Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s a Maker World

It was an intrepid group that hit the road at 7 am this morning ready for a day of learning and making as we made our way to the Calgary Makerfaire at the Telus Spark centre. Both Dana Ariss (@DanaAriss) Kelli Holden (@kelliholden) and myself were all interested in this year’s event because it seemed so geared for educators interested in bringing maker education to life in their classrooms and schools. As we all know makerspaces and maker Ed are the new buzzwords so finding ways to authentically bringing this type of thinking into my class was a goal I had in making this trip.

We were lucky to start the day off with Sylvia Martinez, one of the authors of the amazing book, Invent to Learn. We were excited to hear her speak and were not disappointed. She shared so many important points that spoke to me, but one that really stood out was a quote by Seymour Papert. This really hit home for me with my own Makerbins I have for my littles in my grade 3 classroom. With them I try to give them the opportunity to create, collaborate and figure out how to make things work. One week in, they are something my students look forward to being able to dive into when we have time. This quote seemed to really hit what I was hoping to do with them.

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Shared by Slyvia Martinez during her presentation

Another great speaker we had the chance to hear was Steve Clark, an amazing educator who teaches in Calgary, speaking of how he brought his school Makerspace to life. His story was an amazing one and the experiences he brought for his students was one I can only hope to try to bring to my own students. His presentation reinforced the idea of looking at the why you want a Makerspace, what are your goals for having one.

Shared by Steve Clark during his presentation

Shared by Steve Clark during his presentation

The last speaker we had a chance to hear was Professor Susan Crichton from the University of British Columbia who really pushed our thinking. She made me realize that while making is important, it’s the thinking behind it that really needs to be developed. Having our students make and design for a purpose, that design thinking is and needs to be a mindset otherwise it will fall into that pigeonhole of being the newest shiny thing in education. She also introduced me to a new word I can’t wait to bring back to my littles “thinkering” – it’s one that I believe will fit well in the type of thinking I am hoping to promote in my class.

Pushing our thinking with what design thinking is

Pushing our thinking with what design thinking is

And if this wasn’t enough, we had the chance to go through the gallery full of groups promoting maker thinking. We found out about groups that will share their maker love and knowledge with our students, we only have to reach out and connect. Everywhere we looked we saw kids enraged, excited about this hands on type of learning. The one I’m most excited about sharing with my students is a group called AIMBOT (@the_aimbot) a group promoting design and making.

Lego Bot built by one of the members of AIMBOT

Lego Bot built by one of the members of AIMBOT

To say today’s road trip was valuable would be an understatement. The one take away that came through loud and clear was that the maker movement is not about the stuff, the cool tech toys (which are cool don’t get me wrong) but it’s a mindset, a way of thinking and looking at the world around us that we need to develop in our students. As Susan Crichton shared in her presentation today (another quote that really spoke to me) “Fun is good, but fun for good is even better.”

The other take away was the number of people out there passionate about maker Ed. I talked to so many educators and saw so many others talking and sharing about what they were doing in their classes to promote this type of learning. It was both exciting and mind blowing.

So thank you to Calgary Maker Faire, the Telus Spark centre and all those involved in putting this together. I had an amazing day and I can only hope to do justice to all the things that you shared with me and all the other educators who took their Saturday to jump into this maker world you brought to life for us.

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Sometimes You Have to Let Them Go….

As a parent, one of the hardest things to take that step back and let your children go out into that big world on their own. You do want them to experience what this beautiful world has to offer for them, but at the same time you want to protect them and keep them safe. 

For me, this feeling has been prevalent for me as the summer comes to a close. For those that don’t know me, I have two wonderful children who are the light of my world. My peanut, who I talk about quite often on here, is 6 years old but she does have an older brother, who I don’t talk about as much, who is 26 years old. It’s funny because quite often people assume because of the large age gap that peanut was that “oops” child that came unexpectedly but it was actually the other way around. (And yes, he loves when I call him my “oops” child)

Both are, in their own ways, stepping out into the world, wanting to do it on their own. I love that they are both the independent thinkers I raised them to be, but on the other hand the momma bear inside me wants them close by and safe. My daughter has very succinctly told me time and again this summer “I want to do this myself, mommy!” And I have had to take that step back, hold my breath and hope it all goes okay and she doesn’t get hurt.  She’s going off into grade 2 this year, so excited to see what school has to offer and can’t wait to see what’s to come. I will have to start learning to take that step back and let her go and figure things out on her own, hoping she know I will always be there to cheer her on, but also to pick her up if she falls.

Biking ahead to show me she can do it herself.

 
The much harder one is my older son, my boo as I like to call him (and again if he knew I was sharing this, he would not be impressed) is going off on his own as well. This week he leaves for Europe to go to school. He is going to be gone for how long I honestly don’t know. He has his own plans of how he wants things to go and none of them involve living here in Canada. And I won’t lie, as excited as I am for him, it’s going to be so hard to put him on that plane, not knowing when I will see him again. But again, just like his sister, I need to let him go, I need to let him try this on his own, cheer him on so to speak, but also let him know I’m there if things don’t go well. I don’t want him to leave feeling bad because I am sad, so I will tuck my tears away and give him a smile, big hug and wish him good luck because that’s what we do as parents. It’s important to let him go, let him figure things out and hope it all works out. 

 

One last picture with brother before he goes

 
Being a parent is definitely not for the faint at heart, but I’d honestly not have it any other way. My children have helped me grow in many ways and I love them both for that. As they both go off on their own separate adventures I will watch them go and cheer them on, hoping in my heart that they stay safe because I need to let them go.