Maker Spaces

Shifting Pedagogy

This is a re-post of my blog entry about the STEM to STEAM and Beyond workshop I attended on April 21st.  It gets to the gist of the day.  It was lots of fun and extremely engaging.  Something to think about as we move forward.  Have a great week!  Vic


On April 21, 2014,  I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful conference at the Poughkeepsie Day School, From STEM to STEAM.  It must have been via some tweet either by Pam Moran or Josie Holford that they told me about the workshop and that I had to go.  Sure, why not.  I was ending my vacation so I swung by via Philadelphia, visited family in New Jersey, and up to 287 to 87.

Boy, was I in for a treat.  I have been in contact with Pam Moran through twitter and Pam is so passionate about sharing what her district is doing in Albemarle County, Virginia.    Pam and one of Albemarle principals, Alison Dwier-Selden, of the Walton Middle School lead the keynote for the day and boy, were there some great takeaways!  Their keynote was based on the following:

The Seven Pathways to Learning

  • Maker-Infused Curriculum
  • Interactive Technologies
  • Instructional Tolerance
  • Choice and Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Passion/Problem/Project-Based Learning

The keynote was about putting passion back into our schools.  What fun to sit a listen to such positivity a week before the NY State Math exams! A question Pam posed:  “How do maker leaders create opportunities for authentic leadership and agency to emerge among educators and learners?  It is a basis of inquiry for me as we move forward.

Another: “Influence comes from many not from a single leader or the hierarchy.  How true is that!  Michael Fullan embraces this idea to build professional capacity in our schools.  Why not include kids?  Embrace and build the trust!  Maker leaders are not in to compliance.  This is old school and 20th century thinking.

Here is what Maker Leaders do:

  • Hierarchical flattening
  • Pedagogical entrepreneurship
  • Boundary spanning
  • Global networking
  • Policies which enable rapid change, rapid prototyping, not block either!

Pam shared some stories about how they created spaces at Albemarle to be 21st century in a library.  They got rid of the outdated storage VCR tapes, old overheads, things that were collecting dust in a storage room and the librarian ripped the walls down and opened the space up to be used as an area where kids can use to hang and use their device.

(Old School)

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She spruced up the area and added this to the library:

View image on Twitter

Disrupt your library space, change the marketplace, capture a new audience.  How exciting for kids!

To end, Pam and Alison told us to get 1 or 2 brave folks to take the step just do it.  “Pioneers take the arrows, settlers get the land.”  Be brave enough to try something new in our schools, especially in the land of APPR and CCSS.

We had great workshops offered throughout the day as you can see here and I used Storify to document the day here.

We got to see some cool things and learn together:

I want one of these :

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We made speakers out of paper.  Me, I burned my fingers.  (Don’t laugh, but it’s true.)

The best was meeting folks around the area and creating more connections to my PLN.  I also got to meet Maureen Devlin.  Maureen and I are regulars on #satchat and how wonderful to meet face to face!

We gathered back to close the day and Pam asked us to think about bringing one thing back to our schools to start to change or implement.  I have been pushing my staff to move to project based learning (PBL) and have written about it to them here.  We slowly setting the stage and push for more of this in communication here.

I have to thank Pam and Josie for such an enlightening day.  It has jump-started and rejuvenated my belief that there is a better way!  Thank you!


Other News
  • Bus Duty for April 28 – May 9  Team 6: Connie Tubbs, Kelly Ayen, Bev Phelps  Upcoming bus duty:  May 12 – May 23  Team 7: Paula Bates, Marcie Tyler, Sarah Pawananon
  • Our Staff Meeting will be in the computer lab across from Steph and Connie’s room.  We will be using the computers so be ready to log in.
  • Did you watch 12 Years as a Slave yet?  Reading the book is even more powerful!  A must read and watch.  This book I know will be on required reading lists for HS students or a least it should!
  • Please make sure you are scheduling a time to meet with me with Mrs. Sheen before June 6th to do our “Walk through #5” and domain 4 of the Danielson rubric.  Thanks
  • Will.I.Am was on Meet the Press this morning, speaking about education and how we need more Project Based Learning, STEM/STEAM and creativity opportunities for our kids in school.  He declared a war on education, and I don’t think he intended on it being test driven.  The intention was hands-on learning.  Interesting!
  • Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.  Thank you for all you do!
  • I will be taking a break next week with this blog as I need to go down to New Jersey to visit my mom and family.  Hospice is in now so this is the beginning of the end, so my time will be devoted to this part of our lives.  Thank you all for your support and prayers.  
Things in the blogosphere
  • The Responsive Classroom website had a great blog about Making Greetings More Engaging.  If you don’t visit the website, I would put this on your To-Do list.  There is a wealth of information that NEFC puts in the website for folks.
  • Jon Harper guest blogs on Peter DeWitt’s blog about building relationships with students and fostering community in the classroom and school.  All I can think about is the Responsive Classroom philosophy!
  • Todd Nesloney is a 5th grade teacher and extremely knowledgeable in tech education and someone to follow.  He writes here is the ISTE blog of how flipped education was hard to manage until he put in PBL.  Check out what he is doing here.
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest

The Board of Regents did adopt the Social Studies Framework. There will be no immediate changes. The Field Guide, due in the summer, will have more information about implementation.


The application of principles of good coaching of sports teams can help teachers transition away from monologic discussions toward better discussionsand collaboration.


The April issue of School Administrator considers the central office and how it can be re-imagined to become more focused on instructional leadership and how to better support principals.
Here are ideas for integrating the arts into other disciplines.

Watch this short video to see how the critical friends process can be used as a protocol forteachers providing feedback to each other.

The New York Times had an interesting piece about moral education. There are implications for parents and schools.

Gathering feedback from teachers about the evaluation system in their school can help improve the implementation while also having a positive influence on school culture and climate.


A common denominator in the school improvement equation is teacher leadership. At this year’s annual Teacher Leadership Conference on May 27th we will continue to explore the role that teacher leaders play in the school improvement calculus, including:

  • Regents Reform Agenda
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Career & Technical Education and Co-Op
  • Common Core and Literacy
  • Teacher Centers

Another New York Times piece summarizes the research about parent involvement in schools – what impacts student achievement and what does not.

We now talk a lot about grit in our students – but how about grit in our teachers? Maybe grit is a missing element in our teacher evaluation rubrics!

This column suggests that the best way to implement the Next Generation Science Standards would be one year at a time, beginning with the youngest students.

This site has links to many of the most-used rubric making tools.


This approach to classroom rules sorts them into five different categories: academic, social, procedural, cultural, and personal.


These are good reminders about finishing the school year strong. The test is not the end!

Parents help with homework might not help, after all. In fact it might hurt! This is helpful information to parents and it is helpful information to teachers for their consideration when designing good homework.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week:

All Grades | All Subjects | Inspiration
We gathered some amazing educators to share what they think teachers are… (magicians, sages, lifelong learners). And don’t miss the opportunity to tell us what YOU think teachers are! 
All Grades | All Subjects | Practice
We had the rare opportunity to film a discussion between five former NTOY and the takeaway is this: it’s not about perfection. It’s so worth it to watch this full-length feature, but if you don’t have time today, check out the 2-minute preview.
All Grades | All Subjects | Learning
Watch former Teachers of the Year reflect on how they grow as teachers and what makes our profession so unique.

A Touch of Humor

Learning to Make – Making to Learn – From STEM to STEAM


As you know, I question the direction that our state has taken with APPR, testing, and a poor implementation of Common Core State Standards.  I wrote about it here when I shared Pasi Sahlberg’s book, Finnish Lessons.  This has lead me to read and follow Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves’ philosophy of building professional capital in staff. And then comes Maker Leadership.

Always looking for innovative conferences and to learn, I happened upon a wonderful day conference called STEM to STEAM and Beyond at the Poughkeepsie Day School in Poughkeepsie on Monday, April 21st. (Check out the link I put, awesome workshops!) I think it was through a tweet from Pam Moran, the superintendent of Albemarle County Schools in VA  or Josie Holdford the head of PDS (when you are in a tweet chatting stream, it goes so fast so I can’t remember) that they said to get down here for this workshop.  So I did.  (I am lucky to have these two ladies in my PLN.  I consider them as mentors and friends and they are available 24/7.  That is the beauty of twitter and a PLN!)

Pam keynoted the workshop.  All I can say is WOW! Pam has a vision for her district.  She is an advocate for Learning Spaces, an educational model that emphasizes project-based-learning in non-traditional settings and promotes collaboration, analytical and critical thinking, and communications proficiency among teams of students.  I am not going to go into the day as I have Storified the tweets and am working on a blog post soon to be published.  Let’s just say, after attending this conference, it has reconfirmed my belief that New York and the State Education Department is on the wrong path with education. (I know, a strong statement!  A PDS staff member said that she was sorry for me because we are stuck in a model dictated by SED that is not innovative!  That didn’t sit well with me and it can’t be!)

One thing that Pam asked us to do at the end of the day was to bring one item back to your district and work with it.  As you know, Project Based Learning is in the forefront for me as a building leader.  Maker Spaces and Learning Spaces thrive on the PBL philosophy.  I wrote about PBL here. I believe it is the way to move forward.  Don’t get me wrong, we still need to teach how to read (learning to read and reading to learn, phonics, phonemic awareness, writing, etc)  and how to do math (facts, numeracy, etc, etc), science and social studies, but how can we infuse it into project based learning?  How can we “beef” up the modules that we are working on to be more engaging for our students?  Look at your class.  Are your students bored?  Pam said to look under the desks and look at kids feet and legs.  Are they antsy?  If so, there’s something going on and they may not be as engaged as you think.

Let me be honest, this will not be easy because we have to infuse CCSS into how we do this, but it will be engaging for our students!  We can continue to do the drudgery and worrying about how students do on ONE test and worry about our score, or we can, as Pam said, bring the passion back into schools by bringing in PBL.  The passion for teaching and learning!

I sent out to you via email that Patrick Shaw will be up to do a PBL 101 workshop on August 11, 12, 13.  This is on MLP. I am going – there are some of you who have signed up already.  People, it’s good stuff. This is NOT  like the old projects you did with your class, i.e. Pumpkin projects, dioramas, or Johnny Appleseed projects.  It’s a  different way of thinking and engaging students and there is training that is involved.  It will start you thinking about bringing the fun and passion of teaching and learning back into the classroom.   Patrick says it goes well with Responsive Classroom and if you know anything about Academic Choice, PBL blends nicely with this part of RC.  Don’t use the excuse, “I don’t have the time to infuse this into my classroom.”  Or, “I don’t have the time during the summer.”  Really? I don’t have the time either, but I know it will be good for kids.

Folks, you are so much more than a score.  Let’s start thinking out of the box and push away the standardization of the curriculum.  It’s not in the best interest for kids nor for innovation.  True, we have to assess, but it’s not the end all be all.  Just ask yourself, “Is what I am doing, planning, teaching, etc,  helping students really be college and career ready?”   Will learning how to take a test prepare students to be 21st century citizens, readers, and productive workers in today’s workforce, or do we stay in the 19th and 20th century model and produce widgets in our kids?  As Pam Moran’s educators in her schools asked:  “Isn’t it past time for education and educators to respond to 21st century changes as well?  Isn’t it time to move from teaching places limited by walls of classrooms and schools to learning spaces, limitless in possiblities that extend educational opportunities beyond school walls and district boundaries?  Isn’t it time to stop paying attention to political and private sector agendas that promote 20th century standardization methodologies and, instead, attend to the need of ‘destandardize‘ curricula, assessment, and pedagogy so we can get to unlimited, deep learning?”  (Digital Leadership: pg. 25.)

My friend Eric Sheninger, HS principal at New Milford, New Jersey wrote in his book, Digital Leadership, ” A focus on standardization narrows the curriculum and creates a teaching culture where creativity, exploration, and critical thinking are scarce and nonexistent.  It creates a culture that students disdain; one that only can be sustained with the use of “if-then” rewards or “carrots and sticks.”  That’s not what I want East Side to be and I hope you are with me on that!   How can we have a smarter balance?  Let’s work together on this – I’m in.  I am hoping you are too.   Enjoy the week!


Other News
  • Bus Duty for April 28 – May 9  Team 6: Connie Tubbs, Kelly Ayen, Bev Phelps  Upcoming bus duty:  May 12 – May 23  Team 7: Paula Bates, Marcie Tyler, Sarah Pawananon
  •  Speaking of tests:  The NYS Math Tests are on April 30, May 1st and May 2nd.  We will need to change special area time slots for 1st and 5th grade again for these three days.  Please plan accordingly.
  • Thank you Brenda for arranging and organizing our guest author Mike Thaler, to visit our schools last week.  It was AWESOME and lots of fun!
  • Please check the schedule and emails that Bridget has put out for the presentations for Monday’s Kids on the Block and Making Friends presentations.
  • Field trip time is around the bend.  I am hosting four training sessions for parents and we have sent out notification this past Friday.  Please make sure you are following the correct procedures for field trips and completing the field trip packet.  When in doubt, ask the office.
Things in the Blogosphere
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Great Quotes:
“Standardization continues to follow in the footsteps of the century-old model of education that is focused on industrialization.  Such a model stifles the growth of teachers, students, and administrators.  This entrenched system produces students who lack creativity, are fearful of failure, work extremely hard to follow directions, (do homework, study for tests, not question authority), and are leaving schools with obsolete skills in a postindustrial society.  Schools focus more on filling the minds of students with useless facts and knowledge than giving them essential skills that can’t be measured with a #2 pencil.”  – Eric Sheninger – Digital Leadership, page 21.
VictoriaL_Day's avatar
Vicki Day @VictoriaL_Day

@pammoran @iSchoolFive me too Still reflecting about it and making changes & plans!

 Pam’s response to Vicki:
Other Items of Interest

The APPR microsite has a new look and new functionality. No resources have been removed – they’re just easier to find. Oh YAY!! (Yes, that is sarcasm!)

VideoThis video from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading does a good job to explain the gaps we see in students from poverty and summer loss. Morgan Freeman narrates.

Read about the changes to the SAT.

Here are some food allergy resources for school administrators from the CDC.

Read about alignment between PBL and the Common Core.

The Buck Institute has a searchable collection of PBL projects.

Dayna Laur, one of our PBLNY presenters, cautions against over-use of PSA as projects.

This “Tip Sheet” from Robyn Jackson explains the difference between being engaged or being entertained.

Here are tips for teacher librarians.

Opportunities to network with fellow math teachers continue. For geometry teachers, the next meeting is May 8th. Digging Deeper into CCLS Algebra is on tap for May 16th. For teachers of math grades K-2, the next networking meeting is May 19th. Finally, another session for teachers of grades 6-8 Accelerated Mathis May 21st. As always, teachers (and leaders) can join these groups at any time. There’s so much to do that we need collaboration to get it all done!

ASCD Collection book of the weekThe Formative Assessment Action Plan. The book explains an approach to formative assessment, explaining it promotes learning in the classroom. Teaching American History: Field Experience- Women’s Rights National Historical ParkJoin a group Saturday May 17 to explore the following questions: What are rights? How do we get them? Who defends them? Who decides who gets rights?

A Touch of Humor