Progress with our makerspaces

Our innovations center group continues to grow. We have several student teachers who are members – some of them will be in our schools next week and we hope they will be able to help us make progress on the development of our makerspaces.  One of our members, Alison Evans Adnani of Maker Junior just put out this post – the things you need when you are starting a makerspace. It is such a great list I had to include all of it here.

 

One of the questions I often get asked is what would I put in a makerspace? Most of the making I do is with kids, and the age I most often work with is middle school, grades 5-8. So if I was building a middle school makerspace, this is how I would get started:
* Planning. Pencils, erases, paper – often this is overlooked and I’m usually looking for these materials when I’m helping to sketch out ideas. A whiteboard is useful. A whiteboard wall is even better!
* Art supplies. Paint, paintbrushes, paint pots or a palette. Markers. Glitter, sure, why not? Decoration is a valid step in making a project.
* Basic sticky stuff. Masking tape, glue sticks, duct tape, and a hot glue gun.
* Basic Circuits. Conductive paint, conductive thread, batteries (3V and double A), battery holders, wire, LEDs (flashing LEDs are always excellent), and wire strippers. Oh, and don’t forget a roll of aluminum foil. Always handy!
* Building materials. Cardboard – boxes, tubes, lots of cardboard. Foam core is very handy. Bristol board is fun. Felt, fabric, and clay can also be used for construction.
* Basic Tools. Sewing needles, hair dryers, screwdrivers, precision screwdrivers, and if there isn’t a hand held drill, maybe an awl or hole punch. Rulers and measuring tapes.
* Cutting tools. Scissors, wire cutters.
* Safety. A full set of safety glasses and a first aid kit.
* Housekeeping. A sink or access to water, paper towels, hand soap and a garbage can. A broom and dustpan are also useful for picking up the pieces.

And more advanced tools:
* Computers are important. As is an internet connection. It’s important to be able to look for inspiration. Chrome books are a good start, but eventually you’re going to want to set up IDEs and drivers for different microcontrollers.
* MaKey MaKey’s are my favorite way to introduce the idea of integrating the physical and virtual.
* Digital camera or web cam. Stop motion films are a great way to start creating.
* Some sort of computer controlled cutting machine – I’ve heard great things about vinyl cutters, but I don’t have one myself.
* 3D printers are instantly engaging. Be prepared for the upkeep. But what a great way to inspire learning!
* Sewing machines are always fun.
* Raspberry Pi – always fun to set up one as a computer. And have one available as a controller.
* Arduinos. You don’t need lots – but having a couple on hand is a good idea.

Have I forgotten anything? What would you put in a makerspace?

I think this is a pretty good list. The important thing here is that your makerspace does not all have to be full of arduinos and littleBits, there are all sorts of other things you need to have to really make it a creative space for kids.  We are finding now that once we explain to the teachers that a makerspace means making anything we had people volunteering to teach knitting or calligraphy.  We also now have a supply of Connects and have just put in an order for some lego.

Last week I watched a wonderful Google Hangout on makerspaces from the ISTE Librarian Network.  The hangout featured the work of Diana Rendina.  I have included the entire segment here because it really shows how a makerspace can develop and flourish over time.

 

So this week we started our first makerspace with the grade 5 and six students.  What I saw is what I always see.  Students immediately engaged figuring out how to use the new tools and gadgets that have been put in front of them.  They quickly figured out the Makey Makey kits and were soon figuring out what conducted a current and what didn’t.

The students were into the Makey Makey kits within minutes

They loved the littleBits kits and were able to come up with new interesting inventions very quickly.

 

we quickly realized that we needed more stations to keep everyone engaged.  But as you can see from the video above, the students were soon experimenting with new ways to make currents to keep the Makey Makey keyboard running!

We has less success with the arduino and Raspberry pi kits, but to be fair, this was the students’ first exposure to any of this material.  With time they will begin to learn how to use these kits as well.

So, we have a start.  Where do we go from here?

Making school and community seamless

This year I am working in a new school, one in a wonderfully diverse population in downtown Ottawa.  The ELL population is significant – around 45%.  Over 20% of families in our area speak a language other than English or French.  In many cases, the students have stronger language skills than their parents.

In 28 years of teaching, I have never worked in such an amazing community.  The families don’t have much, and many live in difficult circumstances. Having said that, this community has a wealth of  services that include the Somerset West Community Health Center, Social Rec Connect, the YMCA, a very busy community daycare and a whole host of services I haven’t figured out yet.

Our parents work hard.  Our children are wonderful and appreciate everything we are able to do for them.  We are heavily involved in a national campaign to build a better school yard and we are working hard to develop an integrated arts program and a makerspace.

So we are doing fine, but I think there is so much more to do.  How can we find ways to get our parents more engaged in the life of the school?

It is common in lower income areas that parent engagement tends to be lower.  There are all sorts of reasons for this.  For one thing, our parents are incredibly busy working to keep their families afloat.  Our information from EQAO shows us that the percentage of parents that read to their kids or work on the computer on learning programs is low.  Parents say they don’t have internet or computers and language is certainly a barrier.

So, what do we do?

Educational Leadership devoted a whole issue to this challenge in May 2011.  We have also found some really interesting programming in Hamilton-Wentworth called the Scholars Program.  The Scholars Program sounds great, but there is very little written about it.

It is very good to read about other experiences before forging ahead.  At this point, I really don’t have a definite idea on how to proceed, but what I have learned in my reading is that whatever program we put together has to be co-constructed with all stakeholders involved – the school board, Somerset West, Social Rec Connect, our school and most importantly, our parents.

This is how we will proceed.  I have an idea on what programs we should be offering, but I could be totally wrong – we all need to hear from the parents.  What do they need for themselves and their kids.

Then we can develop something special for our community!

Working toward our Innovation Centers

We held our second meeting today in preparation for the development of Innovation Centers – now at two schools – St. Anthony and St. Luke – Ottawa.  Our group continues to grow!  Today, we were joined by four enthusiastic student teachers from the University of Ottawa.  This project is really building up momentum – having the student teachers with us, ready to volunteer in our schools is wonderful.

The partnership between St Luke and St. Anthony is also a new development.  We are linked by a very energetic Learning Commons coordinator who works at both of our schools!  These projects really need staff champions to work and we have one now!

#umwfa12 @timmmyboy talking maker spaces

 

 

We have made some important steps forward:

St. Luke is looking for lego, robots and other components from Robo Dome staff – Robodome was a program that developed lego robots using Mindstorms technology.  We will then put together a list of what components we have and what we need to purchase.  We need to start acquiring these components now!

what’s on our wish list?

Raspberry Pi

Makey Makey

littleBits 

Arduino

Sphero

and what we would love – a 3D printer – none of our elementary schools have one of these!

What are we missing?

We are still looking for funding but we are going ahead to start acquiring components now.  Between the two schools, we plan to have enough to run one innovation center.

The launching event will be a ‘maker week’ that we will plan with our partners from the University of Ottawa, Blockheads, Maker Junior (we hope) and other creative local groups.

The main thing is to get the kids trying this stuff out, innovating, creating, learning – that is where we are heading.

Creating a makerspace – what are the next steps?

We are working our way through the steps we will need to create a makerspace or innovation center at our school.  This week, I was asked to respond to a number of questions that may allow us to get some funding for this project.  I am adapting my responses into a blog post to keep a record of the steps we will need to complete to come up with a successful model.

What you are trying to accomplish

We want to develop a center for innovation at St. Anthony School.

Every day more is written about makerspaces and the benefits these centers offer students. We have experimented with Makey Makey kits and littleBits in the past, but now we want to take a more comprehensive approach.

Our idea is to create a center for innovation in our school for the use of our students and the wider community. The components of this center are certainly up for discussion, but the important idea is to create a space for creativity and innovation in our school and a concept that can be shared with other schools in the years to come.

 

How will  integrating “making” into the classroom contribute to developing a new culture of learning?

This is a segment from the first blog post I read on Maker Spaces written by Eric Sheninger, the author of Digital Leadership.  This is the post that got me first thinking about how to develop a makerspace in the school.

Over the past couple of months, the staff at New Milford High School has been diligently creating our own unique learning environments for our students. Building on the success of our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative and with the addition of a new, innovative staff member two noteworthy advancements have been made since September 2013. That new staff member is Laura Fleming and she has done nothing less than blaze a trail since joining the NMHS team. She embraced the autonomy that she was given in a position that functions as a librarian, media specialist, and educational technology integrator to push the envelop. Lucky for her, NMHS already had many innovative teachers on staff and students yearning for changes in how and where they can learn since NMHS is an ancient building (i.e. 1928).

LED stools at the Little Bits bar at NMHS

LED stools at the Little Bits bar at NMHS

Creating Our Own Unique Learning Environments

One of the most amazing transformations that has taken place at NMHS is the creation of the Makerspace in what was our traditional library. A space that could once be compared to a barren wasteland is now a thriving learning metropolis where students flock to tinker, invent, create, collaborate, work, and most importantly, learn. When I hired Laura I basically told her what her budget was and that she had complete control of how she wanted to use the money. I could never have imagined how quickly she could radically transform this outdated space, using money that in the past had always been spent on books, magazines, and electronic databases. Some quick highlights include the following:

 

For a comprehensive listing of important articles on Makerspaces, Luc Lalande from the University of Ottawa – one of our partners – has provided these reference articles:

 The Maker Movement and the Rebirth of Constructionism

Meet the Makers

The DIY ethos has spilled into schools, reminding educators how much students can learn when they use their hands.

The maker empowered student: Activating agency with a sensitivity to design

What can educators learn from the maker movement?

Innovation Spaces: Supporting individual actionmaker 2

Maker Education: A “Good” 2013-14 Educational Trend

Why the Maker Movement matters to educators

3D Printing Will Be Adopted by K-12 in 5 Years

I would add another article that I read today:

 How to Turn Your School Into a Maker Haven

one quote from the article:

 

Kids want to make an impact on the world and very often they are more motivated by contributing to the common good than to anything else. Many kids will design and build incredible things, but then put their templates online so someone else can improve on it. Those are the qualities educators should try to nurture in students. “All we have to do is open up the classroom doors a little bit and let them change the world,” Martinez said. “Because they want to.”

 

 What is the value of the project to kids & community?

The most important idea is empowerment, this is expressed best in the Mind/Shift article:

“Perhaps one of the most inspiring results of the Maker Movement is the creative confidence young people are developing. “The best thing that happens is a student completely exceeds your expectations,” Martinez said. And when students do things they didn’t realize they could do, they feel empowered.”

Who are your  partners?

This is one of the great joys of this project – we are bringing people together from many different sectors – there is a great creative synergy within this group!

Luc Lalande – Director of University of Ottawa Entrepreneurship Hub

Tracy Crowe – Assistant Director, University of Ottawa Faculty of Education

Marlaina Loveys – Blockheads Learning

Allison Burnett – Algonquin College

Rick Alexanderson – St. Peter High School Personal Robot Teaching Environment

 

The link to the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education is especially important as we are expecting to recruit student teachers who want to work on and develop the innovation center at St. Anthony.

One important idea – we feel we will need a Maker Week to introduce this concept to teachers and students. Our partners will help us to develop a ‘Maker Week’ where various aspects of maker culture are introduced to students and staff over a five-day period.

One of our partners, Marlaina Loveys has come up with a wonderful way to jump start our Maker Week:

I have been giving some thought to what type of fun event we could do to get everyone excited about the Innovation Centre.  I would like to propose that we select a theme – LEGO Stop Action Movies.

I am envisioning each class have the opportunity to be inspired by previewing some LEGO stop action movies (I can pull together a bunch from You Tube) then the teachers/students (I would love to be there too :) brainstorm to decide on a theme or ideas for their Stop Action Movies.  I would provide all the LEGO for a hands on activity where they build the scenes and we could use the school IPads and either the LEGO movies, Stop Motion or Windows Movie Maker software (all free) to create the movies.

watching lego movies?

watching lego movies?

Then, we could have a school movie “night” where the whole school could watch the movies.  We could incorporate a lot of other maker/entrepreneurial activities into the movie night event.  For example:

  • Students create posters and tickets for the event
  • Make it a drive in theatre theme and use cardboard boxes for students to create cars.  Goes with the idea Allison had about cardboard creation.  I will send a separate e-mail with some pics I found on Pinterest of these types of creations others have made.
  • Maker Junior – maybe she could come up with some sort of wiring/lighting maker project to add to the movie night
  • Concession stand to sell popcorn/juice, etc. which could be an entrepreneurial project for the older students which links back with Luc

These are the kind of ideas that will make this such a special project!

I will continue to use this blog to record the progress we are making towards the innovation center.  What, I wonder will be the next step?

 

 

 

 

 

Making Creative Spaces at our school

 

light-311119_1280

We want to develop a center for innovation at St. Anthony school.

Every day more is written about makerspaces and the benefits these centers offer students.  We have experimented with Makey Makey kits and littleBits in the past, but now we want to take a more comprehensive approach.

Our idea is to create a center for innovation in our school for the use of our students and the wider community.  The components of this center are certainly up for discussion, but the important idea is to create a space for creativity and innovation in our school and a concept that can be shared with other schools in the years to come.

The most important part of this process is to have great partners.  Right now we are working with a small brainstorming group that includes Luc Lalande, the director of the Entrepreneurship Hub at the University of Ottawa, Tracy Crowe, assistant director of teacher education at the University of Ottawa, Marlaina Loveys of Blockheads and Allison Burnett from Algonquin College.

We also have a great partner in St. Peter High School.  I met  Rick Alexanderson at the Makerfaire a few weeks ago and we hope to partner with program this year.  As a partner with the St Peter High School  – http://www.petertherobot.com – initiative, we will be able to get training for our students and teachers.   We will also be able to get some robots from this innovative program!

This is a terrific group to work with!

So…where do we start?

First, we need student teachers who are interested in developing this project.  We are hoping that some of this year’s student teachers will be willing to volunteer at our school this year.  Hopefully, they will also get placements at our school.

Then, we need an event!  We are thinking of planning a ‘maker week’ at St. Anthony.  Each day, our students would be exposed to another component of a makerspace – a 3-D printer – lent to us by Luc Lalande, a lego day with Blockheads, possibly a Caine’s Arcade contest (building with cardboard) and other activities and demonstrations.

The idea is to introduce something new every day in order to spark interest and new ideas amongst the students, staff and the University of Ottawa students.

From there,  the students and staff will work together to build  our own makerspace or innovation center.  At this point, we would certainly need financial support to purchase the component parts.

The rest of the year would be devoted to learning how our students can benefit from this creative space.  This will be new learning for all of us.  It will call on the creativity and innovation  of our students, partners and staff .

The result will be an innovation center for the St. Anthony community.  Even better, we hope to come up with a model that can be transferred to other schools in the years to come.

Let the making begin!creativity-396268_1280

 

Learning about robots and the Ottawa Makerfaire

I had the best day – I have never seen so much innovation and cool stuff in one place – ever.

Carleton Autonomous Robotics Learning Centre

 

This was  a pretty amazing opportunity for all of us.  I met Rick Alexanderson – a teacher in our school board – today at the Ottawa Maker Faire - a truly wonderful event that is on again tomorrow (Sunday). I sat on a panel with him and the more I heard from him the more I stopped talking – this is a guy you really need to listen to.  This is a guy who has been around and has seen lots of stuff.  When you meet people like that, it is best to keep quiet and just listen – you might learn a few things.

He is affiliated with Carleton University and they are willing to hold an instruction session for teachers and students who are interested in developing a maker culture at your school.  Rick has found his own partners, he is not waiting for others to catch up – he is making change and offering this to us.

From what I understand, you can register for workshops they he puts on with the university.  After your day,  you and your students return to the school and teach them what you just have learned.  Everyone ends up with a robot – how cool is that!

Rick Alexanderson is the future of education – and educational entrepreneur who is offering the rest of us a chance to learn some amazing stuff.

I could have listened to him all day!

Our informal networks and PLNs are truly our life blood.  There will never again be a good reason to wait for change to come to you – you need to go to the change!

Find a way to start a makerspace.  Get your teachers and students creating – this is what true education has always been about!

unnamed

do you want to make this in your class?

Technology SAMR Model for Administrators Part 3: File Management – my response

 

 

DeathtoStock_Wired3

Thanks Josh – another great way to discuss the SAMR model.  Where are we when it comes to file management and SAMR?

If you don’t already have one, you need a way to manage your files so you can retrieve them quickly.  I don’t really think it matters which ones you use, but you can consider Diigo, Pearltrees, Dropbox, Google Drive Livebinders or something that allows you to keep things organized.

Right now, I store all articles I want to keep on Livebinders.  I like this system – it is simple – all you need to do is set up categories and then each new article becomes a tab under the selected category.

Diigo is also great – you can set it up  so that every tweet you send out is automatically stored in Diigo.  Like Livebinders, you can set up categories.  You can also set up groups and share your articles with your group.  Both services allow you to tweet out the article you just stored.

I can’t imagine working without Google Drive.  All my files were moved on to Drive last year – I keep nothing on my hard drive.  Drive allows me to collaborate with staff and other administrators. Just to be careful, I have backed up my files to Dropbox too.

We set up all meeting agendas on Drive and share editing privileges with all staff members.  People can then go in and add items that need to be discussed by the group.  Drive is especially great for meetings – you can start keeping a live record of the proceedings as the meeting progresses.

So, where do I find myself on the SAMR model?

Substitution

  • Attach a document to an email.
  • Save a document to a flash drive.
  • Save a document to a school computer.

Augmentation

  • Upload to Dropbox.
  • Upload to Google Drive.

Modification

  • Share folders and files on Google Drive.
  • Share folders and files on Dropbox.
  • Upload data and use Google Analytics to analyze school information.

Redefined

  • Using Google Drive, allow others to edit, comment on, and share your documents.
  • Administrators share data and converse digitally for articulation meetings.

I have no idea what an articulation meeting is so I will start there.  Big hint – always look at the redefined category in Josh’s articles.  I checked out Nearpod after one of his posts and ended up having a great teleconference with the Nearpod people.  I would love to get this service in my school!

 

Final point – Josh is bang on when he says that administrators need to lead by example.  One of the reasons i do this is to encourage staff to try some of these tools and techniques out.  This is certainly one of our jobs as administrators!

So, lots of challenges here – where will you put yourself on SAMR when it comes to file management?

 

11048001

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers

%d bloggers like this: