The genesis of my latest podcast is the reflection I’ve done on last week’s TCEA conference in Austin, and on some of the Twitter conversations that took place last Friday after the conference ended. The discussion centered upon the nature of most conference sessions, and whether or not they could get past edtech bling and focus upon how we teach and learn. Here is a sample exchange from some folks I hold in very high regard.
I share my thoughts on this discussion in the podcast. In Readers’ Digest version, I agree that we need more focus on pedagogy, less on the tools, but I don’t think the tools discussions are completely unworthy of our time or attendance. I’ve ranted against the “list” sessions myself, but I still manage to see a few things that I can use in almost every one I attend. I always try to imagine how the resource might help a student as they work on a project or promote a skill (creativity, critical thinking, empathy, etc.) that students need. I also think we have to remember that effective and desirable teaching practices (in contrast with what we use to teach) can’t possibly be covered in a typical conference session. We can pick up or share small pieces, but real change in terms of classroom practice takes lots of time, practice, collaboration, coaching, etc.
I also share a few thoughts about some sessions on project based learning that I had the chance to attend. Sometimes, you can learn more from mistakes than successes–I’ll leave it at that.
Please take a few minutes to give a listen, and I always relish your thoughts, questions, arguments, whatever!
I’ve embedded my TCEA presentation for Wednesday, February 5th and added a list of resources with links, including several recent additions.
Resources for developing innovation and creativity skills:
- Scratch–free, online tool that introduces students to programming using a drag-and-drop interface and share projects with a global community.
- MakeyMakey–electronic “invention kit” that allows users to turn any conductive objects into computer input devices.
- Picoboard–expands scratch by allowing users to incorporate input from a variety of sensors, including light, sound, and more.
- Arduino–open-source, inexpensive prototyping platform that can be programmed and used to build endless electronic devices.
- Raspberry Pi–$25 Linux-based computer; great tool for introducing students to computing, programming, inventing.
- MinecraftEDU–educational resources and lesson plans for using Minecraft in the classroom.
- Hopscotch–easy-to-use iPad app that teaches programming skills with a drag-and-drop interface
- Tynker–Scratch-like programming site with ability to create classes, assign and monitor projects.
- DIY–site with dozens of categories of challenges to promote creative and inventive thinking.
- Squishy Circuits–conductor & insulator Play-do type dough recipes & projects
- LittleBits–child-friendly, no soldering electronic activity kits and components.
- Lego Robotics–robot kits and supplies for primary (WeDo), intermediate (Mindstorms), and advanced students (TETRIX)
- MyAtoms–electronic modules that can be used with Legos to create animated objects.
- BuildwithChrome –virtual Legos; create Lego buildings or objects and share online–requires Chrome browser.
- Hummingbird–robotics project kits using electronics and cardboard.
- Lego Digital Designer –free tool from Lego lets students virtually design their Lego and Lego robotics creations.
- Makezine–online magazine of the Maker movement, great source for project ideas.
- MakerEd–resources for incorporating Maker ideas into the classroom.
- Growing Innovators–resources for a variety of innovative technologies for the classroom.
- Scratch 2.0 Starter Kit–resources for teaching coding using Scratch and other tools.