Showing posts with label Invent to Learn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Invent to Learn. Show all posts

Friday, July 17, 2020

An Update to an Old Web Quest Assignment

I've been doing a lot of reading this summer. Some of the books that I've been reading this summer are books that I've read in the past but am revisiting because I've always found that I pick up new things the second or third time through. Two of those books that I've revisited this summer are Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager and Empowering Online Learning by Curtis Bonk and Ke Zhang. The combination has sparked some new ideas (perhaps re-ignited) for me about how to structure prompts for students.

Early in Empowering Online Learning Bonk and Zhang write about conducting a web quest or online scavenger hunt activity. They were writing in 2007/2008 when web quests were still a relatively new activity to many teachers who were trying to help students develop search skills. The example that Bonk and Zhang gave was essentially a list of questions for students to answer with the help of a search engine.

As I re-read the web quest activity outlined by Bonk and Zhang I remembered Stager's refrain of "a good prompt is worth a thousand words." Combining those two elements I came up with an update to an old search lesson activity that I used to do with some of my high school students.

The old search activity that I used to do with students was to have them pick a popular stock from the NYSE or NASDAQ and then find and evaluate buy/ sell/ hold articles they found about those stocks. The updated version of that lesson is to have students look up ten data points (for example: volume, short interest, cash flow, EPS) about a stock like AAPL (Apple) and then research ten ways that a professional analyst would use those data points to create a buy/ sell/ hold rating.

Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Things I Learned While Re-reading Invent to Learn

While book publishers send me many books to read throughout the year, very few ever get mentioned on this blog because I am not in the business of writing book reviews. That said, when I do find a book that I think many of you will enjoy, I'll share it.

When Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager published Invent to Learn a couple of years I quickly read it on my Android tablet through the Kindle app. Then in March of this year I had a chance to talk with Gary for a while at a conference that we were both invited to in Sydney. While there I bought a paperback copy of Invent to Learn. I have now read it two more times and filled it with notes in the margins of the pages (scribbling notes is the best part about having a physical copy of a book). In no particular order, here are five highlights from the notes I've taken while reading Invent to Learn.

1. Avoid the "keychain syndrome" when developing projects.
Martinez and Stager cite Paulo Blikstein for developing this term to describe what happens when students learn to use fabrication tools like 3D printers. The point of the project shouldn't be to learn how to use the equipment (though that is needed) but to use the equipment to create things of meaning to them.

2. Skip the preload.
Stager and Martinez remind us to avoid the temptation to take "just a minute" to explain how a program or tool works. That "just a minute" can quickly turn into 25 minutes of "how to" instruction that students don't need because they are more than willing to push buttons, flip switches, click menus, and generally explore without a fear of not knowing what will happen. I've been guilty of this in my practice and I'm trying to cut down my preload time as much as possible.

3. Collaboration comes in different forms. 
Collaboration doesn't have to mean two or more students working together for the duration of a project. It could be as simple as observing and asking questions of a peer or group of peers.

4. Good project prompts are short and sweet. 
Skip the long-winded "by the end of this project you will have done..." and give students prompts that are clear and concise. The prompt should also give students the flexibility to satisfy the prompt in the way that they see best. I've employed this strategy for years. My experience has been that students who are used to being told, "here's the rubric, here's what you need to get a good grade" will freak out and flounder for a while until they realize that they have the power to respond to the prompt in a manner of their own choosing.

5. Instruction is useful, not everything has to be "discovered" by students.
There is a temptation to make every learning experience about students "discovering" information. Sometimes direct instruction is needed and is just as useful as students discovering on their own. Stager and Martinez give this example,
There is no reason to discover the date of Thanksgiving when you can ask someone. Instruction is useful for learning things that would take an instant or when little benefit would be gained by investigating it yourself
Beyond the philosophical items that I've featured above, Invent to Learn is full of fantastic resources for anyone interested in using the concepts of the Maker Movement, 3D printing, and programming in their classrooms.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Seven Steps for Creating Videos In Your Classroom

On page 76 of Invent To Learn Stager and Martinez write, "The movie can be done without a storyboard or script, the 3D object may not be the most precisely planned out, but the point is to create something that can be shared and talked about." Later in the same chapter they advise avoiding overteaching planning as it can stifle stifle creativity in some students.  

For years my outline for student video projects was outline, gather, construct, revise, and share. In fact, just yesterday I shared that outline in a presentation. After reading and reflecting on Stager and Martinez's advice I'm changing my outline. We're well aware that most students when given some time will figure out how to use a video editing tool. We don't need to spend lots of time teaching that as most of our kids will be biting their tongues as we fumble with things they already know how do or at least feel confident that they can do. Therefore, my new process is as outlined below. (Bear in mind, this is a process for videos that will have a finished length of five minutes or less).

1. Create - let the kids have a crack at making their videos. If some students have a nature inclined to planning first, let them. If others want to jump into the process right away, that's great too. When I make screencast videos I don't always plan them first, I just make them. If the first attempt doesn't result in a polished work, that's okay because now I know what I need to change for the next attempt.

2. Reflect - take a look at what was made. What is good about it? What needs to be changed?

3. Outline - create that outline or storyboard now that you know what to keep and what to change.

4. Create - this is the second attempt at the video.

5. Revise - take a look at what the second attempt at creation yielded. Revise the outline again for the next round of editing or re-shooting.

6. Create - this is the second round of editing or it could be a complete re-shoot of a video.

7. Share - when you're happy with your video (it may take many more rounds of steps 5 and 6) share it with the world. Share it on Next Vista for Learning, YouTube, your classroom blog, or anywhere else that there is a potential audience for your work.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Get a Free Copy of Invent to Learn from Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom is a new book authored by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez. For the rest of this week they are giving away free Kindle versions of the book. I'm looking forward to reading the book myself. I have seen Gary speak on a few occasions and I've always walked away with great new ideas. Click here for directions on how to get the book.

A Kindle book will run on almost every device – iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone, and Kindle using the free Kindle app. I use the Android app on my Nexus tablet to read Kindle books.