Building the Future: Tinkering and Playful Learning

The following is an excerpt from an article in The Journal by Mike McGalliard and Anne Wintroub. It’s too good not to share. I encourage educators and parents to read and consider the ideas and recommendations presented in the full article.

“Educators and business leaders have more in common than it may seem. Teachers want to prepare students for a successful future. Technology companies…have a vested interest in developing a workforce with the STEM skills needed to grow the company and advance the industry. How can they work together to achieve these goals? Play may [be] the answer.

“We’ve assumed that focusing on STEM skills, like robotics or coding, are important, but the reality is that STEM skills are enhanced and more relevant when combined with traditional, hands-on creative activities. This combination is proving to be the best way to prepare today’s children to be the makers and builders of tomorrow. That is why technology companies are partnering with educators to bring back good, old fashion play.

“In fact many experts argue that the most important 21st century skills aren’t related to specific technologies or subject matter, but to creativity; skills like imagination, problem-finding and problem-solving, teamwork, optimism, patience and the ability to experiment and take risks. These are skills acquired when kids tinker. ” — The Journal

Sources: Image 1, Image 2

Resources from Storybird Hands-On Workshop at #MSMECA13

StorybirdStorybirds are short, art-inspired stories, presentations, reports, or tutorials you and your students make to share, read, and print. Storybird is a fun, collaborative website that can be integrated in all content areas and at all grade levels. It can be an effective resource for teaching parts of a story, the writing process, promoting creativity, and more. STEM and social studies teachers can use Storybird for engaging alternatives to traditional lessons, reports and presentations. Storybird also seamlessly keeps a portfolio of each student’s work.

Participants will be guided in setting up accounts and helped as they begin using Storybird.com’s tools and services. Participants will learn how to use the teacher-specific tools.

Below are my slides from the workshop that I’ve taught a couple of times this week at the Mississippi Educational Communications Conference (MECA) in Jackson, MS. All the workshop materials and resources (including a video tutorial, additional examples, notes, etc.) are available on my wiki, Learning Telecollaboratively.

Storybird: Encourage Creativity, Promote Writing, & Add Excitement to Reports, Presentations, & Tutorials – for #isummitconf

Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories, presentations, reports, or tutorials you and your students make to share, read, and print. Storybird is a fun, collaborative website that can be integrated in all content areas. It can be an effective resource for teaching parts of a story, the writing process, promoting creativity, and more. STEM and social studies teachers can use Storybird for engaging alternatives to traditional lessons, reports and presentations. Storybird also seamlessly keeps a portfolio of each student’s work.

Participants will be guided in setting up accounts and helped as they begin using Storybird.com’s tools and services. Participants will learn how to use the teacher-specific tools.

Below are my slides from this workshop that I’m sharing today at iSummit in Atlanta, GA. All the workshop materials and resources (including a video tutorial, additional examples, notes, etc.) are available on my wiki, Learning Telecollaboratively.

View more presentations from Clif Mims
Example Storybirds

Halloween Brothers on Storybird

 

You’re Mootiful on Storybird

 

Managing Online Identities: Tips for Teachers, Students, and Parents – for #isummitconf

Keeping up with the state of technology is not easy. New social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest continue to emerge and users sign-up and setup profiles without considering the full ramifications of sharing personal information. Practical tips for helping you and your students thoughtfully setup and maintain your online identities will be shared.

Below are my slides from this workshop that I’m sharing today at iSummit in Atlanta, GA. All the workshop materials and resources are available on my wiki, Learning Telecollaboratively.

Facebook Considers Giving Access to Kids under 13 (Video)

“Facebook is working on new technology that would let young children use the social network without having to lie about their age, reports the Wall Street Journal. Facebook currently doesn’t allow users under the age of 13, though many sign-up anyways — last year Consumer Reports said that 7.5 million of Facebook’s users were 13 or younger, including five million under the age of 10. The proposed technology wouldn’t create a separate version of the network for these users, but instead would put in place features that give parents control over their child’s online experience. A child’s account would be connected to their parent’s, for instance, and tools would be put in place to manage who can be added as a friend and what apps and games are used” (Source).

Note that the WSJ is reporting that Facebook is exploring this. It is a multifaceted issue involving Facebook policies and governmental regulations. We will have to see how this unfolds. The following video provides a broad overview about this issue.

 

Image Source: Smosh.com

Favorite Theo. LeSieg (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) Story

(Repost from 01/08/2009)

I recently mentioned that while building My Google Library I decided to identify my very favorite Dr. Seuss story. It didn’t take me long to narrow the list down to Too Many Daves (from The Sneetches and Other Stories) and Wacky Wednesday. Wacky WednesdayBoth of these stories grabbed my imagination as a child and hold fun memories. While agonizing over which of these tales I treasured the most (I’m exaggerating a bit.) I was thrilled to realize that Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) had actually authored Wacky Wednesday under the pseudonym Theo. LeSieg. This realization spared me the dilemma of choosing which of these two beloved stories was my favorite Dr. Seuss tale. I admit it’s a technicality but it works in my favor, so I’ll take it (hahaha).

I’ve included Wacky Wednesday in my library because… well, because it’s wacky. It’s all about a boy’s zany adventures on a far-from-normal Wednesday. My friends and I would sit in the library trying to find all the wacky details in the illustrations. We were exposed to figurative language, creativity, word play, imagination, and so much more without even realizing it. Perhaps the best thing I can say about Wacky Wednesday is that I’ve read it over and over – and isn’t that the greatest testament of a good book?

In Honor of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday – My Favorite Seuss Story

(Repost from 01/04/2009)

I decided to begin building My Google Library so that I can:

  • Share my favorite books with our own children.
  • Easily access books, images, citations, etc. during class, presentations, workshops, etc.
  • Share and suggest resources with other educators

When it came time to add my favorite Dr. Seuss books to my library I realized that I would have to add most of them, so I decided to try and narrow it down to my very favorite book. It took some reflection and deep soul searching (I’m exaggerating.) but I was able to identify my very favorite (Thanks to a technicality that I’ll share in another post.) Seuss story.

The Sneetches and Other StoriesI remember the first time I read Too Many Daves (from The Sneetches and Other Stories). I was sitting at a table in my elementary school library with two of my friends. I read the book silently and the ridiculousness of one naming all 23 of her children the same thing just sent my imagination spinning. It remains one of my favorite poems all these years later. I’ve included the poem below in case you’re unfamiliar with it. Unfortunately, I can’t also include the artwork because it really sales the story – as is typical of all of Seuss’ work.

Discussion
What is YOUR favorite Dr. Seuss story? Why?

—————

TOO MANY DAVES
From: The Sneetches and Other Stories
By: Dr. Seuss

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?

Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one, and calls out “Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate…

But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.

Related Articles

Paper Airplane World Record

Former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob sets world distance record for throwing a paper airplane. I saw this during SportsCenter and I instantly started thinking about all the learning and fun that could be generated with this video clip. The STEM teacher in me just loves this sort of thing.

 

Educational Connections

Use friendly competition as a motivational strategy and challenge teams of learners to design the paper airplane that will travel the greatest distance. We are seeing greater emphasis placed on design and engineering in STEM areas on a number of fronts (Common Core Standards, recent grant RFPs, etc.). This would be a way to provide students with practical experience with design, project management, and more.

Consider cranking the discovery learning up a notch by providing non-traditional materials available, too. Will an airplane made of an entire sheet of newspaper travel a greater distance? Does the addition of paperclips to a plane’s design impact results?

Think way outside the box and challenge teams to work together using only non-verbal communication. This can really spice things up and promote creativity and higher-order thinking. My students always enjoy this and usually astound me with their creative communication strategies.

Let’s not overlook some of the more traditional connections. This can be an organic way to provide students with practice with measurement using both standard and non-standards units. This could be coupled with data collection, data anlaysis and the presentation of results through graphs and tables.

Those are just a few connections. Please share your ideas in the comments.