This past fall we opened up our makerspace for the 2nd year. We added some new tools for our learners to create with. It was an honor this fall to host over 15 different schools to our space either virtually through a Google Hangout or in person. Our students got to share what they love about our space along with things they hope to see come into our area soon.
We hosted a Maker Cadet Camp in the fall for educators to come and spend a day learning and playing with the tools we use in our space. The Cadet Camp was a partnership between our State CTE Department and our middle school. It was a day to remember for all involved.
One of the biggest joys in my life was when my wife Lynn and I welcomed home DJ. We had been on the adoption road for a little over a year. I still remember the night when we got the call asking to meet with the birth parents. DJ has been a real joy to our family and has adjusted well. He brings smiles to Lynn and I every day.
In December, I had the honor of traveling to the MN TIE Conference and presenting on Makerspaces in schools and Creativity and Innovation in the classroom. My Makerspaces in schools was a 6-hour in-depth, hands-on experience. We used Humming Bird Robotics, Little Bits, Makey Makey, Parrot Drones, tons of cardboard, glue sticks, and many more tools during this hands-on workshop. On Monday of the conference, we had a treat by hearing from George Couros talk about his new book “Innovator’s Mindset.” He challenged us to be leaders in our schools to bring innovative lessons to our learners. That same day I had the pleasure of sharing with our building principal about how South Middle School is trying to bring that mindset into what we do with our learners. Overall this conference gave me so many new ideas in how we can make school different for our learners. Also in December, our district decided to hire two Elementary Assistant Principals. The reason for this was because our new school we are opening next fall will be a little small the first year. I applied for this position in our district and was given the opportunity to be an assistant principal at Freedom Elementary next year. This school next fall will be rolling out a personalized learning model for 2nd thru 5th grade. I am excited to be helping create this model of learning with our team in Harrisburg.
The spring was a race to finish up my graduate study courses to get my masters in Educational Leadership so that I am ready in fall to step into my new position. To finish my last course I had to develop a program in which I hope to use someday. My topic of study was personalized learning and creating a model for the elementary learners. The project came with a lot of research, school visits, and interviews to gather resources to map out how a public school to do something like this. Over the past two years, we have made several trips to Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska MN. This middle school is leading the way in personalized learning and have been a great help in preparing our schools in Harrisburg to take this jump. The elementary team also made a trip to Maine and saw some incredible things being done out there with personalized learning. From all these visits our team was able to map out what this would look like for our school. You can read more about this model of learning here from an Edsurge article that I wrote.
We continued to have schools coming to see our makerspace and how we do things with our learners. An honor came when out TIE group of South Dakota asked if we would bring our space to the Annual Technology Conference. Planning for this conference involved a lot of work preparing for an event like this, but the students were ready for it.
We started with talking to STEEL CASE and seeing if we could get some furniture to go in our space at TIE. They agreed and brought all kinds of flexible furniture for us to use. The next task was getting a team of students to be the presenters and teachers for the day. We had 18 students sign up to help with this event. In all my years of education, this has been one of the most memorable moments. Our students from South Middle School spent an entire day working and teaching educators about the different tools in our makerspace. Watching them smile and share their passion was a highlight of the entire conference. Also at the TIE Conference, I was honored to be recognized as the 2016 Technology Leader of our state.
Another highlight of the conference was hosting our South Dakota Edchat Tweet Up Event at Buffalo Wild Wings. Thanks again to Steel Case and Squirrels we were able to feed and provide drinks for everyone in attendance. This was a fun event to share and connect with our Professional Learning Network of educators.
South Dakota Edcamp made several stops again this year. In the fall, we hosted an edcamp in Harrisburg, and Lead-Deadwood. In the spring, it made stops in Wagner and Brookings. It has been incredible to see so many schools starting to embrace this style of PD for their teachers. Learn more and stay updated on SDEDCamps at SDEDCAMP
In May, I had the opportunity to travel to the D. School at Stanford University. For two days we studied the Design Thinking Model and how it can apply to schools. It was incredible to jump head first into a problem and learn more about this model of learning.
On top of that, we got to see the amazing space that the D.School has for its learners. It gave us great ideas to bring home and try to create for our learners in Harrisburg.
Phew, where did the time go this year? It is amazing to think that all the above happened. I learned so much from my PLN this year. I could not have done all the above without the love and support of my wife, Lynn. She is always helping me in this journey. With us both being educators it is fun to share ideas and learn alongside each other. This summer I have several trips planned to help school districts with creating makerspaces, or bringing creativity and innovation to their classrooms. I will also be meeting with the team of teachers that will be leading our elementary personalized learning model to help revamp our curriculum to address our learners needs. We will also be working on other aspects of the program as well. Look for a summer post on the progress and where we are heading.
A few spots that I will be stopping are:
June 3rd – Dakota State STEAM Camp
June 23rd and 24th – South Dakota Google Summit
July 6th, 7th, 8th – Personalized Learning Summit Spearfish SD
July 14th – Makerspace Shakopee MN
July 19th, 20th, 21st – Curriculum Redesign Harrisburg SD
July 26th and 27th -Lake Geneva School District (WI)- Keynote, Makerspace workshop Learn more here
July 29th- SD Makerspace in Pierre SD
August 1st and 2nd – Personalized Learning Summit Chaska MN
August 9th – New Teacher Boot Camp
If you would like me to come to your school and help with a Professional Development Day please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss options.