It's Connected Educator Month!

At Connected Learning, we're all about bringing the best teachers around St. Louis together to improve education for all. We believe that teachers have the best knowledge, skills, and ideas because they are practicing it in their classrooms every day. If only there were a way to share all these successes and also get re-inspired from the successes of other local teachers who are giving it their best for their students?! 

That was the teaching conundrum that led us to create Connected Learning. We want to give teachers learning opportunities that give them voice and choice in their professional growth. October is Connected Educator month which reminds us to step back from the daily classroom grind and find new inspiration for our teacher through connecting with other educators. Think that sounds like what you need? Then join us at our next learning event! 

Next event: PLAYdate 

People Learning and Asking Y (PLAY) is a time for teachers to gather and share their classroom successes or ask fellow teachers for ideas to improve their instruction. The set-up is simple: for three hours teachers will have the chance to propose a room discussion topic and share or walk around to explore rooms for ideas. The learning isn't forced, but you are guaranteed to walk away with many ideas and fantastic new connections! 

Check out pictures from our last PLAYdate and register from this FREE learning opportunity today! 

Check Out Some New Technology

Our very own Alexandria Mooney wrote a blog post for another site recently to recommend some cool new technology tools for her classroom. Have you tried Pixlr, Storymap, Hero Machine, Knight's Lab, or WeVideo before? If not, check out Alexandria's ideas for them here.

Do you have any cool new technology tools to recommend? We'd love to hear about them. Leave us a comment and we'll share it out! Or if try out Alexandria's and want to tell us how you used it in your class, send us a message at publicity@connectedlearningstl.org. 

-The Connected Learning Team

STL's Newest Resource: the EdCollabitat

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STL's Newest Resource: the EdCollabitat

The University of Missouri St. Louis just opened up a new space on their campus dedicated to innovating education. It's called the EdCollabitat. The College of Education turned what used to be an old library into a completely re-designed, modern learning space. The Chancellor of UMSL and the Dean of the College of Education were there to celebrate the opening and tell the story of how UMSL first conceived of this undertaking. Born with the principles of the Stanford D.School in mind, the EdCollabitat will serve as a space to inspire design thinking for everyday problems in education. Design thinking is all about asking the question "What if" to imagine creative new solutions for decade-old problems. The EdCollabitat has three main goals that will guide it's function in the College of Education: to explore possibilities in education, to design and build solutions and to create a plan to implement these new ideas. 

Within the space there is a collaboration area, a makerspace, and even an area for local edupreneurs to work on their startup education companies in partnership with MasterCard. There is no shortage of innovative technologies in the space that also add to the learning inspiration. Robots, drones, a green screen, video games, and more enhance the space and reinforce the EdCollabitat's goals. The most important mission, however, is what the EdCollabitat means for local schools. It represents an opportunity to bring teachers together to collaborate professionally and help elevate the education that students in St. Louis receive. It further represents a new opportunity to connect secondary with higher education. 

Last night was just the beginning of what lies ahead for the EdCollabitat and the great work being done at UMSL's College of Education. So, go check it out! 


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Interview with Andrew Goodin

Student Introduction

When students make and create they are proud of what they make.  They feel good about what they make.  Questions that come to mind are how much of school work actually makes kids feel this way?  How can I have kids do more work like that?

Introduction

Andrew Goodin is a makerspace teacher at Grand Center Arts Academy and has been for the last three years. From the beginning Andrew had students design and create working solutions to real problems by using the D School Design Thinking Process.  He models design thinking in the makerspace by using it to continually improve the learning opportunities available. The results with students are impressive and Andrew has set up a fantastic example of what a makerspace is capable of in a school setting.

Andrew's Story

He started out discussing teaching with teachers and about how to make it better.  They started with a problem.  Kids needed computers in Andrew’s chemistry class.  Mastercard donated some computers and Andrew and his teacher friend Greg started a group called Tech Army after school.  This was a group of kids passionate about technology.  Kids gained a few skill in repairing hardware and loading software and were able to get computers up and running in Andrew’s class within three months.  He then began to question how he could engage kids in more learning like this.

This led to the next pilot program of makerspace at Grand Center Arts Academy in 2011.  It started small on Fridays only for one semester. Their budget was $100 for the entire year.  They made good friends with people who could give them resources and consumable material very quickly.  It was low tech

The following year in 2012 Andrew was hired on to do makerspace full time at Grand Center Arts academy.  

What does a typical day look like?

Makerspace is now a hybrid at GCA.  Andrew has more formal elective classes as well as time where students can drop in.  Everyday Andrew works on different skill building projects with kids in his classroom as well as individual projects that kids pick.  Seniors are now including their makerspace work as a part of their school portfolio that is submitted to colleges.  Andrew works with middle through high school age students.  

What are your goals and how do you know makerspace is working?

Goal 1:  Students use Design thinking applied to a problem.  By the end of the class students should be able to be a voice at the IDEO shopping cart challenge.  

Goal 2: building creative confidence by allowing kids to learn through failures and gain familiarity with certain tools.  

Goal 2.1Students build work in their digital portfolio so that it can be submitted to an open portfolio college after graduation

What would you say to someone starting a makerspace?

Start with design thinking and model design thinking to improve your makerspace.

Andrew credits the success that his makerspace is to implementing design thinking and continuing to iterate. 

Makerspace is not plug and play.  Different places will place different demands. 

Makerspaces do not look all the same, and they shouldn’t.  Makerspaces need to be flexible and need to be designed for the space and the users.  

What are some resources on Makerspace?

Invent to Learn- what is a makerspace, mindset, and how to start

Makerspace Playbook for schools- minus the tools section

Andrew’s Tumblr  with many book recommendations

How to contact Andrew and see the work his kids are doing. 

Makerspace Blog:  gcaamakerspace.wordpress.com

Makerspace Twitter:  @gcaamakerspace 

Makerspace Instagram:  @gcaamakerspace 

Personal Twitter:  @Mr_makerspace 

Outro

Connected Learning Playdate!

Waterway Car Wash-  Get a perk card for discounts as a teacher!

Who should we interview next?  email me at patrick@connectedlearningstl.org

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Urban Education Design Challenge 2015

This week Connected Learning teamed up with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Education Technology and hosted the first ever Urban Education Design Challenge here in St. Louis. Thanks to our gracious sponsors at the CIC (4240 Duncan Ave) and the Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF) for providing us a venue and refreshments for this special event. We had a packed house of professionals from a variety of fields come together to go through the design thinking process together and work toward improving St. Louis education. The design thinking process started from the Stanford Design School and is a step-by-step method for imagining and then implementing new solutions to everyday problems.  Here is the format we used for our Urban Design Challenge:

With the the groundwork in place, the rest of our challenge rested in the hands of the participants and the first step was to empathize. We had the participants learn about each other’s educational backgrounds. In order to overcome the challenges of urban education, and especially given the history of race in St. Louis, it was a critical starting point. We invited all these strangers together to tackle a major issue and in order to work together design thinking requires you put yourselves in each other’s shoes to see the problem from a new perspective. 


The next step was equally as important to the night’s success: defining the problem itself. The ultimate goal for the night followed this template: “How might we ACTION WHAT for WHOM in order to change SOMETHING by A TIME?” And each group came up with their own rendition of the equation. They used this as a jumping off point for the ideating and prototyping phases of the design thinking process. Here are examples of how each group defined the problem:

Then, each team had to brainstorm like crazy to create as many solutions to their specific problem. We had so many post-it notes all over the room that showed just how many possibilities are out there to defy our conventional solutions to urban education.

     

 

 

After the brainstorming period, we separated the team members to go learn more about the other teams’ solutions. Then, the entire room could fuse together a solution based on all the ideas in the room. Each group then constructed a prototype solution using unconventional materials to convey their solution to the other teams.

     

 

 

The first ever Urban Education Design Challenge produced well-defined problems and creative solutions to tackle issues facing St. Louis schools. Connected Learning now looks forward to testing and re-ideating these solutions to improve education for all St. Louis students.

Interview with Rebecca Hare

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Interview with Rebecca Hare

This podcast features an interview with Rebecca Hare. Rebecca is a first career designer second year teacher who brings an interesting perspective on classroom design. Check it out! Who should I interview next? Leave a comment and let me know!

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