“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ”
– Abraham Lincoln
Although schools out for summer so to speak, the learning never stops for those of us in education! As a “year round employee” I am working all year anyway, and most teachers are busy all summer learning, planning, gathering materials, and attending professional development and training sessions. So the other day when I received an invitation to a Maker Education Roundtable event at the White House … yes, “that White House” …I was pretty excited! It was not your everyday type of invite and it led to a pretty amazing and meaningful set of experiences, learning and leadership this past weekend! Our District has been on a decade long journey towards innovative learning and modernized technology and resources. With an adventurous library information specialist and with the support of the nation’s superintendent professional association, the AASA, my journey into the Maker’s movement went to the next levels of discovery, exploration, learning, doing, and planning. The AASA published an article about this visit, please click the link to read more!
From the email invitation to the White House sponsored event:
You are cordially invited to a roundtable conversation at the White House on June 15… to discuss ways to increase K-12 student engagement and learning through hands-on STEM learning, including the growing maker movement, which is giving more students the tools and mentors to take on projects and problems they are personally passionate about. Such experiences are often critical to inspire students to pursue careers in the critical STEM fields, as well as support broader 21st century skills.
Last year, President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire and issued a call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” By democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything, we can inspire more young people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)…”
As a former social studies teacher I was really excited about interacting with theExecutive Office of the President! The branch of the EOP sponsoring this event was the Office of Science and Technology Policy (from the website):
Scientific and technological advances are playing ever-growing roles in American life, helping grow our economy, improve our competitiveness, allow Americans to lead longer and healthier lives, address key energy and climate challenges, and protect ourselves from natural and man made threats. The work of the Office of Science and Technology Policy touches upon all these areas and many others. The office helps drive science and technology policy making. And it helps spur U.S. innovation and ingenuity by crafting practical policies aimed at strengthening America’s scientific and technology enterprise.
I’m grateful to my amazing Board of Education for supporting my leadership efforts and for encouraging our District’s leadership in support of innovative learning and teaching practices for each of our 3100 PK-8 students and 400+ staff members. The Board members “get it” and they effectively and ably and honorably represent the communities they serve. This awesome “career event” at the White House with the President’s Executive staff members from the Office of Science, Technology and Policy will support our District’s next level initiatives with respect to the 4 C’s (Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking) and innovative learning space creation.
The invitation from the White House was followed up with an invitation from the Department of Commerce: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). From the Sunday Afternoon ofMaking at the US Patent and Trademark Office to the Maker Education Roundtable event on Monday at the White House Complex, I and the others with whom I shared the experiences were inspired to higher levels with respect the power of collaboration and creativity. The staff from the government agencies, the representatives from Maker Ed and Digital Promise, and the professional educators (superintendents, principals, teachers) shared success, barriers to success, plans, experiences, and examples of “making”, inventing, designing, thinking, leading, teaching, and learning.
On Monday we gathered at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (on the grounds of the White House and across the lawn from the West Wing). We reviewed the Presidential Proclamation (shown in the image to the right) declaring the Week of Making, 2015. As an invited professional educator I feel highly regarded, humbly respected, and honorably affirmed. Thankfully and gratefully I was allowed to invite a teacher to join in the experience. Alan B. Shepard Middle School Library Information Specialist Andrea Trudeau ably and proudly represented the outstanding teachers in the District. From our experiences we are now better equipped to lead the Maker’s Movement and next level instruction in our District. It was highly valuable to have Andrea Trudeau with me as the teacher representative from the District and our shared learning translates into positive action for our staff and students. Her experiences are already setting into motion refined plans for our libraries to become learning commons areas and areas with Maker Space creation opportunities.
In addition to the pride and honor of getting recognized and supporting our District efforts getting on the national map of innovation and thought leadership, this learning experience solidified our resolve into supporting the transformation of existing classroom spaces into student focused, student centered, and student experience learning spaces and learning commons and learning studios. Making, tinkering, inventing, creating, designing, “doing”, all relate to a shift in mindset from teacher directed to teacher facilitated. The Maker movement can mean creating life size robots with circuitry and programmable computer code, it can also mean designing a flower garden out of household materials and reused materials to spruce up an urban or suburban environment. Making can relate to construction, programming, designing, learning, thinking, working – pretty much anything. Making takes us out of the “fill in the bubble on the answer sheet” driven system into a “create something different in this space from these materials to accomplish learning objectives x, y, and z”. The picture to the left is an example of an actual computer -with a 1Ghz processor and 4GB storage – with micro USB power, composite audio and video and pins for connecting with other components … I met the designer of this item called CHIP and he taught me and my superintendent colleagues a thing or two (or three) about the concept of a computer. I plan to find some interested students next year and purchase some of these CHIP computers so the designer Dave can learn from our students’ unique uses for CHIP and our students can learn from a really cool entrepreneur doing now what industry demands – he is “making” and designing. This is but one of many examples of creation, original thinking, technology and the future of our education system and our society.
Yesterday’s experience at the White House Complex with staff and advisers to the President from the White House Executive Office of the President was amazing! There were many representatives from the Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office as well as the facilitators, organizers and leaders from the Executive Office of the President including:
Tom Kalil – Deputy Director, Technology and Innovation – Office of Science, Technology and Policy, Mario Cardona – Senior Policy Advisor – Domestic Policy Council (includes K-12 education), Stephanie Santoso – Senior Adviser for Making at the Office of Science, Technology and Policy
One of the highlights of the experience was watching colleague and friend Dr. Nick Polyak, superintendent of Leyden Township High School District 212 in Franklin Park, IL, present a gift for President Obama to Tom Kalil.
The gift is a 3D printed design and creation and letter to Mr. Obama from a 9th grade student Fabian Bartos. Fabian used Google images and design and technology skills to design and produce a 3D model of the White House and East and West wings. Fabian’s application of Making demonstrates in real time the creative and technical skills and possibilities of our nation’s most precious assets – our children! Fabian took initiative and time and energy and dedication to create this gift – this example of learning and Making. He worked with his dedicated and highly skilled teachers to share a meaningful and timely example of what the learning and thinking in the Maker Movement is all about.
As I have written before, we have the knowledge and the will to do what is evidence-based and proven for education. Right now as educators and leaders we need to do – as a good friend and co-worker and I were discussing the other day – at some point you have to stop reviewing and studying and you have to “JUST DO IT” and experience real learning and innovation!
These experiences complement our District’s two year modernization efforts in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, facilities, vision, and leadership.Thanks to the advocacy and support and vision from organizations like AASA and Maker Ed and government agencies like the White House Office of Science, Technology and Policy and the Education Outreach from the US Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office – and the thousands of educational leaders, teachers, and policy makers – we can and we must – and we will Transform Education!
Originally published at: http://dps109supt.edublogs.org/