Just starting a Makerspace in your school? Tips on where to start!

 

Kristy Luker working teaching a student to knit

Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to co-create two Makerspaces (from Cafe Bar to Makerspace)  within my school District – both very different and yet both fall under similar approaches and philosophies that were inspired by the town of Emilia Reggio  which is “based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach 

 

Some students using Sphero and some students sewing.

Our Makerspaces  include a vast assortment of  technology tools and robotics as well as hands-on building and craft material and textiles (sewing machines), arts and music , and content producing tools (camera, computers, tablets). But more important, the spaces are facilitated by trained (and interested) teachers who spend a good deal of time creating “situations” and “opportunities” to collaborate and innovate. This means, paying attention to the surrounding and how it “feels”. 

 

“Third Teacher”. Educators and leaders who put value on the Reggio Emilia place a high value on the aesthetic and physical environment of the school, often referring to it as the “third teacher” (Gandini, 1998, p. 177).

Is the space inviting and inclusive?

This is not to say that Makerspaces cannot be created in a multitude of ways. There are pop-up makerspaces, shared spaces, Makerspaces in classrooms, libraries, community centres, coffee shops, shared Makerspace kits (portable).. and even in households (garages, basements). But, it is important to recognize the collaborative nature of Makers and the role that SPACE, SET-UP, ORGANIZATION play.

Just starting out??  

  • I suggest that you tap into the skills of your colleagues and staff.
  • Be Inclusive. 
  • DO NOT necessarily start the space by ONLY bringing in complex robotics, programming or computers.
  • Scaffold. Differentiate. If it is just about one thing, you will miss the opportunity to engage a variety of minds and innovators.  
  • RE ENGAGE teachers/parents/students that may feel alienated by technology and bring them on board but tapping into their interest!
  • Make Connections to all types of Making – There are many similarities between some programming languages and knitting or stitching, the arts, music and of course it can ALL connect to curriculum.

Ask: Who on staff can Sew? Crochet? Knit? Cook? Change a car tire? Change a bike tube? Who has any lego and loves to build? Who can draw? Who knows programming? Who owns a robot?

Interestingly, sometimes the best Learning and Professional Development happens around Making and Doing. The environment of collaboration is natural, organic and inspires community which then alleviates the pressure. People are laughing, sharing, helping each other and “formal” leadership disappears – letting everyone feel like they have a place – an important role to play. People are bringing in different perspectives, different skill sets. Once everyone is talking, sipping on tea, helping each other ‘make’ (that relationship building stuff), then a leader/facilitator can slip in the Professional Development. Bang! As an aside, in fact, this is often how we teach curriculum to students – by getting them engaged in play, making and a collaborative task. Have question prompts and assessment questions ready to go (we just index cards and place around the room)! Bang!

Finally – is there interest in creating an atmosphere of making? Does the room/area talk about pedagogy – what is the philosophy behind it?? Can a work table be brought in? Can a community group be put together to come in on a Saturday and set it up?? Can couch or two be brought in- with coffee table? Is there small plants for growing/eating? How about a whiteboard for designing, writing? Does the environment make kids and adults WANT to be there?

Let’s say you have $1000.00 to spend for your startup. What would you buy? Survey your staff – (Teachers, Education Assistants, Consultants, Coaches) to see what would be the tools/products that would bring in the community. Is anyone interested being the ‘resident’ expert? Through a shared document (OneNote or Google Drive), ask them to add to the list or just sign up. The space doesn’t need to be about one thing or one person.

Don’t forget about the Parents and Community! You might be surprised at how many people have things laying around the house and would LOVE to donate these to a COMMUNITY SPACE. Lego, puzzles, rubic cubes, small tools,

This might be something that could be sent to staff/community. This is only a very small example (but I did say that we only had about $1000.00 to spend). There are many many products and tools that could be added and would depend on school community and staff –>

Maker Tools or Activity Skill, knowledge building Estimated Cost Staff Interested
Electric Sewing Machine

Material and supplies

Sewing Materials

Math – Applied understanding

Measurement, Geometry, Patterning, Algebra

PROJECT BASED LEARNING

150.00 each

100.00

Does anyone have anything to donate?
Knitting/Crocheting Materials

(Yarn, needles)

Math – Patterning, Geometry, Spacial, Ratio, Symmetry $100.00 (approx)
Does anyone have anything to donate?
OZOBOT
Robotics
Great for ages 5 – 99

Coding through colour or block programming

Lots of great challenges and an amazing website to help teachers

$100.00 (approx)
MAKEY MAKEY Circuits and manipulation of wires/circuits to control a computer

Great for exploration, play and making connections to “how things work” and electricity.

$50.00 (approx)
(buy at least two)
Hyperduino An excellent kit that teaches students to code with a purpose and how they can combine coding with presentations! $100.00
Sphero I highly suggest this fun robot. Not only do students learn how to drive and manipulate the robot but they can also use blockly programming! This is one of our favourtes and learners of ALL love the Sphero.   $150.00
Art Bean Art  – Use Pulses (dried beans, chickpeas, lentils…etc.) and have students create beautiful tactile art $100.00 (approx) for a few easels
Sketch Pencils and notepads
Chess… $100.00
Puzzles…
Crafts…

Links to further resources:

Help, My Principal says I need to start a Makerspace… http://search.proquest.com/openview/79ef65b2aedc529a0db3f6c33497b458/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=38018 

Launching a Makerspace: Lessons Learned From a Transformed School Library

From Classroom to Cafe Bar – A Makerspace, Reggio Inspired Learning Space

Bauhaus book & coffee shop in Seattle, a gathering of solitudes from: iamkatia.deviantart.com

In every city or community around the world, the cafe/coffee shop is place for gathering with friends or colleagues, catching up on daily reading, playing games, engaging in the art and music culture, knitting, writing, planning, creating, organizing, designing and learning – and of course, sharing in food/drink.  Drawing from hundreds of examples of cafe community gathering hubs across our own city, Hamilton (A coffee shop for every mood) or Toronto (Top 10 Places to work or study in Toronto), or New York City (The Best Coffee Shops for getting work done), we created a classroom space with similar characteristics.

 

The coffee shop as office: Coffee shops are the unofficial offices of an army of modern workers thanks to free wi-fi, good company and caffeine on tap. But, says David Crookes, cafes have been places of business for centuries (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/thirsty-work-the-coffee-shop-as-office-2290725.html)

At a Public School?  

Can you imagine a learning space where nature, music, art and literature are infused in the design of the STE-A-M focused room? A space that celebrates community through nutritious food prepared each day by students who gather at a cafe bar or surround a kitchen table and prompted by deep discussions of innovation and creativity? A space for people of all ages? A place where tea is served at the start and end of each day in beautiful porcelain cups – where there are no bells or specific transitions and subjects are infused through Big Ideas or Themes?

In 2016, The HWDSB Enrichment and Innovation Centre was awarded the Canadian Education Association (CEA) Ken Spencer Award (First Place) for Innovation and Creativity in Teaching and Learning.  This accolade prompted the creation of a second Enrichment Centre that was designed using the Reggio Emilia Approach and would recognize that the learning environment is fundamentally important to the program (referred to as the child’s “third teacher”)

“In order to act as an educator for the child, the environment has to be flexible: it must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up-to-date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge.” (Lella Gandini,1998)

The importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support “complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas.” (Cadwell, 1997). “Bringing Reggio Emilia home:An innovative approach to early childhood education.”.

 The room design is  also inspired by Seymour Papert’s  Constructionism learning theory,

(Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991). http://www.papert.org/articles/Situating Constructionism.html

 

The constructionist teacher takes on a mediational role rather than adopting an instructional role. Teaching “at” students is replaced by assisting them to understand—and help one another to understand—problems in a hands-on way. 

 

 

The HWDSB Gifted Program partnered with a team of Undergraduate Students from McMaster University in a Design Thinking Project with the goal to create a learning space inspired by both Reggio and Papert.

“Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.”
—Harold Nelson, The Design Way

Thank you to Lee Wood Company, James Street North for the donation of the beautiful, custom, hand crafted bar top.

This area will provide a wonderful opportunity for students, teachers, mentors and leaders to gather, talk, celebration and build innovative and creative ideas.

The “Bar” area replaces the teachers desk. There is enough seating for 15 students to surround the bar. The teacher or student can be in front or behind the bar area to facilitate discussion.

There is a large collection of plants, herbs and sprouts in the classroom. Growing plants in the classroom connects students to nature, to outdoors, to the world around them. Plants clean the air, teach students about sustainability and allow students to observe and document natural patterns.

Bringing Nature in the classroom: https://www.plt.org/story/bringing-nature-into-the-classroom/

American Society for Horticultural Science. (2009, September 6). Greening University Classrooms: Adding Plants Increases Student Satisfaction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 3, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090903163947.htm

Parents are a vital component to the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children. Teachers respect parents as each child’s first teacher and involve parents in every aspect of the curriculum.

Our doors are open and community (Teachers, Parents, leaders) are welcome to join us, have a tea and use our space.

 Where there was once just a window sill, we added another bar top and stools. The natural light and city scape provides an amazing escape – a place to immerse into ART, listen to music, write poetry or simple sit and “people watch”.

Music is spread across the room. A piano, keyboard, computers for composing and of course guitars for “jamming”. Anyone can play or create ANYTIME.

We got rid of student desks. Natural collaboration spaces were created to emulate a living room. A safe place where family gathers. A place where people can be in a collective but be in their own zone – reading, drawing, knitting, planning, designing or wondering. There are enough PLUGS/OUTLETS for 20 computers in this area.

An area was created to “do”.  Students can use the Interactive Whiteboard to showcase their designs, collaborate on ideas, or mentor one another, whether it be about Coding the Robotics, Programming Arduino sets or building in Minecraft.
There is flexible seating that can be moved or changed depending on the needs of the individual. This area is for small groups to code/program and engage in DESIGN challenges. A great spot to engage in ROBOTICS!


We hope that our experiences in this learning space can serve as examples and models to others wishing to move in this direction. We believe that students can be self-directed when provided with the right learning conditions, including an environment that is natural, organic and is designed in a way that builds relationships and community.

Reggio teachers provide children different avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings. The goal is for the adults and children to better understand one another “North American Reggio Emilia Alliance”. Retrieved 9 April 2013.

 

The Kitchen Table

Bring the Home into the Classroom – Literally!

cuvbcmxwiaafxweWhat is one artifact or symbol that can literally make students feel “at home” in the classroom? An artifact that can ease stress, encourage conversations,  build relationships, have no limitations of age or ability and be completely  diverse in nature?

A KITCHEN TABLE!

In our home, The Kitchen Table is not just where we gather for meals but where we gather to talk about our day. It is the first stop when getting up in the morning, returning from a walk or coming home from work.  Where we throw down our keys, where we pile up our books and add to the week’s worth of newspapers. It is where we charge our phones and open our computers and play our music. It is our card table, our game table, an art centre and a sewing station.  It is where the mail gets read and sorted and where the bills get paid. The table is a space for food preparation, for sorting groceries and for sharing surprise snacks.  Sometimes, the table is our refuge after a long day- a safe place to sit and gather, where we talk and plan and discuss and cry.  Our best arguments happen around the table and our best apologies follow. Sometimes, it is a place to sit together in silence reading or writing.

Whatever it is and whatever time of day – it is always a safe place to be ourselves, to take risks, to be honest, to be vulnerable and to love one another.

And so, in effort to create an environment of trust, we brought the Kitchen table (literally)  into the classroom and  built a kitchen around it. We created a situation –  a small space, a “feeling” where students could be vulnerable, tell stories, laugh, cry and be themselves. The following 2 minute video gives an excellent description of why we start and end our day at the Kitchen Table. 

Our Kitchen Philosophy

We strive to connect MIND, BODY & SPIRIT by connecting what we study with  HOME. FOOD is a NEED that connects Families and develops COMMUNITIES. The development of a COMMUNITY of learners allows students to take risks, be mentors, have leadership opportunities and push the boundaries of their learning.

We address the role of the family and the community in our daily living.

We value our connection to the land by creating and sharing healthy snacks and meals.

We offer experiential learning opportunities.

We discuss respect for the group process and the significance of balance in all aspects of our lives.

 

When we are HOME we feel free to be ourselves !

We all can LEARN & GROW together!

Indigenous Worldviews Inspires THIS classroom MAKERSPACE

Reconciliation should include a commitment to bringing in the Indigenous World Views as part of the learning process.  I ask, ‘Would recognizing that we are already moving in this direction be a valuable part of the healing process for Indigenous populations?’ 

Many traditional methods of teaching are being challenged, and now, in Canada (and elsewhere), we have begun to adopt some of the very philosophies and principles (of course, with different names, definition and labels) that were once removed from our First Peoples when they were forced to attend Residential Schools.  

Canada has made a strong commitment toward Truth and Reconciliation in respect to First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI). This is especially important in our Education Systems because these ‘Truths’ have not always been explicitly (or implicitly)  taught to children and thus, the inequities perpetuated. Reconciliation, as we know, is a process of restoring relationships or by making views and beliefs compatible with one another. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report in 2015, Canada was faced with recognition of  the injustices experienced by the First Nations peoples  when they were forced to attend Residential Schools. This is especially important for schools and how we guide our learners today in their journey through this process.

Prior to these children attending these schools, what was education/learning like for them? Did they learn through Inquiry and discovery? Did children and adults learn through experiences? How was learning and connected to the earth around them? Did empathy play a role? What was the role of making and creating in the learning process? Was balance in life important? How did Storytelling impact learning and was it multi-generational ? What about Environmental Education? Family Connections? Community involvement and relations? Was there focus on spirituality and mindfulness?

“Traditional education allowed children to begin the process of observing from the time they are in their takinaakan and learn by participating as soon as they are able; traditional life was ruled by the principle of production from each according to his ability and distribution to each according to his need. (Red Lake, Heritage Centre, Virtual Museam)

Consider the approaches we are using in Education in the 21st Century –   

*Inquiry approaches are about wondering, discovering and experiencing the world. This approach is being adapted instead of what is seen as ‘traditional’ teaching.  

DSC_3611

*Learning can happen at HOME with the family  (Blended learning, online learning,Family Involvement, Travel, Discovery, Experiential)

 

 

*Education programs include explicit teaching of Environment Education and we emphasize human impact on the earth. Schools are connecting learning to outside environments through the use of natural playgrounds, green walls/roofs and gardens, celebration of  the earth

Copy of DSC_0228_2

*There is more emphasis on Primary Sources and Storytelling (using digital media and internet for world wide connections, learning from elders, learning from each other, accessing networks to connect to remote areas)

 

alternative spaces*Mindfulness is a practice seen as good for students mental health and overall well-being and is being adopted as part of the school program. According to Tobin Hart (2014),  Long dormant in education, the natural capacity for contemplation balances and enriches the analytic. It has the potential to enhance performance, character, and depth of the student’s experience. Perhaps most important, the contemplative helps to return the transformative power of wonder, intimacy, and presence in daily learning and daily living.

DSC_0216_2*Teachers are incorporating lessons about life balance and mental health, nutrition and physical health as part of our daily curriculum which includes looking at non-traditional ways of healing and medicine. Here is one example of how we are incorporating Food and Nutrition into the classroom, not as a separate curriculum topic, but in a holistic way, as part of the learning process.

DSC_0096_4 *The term  “Maker” is being expanded to include approaches to learning that enhance and develop hands-on skills, inquiry and learning through play or through doing, problem solving and creating

 

 

*While the Teacher is still valued as “facilitator” we are emphasizing community and collaboration as a better way to teach and learn.


As I reflect on each of these “new” approaches in education – I am drawn to my knowledge of history and the Indigenous cultures. Are the above approaches to teaching and learning are at the core, inspired from many First Nations Cultures?

While it is true that each Aboriginal group has different ways to express its values and traditions, there are similar themes that are prevalent in each group. As noted in a recent publication from Alberta, ‘ Our Words, Our Ways, 2016, these common “worldview” threads that run through many First Nations cultures are sometimes referred to as ‘foundational worldviews’.

In this report by Alberta Education (2016), there are many examples that connect these world principles in the classrooms, both with indigenous and non-indigenous students. I am not an expert in understanding these principles at a depth in which they are intended, but I can confidently explain how these connect to learning and how classrooms can use these principles (whether they know it or not) as a guiding program strategy.

Take a GLIMPS into a classroom that uses the following approaches to guide teaching and learning…


What do you see?

  • Espousing a holistic perspective and that knowledge is holistic

Cross-Curricular and integrated disciplines are more prevalent, as demonstrated by the structures of classroom schedules (less rotary, more time spent in one classroom with one teacher, combining topics into projects). Further, an inquiry approach to teaching is seen as the best way to engage students in real world issues, social justice and global issues. Most recently, classrooms are adapting “Mindful” practices and are emphasizing that when knowledge and learning is approached in a holistic way, students gain a better sense of self and a stronger self-esteem.

  • Recognizing the interconnectedness of all living things

There is a strong emphasis on critical literacy, inquiry and using world (local and global) issues and big ideas in the classroom. In fact, the new Ontario Social Studies/Geography and History documents emphasis a connection to real world issues which leads to studies about how land, animals and food are interconnected, the impact of global warming on our health, how oil extraction is impacting the earth, how the use of pesticides are impacting Bee populations. There is an emphasis on teaching students to relate curriculum topics and subject matter associated with History, Geography, Social Studies, Sciences and the ARTS to present day issues.

  • Having a strong connection to the land and community

We are inter-connected more than ever before not just due to the internet, but because collaboration and communication are seen as vital components of learning and living in the 21st Century.  This allows us to communicate and share with our communities whether urban or rural. There is more emphasis on eating throughout the school day, on health, and on making different food choices. Schools are using the United Nations Goals to guide teaching and learning.

  • Inclusion of Environment and dynamic nature  of the world in lessons and learning.

Environmental Education is now weaved through all areas of the curriculum. Some schools are participating in community gardening initiatives, community food organizations and local markets are partnering with classrooms as a way to help students to see their connection to the land.

  • Strength in “power with.”

As noted in the Our Words, Our Ways Document, In Aboriginal cultures, worldviews reflect “power with,” rather than “power over.” The image for this concept is a circle, and all living things are viewed as equal within the circle. “Power with” is a dialogue, where everyone stands on the ground, face to face – leadership and learning is “distributed”.

 

How does this look in the classroom today?

Explained in the Our words, Our ways Document (2016):

  • Learn from the students about how they learn best. Work in genuine collaboration with them to determine the approaches that are most effective.
  • Involve students when making decisions about the classroom. Provide opportunities for developing their skills so that they become effective at making real decisions about things that matter. Work toward consensus.
  • Invite older or stronger students to mentor younger or less able students. Find ways to reverse the process, e.g., find a skill that a younger student could mentor in an older student. • Welcome and validate parent input into decision making about their child’s education. Treat them as full partners in the collaboration that is essential for supporting their child’s learning.

(Our words, our ways : teaching First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners. 2016)

While it isn’t often identified as such, it appears to be these very foundational worldviews that are influencing Education in the 21st Century, especially in how our classrooms are designed and curriculum is taught.  There are many examples of classrooms and schools from across the globe transforming their spaces into environments that resemble home, enriched places for art and beauty, quiet spaces that embrace comfort and individuality, community and collaboration stations, connection to the outdoors and balance of life.  

Curriculum, more and more, is being taught holistically with an integrative approach and disciplines being taught together. Inquiry, design thinking, experiential and project based are approaches that are recognized as strong methods to engage and teach students of today.

Are we recognizing that the very principles that are shaping how we are creating the 21st Century Makerspace learning environments are those same principles that have guided the indigenous peoples for centuries, the very principles and values that were taken from them when traditional school was created.  

Example lesson that espouses the Indigenous Worldviews and Principals

LINK

A Makerspace Inquiry Lesson – Minecraft, Yarn, Smoothies and the Honeybee…

What does a ball of yarn, a quilt, a Makespace, the Honey Bee, a podcast, Green Smoothie and a Minecraft Museum all have in common?

The following is an example Inquiry Lesson that infuses Maker Space, Collaborative tools, Inquiry and Design thinking, including Minecraft. We facilitated this lesson at the Enrichment and Innovation Centre in our Grade Six Journalism Program, for Gifted Students.

This Video is the lesson consolidation. Everything is connected. “How Wolves Change Rivers”.

Interconnectivity.

We ask: Is Interconnectedness essential for our survival?

DSC_0290_2*How does the interconnectedness of anything change its course or direction in life?

*What does it mean to depend on someone or something?

*Will the disappearance of the honey bee impact human life at the local to international level? In what ways?

*How can we strengthen our own connectedness to the earth? To each other?

 


Curriculum Connections:

Copy of IMG_20160110_183417 (1)

Social Studies: People and Environments, Political and Physical Regions of Canada (Ontario Curriculum)  For More Detailed Curriculum follow this link

Connections to Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 13:Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages


Pre-Lesson and Critical Literacy/Inquiry

To begin, we would use a “Flipped” approach. First, students would be given a task to investigate content related to the local and global issue of disappearing bees. Students explore, find, read,watch/listen and discover information related to why honey bees are disappearing. Second, students are  asked to bring a leafy green vegetable and a fruit (and any type of super food such as chia or hemp). Contributing means feeling part of something and recognizing the value you bring in- your importance. This piece is vital. It strengthens community and builds trust.

EXAMPLE LETTER: LINK


YES, Space is IMPORTANT!

Room Design, Bulletin Boards and Relevant Activities (Self-Directed Activities)

Kitchen (connection back to home/family)

healthMock kitchen is created. Vegetables are displayed along with a nutritional information focus; Students would also share in a Tea Circle Discussion upon arrival (as they do most days); The kitchen would also have an assortment of plants (especially those with obvious pollen); A variety of honey types would be on display for students to explore the texture and taste and begin to make personal connections to the topic.

Science:

15375There is also a worm compost bin (vermi composting) to maintain the importance of connections and emphasize the value balancing what we take and give back to the earth.-Flowering plants on display for students to explore with microscope; A variety of informational videos available.

 

Living Room Area (literacy)

alternative spaces DSC_0087_4

Word wall and activities; Knitting/crochet activities (in shape of honeycomb; Sewing (creating a beehive pattern activity); A variety of books, magazines, newspapers and literature

 

Math Area

DSC_0096_4Collaborative puzzle for hands-on activities (an explicit way to demonstrate the connectedness of each individual piece and its necessity for the whole); A display that demonstrates facts and data, along with inquiry questions; A map display showing areas that are impacted; Honey Comb is be available  to help students learn about the geometry of the Bee Hive and how the HoneyComb is made.

Maker and Art Space

DSC_0296_2

Students will have access to lego; Sewing Machine Activities; 3D printer; Programming activities (using scratch to program geometric shapes);Green Screen applications; Pencil Sketching, Math and GeometryDesigning

 


Introductory

IMG_8002With a cup of tea, the lesson will begin around the “Kitchen Table” where we will feel, touch, smell and taste some of the fruits and veggies that will go into the Smoothies. We will discuss how the veggies change their attributes and nutritional impacts when the are paired with one another (i.e., vitamin C with Iron). As a group we begin asking questions about what we know and don’t know about the vegetables, their interconnections to each other as well as to the earth. We will ask, what would happen if they weren’t available?

Here, we would begin our inquiry.

DSC_0216_2Following our Tea Circle, students will begin an independent exploratory activity where they will participate in a  ‘shared’ Google Document and contribute to collaborative inquiry. (Here, a link is created by opening the document to anyone with link to make the process efficient.) Students contribute to information search focusing solely on the specific foods they brought in (or assigned to) and make explicit connections to nutrients. They use the information to create recipes that focus on a certain need or ailment.

We call it “Brain and Body On”.

LINK to the DOCUMENT

  • We would later use this activity to make the connection that healthy foods are a necessity in our lives and begin the inquiry of WHY so many people continue to suffer obesity and health problems – relating this to our connections to the people and world around us.
  • We would discuss Nutrition in the context of wealth and poverty and further explore the Global Goals.
  • We would connect this to the biodiversity of our planet and examine the impact – the cause and effects of loss and gain. Students would see the chain reaction of how a honey bee can impact the lives of humans, food and climate change, and the impact this has for Ontario Farmers, Trade relations and cost of food. This article would provide a context: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/food-and-climate-change/
  • We would connect this to rising prices of fruits and vegetables due to lower yields of farmer crops, to the grocery store and finally to the consumer.  We would discuss Trade. This link would provide a context: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/loonie-grocery-costs-1.3399841
  • Students would discover that this loss would perpetuate poverty and would lead to a health crisis since our most valuable resources (as they’ve discover) are only accessible to people who can afford the high costs.

Minds-on & Hands-On

DSC_0226_2Together:  Students begin the day, together in a large circle (this process helps students understand the impact of being connected and interconnected). Students are encouraged to be mindful of the fact that they all share in the moment, the day.  One by one, students pass a ball of yarn while celebrating and sharing one connection (a team, a family, a friend, a book…). They form a web of direct and indirect connections and would learn that they can be impacted indirectly when the yarn is yanked or dropped by anyone in the circle, even those that aren’t directly linked.

  • compare this to our connections to our planet, to other living organism,  to the foods we eat, to others – near and far.
  • bring this realization of interconnectedness back to the Big Idea (Is interconnectedness essential for our survival?)

Individual: Students are given time to explore hands-on activities provided throughout the classroom – all that demonstrate concepts of interconnectedness. This can be done at the start of class (when they arrive, or throughout the class as time allows.

  • puzzles
  • knitting, crocheting (co-creating a quilt)
  • sewing
  • Circuits and Programming activities
  • 3D printing
  • Creating Smoothies

(Assessment Opportunity – Teacher/Student time)


Inquiry – Student Driven:

As a class, students create a COLLABORATIVE book that identifies a variety of topics/issues involving the plight of the honey bees and the interconnectedness of the environment and humans. Together, students create a list of issues involving the disappearing bees ( focus on trade, farmers crops, use of pesticides, GMO’s, cause and effect on environment…). Upon completion, each of the Inquiries will be posted.

List of topics will focus on specific learning curriculum expectations

*connections between natural environment, employment, jobs and consumer (relating to bees)

*Jobs, land and organizations dependent on survival of bees

*Impact and connection of environment effects and land use (cause and effect)

*Environmental issues at an international scale and its impact on Canada

In partners or individually, students  are given a full period (or more) to research and discuss the topic of their choice, but always relating it back to the inquiry topic of the Honey Bee and its interconnected value to the world.


 

Staying engaged… feeding the body and soul…

*Note – Throughout “Worktime”, students will have an opportunity to make SMOOTHIES based on their recipes and ingredients (from earlier activity). During this small group time, students will be asked to share how the ingredients and the nutrients are directly connected to their inquiry topic. AT this time, we will make connections back to the land and its impact on farming and then back to the consumer.

(Assessment Opportunity – Teacher/Student time)


Product (Culminating) – What are students working to create/produce?

Copy of DSC_0228_2*Podcast – Students learn to use Audacity and begin exploring podcasting techniques. As part of Interconnectivity, students use SKYPE to discuss Podcasting techniques with an expet in podcasting -Rodd Lucier.. Students are given examples and podcasting techniques -how to express voice, to conduct an interview, to use voice to convey a message, etc. Students will create a podcast interview, informational podcast or a skit.

 

*Blog Students upload their podcast to their blog along with a blog describing the topic and inquiry question.Students have a prior knowledge of blogging. They will be reminded to use more than one medium in their blog and to end their blog with an inquiry question.

*Collaborative Book – Students will contribute to a Collaborative book using OneNote or Google Drive

Copy of IMG_ldwr7qStudents will add their information to the WHOLE class creation using Google Drive or OneNote, thus demonstrating and participating in a connected activity

*MinecraftEDU – Students will design their solution or their information topic in a collaborative world. Here students will design a collaborative museum, where they will add their information through design and interactivity.


Assessment

Learning criteria will be established with the students. As a group we will discuss some of these expectations:

  • Research and Information produced must contain local and international data that explains a topic.
  • Students address connections to themselves as well as looking at connections at a large scale (consumer, poverty, land use)
  • Students will ask relevant and critical questions as part of their research
  • Students recognize the impact that the topic has at a larger scale and discuss reasons for this
  • Students use appropriate vocabulary
  • Students recommend solutions

Specific Expectations

*describe some major connections between features of the natural environment and the type of employment that is available in a region, with reference to two or more municipal regions in Ontario

* “Why are some jobs dependent on the seasons?” “What are some of the jobs that are connected to forests, lakes, and rivers? What sorts of jobs are connected to agricultural land use?”

*gather and organize a variety of data and information on the environmental effects of different land and/or resource use and measures taken to reduce the negative impact of that use

*evaluate evidence and draw conclusions about issues related to the impact of natural resource extraction/harvesting and/or use around the world

*communicate the results of their inquiries using appropriate vocabulary (e.g., non-renewable, renewable, flow resources; extraction; sustainability; deforestation; fossil fuels; aquifer) and formats appropriate for specific audiences

*explain why some environmental issues are of international importance and require the participation of other regions of the world, along with that of Canada, if they are to be effectively addressed

The Makerspace Classroom is WAY more than Circuits & Programming

_20151213_203359The Enrichment and Innovation Centre  is considered a ‘Maker Space Community’ with a strong focus on STEM principles, problem based learning, design thinking and arts education, each with an overriding theme of Social Justice and Environmental Education. The Inquiry driven model was designed with specific attention to enriched programming, current pedagogies, computer science, environmental considerations (physical space), online and blended learning, and community partnerships.


 

The Learning Environment is something that I’ve discussed many times in this blog. More and more, the term ‘Makerspace’ is becoming synonymous with the “Learning-space”.  A space where we teach, learn and create.  However, the conditions for engaging students and teachers in a space where creativity and design is at the core needs to be implemented first. Making requires a strong sense of community, of team work, of shared learning experiences and requires tough challenges and risks and it also requires constant evolving innovations. There is so much more to the space then providing a set of robotics, circuits or robotics –  we need to provide the opportunity to develop strong relationships and a place where learning can happen regardless of age, or skill, or interest.  Here, I share our story in creating the Innovation and Enrichment Centre – a Makerspace Learning community that is far more than circuits.

In 2008, when Skype, along with the internet first became available in my district (at my school), my classroom walls literally opened up. Even in that small classroom,  students became empowered to learn outside the classroom, from people and sources beyond the teacher and the curriculum. It was fascinating. 2009, we Skyped (yes, its a verb now)  over 80,000 kms on the first and second day of school.

If you’ve read my blog you will know why I have tea circles in the classroom or have a crock-pot of soup on throughout the day. You will know why I so strongly value game based learning and feel strongly against the ‘gamified’ approach which I believe contradicts the factors that are so necessary for learning to be fully realized. Learners, regardless of age, need to feel respected and valued and honoured. We need to create instances where we talk naturally (games are a great way to make this happen) and to find real world connections to what they are learning about.  Learners (all of us) need to have a say in what we are learning as well as provided with up to date, current and challenging tools and projects.