Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brainstorming at ISTE

There is no shortage of new ideas to consider and explore at ISTE. From attending sessions to
exploring the exhibit hall to chatting with friends and new acquaintances, we leave the conference each day with tired brains.

Tasked with gathering information about Maker Spaces to bring back to our school board, Cheryl (@ETSBMathSci) and I have attended several sessions touching the Maker movement and explored various tools in the exhibit hall. We have also had substantial time to discuss our respective understandings of  what Making entails. Today we brainstormed a bit about our vision for what we would like to create next year in our school board.

We would like to create a Learning Commons space at the school board office. This space would include comfortable seating for reading and researching with chart paper and markers handy for planning and recording discussions. Ideally, we would like to have some adjustable standing/sitting desks or work stations.

Once we create this space and make it welcoming with the right furniture, we will need to add some maker materials. Teachers in the Eastern Townships School Board are issued their own laptops and iPads (depending on the grade level they teach), so we will not need to provide this type of machine. It might be useful to provide some speakers, earbuds, and of course, power bars to plug into. It would be great to have a green screen as well as some kind of tripod that will hold an iPad. Eventually, a Swivl would be fantastic! It is important to us that we not stop with the technology side of things. We would stock the space with materials, but we have not yet made the list of these.

Now comes the fun do we see this space being used? The Learning Commons could be used by Pedagogical Services team members as needed. It would also serve as a breakout space for small groups of administrators during principals' meetings. While these might be the immediate function of the space, the intention is that this Model Learning Commons would be a space to teach principals about the kinds of spaces they can create in their schools. Principals would even be able to reserve the Learning Commons for a Pedagogical day and bring their teachers to the central office for a full-day of whole-staff professional development. This training would include information about learning commons and maker spaces, as well as some hands-on experience with Making.

Cheryl and I are both excited to see what kind of space we can create and how we can share the idea of learning commons and fitting Making into teachers' lessons. We are hoping that some ISTE participants will help us out with some suggestions for technology and non-technology materials that we should include. Please let us know what you think will be essential. We can't wait to hear your thoughts.


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