I have enjoyed spending the last ten years collaborating with intelligent, creative, and willing colleagues at The School at Columbia University. Though I mainly worked with middle school teachers and students, I was often asked for help, guidance, or partnership from teachers in the other grades. I always assisted anyone (parents, teachers, students) which helped me build community, connect people and ideas to each other as a de facto curriculum coordinator, hone my craft, and simply share all the stuff I’ve gathered and learned from my amazing network and the ideas being shared via Twitter, meet ups, conferences, workshops, and casual conversations.
Yoshiko Maruiwa is one of my favorite colleagues. After hearing I was leaving The School next year to join The Brearley School as their inaugural K-12 Technology Coordinator, Yoshiko asked if we could do one final project together in her 5th grade Art classes. I knew the students had recently completed an electronics and circuitry unit in science with Monique Rothman, and they’d studied Ancient Greece in Social Studies (including participating in a grade-wide Olympics). So, it wasn’t a big stretch to imagine having the 5th graders use the existing stars of Greek constellations to re-conceptualize their designs. I had originally intended for LED lights to be connected via wires that students would cut to size and connect into parallel circuits, but there wasn’t enough time. Instead, we used a lot of expensive copper tape.
From June 22 – July 24, I led technology projects at Marymount’s Summer STEAM Camp in the awesome FabLab Makerspace at their 5th Avenue campus. It was quite an experience to gather, develop, and run projects for campers with varying skill sets in grades K-5 for five weeks. Also, each grade level had a different and unique theme almost every week, and I challenged myself to plan integrated projects that correlated with their themes.
Thankfully, I regularly attend lots of professional development events including meetings, workshops, and conferences. Plus, I have a pretty big network of people generously willing to share ideas, so the hardest part was to research different options for each week’s topic and narrow down the choices. Blessedly, Nancy Otero (@LeSheepo) was there for the final week of camp to help with crafting automata and laser cutting gears. She’s an amazingly gifted engineer and design thinker who also leads wonderful learning opportunities at The Beam Center (@beamcenterNYC) in Brooklyn and beyond.
IE1 and IE2 in grades K-1 were the youngest campers I worked with. They met the least frequently for one or two 45-minute sessions per week. I had a set of iPads available, so after some brief instructions and examples, kids worked independently or in pairs to explore a variety of coding, building, and learning apps including Kodable, Hopscotch, Scratch Jr., Blokify, Tinkerplay, and PrintShop.