STEM for in all Areas…. Ten Ideas to Transform STEM from Nouns to Verbs… and Facts to Thinking

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There are a lot of ideas floating around in regards to STEM education. As I reflect on my observation of STEM practice in my travels across the country I have become more convinced that STEM is a verb, and not just a set of nouns. In fact, STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning. Before investigating this idea further,  please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way this school year…So Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through December. In fact, next year (2017) is already filling fast with winter just about filled. It might be time to begin thinking about next Spring and Summer PD! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

STEM Opportunity -Are you interested in STEM and projects beyond the classroom? Do you wish to join a discussion on how students using STEM can make an impact on the world outside the classroom? Please join me on Twitter with  and the amazing  Team for the monthly  on Wednesday, September 28 at 8 PM EDT. We can all learn from each other. Please pass this on through twitter, other social media, and within your PLC!

STEM in all Areas…. Ten Ideas to Transform STEM from Nouns to Verbs… and Facts to Thinking

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  – John Dewey

Let’s take a moment and investigate the STEM acronym, after-all it is being used quite a bit across the United States and the world. Often we hear the content areas; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as being the basis of STEM. While this is a wonderful collection of nouns that can be used to put together a cross-curricular, transdisciplinary, or project based learning unit of study; it seems to leave out many of the other disciplines through this content definition. By focusing just on these four areas we are losing the powerful and authentic learning opportunities that STEM thinking can bring to the classroom.  In fact, we are also leaving some of the most important teachers from other subject areas  out of the equation, or the limited definition does not make them feel a part of an exciting possibility!  Perhaps that is why we see schools and districts adopting STEAM (infuse the arts), and STREAM (add on some Reading. As we see these new models perhaps we should turn it into STREAMIE (include everyone), from there we can go to STREAMIER and STREAMIEST! Better yet, how about STREAMING… wow… it’s a verb! While the idea could make everyone smile, let’s take a look at what STEM might and could actually look like if we facilitated and promoted and all-inclusive subject area model.

I have often stated that one could look at STEM as the content and PBL as the process, but even in this mode of thinking, it seems to leave out important content. Perhaps it is important to think of STEM as a verb and not a noun.  What if all disciplines viewed STEM as a thinking process?  This is what many true STEM leaders have been promoting. Yet many programs and initiatives focus on STEM as a noun.It could be due to the many logos we see promoting the four disciplines. John Dewey stated:

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  

Think for a second of not the stated STEM disciplines, but the skills and thought process it takes to work within a STEM content area. Consider the skills that must be learned for an eventual career, or multiple careers. The action found in the STEM process call allow students to practice and develop the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.  In doing so, the nouns of STEM work with the important acts of doing and thought. This STEM style thinking opens up a whole new world of possibilities to facts! The facts in the curriculum become real and understandable, opening up a world of real learning to students.

With this mind, it is possible to include all subject areas including language arts, social studies, the fine arts, the practical arts, foreign language, business, plus so much more! Every subject should own STEM thinking! In fact, this style of metacognition becomes even more important as teachers begin to infuse grit and rigor into their lesson plans. Activities that incorporate such thinking build a strong and necessary foundation for project-based learning and transdisciplinary learning. In fact, I ran across a Discovery Education statement that suggested STEM as “Students and Teachers Energizing Minds”.  Wow, verbs that allow students to do can be powerful! All of us have to step out of the STEM nouns and find a way to bring the verbs of STEM to every student!

The Ten Ideas to Transform STEM Thinking from Noun to Verbs and Facts to Thinking

  1. Think of STEM as a verb, not a noun. What are the skills that make up that STEM-based occupation? It can be seen that these skills not only include the Four C’s, but also components of each C.
  2. Create a clear vision and mission for STEM in the school or district. Make sure this definition is understood by everyone including those educators that may not think of themselves as STEM.
  3. Incorporate STEM thinking into lessons in all content areas. This STEM thinking includes the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.
  4. Emphasize the skills that are needed in those future careers, not the career itself. While it is beneficial to learn about different careers, it is important to note that these will change and students may go through multiple careers. Many of the important skills will remain the same.
  5. Integrate digital technology in STEM when appropriate, and it is able to amplify the standard. An example might be to teach with real protractors before using a digital protractor.
  6. Incorporate PBL (Project Based Learning) and/or Transdisciplinary Learning with STEM thinking.  These methods can provide the process for student ownership, engagement, and authenticity.
  7. Look outside of the classroom to incorporate STEM as an authentic learning experience. Use the community, country, and world to allow students to contribute  while allowing them to see  real world connections to content and skills being taught.
  8. Intentionally facilitate and assess not just content, but also the STEM (21st century and beyond) skills. Find, or build rubrics, that address the 21st-century skills which include the 4 C’s of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Understand that each of these C;s includes indicators and subsets that can be assessed. An example might be that  empathy is a part of collaboration or active listening is part of communication.
  9. Make sure that students are doing. This doing must include not only hands-on activities but also important metacognition. Students must not only do, but also think about what they are doing (which should be connected to the standards). It is only when students do… and then think, that real learning takes place.
  10. Go beyond STEM activities and making. Build a STEM culture that builds inquiry, is supported by authenticity, promotes rigor, and allows for student self-regulation and  ownership of learning. Always keep the necessary curricular standards and skills at the forefront of STEM.

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Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of the 21st century (and even before that) learning. Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week.  Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through December. In fact, next year (2017) is already filling fast with winter just about filled. It might be time to begin thinking about next Spring and Summer PD! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

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10 Inspiring Lessons From An Almost Analog Native … Future Thinking From The Past

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It is back to school time for many of us in the United States and beyond… welcome to the future! I dedicate this post to all of you wonderful educators . Please enjoy this reflective journey.  I wish all of you the very best as you enter a new school year! I hope you enjoy this timeless lesson… one that really does have a place in 21st-century education. It is a reminder that teaching truly is an amazing art. Let’s all keep up the wonderful painting.  Please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way this school year…So Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

10 Inspiring Lessons From An Almost Analog Native – Mike Gorman ((https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

It was a normal first day back to school. The building was still quiet and still. I could sense there was an air of extreme excitement and anticipation in the air. I sat at my desk and pondered the reality of a new year wondering about the new faces I would greet.  I already knew that all too soon I would be waving goodbye to another group I had come to know so well. It is amazing what the short period of a school year brings to both educators and students.  Suddenly awakened from what was either my deep reflection or possibly a type of relaxing nap that only the whisperings of being another year older can bring, a panicked voice was heard at my classroom door.

He was a brand new teacher dressed as one who just might enlighten the downtown business club, yet he stood with the glazed eyes of a student still waiting for that moment of enlightenment. I had seen it all before, perhaps even in the reflection of a distant mirror over thirty-nine years ago. He was summoning me to his room, not that I regarded it as his… at least not yet. You see, I had great respect for the educator who had been a part of the four walls that this soon to be teacher was leading me to. As he led me through the doorway of his new headquarters for the dissemination of information I couldn’t help but notice a peculiar feeling of past warmth that was missing. It was an indescribable void, covering a large aura which had been in place for nearly fifty years.

As he motioned for me to look at the archaic blackboard behind the new, still packaged, and not yet plugged in interactive whiteboard I couldn’t help but smile. There, still written with chalk that  had the smell of fresh dust, were the words “A Message from an Analog Native”.  Then I heard the young teacher’s voice asking how he might  get rid of the words. He pleaded that, after all, he saw no button to push to dissolve the print. I smiled and walked to the board and picked up the eraser. I cleverly planned to display to this obviously digital native, one of this school’s first such inductees, the magic of an eraser. I even had my strategy for providing a professional development moment on the use of chalk. After all, improper use of chalk can lead to an annoying screech that will send most students diving under their desks. As I held up the eraser I walked to the board and began to perform the ancient teacher ritual of erasing a black… not green,board. Amazingly, it did not work out the way I had planned. As I observed the pupils of this brand new teacher’s eyes grow large, I turned to the board and took a step back in awe. Not only were the words not disappearing… but new words were beginning to appear underneath. It was now quite obvious that we were both extremely engaged in the lesson that was about to begin. I have recorded for you the amazing script that came before my eyes that very day.

The Ten Lessons

Welcome to your new classroom. I am sure you are going to explain and teach in a way that I might never understand. You see, I come from a day of filmstrip projectors that beeped, ditto paper that left my fingers blue and the students enjoying the scent, bells that really did ring out a mechanical melody, 16-millimeter films that, if in color, amazed the kids. In fact, if these films were shown backward it provided bonus entertainment. In recent years I have heard words that are so strange to me. These words include foreign terms such as twitter, blog, wiki, Skype, web 2.0, clickers, and interactive whiteboards. I have heard all this talk about 21st-century skills and I am not even sure if I can tell you what they are. So there you have it. I am not one of those digital natives, nor am I a digital immigrant! I may not even be an analog native or immigrant. So, even though I do not know all the new terms, I thought that I might give you a list of ten items I feel just might ensure success no matter what century it is.

  1.  You come to school to serve your students. Put them at the center of their learning. Find great books, integrate fascinating projects, and include engaging resources.  As you do this, always remember that students must be at the center of their learning.
  2.  As you teach you will come upon some amazing tools. My very first full sized erasable blackboard was wonderful and I was amazed by the pull-down map. I remember the very first time I used colored chalk and our very first classroom set of encyclopedias. Imagine having almost all the knowledge of the world in your classroom. Please remember that tools are only as effective as those who use them. You will be introduced to amazing new tools. Make sure these tools become the servants and not the masters of your teaching.
  3. Realize that every student is truly gifted. It may be that your job is to find that special gift and make the student aware of it. Each gift is different and will ultimately lead that student to an interest and vocation that they find great pleasure in while contributing to society. They may even come back some day and thank you for revealing that gift to them.
  4. Learning does not just happen in the classroom. Open your students to the world by introducing them to experts, authors, cultures, and multiple disciplines. Teach them to become lifetime learners who will embrace learning beyond the classroom and beyond their school experience. It seems this world is ever changing and, in order to keep up with things, they may need to someday be their own teacher.
  5. Allow your students the experience of searching for success. This involves allowing multiple attempts, occasional failure, and eventual triumph. Learning does not always need to be graded, but must always be guided. Remember, it is not always the destination, but in most instances… the journey. Allow your students those journeys with multiple opportunities and outcomes.
  6. Encourage cooperation, teamwork, and healthy competition. Teach your students that the thoughts and contributions of many can be so much more powerful than just the contribution of one. Emphasize true discussion and listening, and allow for discourse. The ability to work, plan, and play together has been, and always will be, an important skill.
  7. Promote thinking that is outside what many might consider the box. Allow your students to have their own ideas, play with possibilities, and invent what doesn’t exist. Not everything in life can come from your textbook. Remember, what we believe as facts today could change in twenty-five to fifty years. It seems that information probably doubles every hundred years. I suppose that might even speed up a bit as time goes on.
  8. It seems that all of us learn best by doing. Allow your students to not just hear it or read about it. Provide them with real life experiences and allow then to do it. Guide them as they are doing so they are learning relevant content and gaining new skills. Give them some say in what they are doing.
  9. Remember your humanness. Always have a sense of humor and be yourself. Remember that teaching is a people business. Enjoy the laughter, the stories, the victories, the accomplishment, and the small (but really big) moments that can only happen in a real live classroom. Some say that someday robots or some kind of two-way wireless radio will take over education. I truly think this will never happen because teachers will always show that the human element is essential. A smile from a real person sure beats that of a  robot or a distant person on a wireless radio covered in distant sounds of static.
  10. Always remember that you teach children… not subjects such as science, history, arithmetic, ciphering, citizenship, reading, English, and shop. You see, it is the teaching of children that convinced me to get into this amazing business… and it is the reason that most great teachers have a hard time giving up a classroom like this.

Please take good care of this classroom. It never was mine, only one that I was allowed not just to educate children in, but so much more. It was a classroom in which I was allowed to perpetuate a culture of learning for almost fifty years. You see, not all of these ideas were mine. I found them on an old slate lying in a back closet when I first entered this room. I was so happy I had a pencil in hand because no faster had I made my copy than the words on the slate disappeared. I think I may have made a few changes. I know I will have a chance in my retirement to read about some of these new tools and even learn about these 21st-century skills. It will probably give me a chance to think about what I might have done to make learning in my classroom even better. When I find out… I might even send you a message. Until then, please take care of this old classroom and, more importantly, take even more care with those children who will enter tomorrow and thereafter. I know you will perpetuate the culture of learning that has permeated these four walls for more years than even those I taught.

You know… there wasn’t much to say. I looked at the new kid who seemed even more ready to teach. His eyes appeared already a few years older. As we both stood there we saw the old blackboard magically erase and turn a clean dark shade of black. I picked up the eraser that I had dropped during this unusual encounter and handed it over to the new guy. He opened the closet door and threw it in. I heard a gentle thump as it landed on something that may have been a slate. Together, we both unpacked and plugged in his new interactive whiteboard. He carefully positioned it so he could still see a portion of that old blackboard from his desk. We both knew why. As I walked out of the room that day I couldn’t help but think about the history that just might occur in that old classroom in the next fifty years. But, I had plans to make and students to get ready for as I was incorporating many of those new 21st century skills I had been reading about all summer. I was so excited about providing so many new opportunities for my students. After all, this is a new era for new techniques and strategies, or at least I thought!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of the 21st century (and even before that) learning. Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week, and a enjoy this wonderful new school year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 4: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Questions and Search Engines

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Welcome to this fourth post in a series that promotes student inquiry in the classroom. In this post, I wish to emphasize the idea of knowing what search engines to use for student questions.  You will discover multiple resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success in student owned inquiry.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 4: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Questions and Search Engines

It is important that students know how to search on the internet. This not only includes the basics of “how to”, but also what search engine to use. In this post, I wish to point out five different types of search engines. They include:

  • The Informational Search Engine
  • The Human Reviewed Search Engine
  • The Computational Search Engine
  • The Individualized Search Engine
  • The Social Media SeachEngine

While there are more categories and of course more search engines, it is important to become familiar with these five. It is also imperative that students understand that there is still more information available in the somewhat closed web environment. These include reference services and databases. Your school librarian will be happy to introduce you and your students to some of these highly academic resources. Let’s take a moment to look at these five categories and a search engine from each one. After looking them over take a moment to experiment and try each one out. I know you will also enjoy the sites that follow the five categories encouraging your students to work on their search strategies. I am certain you and your students will enjoy the search and the inquiry just as much as the getting the answer. Also, remember that the answer just might lead to new questions and inquiry!

Five Categories of Search Engines with an Example for Each

Google Advanced Search – Informational Search Engine –   It may be best  to direct students towards the Google Advanced Search Engine even before using the Google Basic Search. In fact, Advanced Search should be used until students understand how to use these advanced techniques in a Basic Search.  When  educators ask students to search and find information on the internet… it is not to just get the answer. It is to learn an important process that will serve them through future schooling and eventual careers. Take a look at the Google Advanced Search Engine and see why it really should be a basic prerequisite! For those who have been long time users of the advanced search you are probably aware that it is no longer next to the search box in its once prominent location. Instead… it was moved a while ago to the upper right-hand corner appearing as a gear icon and sometimes may not appear until you perform a basic search. The link above takes you directly to the Google Advanced Search Engine. Read more about using the Advanced Search at 21centuryedtech.


Sweet Search – Human Reviewed – It is owned by Dulcinea Media, a company committed to supplying students with a search engine that returns results that are accurate, reliable, safe, and understandable. Instead of having students sift through millions of websites, the research experts, educators, and librarians at Dulcinea have created a database of tens of thousands of sites that students have access to in their searches. As a result, SweetSearch excludes results from unreliable sites that might rank high in other search engines.  This allows  students to choose the most relevant result from a list of credible returns, rather than having  educational time wasted on unreliable sites. Since Sweetsearch is powered by Google, it does allow the ability to toggle results between Google and Sweetsearch. Read more about using the Advanced Search at 21centuryedtech.

WolframAlpha – Computational – Google is best termed an informational search engine… its strength is looking for facts and information. There are also data based search engines, by now you may know that I am referring to Wolfram Alpha.  This search engine claims, “to bring broad, deep, expert knowledge to everyone… anytime, anywhere!”. They further state, “We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematization of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”

Google Custom Search – Individualized – This  is a unique way to curate and archive sites for students and still require them to practice good searching techniques. Many times as teachers we find our students trying to maneuver their way through  the internet jungle often finding sites they cannot understand, are not reliable/credible, or do not apply. As educators, we must help teach our students how to both search and evaluate resources they find.  Many times it seems more efficient to just hand out the links. What might it be like if we still controlled the links, but students still had to search? This is the whole idea behind a Google Custom Search!  It is also easy to learn, takes very little time,  and best of all… free. It also allows the teacher to have a listing of those very best websites in designated areas. You can make as many Custom Search Engines as you wish. All you need is a Google account.
To get started visit the Google Custom Search Engine  Page. Here you can either sign in or if you do not have a Google account… sign up. After doing this you are ready. To create a custom search engine from scratch, you’ll need to define a name and description, and add some sites to search. Make sure you have thought this out and have those sites in mind.



Twitter Advanced Search – Social Media Search – This Twitter Search Page is valuable when showing teachers great ways to collect learning resources.  Many times after using, they are excited to sign up for their own Twitter account.  Using Twitter can have its challenges. With the Twitter Search Page, it may now be possible because no log in or account set up is required. It could be great in finding facts and information. It can also be used with current events or an unraveling news story. Most of all, it can show students the power and educational benefits of social media. As always… before using with students consult your district AUP, Terms Of Use, and check with district administration.  As in using any web application, students should be trained on proper digital citizenship and monitoring of students is essential. Read more about the Twitter Advanced Search at  21centuryedtech.

Some sites help with student inquiry and searching skills

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 3: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Questions, Metacognition, and 15 Pre-search Tools

inquire3

Welcome to this third post in a series that promotes student inquiry in the classroom. This post is dedicated to reflecting on that important topic of metacognition and reflection with questions before the search. You will discover multiple resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success in student owned inquiry.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 3: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Questions, Metacognition, and 15 Pre=search Tools

The internet is an amazing place filled with a wealth of information.  In fact, there is so much information, students must be given the skills on how to search and evaluate in order to utilize the amazing treasures that can be found in an ever running faucet of information.   While skilled researchers have developed metacognitive skills in order  to prepare for their encounter with their favorite search engine, this is not always the case of students in the classroom. Instead, I wish to discuss the strategies that are important to research before a student enters that first keyword in the research portion.

1. Design the Question – As a teacher, it is important to understand the purpose of the research activity. This helps in designing the research question that is to be used. Is it a question with a definite answer …or is it one that is open ended? There is a big difference between the two as students are facilitated through the process. A simple research question (What elements make up water?) may be easily answered through a search engine. In this case, there may be minimal time spent on pre-search, with an emphasis  more on web page evaluation and search strategies. On the other hand, it may be the question is more open-ended… (Is there enough safe drinking water in the world?). In this case, there may be a need for pre-search strategies , although even simple questions can also be served by some pre-search activities.

2. Emphasize The Need To Know – To begin we must understand that research really does involve student inquiry. Perhaps before answering a question… we ask students to ask more questions.  Often this is called the “Need To Know”.  A good open ended question that drives research does not always have a clear and precise answer. In other words, it may not be Google-able. Instead, students might ask “Need To Know” questions that can be answered through a simple search. It may also lead to more questions, allowing for divergent learning. Teaching students to first ask great questions might be more important than starting the task by finding answers. Even in a closed question, (What elements make up water?), students may have to answer the question (What is an element?). This emphasizes the related topic below.

3. Clarifying the Question –  Often students do not even understand the question being asked. In this case, the question needs to be simplified. There may also be a discussion needed allowing students to clarify the question. This may involve the ” Need to Know” described above. It may also necessitate that students break down the question and get definitions to words being used in the question. This might facilitate the need for students to find synonyms, antonyms, and associations… before diving into the search. It could involve a mini search, where definitions are found for word meaning. In this manner, students find success at researching manageable tasks. This can be especially powerful when students are allowed to collaborate together seeking the answers.

4. Creating Student Journals – Educators must encourage students to keep a road map of their pres=earch journey. It might include wonders, words, definitions, reflections, and  “Need To Know” questions, This can be done using a reflective journal.  One might ask students to write entries to reflect on their research journey activity. The teacher might develop a rubric that uses components of critical thinking. These components of critical thinking can be discussion prompts in the student journal.

5. Defining the learning goal/target – Please remember that asking questions, pre-search, and research is a process. While the end goal is to try to find an answer, remind students they may run into more questions first. It is only through this process that real learning takes place. The focus must be on the process and not the answer. This has its formation in the pre-search and questioning time period. If there is no pre-search time or time of questioning given… possibly the end product has become more important than the process.

15 Great Pre-search and Question Tools

I wish to build on  the steps outlined in this post with practical ideas. I would like to introduce some tools that can be used to help facilitate the pre-search and question asking period of time with students. By understanding the need for pre-search and inquiry one can see how these tools, some of which you may already know, can be used in a different way to help students as they get ready to research.  Please enjoy the tools and let me know of other that I can include in a future post.

1. Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary —An amazing web tool allowing students to  look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Students will learn how words associate and will come up with new possible search terms. It is easy to enter words into the search box. Students can then look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. When the mouse hovers over a node, one can see the definition. You can even click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections.  Note from developer: “Visuwords™ uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an opensource database built by University students and language researchers. Combined with a visualization tool and user interface built from a combination of modern web technologies, Visuwords™ is available as a free resource to all patrons of the web.”

  • It’s a dictionary! It’s a thesaurus!
  • Great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
  • The online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
  • No membership required

2. Wikipedia – As you may know, this is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia. Of course, Wikipedia is not the only source of research, and as in all sources should be confirmed with other resources. Wikipedia can be a great place to start because:

  • Wikipedia’s articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. These links can be powerful at providing insight into the search and possible information.
  • There are words in a Wikipedia article can be recorded as possible keywords for a future search. As students record these  words they may also wish to figure out meanings with a simple Google (define:) search.
  • Wikipedia can give some beginning information that can help define and set the pathway for research
  • The Wikipedia end of article sources can be invaluable in the research and search process.

 3. Wordle – This website   allows for the generation of “word clouds” from the text that is provided to it. These clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text that was input. Students can tweak these word clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. One pre-search strategy would involve placing an article on a topic into Wordle… perhaps from Wikipedia. Once the common words are eliminated the word cloud is made. This is now a great time to discuss and investigate words that are more prominent. Could these words be valuable in the research that will take place?

4. AnswerGarden – This site is best described as a minimalist feedback tool that is easy to use in the classroom. A teacher can create an Answer Garden by entering a topic on the Create New Answer Garden-Page. From there you will be redirected to your newly created Answer Garden Website. Since no-one has posted an answer yet, your Answer Garden will still be empty. The next step is to share your Answer Garden URL. Use it live in the classroom, to pose a question, or place (embed) your Answer Garden on your classroom website. A Driving Question could be posted with a request that students post their Need to Knows. There are countless possibilities. All student feedback  is then represented in your Answer Garden. One neat feature is to be able to export the feedback into a Word Cloud using Wordle or Tagxedo! Imagine the possible reflection and discussion that can spark great research.

5. Text 2 Mindmap -This website allows for a wonderful way to organize thoughts before performing a search. In order to encourage the use of mind mapping, Text 2 Mind Map has provided a free and simple mind mapping tool online.  The easiest way to learn Text2MindMap is to play with it and you will see that your students understand it fast.  Some tips:

Write some text in the text area, use the TAB key to indent text lines, and click the “Draw Mind Map”-button to see what happens. Each text line in the text area will become a separate node in the mind map. Indenting the text (using the TAB key) starts a new branch of nodes in the mind map. Also, have a look at the Options to style your mind map.

How might your students mind map their pre-search strategies? This is a wonderful way to get students to see the pre-search and research process and all of the possible connections. It could be a part of their blueprint for that eventual encounter with the search engine.

6. Diffen – A very interesting tool that lets the user compare anything. What is the difference between DVD+R and DVD-R? What is the difference between an apple and an orange, or  an alligator and a crocodile?  How does the work environment at IBM compare with working at Microsoft? How does living in Seattle compare with living in Amsterdam? What is the difference between a Plasma TV and an LCD TV? How about Cal Tech and UCLA or the Yankees and the Red Sox? These comparisons might clarify some Need To Know question and also provide words that will be valuable in the research process.

7. Thesaurus – Every month more than 50 million users across the globe visit this online English dictionary and thesaurus. That makes it the world’s largest and most authoritative free online dictionary and mobile reference resource.  A thesaurus is invaluable at finding words that might just lend themselves to the research process. It can open up a whole new line up of search word terms.

8. Wordsift – This is a wonderful tool for classroom use. Students can  enter a word into the WordSift “box” and a semantic map appears with different synonyms for the word. It is great for those looking to find research keyword possibilities. When a user hovers over the word or its synonyms, a  definition is produced. Clicking on a synonym brings up a semantic map for that specific word. Each word is accompanied by Google images that illustrate different aspects of the word. Another great way to get students brainstorming and thinking about research possibilities.  A user can link from a word on the list to the same WordSift features.  With  just one click on a word in the list, students will get the same features, as if they had entered it into WordSift.

9. InstaGrok – This tool allows students to research a topic with an interactive map. They can customize it with facts, links, and videos. It is also possible for them to share it to show what they have learned. A wonderful way to journal the research process.

10. Interactive Webbing Tool – Students can use this  interactive from Read-Write-Think to create free-form graphic organizers, They can drag  ideas around in the organizer to arrange any layout and relationship that they want. They can use circle or box (rectangle) shapes to appear on the chart and each layer on the chart will have a different color border for the shapes chosen. Imagine how this can be used to show the path and process in research.

11. Fishbone Diagram This incredible digital tool from Classtools allows students to break down their  per-search ideas and thoughts while providing details and definitions. A Fishbone Diagram has always been a wonderful graphic organizer on paper, and now it can be part of your digital toolkit.

12. Google Image Search – It has often been said that a picture paints a thousand words. Your students can locate images and brainstorm possible search terms that these images provide. Not only will this be powerful as students begin to get ready to search, it is also a wonderful meta-cognitive activity

13. Dictionary – Not much explanation is needed as to why the dictionary can be an important tool in the pre-search time period. Perhaps students need to look up a word in order to understand a question or an answer. This is just one example of many dictionaries online.

14. Google Drive (Docs) – The ability to collaborate together in the brainstorming portion of the pre-search strategy can be amplified by the ability to share digital documents. Your students can share documents, and also use Google’s drawing tools to collaborate, record, and journal their research journey.

15. K-W-L Creator –  Discover another great digital tool from Read-Write-Think. K-W-L charts have been widely used to help students prepare for research by organizing what students know (K) and want to learn before they research, and then reflecting on what they learned (L). This helpful interactive tool is equipped with the work-saver functionality so that students can save their work at different stages in the K-W-L process. Users also have the ability to embed text links, giving an extra level of interaction and explanation.

Next Post … Questions and Search Engines

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 2: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Student Owned Questions… 10 Resources

inquiry2

Welcome to this second post in a series that promotes student inquiry in the classroom. This post is dedicated to promoting student owned inquiry in the classroom. You will discover multiple resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success in student owned inquiry.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 2: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom…Student Owned Questions… 10 Resources

As a teacher, it is very hard to not answer student questions. Yet, if we want students to own the inquiry, it is important to practice “answer restraint” in order to promote not just student answers… but more great student questions. As we all know, children are born with a natural inquiry  and those first five years are a gold mine of inquiry, questions, and wonderment! As children enter school they soon learn to stop asking questions, and instead look to the teacher for answers!

In a world filled with so much instant information, it is important  to teach students to ask even more questions as they seek possible answers. So many times we talk about “lifelong learning” and its importance to personal adaptability in a rapidly changing society and workplace. It is developing student skills to ask good questions while seeking out more questions, and eventual answers, that are at the foundation of “life-long learning”! It is only when students own the inquiry that they also begin to own, direct, and self-regulate their own learning. At this point, learning becomes both passionate and authentic. The question remains, how do we as educators make it happen? Please take a moment to reflect on some of the major ideas and resources I have listed below. I am sure as you find answers, you will also begin to have even more questions. Embrace this idea, as it will lead to even more answers and even deeper understanding.  Enjoy the journey!

Ten Amazing Resources and Ideas To Promote Student Owned Inquiry

1. Discover QFT at The Right Question Institute -QFT, known as Question Formation Protocol is a simple way of promoting inquiring through collaborative groups of students. It incorporates the simple steps below and will allow your students to own the inquiry process while reflecting on their questions.

  • Brainstorm Questions
  • Identify questions (open and closed)
  • Advantages of open and closed questions
  • Rewrite an open to closed and a closed to open
  • Prioritize
  • Investigate

Visit the Right Question Institute to learn more and discover some wonderful educational material.

2. Explore Habits of the Mind – It is really is time to promote metacognition at get your students to think about thinking. It is only when this takes place that real learning happens. At the Habits of the Mind Institute, you can take a moment to become familiar with these important “Habits of the Mind” that will encourage the important thinking and metacognition to support “genuine learning”.

3. Read Driving and Investigative Questions -A unit of learning should start with a question that promotes more questions while also uncovering the standards. You can learn more about constructing Driving and Investigative Questions at this prior 21centuryedtech Post. Just remember that these are constructed for your students to answer.

4. Establish a Classroom Wonderwall – How about constructing a class Wonderwall where students can post their wonders? These can be tied to the curriculum or provide the foundation for student owned inquiry research. Take a look at this Edutopia article providing ways to incorporate the idea in the classroom.  It really can help build a culture of wonder.

5. Practice the 5 E’s – This is a model that allows for some teacher explanation, only after some student exploration and inquiry. After-all some concepts do need an engaging teacher lecture to encourage understanding. You will find the 5 E’s below in this included link from NASA along with further explaination.

6. Include a Genious Hour – Teachers across the country are finding ways to put that Google 20% in their classroom, while still supporting standards and 21st-century skills. This Genious Hour site might just help you get started in providing students the opportunity to learn how to learn, while practicing self-regulation. Best of all, it supports that important voice and choice along with spiraling inquiry!  It really encourages that important Maker’s Culture.

7. Establish a Maker Culture – The idea behind the Maker Culture includes allowing students to question, imagine, envision, create, innovate, play, learn in a formative manner, experiment, collaborate, share, and most of all dream of possibilities. I have numerous posts in regards to the Maker Culture and suggest this four-part Maker Series at 21centuryedtech with background and a goldmine of resource links.

8. Examine Inquiry Based Learning -Learning through inquiry can be powerful when done correctly under proper constraints. The standards must be kept in mind, and when needed, a proper explanation must be provided.  (5 E approach above). Edutopia provides some wonderful ideas and possibilities.

9. Incorporate PBL – Project Based Learning is a wonderful approach providing students with ownership in their inquiry and learning. Not only that, their final answer after many questions provides authenticity and can make a real world difference. To learn more about Project Based Learning a visit to the BUCK Institute (BIE) is must journey. As a member of the BIE National Faculty, I am sure you will find a wealth of resources, research, and ideas!

10. Facilitate inquiry with Internet Resources –  You will find some amazing opportunities such as the ones below. Can you add to the list?

Next Post … Inquiry and the Presearch

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

 

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Part 1: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Driving and Investigative Questions

inquiry1

Welcome to this first post in a series that promotes student inquiry in the classroom. This post is dedicated to writing that Driving or Investigative Question which is so important in STEM and PBL. You will discover multiple resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success in student owned inquiry.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 1: Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom… Driving and Investigative Questions

I really like Diving and Investigative Questions. In fact, I like them so much more than Essential Questions. You might ask why? I think it just might be my affection for the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. You may remember that in the revision the different levels were changed into action. In fact, I strongly believe that learning is a verb and is based on action. Take away the word “Question” and both Driving and Investigating are wonderful verbs loaded with action. The word “Essential” standing alone is only a word devoted to describing… a colorful but inactive adjective.

Another reason I am fond of “Driving and Investigative Questions” is that they allow students to work together in the amazing process of divergent thinking. As students bring this process around to identify answers and ideas that finally converge, they are suddenly back on the path to even higher order divergent thinking. It is amazing to watch students become aware that answers can bring on even more questions. Seems to me that it is a lot as if they are moving up Bloom’s Taxonomy.

I believe that both DQ and IQ allow students to take part in real inquiry and research. If the question is Google-able then it probably is not deep inquiry. Now, using advanced Google skills to find answers that create more questions fits the bill for common core skills. Literacy that is built to comprehend, analyze, compare, contrast, and make meaning of nonfiction across the disciplines is essential. Take a look at portions of standards educators must facilitate with students. These really do sound like some great inquiry action that can be found on the super highway of Driving Questions.

Last,  I like “Driving and Investigative Questions  because there are  so simple, that they can be difficult to construct. Let me explain. The Driving Question or Investigative Question in Project Based learning and STEM can be often the hardest concept to get across to teachers. Even after a workshop devoted to PBL… questions will come across my email asking for help in constructing and refining the Driving  or InvestigativeQuestion.

Writing TheDQ and IQ’s For Student-centered Learning In PBL, STEM, and Inquiry

Why are driving and investigative questions so difficult? Perhaps it is the powerful and simple concept they ride upon in a world where teachers have been taught to use so much of their “educationese language” Educators must work at being aware of the important standards in their content area without blurting them out. It is at this point that educators come across that often talked about the idea of uncovering, not covering, the standards.  Educators are so often told to practice this methodology but are seldom told how to do it.

This is the power of the Driving and Investigative question and its importance in PBL and STEM. It must be simply stated so that students can uncover the content standards themselves. It should not give away the contents standards which students may not really care about. It should engage the students and create wonderment through relevance to their world. It should drive them to “uncover the standards” Through carefully planned PBL and STEM the teacher then facilitates this learning experience. The added bonus of building import21st-centurytury skills is a natural outcome. In order for students to “uncover the standards” they will need to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and provide creative thought.

Examples comparing an Essential Question to a Driving or Investigative Question:

  • EQ: Can you describe a typical food chain for the herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores in the deciduous forest biome.
  • DQ/IQ:How can we as authors write a restaurant storybook menu for animals that live in the forest ?

 

  • EQ: How are measurement skills and our knowledge of math and geometry related to building a dream park with a given set of dimensions and budget?
  • DQ/IQ: In what way can we design, plan, and pitch a needed park for our community ?

 

  • EQ: What are the characteristics of the planets in our solar system in regards to atmosphere, surface, and composition?
  • DQ/IQ: How can we, as NASA scientists, write a proposal that recommends which planet should be explored by the next space probe?

 

  • DQ/IQ: How can robots provide automation and use computer programs and code to deliver a given task?
  • DQ/IQ: Can we program a robot to …. ?

 

  • EQ: Can we name the various reasons that the American Colonies declared independence from England?
  • DQ/IQ: How might we write and produce a play that could be used today, or in our countries early history, to show why the colonies should declare independence?

Keep in mind that the Driving or Investigative Question may take on many names. The important point is that it drives an investigation based on student owned inquiry. It really is the very first step in providing students that opportunity to not just answer the question, but come up with their own.

Next Post … Facilitating Student Questions

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

 

 

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Part 5: STEM, STEAM, Makers: 35 Resources For A Makerspace

maker5

Welcome to this fifth post in a series that brings STEM, STEAM, and Maker Space together with Project Based Learning and proper technology integration in the classroom. You will discover around one hundred resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now booked through November.  In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 5: STEM, STEAM, Makers: 35 Resources For A Makerspace

Take a moment to contemplate what it would be like if every school had a Maker Culture and it was part of the school curriculum. You may wish to dream of the possibilities for essential 21st-century skill development and significant content skill alignment. Think about the aura of engagement, flow, grit, perseverance, problem solving, revision, reflection, and satisfaction in that amazing space. Contemplate parents asking the question, “What did you make in school today?” Now sit back and imagine the answer, and further conversations it would bring!

As you are probably already aware, there is a growing Maker Movement across the nation. In fact, you can see Maker Spaces finding room to serve the surging Maker population in both small and large towns alike. The idea behind the Makers Movement includes allowing students to imagine, envision, create, innovate, play, formatively learn, experiment, collaborate, share, and most of all dream of possibilities.

Keep in mind that Maker’s is a way of thinking and not just a “space”. With this in mind, the Maker concept can occur anywhere and anytime. It can be in a dedicated space, or room, or in the library. It can be in the classroom, or possibly be a set of materials that can be brought out to students anytime.  The real idea is to promote a Maker thought process that facilitates innovation, creative thinking, and self-learning throughout the school day.

As you contemplate the integration of STEM, PBL and technology remember that Makers does not have to be a separate time, but instead can be integrated into the curriculum. While an after school program is wonderful, why not bring it into the classroom by carefully connecting the idea of Making with the STEM curricular material? Keep in mind that the final product should demonstrate learning. With this in mind, promote significant content and standards. A Maker culture must provide students with important learning targets that are connected to the content being learned. Allowing students to make, while also emphasizing important standards can be powerful and effective. The act of making allows students to do and sets the foundation for understanding. In fact, a collaborative effort with groups of students can allow for discussions that lead to deeper understanding and retention both in and outside of the STEM areas.

The idea of making is really not a new concept. In fact,the art of making is at the root and mixed into to the very fabric of our culture. I believe that the amazing innovation we have seen in this country is due to a Maker mentality. We have long been a culture set on dreaming up possibilities, and then taking the action to make it happen. The initial growth of technology has somewhat taken some of our creativity and produced  consumption based thinking. We are now past the initial way of thinking, and the Makers movement allows people to finally use the technology and STEM content to create and make in a wonderful PBL environment.

35 Resources For Makerspace

  • Makezine – This might be a great place to start. I recommend checking out the projects area just to begin to get some ideas. While many of the projects are prescribed, you may wish to find some ways to open up ideas for thinking outside the box and providing for innovation. Explore the different areas including science, electronics, art, and design. How might something you discover allow your students to Make something that will connect to learning?
  • Instructables – Here you will find ideas to make so many things that could Make a great connection to learning. When first opening the program give the Search Engine a try. Put in keywords of some possible learning ideas. It might be planets, insects, civil war, or nutrition. You can even filter the results using multiple categories.  Give it a try… you will be amazed at what you find and what your students might Make!
  • The Exploratorium Tinkering Studio – Tinkering is at the very heart of formative learning, allowing for iterations that encourage revision and reflection.  Kids develop an understanding of how to learn from failure and setbacks in order to experience eventual success. The Tinkering Studio is primarily an R&D laboratory on the floor of the Exploratorium, but whenever possible they try to share their projects, activities and developing ideas following an “open source” model. Learn how you too can enjoy their activities in your classroom while allowing your kids to Tinker and Make!
  • The Exploratorium Tinkerer Collection – Speaking of Tinkering, you may wish to introduce your students to some amazing Tinkerers and the occupations that surround them. Perhaps this could be part of a Makers’ Unit of Study that focuses on College and Career Readiness and 21st Century Skills. It might be fun to see what your students can Make of it!
  • DIY – Do It Yourself is a platform for students to discover skills and share what they make and do with each other and the global community. You can explore skill-based learning and introduce collaboration into your classroom – during homeroom, Genius Hour, after school, and even regular classes. Discover ways to blend the DIY Skills platform into the core curriculum, or let students explore new subjects while practicing skills and Making.
  • How To Smile – This is an amazing collecting of some of the best educational materials, learning activities, tools, and services. They are all designed especially for those who teach school-aged kids in activity-based settings. This site is sponsored by a group of science museums dedicated to bringing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) out of the academic cloister and into the wider world. This is a great place to Make STEM happen!
  • HowToons – Take a moment and see what happens when you take a comic book artist, an inventor, and a toy designer and have them work together.  It seems you end up with HowToons, a place of engaging content that teaches kids how to build things, combining instructions with storytelling.  You will discover that Howtoons has a foundation of science and engineering education, inspiring creativity through art and imagination. Take a look at the library and get set to Make!
  • Science Toy Maker – This really is a site for people who like to roll up their sleeves and make science toys and projects. As the author states, “You won’t find slick, well-designed web pages here–more like the digital equivalent of a messy workshop. If you tinker around, though, you’ll find some good stuff.” Science Toy Maker is a resource for inspired kids and their teachers to really Make something out of it!
  • Global Cardboard Challenge – This is a project from the Imagination Foundation inspired from Caine’s Arcade. It is a great way to inspire kids with mostly cardboard. It is amazing and exciting to see cardboard innovation at its finest. In fact, how might your students think outside the box and Make!
  • Maker Camp – Here is an opportunity for students to join other young inventors and artists from around the world on Google+ to make awesome projects, go on epic virtual “field trips,” and meet the world’s coolest Makers. You will find that Maker Camp inspires kids ages 13-18 to embrace their inner maker, get their hands dirty, fix some things, break some things, and have a lot of fun doing it. Everything is archived so all lessons and projects will be available at Maker Camp even after the summer so you and your students can Make all year long.
  • Makey Makey – OK… it is not free but is also pretty amazing at less than fifty dollars a kit. Take a moment to explore this  invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s really is a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in-between. It comes ready to use out of the box with everything you see above: MaKey MaKey, Alligator Clips, USB Cable. Four students can work with one kit. Make sure you look at the project possibilities on the website. It is here that you just might see curricular connections
  • High Low Tech – This site from MIT Media Lab really does have some tech for everyone. HLT’s work integrates high and low technological materials, processes, and cultures. Their primary aim is to engage diverse audiences in designing and building their own technologies. It is their belief that the future of technology will be largely determined by end-users who will design, build, and hack their own devices. Furthermore, their goal is to inspire, shape, support, and study these communities. Take a look at these projects that explore the intersection of computation, physical materials, manufacturing processes, traditional crafts, and design
  • Squishy Circuits – What kids don’t want to Make something with play dough… now add circuits and they have an even greater Making opportunity. Squishy circuits are a project from the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas.  The goal of the project is to design tools and activities which allow kids of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using play dough. Be sure to check out the Ted Talk, White House Maker Faire, and the Ready to Use Kits. As with any circuit activity… read any precautions.
  • Tinkercad –  Are you excited about 3D creating and printing? Explore Tinkercad, an easy-to-use tool for creating digital designs that are ready to be 3D printed into physical objects. Users are guided through the 3D design process through ‘Lessons’, which teach the basics before moving on to more complex modeling techniques. Tinkercad is a free tool from Autodesk, joining the 123D family of products in helping students, makers, and individuals from all walks of life to design and make the things they imagine. Be sure to watch videos and try the tutorials!
  • Scratch – This is a wonderful tool to support computational thinking. With Scratch, students can program their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Better yet, they can share their creations with others in the online community. Best of all,  it is free from MIT! Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. These certainly are essential skills for life in the 21st century. As in all sites designed to share… be sure to read the Terms of Use and Privacy.
  • Picoboards – This under fifty dollar tool allows students to create interactions with various sensors. It compliments the free Scratch programming language by allowing students to easily create simple interactive programs based on the input from sensors. The PicoBoard incorporates a light sensor, sound sensor, a button and a slider, as well as 4 additional inputs that can sense electrical resistance via included cables. Click here for ordering information.
  • Thingiverse – Are you or your students into 3D printing. Then take a moment and  browse the world’s largest 3D design community for discovering, printing, and sharing 3D models. You and your students can join over 130,000 community members in downloading, sharing, and remixing 3D designs. As in all sites designed to share… be sure to read the Terms of Use and Privacy.
  • SparkFun – The Education Department at SparkFun  uses electronics as a creative medium and hands-on learning tool, with products and curriculum designed to develop foundational skills.  It allows students to explore the world of electronics while increasing the investment and ownership in education. Most of all it plants the seeds of inventorship in today’s youth.
  • LittleBits – Discover this organization that believes it is important to create the next generation of problem-solvers in the very near future. The time is now to create the pipe cleaner and the craft stick of the 21st century.  LittleBits products are designed to break down the boundaries between the things we consume and the things we make. Most important LittleBits encourages all students  to be an inventor. Be sure to look at some of the tutorials and lessons found on the site.
  • Drawdio – Take a moment and imagine that your students could draw musical instruments on normal paper with any pencil (cheap circuit thumb-tacked on) and then play them with your finger. The Drawdio circuit-craft can take everyday objects and make them into musical instruments whether they be paintbrushes, macaroni, trees, a person, even the kitchen sink. Make one… or buy the kit.
  • Adafruit – You will want to explore this site and learn about all the different electronic items that can be built. It is amazing to just see all the possibilities. There maybe one that just might work for you. As you explore you might just come upon an idea for the Making!
  • Genius Hour – Teachers across the country are finding ways to put that Google 20% in their classroom while still supporting standards and 21st-century skills. This site might just help you get started in providing students the opportunity to learn how to learn while practicing self-regulation. Best of all, it supports that important voice and choice along with spiraling inquiry!  It really encourages that important Maker’s Culture.
  • How Stuff Works – As students make they may want to learn more and even have further questions, this is a great place to get information and explanations when Making. You are bound to find some curricular connections.
  • The Kids Should See This – Be sure to visit this amazing wonder-filled resource site. You will find ideas for making along with some great learning opportunities.
  • Activity Village – Not everything in the 21st century has to be digital. How about allowing students to create games in the non-digital world, like using cardboard and markers? Think of the learning standards their games could connect to.
  • Institute of Play – Take a look at this wonderful site providing resources and ideas that will allow you to facilitate real learning and your students play. You are bound to get some awesome Maker’s ideas
  • New York Hall of Science – Have you thought about STEM, play and the support of important standards. Take some time and play around on this site!
  • Department of Education and Child Development – This website from Canada provide some rich and playful ideas that can become a part of your Maker’s culture.
  • Chibitronics. Discover an interactive kit designed to introduce students to the world of paper circuits. Inside each Kit is everything students will need to set up simple LEDs, switches, and sensors with only a bit of knowledge on how electricity works and a little ingenuity! With these kits,  no soldering or sewing is required, simply peel each LED sticker and place them in specific areas designated in the included guide sketchbook  and watch each creation glow.
  • Sphero – Not only is this robotic ball a lot of fun, be sure to check out the included SPK Lab. The SPRK Lightning Lab app is your student’s hub to create, contribute and learn with Sphero Robots. The visual block-based building interface makes learning the basic principles of programming approachable and fun. Browse through activities, keep track of your class and collaborate with users around the world.
  • Ozobot – Using these unique little robots presents an innovative way to teach subjects like programming, math, and science in classrooms, after-school clubs or at home. See kids become engaged and inspired when topics come alive with the help of Ozobot. Check out the site for awesome resources and lessons.
  • Edutopia Makers Area – Take a moment to discuss, watch,and  browse through amazing topics and possibilities. Discover how educators are harnessing the energy of the maker movement to inspire student exploration across the STEM subjects.
  • Maker Ed – Take a moment to visit this non-profit organization that supports and empowers educators and communities — particularly, those in underserved areas — to facilitate meaningful making and learning experiences with youth.
  • Silvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show – Learn about innovation and Making from the eyes of an eleven-year-old student. Discover ways that kids love to Make and learn!
  • Make It @ Your Library – The school library is becoming a popular place to set up that Maker Space. Learn more and discover special resources here.

Thanks for following this Series on STEM, STEAM, and Makers. Join me in the next series including Designing Questions and Inquiry Education… Mike Gorman

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through October and the rest of the 2016 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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