curriculum design

Designing for Constructionism and Learner Autonomy

Fellow

by Christa Flores -

Every learner deserves a space to go to every day that will expose them to the beauty of the world and the intrepid explorer that they truly are. How can learning spaces cultivate this goal while encouraging constructive autonomy in the youngest of learners? Two spaces that I have had the pleasure of visiting have shed some light on that question. The first stop was San Francisco Brightworks and the second the Beam Center in Brooklyn, NY.

 

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Making in Middle School Science

Fellow

by Christa Flores -

In 2011, I became the 5th and 6th grade science teacher at the Hillbrook School (Los Gatos, Ca). That same year the school undertook an audit of the science program for areas of strength, as well as areas for improvement. Simultaneously, the Next Generation Science Standards, emphasizing problem solving and engineering, had just been released, and that spring (2012), I attended my first Bay Area Maker Faire. After reviewing the available research on teaching and learning, attending workshops such as FabLearn at Stanford, and the Innovative Learning conference at the Nueva School, I was inspired to bring more engineering and design into the science curriculum. To learn how to do this well, I consulted with experts, such as Ed Carryer of Stanford’s Smart Product Design Lab (learn more about SPDL in Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators), to learn more about the use of prompts for semester long engineering projects. By the 2012 school year, I felt ready to prototype the new 5/6th grade science curriculum, now renamed Problem based Science. Problem based science (PbS) encourages students to gain a love of scientific thinking, applied math, and the creative use of technology, while learning through the lens of invention, design thinking, fixing and tinkering. Now in its fourth year of researched-based development, this blog describes how problem based science differs from traditional middle school science classes (i.e., how I used to teach) and lists the four core units of the curriculum. While these units currently make up only the 5th grade science curriculum at Hillbrook, the units are designed to be open ended enough to be applied to any age/grade level with varying degrees of content detail, technology integration, and design challenge difficulty.

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Sequencing activities to support discovery

Fellow

by Erin Riley -

In the quest to create an authentic student-driven learning experience I find myself thinking a lot about the role of a maker educator as facilitator.  If I were to distill what that ideal is for me, it would be to provide an environment where students could find their own way creatively, all the while gaining skills they could take into the world to make new things.

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