Meet the Influencer: Sylvia Martinez

Influencers Banner

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

Advertisements

Meet the Influencer: Don Leu

Influencers Banner

Influencers

Don Leu is a colleague, mentor, and friend to the Literacy Beat bloggers, and he has consistently influenced our research since we met him. Don and the New Literacies Research Lab always have something innovative in the pipeline to lead our thinking. In this post, we are very pleased to introduce Don to you.  We asked Don to tell us about the ORCA project, Online Research and Comprehension Assessment. ORCA addresses the need for assessments and resources for online inquiry and research in our schools.  Read Don’s response to learn more about ORCAs and find the professional development resources that support it, all provided as a public service. 

Don Leu

Don Leu

What is Orca? 

Central to our students’ success in life will be the ability to conduct inquiry online in order to learn (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2011; Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010) What does this process look like and how might we determine our students’ ability in this area so we can prepare appropriate instruction?  The ORCA Project (http://www.orca.uconn.edu) recently developed eight authentic assessments to measure online inquiry skills in science (human body systems).  The assessments are now freely available online.   A video describing these assessments is also available (see below).


The assessments appear in two formats: ORCA-Multiple Choice  (or ORCA-Closed) and ORCA-Simulation.  In each, students conduct online research about an important question in science and responses are largely auto-scored. Both formats have demonstrated acceptably high levels of reliability and validity, though the ORCA-Simulation has demonstrated a 10% higher level of reliability, compared to ORCA-Multiple Choice (See Leu, et al., 2014).

Our research with representative state samples of 1,300 students in Maine and Connecticut shows that, on average, 7th graders only perform successfully on about half of the skills required in online research, suggesting that they are not fully prepared in this area.  It also shows students are especially weak in critical evaluation skills and communication skills.  (See Leu, et al., 2015)

You are welcome to use these assessments for instruction, assessment, or professional development.  They may be accessed online without cost. A professional development module is also available.

ORCA

ORCA

References

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015).  The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1). 1-23. Newark, DE: International Literacy Association. doi: 10.1002/rrq.85. Available at: http://www.edweek.org/media/leu%20online%20reading%20study.pdf

Leu, D. J., Kulikowich, J., Sedransk, N., Coiro, J. Forzani, E., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C. (April 4, 2014). The ORCA Project: Designing Technology-based Assessments for Online Research, Comprehension, And Communication, American Educational Research Association. Philadelphia, PA.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD.](2011). Students on line: reading and using digital information. Paris: OECD. Available at  http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264112995-en

Meet Don:

Donald J. Leu is the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology at the University of Connecticut. He holds a joint appointment in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education. A graduate of Michigan State, Harvard, and Berkeley, he is an international authority on literacy education, especially the new skills and strategies required to read, write, and learn with Internet technologies and the best instructional practices that prepare students for these new literacies. Don directs the New Literacies Research Lab in the Neag School of Education. He is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame, Past President of the Literacy Research Association, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the International Literacy Association.

Find Don at the University of Connecticut and the New Literacies Research Lab.

Meet the Influencer: Kathy Schrock

Influencers Banner

Influencers

This is the first in our influencers and thought-leaders series. Please meet Kathy Schrock. In this post, Kathy tells the story of how she came to realize the value of curated content for educators and inspired teachers all over the world .  We asked her to tell us a little about her work and the tools she uses.

Kathy Schrock

Kathy Schrock

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

The significant event in my life that changed the focus of my work included two things— the launch of the first commercial Web browser (Mosaic) in 1993 and access to dial-up Internet access in my home area in 1995. My local Internet service provider knew I had a file card box of pre-Web and Web sites and told me, if I would learn HTML and create Web pages with my links, he would host my site for free. He knew that educators would flock to a Web site organized by subject and created by a librarian, and he was right! That led to an article in the NEA Newspaper in December of 1995, and the rest is history! Since that time, I have continued to provide online resources for educators and get the chance to speak and train teachers all over the world!

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

I would love to provide information to support teachers who want to be advocates for helping students to learn through literacy in the digital world. The tip I would give to these teachers would be, no matter what content area they teach, to include all aspects of the information literacy skill set in the units they develop. This would include making sure students can create an essential question, effectively search in online search engines and databases, can critically evaluate the information they find, cite their sources correctly, and communicate their information to their intended audience using digital tools and apps.

What digital tools or sources do you find most useful in your work?

The most useful source of information for me, since May of 2007, is Twitter. I have learned how to hone my personal and professional learning network over the years and have gained tons of great ideas and resources from the 212 very smart educators I follow. I post frequently to the 52,300 people that follow me and try to provide them with information they will find useful for teaching and learning.

I make use of many digital tools. Online file storage sites, online curation sites, online image editing sites, and real-time video conferencing sites are tools that I take advantage of each day. And, when it comes to creation of products, I most often use the iPad and many of the creative apps that are available.

Meet Kathy:

Kathy Schrock has been a school district Director of Technology, an instructional technology specialist, a middle school, academic, museum, and a public library librarian. She is currently an online adjunct graduate-level professor for Wilkes University (PA) and an independent educational technologist.

She has been involved with technology to support teaching and learning since the early 1990’s, and is an Adobe Education Leader, a Google Certified Teacher, and Alpha Squirrel, and a Discovery Education STAR and Guru. In 1995, Kathy created the award-winning site, Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators, to help teachers easily wade through the many resources on the Web. In 1999, she partnered with Discovery Education and maintained the site until late 2012 when the site was retired. Kathy’s current online resources may be found on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything!

In addition to teaching online, Kathy writes, speaks, blogs, tweets, and conducts professional development workshops, presentations, and keynotes both nationally and internationally. She is known for her practical presentations dealing with pedagogically sound practices for the embedding of technology seamlessly into teaching and learning. Kathy’s passions are online tools to support classroom instruction, the role of emerging technologies in the classroom, infographics, tablets in the classroom, assessment and rubrics, copyright and intellectual property, and gadgets of any type! You can find her on Twitter (@kathyschrock), Skype (kathyschrock), Google+, and on many other social networks!

Kathy has written hundreds of articles dealing with technology and education and has also authored several books on educational technology topics. In addition, she has received numerous awards for her work, including a People’s Choice Webby, both the ISTE and MassCUE Making IT Happen Award, the NCTIES Service Learning Award, has served on the ISTE Board of Directors for two terms, and has worked with the US Department of Education on several educational technology initiatives.

Kathy’s Websites

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: http://schrockguide.net

iPads for Teaching and Learning: http://ipads4teaching.net

Blog: Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch: http://blog.kathyschrock.net

Blog: Kathy Schrock’s Katch of the Month: http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/category/kathys-katch/

 

Meet the Influencers

Influencers Banner

Influencers

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This month, Literacy Beat begins a series of posts to introduce to our readers some of the influencers and thought-leaders who have changed the way we think about intersections of literacy and technology.  Each month, Literacy Beat interviews a person who inspires teachers, researchers, makers, students, and parents to do more and be more.  Each influencer will share some of their thinking about trends they see, their own educational journeys, or tips and tools they find particularly helpful.  We hope you enjoy their stories as they share them each month.

This page will serve an index; you can always return here to find the influencers who have contributed their thoughts. Just bookmark this page at https://literacybeat.com/2016/03/20/meet-the-influencers/ or https://literacybeat.com/category/influencers/ to call up all the posts as a group.

The influencer banner, above, is adapted from an image titled, “Globe, Lights, Blog” by Jisc (CC BY 3.0).

The Influencers:

March 2016: The first in our influencers and thought-leaders series is Kathy Schrock. In this post, Kathy tells the story of how she came to realize the value of curated content for educators. Meet Kathy on Literacy Beat.

April 2016: Don Leu describes the Online Research and Comprehension Assessment (ORCA). Meet Don on Literacy Beat.

May 2016: Sylvia Martinez talks about the Maker Movement. Meet Sylvia on Literacy Beat.

January 2017: Peggy Semingson, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington.

If you would like to suggest an influencer for this series, please contact DeVere  (link will take you to iaieus.com/contact-iaie) and use the word “influencer” in the subject line.

Follow our blog with Bloglovin

Send a personalized gift. Engrave a pen, watch, desk set or leather accessory from Cross

%d bloggers like this: