User Generated Education

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Posts Tagged ‘technology integration

A Perfect Storm for Maker Education

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Originally published at http://blog.iat.com/2015/09/30/a-perfect-storm-for-maker-education/.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/575147870160683008

Perfect Storm: an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.  The term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

Maker Movement:

The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers, a convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise. (Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future)

A movement made up of hobbyists, tinkerers, crafters and innovators is getting ready to change what you thought you knew about the American economy. They’re teaching a new generation how to repair rather than replace, and if what they’re looking for is not available, to invent it. They call themselves “makers,” and they will figure out how to build whatever you can imagine. (The Maker Movement Is About the Economy, Stupid)

There currently exists the conditions for a perfect storm for maker education due to:

  • The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement
  • Focus on STEM and STEAM Education
  • Information Access and Information Abundance
  • Affordable Maker Technologies
  • Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture
  • Open Source Resources

The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement

Do It Yourself, or DIY, is a term that is used by various communities of practice that focus on people creating things for themselves without the aid of a paid professional. embers of these subcultures strive to blur the lines between creator and consumer by constructing a social network that ties users and makers close together. The phrase Do It Yourself along with its acronym is also commonly used where a layman endeavors to complete a project without the physical aid of a paid professional. http://72.9.148.189/library/D.I.Y.

What this means for young people is that they are growing up in DIY cultures, where they have role models who engage in DIY and where they have 24-7 access to information and technological resources. For example, younger makers can turn to DIY, a safe online community for kids to discover and learn new skills. Older makers can use Make: DIY Projects for inspiration, ideas, and how-tos.

Focus on STEM and STEAM Education

IMG_2892

One of President Obama’s initiatives has been a call to action for making STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education a priority in the United States. He emphasized the need to broaden participation to those groups who typically do not engage in STEM initiatives:

President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a Nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation—we cannot maintain that stream of new and different ideas—if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities. (Educate to Innovate)

Some professionals and practitioners are expanding STEM education to include the arts which translates in STEAM education.

In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century. (STEM to STEAM)

Maker education can be a gateway to STEM involvement by students who may not have had interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines in the past.

At a time when many people are asking how we can get more students interested in STEM fields, we are hearing from teachers who have found making to be a great way to get students excited and engaged in their classrooms. We are seeing making occurring in subject classes such as math or science — in classes specifically listed as maker classes — and in a variety of less formal settings such as clubs and study halls. Many of these projects incorporate a variety of STEM topics. Students working on designing and building furniture for their classroom use algebra and geometry to figure out the dimensions. E-textiles and soft circuitry, in which circuits are sewn using conductive thread or fabric, have shown to be an engaging way to teach electronics and programming, especially for young women. The possibilities for ways to incorporate making into the school day are endless, and it is exciting to see what teachers have been developing and sharing. (Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”)

Information Access and Abundance

We are living in one of the most exciting times in the history of humankind. Our world in now filled with information abundance, surplus, and access. The result is synergy whereby the human mind plus our current technologies far exceed the sum of these individual parts. We have technologies to access any type of information and to create products that match the pictures and voices in our minds; and we can use technology to get the assistance and feedback from folks around the globe. (Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education)

Anyone with access to the Internet has access to all kinds of information, resources, and tutorials. Young people are used to going online to find information and how-to tutorials via YouTube, Wikipedia, and their social networks. Young makers have taken advantage of this easy and free access information to make valuable contributions to our world. For example, Jack Andraka, who as a High School sophomore, discovered a test for pancreatic cancer through reading science research he found online. Katherine Wu, a ninth-grader, invented “the driver’s companion,” a device that could monitor drivers’ blinks and brain waves to see if they were in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. She studied neuroscience to find out how to identify signs of sleepiness, took an online course to learn how to create the computer code that would recognize those signs. (Local teens’ inventions impress scientists)

Affordable Maker Technologies

DSC02505

Accessibility of affordable maker technologies (e.g., 3D Printers, DIY computer devices) is due, in part to the democratization of these technologies.

When something is democratized it means that it is accessible to everyone. When used in the context of the maker movement, ‘democratization’ refers to the decreasing cost of the tools and technologies credited with spurring the movement. The cost of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and 3D scanners has dramatically decreased over the past five years. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)

Today, the availability of affordable constructive technology and the ability to share online has fueled the latest evolutionary spurt in this facet of human development. New tools that enable hands-on learning — 3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computers, e-textiles, “smart” materials and new programming languages — are giving individuals the power to invent. (The maker movement: A learning revolution)

Maker technologies such as Makey-Makey, littleBits, Arduinos, 3D Printers, and robotics kits provide opportunities for learners to experiment and invent for themselves. They are accessible and usable by a wide range of skill and age levels; and even though there is a cost attached to them, they are more accessible to those with less financial means than similar technologies had been in the past. There does, though, need to be a continued dialogue and proactive efforts to create a maker culture of accessibility.

If the rise of the maker movement and these new tools for democratized production are going to create opportunity, how do we ensure that all people truly have access and training? It is essential to understand and address the social structures and identity categories that are inherent in the maker movement before the tools of production that play such a prominent role are truly democratized. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)

If one of the characteristics of the maker movement is democratization of related tools, software, and techniques, then efforts need to focus on the education institutions that serve children (school, libraries, museums, after-school programs) especially underrepresented and underserved children. We need to insure that there is little or no gap between those of means and those with little means when it comes to maker education. Dr. David A. Williams (SVP of Program, Training & Youth Development at Boys and Girls Club of America) has tackled this head-on at BGCA (Tackling the Digital Divide & Closing the Opportunity Gap in STEM Education) and so has Congressman Joe Kennedy in Boston (Do Politicians Really Care About STEM Education?).

Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture

The maker movement and makerspaces are that they are driven by principles of crowdsourcing and participatory cultures. Makers, as a group, freely share their makes so others can replicate and/or improve upon them.

Many maker movement initiatives are rooted in the idea of a “Participatory Culture,” a term coined by American media scholar Henry Jenkins. Henry Jenkins recognizes the key elements of a participatory culture to include low barriers to expression and engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. (Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School By Laura Fleming)

And as Dale Dougherty (@dalepd), considered by many as the father of the maker movement, stated in the Maker Mindset:

The Maker Movement is spurred by [….] the increasing participation of all kinds of people in interconnected communities, defined by interests and skills online as well as hyper-local efforts to convene those who share common goals. (Dougherty, The Maker Mindset, 2013)

Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi), the inventor of the highly popular maker technology Arduino, noted how a participatory maker culture spurs creativity.

Whenever you design a tool that allows people to be creative, there are people who will start to be creative with the tool. Once we made that available, people are now responding and creating. So it’s not so much that we’ve become a world of people who do hardware hacking, but, I guess, a world where people are becoming more involved in the creation of products. (Arduino’s Massimo Banzi: How We Helped Make The Maker Movement)

Related to crowdsourcing is crowdfunding which, as it implies, is asking the public to fund some worthwhile causes. Crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose can help educators get maker materials for their classrooms, increasing the chances that underfunded classrooms can get the tools and materials related to the maker movement.

Open Source Resources

Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.

Makers often share their “makes” so other can reproduce them and/or improve upon them. For example, Markerbot’s Thingiverse is probably one of the biggest online repositories of open source 3D designs. A quick perusal of the website shows designs everything from prosthetic devices to footwear to toys.

The sharing culture that marks the maker movement carries over into maker technology companies in that they often make their software and hardware open source. Popular educational maker hardware such as Arduinos and lillteBits are open source:

Open-source hardware shares much of the principles and approach of free and open-source software. In particular, we believe that people should be able to study our hardware to understand how it works, make changes to it, and share those changes. To facilitate this, we release all of the original design files (Eagle CAD) for the Arduino hardware. These files are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, which allows for both personal and commercial derivative works, as long as they credit Arduino and release their designs under the same license. (Arduinos FAQ)

littleBits has the following to say about developing open source hardware:

Open Source Hardware means that we make the design files available for the circuit designs in our modules pursuant to the CERN Open Hardware License Version 1.2. It makes sense for us because littleBits products are a teaching tool: sharing our designs allows for the possibility of teaching how these circuit designs work down to a circuit level. (What does Open Source mean?)

The bottom line is that educators both in formal and informal settings would be foolish not to take advantage of this perfect storm of maker education resources, tools, and strategies that currently exist.

A Class on Coding and Bots

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of


Thinglink of Resources: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/753039991126360065

I have been asked to return to teach summer enrichment classes on maker education for elementary-aged learners at a local school during the summer of 2016. One of the new classes I am designing is called Coding and Bots. It is a week long (5 days) class that will meet for 2.5 hours each morning. The description is:

Learn how to code first by playing games and then by coding some bots including Sphero, Ollie, mBot, OZOBOT, and Dash and Dot. All ages are welcome but the child should have basic symbol recognition/reading skills.

Two things to note about this class are, first, I learned last summer not to underestimate the learning potential of very young kids. These classes are mixed ages ranging from 4 to 10 year old kids. For most of the maker education activities, the very young ones could perform them, sometimes better than the older kids. Second, I am a strong proponent of hands on activities. Although I like the use of iPads and computers, I want elementary aged students to have to directly interact with materials. As such, I am designing Coding and Bots to include using their bodies and manipulating objects. This translates into having all activities include the use of objects and materials excluding and in conjunction with the iPad – not just using the iPad and online apps/tools to learn to code. The activities I plan to do follow:

Warm-Ups: Human Robots

Coding the Cups

Adapted from this Tinkersmith Activity, learners use symbols and plastic cups to act as robots using the coded symbols to build and manipulate a cup stack. Each small group of 2 to 4 learners gets 18 to 24 plastic cups and a set of symbol cards (a few sets of the template below):

cupstack

The cups are lined up on two levels. Each player, one at a time, picks and flips over one of the symbol cards and does the action stated on the card with the cups. In doing their movements, players need to insure that their selected cup is in contact with at least one other cup as part of their action. A player is “out” if s/he knocks over the cup/cups. The winner is the last player who places a cup without knocking any over. To increase the challenge, have learners play the game with just the symbols during second or third round of the game.

Kodable fuzzFamily Frenzy

Learners create a simple obstacle course where they “program” a partner to complete it using the code key below. Once they have written their code their partner must follow instructions to complete the course.

2016-07-10_1431

An Outdoor Treasure Hunt Through Codes

The educator sets up a Treasure Hunt outdoors for the learners to solve using coding clues provided by the educator. The coding clues are based on the following legend:

treasurehunt symbols

The pre-activity set-up includes setting up clues around the outdoor learning environment that lead from landmark to landmark and finally to a treasure (a treat or prize of some kind) along with the coding clues to get to each of the landmarks. Several routes might have to be set up if working with a larger group. I recommend no more than 3 or 4 per group. Learners are given the first clue, a series of the coding symbols that lead to the first landmark. An example might look like:

treasurehunt example

When they arrive at that landmark, they will find another clue, another series of coding symbols that lead to the next landmark and so on until they arrive at the last landmark that contains their treasure.

As a follow-up, learners will be separated into smaller groups to set up a treasure hunt for the other groups using the same legend of coding symbols.

This activity was adapted from Kodable’s Fuzz Family activity.

Superhero Coding for Kids

Use basic programming ideas to help Batman avoid the bad guys and get the jewels! You have to get him to move on the right path around the obstacles using basic programming commands.  The directions for this game can be found at http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/superhero-computer-coding-game-without-a-computer/

3-11

Board + Manipulative Games

Robot Turtles Game

Learners will play the Robot Turtles Board Game. Robot Turtles is the a board game that teaches coding skills to kids as young as four, and the only screen-free resource for this pivotal age group. Read more at http://thinkfun.com/media-center/robot-turtles/.

Liz Engel Greaser designed an extension to this game but having her learners create their own Robots Turtle Games – see Extensions for Robot Turtles for the how-tos.

Coding Monkey Island

Learners will also play the Code Monkey Island. Its description is:

Code Monkey Island, the board game designed to teach players of all ages computer science logic! As the wise leader of your own tribe of monkeys, it’s up to you to guide all three of your monkeys safely around the board and into the banana grove. You’ll have to use concepts like conditional statements, looping, booleans, assignment operators and more to earn moves for your monkeys, dodge quicksand traps, and score some delicious fruit along the way!

Code Master

In Code Master, your Avatar travels to an exotic world in search of power Crystals. Along the way, you use programming logic to navigate the Map. Think carefully, in each level, only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success. Once you collect all the Crystals and land at the Portal, you win! (http://thinkfun.com/products/code-master/)

Osmo Coding

Osmo Coding begins with an assortment of modular magnetic blocks. You snap together numbered blocks along with commands such as “run,” “jump,” and “grab,” as you guide a tiny monster named Awbie on his eternal quest for more strawberries. https://www.playosmo.com/en/coding/)

Bots and Coding

Finally. the learners will move into coding the bots: Sphero, Dash and Bot, and Ozobot.

Sphero and Ollie

Learners will code their Spheros and Ollies using the Tynker app.

tynker-control-connected-devices-1024x434

MESH tags

MESH are wireless electronic tags shaped like blocks and each of them has different function. When you connect them together by using MESH app, your ‘what if’ ideas come to life. There is no need for knowledge of electronics or programming. Creating an IoT (internet of things) system will be very simple with MESH. http://meshprj.com/en/

Dash and Dot

Children ages 5 and up learn the foundations of problem solving and computer programming as they have fun with Dash & Dot.  Dash Dash is an explorer who zips around the room, getting into mischief along the way. Using sensors, Dash can detect objects in front and behind, hear where you are, and see where Dot is. This robot has quite the personality and becomes more capable as you program and play. Introducing Dot Dot is a puppet master who instigates the adventures that Dash goes on. When you toss, shake, or pick Dot up, Dot sends a signal telling Dash what to do. Dot can also tell stories using lights, sounds, and eye expressions.

Lesson plans for Dot and Dash can be found at https://teachers.makewonder.com/lessons.

OZOBOT

OZOBOT is an award winning smart robot, designed to teach kids & techies alike about robotics, programming & coding.

Ozoblocky is the programming language. The editor can be found at http://ozoblockly.com/editor

OZOBOT  lesson plans can be found at http://ozobot.com/play and http://portal.ozobot.com/lessons.

Codebug

CodeBug is a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age. CodeBug can display graphics and text, has touch sensitive inputs and you can power it with a watch battery. It is easy to program CodeBug using the online interface, which features colourful drag and drop blocks, an in-browser emulator and engaging community features. Create your own games, clothes, robots or any other wacky inventions you have in mind! (http://www.codebug.org.uk/whatiscodebug/)

Codebug lesson plans can be found at http://www.codebug.org.uk/learn/activity/ and http://www.codebug.org.uk/explore/codebug/

Extras – Build a Bot

Kamigamirobot

Resources:

The O Watch

Resources:

Cross Curricular Maker Education Activity That Addresses Common Core Standards

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My primary job is that of educating pre and in-service teachers with a bit of teaching elementary students along the way. I often say that there is not enough time during the school day and the school year to teach isolated and singular content area topics. I stress designing and teaching cross-curricular thematic units. Not only will the learners then get to experience multi-layered instruction, they will also experience more authentic learning experiences. Real life learning doesn’t segment itself into isolated content areas.

What follows is a specific lesson for upper elementary and middle school students. It combines geometry concepts with a language arts activity while addressing several common core standards.

  • Grade Level: Grades 6 through 8
  • Title: Geometry Meets Maker Education
  • Brief Description: Learners create a robot using geometric shapes and LEDs. They then compose a comic strip using Storyboard That which describes the geometric properties of their robot.
  • Common Core State Standards Addressed
    • Math: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
      • CCSS.Math.Content.6.G.A.4 Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
      • CCSS.Math.Content.7.G.B.6 Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.
    • English Language Arts
      • ELA: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
      • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2.d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • ISTE’s NETS-S standards addressed
    • Creativity and innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
      • Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
      • Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
      • Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
    • Communication and collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
      • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
  • The Learning Activities
    • Learners are offered a variety of styrofoam shapes, LED lights/coin batteries, miscellaneous art supplies and glue guns.
    • Learners are given the task of building a robot composed of geometric shapes.
    • 10704133_10152777880134939_5875649242895121512_nLearners are asked to determine the surface area of their robots using the tape measures to get dimensions of individual pieces. They can use the LearnZillion tutorial to assist them – https://learnzillion.com/resources/72676-use-nets-to-represent-three-dimensional-figures-and-find-surface-area-6-g-a-4.
    • Learners share their results, both their constructed robots and their surface area results, with peers. Peers give feedback.
    • Learners are then told that they are to explain the properties and story of their robots through a digital story using Storyboard That. Their stories need to be at least four panels and contain both images and test in each of the panels. These are shared with peers.

DSC00574

  • Reflection

Having learners engage in hands-on activities, both with the art items and with the technologies, permits educators to directly observe the performances of their students. Because these activities are somewhat self-directed, educators can actually view the learning activities as formative assessments and intervene when individual learners are having problems. This increases the chances that mastery by all learners are achieved.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

November 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

The Educator as a Maker Educator: the eBook

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makered bookcover

I compiled all of my blog posts about Maker Education into an ebook that I published via Amazon Kindle. The price is $3.99.  It can be accessed at http://www.amazon.com/Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B016Z5NZ6O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

The pieces include theoretical ideas, informal research-observations, ideas related to the educator as a maker educator, the maker education process, suggestions for implementation, and reflecting on the making process. Graphics and infographics created to support the chapter content are included.

The Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • The Perfect Storm for Maker Education
  • Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects?
  • Maker Education and Experiential Education
  • MAKE STEAM: Giving Maker Education Some Context
  • The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education
  • Becoming a Lifelong Maker: Start Young
  • Making and Innovation: Balancing Skills-Development, Scaffolding, and Free Play
  • Let Children’s Play (with Technology) Be Their Work in Education
  • Tinkering and Technological Imagination in Educational Technology
  • Educator as a Maker Educator
  • Educator as Lead Learner
  • Promises to My Learners as a Maker Educator
  • The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Tinkering and Maker Education
  • Maker Education: Inclusive, Engaging, Self-Differentiating
  • Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM
  • Stages of Being a Maker Learner
  • Making MAKEing More Inclusive
  • Example Lesson:  Maker Education Meets the Writers’ Workshop
  • Reflecting on the Making Process

 

The Perfect Storm for Maker Education

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Originally published at http://blog.iat.com/2015/09/30/a-perfect-storm-for-maker-education/

Perfect Storm: an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.  The term This term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

Maker Movement:

The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers, a convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise. (Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future)

A movement made up of hobbyists, tinkerers, crafters and innovators is getting ready to change what you thought you knew about the American economy. They’re teaching a new generation how to repair rather than replace, and if what they’re looking for is not available, to invent it. They call themselves “makers,” and they will figure out how to build whatever you can imagine. (The Maker Movement Is About the Economy, Stupid)

DSC02499

There currently exists the conditions for a perfect storm for maker education due to:

  • The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement
  • Focus on STEM and STEAM Education
  • Information Access and Information Abundance
  • Affordable Maker Technologies
  • Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture
  • Open Source Resources

perfect storm

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/575147870160683008

The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement

Do It Yourself, or DIY, is a term that is used by various communities of practice that focus on people creating things for themselves without the aid of a paid professional. embers of these subcultures strive to blur the lines between creator and consumer by constructing a social network that ties users and makers close together. The phrase Do It Yourself along with its acronym is also commonly used where a layman endeavors to complete a project without the physical aid of a paid professional.

What this means for young people is that they are growing up in DIY cultures, where they have role models who engage in DIY and where they have 24-7 access to information and technological resources. For example, younger makers can turn to DIY, a safe online community for kids to discover and learn new skills. Older makers can use Make: DIY Projects for inspiration, ideas, and how-tos.

Focus on STEM and STEAM Education

One of President Obama’s initiatives has been a call to action for making STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education a priority in the United States. He emphasized the need to broaden participation to those groups who typically do not engage in STEM initiatives:

President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a Nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation—we cannot maintain that stream of new and different ideas—if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities. (Educate to Innovate)

Some professionals and practitioners are expanding STEM education to include the arts which translates in STEAM education.

In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century. (STEM to STEAM)

Maker education can be a gateway to STEM involvement by students who may not have had interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines in the past.

At a time when many people are asking how we can get more students interested in STEM fields, we are hearing from teachers who have found making to be a great way to get students excited and engaged in their classrooms. We are seeing making occurring in subject classes such as math or science — in classes specifically listed as maker classes — and in a variety of less formal settings such as clubs and study halls. Many of these projects incorporate a variety of STEM topics. Students working on designing and building furniture for their classroom use algebra and geometry to figure out the dimensions. E-textiles and soft circuitry, in which circuits are sewn using conductive thread or fabric, have shown to be an engaging way to teach electronics and programming, especially for young women. The possibilities for ways to incorporate making into the school day are endless, and it is exciting to see what teachers have been developing and sharing. (Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”)

Information Access and Abundance

We are living in one of the most exciting times in the history of humankind. Our world in now filled with information abundance, surplus, and access. The result is synergy whereby the human mind plus our current technologies far exceed the sum of these individual parts. We have technologies to access any type of information and to create products that match the pictures and voices in our minds; and we can use technology to get the assistance and feedback from folks around the globe. (Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education)

Anyone with access to the Internet has access to all kinds of information, resources, and tutorials. Young people are used to going online to find information and how-to tutorials via YouTube, Wikipedia, and their social networks. Young makers have taken advantage of this easy and free access information to make valuable contributions to our world. For example, Jack Andraka, who as a high school sophomore, discovered a test for pancreatic cancer through reading science research he found online. Katherine Wu, a ninth-grader, invented “the driver’s companion,” a device that could monitor drivers’ blinks and brain waves to see if they were in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. She studied neuroscience to find out how to identify signs of sleepiness, took an online course to learn how to create the computer code that would recognize those signs. (Local teens’ inventions impress scientists)

Affordable Maker Technologies

DSC02461

Accessibility of affordable maker technologies (e.g., 3D Printers, DIY computer devices) is due, in part to the democratization of these technologies.

When something is democratized it means that it is accessible to everyone. When used in the context of the maker movement, ‘democratization’ refers to the decreasing cost of the tools and technologies credited with spurring the movement. The cost of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and 3D scanners has dramatically decreased over the past five years. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)

Today, the availability of affordable constructive technology and the ability to share online has fueled the latest evolutionary spurt in this facet of human development. New tools that enable hands-on learning — 3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computers, e-textiles, “smart” materials and new programming languages — are giving individuals the power to invent. (The maker movement: A learning revolution)

Maker technologies such as Makey-Makey, littleBits, Arduinos, 3D Printers, and robotics kits provide opportunities for learners to experiment and invent for themselves. They are accessible and usable by a wide range of skill and age levels; and even though there is a cost attached to them, they are more accessible to those with less financial means than similar technologies had been in the past. There does, though, need to be a continued dialogue and proactive efforts to create a maker culture of accessibility.

If the rise of the maker movement and these new tools for democratized production are going to create opportunity, how do we ensure that all people truly have access and training? It is essential to understand and address the social structures and identity categories that are inherent in the maker movement before the tools of production that play such a prominent role are truly democratized. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)

If one of the characteristics of the maker movement is democratization of related tools, software, and techniques, then efforts need to focus on the education institutions that serve children (school, libraries, museums, after-school programs) especially underrepresented and underserved children. We need to insure that there is little or no gap between those of means and those with little means when it comes to maker education. Dr. David A. Williams (SVP of Program, Training & Youth Development at the Boys and Girls Club of America) has tackled this head-on at BGCA (Tackling the Digital Divide & Closing the Opportunity Gap in STEM Education).

Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture

The maker movement and makerspaces are driven by principles of crowdsourcing and participatory cultures. Makers, as a group, freely share their makes so others can replicate and/or improve upon them.

Many maker movement initiatives are rooted in the idea of a “Participatory Culture,” a term coined by American media scholar Henry Jenkins. Henry Jenkins recognizes the key elements of a participatory culture to include low barriers to expression and engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. (Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School By Laura Fleming)

And as Dale Dougherty (@dalepd), considered by many as the father of the maker movement, stated in the Maker Mindset:

The Maker Movement is spurred by [….] the increasing participation of all kinds of people in interconnected communities, defined by interests and skills online as well as hyper-local efforts to convene those who share common goals. (Dougherty, The Maker Mindset, 2013)

Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi), the inventor of the highly popular maker technology Arduino, noted how a participatory maker culture spurs creativity.

Whenever you design a tool that allows people to be creative, there are people who will start to be creative with the tool. Once we made that available, people are now responding and creating. So it’s not so much that we’ve become a world of people who do hardware hacking, but, I guess, a world where people are becoming more involved in the creation of products. (Arduino’s Massimo Banzi: How We Helped Make The Maker Movement)

Related to crowdsourcing is crowdfunding which, as it implies, is asking the public to fund some worthwhile causes. Crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose can help educators get maker materials for their classrooms, increasing the chances that underfunded classrooms can get the tools and materials related to the maker movement.

Open Source Resources

Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.

Makers often share their “makes” so other can reproduce them and/or improve upon them. For example, Markerbot’s Thingiverse is probably one of the biggest online repositories of open source 3D designs. A quick perusal of the website shows designs everything from prosthetic devices to footwear to toys.

The sharing culture that marks the maker movement carries over into maker technology companies in that they often make their software and hardware open source. Popular educational maker hardware such as Arduinos and lillteBits are open source:

Open-source hardware shares much of the principles and approach of free and open-source software. In particular, we believe that people should be able to study our hardware to understand how it works, make changes to it, and share those changes. To facilitate this, we release all of the original design files (Eagle CAD) for the Arduino hardware. These files are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, which allows for both personal and commercial derivative works, as long as they credit Arduino and release their designs under the same license. (Arduinos FAQ)

littleBits has the following to say about developing open source hardware:

Open Source Hardware means that we make the design files available for the circuit designs in our modules pursuant to the CERN Open Hardware License Version 1.2. It makes sense for us because littleBits products are a teaching tool: sharing our designs allows for the possibility of teaching how these circuit designs work down to a circuit level. (What does Open Source mean?)

The bottom line is that educators both in formal and informal settings would be foolish not to take advantage of this perfect storm of maker education resources, tools, and strategies that currently exist.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 16, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Technology

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A major criticism I have of most educational institutions is that their primary focus is on students’ intellectual and cognitive development.  Too often individual learner’s needs do not enter into the equation of their educations.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a useful model for educators to use to help insure that they are addressing more of the whole child.

Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy — physiological needs, personal safety, social affiliation, self-esteem and self-actualization — to education is an ideal way to assess lesson plans, courses and educational programs. By asking themselves whether these needs are being met in their school or classroom, educators can assess how well they are applying Maslow’s hierarchy to their teaching practice (How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Education).

Some general strategies for addressing these needs in the classroom can be found at Addressing Our Needs: Maslow Comes to Life for Educators and Students.

Technology is way too often given a bad rap by administrators and educators as a distraction or a hazard for students.  When technology is integrated intentionally with foresight and with intention of addressing specific growth-oriented goals, it increases the potential to help students learn, develop, and grow in unique ways.  It can be used to help address the needs as described by Maslow.

What follows is an Infographic that proposes some of the technology integration strategies that can be used to addressed the different levels of Maslow’s needs.

Slide1

Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.

Technology cannot address nor meet biological and physiological needs.

Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability

Technology is opening new opportunities for everyone, promoting creativity and effective learning. Children and young people are using the Internet more and more, and from an earlier age. The Internet is more assessable than every before.  To use technology effectively requires an awareness of both the benefits and the risks. This in turn, has created a world which can be both fun and exciting as well as providing potential dangers and harm. It is important that [educators] and young people are aware of these risks and of the steps you can take to minimize them (Keeping Safe Online).

Safety in the age of the Internet revolves around Online Safety, Digital Citizenship, Privacy, and Cyberbullying Prevention.  Strategies and lessons related to these topics should not be overlooked.  They should be continually taught and reinforced for students of all ages.

There is a plethora of resources online to have students learn this knowledge and skills.  Here are a few to start:

Social Needs – Belongingness and Love, – work group, family, affection, relationships

One of the biggest benefits of the Internet to this generation of learners is their ability to connect with like-minded individuals . . .  their tribes throughout the globe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says social media can be beneficial to younger users. For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend’s house. … A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones.  Engagement in social media and online communities can enhance communication, facilitate social interaction (Social Networks: Thinking Of The Children).

Educators can become more intentional and strategic in assisting their students in becoming connected learners.  Providing learners with the time, resources, permission, and tips for developing their own personal learning networks greatly increases their opportunity to gain a sense of belonging.   They can get their social needs met within a global community.

Personal Learning Networks have been around for some time.  The idea of a PLN is simply a network of people and resources through which you learn and grow.   What if we made the building of such a network a central part of the curriculum, inviting students to keep a log or journal of their growing network, and how this network is empowering them to learn, how it is expanding their knowledge and perspective? How are they building a meaningful network? This would genuinely turn schools into places of fishing lessons. Students can interview people around the world, tutor and be tutored, take part in formal and informal learning communities, take part in Twitter chats and Hangouts, learn from and engage in the blogosphere, experience the power of working on a meaningful project in a distributed/virtual team, participate in a massive open online course (or design and teach one), share resources through social bookmarking and other technologies, host and take part in webinars, and build new online and blended learning communities around topics of personal value, need, and interest (Helping Students Develop Personal Learning Networks).

Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility

People need to sense that they are valued and by others and feel that they are making a contribution to the world. Participation in professional activities, academic accomplishments, athletic or team participation, and personal hobbies can all play a role in fulfilling the esteem needs (Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy).

The act of creation has great potential for enhancing one’s esteem. Technology has provided the tools and means for learners to be creators of their own products rather than primarily becoming consumers which is characteristic of 20th century informal and formal learning.   They can and do write via blogging and microblogging, make videos, take and post photos and other forms of digital art, perform and record music, create video games, and learn and share their skills online.

Not only do learners have the tool available to create.  They now can publish their work through online social networking platforms which increases the potential to reach an authentic audience; an audience that has similar interests and can provide valuable feedback.

The online world offers kids remarkable opportunities to become literate and creative because young people can now publish ideas not just to their friends, but to the world. And it turns out that when they write for strangers, their sense of “authentic audience” makes them work harder, push themselves further, and create powerful new communicative forms (Teenagers and social networking – it might actually be good for them).

Using the internet as a platform for publication gives students the chance to reach an audience the previous generations could not. Still in many schools and classrooms today, students are asked to perform demonstrations of knowledge, skills and understanding before an audience of 1 – the teacher. In many cases the performer is left feeling very unsatisfied, why? We ask students to spend copious amounts of hours perfecting the required aptitude and their reward is the tick of approval from only a single person.  Many forward thinking teachers have started using web publishing tools to give their students the opportunity to reach a wider audience, or a very specific one (An Authentic Audience?).

Using these freely available forums and tools makes it more likely that the self-esteem needs of achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility are met.

Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning

We are living in the age of information abundance. I discussed the idea of information abundance more in depth in Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education.  Pertinent to this discussion about assisting learners in meeting their cognitive needs are the following two points.

  • Educators are no longer the gatekeepers to information.  Prior to Web 1.0 and Web 2.o, students were often dependent on educators to be the experts to tell them about and share resources about the content-related topic.  Now the Internet has videos, resources, and research from experts and practitioners who often know more about the content than does the educator.  Now more than even, the educator needs to:
  • The Internet needs to be open and available to students.  Many students already have access to information where and when they want it but often not in the school setting.  Many are learning more after school hours than during school hours.  By limiting students to textbooks and information as selected by districts, principals, textbook and testing companies, a type of censorship occurs.  Students have the opportunity, through the Internet, to hear, see, and read about varying perspectives on so many topics.  Depriving them of the opportunity to do so limits their education.

To put it simply, educators can provide the learners with the desirable learning topics and objectives, and then give them the freedom to find and share their own resources about those topics.  (Note: Better yet, educators can allow students to identify their own learning topics and then give the guidance, freedom, and permissions to find the information to engage in an in-depth, independent study.)

The Cognitive Needs can also be met by assisting learners in becoming digital curators.

With the right guidance, digitally curating knowledge can help students make sense of the world, uncover hidden passions and reach a deeper level of learning. But it’s up to educators to teach them to do it thoughtfully.

“Students are curators, but they don’t know it’s what they’re doing,” said educational technologist Naomi Harm. “They’re sharing things out, but they don’t realize what an educational impact they’re truly making. We as educators need to set the stage for students to be more self-directed in how they curate this knowledge to extend their learning experiences” (Students are knowledge curators — let’s help them use it).

The bottom line is that, in this age of open and abundant information, learners can become empowered to access, reflect upon, and share knowledge that they personally find of value.

Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form

Technology has offered new and unique ways to engage in and meet aesthetic needs.

Interest-driven art-making is fueled to a large degree by the surge in new technologies, which have radically transformed the ability to collaborate, share and publish work, affecting the modes, genres, and ways of art-making today.  Many young people are creating original work and sharing it with others. Findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggest that nearly two-thirds of online teens create content at some point – from blogs to Web pages to original stories, photos, videos or other artwork they post electronically.

What other creative activities are young people engaging in in their “spare” time? A wide variety of traditional endeavors, to be sure – dancing (often assisted by video games or websites) or poetry (given new life by poetry slams), for example. But they are also busy at work in many wholly new art forms or hybrids of older forms. Among these are designing video games; using animations or cartoons or video game components to produce “machinima” films; and generating “fanfic,” stories and creations that feed off popular books, movies, cartoons and other features. All this points to a broader cultural trend that values creative production and the communities that form around it. This trend is driven in part by the proliferation of technologies that put production of arts – music composition, dance, design, and visual arts, among them – within reach of anyone interested (New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age).

I am an advocate of integrating the skills, knowledge, and interests related to the informal learning of children and youth into mainstream, formal educational settings.  Educators can leverage these skills and interests to help students learn about school-oriented content areas resulting in both fulfillment in this needs level and learning the required content-area knowledge.

Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

This stage relates to the ability to apply what students have learned and to be able to “give back” and become involved with the betterment of the larger community (How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Education).   The Internet and online forums have the potential to help learners become involved in social causes and activism.

Online hobnobbing can enable youngsters to discover opportunities for community service and volunteering and can help youth shape their sense of identity.  These tools also can be useful adjuncts to — and in some cases are replacing — traditional learning methods in the classroom.

I discuss more in depth how social media can assist with social activism in Social Media a Cause:

For all we hear about “kids these days” and their irresponsible use of social media−posting questionable pictures of themselves or letting Twitter corrode their ability to hold a thought for more than a nanosecond−it turns out that most are using it to express a genuine passion for changing the world around them. And they’re succeeding. And these trends extend well beyond the U.S. In other countries shows similar interests in contributing to larger causes. China’s young adults for instance, lead the world in online political discussions and offline they donate the most money to charities. India’s younger generation ranks the first in the world when it comes to staying informed, and they’re the most optimistic about the impact their activism has on the world around them.  It seems that our youngest generation of adults are the ones leading the charge when it comes to effectively making a difference. http://news.yahoo.com/kids-social-media-created-generation-activists-083812969.html

By becoming more intentional in their instructional strategies, educators can use the social networking skills and the desire of young people to create an atmosphere of meaningful, engaged, and authentic learning through social activism.  This, in turn, helps set the stage for learners to gain feelings of self-actualization.

Postscript Note:  I believe that technology has given us the power, tools, and means to teach in qualitatively different ways than we did in the 20th century.  My goal is to assist educators in having a framework for doing so.  Here are some related posts that revolve around this idea:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

SAMR as a Framework for Moving Towards Education 3.0

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Evolution, in its broadest sense, serves as a force to help humans move towards a better way of living given the current times or Zeitgeist.  It follows, then, that the education field should evolve as new opportunities and forces emerge and present themselves. But in general, this is not the case.  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.”

The evolution of education can be explained from moving from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0.  I have discussed Education 3.0 in several blog posts:

Briefly, Education 1.0, 2.0. and 3.0 is explained as:

Education 1.0 can be likened to Web 1.0 where there is a one-way dissemination of knowledge from teacher to student.  It is a type of essentialist, behaviorist education based on the three Rs – receiving by listening to the teacher; responding by taking notes, studying text, and doing worksheets; and regurgitating by taking standardized tests which in reality is all students taking the same test. Learners are seen as receptacles of that knowledge and as receptacles, they have no unique characteristics.  All are viewed as the same.  It is a standardized/one-size-fits-all education.

Similar to Web 2.0, Education 2.0 includes more interaction between the teacher and student; student to student; and student to content/expert.  Education 2.0, like Web 2.0, permits interactivity between the content and users, and between users themselves.  Education 2.0 has progressive roots where the human element is important to learning.  The teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships are considered as part of the learning process.  It focuses on the three Cs – communicating, contributing, and collaborating.

Education 3.0 is based on the belief that content is freely and readily available as is characteristic of Web 3.0. It is self-directed, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education. Education 3.0 is also about the three Cs but a different set – connectors, creators, constructivists.  These are qualitatively different than the three Cs of Education 2.0.  Now they are nouns which translates into the art of being a self-directed learner rather than doing learning as facilitated by the educator. Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education

Emerging technologies is, can be, should be a driving force of this evolution towards Education 3.0.  Information access, communication methods, the ability for creative express is qualitatively different than any other time in history due to technological advances.

The SAMR model was developed by as a framework to integrate technology into the curriculum.  I believe it can also serve as a model to establish and assess if and how technology is being used to reinforce an old, often archaic Education 1.0 or being used to promote and facilitate what many are calling 21st century skills, i.e., creativity, innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking; those skills characteristic of Education 3.0.  Many look at SAMR as the stages of technology integration.  I propose that it should be a model for educators to focus on Modification and Redefinition areas of technology integration.  Why should educators spend their time recreating Education 1.0 using technology at the substitution and augmentation levels when there are tools, techniques, and opportunities to modify and redefine technology integration for a richer, more engaging Education 2.0 or 3.0?

The following chart provides an overview of the ideas discussed in this post.

SAMR-Education3

Slides from a presentation given on this topic:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 23, 2014 at 2:37 am

What’s In and What’s Out in Education

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I really like what’s in and what’s out of current trends.  I created the following chart of what I hope and wish would be education ins and outs in the NEAR future.

2014-01-10_1122

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Creating Engaging Curriculum: A More Perfect World

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Recently I revised my A More Perfect World curriculum unit.  I reformatted it to a Weebly website for ease of access and update the links and web tools.

2013-12-28_1106http://moreperfectfuture.weebly.com/

This unit is driven by several of my core beliefs regarding effective instructional practices:

  • Reading as Choice: Reading is such an amazing gift we have as humans and way too many students don’t like to read for their own pleasure and learning.  Reading engagement and enjoyment are increased when students are permitted to choose what they read. No single practice inspires my students to read as much as the opportunity to choose their own books (Becoming a Classroom of Readers).
  • Choices in Learning Content:  Choice in how the content is learned increases engagement and intrinsic motivation.  Students should be given choices as to how to learn the content.  Content should be presented to learners in a variety of ways: readings, videos, graphics with the only expectation that they learn it in a way that works for them.  This is in line with Universal Design for Learning Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Representation.
  • Choices in Expressing Knowledge and Competency: Choice in how the learner demonstrates his or her knowledge of the content increases engagement and intrinsic motivation.  Learners should be given a choice as to how they want to and can express what they learned about the content based on their own styles, interests, and strengths.  This is in line with the Universal Design for Learning Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression.
  • Student Interest: Incorporating student interests into the curriculum increases relevancy.  Curiosity and thus learning thrive when connected to and/or emergent from contexts which are familiar and meaningful to the learner (The Importance of Engaging Students’ Interest in their Learning).   In this case, this unit incorporate the current interest of many young people in dystopian fiction as well as gives them opportunities to delve into their own interest areas throughout the lessons.
  • Project-Based Learning: Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills. Because project-based learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying. Research also indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. (Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience).  For more about project-based learning, see my curated Scoopit on Project-Based Learning and my post Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects?
  • Drawing on Learners’ Idealism; Desire for a Better World: Many young people think about ways to create a better world. Idealism is a developmental milestone of adolescence. Young adolescents are idealistic at this stage, and they are quick to point out what is fair and what is not.  Their idealism pours into asking questions about the meaning of life, questions for which there are not definitive answers. They also become inwardly reflective about who they are and the roles they play. It is a great stage of life and a great opportunity and challenge to meet the needs of these young adolescents (Adolescent Development). These ideas should be integrated into the learning setting.
  • Arts Integration:  Arts integration is highly effective in engaging and motivating students. The arts provide students multiple modes for demonstrating learning and competency. A rich array of arts skills and intellectual processes provide multiple entry points for students linking to content in other subject areas. Similarly, arts instruction is deepened through integration of content from the other subject areas. It enlivens the teaching and learning experience for entire school communities. At its best, arts integration is transformative for students, teachers and communities. The imaginations and creative capacities of teachers and students are nurtured and their aspirations afforded many avenues for realization and recognition (Creating an Arts Integration School).

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Photography for Enhancing Social-Emotional Learning

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I spent the day attending a full day workshop on Phototherapy by Judy Weiser.  This post is not about how to use photos for therapy, but the workshop reinforced the power of images for building social emotional skills in our students.  There are many resources online about using digital cameras and images in the classroom.  The focus of this post is having our learners use photography and digital images to make personal connections with themselves, the content, each other, and other “cultures” with the ultimate goals of increased self-awareness, cultural awareness, and empathy.

lasfotos1http://www.beinglatino.us/cultura/arts/las-fotos-project/

Self-Portraits

Self-portraits have a lot of potential in assisting learners in developing greater self-awareness and self-concept as well as reinforce content area learning.   The use of self-portraits in the learning environment has a number of applications especially when combined with other content areas.

  • Language Arts:  Learners are told that they will be posing for a self-portrait.  They are asked to write a piece of the message and mood that they want their self portrait to convey.  They later work with a group to help develop that message and mood – using their group members for feedback and to help “stage” the settings for the individual self-portraits.
  • Language Arts:  Each learner chooses his or her favorite book – fiction or non-fiction and creates a hats to convey the major character’s or author’s persona.  Pictures are taken of each learner as they describe their character.

Selfies for Good

This is an extension of self-portraits.  Beth Kanter, non-profit guru who uses social media for social change, stated:

No doubt you’ve taken a “selfie,”  a self-portrait taken with your mobile phone camera and shared on Facebook or other social media channels.   Although selfies have been around for years, they have gained popularity recently.  But do selfies have benefits, especially for social change causes?

I wondered whether selfies can be used as part of your social content strategy to help support a social good cause?  I asked this question  here’s what I learned: –

  • The New York Public Library is using selfies as part of its social media initiative to engage library patrons.
  • Fedoras for Fairness uses the fedora hat as a metaphor for the many hats that women wear to create a brighter future for all. It is also a symbol of the need for immigration reform that treats women fairly, and a declaration that though women wear many hats.  Supporters are encouraged to share photos of themselves wearing a hat with the hashtag and say why the campaign is important.
  • See more at: http://www.bethkanter.org/selfies-for-good/#sthash.z0hCbE1K.dpuf

9-4-2013-8-23-47-AM

This type of initiative could easily brought into the classroom with groups of students deciding on a school or local cause to promote; and using “selfies” for its promotion.

 

Sociology, Civil Rights, Social Activism

Photography can be used in a sociological, civil rights, social activism context.  This can occur through:

  • Studying how marginalized groups are using photography for empowerment; to give themselves a voice.  This, in turn, could help students from more mainstream cultures understand these cultures from their own perspective (not by reading about them in a textbook written by someone not of their cultures.)
  • Providing students living in marginalized groups with an opportunity to do some participatory photography projects.

Examining the Lives of Marginalized Cultures

Students can study and discuss some of the following photography projects that give marginalized cultures a voice and a sense of empowerment:

(Thanks, Judy, for sharing these great resources.)

Empowering Students Living in Marginalized Cultures

If the educator is working with students, who are or considered themselves marginalized cultures, they can have the learners do a participating photography project.

Participatory photography, sometimes referred to as ‘photovoice’, is a methodology used in human and community development that combines photography with self-development, creative expression and grassroots social action. A group of people are provided with cameras and through a series of workshops are offered the opportunity to express themselves and document an issue or problem that affects themselves and/or the people and the communities around them. The aim is to support people to define, communicate and improve their situation.

Participants are asked to represent their community or point of view by taking photographs, discussing them together, developing narratives to go with their photos, and conducting outreach or other action. It is intended to give insight into how people can conceptualise their circumstances and their hopes for the future. http://www.flashpointlabs.org/participatory-photography/

See Implementing Photovoice in Your Community for more details.

Living Images of History

With this teaching strategy, groups of students work together to bring historical images to life.  “Living images” help students develop a deeper understanding of a particular moment in history.

Teachers give groups of students (4-6 students per group) a set of 4-6 (primary source) photographs surrounding a specific period in history (e.g, March on Montgomery).  This activity works best if groups receive different sets of photographs.

Directions for Students.

  1. Review each picture, one by one, and answer the following questions:
    • What is the context for this picture? When and where was it taken?
    • What do you see? Specifically, what do you notice about the people in this image? Why are they? How do you think they are feeling? What might they be thinking?
    • What does this image tell you about the time period?
  2. After answering these questions for each picture, create a “living image” for each one. A “living image” recreates the scene from the picture in real life. Think about yourselves as actors who are supposed to assume the physical positions, gestures and facial expressions of the figures in the photograph. Each image should have a “director” who helps coordinate the scene. The picture should be a “freeze frame,” where actors hold their position for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Once you have created your living images, decide in which order you would like to display them. Then, work on transitioning from one image to the next so that your group can present these pictures seamlessly to the larger class.

See http://www.facing.org/resources/strategies/living-images-bringing-histor for full details.

Digital Storytelling Research: Engaging the Affective Domain

Digital Storytelling, obviously – using photos to tell a story, has a lot of applications in the classroom.  For more about these applications, see Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling.  What is interesting to note, and as a sidebar to this discussion on using photography for social-emotional learning, is that digital storytelling has the power to emotionally connect learners to the content resulting in deeper, more connected, personalized learning.

Georgetown University examined the question “What is the relationship between affective and cognitive—or between emotional and epistemological–dimensions of learning?” when digital storytelling was used to enhance humanities courses.

Some of the findings included:

Digital storytelling works at the intersection of the emotional and the epistemological aspects of learning, bridging story and theory, intellect and affect. For many students an emotional engagement with the topic is the point of departure that allows them to connect their stories to the relevant theories. As emotions are reclaimed cognitively, they enable students to write themselves into existing discourses and to contribute personal perspectives to an academic community.

Digital storytelling provides students with a site where they can inscribe their lived experiences not just as ‘this is what happened to me’ but as ‘this is what my story teaches us’.

Students described that they put much more effort into the production of a digital story than they would have writing a traditional paper. In addition, they mention investing “passion and love” into the completion of the story, not only making sure it was finished and accepted by the teacher, but connecting emotionally to their work.

Digital stories often bridge cognitive and affective dimensions of learning. Becoming aware of one’s own positionality, engaging with a problem more deeply or on a more personal level, may force students to leave an emotional-intellectual comfort zone. Sometimes this means students are motivated to say what other do not want to hear. Others feel the need to give voice to those who have been silenced by dominant disources. More generally, digital stories cause students to operate under conditions of intellectual and technological difficulty, often taking emotional as well as intellectual risks.

The format of the digital story gives students a voice that makes them aware of how they can position themselves in relation to others and to existing theories of identity construction. From that position, they are able to identify gaps in the existing literature and produce stories against the oppression of marginalized groups.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm

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