Nov 15, 2014

Is "Experiencing" the same as "Learning"?

Discussion question for Thinkering Studio students: Is experiencing the same as learning? If yes, are there subtle differences to the connotations of the words? If no, what distinguishes one from the other?


LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Jul 8, 2014

What counts as Making? Who is a Maker?

I'm a big fan of the Maker movement. I wonder if the message sometimes trends too far to the engineering or technology side of things. When thinking about a Maker space for school I want to be inclusive of as many types of makers as is feasible. Engineering, technology, and occasionally some forms of crafting seem to get the most attention, but what about these?

Is a baker/cook/chef a maker?
Is a graphic artist a maker?
Is a writer a maker?
Is a computer game designer/programmer a maker?
Is a seamstress/seamster/tailor/fashion designer a maker?
Are all artists makers?
Including musical artists/songwriters?
And performance artists?
Even athletes?

Who else is a maker?
Is our space conducive to all?
Do we have the right tools and materials to encourage all kinds of making?
Is it because Making is so often linked to STEM that engineering and technology get the spotlight?
Does changing STEM to STEAM make enough of a difference?

Jan 29, 2014

Growing the Culture of a Learning Community

We’ve been doing a lot of talking about Professional Learning Communities, and the intentional efforts of some to create communities of purposeful learning.  The activity linked here is one we recently crafted for a team of teachers who have been given one day each month to explore, test-drive and share elements of practice, as they relate to shifts toward student-owned and global learning.

Given this gift of time and opportunity, I wonder…


  • What might they need to consider as they learn toward their goal of student-owned learning and global connectivity?
  • What professional & pedagogical process changes will be most important to consider?
  • What do they need, or need to avoid, to make the most of this opportunity?
  • How can we best support their efforts to create a culture of professional learning?
originally posted at Learning OutLoud by Sara Wilkie

Jul 31, 2013

Real Need or An Excuse? Is Less More?


In The Evolution of Education Is Less More?

"There is something to this idea of less is more. For a teacher that can’t prioritize, organize, or integrate, more isn’t helpful or supportive, but rather an endless, wide-open and formless space."

I worry about "there's an app for that" syndrome. Which seems related to the need to constantly move on to the next cool tool.

Similarly I worry about always searching for the next book/article/post/tweet to read, thinking it might have "the" answer.

If we are consumed by consuming those apps or readings, what will we produce ourselves?

I like the idea that if a teacher/facilitator/administrator cannot easily show what they AND their students have created (ideally published on the internet), even if it isn't polished/final, then they are victims of their own mindset. How do we help ourselves distinguish whether it is a real need, just a perceived need, or an excuse for not getting on with the job?

Jun 14, 2013


How do these overlap or express unique ideas?

Betty Flowers describes four roles related to the writing process: madman, architect, carpenter, and judge.

Roger Von Oech describes four roles related to the creative process: explorer, artist, judge and warrior.

HT to Stephen Abram to get me thinking ...

Apr 30, 2013

Questions & "Starts"

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.” Clayton Christensen via Jason Fried

Combine that with Grant Wiggins' Beginnings, and their educational importance.

How good are our "starts"? Do our units start with kid questions enough? Is starting with a challenge as good?

Feb 8, 2013

And Extrovert Kids Need to Learn to Listen at School

Jessica Lahey has an article that explains why she feels Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School.

I've been thinking through those issues on and off for years, especially as I design my own lessons and work with other teachers. I look for articles and books related to the topic, like Susan Cain's Quiet. Below is a link to a Thinking Space about that book and introverts as well as a page that looks at the affordances and constraints of group work and individual work. Finally there is a link to a related rubric. A part of the rubric gets at listening.

I find it interesting that the "communication" Lahey mentions seems to only go one way with introverts needing to learn to speak up. Shouldn't we at the same time be working with teaching extroverts to listen?

Thinking Space - Quiet

Affordances & Constraints - Group/Individual Work

Teamwork Rubric

What is the balance we need to strike between letting kids work in their comfort zone and educating them in areas that may be less comfortable (both groups)?

Oct 14, 2012

Future Ed Tech Conference Direction?


When will Ed Tech conferences move to incorporate more of the content and ethos of a Maker Faire? We need more sessions like Mitch Resnick's precon at BLC. Conference organizers are missing an opportunity to connect the making their presenters already promote (storytelling, videomaking, blogging, community building, textbook creating, etc.) with that of the Maker movement. It would also be a natural connection with inquiry, design thinking, problem-solving, etc.

For now I'll just imagine myself getting invited to a retreat or unconference with Mitch Resnick, Amy Smith, Marco Torres, Dale Dougherty, Gever Tulley, Neil Gershenfeld, Regina Dugan, William Kamkwamba, Paulo Blikstein, and the Raspberry Pi folks. Who else should be invited?

I'll be curious if Will Richardson pushes down this path in the future. Are any of the Usual Suspects of the ed tech conference circuit moving in this direction?

Aug 9, 2012

Mini Maker Faire

Another project I'm excited about trying again this year is our Mini Maker Faire. Mini Maker Faire is designed to get students making with found materials, documenting the process, tweaking/hacking someone else's design, and reflecting throughout. Check out the possible projects and let me know if you have some others third/fourth graders might enjoy!