Story Shares – A Digital Library for Teens and Young Adults

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Recently, I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the International Literacy Association #ILAChat and Sam Patterson (@SamPatue) on the topic of the Association’s latest What’s Hot in Literacy report.  While there, I met the Story Shares team.

Story Shares in their own words, “Story Shares is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills.”  The organization leverages technology to bring books worth reading to teens and young adults who struggle. As most readers of Literacy Beat who work with adolescents know, finding material that is not overwhelming is a challenge.

Story Shares Home Page Screenshot

Story Shares Home Page

Story Shares has created an online space that provides opportunities for writers to publish their work in a variety of genres and fills the need of teen readers for something meaty but not impossible to read.

Romeo and Me

Story Shares Digital Book

The online book collection is searchable by the usual indicators (author, title)
but also by interest level and three readability indices.  The books are easy to navigate by chapter and by scrolling. Controls include a bookmark, a word lookup tool that brings up definitions of challenging words, and a tool to mark a book for reading later. Some readers prefer books on paper, so Story Shares makes some of their collection available for purchase as a paperbound book.

Because some readers benefit from hearing the words of a book read aloud, the Story Shares team has built in a text-to-speech reader. As the reader speaks the words, the written words are highlighted on the page.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela: In His Own Words for iPad. Author: Ruth Chasek

I sampled the books on my computer and on my iPad. Both worked perfectly with the books on Story Shares.

For authors who wish to write for the teen and young adult audience, a user-friendly interface allows the writer to focus on the narrative and not the technology.  I tried it and found the graphic user interface (GUI) very easy to use.

Because Story Shares is a nonprofit organization that serves students around the world, they also appreciate donations. Just click here to help them out.

Meet the Influencer: Peggy Semingson

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Influencers

Literacy Beat bloggers have long taken inspiration from Peggy Semingson’s dedication to using technology to advance learning. We wondered what she is currently working on professionally for our Influencer series. Her answers follow. 

I was asked to write for Literacy Beat about some of the latest projects and ideas I have been working on as they relate to the intersection of literacy and technology. A few of those ideas are shared here. Comments are most welcome!

Peggy Semingson

Peggy Semingson

What trends do you see having a significant impact in the coming 5 years in the space where technology and literacy meet?

There are two ideas I will briefly share: Open educational resources and self-directed teacher professional development via social media (e.g., Twitter).

Lately, I’ve been hanging out with librarians and attending library-focused presentations and events. Librarians are truly on the cutting-edge of the future and are in tune with trends like the changing nature of information and literacy access. One of the main topics of focus among librarians and those in the broader education community has been the concept of open educational resources, or OER.

Generally, OERs are text-based and multimodal resources freely available on the Internet. They are intentionally made and created to broadly share knowledge and information with the goal that others can remix and/or reuse the content to meet their needs. MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses that are offered free of charge), such as those offered by edX, are steadily used by educators and others to participate in open learning and connected with others online. Teachers are providing MOOCs in more grassroots ways, for instance, through Canvas.

OERs, including free courses such as MOOCs, are increasing access to learning and are of importance in underserved areas like third world countries and for those who just need or want to learn a skill or acquire knowledge outside of formal schooling.

What is exciting is these open and freely available resources are gradually replacing expensive textbooks. I’m a firm believer that learning materials should be mostly current and with digital and open resources, they can be more readily updated. I have personally contributed to the OER space also in terms of my YouTube channel which has almost a million minutes of viewings! The most popular video is on the topic of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. I think this topic is confusing to a lot of people, globally, so I’m glad I can help add some clarity there! I also share micro-podcasts on literacy topics in my podcast channel on SoundCloud.

One of my goals is to revamp my professional website, Virtual Gadfly, to focus more on sharing concrete tools for K-12 teachers. Future plans include expanding my YouTube channel to include videos on other complex ideas in literacy, such as dyslexia and other high-interest topics.

Also of interest are creating more of what I call dialogue videos, where I am informally talking with another educator about a specific topic in an unscripted way. I have done some dialogue videos with my colleague Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl and she brings her background in neuroscience and linguistics into our conversations on literacy topics of mutual interest. These videos are then also incorporated into my literacy teacher education courses and they are freely available online.

Beginning Reading: Dialogue with Dr. Peggy Semingson and Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl

Another idea I am seeing is the whole idea of teacher professional development as incretamixes_twitterasingly decentralized away from formal training led by schools, districts, or outside vendors. Increasingly teachers are taking learning into their own hands via social media (e.g., Twitter), digital platforms, and mobile learning (m-learning).

We are all seeing and participating in self-directed learning, or what I call “DIY PD” (do-it-yourself PD) such as scheduled Twitter chats, hashtag learning and awareness (e.g., #weneeddiversebooks), crowdsourced resources, and direct teacher-to-teacher supports. This is part of a broader trend of decentralized learning across multiple social media platforms. I appreciate the grassroots nature of these types of digital learning activities that teachers can participate in. The dialogue taking place on Literacy Beat is another example of educators engaged in “DIY PD” and learning. I would like to do empirical research in this area of self-directed teacher professional development soon. Recently, I wrote a column about the use of Twitter in learning about young adult authors recently in The ALAN Review.

What significant event in your life changed the focus of your work?

Teaching online, starting in 2008, made a huge impact on the focus of my practice and research. At first, I was a complete “deer-in-the-headlights” about teaching online and really didn’t know what to do or what my role was as an instructor. Most people need an overarching framework to guide their thinking about teaching online.

Related to digital teaching and learning, I learned about the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework from a former professor I still keep in touch with, Dave Caverly at Texas State University, San Marcos (in Texas). Learning about the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007) changed my whole approach to digital teaching and learning as a teacher educator!

The focus of COI is three-fold (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007). First, there is the teacher presence and role in the course. Second, there is an intentional fostering a sense of trust and social presence in the course. Third, the teacher actively facilitates a cognitive presence, or an inquiry and problem-solving approach in the course.

It has worked quite well as a foundation and framework for my own teaching. I also create a lot of my own materials, mostly multi-modal. I have been well supported in my ongoing learning in digital teaching and learning by the Center for Distance Education at The University of Texas at Arlington.

What research are you currently working on related to literacy and technology?

I’m working with a small team of colleagues to analyze how a major literacy organization exchanges ideas in networked ways through Twitter. We are incorporating data analytics (“big data” approaches to research) as well social network analysis (SNA) of the publicly posted Tweets from a major conference. We are using mostly computational tools to look at the data.

It’s really fascinating! This ties to my earlier point about teachers seeking to enhance their own learning spaces and backchannels outside of more traditionally sanctioned (e.g., school district or formal schooling) contexts. I’m really interested in how teacher knowledge production about literacy works in self-directed professional development digital spaces like Twitter, blogs, and other online forums. I believe that literacy organizations and publishers will play a big part in helping to facilitate such “backchannel dialogue” related to professional learning about literacy. Stay tuned for more on this soon!

I am affiliated with a small group of colleagues (“Obnoxious Academic Consortium”) in literacy. We want to advance thinking in our field about multimodality in literacy and academia. We want to also advance the idea that there are other venues besides traditional print journals to network and exchange ideas. The blog for this group is here.

Reference

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. Internet & Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172.

Meet Peggy:

Dr. Peggy Semingson is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington where she teaches online courses in Literacy Studies. Dr. Semingson has experience as a classroom teacher and reading specialist in both Southern California and Texas. Her research interests include social contexts of literacy learning, digital pedagogies, and online literacy teacher education. She has published in Teachers College Record, Language Arts, and Research in the Teaching of English. She was awarded the Jeanne S. Chall Research Grant from Harvard University in 2009–2010. She is on Twitter: @PeggySemingson. Her blog is: http://virtualgadfly.com

Contact Peggy at peggys@uta.edu

Peggy and Dexter

Peggy and Dexter

Happy Holidays

The Literacy Beat team sends warm greetings and a wish for your celebrations to be merry.

happy-holidays-2016

Literacy in the Disciplines: A Teacher’s Guide for Grades 5-12

My book with co-author Diane Lapp will be available in October 2016.  Besides many resources, some of our colleagues and friends contributed to our chapter on specific disciplines.

A Special Offer for Readers of Literacy Beat from Guilford Press: Save 20% with Promotion Code 2E! Just click the link or the cover art to automatically have the discount applied in your cart. You may also enter the code 2E directly in the cart to receive the discount.

Literacy Disciplines Cover

Meet some of our experts:

A great lineup of experts in teaching and in the disciplines contributed to chapter 2 with sections for many content areas and topics.  Take a look!

Faith Bass-Sargent teaches mathematics at Elsinore Middle School in Lake Elsinore, CA.

Kathy Blakemore is an outdoor education enthusiast who also teaches science and physical education at Elsinore Middle School in Lake Elsinore, CA.

Cameron Brown is the Director of Instrumental Music at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in San Diego, California.

Devin Burr, D.O., is a resident physician at Aspen Dermatology in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Dr. Maria Grant is a Professor of Education, California State University at Fullerton working in the College of Education.

Dr. Dana L. Grisham is a retired professor in the Department of Teacher Education at CSU East Bay (Hayward) where she taught courses in literacy teacher preparation and in the graduate reading program.

Liz Jardine owns a design studio and is an artist in San Diego, California.

Dr. Denise Johnson is professor and director of the Literacy Leadership Program and Department Chair of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA.

Dr. Linda Lungren, a music teacher for San Diego City Schools (elementary).

Stacy Miller teaches at Stuttgart High School (DoDEA) in Germany.

Dr. Stephen Mogge is an Associate Professor in the Graduate Reading Education Program at Towson University.

Dr. Barbara Moss is a professor of literacy education at San Diego State University, where she teaches courses at the credential and masters levels.

Dr. Donna Ogle is Professor Emeritus of Literacy Education at National Louis University (NLU), Chicago, IL.

Dr. Susan J. Pearson is an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Tim Peterson is a bass guitar specialist. He works in retail at Guitar Center in the Los Angeles area and is a member of the popular band, EverTheory.

Steve Sheinkin is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books for young adults: The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery; Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon; and the Port Chicago 50.

Dr. W. David Scales is a professor and psychometrician in the Department of Psychology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.

Javier Vaca is a teacher of social studies at Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA.

 

 

The Lazy Classroom Model

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Hey, who are you  calling “lazy?” That’s what I thought when I first came upon the phrase, “Lazy User Model.” In this case, being lazy is not a value statement or judgment but rather a phenomenon that explains certain behaviors, particularly when technology is involved, that may permit the user to get on with the business of learning.  Let’s explore that a little.

What is the Lazy User Model?

Remember the last time you wanted to upgrade your cell phone? One of the factors you likely considered was how much time you would need to spend to learn the features and affordances of your new phone.  If you chose a phone that worked much as your old phone did, you demonstrated the principle of the Lazy User Model (Tétard & Collan opens as PDF, 2009).  The theorists postulate that users attempting to solve a problem, such as obtain information or carry out a task, are limited in some ways and have a set of possible solutions against which to weigh the need and the limitations.  They believe that users typically choose the solution that results in the least cost to them and still solves the problem. That is why they call the theory the “Lazy” User Model.  You can see that in this case, being lazy may save on the overall investment of time, money, or other resources.  Here is what that looks like in graphic form.

Lazy User Model

The Lazy User Model

Plug your need for a new cell phone into the graphic, and you will see how being lazy works for you.  You need a new cell phone. The state that limits you includes the choice of phones your cell phone provider offers, your knowledge of the phone you already have and when your current plan expires allowing you to select a new phone. Your possible solutions (let’s say) include an iPhone and an Android. The least cost or lazy option for you is the type of phone you already have because you already know how to use most of the features. The cost in terms of time spent learning the features of the phone outweigh the choice to adopt (or “switch” as Tétard & Collan, 2009 call the action) the possibility of choosing a new brand of phone.

Being Lazy in Class

What does being lazy look like in class? More important, why would you want to allow your students to be lazy? In our present case, let’s change the title of the model from Lazy User to Lazy Classroom.

Here is a scenario from a project Dana, Linda, and I reported on Literacy Beat recently (here and here). We asked a group of fifth graders to learn science vocabulary through the Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy Plus (VSS+) model.  The students needed to solve the problem of creating the VSS+ entry by selecting images, creating an audio file, and writing a definition, among other things.

The need or problem: Create a VSS+ entry.

The state that creates the limitations: Use the tools assigned and that are available in the school computer lab.  The students were further limited by the amount of time they had to complete the project before they were required to submit it.

The set of possible solutions thus includes choosing Thinglink or PowerPoint. Most of the students were familiar with PowerPoint but hadn’t used it, and none of the students were familiar at all with Thinglink.

The lowest cost or “lazy” solution for most students turned out to be PowerPoint because most of the students were familiar with the software. Some students did try Thinglink and created successful VSS+ entries because they were intrigued with the tool, and a few others started with Thinglink but switched back to the more familiar tool after experimenting with it.

Lazy Classroom Model

Lazy Classroom Model

What are the Implications for the Lazy Classroom?

There are several things we might take away from the Lazy Student Model.

  1. Being lazy can be a time saver that allows the students to concentrate on the task and not on the tool.
  2. Being lazy might mean that students will not choose the best technology because they chose the tool they know instead of the best one for the task.
  3. If students need to learn how to use a new-to-them technology, the will need support. Support could include direct instruction, a series of help or job aids, or access to a peer expert who is knowledgeable about the tool. Indeed, in the VSS+ project, we purposefully chose some students to become experts in working with sound files, selecting graphics, or designing graphic images using the drawing tools in PowerPoint, for example. Then, when other students needed assistance, we teachers directed the students to their expert peers to teach them what they needed to know just in time to put the technology to work.

What other implications for the Lazy Classroom Model occur to you? Are there examples you would like to share? Please use the comments section to post your thoughts.

Learn more about the Lazy User Model at http://lazyusermodel.org/

Reference:

Tétard, F. & Collan, M.  (2009). Lazy User Theory: A Dynamic Model to Understand User Selection of Products and Services. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences – 2009. Retrieved from https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/hicss/2009/3450/00/09-13-01.pdf


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Teacher Education Research Study Group

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey & Dana L. Grisham 

The Teacher Education Research Study Group, or TERSG, is a professional learning community of the Literacy Research Association that sponsors research in the field of (you guessed it) teacher education related to literacy.

TERSG members consider the preparation of excellent literacy teachers to be both a professional and a personal priority. In addition, this study group provides an opportunity for educators to come together for further study of effective practices in literacy teacher education. In this post, I want to tell you a little bit about a longitudinal project that examined the pathways from teacher candidate to student teacher to novice teacher. This project is the work of a subset of the larger study group who have published many other articles and resources related to teacher education, as well.

The research team has changed members as personal and professional demands have changed over time, but the work has continued since we first started the three-phase project in 2009.  The group has been incredibly productive, but one of the things that has come out of our work has been the opportunity to demonstrate that faculty members from small teaching colleges can work together to gather a substantial data set and mold that into multiple presentations and publications.  In addition our little band of researchers, a subset of the larger study group, has strengthened friendships, as a result of this project.

In addition to face-to-face meetings at the annual Literacy Research Association conference, the researchers met frequently using technologies such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and webinar software. We stored and shared documents on Box.com, Google Drive, and occasionally in Dropbox.  The Box.com secure site houses over 1154 discrete documents from raw data, to minutes of our meetings, to draft and final manuscripts.

This post will serve as a home base listing of the publications and presentations completed to date. We hope that our work will help inform the ongoing discussions about how best to prepare candidates as exemplary teachers of reading. Whenever possible, I have included a link to the presentation and publication resources, as well. The Wordle slide show, below, is drawn from descriptors of the teacher preparation programs that participated in the project.

Publications:

Scales, R.Q., Ganske, K., Grisham, D.L., Yoder, K.K., Lenski, S., Wolsey, T.D., Chambers, S., Young, J.R., Dobler, E., & Smetana, L. (2014).  Exploring the impact of literacy teacher education programs on student teachers’ instructional practices. Journal of Reading Education, 39(3), 3 – 13.

Grisham, D.L., Yoder, K.K., Smetana, L., Dobler, E., Wolsey, T.D., Lenski, S.J., Young, J., Chambers, S., Scales, R.Q., Wold, L.S, Ganske, K., & Scales, W.D. (2014). Are teacher candidates learning what they are taught? Declarative literacy learning in 10 teacher preparation programs. Teacher Education and Practice, 27(1), 168-189.

Wolsey, T.D., Young, J., Scales, R., Scales, W. D., Lenski, S., Yoder, K., Wold, L., Smetana, L., Grisham, D.L., Ganske, K., Dobler, E., & Chambers, S. (2013). An examination of teacher education in literacy instruction and candidate perceptions of their learned literacy practices. Action in Teacher Education, 35 (3), 204 – 222. doi: 10.1080/01626620.2013.806230

Lenski, S., Ganske, K., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Dobler, E., Grisham, D.L., Scales, R., Smetana, L., Wolsey, T.D., Yoder, K.K., & Young, J. (2013). Literacy course priorities and signature aspects of nine teacher preparation programs. Literacy Research and Instruction, 52(1), 1-27. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2012.738778

Young, J.R., Scales, R.Q., Grisham, D.L., Dobler, E., Wolsey, T.D., Smetana, L., Chambers, S., Ganske, K., Lenski, S., & Yoder, K.K. (In press). Teacher preparation in literacy: Cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Teacher Education Quarterly.

1 additional manuscript is currently under review and 2 more are in preparation. These will be added to the resources listed here as they are published.

Presentations:

Wolsey, T.D., Grisham, D.L., Smetana, L., Ganske, K., Scales, W.D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wold, L., Chambers, S., Young, J., & Dobler, E. (2013, April). A longitudinal investigation of teacher education programs across the United States. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco, CA. Poster session 45-086-5 #14. Juried.

Wolsey, T.D., Scales, R.Q., Young, J., Smetana, L., Lenski, S., Yoder, K., Ganske, K., Grisham, D. L., Dobler, B., & Chambers, S. (2015, December). A longitudinal perspective on teacher development: Investigation of teacher preparation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association. Carlsbad, CA. Juried.

Wolsey, T.D., Grisham, D.L., Smetana, L., Ganske, K., Scales, W.D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wold, L., Chambers, S., Young, J., & Dobler, E. (2013, December). From teacher preparation through first-year teaching: A longitudinal study through the lens of professional standards for literacy professionals. Alternative session paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Dallas, TX. Juried.

Scales, R.Q., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Young, J., & Lenski, S. (2012, November). Exploring the impact of literacy teacher education programs on teacher candidates’ instructional practices. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, San Diego, CA. Juried.

Dobler, E., Grisham, D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wolsey, D., Smetana, L., Young, J., Yoder, K., Alfaro, C., Chambers, S., Ganske, K., & Wold, L. (2011, December). Expanding the investigation: Exploring the impact of teacher preparation programs on the instructional practices of teacher candidates. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Jacksonville, FL. Juried.

Scales, R.Q., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Dobler, E., Lenski, S., Smetana, L., Grisham, D., Wolsey, T.D., Young, J., Ganske, K., Alfaro, C., & Yoder, K.K. (2011, November). Signature aspects of literacy teacher education programs: A national study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Literacy Educators & Researchers, Richmond, VA. Juried.

Lenski, S., Wolsey, T.D., Alfaro, C., Chambers, S., Dobler, E., Scales, R., Smetana, L., Grisham, D., Wold, L., Young, J., & Scales, W.D. (2010, December). The impact of teacher education programs on the instructional practices of novice teachers. Alternative format paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Ft. Worth, TX. Juried.


Meet the Influencer: Sylvia Martinez

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Influencers

Literacy Beat asked colleague Sam Patterson to recommend an influencer from the Maker Movement. Sam responded immediately and asked Sylvia Libow Martinez to join Literacy Beat’s influencer post series. Sam writes, “Sylvia’s passion for empowering young people to change the world is matched only by her amazing understanding of how to create learning experiences that guide students to discover how the world works and the power they have to influence the world. Sylvia works in schools around the world to help teachers use hands-on experiences to support discovery-based learning. Sylvia helps educators realize how new technologies can help us achieve the classic goals of progressive pedagogy.” Here are our questions for Sylvia and her responses. 

What tips or advice might you offer to teachers who want to be advocates for learning through literacy in the digital world?

sylvia_martinez

Sylvia L. Martinez

I think that it’s important for teachers to keep an eye on what’s happening outside of school, not just in the digital world, but in the world at large. The Maker Movement, for example, is a trend that is going to change the world, possibly as much as the Industrial Revolution. It’s a trend that speaks to how people learn and solve problems using new technology-based devices and networks. The implications for education are immense, and watching the Maker Movement grow and become more mature can give educators insights into issues that the children they teach today will grapple with in the future. The rise of desktop manufacturing will eventually change industries worldwide – children with access to 3D printers and laser cutters can start to understand this today. The Internet of Things is in its infancy with such things as cars that text you when they need an oil change, but the implications are immense as more and more sophisticated technology becomes available. Why not put these technologies into student’s hands today so that they will be informed participants in control of these technologies, rather than passive consumers? Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab says, “Bio is the new digital.”  New advances in synthetic biology and programmable organic materials are going to change the world just like silicon chips did. How can we justify continuing to teach biology and chemistry as if this isn’t true?

Educators may feel hesitant in the face of these new technologies, because they weren’t around when they were in school, so it’s not always obvious that they belong in school. When Gary Stager, my co-author of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom and I lead professional development, we ask educators to take off their teacher hats and put on their learner hats. When teachers open themselves up to becoming learners again, it opens doors to new ideas and practices in the classroom.

I believe that literacy with technology is not simply using technology to read, write, or share information better. I have a much broader definition of technology literacy that revolves around making and doing. Just like traditional literacy, technology literacy should help students make sense of the world around them. It should allow people to express their ideas through mathematics, simulations, programming, and making physical things. If we open up school to the world that is continually changing, this definition of technology literacy will help students and teachers understand where they fit and how they can make the world a better place in the exciting days to come.

What significant event in your life changed the focus of your work?

Right out of college I was an aerospace engineer. I mostly worked with people who were a lot like me – good at school, mathematically and logically oriented. But when I moved to software game development, I met different kinds of engineers and programmers. Most of them did not have formal computer science degrees, many had not finished college, and a few had not even finished high school. Many of them were told – as early as middle school – that they couldn’t learn computers or take advanced science classes because they were “bad at math” – and “bad at math” typically meant they were bad at doing what teachers told them to do.

I can assure you these folks were not “bad at math” – the math involved in making computer games is beautiful and fascinating yet we teach none of it in school. They were some of the most original thinkers and problem-solvers I’ve ever met.

As I started to specialize in educational games, I found that learning about learning fascinated me – and I earned a masters degree in education. The more I learned, the more I wondered why we are we so intent on math and science curriculum that favors kids who have that magic blend of compliance and smarts (like me), but relentlessly weeds out kids who don’t fit in that narrow slice of humanity. My colleagues who became game developers in spite of being rejected by school were the lucky ones, but there are thousands of children every year who slip completely out of that famous leaky STEM pipeline – people who could be the innovative problem solvers the world needs – but instead we bore them to death, insult their intelligence, ignore their gifts, and drive them away.

A couple of years ago I started going to Maker Faires and learning more about the maker movement. I found a brilliant combination of technology, whimsy, engineering, art, and science. But talk to makers and you will find that many are just like my gamer friends for whom school was not a good place to learn. How sad is that?

And when I talked to parents at Maker Faires, they would say things like, “look at my kid, programming, building robots …. I can see they are learning. But every night I have to pull them away from that and we cry over worksheets. I don’t understand!”

And these parents are right, it’s NOT UNDERSTANDABLE that we have turned science and math into worksheets. We know this is wrong. We know how learning happens – it happens when children have amazing experiences that challenge them and reward their natural curiosity about the world. Piaget said, “knowledge is a consequence of experience” – and that’s echoed by every educational giant from Maria Montessori to John Dewey to Seymour Papert. Why have we strayed so far from these insights?

So my mission today is to help schools find ways to bring hands-on, minds-on activities into the classroom that steer children towards the powerful ideas found not just in STEM fields, but in every subject area. Our book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, is an attempt to situate the powerful new opportunities found in the maker movement in good educational practice and pedagogy.

Meet Sylvia:

Sylvia is co-author of “Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering the Classroom”, a book advocating authentic learning using modern technology, real world design principles, and hands-on experiences. The book has been hailed as the “bible of the Maker Movement in schools.” Sylvia is the principal advisor to the Stanford University FabLearn Fellows, and served on the NAEP Advisory Board for the upcoming Technology & Engineering Literacy Test. She is president of Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, which publishes books for children and educators on authentic learning with modern technology.

Sylvia is a keynote and featured speaker at national and international education and technology conferences in areas ranging from the Maker Movement in education, student leadership, digital citizenship, games in education, project-based and inquiry-based learning with technology, gender issues in education, and new advances in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) education.

For the previous ten years, Sylvia was President of Generation YES, a global non-profit evangelizing technology-based student service-learning. Prior to this, Sylvia was an executive at several software and video game publishers, overseeing product development, design, and programming, spearheading hundreds of software releases, video games, and educational websites.

As a Senior Scientist and electrical engineer for Magnavox Research Labs, Sylvia designed high frequency receiver systems and navigation software for the launch of the GPS satellite navigation system. She holds a masters in educational technology from Pepperdine University, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UCLA.

Sylvia has written numerous articles and blogs and can be found online on Twitter (@smartinez), Linked In, and other social networks.

Sylvia’s Websites:

Sylvia Martinez (blog, videos, articles): http://sylviamartinez.com

Invent To Learn book and resources for “making the case” for making in the classroom: http://inventtolearn.com

Constructing Modern Knowledge Summer Educator Institute: http://constructingmodernknowledge.com

Constructing Modern Knowledge Press – Modern books for modern learners: http://cmkpress.com

Meet Sam:

Sam Patterson

Sam Patterson

Sam Patterson, author of Programming in the Primary Grades: Beyond the Hour of Code, is Maker/STEAM coordinator for Echo Horizon School in Culver City California. MyPaperlessClassroom.com is his award-winning blog and ongoing journal of his teaching journey.

Sam’s Websites:

Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamPatue
Read more at www.mypaperlessclassroom.com
Subscribe to Sam on YouTube
Subscribe to the Edupuppets on YouTube
Subscribe to the Techeducator Podcast

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