I thought that all I could learn from kindergarten teachers I'd learned back in 1970 in Mrs. Ducote's class, but Kory Graham has proven me wrong.
Being in daily contact with Kory for the past year as part of our connected educator teaching PLC has taught me a number of things. Her insightful questions have improved my teaching, her modeling has expanded my tech horizons, and her friendship has enriched my personal life.
Mrs. Graham taught me that smart boards work best in the hands of students and mounted at student height (yes, even kindergarteners can use them -I've seen them used in her classroom, along with educational iPad activities she designed.)
She showed me I can use Google Hangout for long-distance reading enrichment and she offered to help me when I admitted I found it daunting.
Her calm nature makes her a great tech tutor. She is approachable and positive and meets those who do not have her same expertise right where we are. She knows how to reassure those with tech anxiety. Nothing seems too hard with Kory on your team. She is a master of making a way.
She's one of the most ethical, conscientious, and truly helpful people I know. I've seen her work hand-in-hand with parents both in her classroom and across the country to make learning better for students.
She enjoys discovering new tools and information and asks amazing questions that probe thinking and open up possibilities. She single-handedly instituted and organized a reading night for her students and community families that continues each year solely because of the force of her commitment to doing what is best for students. She moderates educational chats of teachers as deftly as she navigates an obstacle course on field day. If something needs to be done, hand it to Kory and you can be sure it will get done and done well.
Before I met Kory I had the mistaken notion that early elementary teachers could not benefit from tech that those of us who teach older grades can. She's opened my eyes to many new ways to use social media, tech tools, apps and websites across all grades. I've also learned from her to speak distinctly, ask clarifying questions, and remain relentlessly curious. Rather than being shy about something, wonder aloud and see what you can learn.
She's taught me these things, but she is the master. Listening to her get to the bottom of an issue and find a solution is like watching a master artist: she makes it look easy. Kory is not just a tech-infused teacher; Kory lives a tech-infused life. She blends the best of old-school and new-school; of skills-based and experiential inquiry and brings it as a gift to all of those who have the pleasure to work and think with her each day.
My third grade daughter and I watched Big Hero 6 a lot over the snow days and in today's interview for our district IT videocast, I compared the headset our students use in our media center MakerSpace (photo above) to a similar controller on Hiro in the movie.
It got me thinking about how Big Hero Six is a perfect maker movie to capture our students' imaginations and inspire them to create their own projects in school maker spaces. The boy Hiro and his brother Tadashi are both makers. Sure, the "nerdlab" is pretty futuristic, but watching Hiro invent, have false starts, use a 3D printer and scanner, use a controller, hack existing designs, code, and, above all, decide to love school instead of reject what it has to offer, sends the perfect message to budding makers in schools everywhere.
The movie illustrates maker concepts such as design thinking, critical thinking, growth mindset, positive hacking to create a better world, and above all a maker attitude and ethos.
If you haven't done so yet, consider how to infuse maker ed into your class or school today. Here are 5 easy steps to start a makerspace from scratch in any school
Here is how to introduce a maker-friendly project in your classroom. You can always start with a clip from Big Hero Six to set the stage.
Gizmodo article showing the real life scientific inspiration for the movie
IO9 article about the show's science and artistic inspiration to connnect to your STEM plus arts or STEAM curricula
RELATED POST- Genius Hour lends itself well to schools that have maker spaces: Here is ours called Love of Learning
When you've finished our summer reading book, I've had a crazy amount of tabs open on my computer of things I've been meaning to share this summer. Here they are:
Summer Roundup of Great Links to check out: (volume 1)
The 1st three headings below are ISTE-found links from my fellow PD Facilitator, Nicole Cathey. She attended the international superstar of ed tech conferences, and shared these off the top of her head when I asked her about the most useful takeaways of ISTE:
ISTE 2014 Session Notes:
Attendees at ISTE shared their notes for you and placed links on this google doc. Scroll through it and click on the topics that interest you to read that attendee's session notes! Great way to share!
"21 Things" Sites:
If you go no farther this is a fun site to poke around 21Things for Teachers. They also have a "21 Things" site for administrators and for your students!
An algorythmically adapted personalized learning geared toward test prep site, called adaptive learning from Knewton. The site is connected to microsoft and Pearson. A lot of the info I found while researching is written from a business end (covered by Forbes and the economist) and higher ed stuff like their GMAT review course and there weren't a lot of teacher written reviews that my google was finding but this is an older review of the site as well as grockit-which sounds interesting http://www.hackeducation.com/2011/10/17/big-bucks-for-adaptive-learning-platforms/
Now here are a few links I've been holding that others have shared on Twitter:
Teaching Students to Ask the Right Questions:
I personally think nothing you can teach is more important than this for students' futures: http://rightquestion.org/education/
Another fantastic article about the importance of questioning as an oft-overlooked skill http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/03/why-its-imperative-to-teach-students-how-to-question-as-the-ultimate-survival-skill/
Making and Creating Resources:
Being a maker teacher is about interest in students creating, not just regurgitating. You do NOT need techy skills or enginnering skills yourself, just a mindset to let students create and build and design.
4 Steps to Becoming a Maker Teacher http://gettingsmart.com/2014/05/4-steps-becoming-maker-teacher
7 Tenents of Creative Thinking http://www.edutopia.org/blog/7-tenets-of-creative-thinking-michael-michalko
This weebly site is a great clearinghouse for all things PBL (project based learning) - it takes you from step 1 what is that? as far as you want to go.
If want to learn about PBL for free, you can pick a project you'd like your students to try and a class here at PBL university- some classes are full already but you can still get ideas and learn more about the projects, PBLU
LAST BUT NOT LEAST>>>
Along the lines of Making, Design Thinking is really taking off so here is some info on that in the classroom.
How to Apply Design Thinking in Your Class - Step By Step
I love KQED Mindshift, so here is everything tagged design thinking on that site
Links worth checking out and/or Passing on:
Personalized Learning Myths-
Stop The False Generalizations About Personalized Learning http://onforb.es/1nREQiN
If you don't have time tomorrow to talk to your students about their digital footprints (in preparation for summer), you can post this to your summer reading site or just teach it next year. Links at the bottom go to other Digital Citizenship topics like cyberbulling
Every time we review for standardized testing we reinforce the one correct answer shallow thinking model. This is necessary for some tasks but not all and not worth the weight we give it in education. Not sure what that means as long as we judge students, teachers and schools based on standardized scores but I do know that once the child leaves academia, it will be of little use to him or her. pic.twitter.com/b8uYjwxLAj
Resources for inquiry lessons (PBL) -
Using Urban Resources for Education (Museums, Libraries, etc)
"In 10 years, I’m hoping our cities are our classrooms." - Amy Eshleman
http://t.co/PVAEFcHhfS - (I didn't listen to the podcast but reading the link alone is a good idea)
This experiential learning model and reminds me of Piedmont's walking field trips:
These two links below speak to the importance of a movement in ed that I am a big fan of: maker movement /genius hour /classroom as laboratory or studo.
Both of these links talk about how important it is to let kids run with their hare-brained schemes.
I am all for teachers whose gift it is to provide security and structure. However, back in the day that was considered the ONLY way to teach. I am certain that what public school's greatest gift to children, especially poor children, can be is NOT militaristic structure but a workshop and dream making space that they do not get at home but rich children (or bohemian artists' children, or the hyper-educated's children) do-or at least their parents ship them off to camp for once a year- if they are not like the moms in these stories who open their homes to chaos with a smile
Upshot for teachers - if you can be patient and let the learning be messy kids can achieve their dreams
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Lisa Gurthie is the PD facilitator at Piedmont IB Middle School. She specializes in tech and arts integration, interdisciplinary holistic education, and unschooling school to reconnect academia to real life. One day she will modernize her "about" page. She curates this blog for the professional development convenience of the teachers at Piedmont, but the editorial comments are her own.