Visions of Future Learning and the STEAM Lab

If all goes well, the new STEAM by Design Lab will be constructed during the 2020 – 2021 which will include Science Labs and the Library. I feel this is one of the most important efforts I will ever be involved in as a professional educator. I believe a well designed learning space will fuel learning for the next 50 years of learning. A poorly designed learning space will restrict the next 50 years of learning. Which will we build? Will the design be based on the research and neuroscience of how we learn? Or will the architects design a space that comes in on a budget set in times when rooms for learning were teacher centric, relied on compliance over engagement, and when information was scarce and learners could not learn without being in school. All of those things have changed dramatically in just the last 20 years or so. I have been thinking about this a lot as I think we need to get this right.  Another factor is the fact that this will not be a space I help design for myself but for most likely my replacement. As my career is now sprinkled with the internal debate of retirement along with the occasional question from colleagues; “How many years do you have left?”, it is clear to me that my lasting impact on the future DA students will be how I helped our school think about designing spaces for learners and learning and not for teachers and subjects.

The drawing above is where my thinking is now for what I think the STEAM by Design labs should look like. A list of must haves is forming although I am sure it will change before the ground is broken or the current building is touched.

My thinking is being guided by my 25 years of teaching and learning along with these awesome organizations and folks.

TranscendEducation has put out a wonderful resource for designing spaces for learning. http://www.transcendeducation.org/designing-4-learning

Learning Transformed Book by Eric C. Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Learning-Transformed.aspx

David Jakes’ many resources: https://davidjakesdesigns.com/ideas/2018/8/28/what-your-spaces-say and https://davidjakesdesigns.com/

American School of Shanghai Learning Spaces Manifesto : “If a space delivers everything we expect, it hasn’t been pushed far enough. “ https://www.saschina.org/academics/learning-spaces

Designing for Learning by American Association of Architects: http://designforlearning.archfoundation.org/

And good ole Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon at Modern Learners: https://modernlearners.com/ and especially the post about Designing for Learning https://modernlearners.com/designing-for-learning/ which discusses the work of  Carol Black and her post http://carolblack.org/the-gaze and Ira David Socol https://mystudentvoices.com/what-does-it-mean-to-build-a-school-or-to-rebuild-a-school-3c8dd5b356d5

Watch her video on WEIRD societies. (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic)

 

Creating Conditions for Learning & Not Feeling Guilty

I am finishing up the last of the 7 summer camps I do with the help of Donovan and Hutch. You can see what we offer here. I forget how many years I have been doing summer camps for at least the past 10 years as Donovan took my camps when he was much younger. In the early camps, Devin (Donovan’s older brother), Ada, and myself would create materials for the camps we offered. I even created wikis and other supporting sites. Check out this post from 2008. We worked really hard before, during, and after the camps to make sure all of the software, hardware, directions, projects, and plans were ready to go. Ada used to make wonderful handouts with screenshots and directions to create mazes in Scratch. Her sister Gala even helped out in camps and beta tested the handouts. These camps were very successful and fun, but oh so 2008 as we controlled the entire learning cycle as everyone made the same thing at the same time with the same methods. We were doing recipes not projects. We were doing the best we knew at the time. Doing it this way in 2018 would be insane if not educational malpractice given the changes in our world and the wealth of resources available to change how the learning cycle is constructed. We now have resources like CS First with Scratch, CodeMonkey, Made with Code, Code.org, Tinkercad, and a wealth of other free or subscription based resources. The resources are all web-based and use the latest privacy and security protocols and allow us to work anywhere we have an internet connection.

Over the last 2 to 3 years that we have been using these new resources our camps have changed dramatically from the early days where we did recipe instructions. As Dr. Beth Holland and Will Richardson discussed in their podcast from Modern Learners, we have shifted the pace, place, path, and time to allow the campers “learners” to own what they learn. I have had to adjust my thinking that I was not doing as much as I should do to provide the campers with a rewarding experience. What we are doing is more of a blended learning camp although I do not like anything about that terminology. Dr. Holland shared a post about breaking the grammar of school/learning which I think is relevant to how we should all look at learning whether it be summer camps or academic classes. I sort of felt guilty though as what I do is different from what I did. While I no longer have to create handouts and other resources, I now curate and create the scaffolds for learning by using my wisdom and years of experience. I do the same sort of curation in the STEAM by Design seminar I offer during the academic year. My feeling guilty was about me personally when I need to consider my professional guilt if I was still doing summer camps or academic instruction the same way I did it 10 years ago. Learners will learn with us or without us.

How do I know what I am doing now is best for the learners? By listening and observing what is happening to see learners help each other, discuss solutions to problems, smile, laugh, be sad when it is time to stop, go home and continue the learning. I think this is because they own the learning.

Equal Parts Inspiration and Perspiration – Reflections on STEAM by Design Year 2

UPDATE on July 27, 2018 as I just found this post in my drafts which gave me an epiphany related to the bulk of this post that I worked on in May.  These are features and not bugs which I will embrace as look at the learning that is taking place by all of us.

As we closed out another year in learning together, I think the title best illustrates how I feel about the year. We had periods of high-level inspiration happening with learners owning their learning and regulating what they worked on, failed at, and overcame in the different units we explored. I will make adjustments to next years seminar in order to increase the inspiration although I am acutely aware that I will never eliminate the flow between inspiration and perspiration due to the nature of what STEAM by Design in at its core.

The most inspiring learning was demonstrated by learners who could self-regulate, direct their own learning, stick with an idea even though it involved many iterations before they achieved the success they were hoping for. This is the standard I hope to achieve with all learners in STEAM by Design. Here are some of their reflections, feedback from survey, and work.

  

“At first I wasn’t interested in this class but my parents made me do it. I ended up loving it and now it is by far my favorite class.” “This class was fun and taught me a lot.” “Thanks for an AWESOME year!!”

The most perspiring aspects were demonstrated by those learners who could not self-regulate, and direct their own learning. There were a handful of learners who were not able to adjust to the shift in who controls the learning. Most of their work was often titled Copy of or was not delivered. I will make adjustments next year to redirect those learners out of STEAM by Design if needed as it is not a good fit. The comments below from the student survey sums it up pretty well.

“Felt very unstructured and unorganized, slightly more structure would have been nice (but not too structured).”  and “More things that are assigned.”

The next iteration will have fewer learners and all who applied have been accepted. I think this change will make the need to redirect learners out of STEAM by Design a mute point, at least I hope so.

 

 

Tinkercad and 3D Printing Camp

Tinkercad is wonderful software for learning how to design objects in 3D. We also use Makers Empire but due to technical issues, (my brain forgot to ask to have the app installed) we were not able to use it at camp. Tinkercad is free like sunshine while Makers Empire is a very affordable subscription model. We had 12 creative young people who worked hard this week. They were successful with most of their designs and prints although failures were abundant since doing more prototyping will result in the refinements needed to slice their designs.

Below is Octavio’s Snowball Fight Snow Speeder.

Ella really got into making Bunny figures with different themes like; Too Much Coffee Bunny, Scuba Bunny, etc…

Why I Love What I Do and Where I Do It

Modern learning is more about creating the environment for learning now that information is abundant and learners can learn without us. I think of it more like solving a puzzle as we are somewhere between school 1.0 and school 2.0. Two years ago I came up with the idea for STEAM by Design Seminar and wondered how it would work out. I had some nonnegotiable things like no grades or homework. That made this a seminar (not a class since classes have grades and homework), which has turned out to be just what I and our students needed. I have made a good living being a teacher and digital learning coordinator. In fact Durham Academy just did a profile of me which tells my story pretty well. I did a poor job of describing when I moved out of the house at 13 as I did come back each Sunday night to go to school, but spent the weekends on the farm of Eldon Crapp. Read it here. I am lucky that DA has allowed me to try almost anything I thought was worth trying. Granted, I study things and believe I should learn it first before I suggest the school jumps in. That was mostly true with STEAM by Design with the exception of no grades or homework part. As I continue to learn and adjust the seminar, I am grateful to receive the positive feedback like the article, the cards from students, notes from parents, and the affirmations from people I have learned with over the years.

Here are a few of the affirmations in the last week or so:

From a student: note tells it all.

From a parent: Just wanted to send you the latest from the people who inherited Zach (He was in STEAM by D last year). I am glad he found the US teachers of Beck and Starling as well.

From a company:https://www.makersempire.com

We are very excited to let you know that Cal’s entry in our February competition has been selected as the WINNER.  We were impressed by Cal’s original design that showed creativity and fit for purpose design.
This student’s entry was chosen from over 1000 designs that were entered in our ‘Help Theo the Dog’ competition. A cool Makers Empire prize pack will be on it’s way to Cal soon and their design will be featured in the gallery in the Maker’s Empire App.
We are also pleased to announce that entries from the following students were selected as runner-up in the February competition:
Lauren from Wilderness School in South Australia
Natalie from Verona Area School District
Chloe from Woodcroft College in South Australia
We have an exciting new competition called Feeling Dice, challenging students to design an emotions monitor.
We hope you are enjoying your 3D designing and printing at Durham Academy and we look forward to seeing more great designs.
Kind regards,
The Makers Empire Team

https://dash.makersempire.com/designs/cal-baker-theo-s-stick-contraption#

Last but not least from Will and Bruce at Modern Learners: Read The Artistry of Teaching and listen to Changing Educational Norms That No Longer Serve Us .

I think the Seymour Sarason quote Will shares … gets to the heart of what I hope to achieve with STEAM by Design.

“There is one goal [of education] that, if not achieved, makes the achievement of all other goals very unlikely. That goal is to create those conditions that make students want to learn; not have to learn but want to learn more about self, others, and the world. The overarching purpose of schooling and its governance is to support that goal, i.e., to create and sustain contexts of productive learning supportive of the natural curiosity and wonder with which children start schooling.”

 

 

 

Magnetic Marble Run Update

While it took some time to get the STEAM by Design students fully committed, we have lift off or rather marble off. My thanks to John Umekubo @jumekubo  at St. Matthew’s Parish School for the inspiration with his marble run project http://www.creatorsstudio.org/special-projects/magnetic-marble-run-wall There have been many iterations by the students to get theirs working and as you can see many interpretations on designs. I gave the student the following information and directions. Your name must be on it, and these are the measurements you need. Marble, 18 mm, Magnet is 15mm x 3mm and Tinkercad hole measurement diagram.

I did not discuss mass, plane, or gravity. While I wanted them to prototype with cardboard, this aspect is a weak point with our students as most want to get it done like on a checklist. I will keep working on this aspect since we have no grades to motivate this type of hurried learning. Today the students were pretty excited to see how it could work and I have to say, it is pretty awesome. I love how students will play on it during the day.

On Tour with Tour Builder

I love it when a teacher asks me something they would like to do with their students to help connect what they have been studying or reading to the larger world. Julie, Patti, Mike, and Melissa wanted to make maps so we looked into G Suite’s My Maps and Google’s Tour Builder. With the help of these explorers we have embarked on our journey comparing and creating our story maps. We had decided on My Maps as it appeared to be a more friendly and feature rich environment and was available in our G Suite. After working with a class, Julie and I wondered if Google Tour Builder would work better since there is more sharing options as we want the maps to be viewable on their blogs. My Maps will not work as our students are not allowed to share outside of our G Suite domain. Tour Builder allows for sharing with a link which we can put on their blog. With this in mind, we will work with the afternoon class in Tour Builder. I enjoy ideating as we work through the learning goals and the technology. I just got a message from Patti saying, “I’m in for Tour Builder.”! This is an example of the tour I built in Tour Builder. Since I have not read the books or stories, it is not an accurate example of what our students will create.

The only caveat is that we must create on a desktop computer and then share to iPads to view as the creation is not supported on mobile, “yet.”

We used these resources to get started.

Tour Builder by Eric Curts http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2017/10/tour-builder.html

Overview of the differences by Ann Witherspoon. http://www.poweredwithtechnology.com/2016/04/storytelling-with-google-tour-builder.html

The long running Google Lit Trips is a good place to see past examples. http://www.googlelittrips.org/

Richard Byrne has great resources on how to use Tour Builder and My Maps as well. http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2017/10/google-tour-builder.html#.Wh2RybQ-fUI

 

The Moment it Happens

I was nervous as the first day of coding Code.org CS Discoveries and Adafruit’s Circuit Playgrounds had not gone as smooth as I had wanted. I was not sure how to make the second day go better. I spent about four hours going through the tutorials like I was a student hoping to figure out how to move the class from “what are we supposed to do” phase to the “I can do this”. And then it happened. One student exclaimed, “We’re coding” and they were off helping each other while I helped other students. I felt more empowered as WE were learning and troubleshooting together. The energy in the STEAM lab was “electric”!

Heck, I even tweeted it out.

7 Camps in 4 Weeks

Carly Dragon Egg

I am finishing up a rewarding month of offering camps on 3D Design and Printing along with a bunch of different Computer Coding camps. I have been helped by Donovan Polk and Hutch Castelao who have helped our campers create and learn new skills. This was the first time I offered a 3D Design and Printing camp and I am happy to say I thought it went really well. The image above is of Cal cleaning up their Dragon Egg that they designed and printed. This was the small version as we wanted to make sure it would work before we printed the larger version. I am impressed by how the 109 campers worked hard each day to learn to program. We used mostly free resources like Tinkercad, CS-First, Blockly, Code.org, and one paid service that we also use at school called CodeMonkey. I was very happy that the campers also enjoyed the format of most of the services we used as it allowed them to move at their pace instead of waiting for directions. Learning has come so far since I started doing camps years ago with respect to the resources that are now available. I can remember having Gala Taylor writing step-by-step tutorials for Scratch in the early days. The camps I do now are really more of a blended, personalized, or whatever name du jour you want to use. They are also much less effort than they were in the past since we can use these services instead of having to create everything on our own. This shift is also reflected in the way my STEAM by Design Seminar is conducted. Where else does this shift show up in schools, camps, and other informal learning? Oh, one other benefit, all are web-based and available anywhere the campers have an internet connection. For more information, see the Summer Coding Camps site we used for our camps.

16 Hours 40 Minute Flight Not Needed for a Student Connection

As part of the STEAM by Design Seminar I have prodded and held on based on what I and the students needed at that time. I love this fluidity and most of the students are adjusting to owning their learning more each day. Emma has had an awesome week as she was working on getting the City of Lights project ready to film, started an art project with Julia as they felt we needed more art in our STEAM by Design Seminar. I had to get more Pink Duct Tape for their projects. As class was proceeding Emma said it was too bad that our 3D Wox printer by Sindoh did not have any pink filament. I said they do not sell that color and we can only use their filament. She said, “I think I will contact them!”  She wrote all of this on her own and as you can tell she is great at persuasive writing.

Hello,
I am an 8th grader at Durham Academy in Durham North Carolina. I use the 3D WOX printers in my STEM class at school. I really like to make cool  things that I can use, but you don’t make any pretty colors for us to print with. It would be awesome if you could make colors such as pink, purple and sky blue. I like the 3D WOX printers better than any other company, but the only thing that would prevent me from recommending it are the filament colors. I think that you would get a lot more buisiness with better colors.
Thank you very much for considering this idea.
Sincerely,
Emma

Dear Emma,

The new Filament colors (Purple and Pink) are going to be available in the early March. (This had not been announced anywhere – emphasis mine)
You will be able to purchase them through Amazon.
Please let us know for any other questions.
Thank you.
3DWOX Team

This was really a cool response and we were both happy about the reply. She went to her first two classes and then came running into the STEAM lab at break beaming with smiles and floating on clouds as she had another message.

How cool is this? I love this printer (have 3 and ordering 3 more) for our school as the printers just plain work! Now I love this company for supporting a students dream to print in pink!