User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Self-Regulation: The Other 21st Century Skills

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Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.  This post focuses on self-regulation.

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Self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

Self-regulation is a cyclical process. Students who are motivated to reach a certain goal will engage in self-regulatory activities they feel will help them achieve that goal. The self-regulation promotes learning, which leads to a perception of greater competence, which sustains motivation toward the goal and to future goals. (The Role of Motivation in Self-Regulated Learning)

Self-regulation is not only an essential part of healthy emotional development, it is also vital for academic success. Many studies, like the 2010 research conducted by the University of Virginia’s Claire Cameron Ponitz and Oregon State University’s Megan McClelland, show that children with high levels of self-regulation do better on tests when compared to children with low levels of self-regulation. Some researchers even see the inability to self-regulate as the root cause of the economic achievement gap. (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Some of the characteristics of self-regulation include:

  • Uses metacognitive processes
  • Self-monitors frequently and adequately
  • Regulates and controls emotional and cognitive processes.
  • Possesses unique and situational problem-solving abilities
  • Manages time for one’s own benefit
  • Self-motivates
  • Self-evaluates
  • Self-consequates

Self-Regulation

The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning
self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Helping Learners Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Educators can play a key role in assisting learners in building upon and expanding their self-regulation skills. Strategies include using metacognitive reflection questions both prior to and after learning tasks to assist students through a process of guided inquiry:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced? Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-regulated learning has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task? (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

In order to effectively “teach” or demonstrate these questions, educators can practice and model using these questions him or herself.  S/he can verbalize these questions and responses while modeling a learning task.  In other words, the learners can benefit from observing the educator engage in this metacognitive process.

Educators can also directly teach learners the phases of self-regulation:

phase1

  1. Phase 1. Forethought/pre-action—This phase precedes the actual performance; sets the stage for action; maps out the tasks to minimize the unknown; sets realistic expectations and helps to develop a positive mindset
  2. Phase 2. Performance control—This phase involves processes during learning and the active attempt to utilize specific strategies to help the learner become more successful.
  3. Phase 3. Self-reflection—This phase involves reflection after the performance, a self-evaluation of outcomes compared to goals.

This material was taken from an excellent online self-regulation teaching module developed for-by the UConn Gifted Program - http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfregulation/section0.html

Building self-regulation skills is an ongoing process. Educators can use the 5 R’s to provide this continual support:

  • Regularity – Schedule time to practice daily
  • Repetition – Builds neural pathways that become habits
  • Reflection – Noticing sensations strengthens neural pathways
  • Research – Support kids in becoming prescriptive with which tools work best for them
  • Reach Out to Families – Share tools with parents/ care-givers to use at home (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-Regulation as a 21st Century Skill

Creativity and in-disciplined learning requires balancing the forces of order and chaos. Learning environments need to provide students a flexible structure within which students can experiment, collaborate, and problem solve. These are contexts that allow students to learn from both success and failure. Such open-ended environments, however, can be challenging to learners as well. They can appear chaotic and offer little guidance to students on how to navigate them. (Creativity, Self-Directed Learning and the Architecture of Technology Rich Environments)

Self-regulation has always been an important skill for learners to master, but changes in the learning landscape due to technological advances and open access to information have increased the necessity for this skill.

Learning Activities for Young People

Here are some activities for students to learn more about self-regulation:

 

Self-regulated learning also has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task?

Metacognitive questions include these:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced?

- See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf
More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Shouldn’t Education and Learning Be the Same Thing?

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Schooling and institutionalized education have become removed from true, instinctual, and human/humane learning.  Humans have been learning since the beginning of time with major discoveries and innovations historically and currently emerging in spite of school.  This is the biggest problem I have with schools – most are contrived and coercive and do not honor the innate human need and desire to learn, discover, and evolve.

If order to fully understand the purpose of school, the history of its evolution as an institution needs to be understood.  What follows is part of A Brief History of Education in the Freedom to Learn series published in Psychology Today:

If we want to understand why standard schools are what they are, we have to abandon the idea that they are products of logical necessity or scientific insight. They are, instead, products of history. Schooling, as it exists today, only makes sense if we view it from a historical perspective.

Adults in hunter-gatherer cultures allowed children almost unlimited freedom to play and explore on their own because they recognized that those activities are children’s natural ways of learning. With the rise of agriculture, and later of industry, children became forced laborers. Play and exploration were suppressed.  With larger families, children had to work in the fields to help feed their younger siblings, or they had to work at home to help care for those siblings. Children’s lives changed gradually from the free pursuit of their own interests to increasingly more time spent at work that was required to serve the rest of the family. 

As industry progressed and became somewhat more automated, the need for child labor declined in some parts of the world. The idea began to spread that childhood should be a time for learning, and schools for children were developed as places of learning. The idea and practice of universal, compulsory public education developed gradually in Europe, from the early 16th century on into the 19th. In America, in the mid 17th century, Massachusetts became the first colony to mandate schooling, the clearly stated purpose of which was to turn children into good Puritans.

Employers in industry saw schooling as a way to create better workers. To them, the most crucial lessons were punctuality, following directions, tolerance for long hours of tedious work, and a minimal ability to read and write. From their point of view (though they may not have put it this way), the duller the subjects taught in schools the better.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, public schooling gradually evolved toward what we all recognize today as conventional schooling. The methods of discipline became more humane, or at least less corporal; the lessons became more secular; the curriculum expanded, as knowledge expanded, to include an ever-growing list of subjects; and the number of hours, days, and years of compulsory schooling increased continuously. School gradually replaced fieldwork, factory work, and domestic chores as the child’s primary job.

Schools today are much less harsh than they were, but certain premises about the nature of learning remain unchanged: Learning is hard work; it is something that children must be forced to do, not something that will happen naturally through children’s self-chosen activities. The specific lessons that children must learn are determined by professional educators, not by children, so education today is still, as much as ever, a matter of inculcation

From the Time Magazine article, How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century

There’s a dark little joke exchanged by educators with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school,” he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are white.”

It really is a sad statement of the school system when some of our world’s greatest scholars have such strong critiques of institutionalized schooling:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. Mark Twain

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.  Albert Einstein

It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. Albert Einstein

In school I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. Steve Jobs

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Anne Sullivan

Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. Plato

Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other. Emma Goldman

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. Helen Beatrix Potter

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.  Henry David Thoreau

Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.  Bertrand Russell

Some of the overt and covert values and messages of our current institutionalized school system include:

  • Learning is difficult and involves hard work, discipline, repetition.
  • Obedience and conformity are valued.
  • There are winners and losers.  Winners are those who get the good grades; losers are those who do not.
  • There are experts, the teachers, the textbooks, the administrators, who know it all and should not be questioned.
  • Learning involves being quiet and sitting still in a desk.
  • Traditional paper and pencil tests can measure student learning.
  • Learning is about studying what has been and what is rather than what could be.

These educational practices are often taken at face value without being critically analyzed, dissected, and/or tested for truth.  Educators and all related stakeholders do not engage in serious contemplation around the question, “What is the purpose of school?” in order to analyze the efficacy of these practices.

I am not advocating for the abolishment of school.   Schools offer children and youth many resources they might not be able to get otherwise – communities of learners, mentorships, physical resources, emotional support.   I am questioning, though, the broad acceptance by many that institution has to be the way it is.  Isn’t a goal of education to learn the process of citizenship, democracy, the betterment of humankind?  If so, shouldn’t all of the stakeholders – educators, learners, parent, community members, politicians – engage in a continual process of evaluating and modifying the school system to best meet the needs and desires of all?   Evolution as defined as “process of progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions” is a natural process, but when schools are examined from a historical perspective, there is very little evidence of the evolution of the educational system.

The argument, the questions I propose are not new but until change occurs, they are worth revisiting and reconsidering,

school questions

As a parting shot, when discussing the purpose of school, can be summarized by a statement made by Daniel Katz in Reflections on Ferguson — What does education mean in a world like this?

School is an enterprise that is premised around hope and purpose.  In order to truly engage with the operation of school, a child has to believe that there are reasons and purposes that make sense and has to have hope that school will lead somewhere desirable.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm

The Educator and the Growth Mindset

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I am facilitating an in-service on Growth Mindsets for Educators.  I created an infographic, Thinglink, and Slide Presentation of resources that I am sharing below:

The Educator with a Growth Mindset-1 Thinglink that contains links to Growth Mindset Resources http://www.thinglink.com/scene/549674394805338114

Google Presentation

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 27, 2014 at 1:24 am

The Educator as a Maker Educator eBook

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I self-published an eBook: The Educator as a Maker Educator.  It is available through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B00LYLQT0Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405867667&sr=1-2

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Introduction

The Maker Movement and the accompanying Maker Education are inching their ways in both formal (school) and informal (after school – camp) settings.

Whether it’s a paper airplane or a robot that walks, kids have always wanted to create functional objects with their own two hands. These days, many educators are channeling that natural urge to build with help from the wider maker movement, which has spawned maker faires and dedicated make spaces” in classrooms and media centers around the country. Pam Moran, superintendent of theAlbemarle County Public Schools in Virginia, contends that American classrooms of the past regularly fueled this type of creativity, and now is the time to bring back that spirit of innovation. “I see the maker movement as being a reconnect, both inside schools, as well as in communities, to redevelop the idea that we are creative individuals,” Moran said. “We are analytical problem-solvers, and we are people who, in working with our hands and minds, are able to create and construct. We are makers by nature.” (http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/04/30/the-maker-movement-conquers-the-classroom.aspx#1lvxqXlR6YpCS9DU.99)

Those involved in the maker movement have noted the problems with the type of learning occurring in the formal educational setting:

Formal education has become such a serious business, defined as success at abstract thinking and high-stakes testing, that thereʼs no time and no context for play. If play is what you do outside school, then that is where the real learning will take place and thatʼs where innovation and creativity will be found.

Our kids can be learning more efficiently—and as individuals. We imagine that schools can become places where students learn to identify their own challenges, solve new problems, motivate themselves to complete a project, engage in difficult tasks, work together, inspire others, and give advice and guidance to their peers. (Makerspace Playbook)

The potential of maker education and related STEM, STEAM (science, technology, education, arts, math), and DIY movements to transform education in transformative ways cannot be understated.

The maker movement has the opportunity to transform education by inviting students to be something other than consumers of education. They can become makers and creators of their own educational lives, moving from being directed to do something to becoming self-directed and independent learners. Increasingly, they can take advantage of new tools for creative expression and for exploring the real world around them. They can be active participants in constructing a new kind of education for the 21st-century, which will promote the creativity and critical thinking we say we value in people like Steve Jobs. Learning by Making: American kids should be building rockets and robots, not taking standardized tests

When a kid builds a model rocket, or a kite, or a birdhouse, she not only picks up math, physics, and chemistry along the way, she also develops her creativity, resourcefulness, planning abilities, curiosity, and engagement with the world around her. But since these things can’t be measured on a standardized test, schools no longer focus on them. As our public educational institutions continue down this grim road, they’ll lose value as places of learning. That may seem like a shame, but to the members of the growing DIY schooling movement, it’s an irresistible opportunity to roll up their sleeves. School for Hackers: The do-it-yourself movement revives learning by doing.

The following interactive video, made with Mozilla Popcorn further describes Maker Education – https://experientiallearning.makes.org/popcorn/1fjc

This ebook is a compilation of blog posts I wrote about Maker Education. They can all be found online but this compilation permits for easy access of all of them online and offline. The eBook includes theoretical ideas and research, some suggestions for implementation, the role of the educator as a maker educator, example units, and some informal research-observations.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Teaching and Facilitating Entrepreneurship in the School Setting

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iamentrepreneur

I grew up in a family where my grandfathers and father were entrepreneurs – they started and ran their own businesses.  My paternal grandfather, as a young man, bought a small vacuum cleaner sales store and later, changed it to selling entertainment electronics.  Later, with my father, they moved to a larger space with increased inventory.  A smaller store was opened in a a town nearby where I was a sales clerk during my teenage years.  Their small business was a financial success as it supported our families with a strong middle class lifestyle for close to fifty years.  I rejected this entrepreneurship spirit.  Making money never interested me (I am a teacher, for gosh sake).

Fast forward to last year – I had the privilege of visiting Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy (BKBA) in Detroit and spending some time with its superintendent, Blair Evans.  Mr. Evans demonstrated the school’s digital fabrication program and explained their permaculture program.  I was impressed with these real-life skills building programs, but what resonated with me was what he said about educating the poor Detroit youth.  He said that poor communities are very dependent on purchasing goods and services from sources outside of their communities.  They lacked the awareness, skills, and where-with-all related to producing services and products for themselves.  The goal is for the youth learn some skills, such as growing their own food or producing their own products, to establish some self-sufficiency.

This is reinforced by Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an expert in education for at-risk youth.

As an educator of at-risk youth for over thirty years, I’ve seen only one thing consistently bring children raised in poverty into the middle class: entrepreneurship education. Owner-entrepreneurship education empowers young people to make well-informed decisions about their future, whether they choose to become entrepreneurs or not. Our students discover that, like every individual, they already own five powerful assets: time, talent, attitude, energy and unique knowledge of one’s local market. They learn to use these assets to create businesses and jobs, and build wealth in their communities. I’ve seen apathetic kids whose families have been on welfare for generations get excited about school and their futures. They discover that they can participate in our economy and earn money. They quickly realize that to do so, they must to learn to read, write and do math. (Why Every School in America Should Teach Entrepreneurship)

This had me thinking of lessons I learned growing up in family focused on entrepreneurship.  I learned customer service, the ethics being in business (and then ethics, in general), focusing on being the best while not worrying about the other “guy” while you do, and the skills-motivation to go after what I need and want.  None of these lessons focuses directly on making money.

Because of my visit to BKBA and reflecting on my family’s business, I moved from an attitude of rejecting entrepreneurship (thinking it was about working for money) in formal education to being an advocate as I realized all of the life skills it can teach and reinforce.

Through entrepreneurship education, young people learn organizational skills, including time management, leadership development and interpersonal skills, all of which are highly transferable skills sought by employers. According to a report by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Corporation, other positive outcomes include:

  • improved academic performance, school attendance; and educational attainment
  • increased problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • improved interpersonal relationships, teamwork, money management, and public speaking skills
  • job readiness
  • enhanced social psychological development (self-esteem, ego development, self-efficacy), and
  • perceived improved health status (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/entrepreneurship.htm)

Yong Zhao in his book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, proposes that learner entrepreneurship should be integrated into school curriculum due to the following:

  1. Massive changes brought about by population growth, technology, and globalization not only demand but also create opportunities for “mass entrepreneurship” and thus require everyone to be globally minded, creative, and entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurship is no longer limited to starting or owning a business, but is expanded to social entrepreneurship, policy entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship.
  2. Traditional schooling aims to prepare employees rather than creative entrepreneurs. As a result the more successful traditional schooling is (often measured by test scores in a few subjects), the more it stifles creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit.
  3. To cultivate creative and entrepreneurial talents is much more than adding an entrepreneurship course or program to the curriculum. It requires a paradigm shift—from employee-oriented education to entrepreneur-oriented education, from prescribing children’s education to supporting their learning, and from reducing human diversity to a few employable skills to enhancing individual talents.
  4. The elements of entrepreneur-oriented education have been proposed and practiced by various education leaders and institutions for a long time but they have largely remained on the fringe. What we need to do is to move them to the mainstream for all children.

More simple, Blair Evans of BKBA stated, “We’re building people, not just products. We get better outcomes if the kids can engage in useful work. This is much more effective than having them sit on a couch and talk. (Fab Lab: The DIY Factory That Can Make Anyone a Maker)

Raleigh Werberger, a high school history and humanities teacher in Hawaii, got inspired by Zhao’s book.  He and his colleagues wanted to develop a ninth grade curriculum that was not only focused on project-based learning, but also wanted to encourage “an authentic, self-starting kind of drive — the sort of thing we see when kids are playing sports, making music, or doing anything that stems from personal passion — in other words, the internal desire to continually improve and to work hard at doing it.”

Students are working in teams to design and construct a small table- or desk-top aquaponics system for the home, and then market their product.  In other words, we are blending academics and entrepreneurialism and challenging students to make Hawai’i’s growth more environmentally sustainable.

They are competing to present the best designs – scientifically, educationally and aesthetically – but also the best PR and marketing strategies.  On Monday, April 22nd, 2013, they will present their designs and pitches to a team of experts – similar to the ABC show Shark Tank http://mpx9spring.weebly.com/aquaponics-home.html

More remarkably, this project even changed how they used their free time. I saw our students enrolling in online courses in either website or business development. Their social media use took on more significance and had a more authentic stake for them, as students began communicating with web journals and community organizations to expand their online presence and gain “endorsements” for their products. Eventually, their work became polished enough to attract the interest of a few local entrepreneurs who volunteered not only to teach them business skills, but also to host a Shark Tank event and bankroll the winners. While only one team won, the other teams vowed to continue developing their ideas and seek their own independent funding. They had redefined success as not necessarily getting A’s or passing the class, but as refusing to take no for an answer. (Using Entrepreneurship to Transform Student Work)

Finally, there is a current push for bringing Maker Education into the classroom.  Making and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand.  Recently, President Obama to hosted the first-ever White House maker faire where the theme was A Nation of Makers: Empowering America’s Students and Entrepreneurs to Invent the Future.

America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools, with even more being created by the day. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and build almost anything.

The rise of the Maker Movement represents a huge opportunity for the United States. Nationwide, new tools for democratized production are boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing, in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, creating the foundation for new products and processes that can help to revitalize American manufacturing. (President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire)

Additional Resources for bringing entrepreneurship into the classroom:

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Practicing the Educator as a Maker Educator Mindset

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I’ve written about the Educator as a Maker Educator.

educator as maker educator 1

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/529031635128025090 

In order to practice and reinforce my maker skills as well as these “mindsets”, I enrolled in the online course, Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning.  What attracted me to this course was not only the focus on tinkering and maker education but also that the participants are asked to engage in hands-on activities.  Their course introduction follows – worth a view by anyone interested in making and tinkering:

The activity for this week, week 2, we were asked to create  circuit_boards (downloadable PDF).

The following materials were recommended

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(plus some general others – tape, Stainless steel or copper nails, Philips head screws, Flat head screws, Coated wire, Zip ties, Soldering irons, Solder, Power drill screwdriver, Hammer, Saw, Sand paper, Wire cutter, Wire stripper).

Maker Educator as a Resource Suggester and Provider

I am a teacher educator of mostly public school teachers and am attempting to get in the back into the classroom as a public school gifted educator.  This material list would be fine for a maker space in, possibly, a museum or library, but not feasible in terms of costs in a public school classroom with up to 30 students.  So I sought other ways to complete this week’s activity with my goal of learning circuit boards but on a budget.  A characteristic of a Maker Educator is a resource provider that is feasible given the environment, the facilitators, and the learners.

I found a few circuit building learning activities from the Museum of Science and Industry – Make a Circuit Board Quiz Board and Instructables -Build a Simple Circuit from a Pizza Box.

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Maker Educator as Lead (or LED – maker humor) Learner

I already had the LED lights, the 3v battery and the metal brads; went out to purchase the paper clips, electrical tape, and decided to use foam core board instead of a pizza box (I don’t eat pizza); and set out to construct the circuit board as explained by the author of this activity.  (FYI – the cost of this project would be less than $3.00 per student – the major costs being the LED lights and the battery).

Quickly, I ran into problems.  The paper clips didn’t have the conductivity needed for electrical current and I couldn’t make them “fit” as described in the directions.  So that meant I needed to change my ideas and plans.

Maker Educator as Normalizer of Problem Solving and Failure as Iterative

I was failing at creating this circuit board, but understand that “Failure and iteration make everything better. In DIY and Maker culture, failure is expected and part of the fun” (http://www.gradhacker.org/2014/02/07/lessons-from-the-maker-movement).  Based on this mindset, I made changes.  I used craft wire instead of paper clips.  I used a second LED instead of a buzzer (which I did not have), and cut out the sensor (which I also did not have).  The result was a circuit board with two working LEDs and a switch to alternate which LED is lit – not pretty, looks quite different than the original but it works – not bad for someone who has never made or played with circuit boards.

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Maker Educator as Process Facilitator

I got to experience the processes of creating, assessing, revising throughout this process.  It was definitely about about the processes.  Once I succeeded and took the pictures, I put the project in a closet as an example for my future students.  The satisfaction came from the processes of creating, re-creating, assessing, reassessing, revising, and revising yet again.  I have a belief that educators, me included, need to experience these processes personally in order to facilitate, model, and demonstrate them to their students.

Maker Educator as Technology Tutor and Scaffolder of Experiences

I used the directions I found on the Internet as a guide.  I didn’t have any experience with creating a circuit board and needed to use some directions or tutorial as a form of scaffolding; to give me a foundation of skills to successfully complete the activity.  This reinforces that some form of instruction is often required when introducing learners to new maker activities.  The educator can provide direct instruction, video tutorials, or other learners as a means to give learners some basic foundational skills for the activities.  Some learners have enough self-direction to seek out the resources on their own, but other learners, without the background experiences or scaffolding, may give up with frustration.

Sidebar:  I am a proponent of educators blogging, and have been promoting it even stronger than ever to other educators.  This is my attempt to blog not only about my thoughts, resources, and philosophy, as I typically do, but also blog about my processes as an forever developing educator in order to share with and model this process for other educators.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Personal Learning Networks, CoPs Connectivism: Creatively Explained

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As part of a graduate course in Social Network Learning, I ask students to create a non-linguistical representation.  Here is the description of this assignment:

The intent of this module is to assist you in developing a personalized and deep understanding of the concepts of this unit – the concepts that are core to using social networking as a learning venue.   Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks, create one or a combination of the following to demonstrate your understanding of these concepts:  a slide show or Glog of images, an audio cast of sounds, a video of sights, a series of hand drawn and scanned pictures, a mindmap of images, a mathematical formula, a periodic chart of concepts, or another form of nonlinguistic symbols. Your product should contain the major elements discussed in this module: CoPs, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks.  These are connected yet different concepts.  As such they should be portrayed as separate, yet connected elements. In other words, you should use at least one symbol per concept and somehow show how they are related and connected

This assignment supports several of my beliefs about what represents “good” education:

  • Learners should be producing as much as consuming content.
  • Learners (of all ages) should be adding value and contributions to knowledge bases.
  • Learners should be given opportunities to express their unique voices.
  • Learners should be given opportunities to be creative and innovative.
  • Learners should be asked to synthesize and analyze content in unique ways tapping into higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Using on-linguistical representations support visual thinking skills.

Here are some samples from this term.

A Powtoons Animation

A Musical Expression

Communities of Practice are demonstrated by multiple instruments playing a major scale. All the musicians share the same passion (the scale). At first the musicians are out of sync but as they continue to work together and learn more the music begins to come together. By the end they are all playing together (Wenger, n.d.). I felt this was a good representation of how learning can be facilitated through Communities of Practice.

Personal Learning Networks are demonstrated through the use of drum beats. It starts with just one beat and slowly more and more beats are layered on top making the music (the learning) grow. The use of all drums represents the similar interest shared by people in a PLN and the variations in the beats represent how each person brings a unique perspective to the learning environment (Kharbach, 2012).

Connectivism is demonstrated by different instruments slowly being layered on top of each other. As the music becomes stronger it’s representing how learning can grow by connecting with others around the world through web 2.0 (“Connectivism”, n.d.). It also shows how learning with others is more effective than learning alone. (Creative Expression: CoPs, PLNs, and Connectivisim)

A Thinglink of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

 http://www.thinglink.com/scene/537786779302887424

My non-linguistic representation is an interactive version of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. My idea was that our feet are the base of a person. I see one’s personal learning community as their base that provides support. In that area I included a spider developing his web or network as it represents how over time people build their web/network. I included a picture of a map because it looks like the veins and arteries of the city as it connects people across boundaries just as our personal network connects us across space and time. A picture of fabric for knitting is a metaphor for how we knit our own network to fit our individual needs. As Dr. Buchem explained in her presentation, when people feel personal control over their learning, they approach it with more passion and commitment. Finally, if the creation of something complex and interwoven had a sound, I always envisioned it sounded like Struggle for Pleasure by Wim Mertens.

For the main joints, I placed images of connectivity. Some are obvious, like the Chain Bride in Budapest, a chain link fence or a satellite. The grand canal of Venice (Blue Venice) by Manet works in two ways. It is a boat traveling across the water which is a way of travel and staying connected, but also with it being from his impressionist period, it is made up of seemingly random strokes of color. Up close, it appears a mess. From a distance, we can see each color and each mark works perfectly with each other and creates a beautiful image.

For communities of practice, I thought the hands were a proper symbol as they are the appendage that we most use to interact with our world. We touch, hold, build, and break mostly with our hands. To represent idea of communal practice, I included a video of the Liverpool fans singing to their soccer team. Nothing says community in practice like 45,000 people singing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” This is true trust and humanity. The song guarantees that even in the face of failure, even in the darkest times, there will be unwavering support. It is a fine example of a positive communal relationship. Also, I included a time lapse video of London. When we see the hours of the city in this sped up manner, it reveals the hidden way the people of a city all work together like the blood pumping through the city’s veins.   (http://danielmcilhenney.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/creative-expression-of-plns-connectivism-and-communities-of-practice/)

A Human Body Comparison

2014-06-25_1128prezi.com/zcgzhfws1ouq/my-creative-expression/

Personal Learning Networks – In my visual representation, individual organs such as an eye, a hand, and a brain represented PLN. Each of these organs seems to be functioning on each own (personal), each one seems to be self-directed (they know when to blink, to move, or to think), and, finally, they are interconnected but they “do not know” other members of the network. Learning/life occurs on individual level.

Communities of Practice are also bigger units than PLNs. Thus, smaller units such as an eye or a nose can form a large unit represented by the face; a single unit such as a heart or a liver can now form an entire insides, and the brain is now “packaged” into the head. Still, each of these bigger units seems to be functioning on its own: self-forming and self-governing, even though they share common interests (for life), are involved into creation of new knowledge (our sensations as we see or feel things), it’s all happening in real life context, it can occur at any stage of our lives and, finally, it forms the identity of who we are on a physical level (at least.)

Connectivism is represented by the veins and arteries which connect all other organs together (by circulating blood and delivering oxygen.) Without Connectivism, the parts are simply parts! The final product is represented by an active human being with incredible capabilities (represented by a man on top of a mountain!) Similarly, only a combination of our personal learning networks formed into larger communities of practice and connected with yet other communities of practice bring us to our highest intellectual levels. http://edtechlog.weebly.com/edtech-543.html

A Snow Metaphor

Snowflake theoryThe common link of snow in each of the concept representations serves as a metaphor for networking.  Networking is the link that connects PLNs, CoPs, and the theory of connectivism.  If people did not have the ability to communicate and collaborate with others through the tools they have available, new knowledge would not be readily available at the rate it is today, much in the same way that if snow did not exist, one would not have the ability to analyze the crystals of a snowflake, roll it into a snowball, or build a snowman. (Perrsonal Learning Networks, Communities of Practice, and Connectivism Through Creative Expression)

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 25, 2014 at 11:17 pm

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