As an elementary educator, I maintain my passion for exploration and imagination with my students through facilitating inquiry-based projects that address real world problems, exploring learning opportunities outside the classroom, and choosing to be a life-long learner beside my students.
Inspired by a graduate course in Year 1, I used YouTube to learn how to refinish an old dresser into an entertainment center.
See how I used Little Bits circuitry kit to enliven reader's workshop.
As an educator I aim to create a constructivist environment-where students are the active makers of meaning and knowledge and not just receiving information passively. In order to produce such an environment, three pedagogical components are necessary: autonomous learning; collaboration; authenticity. This requires educators to expose students to learning experiences that encourage and inspire critical thinking, questioning and rationalizing, and independence.
Another key component to fostering a constructivist environment is autonomous learning. When given the opportunity to direct their learning paths, students take on more responsibility and ownership for their knowledge. In a student-centered environment, they feel empowered and hungry for finding solutions to problems they are invested in answering.
Learning from one’s peers is the third component of a constructivist environment. By posing complex and ill-structured problems, deep discussions develop giving way to shared ideas expanding the collective knowledge. Collaborative groups hold each student to a standard by creating a need to generate high-quality questioning and reasoning. Team building, communication, and negotiation skills are subliminally developed throughout this active process.
Authenticity provides students with opportunities to work on issues relevant to their surroundings. If students can truly feel connected to what they are learning, it will ultimately motivate them to dig deeper into developing an understanding of ideas. In this case, digital technology functions as a tool to facilitate learning as students engage in creating complex representations of their ideas. For example, when working on a redesign of an outdoor landing space, students were trained in the program SketchUp to create 3D models of their blueprints.
I think teachers must abandon traditional teaching approaches and stretch themselves to apply new and progressive pedagogies. Modeling progressive thinking for our students is the best way to teach them to be collaborative problem solvers despite discomfort or novelty. Teaching with a constructivist approach allows the teacher to be an active learner alongside her students. It allows students to recognize the teacher is not the answer key, and encourages them to stop seeking approval and start relying on themselves.
Through the d.school Design Thinking model I explored one of the wicked problems facing educators today, using failure as a learning mode. Wicked problems are defined by 2013 The New Media Consortium communiqué - "a class of social system problems [that] are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing," (Buchanan, 2010, pg. 26). The following are to be the biggest wicked problems facing educators today:
- Rethink what it means to teach, and reinvent everything about teaching
- Reimagine online learning
- Allow failure to be as powerful a learning mode as success
- Make innovation part of the learning ethic
- Preserve the digital expressions of our culture and knowledge
"Our hike around Tallulah Gorge was awesome! It was really cold and windy but still we climbed 467 steps!" -Isaiah
"Congratulations to last years’ Fourth graders for the vision to develop a plan that would improve your school and then the perserverence to work through all the decisions and do the hard work to make that dream a reality. you are the problem solvers of the future!" -Former Grandparent
Students are designing prototypes for their ideal outdoor classroom based on research and expert consultations.
"BY WORKING TOGETHER, WE RAISED $1,560.19 WHICH WILL GO TOWARDS OUR OUTDOOR LEARNING SPACE PROJECT."
This video depicts the fourth grade working to accumulate zero pounds of wasted food on a recent trip to St. Simons Island.
Students were awarded a certificate for leaving St. Simons with zero pounds of wasted food.
After a class effort to reduce the amount of food waste accumulated on an overnight trip to St. Simons Island, students wanted to challenge the entire school to the same task.
Students created a master Ort (archaic English for waste) Chart to track the amount of food wasted at lunch across the school each day over the course of a week.
A pair of students were assigned a grade and each day they would collect the food waste from that grade, weigh, and report their findings on the large scale chart.
Total school wide food waste reduced from 15 lbs to 3 lbs!
Graduate Studies: Year 1
In the first year we focused heavily on the TPACK framework (integration of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge) and how as educators we can build learning experiences and environments to support that structure.
Following a recipe based on fractional thinking.
Some groups included too many eggs: they had to figure out how to thicken their batter.
Some groups had too little flour: they had to figure out how to thicken their batter.
Some groups had too much flour: they had to figure out how to thin out their batter.
In the end, students were able to address their mistakes not only from the assessment but in a real life situation as well.
Created with images by Markus Spiske - "untitled image" • 422737 - "number ad yellow color asphalt road digit" • Alexej Алексей Simonenko Симоненко - "Number" • Erica Nilsson - "untitled image" • lourdesnique - "i am a student learning school child" • Toa Heftiba - "untitled image"