Today I am at a conference on Makers-Spaces (thank you Sun Prairie HS & presenters from www.naomiharm.org). My idea today was just to blog through-out the day as thoughts hit me.
Maker-Spaces are about hands-on. Using building blocks, electronics, cars - anything, so long as you create. It is the idea that doing is learning, that doing is understanding. I know in math that the doing is critically important - but the skill I want to deliver is problem-solving. And that happens by solving problems -- thinking about and handling problems.
The first activity was the question what can you do with a paper plate, the instructor used Socrative and we thought about what a paper plate can be used for, then we built something. It was interesting to think about a problem and then how to solve it. My gang from Juda (4 of us) designed a car to deliver candy down the ramp at our school building (the cloths pin had a Kit-Kat prior to the picture - I ate it....). A project that was a problem where students could build, test and revise. Again - to get "good" at problem solving you must practice problem solving.
We then discussed room redesign - remaking learning spaces. The question from the speaker that I grabbed was: "Is the classroom for me and my stuff or my students?" After a decade of teaching I need to take a couple of days and make sure my room is actually their room. I need to continue to make the space multi-purpose, make it a place where the cost of errors is non-existent and opportunity to succeed is always present. That is part of the maker-space mentality also.
Finally our group talked about our school. That was big part of the day for us. Our school's discussion centered on our vision for students and student learning. How do we create the environment to help our students become better problem solvers? And for us it centers on the idea that everyone needs the chance to be hands-on (forget a particular class) and is done for practice (thus not for a grade). And lastly, probably most importantly, there is a culture where mistakes are not discourage but embraced as a step forward. That mistakes occur on the path to success and those mistakes along with revisions are a normal part of problem solving (not to be avoided or made fun of).
It was a good Saturday.