toe in every once in a while.
Every time I do, I  feel refreshed and yearn for more time to dive in. 
However this  month, I'm experiencing a deep dive into my Twitter stream

Part of that is because I'm trying to create an experience for my #EDCI325 Technology and Leadership grad students  that leaves them more fluent with using technology to help them grow as emerging leaders in their school.  And of course I want that experience to be authentic and I certainly want to model how to make the most our of Twitter and other social media tools in your leadership role.   I was an early adopter of Twitter, and also an evangelist in my edtech circles.  The conversations felt both authentic and manageable.  Twitter certainly grew my PLN in rich and helpful ways.  

But Twitter has changed and I can understand that for new teachers or leaders onboarding now, it's NOT the same experience I had.  My entry point yielded rich resources everywhere I looked.  For today's new Twitter user, it probably feels more like entering a jungle, where the rich fruit is in there but buried in the dense vegetation.    

I think that those of us who find value in Twitter need to do more than evangelize it and tell educators to be patient and they too will eventually curate just the right blend of followers and people to follow resulting in helpful resources or answers to our questions.  We need to mentor our newbies and guide them through  helpful ways to leverage Twitter and other social media tools.   

The topic in our class this week is digital citizenship.  As I was planning the prompts that might guide our discussion on this topic, I noticed that we had just missed a #digchat Twitter chat.  Since the chat was just last night, it was easy to read through.  It was like listening to a conversation of educators talk about the very things we would be discussing this week.




  At that moment I was nostalgic for Storify and all the valuable Twitter chats I had curated.


Not long after the sunset of Storify, I had heard about Wakelet, as a digital tool from @bonniebird   I had even  played around with it some and then stuck it in my digital toolbox.  But today I reached back into that toolbox and blew off the dust, and found it to be the PERFECT tool 
to mentor my grad students through an authentic experience where they could see the benefits of Twitter and other social media tools.   

The first thing I did was to curate last night's #digcit Twitter Chat using Wakelet  As I read the tweets and added them to my Wakelet, I noticed that the conversation hit many of the same questions we would be talking about.
Who's accountable for Digital Citizenship at your School?
How do you find the time to add this important topic to the curriculum?
How can they as emerging leaders play a role in making the changes necessary to prepare students for today's digital world? and more. 

If only I could have assigned participation in that Twitter chat to my grad students.  But due to a tool like Wakelet,  they would now be able to eavesdrop on the conversation and listen to real educators like themselves sharing ideas about the challenges they are experiencing in their school.  The conversation itself was helpful, and every resources that was shared during that twitter chat was new to me except for one.



It was then that I decided to go back through the chat one more time and pull out all the resources and curate them using the same Wakelet.  The Wakelet now starts with twenty fresh resources that were actually suggested from educators currently using them in the field.  How great is that? If that doesn't persaude some that the hour was well spent,  I'm not sure what will.   Some of the resources from our textbook are already dated, and some  no longer exist at all.
Even the resources I've curated with  Diigo would not be as fresh and relevant. 

Yes, it took me a little extra time to organize the chat and resources using Waklet, but now it's available for each of my grad students, and hopefully some of them will be just the right tool for them to use as they navigate the world of leading change and influencing others in their school

But more importantly, I hope that I have modeled an authentic benefit to investing some time with Twitter and other social media tools and they will use this approach as they grow as leaders. 

One of the ironic things about choosing to add this story to this blog, instead of in Blackboard is that it brought me back to read my last post on this blog - which just so happened to be on the same topic!  It was great to reflect on what I was thinking a year ago.  And yes, it's been a year, since I added to this blog - but most of my blogging fits better in the Create Make Learn blog these days, except for reflections on topics like these which don't fit in on that blog.  
Hopefully, I'll revisit this blog more often in the upcoming year.