Category Archives: Practice

Meaningful learning…

Meaningful learning occurs when students are willingly engaged in collaborative endeavors reflective of authentic experiences. The OSU EDTC PhD students have been playing with the 3D printer in the Emerging Technologies and Creativity Research Lab. It’s fun, we made a fork, but have wanted to imagine ways the 3D printer could transform the student classroom learning experience. Rachel is excited, Frances has some ideas, but I (Kathy) have been dubious. I already have a fork. It is even plastic. And it didn’t drain my budget to the extent a 3D printer would. But then Rachel showed me an object she had designed using TinkerCad and printed on the ETC Lab 3D printer. Here she is…(see below).

20171017_135154

She was pretty excited, so I (Kathy) was happy for her. She asked if I knew what it was. I tried the teacher talk thing, “that looks so awesome, why don’t you tell me about it?” but she didn’t bite. She insisted I guess what it was. I said the top of a rocket ship. She said no. I said a hat for your garden gnome. She said no, and then threw me a bone, telling me a past culture had used vessels like this to hold food and water. Oh, so it’s a dish. Good, I think we are done. But we aren’t! Rachel went a step deeper, and asked me why I thought it was shaped the way it was (it kind of had a pointy base, rather than a flat base). My class is over, my students are gone, I have Things To Do, but she is so nice, so I kept playing. I don’t know why it’s shaped like that, to fit into a rack? To make it easier to carry? Before I realized it, I had accidentally become curious and had fully engaged with the question. I wanted to Know Why It Was Shaped So Weirdly. She kept smiling, and I kept guessing, finally in a fit of crazy suggesting they didn’t have shelves or tables so they just shoved the dishes in the dirt.

That was it! That was why the bowl was shaped oddly! And guess what…then I had even more questions. I wanted to know who the people were, when they lived, where they lived, what the dirt was like….all of a sudden, despite my former considerable disinterest, I was experiencing meaningful learning, willingly engaged, collaborating, imagining real life people in real life situations.

I would not have cared about the topic one bit if she had sent me a link to a website talking about the culture, or showed me a page in a book, told me a story, or, quite frankly, handed me a model she had found at the teacher store. But as I engaged with that funky oddly shaped bowl my friend had designed and printed on the ETC Lab 3D printer, I became hooked. Fork, schmork. That 3D printer can help teachers create incredibly meaningful classroom learning experiences! I am sold.

If you’re in the area, stop by Willard 326 (or, if you have the MakerBot app and are on the OSU campus, you can access Our Printer remotely) and explore how you can use this piece of emerging technology to transform learning! Let us know what you try and how it works out. Happy teaching!

~Kathy Essmiller

Advertisements

What Change Can You Make This Year?

I have always tried to do things a little bit differently.  I really don’t want my class to be like every other class.  I want something different and unique, something that would impact the students and leave a positive memory with them.

One of the first “changes” that I made was introducing music as part of the classroom
culture (no one in my school outside of the music folks did this).  I taught math (not music) but I knew that playing music during class could be beneficial.  So in my second year of teaching, I brought the boombox from home, found a Braveheart disc and it was game on.  I have had music playing in my room ever since (and expanded well beyond Braveheart – Spotify is amazing).

Another big change was transforming my teaching model from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom.  This was difficult, but intentional.  I made this change because I had started to get into some really familiar routines and wanted to do something very different.  Another big change: at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, I gamified my calculus class.  It was a struggle, it was fun, it was exciting, and the days zoomed by soooo fast!

Why did I change to a flipped class?  I thought it had potential!  Why did I gamify?  I thought it would make a big and fun difference!  I didn’t do these things just to do them.  I took intentional risks and left the friendly confines of the familiar for uncharted waters.

I had the opportunity to attend my first ISTE conference in 2013 and was so impressed!  I loved the vibe!  I loved the ideas I was getting from others!  I LOVED this conference!!  This conference really got me thinking about what I am doing in the classroom.  What could I change?  What needed to stay the same?  How could I help students own their learning (even more than in a flipped environment) and be even more brilliant with my practice?  All of these questions…I decided I had to go back and the very next year, my friend and I had a table session!

These ideas from ISTE had me looking around my school, one of the best public high schools in our state (True Story!) and I thought, we could be even more amazing….I dug into educational technology and the ideas from the conferences.  From this point forward life was all about change.  I would talk to any of my colleagues who would listen.  I would stop them in the hall.  Talk to them over the bathroom stalls.  Walk them to class.  Send staff wide emails…

Fast forward to January 2015, I resigned my teaching position to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  This was change of the highest magnitude!  It was also very intentional.  One of the biggest reasons that I did this was to put myself into a position to help teachers make changes without being afraid.  I want to help them see that change is not bad, it can be so rewarding!  But it can be so difficult to start.

As I close in on completing course work this December, change is coming for me again.  I took some intentional steps to change my practice and they have led me on a journey I did not anticipate.  What steps of change can you take?  What can you do to improve your practice?  What step can you take today, that will make a positive difference tomorrow?

Scott