Pt 1: Project Based Learning … 5 Misconceptions: Plus… 5 Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

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I wanted to take a moment to share some of the thoughts I often hear from educators as I travel the country providing PBL Professional Development. I really believe it might be a helpful read for those wanting to make that PBL possibility in their school or district. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your New Year be the best ever as you Make new possibilities for your students! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.   I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. In fact, you might want to learn more about my affordable One day Splash and Two Day Extensive PBL Workshop. 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July!

Pt 1: Project Based Learning … 5 Misconceptions: Plus… 5 Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

As I travel from state to state providing professional development in regards to Project Based Learning I see a confusion as to what Project Based Learning really is. Comments I constantly hear are phrases such as:

  • I already do PBL by incorporating a project at the end of the unit for learning.
  • I tried PBL and I just did not have time to cover the standards.
  • The problem with PBL is that projects cannot teach the standards.
  • My students just cannot get engaged in PBL.
  • I don’t think I can replace traditional teaching with PBL

These are all misconceptions in the area of Project Based Learning. Let’s take a look at these five areas, and also how we as educators can use PBL as a vehicle for authentic student-centered learning.

  1. I already do PBL by incorporating PBL a project at the end of each unit for learning. – This might be the most common misconception that I hear. In this statement, we need to examine the definition of PBL. The pedagogy of PBL is exactly as is states, Project…. Based… Learning! The project is the foundation for the learning experience. This is quite a contrast to what I see as turning the letters of PBL around to LBP… Learning… Before… Projects. Please understand that while LBP has its place, such as learning reinforcement and performance/portfolio assessment, it is not PBL. The concept behind PBL is to have the learning occur throughout the project in a careful scaffolding manner. Through intentional and careful facilitation by the teacher, the project is used as the teaching/learning tool. Check out this video that explains scaffolding in PBL. Note how the planning for the project is front loaded, complete with project products, learning targets (standards), lessons, and assessment. It really does not require much additional planning, as it requires deliberate planning and design before the start of the project. A good starting place is to take a past project that might be closer to LBP and seeing how it might be reengineered to become closer to real PBL.
  2. I tried PBL and I just did not have time to cover the standards. – This is an understandable problem and can have for several reasons. First, if the teacher is involved in LBP (Learning Before Project) imagine the teaching time followed by students’ project construction time. In this scenario, it is very possible that time could run out. Second, please understand that with PBL teachers sometimes get very enthusiastic as students experience the inquiry process to uncover the standards. (Please note the difference between teachers covering and students uncovering.” This sometimes makes the project become larger than expected in either the planning stage or project stage. One PBL rule I always emphasize is that the project timeline should equal the number of standards taught. It is important that PBL when done right, is standards-based, including content and process skills. It is important that the teacher set a timeline and stay with it. While the pedagogy of PBL may take a little longer, remember to keep time in mind. Last, realize that not every unit has to be PBL based. In some math and even science areas, the content standards may actually be best delivered through PrBL (Problem Based Learning). The question is not as open and the process is somewhat abbreviated. Take a look at a look at possible differences here provided by John Larmer at BIE.
  3. The problem with PBL is that projects cannot teach the standards. – This misconception once again comes from the idea of projects being completed after the learning. In PBL the lessons,  learning targets, and assessment… all represent scaffolding inside the overall project. Standards go beyond learning to actual understanding, as students go through a cycle of learning. These experiences are student-centric with an emphasis on doing. John Dewey stated: “You can have facts without doing, but you can’t have doing without facts”. The process skills, often referred to as the 4C’s or 21st Century Skills, are not only facilitated… but are also assessed. Students experience authentic learning and understanding by the doing, already found in the verbs of most standards. A wonderful resource for the 21st-century skills can be found at P21, the Foundation for 21st Century Learning. Last, keep in mind that the project really isn’t teaching, it is the teacher facilitating and guiding the learning opportunity that the project provides.
  4. My students just cannot get engaged in PBL. – Just because students are taking part in a project, does not guarantee engagement. One way to make sure that PBL is effective is to study the Gold Elements as highlighted by the BUCK Institute (BIE). You can read about them at this link. It is really only when a project contains all of these elements that a project becomes powerful. Perhaps the most important element in our students’ eyes is that of authenticity. It is important that students see the purpose of what they are doing, as they learn. One of the best areas to base a project on is to cross reference standards with local news and current events. It is also important that students own the learning, and  PBL allows for this student ownership. A very first attempt on a project may also require some teacher critique and reflection. Last, culture is the foundation for effective PBL. It is important that teachers build a culture that includes relationship, caring, excitement along with an emphasis on process over product.
  5. I don’t think I can replace traditional teaching with PBL – First, it is hard to define traditional teaching.  As educators reflect they will see many things they have always done fit into the scaffold of PBL. At the same time, there is still a need for a lecture or a really good story, perhaps after an exploration. Students still may have to read a chapter in a book or an article of their choosing. There is still a place for summative assessment that appears as a test or a performance task. This should follow important formative assessment, including even a possible quiz or checkup. Rubrics perhaps become even more important and student input could become invaluable. There is still a place for homework and it is inspiring to see students start asking for it, and even making their own as they get in the flow of a project. A teacher does not have to make up new ideas for projects. Learn how to adjust past projects and even explore ideas on the internet. Take a moment to check this database of projects from West Virginia to explore some more.

As you can see, it might just take a few tweaks to do PBL well! Enjoy the links and discover ways to connect even more to Project Based Learning. As you begin the process, take small steps. Projects do not have to go week in and week out. They can actually be a short as a couple days. Keep in mind that PBL does not have to cross disciplines although transdisciplinary projects can be powerful. A year does not have to be filled with PBL, although lessons should begin to take on and reflect a few of the Gold Standards. I will highlight some of these ideas plus more in some upcoming posts. Also… check out the next 5… in the next post!

Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my offer to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can think about building a Maker Culture!  May you find the magic of a Making and Creating in this New Year! Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.   I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. In fact, you might want to learn more about my affordable One day Splash and Two Day Extensive PBL Workshop. 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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15 Ideas To Go Beyond Makers Space… Building a Makers Culture

maker-culture

As a New Year begins we all think about what we can make happen in this New Year. I thought it only appropriate to think about the idea of  Making and Creating in education. In this article, I have some ideas to allow Making and Creating to become part of the school culture.  Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your New Year be the best ever as you Make new possibilities for your students! – 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

15 Ideas To Go Beyond Makers Space… Building a Makers Culture

As I travel across the country it is wonderful to see all the schools building a Makerspace somewhere in their school. Each time I see this I am impressed by the educator, or group of educators, trying to make such a space possible for their school. After all,  a Makerspace allows students to imagine, envision, create, innovate, play, learn in a formative manner, simulate, experiment, collaborate, think critically, communicate, share, synthesize,  invent, evaluate, and most of all dream of new possibilities. These are the very verbs that make up the 4 C’s, Blooms Hierarchy, and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. I usually ask those teachers to reflect on the idea of building a space… or building a culture for making and creating. While a space for making might be a wonderful place to start, a culture of making should be a process and goal. Let me further define this difference.

Words are powerful and the way we name an initiative provides the needed synergy and process for ultimate success. A Makerspace is a wonderful place to visit and might actually be the catalyst for a bigger vision. As we look at Makers in a space we see that it has a defined boundary and might even be limited by time. In the world of technology integration, we have often had computer labs and we have worked at bringing this integration from the lab to the entire school. The technology integration has become part of the school culture. While I believe it is wonderful to start with a space for Makers, I also encourage educators to intentionally plan to allow the Maker Concept to become part of the school culture. Those amazing verbs can be part of classroom lessons and projects allowing students to make and do. John Dewey said, ”

John Dewey said, “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

Our standards are made of nouns and verbs. As a nation, we have concentrated on the memorization of the nouns, after all, the standardized test did not seem to care about our students doing anything with the nouns. A Maker Culture throughout the school will allow our students to “do” by addressing the verbs, making the nouns understandable, relevant, and authentic. Embracing a Maker Culture can take the standards in our curriculum and make them come alive as students practice the 4 C’s, venture to the top of Blooms, and experience the real depth found in Webb’s.

As you set up or evaluate the Maker movement in your school or district I ask you to think about going beyond space and think about culture. Imagine students having a passionate and informative answer to the question….”What did you do in school today?” Please reflect and possibly take some action with the fifteen ideas I have below. Use them as a vetting procedure, a filter, or an action plan.  Enjoy the amazing and rewarding journey, as you Make and Create possibilities for your students!

15 Ideas 

  1. Keep in mind that Maker’s is a way of thinking, and not just the place or 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.
  2. Make it part of the curriculum – It 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 curricular material. Keep in mind that the final product should demonstrate learning.
  3. Promote significant content and standards – 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.
  4. Reinforce authenticity and relevance – Genuine learning is connected to the real world. Don’t let final projects be landfill material. How can the products be useful in the real world? How can these products bring real meaning and promote student rigor and grit as they work?
  5. Promote those important success skills – Often referred to as 21st-century skills, it is important to use the Maker’s culture to both facilitate these skills and assess them. Go beyond the 4 C’s of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. What are the subsets of the skills and how can you provide time for students to not only practice the skills but also process them?
  6. Encourage the iterative process of learning – In this day of instant gratification and solutions, students need to learn that solutions and design do not happen in a short time period. It is important to allow for multiple drafts as students work toward a successful outcome. We must allow students to face a setback, attempt a hurdle, and practice persistence until satisfying and quality work is the final outcome.
  7. Allow for important metacognition -John Dewey stated that doing leads to important thinking, that in turn promotes genuine learning. Students must not only think about the process, but also journal, assess, and have conversations with others throughout the project. This will allow for a learning and understanding that is owned by the individual. This ownership transfers to genuine learning!
  8. Provide opportunities for student voice and choice – As you might know, the concept of a genius hour is quite popular. Based on the concept of the Google 20% program, students should be provided time to learn and make in regards to their interest. This can still be standards based as students write and use research skills. Of course, important 21st-century skills can also be assessed. Allowing for this could pave the way for important career pathways.
  9. Facilitate self-direction and regulation – A Maker’s culture allows students to set goals and provide both a timeline and method to make it happen. It allows students opportunities to learn on their own, or in small groups, often exploring ways that can make this happen. It is a wonderful way to promote lifelong learning.
  10. Align it to existing initiatives – How can the Maker’s culture work with other important programs and initiatives in the school. Perhaps it fits into PBL, STEM, 1 to 1, or particular school goals. It can provide an avenue to reach those 21st-century skills and can be used to reinforce important power standards.
  11. Provide 4 C’s Assessment – If you are facilitating the 21st-century skills (Four C’s), how are you assessing them? Are your students aware of the assessment and how to perform? While you want to assess the nouns in your standards, make sure to also include the verbs!
  12. Use the culture to promote Bloom and Webb – A Maker Culture provides the ultimate environment to incorporate Blooms Hierarchy and  Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. Students are provided time, process, and metacognition to truly understand the content.
  13. Continue to Assess Learning in multiple ways – While providing a classroom Maker’s culture, feel free to provide some assessment that is traditional including tests and quizzes. While standardized testing will change, it is probably not going away. At the same time look for ways to bring some performance-based assessment to the final grade.
  14. Balance the Learning – While students are Making, hold them accountable for the content. Make sure the doing represents real learning and students understand and explain standards. A classroom of doing must be based on substantial content.
  15. Bring Maker Culture to the Inservice – If people learn best by doing, then incorporate Maker ideas in a PD session. How can the Making of deliverables help teachers understand the concept of the in-service? Professional Development should allow for doing! It must be a model of what learning should look like in the classroom.

Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my offer to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can think about building a Maker Culture!  May you find the magic of a Making and Creating in this New Year! 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Authentic Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You?

pbl_north_pole

Did you know that Santa believes in Project Based Learning? It’s true… in fact, I have worked quite hard at finding evidence that supports this conclusion.  Upon further reflection, it occurred to me that not only does Santa believe in PBL, he practices many of its positive attributes at his workshop. By now you are thinking… what is this connection? Let me explain my reasoning by giving you an overview some of the essential elements in PBL.  Of course, I will attempt to show you how I believe Santa has put these elements into his practice.  Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet. Check the provided  BIE link for some great free material on PBL and some awesome PD services offered by BIE … of which I am on the National Faculty. Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your holidays be filled with magic! – 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

Authentic Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You? – Mike Gorman  https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com

It all started on a recent visit I had the pleasure of taking to the North Pole.  It was actually a once in a lifetime experience, one that I will always remember. While I promised Santa I would not divulge secrets I discovered, he did hand me a manuscript and gave me a wink. I could see the amazing sparkle in his eyes as he waited for me to discover a power he was already aware of. I looked at the cover of this torn and faded, yet delightful looking, old book.  I could tell it had been constantly used due to the lack of North Pole magical dust on its soon to be engaging pages.  I spent the next few hours looking through a wonderful collection of written journals. This manuscript was entitled “The Santa Projects”.  How did he know my yearning to learn more about projects?  I then remembered that, of course, I was sitting in front of Santa. He probably had quite a database of everything I had ever dreamed of or desired from my very first teddy bear. Here was a compilation of all of the important projects ever done at this amazing place… at the top of the world. Here were the projects that Santa had brought to his entire staff in order to engage, motivate, educate, and provide means of collaboration and communication. The first project caught my eye. I couldn’t help but smile as I read each of Santa’s journal entries. Allow me to share one of his projects with you.

The Santa Projects –

Project Name – Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery

Need To Know – (An outstanding project is based on a student need to know. It is this desire that promotes engagement and excitement in children. It provides the motivation for learning significant content.)  Santa Notes – It will be important to communicate with all of the elves and various staff my desire to travel the world in one night delivering toys to all of the good girls and boys. We will have a meeting, record everything in Santa Docs, based on what we will need to know to make this mission possible. As we answer these important questions I will mark them off our collaborative list. I anticipate a few questions such as,  “Given that the earth is rotating… how many hours do we really have for our trip?”

The Driving Question – (The Driving Question is the key to any effective PBL project.  This question must be direct and open a student-centric understanding of what is to be eventually accomplished and learned. While giving the students a sense of mission, it is proactive and open-ended.)  Santa Notes – After working with various teams we have decided that a good driving question could be as follows: How can we devise a plan to deliver presents to all the good children in the world in one night? I know this will be exciting for the elves and I am sure the reindeer will be clamoring to get their hoofs into it. I am certain our journey to finding this answer will not only raise more questions but will also provide the rigor my staff thrives on.

Voice and Choice – (An effective project must allow for all students to have a voice and a choice. This might allow students to pick an area of study or may give a selection of various final products to demonstrate learning. This voice and choice allow the project to have individual meaning and relevance to each student.) Santa Notes – I must allow all of the workers at the North Pole to participate in a meaningful way while holding them accountable to the Driving Question. Who knows what contribution each group and individual might be able to come up with. In fact, I have already heard that my engineers are drawing a picture of a sleigh. Not sure I know why, but maybe I will learn from them.

21st Century Skills – (Students must be allowed to use skills that are authentic and provide real world opportunities. Teachers must provide learning opportunities and facilitate important skills including collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. It is important to also assess these skills as part of PBL.) Santa Notes – I plan to utilize team building activities to help facilitate project success. At the North Pole, we must realize that in order to pull off this miracle it will involve a collective wisdom from the entire crowd. We will use modern North Pole technology including Santa Docs, Twinkler, and Elfmodo to collaborate. In fact, I noticed the elves are already building a new system “The Magic Net”. It is supposed to connect the North Pole with the entire world of children’s desires. I am not sure why, but I am sure I will learn from them.

Inquiry and Innovation – A good PBL study will allow students to not just come up with answers… but also discover new and amazing questions. This will allow students to think outside the box as they remix, create, and innovate. It assures a final product that shows the learning that was acquired from the initial Driving Question.) Santa Notes – Everyone at the workshop is finding out that there is not an easy answer to our Driving Question. It seems we are getting more questions than answers right now. I have encouraged our staff to use Santapedia and NorthPoleOogle but they say it does not always give the answer… again more questions. I have told everyone to tinker… something they have experience with at the toy shop. They did come up with a new gift they called Tinkertoys which could be a hit. I had to get them back on track. Outside, I have noticed the reindeer jumping from the fir trees and one is even playing with a red light bulb. I know it seems very hectic… but I do feel we might be on to something.

Feedback and Revision – (Students must be allowed to obtain feedback through critiques from their teacher, peers, real world mentors, and themselves. Through this, students must learn to reflect and revise to create a better product as they travel a road of formative assessment.) Santa Notes – I am finding myself encouraging all my workers to reflect and critique themselves and others. This is can be more valuable than always using one of my NPARs (North Pole Assessment Rubrics). In fact, I saw the engineer and elves constantly critiquing each other on what they called OBETB (Operation Big Enough Toy Bag). Perhaps if I do a little check with one of my formative assessment rubrics I will find out what that is all about.

Publicly Present The Product – (Providing students with a public and authentic audience is crucial in the design of a good PBL learning unit. It brings meaning and provides motivation for a final product that represents the quality and rigor that should be expected. This audience can be face to face or could be virtual using the World Wide Web.)  Santa Notes – I am so excited for the workers here at the North Pole. Tomorrow night they will be presenting their plan for Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery to a live audience of the North Pole Geographic  Society, Magic Bag Engineers, Animal Aviator Experts, Portable Light Bulb Innovators, The Association of Sleigh Vehicle Workers, and NEXRAD.  It will all be available on Santa Vision. Having all of these experts in the audience will ensure that all involved will take great pride in their work while demonstrating what they have learned and have now made possible.  I am still puzzled as to why we have invited the Animal Aviator Experts and NEXRAD. Sound like a high flying idea!

Significant Content – (A PBL final outcome should provide evidence that students learned the required content set forth by curricular standards. While the 21st-century skills are important… they should complement and be used as tools for learning this content. The project is the process!) Santa Notes – Wow… while everyone has become better communicators, collaborators, and critical thinkers I see that the important concepts needed to make this project a success have become a reality. All of the workers, elves, and animals understand the important North Pole curricular concepts of magical engineering, animal aviation and linguistics, possibility planning, and bottomless bag technology. Most of all, they have discovered the wonderful skill of miracle manicuring. I really do believe in PBL!

As I was sitting in front of Santa there were two more elements that appeared before me like magic. I read the text as fast as it appeared. He looked at me as he winked and smiled… as if he was about to go up a chimney. I soon realized he had even been aware of some of the new ideas found in the new Gold Standards. Of course, he was aware! I continued to read with delight as I discovered even more amazing magic!

Reflection (It is this process that demands the important skill of metacognition. It is not until a learner thinks about the learning… that real learning takes place. Educators must allow students time to reflect as they build their own understanding of important content and concepts.)  Santa Notes – I have always enjoyed the work of John Dewey… after-all he was always on my good list. I encourage all the workers at the North Pole to reflect on what they learn while as they build and innovate on all the products at the workshop! It is amazing to see all the learning that takes place as we constantly create a wonderful experience for all the boys and girls throughout the world!

Authenticity – ( It is important that students have an authentic learning experience that is meaningful. Allowing students to make a difference to their surroundings and the world outside the classroom is essential. Education must be real and provide the students that important… so what… to learning.) Santa Notes – Authenticity might be one of the most important qualities we promote. After-all like PBL… the North Pole experience is about making it real!

As I handed this precious manuscript back to Santa,  I thanked him for confirming my belief in how powerful a project can be. Upon my return, I continued to learn more about Project Based Learning and discovered the power it has for providing authentic and powerful learning experiences for students. This knowledge just might be the very best gift I ever received from Santa. I’m still smiling as I recall the other projects I read about in the wonderful book on my very special visit. Projects with names like the ones you find below.

  1. I Can Get Down the Chimney… How Do I Get Up?
  2. The Big Blizzard… Can We Find a Way to Light the Path?
  3. Conquering the 24 Hour Cookies and Milk Dilemma!
  4. Reindeer… Keeping their Minds to the Ground!
  5. Making and Keeping It Real!

I hope you enjoyed this very special message that Santa shared with me. Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can experience the magic of PBL. May you find the peace, joy, blessing, and magic of this very special season… and to all a good night! 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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A Special Letter To Teachers… From Santa!

santa

Welcome to a very magical entry… one that has been a traditional post each holiday season. It is a time of year that I wish to express my gratitude to those wonderful educators that have welcomed me at their schools, webinars, and conferences and also join me at this blog and on twitter throughout the year. I would like to share with all of you a very special letter I found under my Christmas Tree  many Christmas Eves ago. I have made it a practice to put it away, until just a few weeks before Christmas each year, with the idea of sharing it with educators across the world! Please take a moment to read this very special letter from Santa! He takes a moment to describe the magic that you as an educator make happen every day! While you are at it, I would appreciate that you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog  and follow me at on Twitter at (mjgormans).  Also, please take just a moment to share this letter by providing a retweet, and feel to copy and distribute (please give the reference).  In this way, you can help spread the magic!  My next seasonal post is… PBL at the North Pole.  May your holidays be filled with magic! – 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

A Letter From Santa…. by  Michael Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com) ….Twitter (mjgormans)

Dear Teachers,

I have been meaning to write this letter for a long time! It is a letter that I feel is long overdue and with the elves getting all ready for my long ride, I finally found the time! I have been watching teachers for many years and I am amazed at the work they do. I have come to a conclusion that the teaching profession, like my own, must be filled with bits of  magic! Please let me provide ten statements of evidence for my belief.

1.  I travel the world one night of the year visiting all the boys and girls of the world. The teaching profession works with every boy and girl all year long. This equates to each teacher fulfilling educational needs for 30 – 200 children each and every school day. Seems like magic to me!

2. I deliver presents to all the boys and girls. From my Toy Repair Shop statistics, I find many of these gifts are broken or no longer garner a child’s interest within months!  Yet teachers find inner gifts in every child. Teachers nurture these inner gifts  until they develop into true presents that will last a lifetime.  These kinds of gifts sure seem like magic to me!

3. I keep my naughty and nice list for every child. Some people believe this job is pretty amazing! Yet when I look at the teaching profession, teachers provide a constant evaluation of all their students! Their list covers all the aspects of developing and learning which they report to children’s parents and to the children themselves! This evaluation is based on a wide variety of observations, data, and student performance.  Teachers will then use this list to help improve each and every student! Wow, keeping track of every student’s ability and prescribing ways to be successful must really be magic!

4. I leave presents to students who are on the nice list and who believe in me. Teachers work with all children because they believe in every student. Teachers continue to do so, even when students stop believing in the educational system’s ability to help them achieve.  That type of persistence has got to be magic!

5. I have operated my workshop using the same technology for hundreds of years and it has worked for me. Then again, I work with children when they are asleep, delivering presents in my own way. Teachers work with children when they are awake and they have spent time learning how to engage children using googles, blogs, phlogs, glogs, prezis, and all these other words I really don’t know! Being able to teach, transform, and accommodate for this new digital generation must really be magic!

6. I have made it a practice to leave coal behind for children who do not make my good list! It seems every year the same children always get the coal. Teachers refuse to leave coal, in fact, they are working hard at leaving no child behind. To work towards a goal of leaving no child behind is a true act of magic!

7. I read the news and I am always so thankful to read all the nice articles about my work. It really does provide me with motivation to keep up my vocation. I read news articles about the education profession and it seems that most articles are unsupportive. Yet, teachers keep working hard at providing success for their students! These teachers must be operating on a little bit of magic!

8. I have thousands of elves, of course, the reindeer, and the  community of the entire North Pole to assist me. Teachers work every day, many times by themselves, as they provide new opportunities for their students! Carrying that load alone must be much heavier than my bag of toys. It must really be magic!

9. I receive many a thank you and millions of pictures of happy faces as children open their presents each year. Teachers don’t always get a thank you, or may never see the present get eventually opened. When they do, appreciation may come from decades later!  A thank you that appears after many years must be the result of pure magic!

10. I discovered a light in Rudolph brightens up a dark, foggy, or snowy night so that I can deliver joy to all the children across the world. Teachers provide the light that brightens our world in both the darkest night and brightest day! It is the light of learning and knowledge!  The ability to keep that light burning  bright  must take a quite a bit of magic!

You see, I have found that magic does not come easily! It is made possible only by those who work hard and keep believing, and seek what they know is possible! As you can see, there must be a great deal of magic in the education profession! Please continue to keep this magic alive and know that you are all on my good list! After all, I had to learn all that I do from somewhere! So from across the years, I know I have many teachers to thank!   Last, to all teachers across the world… I really do believe in you!

Thanks for all the magic,

Santa

I hope you enjoyed this very special message from Santa. Please take a moment to share this letter with other educators across the world. It will truly help bring out the magic in our profession! Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings by subscribing  and following me on Twitter (mjgormans). Think about contacting me (Booking Infoto see how I might fit into your conference or school PD plans. (mjgormans@gmail.com)! Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can experience the magic.  Next post… PBL at the North Pole  (subscribe now) ! May you find the peace, joy, blessing, and magic of this very special season… and to all a good night! – Mike Gorman  (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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

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Five Ideas to Go Beyond SAMR… How Deep is the Learning in Your Technology Integration?

samrimage

Every school I visit that is attempting to integrate technology into instruction are also having conversations on SAMR.  As I have talks with these schools, I tell them that SAMR is a wonderful place to start. At the same time, if we are to look at technology integration that promotes rigor and deeper thinking we must integrate multiple concepts together. Please enjoy and share my five ideas I think all schools should think about as they go beyond SAMR. First, to ensure you do not miss one of these valuable posts or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always,  I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Five Ideas to Go Beyond SAMR… How Deep is the Learning in Your Technology Integration?

As I travel the country l come across numerous schools providing PD and supporting teachers with the SAMR Model. SAMR is a wonderful model to begin with, as teachers learn to integrate technology into their curriculum. For those unfamiliar with SAMR, this is a model that allows teachers to see different stages of technology integration. Take a look at the quick SAMR definition below, or read a prior article from my “Going Beyond The Tech Shine Series” based on the SAMR model at 21centuryedtech.

SAMR – Quick Definition

S = Substitution: As the word states, this is a substitution of digital technology for past analog methods. (Example – A word processor instead of the typewriter or pen and pencil.)

A = Augmentation: Technology goes beyond mere replacement and focuses on new things that are possible because of the substitution realm. (Example – Technology now allows for the word processor to have a spell check or even a thesaurus.)

M = Modification: Technology allows learning to begin to transform the learning experience. Students can now take a step outside the word processing box and discover possibilities that could not be done before augmenting the learning experience. (Example – Students can now write in a collaborative manner on the same document using Google Docs or Microsoft 360.)

R = Redefinition: Technology allows the learning experience to be redefined so that the word processing document is not the only form of expression…. or perhaps a beginning foundation for a different form of student production. (Example – The word processing document becomes something totally new, as students create videos or web pages relating information that may have been typed.)

SAMR Is One Tool and a Great Place to Start… However,

It is wonderful to see that SAMR is a great place to start. It provides the teacher with some definitions and an understanding of how technology can both facilitate learning while also expanding it. In fact, teaching teachers about the line in between SA and MR allows teachers to see if they are on the road to transformation. This is often referred to as teaching above… or below… the line.

I am certain you are waiting for that “however”… so here it comes. SAMR is one model, and perhaps a first step, in helping teachers understand technology integration and transformational learning. Do not stop with SAMR! Try to understand that a lesson at the top of SAMR may not be the ultimate learning opportunity in technology integration. As you facilitate teachers on a best practices journey it will be important to look at lessons with some other filters, SAMR, after all, is only one. Let’s take a look at some other concepts we must keep in mind as we help educators understand SAMR. Please enjoy the ideas below, and by now you must know that in future posts I will be building upon these important ideas.

Ideas to Consider Beyond SAMR

  1. Don’t spent too much time focusing on which category a lesson is aligned to in SAMR. Just take a quick guess and move on. You will find that too much focus will blur the already moving lines.
  2. Keep in mind that the letter placement in SAMR is a reflection on a lesson… not the teacher. A teacher who is an expert at Redefinition may spend some time in Substitution because they understand good technology integration. Some learning activities only require Substitution and may advance to Redefinition later. In fact, a lesson at Substitution level could provide more transformational and higher order learning than one at Redefinition. It all depends on the content and skills of the lesson as supported by the standards.
  3. Learn to recognize good and bad Substitution. Some teachers when they are beginning a one to one initiative feel an expectation to have students use the device all the time. Sometimes the pre-device ways are better. Why finger paint with an app and miss the experience of having one’s fingers in the paint? Be careful of those Appy Hours! Have a wonderful old fashion Socrative Discussion in class and extend it with technology in a discussion forum for later in order to create a blended learning environment.
  4. Understand that the highest level of SAMR is not always filled with deep learning and rigor. Sometimes it is just transformative technological in action, not representing real transformative learning. Imagine an entertaining and polished green screen presentation summarizing route content, with no higher order thinking. Th technology has gone through a Redefinition… but has the learning?
  5. Examine technology integration using multiple learning models. Where is the technology integration for a lesson in relationship to SAMR? Also, where does that same technology integration line up with Bloom’s, Webb’s DOK, and TPACK in the lesson?

Conclusion

By now you can see where I am going with future posts. Please continue to use SAMR as one way to integrate technology. At the same time realize it is just one model and if we are going to engage the idea of real learning transformation then a few other filters must be part of the plan.

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 and provide this post a retweet. Have a great week!  – 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 April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Connecting STEM, PBL, and Tech Integration… What Would Dewey Think?

stem_pbl_tech

Welcome to a post where I bring together three of my favorite areas of educational transformation. As I deliver workshops across the country I am reminded of how much we need to prepare STEM educators with regards to a process for delivery. After all, STEM (or STEAM) is so much more than content. As I stated in the last post. it is a way of thinking! How can Project Based Learning and technology integration work to create a powerful STEM learning experience? It is so important in education to remember that it is not the final product, but the journey, that allows for the learning to take place. First, to ensure you do not miss one of these valuable posts or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always,  I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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.

Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Tech Integration… What Would Dewey Think?      Michael Gorman at (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

It has been exciting to work in both the STEM, PBL, and technology integration field. In fact, I have an opportunity to provide professional development across the country involving all three. As a long-time advocate of STEM education, technology integration, and also Project Based Learning (PBL), I can’t help but see how these three concepts really do compliment one another. These initiatives  take on three important roles to make a wonderful classroom learning environment for students. STEM (or STEAM) includes those all-important content standards and metacognitive skills that have often been taught isolated from each other.  PBL provides an important process and pedagogy that allows for the integrated delivery of this content. Technology integration acts as the conductor, glue, and amplifier allowing for increased productivity and learning opportunities.  Together, these three concepts provide the necessary conduit to the real world, breaking down the walls of the classroom and creating a real-world blended learning environment.

Best practices behind the disciplines of STEM are changing. The Common Core State Standards, and other state high-quality standards (that have opted out of CCSS), place a strong emphasis on scientific literacy involving student thinking and writing about the process. These standards also demand that students understand concepts in depth while making relationships to real world applications. It is no longer acceptable to just find the answer to a math equation. Students must be able to apply their math skills to the real world.  The Next Generation Science Standards promote the kind of application found in engineering and technology, demanding formulation of a problem that is solved by design thinking. These standards state, “Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.” I have often stated that STEM goes beyond the “nouns of its content”  In this way, STEM becomes a way of thinking for all disciplines. In this transdisciplinary approach, we can now begin to see that Project Based Learning provides a necessary ingredient.

PBL, with its emphasis on authenticity, connections, inquiry, and process, is able to provide these disciplines a necessary pedagogy. PBL is driven by inquiry that encompasses all disciplines. This inquiry becomes the center of students learning, and the content becomes blended.  PBLallows students to own their learning while promoting the inquiry of science, resourcefulness of technology, design principles found in engineering, and application of math. PBL centering on driving question brings in language arts, social studies, fine and practical arts, foreign language, and humanities. Integrating the subjects encourages student innovation, promotes authentic learning, and allows students to see connections with their community and between content areas. It’s true; PBL can be the delivery method as well as the connector of separate content areas. While it is optimal to blend classes together, it is entirely possible to provide a STEM environment through teacher awareness of outside discipline areas and collaboration with other educators on school schedule.

I began with technology integration at the start of my career integrating the use of scientific recording equipment, cameras, compasses, and archaeology tools to teach content area skills in the outdoor environment back in the 70’s. I tell this story because it is important to remember that tools are the foundation for technology integration. Today there are so many additional tools that can be used.  It wasn’t until the advent of the Apple II that I started using a computer in the classroom, and at that point, I discovered another amazing tool. Today’s digital devices provide an opportunity for students to learn and inquire, as well as to produce, publish, and connect to the real world. It is the technology integration that provides the ability to amplify, empower , and drive the skills and metacognition of STEM and the process of PBL. Through this amplification our students become engaged and can enter a flow, allowing for authentic and exciting learning opportunities. While the computer is important, one must think beyond the device! Don’t forget those older tools (pre-computer) that may still be the right fit. Perhaps real paint offers something that digital paint cannot. On the other hand, embrace the opportunities that modern digital technologies makes possible for our students.  Imagine what John Dewey would do with all of the technological possibilities of today!

 

The famous educator John Dewey said:

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

This practice is at the very center of PBL, STEM, and technology integration. As we look at the Next Generation Science Standards, the 4C’s, ISTE Standards, the Common Core State Standards for math and literacy, and the other high-quality standards adopted by states outside of the CCSS,  it is clear that PBL, STEM, and technology integration are a natural and essential connection. Together they provide a wonderful opportunity for real 21st-century learning!

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 and provide this post a retweet. Have a great week!  – 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 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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STEM in all Areas…. Ten Ideas to Transform STEM from Nouns to Verbs… and Facts to Thinking

stem_1

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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