#uasrobotics Week 4

What project could help me integrate my content with making?

This week’s question was hard for me to wrap my head around. One reason I struggled with the question is I don’t know what I will be teaching for the 2015-16 school year, it may be elementary, middle school math, or technology coach. When I think of project based learning I think of science fair projects. I also think of how/when I incorporate projects into my classroom and it’s usually in science and includes using technology. After reading the online article Using Makerspace to Teach English Language Arts Common Core State Standards (Hall 2014), I have a better idea on how I can incorporate Language Arts into projects. According to Hall (2014),By teaching skills like writing, expression, inquiry, and critical thinking in makerspaces, we can help support this ability to communicate in appropriate ways for each topic a student encounters (p.33).” The eight elements of a good project in chapter four of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Martinez & Stager 2013) are a good starting point for creating a classroom project:

  1. Purpose and Relevance
  2. Time
  3. Complexity
  4. Intensity
  5. Connection
  6. Access
  7. Shareability
  8. Novelty

This week I attended a Math and Science Camp for teachers in Wrangell, AK. I was in a hydrology group and we learned how to use different technology probes to test water quality. We tested water temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and pH level. It was interesting to look at different bodies of water and compare the water properties. At the end of the camp teachers were tasked with creating a lesson/unit. I worked with four other teachers to create a hydrology unit with the essential question: what effects water quality? One of the lessons created looked at creating a filtration system. Two teachers from southeast AK have schools that have a holding tank for their school’s water. The lesson involved students testing the water properties in the holding tank, then filtering the water and testing the water to see if there are differences in the water properties. In the end the students would build a water filtration system. In chapter four of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom Martinez & Stager stated (2013), “The best prompts emerge from a learner’s curiosity, experience, discovery, wonder, challenge, or dilemma.” This made me think of a KWL chart and using the W, what students want to know as driving questions for students’ projects. During the Math and Science camp I heard a few secondary teachers bring up the idea of having the students create/decide on what the essential question would be for a given unit/lesson. By allowing students to drive the instruction would help ensure that students are engaged and learning is relevant. As stated by West-Puckett (2013),Don’t let a prescribed curriculum stop you from integrating engaging maker experiences into your classroom. Find the intersections between young peoples’ interests and your curriculum.


Hall, M. (2014). Using makerspace to teach english language arts common core state standards. Retrieved June 13, 2015 from http://www.librarymediaconnection.com/pdf/lmc/reviews_and_articles/featured_articles/Hall_November_December2014.pdf

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

West-Puckett, S. (2013, September 13). Remaking education: Designing classroom makerspaces for transformative learning. Retrieved June 13, 2015 from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/classroom-makerspaces-transformative-learning-stephanie-west-puckett


3 thoughts on “#uasrobotics Week 4

  1. It is really hard to figure out what you will teach when you don’t know where you will teach. I’ve been frustrated too. I know which school I will be teaching at, but I do not know what grade level. It makes it impossible to plan. It sounds like you had a great time in Wrangell. I love your KWL chart idea and allowing the W to help students decide on what they would like for their projects. Your idea would work across grade levels and subject areas. I am super excited about your idea and would like to use it myself!


  2. I like the quote that you shared about not letting the curriculum stop you from integrating making in the classroom. We know the standards that we have to meet, it is really up to us how we get our students to meet those standards.


  3. In Invent to Learn, Martinez and Stager describe this scenario of a teacher running into a former student: “The former student wants to reminisce. She enthusiastically begins a sentence, ‘Remember that time we…’ The rest of the sentence is never ‘crammed for the standardized test,’ or ‘used all of our spelling words in a sentence.’ The student’s reminiscence always concludes with a description of a project created in your classroom.” The authors go on to say, “Projects are what students remember long after the bell rings. Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories.”

    Reading about your participation in the hydrology group in Wrangell, a light went on for me. A memory surfaced that I hadn’t given thought to in a long while. I am a math teacher, but before I went back to school for my teaching credentials, I was originally an Environmental Studies undergraduate. On the occasions when someone took the time to ask me why I’d chosen to pursue environmental science, I always traced my interest back to middle and high school and water-quality testing. In middle school, I participated in water-quality testing of the local watershed as part of a gifted class project. In high school, I got to do the same as a member of my school’s Envirothon team. Up until that point, I was not particularly interested in science, but those experiences ignited something in me that changed the trajectory of my academic and professional career. After college, I went on to be a park ranger with the Park Service, as well as teaching environmental education at a botanical gardens and a city park. I love teaching math, but I also loved environmental education, and I could see myself teaching in either subject long term.

    Honestly, I’m surprised that I’d forgotten about this. While I never disagreed with Martinez and Stager’s words, reading your post provided me a personal context that I had been previously lacking, and I became excited about project-based learning in a much more meaningful way. Thank you so much for providing that reminder.


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