Category Archives: Math-Science Connections

@HughHerr’s TED talk on new bionics celebrates humanity and shows need for mashup of STEM and Design Thinking

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance is a must watch for all.

How are we intentionally creating opportunities for learners to engage in human-centered problem-solving, integrating studies, and teaming with others?

thinkering and applying – #MakerEd #LearnAndShare

On February 26, I participated in a workshop with Lindsey OwnVinnie VrotnyJaymes Dec, and Andrew Carle on Maker Education.  It was AWESOME! (You can read a summary of the details of the workshop on Lindsey’s blog post, #MakerEd at #NAISac14!) I applaud their plan, pedagogy, and execution. It was a real workshop with learner choice and learning by doing. Here’s a glimpse of the action:

Maker
Image by Lindsey Own; used with permission.

My favorite of the experiences was the sewing station.  Using a strip of felt, snaps, an led, a battery, and some conductive thread, I created a wearable circuit. Now, I have to confess that I have, in my past, co-taught calculus-based physics to seniors.  While I was the calculus person on the team, I did quite well with circuits. I could read most problems, draw the circuit (in parallel or in series) and answer the question posed by the book.  Sewing my bracelet at NAIS was the first time I ever created, touched, designed a circuit. Amazing and sad at the same time.  How much more would I have understood about physics if I’d had the sewing experience first?

I wanted to have two leds on my bracelet.  In conversation with my 9-year old, she asked if her bracelet could have her name as well light up.  Trying to apply her ideas into my learning, here’s the next iteration in my learning:

MakerMe

I used 18 ct Aida cross stitch fabric and DMC thread to produce my bracelet.  I tried to capture the process in pictures.

I am grateful to  Lindsey OwnVinnie VrotnyJaymes Dec, and Andrew Carle for the experience at NAIS.

How might we connect ideas with our learners? How might we ramp up design and hands-on experiences to make additional opportunities for curiosity, creativity, critical reasoning, communication, collaboration, and control?

Data collection from TSA…Can we transfer to school?

Here’s the final product right before the TSA representative collected it from me:

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So, there is an error. Could I use this picture to offer our learners an opportunity for error analysis? Could this picture be used to discuss communication and correct notation?

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Here’s what happened.  I arrived at the airport in Seattle for a 1:15 flight to Atlanta. Upon arriving at the security checkpoint, a TSA representative handed me a slip of paper (shown below) and asked me to hand it to the ticket checker.

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Fun! How might we use this type of data collection at school?

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What if we used this method to collect data about carpool? Having the time I arrived at security told me how long I had been standing in line.  I wonder if, when in a hurry, it feels like it takes longer to get through than it really takes.

The TSA agent checked my ID; I scanned my e-boarding pass, and she recorded the time.  Another opportunity for math.  How long did this portion of the process take?

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Only five minutes passed. A basic, everyday math problem. How often do we subtract times? How authentic are the questions on our assessments? Do they have context? Is this a (dreaded) word problem?

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There’s one more stop before passing through security.  My line – I always pick the slow one – stalled as the TSA representatives changed shifts.  Again, I wondered if this felt longer than it really was taking.  Holding the slip of paper allowed me to say to the nice but fidgety man in line ahead of me that we’d only been in line twelve minutes at this point.  He said “Twelve minutes; that’s not so bad.” Ahh…to have data.

I arrived at the security checkpoint, unloaded my MacBook, put my shoes and bags on the belt, and passed through the detector.  I handed over the slip and then asked if I could take one more picture.

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What was the total time I spent in line? How do we explain the error in the data collection? Could this type of data collection help us in our school community? Could our young learners use this type of data collection to find context and meaning for their learning?  Would we make different decision if we collected data and made data-driven decisions?

How might we show math in action?

Perseverance, Tenacity, Risk-taking – #LL2LU with @k8burton

Kate Burton (@k8burton), our science goddess, and I have been discussing assessment.  One of the many things I love and admire about Kate is her willingness to experiment to learn and grow.  The label science goddess makes many giggle, but she approaches everything through the lens of a scientist.  What if we experiment with an assessment plan? What if we use the Leading Learners to Level Up philosophy to communicate expectations and a path to grow? What if we experiment with a system of feedback that includes self-assessment, peer-to-peer and teacher assessment?

Kate and I met Wednesday morning to talk about Leading Learners to Level Up and how she might incorporate it into her assessment plan.  It was awesome!  I’m sure I expected to talk about the scientific method and the content of her course.  Kate came with a list of what she areas of growth for her student-learners.  Her list included persistence, tenacity,  curiosity, attitude, communication, open to constructive criticism, and the ability to ask questions.  She uses science content to teach and model these learning targets.

Using an interview method, she talked and I took (messy) notes as fast as I could write.  Kate started with her list and elaborated to offer me context and additional information.  The interview protocol really calls for me to listen and reflect back what I hear.  I should not interject my experience. I should listen for what is important to the interviewee.  I failed twice and told a story.  I am not the interviewer I will become.

After collecting lots of notes, we noticed two areas where Kate added more detail while we were talking.  Together, we discussed perseverance and tenacity and what Kate would like to encourage in her learners.  Our draft for the target for perseverance and tenacity is that every child will be able to say (and d0):

I can keep working when things go wrong to learn from the process.  I can learn from the experience and try again.

But, what if I can’t? What if I am not there yet? What can I do to get on a path to success? And, what if I’m already there? What can I do to level up?  Here’s our first draft of a learning progression to lead learners to level up.

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We also worked on risk-taking.  Our draft for the target for risk-taking is that every child will be able to say (and d0):

I can risk being wrong to test my ideas and strategies and appreciate what I gan through my risks.

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What if we post these where our young learners can see and refer to them?  Will they be able to calibrate where they are and ask Kate questions to learn and grow?  Will they begin to coach each other? How will having a common vocabulary and understanding influence this learning community?

These are drafts.  We intend to ask our learners for their feedback. We’d also love to know what you think.  Please leave us a comment if you can and will add to our thinking.

Caine’s Arcade #PBL #DoDifferent #STEAM

Do you still wonder if we should make time and space for project-based, student-directed learning? Can you spare 11 minutes to watch Caine’s Arcade?

Can you find the content that you teach in Caine’s learning? I found design, engineering, math, physics, art, problem-solving, creativity, communication, strategic planning, perseverance, and many other important, fundamental, essential learnings.  I have to say that I just love his built-in security system with the calculators.  Amazing!

If you have 8 more minutes, please watch the next step,  Caine’s Arcade 2: The Global Cardboard Challenge & Imagination Foundation.

Who are the learners in this project? What was learned?

#PBL Must See: Brittany Wenger – Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer Detection – #TEDxAtlanta

“The more you know, the more you wonder.”
~ Brittany Wenger

This is must see if you are interested in PBL and integrated studies.

Meet 17-year-old Brittany Wenger:

We have got to ask:

  • What if we listen more closely to what interests our learners?
  • What if we strive to hone our skills as facilitators and coaches of learning?
  • How do we acknowledge that a learner’s interests and passions can drive them to learn and grow in ways we cannot predict?
  • How do we makes space in the day for choice, research, design, inquiry, investigation, failure, and success?  
  • How do we support personalized learning?

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Many, many thanks to TEDxAtlanta and Unboundary for the joyful and challenging day of learning!  If you have not already, you should check out the rest of Edge of the South.

Practicing to be a TLC student leads to learning and questions

I am very intrigued by Steve Goldberg’s use of Google Earth for education and empathy.  Yesterday he posted A typical morning at TLC middle school.  For context, here’s what Steve predicts a day might look like at his school, opening in fall of 2013 in North Carolina:

In the spirit of learning by doing, I thought I’d practice being a student at Triangle Learning Community middle school and follow the typical morning plan for the Morning News Discussion…with a Synergy twist. In Synergy, we wanted to work in ripples – local, national, and international. I gave myself the 45 minutes to read and investigate. This 45-minute exercise turned into the entire two hours! It is the most concentrated news reading I have done in a while!

I started with the AJC to read and learn more about Atlanta. The article Three options for the ‘Gulch’ caught my attention. I noticed the “Gulch” just last week. I used Google Earth to see the area. I immediately thought of how to use the map view in 6th grade math when we teach the area and perimeter of “funny shapes.”

I was intrigued by the vocabulary and meaning of “multimodal passenger terminal” because I have just been reading about how car-oriented Atlanta is which can be frustrating for cyclists. The search for multimodal passenger terminal lead me to atlantadowntown.com’s Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal page.  I did not know Atlanta was planning to have a street car.  I also did not know about Bikes and Bites on July 21.  Bikes and Bites is billed as a car free initiative during Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week where Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) are encouraging diners to ride their bikes to dinner at more than 20 Downtown restaurants.  What positive environmental outcomes are predicted?  Wow!  Bo’s Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes a PBL to Me! is so true!

I read and researched and connected these ideas for quite a bit of time.  I wanted to “go global” with my news reading too.  I returned to A typical morning at TLC middle school. After watching the video again and reading the linked article about child brides in Niger, I wondered what the headlines were from the paper in Niger.  Did they have a daily paper? I found Le Républicain Niger using Newspaper Map, a new-to-me resource suggested by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Thankfully, Newspaper Map would translate this newspaper into English (from French) so I could read the headlines.  Talk about a lesson in perspective!  Not one mention of the plight of child brides, the hunger crisis, rapid population growth or infant mortality in the headlines of Le Républicain Niger.

How often do we not see problems in our own community?  How can we find (do we seek) new perspectives to see and observe what is happening in our neighborhoods and larger communities?