Week 6 – What stuff will you stock your making space with, what’s the cost, and how will you fund it?

Our textbook answers this question by giving a good Maker prompt.  It basically says that you can create your emphasis, that there really isn’t any required Makerspace equipment, the use of cardboard is great, sometimes doing without things can be good for students and their creativity, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.  So basically, I can be creative, follow my interests, and take my Makerspace as far I I want to take it.  This is good example of a constructionist assignment, which means the textbook is actually following it’s own advise.

I have to admit that as a principal I can cheat on this assignment, because I can just budget money for my Makerspace and reallocate materials from other departments to make this happen.  For my Makerspace I plan on having a computer emphasis.  We will have two 3D printers, one laser engraver and lots of software.

We have started a CAD lab with about 8 computers in a small room next to our computer-controlled plasma cutter.  I plan on moving another 8 computers from one of our under-used computer labs to make 16 computers in the CAD lab and purchase 30″ monitors to go with these computers.

Software for this lab will include:

  • Autodesk
  • Softworks
  • TinkerCad
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Adobe Photoshop

Other equipment to be included:

  • 10 Audrino Kits
  • 10 Makey Makey Kits
  • 5 Lego Robotic Kits
  • 3D printers
  • 3 older laptops (to experiment on or use for other operating systems)

The school already owns the equipment such as the laptops, computers, the 3D printers, the Lego robotics kits and the laser engraver. We also own all of the software listed above, but most of it isn’t being used or utilized well.

We will budget $3000 for the initial cost of the Audrino and Makey Makey kits and other miscellaneous material and supply needs such as wood and metal for our engraver and plasma cutter and money to continually fix our 3D printers.  Since we can use this Makerspace for multiple purposes, this will be much more economical to create and maintain.  In the article, “Funding School Makerspaces” it suggests that you be as flexible as possible, borrowing spaces and equipment, finding grants, and getting things for free.  If that is the case, then my plan for funding is right on track.

My plan for a Makerspace isn’t perfect, but we can get started as soon as the new school year gets going. I know we will have many students who will be interested in tinkering from day one.  We have space for our Makerspace, basic equipment for start-up, a focus, and funding.  While we will start with a technology emphasis; I do hope we can expand our Makerspace in future years.


Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Hlubinka, M. (2013). Funding School Makerspaces. Make.  Retrieved on 6-20-17 at http://www.makerspacelab.com/white-lab-coats-for-kids-resources/.

Makerspace Lab: Resources. Maker Education Initiative. Retrieved on 6-20-17 at http://www.makerspacelab.com/white-lab-coats-for-kids-resources/.

By waclawskid

Week 5 Reflection

This week I remembered that I like tinkering with our Arduino kit.  I don’t know why this surprises me, but I do enjoy it.  I have also learned a lot about circuitry and electricity.  Now I just need to get the programming down.

I have to admit that this week’s topic is something I think am constantly talking about to my staff.  I feel like a broken record asking teachers “How do you know your students have learned the material after you have taught it?”  While this was an easy topic to discuss, I did learn many new perspective on the issue.

From the textbook I like the information about how teachers teach the way they were taught, and how hard it is to change their teaching style.  I enjoyed the discussion from Sarah about the fact that teachers get caught up in their perceived roles and sometimes forget they are there to help facilitate learning.  I liked Mariah’s discussion about the natural conflict between teachers and students and how that can affect learning.  This was a new idea for me.

I think the main thing I got from this week’s discussion is that we need to personalize learning as much as possible.  Students learn in different ways and teachers have preferred ways of teaching and somehow we have to meet every students’ needs.  While tinkering and Making can be powerful teaching methods, it might not work for all students.  The more flexible we can be and the more freedom we can give students, the closer we can get to meeting all students’ learning needs.

By waclawskid

Week 5 – What is the relationship between teaching and learning?

I like the quote in this weeks assignment, “I said I taught him how to talk, I didn’t say he learned.  I think this is a recent phenomenon from the 70’s and 80’s and basil readers and textbooks.  Everything was canned or prewritten for teacher.  The teacher had a script and any trained monkey could give a lesson and only a truly heroic student could stay awake or truelove learn something.  I also see this with teachers with a fixed mindset and and traditional teachers.  I had one of my teachers say, “My job is to teacher them, it is their job to learn.” His point was that as a teacher all he had to do was provide the opportunity to learn.  If he did that, it din’t matter if the students actually learned.

I think the whole purpose of this weeks question is to reinforce that fact that teaching and learning should mean the same thing.  How can you teacher if no one is learning just as how can you lead if no one is following?  You would think this is common sense, but some where we got lost.

Our text talks about No Child Left Behind and the emphasis on testing as being the culprit for the disconnect between teaching and learning, but I think it has to do with the fact we are doing what we have always done.  It is very hard to make real change in a culture as ingrained as education.  Our textbook quotes Belland, saying that, “Teachers fall back to their own experiences as learners when teaching.”  I believe this to be true.

So how can we focus on learning and not what the teacher does?  In our textbook Sylvia and Gary list Dr. Seymour Papert’s eight big ideas behind the constructionist learning lab.  Their proposal is that these eight ideas will help teachers implement constructionist learning for students.

The Eight Big Ideas from Papert are:

  1. Learning by doing
  2. Use technology as building material
  3. Let students have hard (challenging) fun
  4. You must learn how to learn
  5. Take the proper amount of time for a project
  6. Make mistake and then learn from them
  7. Let students struggle and don’t worry how the project will turn out
  8. Students need to know about digital technology

I believe these ideas will help teachers move in the right direction, but we have a long way to go. Some systemic change needs to happen before this becomes a reality in most classrooms.


Julio Emilio Diniz-Pereira. (2003). The social construction of teachers’ individualism: How to transcend traditional boundaries of teachers’ identity? Retrieved on 6-13-17 at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED471561.pdf .

Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Park, H, (2008). “You are confusing!”: Tensions between teacher’s and students’ discourses in the classroom. Journal of Classroom Interaction.  Vol 43.1, pages 4-13.  Retrieved on 6-13-17 at 9:45 pm at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ829005.pdf .



By waclawskid

Week 4 Reflection

I like the question again this week.  It is one thing to talk about theory, but it is another thing to actually implement this in a real classroom.  I like having to come up with a real project that would help integrate making in our classroom.   This is were we are going to learn the most and get better.

I also learned that it is really hard to come up with projects in some subjects.  Of course, this is assuming you have to get to a particular subject.  If your curriculum is important to you it can be difficult coming up with a good prompt.

I also learned what a good prompt looks like and the 8 criteria used to see if a project is worth while from out text.  These are good tools to use to see if you are on track.  This will be useful both in the classroom and helping teachers.


By waclawskid

Week 4 – What project could help me integrate my content with making?

The project that I would implement and is currently used in Homer High School science classes would be: “What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to help improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?”  This is the award-winning contest that is called Caring for the Kenai.

Until I took this class I didn’t realize that this was a real-life implementation of tinkering and Makerspaces.  Students from Homer have created apps to provide warnings for natural disasters, small sharing libraries the are spread around town, water collection systems attached to school roofs and composting bucket kits for purchase in the local community.  The fun thing about this program is they offer $25,000 in prize money for schools and students to actually implement their ideas.  You can see some of this year’s winners at http://caringforthekenai.com/.

To access their work I would start with the judge’s rubric from CFK which can be found here: http://caringforthekenai.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Judges_Rubric.pdf.  This rubric uses many of the 8 elements of design from our text, but uses a point system.  I would convert this to a 4-point rubric scale and not include the mechanics section.  I want students to make something, not worry about spelling for this project.

The main parts of this assessment from CFK  cover the following elements:

  1. Originality
  2. Environmental Benefits
  3. Scope of Idea
  4. Research, Development & Technology
  5. Graphics/Visuals

I think this would be considered a better prompt as described in our textbook written by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.  It is simple, is not specific, and set them free to approach the project as they see fit.  The possibilities students could come up with are endless.

Below I use  Sylvia and Gary’s 8 Elements of Good Design to see if this project makes the cut.  Their criteria is highlighted and bulleted below, and evaluation of the Caring for the Kenai project is written after each criteria.

  • Purpose and Relevance

Caring for their environment or helping prepare for a natural disaster is a worthy purpose and is very relevant to student’s lives.  I think students would want to  spend their time and energy on this.

  • Time

The Caring for the Kenai project gives students almost 6 months to develop, test, make models and develop a presentation.  Students have time in classes to develop ideas, create a proposal and get feedback from adults.

  • Complexity

This project can be as complex or simple as a student wants to make it.  They can use a drafting or 3D software to design a a new park, figure out supplies and costs of completing the project or they can make a puppet to educate young students on what to do in case of a tsunami.

  • Intensity

In order to be successful with the Caring for the Kenai project, students will need intensity.  Hopefully the project is interesting enough for them to get excited and put the time and energy needed to be successful.

  • Connection

I think Caring for the Kenai provides lots of opportunities for connection.  They can definitely work with other students, local experts, and in multiple subject areas.

  • Access

The great part of the Caring for the Kenai project is that students with all levels of technology and ability can come up with something.  Students could use socks to make a puppet or crowd source an app.  Luckily, our school has access to computers and basic building materials.

  • Shareability

The entire purpose of the Caring for the Kenai proposal is to share it.  Part of the project is to present this to judges and then to the public.  The system is in place to get students’ ideas in the local news and to present them at a Kenai-wide banquet.

  • Novelty

Originality is the first and most important part criteria the the Caring for the Kenai project.  The point is to come up with a solution that hasn’t been thought of yet.  It doesn’t get much more novel than that.


Caring for the Kenai. (2017). Retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://caringforthekenai.com/.

Clayton, M. (2010). Designing Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum Units. ConectED.  Retrieved on 6-6-17 at 8:44 pm at htp://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Designing_Curriculum_Units_2010_v5_web.pdft.

Education Design. NAF.  Retrieved on 6-6-17 at 8:49 pm at http://naf.org/our-approach/educational-design 

Judges Scoring Rubric. (2017).  Caring for the Kenai.  Retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://caringforthekenai.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Judges_Rubric.pdf.

Martinez, S. L. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Sullivan, C. (2002). The Brighton & Hove Assessment for Learning project Questions worth asking.  retrieved on 6-8-17 at 9:00 pm at http://www.rtuni.org/uploads/docs/Questions%20worth%20asking.pdf .


By waclawskid

Week 3 Reflection – UAS Robotics 677

This was an interesting week.  The first thing I learned was that I like messing around with the Arduino Kit.  It is fun and it has helped me with my understanding of basic electrical concepts.  The first project was cool and I can’t wait for the next one.

I learned from Brian that tinkering and letting students struggle is related to the personalization movement.  If everyone is at a different place because they need to figure it out themselves then teachers need a system to manage this in their classrooms.  I just got back from a training from Educational Elements about personalization and how we can implement it in our schools.  Homer High is scheduled to role out a school-wide PL program in the fall of 2018.

I also learned from Jule Peterson that several of our fellow students in this class also struggled as students in K-12 settings just like me.  This begs the question, was this because we never had to struggle, weren’t allowed to tinker or just had bad teachers?  Of course, it could just be that I wasn’t that interested in school and I didn’t have good relationships with my teachers until high school and college.


By waclawskid

Week 3 – To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves? – DJW

A teacher who I worked with was reading about the differences between our educational system and the educational system of other countries.  I don’t remember what they were reading or who said it, but their story went like this.  In the US, when students work on math problems at the board and they don’t get it correct right away, they get embarrassed.  Their teacher will ask someone to help them or allow them to go back to their desks.  In Japan (I believe it was), if a students goes up to the board and struggles, the teacher lets them struggle.  The student continues to work and struggle until they figure it out.  Once the student finally figures it out the entire class applauds.

The point I am making is that struggling is part of learning.  They key is to find that the purpose of struggle so students won’t quit, or you can instill growth mindset or grit in students so the keep at it.  Right now in our schools, the mindset is to not push students, make sure they are successful even in contrived settings and hope they don’t give up.  Many schools have a fixed mindset and instead of grit we have mush!

As Tovia Smith discusses in her article, Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead? “You can create a classroom culture in which struggle and risk-taking is valued more than just getting the right answer.”  I agree with Tovia. We need to change how we operate so students can struggle, overcome that struggle and learn it can be done with hard work and effort.

Of course, helping students obtain growth mindset or grit is not easy.  In Tovia’s article that I mention above, she talks about schools implementing school-wide programs, changing how teachers praise students, slogans plastered on walls and other training to help make this happen.  She also brings up a fact that parents or the community may not be fully supportive of growth mindset or grit.  Tovia Smith quotes an educator who says, “Parents love the notion of grit; they all want their kids to have it. However … no parent wants their kid to cry.”

My wife and I were discussing this as we drove back from Anchorage this past weekend. She explained that one of the biggest mistakes we can make for our kids is to not let them fail.  We need to get out of our kids way and let them fail.  Our natural reaction as parents is to help and do it for them when things get hard.  It is really difficult to let them struggle and sometime cry from frustration.  From this discussion we decided to let our son figure out if he was going to get a summer job and what type of job he should get.  We hope he won’t cry from this experience, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world if he did.

I do believe that tinkering as Sylvia Martinez describes it in her book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom, is a structural education change that can help students learn growth mindset and allows them to struggle.  We have a long way to go to get there.  As Sylvia says, the biggest obstacle isn’t structural, “…it’s the limits of our own thinking” (Martinez, 2013).



Martinez, S. L. Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Smith, T.  (2014) Does teaching kids to get ‘gritty’ help them get ahead? nprED. Retrieved on 5-30-17 at 9:32 pm at http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/03/17/290089998/does-teaching-kids-to-get-gritty-help-them-get-ahead.

Waclawski, M. (2017) Discussion in car with Michelle Waclawski.  Trip from Anchorage.

By waclawskid

UAS Robotics Week 2 Reflection

The first thing I learned when writing my response of Hard Play, Growth Mindset and Tinkering is that they are very hard to implement in a traditional educational setting and it is extremely hard to change someone’s mindset.  We have been providing teacher training on growth mindset for almost a year and have been having them integrate some growth mindset activities in their classrooms.  It is hard to determine the effectiveness these activities, but the mindset of many of the teachers is the same.

We haven’t done a lot with growth mindset as a school, but I do wonder what it really takes to help someone change their mindset.  Some teachers have changed their mindset in some areas, but not others.  For example, some of our teachers have bought into the idea that everyone can learn if they work harder.  These same teachers don’t believe this is the case with behavior.  Their attitude is there are good kids and bad kids and we have to punish the bad ones.

Tinkering takes time, space, materials and equipment.  These are things that are hard to find in a traditional high school.  I have attempted to open a Maker Space, but getting all the needed materials, computers, 3D printers and a supervisor has been a challenge.  We will get there, but even when it is up and running, it will only serve a small percentage of our students.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic.  I do think tinkering and growth mindset are great ideas, part of the picture, but they are not magic bullets to systemic change in education.

By waclawskid

Week 2 UAS Robotics – DJW

Essential question: What is the link between “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”?

Tinkering is trying things out, seeing how things work and trying to create something that you don’t yet know exists. In the book, Ivent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow and Martin Stager, they define Tinkering as “a playful way to approach problem solving through direct experience, experimentation and from direct experience.”

Growth Mindset is a personal philosophy (many times unconscious) that you can change, you can grow and you can learn new things.  If you don’t have it yet, keeping working on it and you will get there.  To put in simple terms, people who have a fixed mindset give up easier or don’t even try because the have convinced themselves they can’t do it.  If you believe this philosophy then Henry Ford was right when he said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

The power of growth mindset is that it is based on intrinsic motivation.  It helps develop the attitude that makes a person want to learn. As Popova discusses in her article Fixed vs. Growth, “At the heart of what makes the “growth mindset” so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.” (Popova, 2017)

To answer the question for this week I think you need to have a growth mindset at a very deep level in order to be able to stick with tinkering to actually learn at a deep level. You need one to have the other.

This is also related to Hard Play.  You sometimes have to work hard and put some sweat into learning in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  As Simons in her article Work Hard, Play Hard, “Sometimes, it’s really, really, hard to concentrate when you know you’re building something functional, exciting, and eventually really, really, fun to play with.” When you have all three, learning is an adventure.


By waclawskid

Week 1 Reflection – USARobotics

I have to admit that I am getting back into the swing of taking college classes.  I have graduation, and two state sports that I have to deal with right now and my job doesn’t slow down until next week.  This means I understand what many college students go through to keep up with their classes while balancing jobs, homework, kids and other craziness.

I like this weeks assignment because I hadn’t really thought about Constructionism and how hard it is to integrate it into a traditional school setting.  It made me think of why this idea that has a lot face validity hasn’t caught on yet?  I don’t have an answer to that, but it made me think about it.

I learned from Sarah Kitzan that constructionism differentiates itself by creating products. From a chart that Brian Mason posted to his blog I have a better understanding of the differences between traditional and constructionist teaching.  It does seem that that traditional teaching has many negative descriptors like inert and alone.

I look forward to this class and can’t wait to see what I learn am My daughter, who is back from engineering school, is super excited about me getting the Arduino Starter kit.

By waclawskid