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The Techie Ugly Christmas Sweater Project: Part 1

Fellow

by Mark Schreiber -

Ugly sweaters seem to be pretty hip these days.  

Wal-Mart sells them, Target sells them.  There‘s even a shop in my town where you can “uglify” your very own Christmas sweater.  And yes, we have an ugly sweater contest at our school (that I plan on winning by the way). Last year I made a pretty nifty one and this year I made this project the final in my class. 

Yep, right now my advanced engineering class is pushing toward the completion of some pretty sophisticated ugly sweaters.  Some blink, some play music, some might even look like the Grizwolds house.  One has car horns on it and yet another, a Christmas trivia tree!

Read on for the steps on how to Technify your ugly sweater this year with a little Makey Makey magic!

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Hot off the FabLearn Fellow presses

Institution

by Sylvia Martinez -

While I realize the "hot off the presses" is not an accurate metaphor these days, it seems appropriate! The recent FabLearn Fellow blog posts have created a lot of room for discussion around the topics of fabrication, making, and design in museums and classrooms. Please comment and add your voice!

A brief overview of recent posts:

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Where is the line?

Fellow

by Heather Pang -

Every teacher in every classroom contemplating a project plan faces the question of how much guidance, how many constraints, how much help to give students. I have been thinking about this problem in particular for history projects where the content is specific, for example the invention of the telegraph and its effects on American society.  But I have also been thinking about it in terms of the larger movement, and the role of kits in teaching and learning.

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The Role of Co-Teachers in a Maker Classroom

Fellow

by Christa Flores -

Making can be a highly differentiated learning process for students. At times, the adult in the room may feel pulled in 10-20 different directions, if instruction needs to be one-on-one. Rather than viewing the individual learning needs and passions of my students as too daunting of a task to undertake in my curriculum, or an obstacle to a “successful” learning environment, I began to see maker projects for their potential for serious and effective co-teaching.

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Avoiding Cookie Cutters

Fellow

by Keith Ostfeld -

Last week, I helped fill in on the floor in one of our making spaces - the Inventors Workshop. When I arrived, the staff member I was relieving was helping a girl to build a small, tabletop catapult (our theme for the week was the Turkey-pult in honor of Thanksgiving). But, I noticed something - almost everyone in the workshop was creating a very similar catapult design.

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Making for Making Sake? or STEAM for 21st Century Job Skills?

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by Christa Flores -

Thank You Sylvia Martinez of Invent to Learn for this Conversation

According to Educational Philosopher Gert Biesta, professor of educational theory and policy at the University of Luxembourg, “Education debate tends to be based on a truth about the nature and destiny of the human being, a truth about what the child is and what the child must become.” Is anyone else out there daunted by this task? Some of us feel we are at a precipice in education that is fueled by a growing interest in MakerEd, and with this shift has come a lot of questions. Lets start with a recent question offered by Sylvia Martinez to our MakerEd community through her blog on November 20th. In this, Sylvia asks, “Should schools embrace Making because it develops job skills?” Paulo also addressed this in his keynote speech at FabLearn in a slide title “jobs versus powerful ideas.” “Making for making sake!” should be our mantra!

Or should it...and who gets to be part of that conversation, because like it or not, it will determine who gets hired to “teach” making at your schools and it will drive other funding issues as well. Can we dream about such an educational climate without first addressing how our current economic or political models support the adapting philosophies of MakerEd? I turn to my colleagues for answers, especially that of new STEAM Director (aka Maker in Residence) at the St. Gabriel’s School in Austin Texas, Patrick Benfield to help me map the landscape for our schools. For further inspiration, I have been learning how to speak Tiny Dutch words to stay informed by the Netherlands.

 

New: Making and Tinkering: A Review of the Literature

Institution

by Sylvia Martinez -

A new literature review was just released by the Board of Science Education (an NSF funded program associated with the National Academies) called:

Making and Tinkering: A Review of the Literature, by Shirin Vossoughi and Bronwyn Bevan

http://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/docs/publications/1389898569543ea0951a19d.pdf

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The "Unstructured Classroom" and other misconceptions about Constructivist Learning

Fellow

by Christa Flores -

Ask any average kid what his or her favorite part of the school day is and you will probably get the answer lunch or recess. Kids love unstructured time because they have the privacy to fail while taking risks or learning how to be a social primate. At recess, kids have nearly 100% choice over what to do with their bodies, with the safe assumption that in case an injury does occur, an adult on duty will be on the scene in due time. Provide kids with a rich, not necessarily antiseptic space to explore and they teach us a lot about ingenuity, inclusivity and learning through play. Whether passionate about the physics of soccer or the game theory involved in the antics the day of a middle school dance, learning is experiential and self-directed at recess. Regardless of what passion takes over their choice time, we as adults trust them to make safe choices for the most part and we respect their individuality. So why does that trust shift when those same children come into our classrooms?

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