Friday, October 17, 2014

Linking Professional Development to Student Opportunities

This summer I spent two days attending some great professional development at a conference called E21.  A teaching colleague from another school invited me to attend with her so we could learn together. It was great! I was honored to be asked to collaborate, and I was excited to grow as a teacher.  A full description of the conference is contained here:

A snippet of the program description was:
Putting tenets of the maker movement into practice – collaboration, experimentation, invention, and play – everyone will take part in hands-on project creation. Participants will also attend talks and discussion sessions on topics ranging from making a creative laboratory space in a small rural school or library, girls/women and emerging technology, project development, and market introduction of inventions.

Learning About Makey Makey Kits-A Playdough Piano! Summer PD 2014
During my many classes I did explore, create and learn.  I got to see the maker movement in practice as educators learned by creating.  I do not believe that all of education should be 'create first, seek content knowledge later', but I see the value in giving students opportunities to explore materials and to make things often-- and NOT always as the summation of a unit of study.  Classrooms should be 'maker spaces' that give students room to explore and create.  As educators we should be looking for ways to give students room to inquire and discover through exploration.  Problem solving and investigation skills need equal learning time with content knowledge.  Students natural curiosity and wonder should be celebrated!  When I selected the tenets of the RES Enrichment Program several years ago--Think, Create, Collaborate and Share--I knew that content creation and creativity were important.  It was great to see these ideas through a different lens as I learned about the tenets of the maker movement.

Creating a Solar Powered Creature-- Summer PD 2014
I left the conference energized to find ways to put these concepts into practice in my classroom.  I also left with some great new education connections--some with plans to work together and others that I signed up to follow on twitter. 

I am happy to report that this professional development has led to some great opportunities for students at RES.  Through my new connections on twitter I found a link to the Vermont State Science Fair and an opportunity to bring professional development and an Inventor's Workshop to our school. (Here is the link to my plans for our first RES Cougar Cub Inventor's Workshop: )  My vision is that families will see the power of this type of learning and get to share it with educators at our school and engineers from our community.  I also created plans to collaborate with another school in our district on an inquiry science unit. We will build in more inquiry and creation and then give students an authentic audience through our collaboration as educators!

As a teacher, I value opportunities to learn and grow and I hope that by sharing my passion for learning new things with students and our school community that they will be energized to constantly learn too!

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