Wednesday, October 29, 2014

STEAM Lab & Makers

Why the world needs makers?

Who are Makers?

Independent inventors, designers, tinkerers, computer hackers, and traditional artists are all makers. The great thing about the maker movement is that no coding knowledge is required. Being a maker is about going back to basics and learning to build with tools you already have or re-purposing things that have been discarded. Challenge your students to learn on their own by making something with a topic you have in your class. You will be pleasantly surprised what they will accomplish.

How can you make your classroom into a maker lab?

You can start by adding some projects that let students learn to think and problem solve. Let me list a few examples of tools we use in my classroom that help students become problem solvers, inventors and develop their imaginations.
  • Animation
  • Web and App Design
  • Robotics: Mindstorms and/or LEGO WeDOs, Raspberry Pi's
  • Movie making
  • Python and Scratch Coding

Free Programs You Can Use To Challenge Your Students

Ideas Made Easy

These are some of my favorite websites for inspiration:

Simple Suggestions To Help Make Your Classroom Into a Maker Lab

  • How about centers? Keep in mind that centers work in high school too. 
  • Can you set up 1-3 different maker centers that help break up a unit in your class
  • What can you challenge your students to make with LEGOS or play dough?
  • What can you make in class to help kids learn math? Can you teach coordinates with Scratch or coding. 
  • Be creative and think about the multiple solutions it would take for your students to solve coding problems in Scratch or other coding programs.
  • How about stop motion animation what can you ask students to animate?

How About Starting with an Hour of JAVA Code

Our Raspberry Pi Adventure

I will leave you with a little Raspberry Pi video my son made for his Science Project in 5th grade. At eight years old he taught himself Scratch so by 5th grade his teacher agreed to let him be a maker instead of a scientist. This was the result.

More Information From Silvia Martinez's Book on Invent to Learn

The technological game-changers of 3D printing, physical computing and computer science can fuel transformations in the learning environment. K-12 educators can adapt these powerful technologies and “can do” [maker classrooms] can help revitalize learner-centered teaching and learning in all subject areas.

~Silvia Martinez
Author of Invent to Learn

Monday, October 27, 2014

Diffrerent Types of Online Teaching

Blended Learning

First let me provide a video about blended learning to explain what has happened in the way we teach and learn. I highly recommend you watch it before you read my post.

Today I learned that I will have the privilege of teaching for Georgia Virtual schools come Spring 2015. It is an exciting time to teach online. Classroom environments are changing and it is important that as educators we learn to teach effectively online. Plus, this opportunity will allow me to reach more students and hopefully get more students excited about fields in Computer Science and Technology. 

I am also currently enrolled in GaTech's online Masters of Computer Science and it has been an insightful experience. I have become very aware of effective vs. ineffective methods of teaching online and I am fascinated by the learning and teaching that is encountered in these virtual classrooms. The nature of the classroom can either be engaging or not and it really boils down to the instructors and how much time they dedicate to making students feel like they are part of a class. Does it sound similar to a typical classroom in a school?

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes:
I am going to also explain a little about two types of online classrooms: synchronous vs. asynchronous. writes in their article Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Classes
"Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate. 
Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a time frame – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. But overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose."
The classes I take online for GaTech are actually a blended approach to these two types of online classrooms. We meet once a week with a professor on Google Hangouts but get all our assignments via video lectures and online posts. During the Google Hangout, we have with our professor, who by the way can have over 200 students a semester, he allows us to ask questions. The session is then recorded and it becomes available for us to view. The video contains links to cued video of the questions he answers. The class I take also has an online forum where students help students. We post questions about a particular assignment or lecture and help each other out. Peer help is one of the things I thought I would miss the most while taking online classes but luckily these online forums make this possible. Plus, imagine having over 200 computer scientists available to answer your questions. This would obviously be impossible to attain in a regular classroom.

I will leave you with a video that gives you examples of the benefits of blended learning. The video explains how a whiteboard can no longer reach all of our students and he asks how then do we accommodate for these 21st century students?