Spatial Reasoning and Student Success

 

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Spatial Reasoning

This year, I have had the privilege of designing a brand new makerspace for our school. In addition, I have been able to focus on visual-spatial reasoning as the thread that pulls together science, math and technology.

What is spatial reasoning?

According to the Ministry of Education, Spatial reasoning is the ability to engage in reasoning, and understand the location, rotation and movement of ourselves and other objects in space. It involves a number of processes and concepts. More information about this can be found here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/LNSPayingAttention.pdf

 

Why is Spatial Reasoning important?

There already exists a very strong body of research that spatial thinking correlates with later performance in math. In addition, research consistently demonstrates strong linkages between spatial ability and success in math and science — and those students with strong visual and spatial sense are more likely to succeed in STEAM careers.

It is absolutely clear that early exposure to visual-spatial reasoning is very important.

However, as educators, we traditionally have failed to recognize that our youngest students are actually able to perform way above the expected levels of spatial reasoning. We generally leave these tasks for older students. This has to change.

Not only is this a problem because we are neglecting our youngest students who already come to school with a high level of spatial-reasoning skills, but this also means that our youngest students are not having equal access to spatial reasoning activities that they are able to perform. This is a social justice issue. Especially when we consider that visual-spatial reasoning positively correlates with later performance in math (Mazzocco & Myers, 2003). If we know the research, and have the opportunity to employ high quality spatial reasoning activities for all students in Kindergarten, should we let older curriculum and older beliefs hold us back? Do we recognize when we are teaching in the ways that we used to be taught? What if we had the ability to ensure all of our youngest students engage in spatial reasoning? How would this impact their future?

In fact, students who experience issues with math, often have difficulties with geometry and visual spatial sense (Zhang, et al., 2012). This to me sounds like an amazing opportunity to understand mathematical achievement via spatial reasoning. The earlier we recognize this, the earlier we can respond.

Wouldn’t it be great if we gave all students the ability to access higher level learning associated with visual-spatial sense right from the get-go? Imagine the impact this could have in overall math achievement throughout our students entire school career, and beyond, in their STEAM based careers.

To me, I think this behooves us to ensure we have access to makerspaces – regardless of where they are located in our schools – to promote visual spatial reasoning skills.

What do you think?

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

References:
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/LNSPayingAttention.pdf
http://tmerc.ca/research/
http://www.pme38.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RF-Sinclair-et-al.pdf
Mazzocco, M. M. M., & Thompson, R. E. (2005). Kindergarten predictors of math learning disability. Learning Disablilities Research & Practice, 20(3), 142-155. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5826.2005.00129.x
Mazzocco, M. M. M., & Myers, G. F. (2003). Complexities in identifying and defining mathematics learning disability in the primary school age years. Annals of Dyslexia, 53, 218–253
Zhang, D., Ding, Y., Stegall, J., & Mo, L. (2012). The effect of Visual‐Chunking‐Representation accommodation on geometry testing for students with math disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 27(4), 167-177. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5826.2012.00364.x

Makerspaces & Math Links

https://www.tes.com/lessons/sGvLjtLFbRRUZA/math-and-makerspaces?feature=embed

STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning

 

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Using job descriptions can facilitate program planning and student learning. A job description provides us with rich opportunities to extract content areas, learning goals, success criteria, and rich tasks for learning. It just doesn’t matter if the position is paid or not, volunteer or mandatory. The point is that you will often find key information about skills that are important in our world today, and perhaps discover more relevant ways to teach those skills.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Consider the following job description in blue. As you review it, consider the cross-curricular, and integrated learning opportunities that may present themselves. Consider the project-based learning opportunities you can use to help students gain the necessary skills to apply for this job. Where do various technologies fit into this picture?

Check it out: 

_______________________________________________________________________________

BRIDGE DESIGN TECHNICIAN

Organization: Ministry of Transportation
Division: Provincial Highways Management
City: London
Job Term: 1 Permanent
Job Code: 12682 – Engineering Services Officer 3
Salary: 
$1,122.02 – $1,410.37 Per Week*
*Indicates the salary listed as per the OPSEU Collective Agreement.
Understanding the job ad – definitions

Posting Status:

Open
Job ID:
99401
Apply Online
View Job Description
Are you looking for a new challenge? Would you like to apply your knowledge of civil engineering technology and computer abilities in a new way?
Consider this opportunity in structural design while contributing to the safety of Ontario’s transportation system.

What can I expect to do in this role?

In this role you will:
• Prepare scale drawings depicting bridge details and materials for review and approval;
• Prepare associated contract documentation according to Ministry standards using required software;
Review bridge site plans and preliminary geometry information supplied by consultants;
• Carry out quantity calculations and cost estimates;
• Provide and assist in the training of regional staff in bridge inspections, in the use of computerized bridge detailing systems and bridge management systems;
• Provide interpretation of standards, specifications and policies as required;
• Assist in bridge inspections by carrying out inspection of simple structures, and updating and maintaining related databases;
• Provide technical guidance, training and advice to junior staff on bridge drafting and contract preparations, durability and construction issues with complex structural details and innovative techniques ensuring safety and economy;
• Answer queries on technical issues from other jurisdictions as required.

How do I qualify?

(aka learning goals and success criteria, criteria for rubrics and other assessment methods)

Knowledge of Bridge Design

• You have knowledge and skills in the design, detailing and contract preparation of provincial bridge contracts.
• You have knowledge and skills to be able to inspect bridges.
• You have knowledge in bridge design and detailing principles, and ability to consider various constraints such as materials, fabrication and production techniques.
• You have practical working knowledge of the varied and complex safety issues related to the design of bridges.

Communication Skills

• You have well-developed oral and written communication and presentation skills.
• You can use consultation skills to identify needs and maintain effective working relationships with regions and other functional teams
• You are committed to customer service.

Research and Project Planning Skills

• You can understand and interpret engineering plans and profiles, technical reports and relevant codes of practice.
• You have knowledge of project planning in order to design, detail, implement, lead and manage a number of concurrent projects of varying degrees complexity, individually or within a team environment.
• You have demonstrated analytical, planning, scheduling, project management and work coordination skills.

Computer Skills

• You can use computer systems and their applications, including Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems and database systems.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Now that you have had a chance to look at this, tell me you are not inspired by the sheer opportunities to connect science, math, technology and literacy? How many skills can be extracted and channeled into balanced literacy and math activities? How many rich tasks can be created? What projects and inquiries can be facilitated? How will they culminate into an end of unit(s) assessment task that includes applying for this job?
How can we help students figure out what they need to do next in order to ‘prove’ that they have the skills to apply?
What if my students were given a small bank of job descriptions, and they need to choose one that looks interesting that they will apply for.
Here are a few steps to consider:
1. Conduct your hypothetical job search
3. Teach the feedback skills that enable all students to engage in higher quality feedback and assessment as learning processes.
4. Find the Big Ideas
5. Plan your projects, centers, and assessment protocol.
6. Reflect
7. Share
Job searching can provide key information into the skills and knowledge that are important in our world. They can even help inform our curriculum planning and instructional design. Next time you are wondering how to infuse math, science, literacy and more into your short and long range plans, consider starting with a job search.
Deborah McCallum
c 2016

Makerspaces for All

 

 

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Over this last year, I have had the opportunity to understand what Education for All, Learning for All, differentiation and equity on deeper levels due to working in a Makerspace.

Learning is about problem solving, creating positive math mindsets, constructing and building knowledge through hands on activities, and most of all, promoting equity. No where is this more true than in a Makerspace.

However, I think that we have very deep issues pertaining to equity in our schools and classrooms. The ways that things are traditionally done simply do not facilitate success for everyone – but this is what education is all about – doing whatever we can to help students be successful.

Makerspaces (or S.T.E.A.M. Rooms – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), are opportunities for new kinds of teaching and learning that promote equity. Based in Constructionism, Makerspaces are designed to give students the ability to build knowledge themselves with hands on tasks. Our students do not have to learn from the teachers experiences and knowledge, they can actively build it themselves.

Working in a Makerspace means that timelines need to be flexible. This fits in beautifully with Growth Mindsets. Students should not have to feel bad because something wasn’t built by the end of the period – this alone does not prove how much a student learned. What matters is the knowledge built from the experience and the process.

 

 

Consider this example for a moment:

A class is given a design challenge that brings in many elements of structures in science and math concepts with geometry and spatial reasoning. There are multiple entry points, where students can build as simple, or as complex as they would like. Next:

Student A builds a structure in 5 minutes, whereas Student B struggles with the process for an entire learning block, and does not come close to finishing.

The most important questions become: What was learned? What value did each student get out of the process?

Student A feels great because they built something on time. It came fast, and easy. However, student A did not learn anything.

By contrast: Student B doesn’t finish, feels terrible about not finishing. Frustration levels go high. Self-esteem drops.

Both develop a fixed mindset about learning.

What a travesty it would be if Student B did not have the opportunity to understand why there was struggle with the process? What if this student struggled because they were figuring out a very complex piece of learning for them? What if they were taking the risk to learn, even though the stakes might be high?

Student B did not take the easy route. Student B made mistakes. Student B is experiencing frustration which is what happens in learning. Student B doesn’t realise that they are reinforcing an image of not finishing in time as being a bad thing.

Student A doesn’t feel the need to learn anything new. Student A believes that finishing quickly is a good thing. Student A doesn’t have a teacher who will continue to provide opportunities to take the learning even deeper. Student A’s learning stalls, yet Student A benefits from an image of being a model student.

 

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Can you imagine if people were not allowed to change their plans, make mistakes and start fresh? Or worse, what if we as educators are the ones sending these messages to our students that they cannot?

 

I always ask my students, What would happen if an engineer did not ever change plans, make mistakes and even start over?

Now, some students need scaffolding with this – they need to understand what an engineer does, and they need to understand that ‘creating’ and ‘making’ follow a process. They need to understand that we design new ideas and structures to help people.

But when they do understand this, it really seems to click with them. They would WANT an engineer who is designing a bridge, for instance, to stop, revise plans, fix mistakes and start over if necessary. This is far more advantageous than quitting after a mistake, or quitting because work needed to extend past a deadline.

Therefore, working in a Makerspace has to mean becoming flexible with timelines and tasks. It has to be about building knowledge in ways that are very new in our school systems.

My experiences in creating a community atmosphere where students have choice and voice, has taught me a great deal about student learning. It has taught me that I do not have to ‘control’ student learning, yet I can facilitate the learning and help students meet their learning goals in many ways.

This has a huge impact on classroom management as well. In fact, the biggest behaviour issues that surface are the ones directly related to problem solving skills, and from having fixed mindsets. Not from students feeling bored, ‘dumb’, or disconnected from learning.

The fact is, that providing students with different ways of doing things, and providing students with opportunities to learn differently and share their voices in different ways produces greater focus, growth mindsets, and student-centered knowledge building opportunities. In my humble experience, this demonstrates that all students can be successful with opportunities to learn in different ways. It promotes equity.

This takes differentiation and Education for All to a whole new level. We are not differentiating so that students can do what WE want them to do all the time. We are differentiating for them – so that the students can build knowledge in ways that are personally meaningful to them. While still meeting the learning goals. While still learning about the Big Ideas.

What does this look like? 

  • We are facilitating, asking questions, promoting student inquiry.
  • We are starting with the Big Ideas.
  • We are setting key learning goals.
  • We are clustering the specific expectations around them – from many different subjects.
  • We are allowing students to design, plan, construct, and then allowing them to write about it, reflect, problem solve, engage in visual-spatial reasoning. All skills that are proven to increase reading scores and help students to become literate learners.

In addition to problem solving, promoting positive math mindsets, and having the opportunity to build knowledge and understanding in new ways, I believe that Makerspaces have the powerful opportunity to begin to promote equity for students in our school systems.

 

Deborah McCallum

c2016

The Big Ideas in Education and STEAM

 

How do we plan for STEAM?

We start with the Big Ideas.

 

Attached is a chart I created to link the Big Ideas in Education with S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Big Ideas in Education STEAM

This chart is specifically geared toward the Ministry of Ontario curricula that address STEAM subjects, and specifically for Grade 3. However many of the Big Ideas remain the same across grades.

I also included overall expectations where there were no explicit big ideas already mapped out– just to get the picture.

The next step after this chart, is to first ask ourselves what other specific variables might come into play. We don’t need to have them all mapped out first however. Some specific expectations arise when student inquiries take us there.

Next, we need to think about the teaching strategies we will use. Our choices will depend on our students interests, inquiries and needs. They will also depend on social justice variables including equity, access, and privilege.

Finally, we will consider what tools will best support us.

Things to think about:

  • How does this relate to Growth Mindsets?
  • How can we harness strategies that help us understand what students are thinking, vs helping get the ‘right’ answer?
  • Can we be flexible enough to allow students to share their thinking in many different ways without being judgmental?
  • How can we help students document their own learning and engage in ongoing reflection?
  • How will our strategies help us to create a #feedbackfriendly classroom?

 

If you choose just 1 Big Idea, this does not mean that you are stuck only teaching that one subject. Remember that when you cluster the specific expectations around the Big Idea, they can be from any subject. However, you can also choose 1 or more Big Ideas to make explicit links to different subjects from the start. It is my belief that we cannot plan ahead for all specific expectations that will be met. If we did then this is treating education as a knowledge repository where students come to get the information from the teacher about the specific expectations. When we know the curriculum, we can allow for flexibility and let student inquiries, learning needs, interests and more guide us to the specific expectations that can be taught with various strategies and tools that best helps our students to achieve. All the while, still ensuring that we are covering the curriculum. It also allows for innovation, collaboration, and connections to real life.

Check out the attachment here. It always helps me to see the Big Ideas in one place.

Big Ideas in Education STEAM D

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

In support of Libraries for Academic Success & Equity

Libraries are essential in building academic success and equity in our schools and learning environments. This is very easy when staff and students come from similar backgrounds and share similar languages, experiences and expectations. But what about the ‘others’? The one’s who do not share similar experiences, expectations, languages, and backgrounds?

First, what does it mean to have learners achieve academic success?

  1. Basic skills in reading, writing and math
  2. Basic knowledge of Sciences, nature, history
  3. Skills including critical thinking, analyzing, synthesizing, inferring, predicting, connecting
  4. Knowing that there are consequences for actions
  5. Flexibility
  6. Becoming a lifelong learner
  7. Participating in civic life
  8. Ability to keep up with technical changes
  9. Building confidence in a diverse and ever-changing society
  10. Adeptness at working and living with people different from ourselves
  11. Respecting cultural differences
  12. Embracing multiple perspectives.

 

Often, we as educators assume that we just need better instructional strategies to help learners achieve academic success. BUT, all of the best strategies in the world will not work if they are used in a setting where students don’t feel valued or don’t have confidence that they can succeed.

This is where Equity comes into play.

Libraries have access to resources, expertise and physical and virtual spaces to promote equity.

For instance, TL’s are skilled to organize instruction in ways that can positively build on relationships between students and classes. TL’s also provide adequate resources for students learning in first and second languages, and have the spaces to include students and value what they bring from home.

The Library also promotes citizenship, and helps students understand how we all came to belong. Library spaces have the power to address historic injustices, and connect issues of on-going colonization to the curriculum. The knowledge and resources make it more possible to engage all learners in meaningful discussions with historic specificities.

We simply cannot work with the ‘tools’ in our Libraries when we fail to understand the ‘why’ behind what we are doing.

Libraries are not about assimilation of students into dominant power structures. Rather, they are spaces with professionals who are able to analyze racial inequality, and understand that cultural differences are not temporary disadvantages that lessen over time. TL’s know that we need to go beyond ‘tokenism’ of the First Peoples in Canada. The onus is not on Aboriginal students and teachers to explain themselves.

Students who easily fit in with dominant cultural practices are fortunate to always see school reflected back to them, but TL’s know about social positioning, and work against normal power dynamics to hear all voices.

Further, new spaces, including MakerSpaces, are not used to continue to traditional narratives of education. Rather they are truly flexible and open spaces that promote other ways of expressing ideas and knowing the world around us. We don’t assume that Makerspaces are ‘what the world needs’, rather we help students make it about what they need. We help students connect them to what it means for be a respectable citizen in the world. We also allow them to be unpredictable.

Libraries provide extensive opportunities to write, talk and self-reflect.

Libraries are welcoming spaces.

Libraries encourage students to find ways of interrupting the social and ideological ramifications in which our learning is situated.

Libraries allow for discussions and assignments that trouble our already-familiar stories. And TL’s continually assess teaching and curriculum.

We know that we cannot merely congratulate white students for taking part in our national identity as being ‘helpers of the less fortunate’. Because this continues to put us in privileged positions that continue to marginalize our students.

TL’s are positioned to be aware of unconscious biases. Educators assume that we treat all students equally, but our attitudes often result in different outcomes.

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Students transfer what they know to new situations as they acquire new knowledge. This can only occur through careful planning, and active participation in school activities. TL’s are in the perfect position to help make intentional connections across settings and contexts. For instance, explicitly connecting what students learn in literacy with content areas. Ie., Connecting the reading and writing with the Science content.

Libraries are also open places for parents, and help encourage parents to safely share the language and ideas from the home. TL’s become very aware of students prior learning and literacy experiences, and work to build in opportunities for authentic communication in any language that is simply not found in any other spaces in the school.  This increases risk taking skills and develops safety and security.

We work to make challenging concepts understandable – not water down existing curriculum.

Academic Success is what we want for all of our students. However, all the best instructional strategies in the world will not help if we are not promoting equity. A signifant part of promoting equity is truly understanding the underlying philosophies of why we do what we do – and making sure that we are not doing ‘new’ things just to promote the same narratives that perpetuate privilege and oppression.

The Library is an essential space in the school that requires flexible and knowledgeable professionals who are willing and able to disrupt that which is familiar and promote equity for all.  To recognize the power dynamics that honour what is dominant, and honour other ways of knowing and being to promote true academic success.

 

 

Deborah McCallum

c2016

 

Commins, M. & Miramontes, O. (2006). Addressing Linguistic Diversity from the Outset. Journal of Teacher Education,57(3), 240 -246

Dei, G. & Simmons, M. (2010). Educating about anti-racism: The perils and desires. Our Schools, Our Selves, 19(3), 107-120.

 

 

Innovation for New Pedagogies and Education Spaces

I have been thinking a lot lately about the deeper ‘why’ behind the need for innovation in education. The deeper WHY behind the need for new spaces and also new initiatives including, but not limited to, makerspaces and genius hour. While I have led initiatives like these before, and believe in them, I wanted to know ‘why’ they were important –other than the usual old rhetoric about meeting the needs of digital citizens in the 21st century. I wanted to really understand the deeper why.  

What I have come to understand, is that it has to be about equity and our deeper awareness of what equity means in the 21st century. It is also about recognition and restitution for all of our FNMI students and believe deeply in social justice.

Therefore, in my quest to understand why things need to change in education, ie., why students need more choice, voice and opportunities with technology, inquiry, different spaces and pedagogies, I realised that things need to change for the basic reason that we need to disrupt the status quo and promote equity.

We now are recognizing that there are many different ways to share an idea. More than one way to build knowledge. More than one way of knowing the world around us. We know that simple transmission of content from ‘expert to student’ is paternalistic. It also promotes apathy and indifference among students who are simply not interested.

How we ‘innovate’ can produce great potential for our young learners. As long as we are not using it to promote a more ‘privileged’ agenda, and that we are considering them as ways to promote more respectful and dialogical relationships with our students and communities. The traditional physical, virtual, social, financial and emotional boundaries of learning need to move, or disappear.

Innovating to foster equity and social justice in a context of privilege is difficult to say the least. But I think that we are acknowledging that our education system shares some of the complicitiy in maintaining an unjust status quo. Traditional teaching practices often promote this. We are challenging what we know to be true, in order to give voices to those who have not been able to have a voice in the past.

 

Here is what Innovation can do:

  1. Help us move beyond the beliefs that we need to define what is ‘correct or incorrect’ with our students.
  2. Help us begin to realise that what we teach, or not teach, needs to be relevant to students!! This is HUGE! If we continue to teach with content and strategies that are irrelevant to our students, then we are essentially ensuring that we help create apathy and indifference.
  3. Help us encourage students to really think about things – not just assume they need to understand our externally imposed teaching and evaluation protocol.
  4. Help promote cultural synthesis, not cultural invasion. We recognize that we teach our curriculum from a white settler perspective. Educators still lack adequate knowledge and understanding about the true First Peoples of this land we now call Canada.
  5. Help us realise that our role is not to teach, or transmit knowledge – it is now to ‘learn’ with the people.
  6. Help us understand that we cannot package and ‘sell’ the curriculum. It needs to be co-created among co-learners.
  7. Help us generate attitudes of awareness through critical reflection.
  8. Help us foster appreciation for intrinsic value and intrinsic human worth.
  9. Help us educate from a posture of solidarity with our co-learners – not from ‘paternalism’ – and a belief that we alone ‘know what is right’.
  10. Help us encourage students and educators who are more privileged, ie., in terms of class, social status, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and more, to hear the voices of ALL students – this means we hear the voices of students and learners who are oppressed along the same axis – we hear the voices even when they are articulated in violence.
  11. Help us stop looking at the ‘other’, for instance FNMI students, as a ‘project’, or as solely having an identity solely linked to oppression.
  12. Help us move beyond sserting our own educational agenda.
  13. Help us realise that we all have a shared humanity.

For all the reasons listed above, is why I firmly believe in the necessity of innovation, in addition to initiatives that include, but are not limited to, makerspaces, genius hour, inquiry based learning, and creating more dynamic spaces.

We innovate to create equity, AND meet the needs of all learners in the 21st century.

If we are not engaging in new pedagogies and new ways of thinking, then I fear that we are working solely from a place of privilege that continues to promote oppression, apathy, and indifference – in addition to making school ‘unsafe’ for many of our students.

 

Deborah McCallum

C 2016

Holistically integrating ICT with the help of the Library

Originally created and shared by Deborah McCallum on https://sites.google.com/site/guidetoholisticeducation/librarianship:

The purpose of this post is to provide examples of holistic instructional strategies involving information technology in any learning environment. Rather than solely focusing on objectives, assessment outcomes and a heirarchy of subject matter, which are important, the role of the Teacher-Librarian is to help learners focus more on building new questions, resources, ideas and knowledge together surrounding enduring themes. The following section will discuss holistic learning strategies including knowledge building, makerspaces, inquiry based learning and content curation.

Holistic Learning in the Learning Commons

Librarianship is about providing holistic learning opportunities for all learners.

The Learning Commons represents a holistic model of the traditional library. It’s purpose is to foster collaborative engagement to cultivate and empower communities of learners. The role of the Learning Commons is essential to supporting diverse communities of learners in flexible ways.

The purpose of Librarianship goes much deeper than the provision of resources. It goes beyond access to information, and toward helping learners know how to find information, how to use it, and how to do this in authentic and holistic ways. Information Technology is a reality of our world, and our students need to understand how to harness its power to follow their own inquiries, build new knowledge, and use information in meaningful ways.

 

Please check out this video introducing the Together for Learning document from the Ontario Library Association: 

YouTube Video

The Learning Commons is a constructivist environment where skills and strategies including Knowledge Building is facilitated. 

Knowledge Building

Knowledge Building is an essential learning process in the 21st century. The Learning Commons provides a framework for knowledge building. 21st Century information technologies facilitate this knowledge building process for our learners in holistic ways. Effective use of information technology increases the potential for global connections and opportunities for collaboration and learning. The Learning Commons fosters a holistic knowledge building process with 21st century technologies.

Today, our young learners appear to be very savvy with technology. However, this does not mean that they understand the knowledge building processes with information technology. The Learning Commons is essential to helping students to enhance their critical thinking, reflection and metacognition skills.

Knowledge Building in the Learning Commons

Makerspaces

Makerspaces offer holistic ways of integrating information technologies in innovative ways. In a makerspace, learners can be creative and collaborative. This is a safe place where learners can truly explore new ideas, and engage in meaningful activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Bloggingreflections & Book Reviews
  • Book Trailers on iMovie
  • Twitter accounts for characters in a book
  • Publishing stories and poetry into an eBook
  • Newsletters& website dedicated to authors and books, characters too!
  • Apps and programs including ‘Explain Everything’, ‘Haiku Deck’; Google Docs & iBookswhere students can explain what they are doing in math to teach another group of kids, or show to their parents.
  • Publish work anonymously
  • Robotics
  • 3D printing
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Use of various presentation formats to demonstrate a continuum of learning
  • Drama Presentations turned into iMovies with Greenscreen
  • Skype with an author
  • Lego
  • Research
  • Create infographics, or other visual representations of data and information in books and about books
  • Create and record music soundtracks
  • Podcasts

YouTube Video

Makerspaces on Flipboard.

Inquiry Based Learning is yet another holistic learning strategy that can be linked with informational technology to support learning goals. 

 

Inquiry Based Learning

Building a foundation and a framework for literacy cannot be prescribed. It needs to be built in its own holistic way, with authentic strategies that connect with prior experiences and knowledge.

  1. Start with the Big Idea.

As educators we start with the Big Idea or topic. This helps to provide a flexible framework that our learners can work within. However, flexibility and autonomy are key. As we move away from prescribed programs, we see that we need to engage learners in authentic situations that connect back to the big idea. As an educator, we introduce Big Ideas and do mini-lessons, then we provide students with active learning opportunities that promote the learning of skills and concepts. The OLA Together for Learning document outlines key concepts for helping students to take ownership of their own learning processes and engage in rich learning opportunities for deep learning and thinking with their peers, based on where they need to be.

The role of an educator is to help learners hone their questions in ways that connect to the big ideas, make predictions and create the learning tasks that build on prior learning and knowledge. Big ideas and expectations can be clustered together from across the curriculum as they relate to the big idea. Further, it provides students with multiple entry points into learning.

  1. Information Literacy:

The students learn to gather information from a variety of sources, particularly digital sources, and learn how to effectively record this information with new tools ie., Google Apps for Education (GAFE), and culling work samples for their ePortfolios.

But we must go deeper. Throughout the process the thinking is extended, challenged, and modelled in ways that make the thinking visible. Further, we continue to encourage sharing and opportunities for self and peer assessment.

  1. Making Conclusions:

As learners discover patterns, draw patterns, confirm or disprove hypotheses, the role of the Librarian is to help learners to clarify and extend their thinking. Students can gain opportunities to demonstrate understanding, skills and knowledge in new ways that are authentic and meaningful.

  1. Collaboration: 

Collaboration is essential while engaging in inquiry. When learners have opportunities to talk and ‘bounce ideas’ off of each other, they have an inherent ability (with expert facilitation) to figure out exactly where they need to be in their learning with each other. Learners are encouraged to share their ideas together and engage in peer assessment.

  1. Sharing:

Sharing is a key component of the learning process. Not only is this a way to make learning visible, but also provides opportunities for differentiation and multiple entry points for learning. Learners also gain key opportunities to choose how they will represent their learning to others, and then extend their learning to new contexts and learning opportunities, both inside and outside of the learning environment.

Regardless of the holistic strategy we are engaging in, content curation is a necessary digital skill for educators and learners alike.

 

Content Curation for Information Literacy

Content Curation is a necessary skill in today’s world. This is a key component of holistically using information and effectively integrating information technology for our own purposes. The tools that is used depends on the goals of the learner or facilitator.

Created by Deborah McCallum

Created by Deborah McCallum

Diagram created by: Deborah McCallum, 2015, Copyright

Curated Learning Commons Resources on Flipboard.

With this in mind, we can turn our attention to how we can harness these information technologies to support learning in innovative and beneficial ways:

Benefits of Holistically Integrating Information Technology

  • Safe ways to publish student work
  • Motivation for students to get their work done knowing that they can work on it using technology
  • Feelings of Pride and accomplishment for seeing a Published piece of work
  • Sharing with Parents
  • Opportunities for students to teach other students
  • Enrichment Opportunities
  • Knowledge consolidation
  • Creativity and Imagination
  • Differentiation
  • Collaboration and support from other people in the school
  • Gives student work new purposes
  • Transfer ideas to other different classrooms with students teaching other students about new tools they learn about
  • Inspiring new types of learning
  • Ongoing feedback that Teachers can use for formative assessment and evaluation:
  • Assessment For, and OF learning
  • Reinforcing the learning process

 

With this information in mind, please take a moment to engage in this reflection of your learning from this site:

Google Form for Reflection

Google Form for Reflection

Now you can go forth and create something similar for your own situation or learning environment! Do you already have resources that you have developed for your learning environment?

Resources:

Canadian Library Association: http://www.cla.ca//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home

CLA toolboxhttp://clatoolbox.ca/

Google Sites for Teachershttps://sites.google.com/a/flippededucation.com/flippedevents/home/singapore-google-apps-summit/google-sites-for-teacher-websites-and-student-projects

Ed Site Designhttps://sites.google.com/site/edsitedesign/home

Leading Learning:http://clatoolbox.ca/casl/slic/llsop.html

Modulehttps://sites.google.com/site/iteachgsw/module-5-more-actions

School Library Information Portalhttp://www.clatoolbox.ca/slip/

Together for Learning:https://goo.gl/4QR0SY

Visual thinkinghttp://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=DKXYQJYK&p=1

Deborah McCallum, 2015