Finding Starter Projects: Teacher to Teacher
Sometimes the best way to get started with making in the classroom is to go make friends outside of it! In that spirit, today’s edition of our series on Finding Starter Projects shares some of the many professional development (PD) opportunities out there available to teachers who want to meet other like-minded teachers — those who know they want to be a part of the Maker movement and bring their kids into it too. We find that when we get a few teachers together, one of the first things they do is compare notes to talk about cool projects they’ve seen and done. Sure, you may also learn a thing or two in these sessions, conferences, camps, meetups, MOOCs, newsletters, and microblogging sites, but we all know that the pursuit of professional development is about reconnecting to allies, exposing yourself to new ideas and people.
Special thanks to Jessica Henricks, Clint Johns, Aaron Vanderwerff, Sherry Hsi, and Stephanie Chang who contributed to this list.
The Maker Education Initiative regularly hosts meetups and runs video sessions, and last May held its first Making Possibilities Workshop at Intel’s Headquarters in Silicon Valley. A full day on the importance of making, its impact on learning, getting started and more, this free-to-attend conference was very thoughtfully put together by Maker Ed and generously supported by one of its founders, Intel. We have heard from our friends at Maker Ed that people have been asking them from all over the country about replicating their model. Some mini Maker Faires have added an Education Day and expanded education content to their programs. (Maker Faire Orlando, we’re looking at you!) Every maker-educator should be sure to go to the minis (or megas) near them, with or without students.
Speaking of this, be sure to put Maker Faire Bay Area and World Maker Faire on your calendar. Our staff, crew, and Makers are all deeply committed to supporting teachers in bringing the Maker movement to their students, and so you’ll find that the schedule is always chock-full of talks relevant to the classroom. It’s a design-it-yourself education conference hidden inside the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. Our most recent MakerCon, right before World Maker Faire 2014, included a track on education and some of the full-conference sessions were also learning themed. The videos are all available to watch in our archive. We want you there! Sign up for our education community to keep abreast of our news and offers.
While FabLearn sold out weeks before it began, its live-stream promised to archive “as much of this year’s conference as possible.” Stanford’s Paulo Blikstein started this conference out of a related network, [email protected], which connects educational digital fabrication labs that put cutting-edge technology for design and construction, such as 3D printers and laser cutters, into the hands of middle and high school students around the world. Take a look, too at Blikstein’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL). It develops low-cost tools, assessments, curriculum, and teacher prep. Europeans will be pleased to hear that Aarhus University hosted a second FabLearn in Europe
Constructing Modern Knowledge holds its eighth “minds-on” summer institute “for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing” in July. If you don’t have time to make it to New Hampshire for a week, take a look at the abundant supply of writings and manifestos on its website.
Interaction Design & Children has been running since 2009 to bring together researchers, designers and educators who want to create better interactive experiences for children, with sponsorship from Intel and the Lego Foundation. You can relive the IDC 2014 on its theme of “Building Tomorrow’s Technology – Together” through the archived live stream.
ISKME’s annual Big Ideas Fest “focuses on transformational change in K–20 education.” Aimed at “creative doers and thinkers” I’ll let them speak for themselves here: “The participants are inspirational. The work is dynamic. And the results are revolutionary.” The format includes some unique elements: RapidFire talks and Action Collab design-thinking labs.
Roughly every other year, the Design Science Symposia celebrates the legacy of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “comprehensive anticipatory design science.” Past themes have included Synergetics and Morphology: Explorations into the Shapes of Nature (2007), Design Science: Nature’s Problem Solving Method (2009), Nature, Geometry, and the Symmetry of Space (2011), STEM to STEAM thru Synergy: Bridging Morphology, Biomimicry, Sustainability, and Synergetics (2014).
Enjoy 300 sessions and workshops and more than 700 speakers at SXSWedu in Austin this March. SXSWedu had its roots as a Texas-focused K-12 event three years ago, now it attracts attendees from more than 35 different nations around the globe and includes special features like eduFILM, the Policy Forum, and the Playground (originally Makerspace). Its accompanying free and open-to-the-public Education Expo celebrates lifelong learning in central Texas. Of course there are plenty of teachers who loyally attend the much larger SXSW festival of music, film, and interactive design as well.
The annual Digital Media and Learning Conference focuses on the theme of “Equity by Design” (this June in L.A.). Past conferences have been on the themes of Connecting Practices (2014), Democratic Futures (2013), Beyond Educational Technology (2012), Designing Learning Futures (2011), and Diversifying Participation (2010). Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the conference is organized by the Digital Media and Learning Hub located at the UC Humanities Research Institute, University of California, Irvine. Go to DML Hub for more info on its other offerings: the Make-to-Learn community, Connected Courses (a free course on creating open college courses), Reclaim Open Learning (a loose network for those developing online learning experiences), Alternative Credentialing (a dynamic public conversation), DML Summer Institute (for grad students and postdocs), working groups, workshops, and more.
You’ve just missed Project Zero Perspectives: Making, Thinking, Understanding, a conference organized by Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) and hosted at Lick-Wilmerding, a wonderful maker-friendly high school in San Francisco. Fortunately, you can review some of its presentations and handouts, posted online. Project Zero will have a related conference Think-Create-Innovate in Atlanta in early May.
Scratch has reached well over a million users internationally in part because it has a great community of support, and it is backed up by the founding team’s firm commitment to helping teachers get kids into creative coding through Scratch Ed. If you love Scratch, look for Scratch Educator Meetups on the discussion forums; or take the Creative Computing free online workshop at your own pace; or plan to attend the biennial [email protected] Conference in 2016; or take part in Scratch Day, a worldwide network of gatherings of Scratchers.
One could get lost in the alphabet soup of the large (and even larger) conferences like AAPT, ASEE, CUE, ISTE, NSTA, NCTM, ITEEA, ASTC, ECSITE, NAEYC, AAAS, AERA, …. need I go on? All have had or are starting to have sessions that touch on the Maker movement and makerspaces. You can even find quite a bit of maker-related education content at more generally technical conferences like IEEE FIE, SIGCHI, SIGGRAPH, CSCW, ICLS and CSCL, or just go to one of those to have your mind blown by the future-minded presentations by hungry grad students and pre-tenure profs.
I imagine if I look at Dale Dougherty’s speaking calendar, I could add another 50 great conferences all maker-educators should consider. Tell us which conferences you attend (or dream of attending) by adding to the comments below.
Courses, Workshops, & MOOCs
Make: is proud to support The Startup Classroom’s Maker Certificate Program at Sonoma State University in conjunction with the Sonoma County Office of Education. It features teachers we’ve been working with for years as well as some new friends eager to mentor teachers new to making. Participants gain an understanding of the core values and principles of Making and the pedagogy behind the Maker mindset. The first certificate program of its kind, we’ve been wanting something like this for years!
We’ve been working with Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland for a long while now, so imagine our delight when Lighthouse teacher Aaron Vanderwerff told us that the school’s Creativity Lab would start offering professional development for educators. Sessions vary from the “idealistic to realistic,” including the two-day Designing Making Experiences workshop, tours, space and program planning session, “Learn to Make” skill builders.
Well known for its industrial castoff reuse utopia, RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching) has been a leader in PD in the San Jose area for decades. Check RAFT’s resource page for links to their tip sheets and tailored training sessions, workshops, and summer institutes.
I mentioned Engineering is Elementary in an earlier post, but it is much more than just the curriculum. EIE offers PD too! They host Collaborator Workshops, Everyone Engineers workshops for elementary teachers, the two-day “Linking the E & M in STEM”, and “Engineering Adventures”. They even have PD to turn you into someone who provides PD to your region through their Teacher Educator Institutes. You can attend these workshops on-site in Boston or invite the EIE team to lead one in your school or district.
Nearby, the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts (CEEO) improves engineering education kindergarten through college and got a shout-out from one of our teachers.
We’ve already mentioned the projects and resources on the Stanford d.school’s K12 Lab Network site earlier in our series, but you should also know that they hold a DTK12 (Design Think in K-12) Curriculum Summit and workshops in Design Thinking for Educators. I also like the spirit of “Two-Minute PD.”
The DTK12 folks also reminded me of The Nueva School‘s Design Thinking Institute near San Francisco, Henry Ford Learning Institute near Detroit, and FUSE from the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation held in Atlanta in 2015.
Not too many high schools operate a graduate school of education on the side, but why not teach in the most relevant context to the learning at hand? High Tech High (HTH) offers residencies, institutes, and workshops. They also publish a journal called UnBoxed.
The Exploratorium has long been a powerhouse of teacher PD, but we’re especially enthusiastic about the online course Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning. Spend six weeks learning from Mike Petrich, Karen Wilkinson, and Luigi Anzivino, three true masters! Take a look at the Exploratorium’s other PD offerings, especially the Exploratorium Teacher Institute (TI), which has supported middle school and high school math and science teachers for over three decades! In TI’s Re-Engineering Your Science Curriculum, master science teachers Paul Doherty, Julie Yu, and Eric Muller share practical how-tos for infusing curriculum with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) engineering practices using TI’s trademark hands-on STEM activities. Once you’ve been a part of TI’s Summer Institute, Beginning Teacher Program, or Teacher Leadership Program, you can also benefit from Pinhole, TI’s very informative discussion group. The Exploratorium’s Institute for Inquiry (IFI) trains educators in inquiry-based science: exploring the natural or material world by asking questions, observing, investigating, testing, discussing and debating. IFI’s online PD curriculum covers Fundamentals of Inquiry and Assessing for Learning. Take a gander at IFI’s library of resources too.
The MIT Media Lab’s new Learning over Education (#L_ED) initiative promotes creative learning. Go to its page on Learning Creative Learning to join the next cohort participating in the LCL online course, or start by yourself whenever you like. The six modules cover the intiative’s excellent set of four guiding principles: Projects, Peers, Passion, and Play. The initiative’s Unhangout platform takes an open-source and large-scale approach to online un-conferences such as the annual Edcamp.
Maker Party, through which 130,000 people came together to “make” the web
Making Learning Connected a MOOC that ran last year so it may again in summer 2015. Stay tuned.
- its associated Making Learning Connected G+ community and Twitter feed (@clmooc)
Make Bank for “Makes”
- “Makes could include something you write (a story, poem, play, etc.) or draw (painting, comic, etc.) , a web page or app you create, something you bake, or a social network or connection you form.” (None of this was anything that came from us at Maker Media, in case you are wondering, but nonetheless we like what we see! We’re pretty happy with anything our pals at the National Writing Project do, and this section in particular really has their fingerprints on it.)
Through the eight-week IISME Summer Fellowship, K-16 teachers of all subjects learn from “high-performance work sites” in science and tech for the summer. They both complete a project for their hosts and spend 10% of their time planning to transfer their experience back to their students and colleagues. How much does it cost? That’s the best part! For participating in this great program, teachers are paid $8,200!
The d.school fellows are “restless experts” who come together to “grow creative and resilient organizations [and] to accelerate systems-level impact in their areas of expertise.” in the fall they focus on learning and leading, winter on leading and doing, and spring on doing. They do this through coursework, workshops, events, studios, and by working through design thinking cycles.
MakerState engages “passionate makers” as MakerState fellows. It kind of sounds more like a job than a fellowship, but the idea is that the fellows serve as part-time instructors and curriculum developers for makerspace workshops around NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Riverdale, Newark, New Haven) and in El Cerrito and Sunnyvale, California. (Side note, they are also hiring Assistant Maker Fellows at the high school level.)
Newsletters, Forums, and Social Media
EdSurge, started in 2011 by Betsy Corcoran, Matt Bowman, Nick Punt and Agustin Vilaseca, scours the world of edtech (education technology) so you don’t have to. It sends detailed weekly reports on the latest news and trends in the industry to entrepreneurs, educators, investors and others. They also host a job board and and event calendar.
Edutopia has provided great public service to the PBL community since 1991. Run by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, it focuses on “innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies” especially in these areas: comprehensive assessment (portfolios and other “authentic” forms of it), integrated studies, project learning, social and emotional learning, teacher development, and technology integration.
We’ve been fans of the Tinkering School and its offshoot Brightworks for years. Not everyone can come visit them to see these renewably, constantly unique learning environments in action, but luckily their leadership has been generous with documenting and sharing what they do. Check out the Tinkering School’s Blog for educators. I especially appreciate their use of “Plus” and “Delta” for their project reviews (rather than pros and cons), moving creative work and creative teaching onward and upward. There are blog posts on tool training and then just general framing and philosophical reflections. Give the whole thing a read. You won’t regret it!
ASTC (the Association of Science and Technology Centers) hosts a number of Communities of Practice. Many of our colleagues in the museum world participate in Making & Tinkering Spaces in Museums, open to members of ASTC and other Informal Science Education (ISE) partners.
Make to Learn (M2L) hosted by Indiana University advocates “for placing making, creating, and designing at the core of educational practice.” While many of the projects originally supported by the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California, Irvine and the MacArthur Foundation wrapped up last year. Kylie Peppler and the Creativity Labs at Indiana University, Bloomington continue to lead this effort and maintain a public listserv for educators like you. Send a blank email to maketolear[email protected] to subscribe.
Here are a few Google+ communities to bookmark:
- Maker Ed
- 21st Century Notebooking
- Making Learning Connected (#clmooc)
- Learning Creative Learning
- NOVA’s MAKING STUFF Outreach
- Maker Camp (designed for teens, but lots of facilitators post regularly)
Twitter hashtags to follow: #makered, #dtk12chat, #stemchat, #PBLchat
Many teachers who have told us they are excited to get making in the classroom have also introduced Design Thinking to their students. The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators will help you get started with d-thinking techniques. This toolkit is the real deal, created by Riverdale Country School in New York City and IDEO, a firm known the world over for its human-centered approach to design.
The Curiosity Kit on Iridescent‘s educator page has some helpful resources. for working with students on engineering design challenges. And stay tuned! They recently started offering online trainings for educators, and you can email them at [email protected] to schedule one for your site.
Project Zero: Agency by Design is a multiyear research initiative at Project Zero investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences. Its site doesn’t have much in terms of PD yet, but take a look at their excellent set of book reviews.
TED-Ed has many resources, including guides for transforming “any useful educational video, not just TED’s” into a customized lesson around the video. It also has tips for starting a TED-Ed Club with your students.
For specific skills, make sure to look for makerspaces for workshops.
In the Oakland area, consider Workshop Weekend which offers 1-3 hour workshops on science, technology, engineering, art, and more.
Down in Santa Cruz, Makers Factory steps up to offer making workshops for teachers.
Many companies have gotten into the game, too. SparkFun runs workshops, always centered around some of their most popular products: the PicoBoard, Digital Sandbox, LilyPad, and Inventor’s Kit for 20–30 students, and they come to you wherever you are in the U.S.
Teacher Clint adds, “I’d also add in courses/workshops at any regional Tech Shop, at The Tech Museum, and at The Crucible in Oakland. There’s also a rise in the number of “unconferences” popping up in the Bay Area.”
Connect locally! You can find other resources and like-minded makers and educators with the maps and directories below:
- Nation of Makers map from the National Day of Making
- The White House’s maps for participant in its Maker Faire and twitter #NationofMakers
- STEMtoSTEAM‘s global map
- Cities of Learning
- The Maker Map
- Mini Maker Faires
- Maker Camp locations
What did we miss? Tell us!
Once I got started this list kept growing and growing. There are a few heavy hitters in education technology sphere I decided not to officially list above, excepts as sponsors of other PD programs: LEGO, Google, Intel, PBS, to name a few.
Lastly, we’d like to put a special plug out there for seeking out the PD opportunities at the museums near you. Museums are built and run by people who have been learning by making their whole lives and who care deeply about teaching others to do the same. Not to generalize or anything, but museum educators are the absolute experts in project-based learning, tinkering, making, whatever you want to call what we do. Be sure to check out the professional development offerings of all your favorite museums near where you teach.
Check out our earlier posts in this series:
- Finding Starter Projects for New Makers (Part 1: Make & friends)
- Finding Starter Projects (Part 2: project databases)
- Finding Starter Projects: Free Software for Making
- Finding Starter Projects: Project Sets
- Finding Starter Projects: Deadline-Driven Design
- Finding Starter Projects: Deep Dives
What’s your favorite resource for making projects? Add to our list by commenting below.