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.

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

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 Power of Off

Another day, another story about distractions caused by devices. Why do none of these articles and studies discuss the power of the off button? I wrote about my culpability in a post as I own that I have distraction on my hands.

How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds – Nicolas Carr who also wrote the book The Shallows which told us what the internet is doing to our minds. I do not completely buy his argument although I get the point. I imagine there were articles about how the printing press was damaging to the eyes or memory of the humans when it was introduced. Check out Marshal McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, or The Rand Corporation’s article on the Information Age, Looking Backward to Look Forward Try this do a Google search for distractions and learning distractions and you will find a plethora (About 31,400,000 in 0.64 seconds, according to Google’s humble brag) of information about the damage being done.

Do a Google search for mobile devices and learning  and you will find an abundance, (About 111,000,000 results 0.71 seconds, again a humble brag) according to Google’s humble brag) of information about how the same devices can be used to increase the learning with adaptions and conscious use. That is about 79,600,00 more although to be honest I did not read them all to make sure if they were pro or con.

I get it and agree, but until there is no longer an off button on the devices, we are still the overlord of the devices we put in our lives. I for one do not want to go back to the day when digital learning happened when you went to the computer lab. For fun, I did a Google search for how to turn off my iPhone? I did not see this number coming (About 16,900,000 results (0.55 seconds)). If there are that many resources on how to turn off an iPhone we might need an intervention.

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.

Culture Eats Everything


Image from: https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/organisational-culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner/

I have been reading and listening to Will Richardson for many years.  I have a copy of his 2006 edition Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts which shaped my use of these tools.  I was lucky enough to meet Will when he spoke at our school a few years ago. I consider him to be a first level mentor.  He has been at the idea of rethinking education for a long time. He is now working with Bruce Dixon at Modern Learners where they do a podcast. I loved this episode as it resonated with me. Will coined the term “change in a vacuum” to highlight how schools work at small projects hoping to influence change and impact the culture of the school. As the image shows, the best laid strategy is eaten by culture every day. I know this to be true as I have helped feed it over the years. Granted, some of my lone nut ideas deserved to be eaten as they were poorly thought out or just nuts. Many of my ideas, like portfolios, blogging, collaborative and creative projects, teaching kids to learn how to use their voice and their face, etc .. were just too far out of the norms of the school’s culture. This is not a judgement about the school’s culture, as I am part of the very culture. I am eternally grateful that I get to try out many of my ideas over the years.

The podcast  Will and Bruce did on Culture of Change #24 resonated with me especially the term that Will threw out.  Will and Bruce discuss the article on Fast Company about how Satya Nadella’s was able to bring change to Microsoft.

This is a great quote from the Fast Company article: “He has inspired the company’s 124,000 employees to embrace what he calls “learn-it-all” curiosity (as opposed to what he describes as Microsoft’s historical know-it-all bent) that in turn has inspired developers and customers—and investors—to engage with the company in new, more modern ways”.

It is well worth a listen and in fact, I suggest you subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. If you do not subscribe to podcasts, why not?

Confessions of a Dismayed Apple Fan

I need to come clean about my love of Apple products as I feel both extreme pleasure and a sense of responsibility for what we, as a society, have allowed to happen. I played a part in this since I have visited the Apple Campus to learn how to bring devices to our school. I attended the MacWorld Expo in January 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. These were glorious times with so much promise for the future. We would be able to move computer use from a destination room to being available when needed. Why then did we end up where we are today? Web filters, apps to monitor usage and destinations, apps to turn off other apps, and the list grows each day. We are on the cusp of great advances with machine learning allowing us to talk to our devices to get answers to on the spot questions. Information is no longer scarce and yet many classes and schools act as if it is.  Our schools should be different with all of the devices we have added to them. For the most part we have underutilized the power of the devices but instead worked hard at restricting what they could bring to our learning. I am a participant in this movement and want to own my share of responsibility, but not more than my share.

I gave a talk to the sixth grade yesterday about making wise choices with the devices we give them. I write a book that is on all of the devices to support what I think is important for our learning community. I start with the usual acceptable use and what to do and what not to do. I dislike this part of my role but do it as I must to get to the next part of my role. That is to be a role model for how to balance the devices in our lives. Granted, today I turn 61 so I am long past the age of my students, but I think I remain relevant. The students are amazed that I do not own one of the smartphones that I saw introduced in 2007. I do not like talking on the phone and frankly think the costs of the device and the contracts for service are too high. I have a burner phone for those I love to contact me if needed. My school supplies me with all sorts of devices so I have everything that I need. I live on a farm so I now have 3.5Mbps DSL which is fast enough to do most things but not all things. I have watched as my children and grandchildren have been overtaken by the devices they bring to the farm when they visit. The woods on the farm does not call them like it used to when we looked for the fairy village as the iPad or TV has more draw. So with this in mind I wanted to shake up my presentation to the students which is why I asked these questions and shared these resources. Maybe you will find them useful.

Question: How many of you have an Instagram account?

Response: That is amazing since none of you are 13. I do know that you are all capable of lying to get what you want since everyone has to be 13 to use the good stuff on the internet. I discuss a bit about COPPA.

Advice: If the first thing you have to do to get something you want is to lie, you probably should reconsider if you really want it more then your integrity.

This allows us to discuss how humans will do many things to get what they want and lying is sometimes the least problematic action.

I then shared these resources so they could understand why they “wanted” and were willing to lie to get it as I think this is important information so they do not internalize that they are bad people.

FOMO https://www.wired.com/2017/08/fomo

I did not know this existed. Behavior Design Course http://captology.stanford.edu/projects/behaviordesign.html and Behavior Model Triggers http://www.behaviormodel.org/triggers.html
I love Tristan’s TED talk and showed the first 17 minutes.
I also like the work done by Time Well Spent.
I left them with the chance to “Be Internet Awesome” by Google Education https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/
Update 9/18/17 Adjusted the title as an is not an a and a is not an an issue. I also think the title could have been, “In The Battle for Your Attention, I Was a Foot Soldier”

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.