Maker? IGNITed Again.

The always-inspiring Derek Tangredi approached me a while back about being one of the ignite speakers for a Western Education Research event:

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  1. I love seeing others do ignite talks (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide as they auto-advance)
  2. Cool venue (the new maker lab at the Central Public Library)
  3. I get excited to share the story about my 1:1 iPad classroom inquiries and creations
  4. You can’t say no to Derek.  His enthusiasm for education is truly infectious.

To be honest, it’s because of the people involved that putting time into preparing for these events is worth it.  I need to be ignited too, and educators willing to share their stories for the benefits and learning of others are my type of people.

I’m not sure I consider myself to be a ‘maker’ in the hands-on, messy sense.  I do like bringing materials into the classroom but I’m certainly not doing anything innovative in that regard.  I wanted to focus on the digital making my students did as part of a innovation/entrepreneurship design-thinking project last year.  It was awesome as they fluently app-smashed, digitally documented and designed an engineering firm sales pitch for a library redesign.  The communicated their thinking with Sites, elevator pitches, graphic novel recounts, logo and branding design.  They always held the user in mind (including an all-age, all-ability focus) and gathered digital survey feedback from visitors to their trade show event.  It was a lot of work and I’d do it again in a heartbeat as ‘project time’ was a highly-sought part of the day.

There was so much to assess that I didn’t even know where to begin.  However, I knew I wanted students in the driver’s seat with assessment – single point rubrics to save the day!  One of the points I made in my ignite talk was that makers self assess.  I believe that.  It’s a future-ready skill.

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I’m so fortunate to call Lesley and Kiersten, two speakers who did their first ignite talk at the maker lab, friends and honoured that they are part of my Crowd-Sourcing Promising Practices team (bit.ly/TurningUpTeachers … check it out if you’re into selfless sharing and cool classroom-ready ideas).  Every teacher has a story to tell and there is so much that we can learn from each other.  It was also great to see Scott Armstrong share his wealth of knowledge – he’s such an asset to our Board and I always learn something new from his unique perspective.

All in all it was a warmly-received event on a cold night…those involved didn’t want to leave.  Conversation with inspiring educators can be hard to beat sometimes – especially with an electricity in the air that participating in an ignite talk can create.

Go and make! Any way that’s fun for you.  Then try to bring it into the classroom and see how it goes.  You’ll find curriculum connections – I promise it’s worth it.

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ADE Shot Number Two

Once upon a time I applied to the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute.  It didn’t pan out but the experience of reflecting upon successes and ongoing inquiries was a good practice.

Two years has passed and the application window has again opened.  It’s not easy summarizing your ‘why’ and your ‘so what’ in a two minute video.  What story did I want to tell?  I’ve had some unexpected and fantastic edu experiences the last few years.  A good friend gently asked what makes my story different.  Again, time to turn inward and look in the mirror (hence the deep-in-thought mirror image above – good, right? Haha).

So here’s my ‘different’.  Learn outside.  Uncover curriculum.  Have students reflect and self-assess often.  Let’s create future-ready students.

It’s how I roll in a classroom.  I get that this isn’t the norm.  But innnovation isn’t ‘normal’.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Best of luck to the other applicants.  Keep pushing, keep mixing it up.  Keep asking questions.