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Multiple Means of Engagement

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Host a Maker Walk

Are your students using your Makerspace and now you want to show off their hard work? Host a Maker Walk. Picture a science fair, but so much cooler because it’s filled with the creations your students made in your Makerspace!

If you’ve ever run a science fair, you know the basics of organizing the event. Pick a date, time, place and then ask students to bring in their projects. They are judged and winners are announced. The difference is very small, but the object of a Maker Walk is to let the makers talk to each other, share their creations and inspire each other, so instead of judging, look to let the makers give each other feedback.

Encourage others to come see the creations. Invite classmates, teachers and local community members. The first even will always be a little smaller but as it catches fire, the word will spread and you’ll have more makers that you can handle. The event can be mandatory, but we’ve had better results just asking for participants. We don’t usually have prizes, but they love to talk about what they’ve created and share it with others.

We created an organization product to help you sort out all the details. It includes examples of some of our events, pictures, possible themes and materials to get your inspired. You can find it in our store.

We hope your students enjoy the Maker Walk as much as ours have. Be sure to tag us in any photos as our students would love to see the creations around the world!

Love the Ninjas

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Why You Should Give Students Choices

How would you feel if you knew you were a wonderful writer but the only way you could express yourself was through modern dance? What would you do if you have to recite your report card comments by memory to each and every parent? How would you feel if you were given the choice to write your report cards any way YOU want? (Ours would be invisible!)

Wouldn’t that be amazing? Wouldn’t that make you want to write the best report cards the world has ever seen?

So why are we so determined as teachers that there’s only one way to assess our students? Why can’t they have choices too? Continue Reading

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Why Makerspaces?

Makerspaces: They seem to be all the buzz, but the concept that drives them isn’t new. For many years, we’ve been focused on directing every moment of our students’ lives. As parents, the lives of children are scheduled to the point they never have a moment to decide for themselves what to do. So when did we decide as adults that play is a bad thing?

Exploration is key to problem solving, critical thinking and self-regulation. Children learn by role-playing real-life situations, rearranging toys, touching materials or using items in unconventional ways. So why not include Makerspaces in our school environments? Continue Reading

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The Reasons For Project Based Learning

Project Based LearningProject based learning can be a challenge because it moves the control from the teacher to the student. When we began our teaching journey, controlling every aspect of student work from beginning to end seemed like the right thing to do. As we’ve evolved as teachers, we learned that loosening the reigns has many benefits.  Check out some of the best reasons we use project based learning in our classroom. Continue Reading

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Creating a Sense of Agency

Creating a Sense of Agency Imagine a classroom where the students monitored themselves-and not in that “hall pass police officer” type of way. Imagine a classroom where students encouraged each other to keep the room tidy, put things way and treat each other with respect.

It’s possible, because each year we turn out a classroom full of polite and respectful students, but it takes work. Creating a sense of agency is just as important as all the math and reading skills.

What is a sense of agency? It is a student-centered approach to classroom management.

Here are some ways we create a sense of agency.

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The Learning Pit

The Learning PitTeaching students to overcome challenges can be difficult when we live in a society that is all about getting things done quickly. We have technology, parents and constant distractions constantly telling students they can learn anything anytime with little or no effort. As a teacher, this is very challenging when students feel they’ve failed, get frustrated or give up right away.

This was what was happening in our classroom. Students that could manage challenges were more successful overall because they kept working until they got it. It felt like it was a lack of effort, but it was much more than that. So we started investigating and researching best practices to help us teach students to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Continue Reading

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Flexible Seating: What Do I Do With the Stuff?

Flexible SeatingFlexible seating is all the rage these days. Finding information on different seating arrangements and types of furniture is easy.  But how do you keep students and their many belongings organized?

We’ve used flexible seating in upper elementary classes for the past six years. Our students are taught from the first day how to properly choose a seat, work where it suits them best and how to stay organized so their stuff isn’t all up in our stuff.

Read a previous post about the types of furniture we use in our classroom.  Here’s what we do with all the stuff. Continue Reading