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Please Watch the Safety Video for the Maker Space before you Go To the Maker Space

Click here  https://youtu.be/s8a6EB1pRD0

 

La Tercera Student Makers are Solving Real-world problems!

La Tercera third and fourth graders have been busy this week assisting in the decrease of the bee population. “We are building bee habitats in our makerspace to help the bees,” shared Maaz. Bee homes are the culmination to their Project Based Learning (PBL) unit on the decline in the bee population in Sonoma County.  Students developed hand-drawn designs and a materials lists in cooperative groups. “We get to have a lot of ideas to think about with the wood so that it’s stable.” Liam, 4th grader reports. Safety briefings prepared them for the use of saws, drills, and hammers. “We learned about the blood bubble. You should stay outside of it so that you don’t get hurt,” reports Lauren, 4th grade.

La Tercera Elementary School students, TK-6th grade are answering real-world questions through project-based learning units designed by teachers. “David Philhower from the Buck Institute for Teaching (BIE) is working with our teachers to create engaging, hands-on learning units that address the Common Core Life Sciences standards, Michele Crncich Hodge, principal, explains.

Students started investigating the PBL unit about bees by creating a driving question.  The class driving question was "How can we as citizens of La Tercera increase the bee population in Petaluma, California". “This created a lot of critical thinking from the 3rd and 4th grade students, reports ¾ combination teacher Dan Landa.  The class researched the human impact on bees which has become a major factor to the decline in bee population and colony collapse, not only locally but world wide. Students realized through their research that a local Mason Bee is a more efficient pollinator than a honey bee. Mason Bees are also less aggressive and will work to pollinate in colder and damper weather than the typical honey bee, a perfect match for the La Tercera school yard.

Students then began their design phase to create their own Mason Bee Houses. Students had a limited amount of supplies to work with and incorporated that into their designs. Students refined their designs to make them more realistic and then worked as small groups to accomplish the building phase of this project.

The students will be presenting their prototypes to their peers, teachers, parents and local community members at their November 19th STEM showcase day from 9:30-1:45pm,  at La Tercera Elementary. Fourth grade student, Liam, shares why La Tercera’s hands-on approach to STEM is so important to student learning, “I’m learning how to make things work, ” Liam said with a grin.saw

Teachers as Makers: La Tercera Teachers Build the Worktables for Their New Makerspace!

La Tercera’s 9/6/15 Maker Professional Development, facilitated by Parker Thomas

by Michele Hodge & Dave Philhower

“Whenever anyone fails, yell ‘I failed!’ Everyone will applaud and then you can tell them what you learned,” Parker Thomas tells the groups of teachers at La Tercera Elementary in Petaluma, CA.

It is Day One of their second year as a STEM school in Old Adobe District, and they had an unusual assignment: use the design thinking process to build the tables to use in their makerspace.

This was the kick-off event for their new makerspace, and the second year of their journey as  PreK-6 STEM school. Year one was focused on a big driving question: What is our identity as a STEM school? During this process, they interviewed parents, board members, students and teachers, asking them what does STEM mean to you?” The interview data was processed on Sticky Day, when staff looked for patterns in the data.  Several key findings stood out: make the school a welcoming place, use project-based learning as the foundation for inquiry, and set up a makerspace. Today, it was time to practice being makers and build out their new maker space.

Parker launched the day with a review of the design process and asked two important questions. How do we create a self-reinforcing culture of safety around tools? How do we create a failure positive culture? Then he gave us all a sage piece of advice:


 “The most important part of being a maker is understanding that the world is malleable and that you have the power to shape it. However, it is hard for us as teachers to model and teach this if we don’t believe it ourselves. So, for our first professional development of the year, we are going to be makers for a day. We are going to prove that we can shape the world around us.”

Two minutes later, teachers busily collaborated in groups to plan their build. Inevitably, after one group member sketched a rough draft, everyone would gather around the draft, asking clarifying questions, checking their understanding, and adding ideas, both visually and verbally. This process poignantly reminded me of the shared pen approach to Writer’s Workshop.

Once clarity and consensus has been reached, it was time to build the tables. Parker facilitated the workshop using ‘just-in-time’ instruction on powertool safety; no one could use the tools until they had the safety talk. I appreciated his use of questions as a teaching tool. How does this tool work? What could go wrong? How can this tool hurt me? Thirty minutes into their professional development day, groups were at the saw!

As tables were framed up, cheers erupted for failures and successes, as teachers and administrators worked side by side. More tools were “taught” in a small group style, and there were moments of innovation and moments of setback. As the second hour of making drew to a close, teachers were standing, and sometimes dancing, on their new tables, testing their table per the criteria on the instructions.

As La Tercera’s first worksession in their new makerspace concluded, Parker reminded us that all of our success and failures today are encoded forever in that table you made today. Naturally, the staff began to ask, “what’s next? How do we make this space accessible to our students?”  La Tercera’s teachers look forward to engaging students in Making, both as part of their Project Based Learning unit and other grade level appropriate Maker challenges. Their makerspace story is just beginning.

Dave Philhower, reporting out about La Tercera’s Maker Professional Development 9/16/15), facilitated by Parker Thomas

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