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Tag: connections


Connecting the Maker Movement to Authentic Learning


I love the idea of making, inventing and tinkering. Just watch kids who are immersed in the activities and you can see the engagement. But is the learning authentic and relevant?

One Work Place Maker EventI presented three sessions at the Free Maker Movement event at One Work Place on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 with some amazing educators who presented hands-on activities. The event will took place at our Oakland Center for Active Learning .

I decided I needed to spend some time researching where the Maker Movement was happening and find examples of authentic learning. This gave me the opportunity to talk to several of my friends and share how they have transformed learning spaces to Makerspaces. Everyone I talked to made a point that it is about creativity not consumption. Yet when I went to different Maker events, I saw activities that an adult set up, purchased a kit or provided directions for activities. They were all fun, but I was having trouble seeing the connections to real learning or any ownership from kids.


I read Jackie Gerstein‘s post: MAKE STEAM: Giving Maker Education Some Context where she wrote “recent discussions with other educators and administrators made me realize that the idea of maker education is often vague and seems unrealistic in terms of regular classroom instruction.”  She shared her thoughts of Maker Education in the context of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) where teachers integrate maker projects into their classrooms. Read her blog and check out the Thinglink by clicking on the dots for more information.



I reached out to Shannon McClintock Miller, @shannonmiller, who is a Teacher Librarian at Van Meter Elementary in Iowa. Shannon stretches the imagination of children and manages the Library Voice as a place to be heard through creating, technology, connecting, reading, collaborating and noise.  I love her quote:

“We as librarians and educators and as people
who care about young people need to CHANGE!”

Shannon emphasizes the power of story where learners can play with content, media, narratives, remix, mashup and then tell their story. She encourages her learners to connect to the story in different ways: Skype with authors, create their own stories, and publish eBooks. One learner loved the “I Spy” books and wanted to Skype with the author “Jean Marzollo so Shannon set it up. What came out of the Skype was for learners to create their own “I Spy” book for Van Meter School.

Screenshot 2015-09-26 11.10.07

Shannon redesigned the library to move to creative, innovative spaces: Makerspaces around the concept of stories. Learners took their iPads and used an Augmented Reality program, Layar, to add multimedia to texts, posters, and books. She found different apps and organized them in a Digital Makerspace using Symbaloo. After pulling together different Makerspace activities, Shannon wanted a way to provide opportunities for making in the classroom.  So she created Makerspaces Mobile bags that teachers could pick up and use in their classrooms.

Digital Makerspace


Screenshot 2015-09-26 11.37.09Laura Fleming, @NMHS_lmsis a Teacher Librarian at Milford High School in New Jersey who is a strong advocate of using New Media and Vanguard Techniques for Interactive and Transmedia (multi-platform) Storytelling. Her website is Worlds of Learning.  She wrote the book World of Making where you can find invaluable guidance for creating a vibrant Makerspace on any budget. The book includes practical strategies and anecdotal examples that help you:

  • Create an action plan for your own personalized Makerspace
  • Align activities to standards
  • Showcase learner creations


Laura’s goal is to create learning experiences that empower and equip students with necessary skills to effectively produce and consume content across multiple media platforms. She went from K-8 to the high school to a library that was very traditional that was under-utilized.

Milford HS - NJ Library

In less than two months she transformed the library by just adding activities aligned to classroom instruction. She even used DonorsChoose to purchase a 3D printer and provides multiple suggestions to build your own makerspace.



Diana Rendina, @DianaLRendina,  is a Media Specialist/Librarian at Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa, Florida. Diana is passionate about school libraries being places for students to discover, learn, grow, create, connect and collaborate. She shares her journey on her blog, Renovated Learning: Building a Culture of Creativity and Discovery in Education.  She has worked to transform her school’s library from a quiet, dusty, cluttered room into a vibrant and active learning space where students want to be.  In 2014, she created a Makerspace in her library to serve as an informal STEM learning space for her students. 

Diana Rendina Makerspace Journey

Diana shared how their Makerspace has changed, grown and evolved since it was first conceived and started in January 2014.  Follow along with the story of their journey here.  Hopefully it will inspire you to start your own Maker journey.


This is just the beginning and a short overview of how libraries are transforming to Makerspaces. But one thing I did find from talking to Jackie, Shannon, Laura and Diana is that the librarian’s role is changing and Makerspaces can connect to learning. The Library is changing and bringing stories to life. Makerspaces can be digital and mobile. If Teachers and Librarian/Media Specialists collaborate on curriculum design, projects can be integrated in to STEAM and other curriculum activities. So this is just the beginning of my investigations how these Makerspaces can expand authentic learning activities.


Personalizing ISTE 2012 with My Friends

Barbara Bray avatarI’m on my way to ISTE in San Diego soon. I’m going to be talking about personalizing learning. I’m pulling together my presentations, events, and meetings. I’m pretty excited about seeing many of my friends from around the world. Now here’s my dilemma — I want to spend time with friends but I am planning to network. Some of my friends have contracted me to provide services. I guess I’m what you call a “networker” and “digital friend.” But the boundaries are getting fuzzier and fuzzier because of social media. This is my avatar on the right. Red hair — always smiling. I kind of look like my avatar. The real me may appear a little shorter  :)

I started looking at my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and get it that I’m all over social media. I do love it. I love the connections, learning from friends I’m following and who are in my circles, on Scoopit and Pinterest, connections on LinkedIn, those who share on my FB timeline or in my Twitter feeds. I guess one of the decisions I had to make when creating circles in Google+ is what circles to put people in. I didn’t feel right putting some people in acquaintances because I felt like they were kind of “friends.”

So now I have to think about what is a friend? Who do I call my friends? Actually, most of the same people are popping up as friends or connections across social media. Many of these friends I don’t know but look forward to meet at ISTE. I hope you introduce yourself and say “I’m your friend on …..” That is if you want a hug.

I’m a hugger and networker. See me walking down the exhibit hall and I’m talking to everyone. Meet you the first time, I’ll shake your hand, look you in the eyes, and have a great conversation. Next time, I’ll probably hug you. Can’t help it. That’s me!

So if you hug me back, then we can call each other friends? Nooooo! It’s more than that. Friends and business acquaintances are different. Can you be both? Yes!


I only started thinking about this when my social media connections got pretty big and I was scooping this and tweeting that and spending too much time on social media. Social media started taking over. I love connecting to all my friends. Now I’m getting ready for ISTE and will see so many of you — my wonderful friends. But I’m going to ISTE to share my research, my work, and learn from you.

Missing Piece

This time I’m very excited about the prospect of working with others who are researching Personalized Learning and how it can transform education. I’m looking to talk to you, learn from you, and maybe work with you. I have been collaborating with Kathleen McClaskey and set up our own site Personalize Learning. We both believe that learning starts with the learner.  We are getting connected to new “Friends” because of our work around Personalized Learning.

ISTE 2012 ConferenceI hope to see you at ISTE at our sessions. We’re hosting a Birds of a Feather session on Monday  that is mainly interactive by you the participants. You bring the questions, talk about them in small groups, and then share back. We’ll collect the information and share them with you on our website. We are also doing a presentation about Personalized Learning Toolkits  on Tuesday at 3:45 and anticipate lots of feedback and sharing. Kathleen and I have worked very hard on this presentation and hope you find it beneficial. Join us!

So I hope to see lots of my friends in San Diego. I am hooked on social media. Probably will be hugging a few of you. I just have to say thank you to so many of my friends who have been there for me for so many years. I feel very fortunate. It will be fun to see you and meet in person some of my virtual friends for the first time.

Some ways to connect:

Check out my Scoop-its:


Contact me via if you want to set up a time to meet at the conference.


Your PLN helps your PLC become a CoP

Learning can happen anywhere at anytime from anyone and anything. Your connections and any information you use are learning experiences that can help you grow personally and professionally. I wrote this article for CUE in 2009 and felt it was appropriate to update it for the ISTE 2011 Conference in 2011.  I’ll be there — very busy but learning so much from the people in my PLN.

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

There is nothing new about PLNs. They are the people and information sources that help you meet your learning goals. Building your PLN means that you not only seek to learn from others but you also help others in the network learn. Anyone can make a contribution. Your PLN can be your most powerful learning tool no matter what the subject. My PLN used to be the people I met face-to-face: the people I worked with, classes I took or taught, friends and family, organizations I joined and the information was what I googled on the Internet, in books, textbooks, or periodicals at the library. Remember how long it used to take to find what you were looking for?

Now my PLN connects me to others and to information in ways I never thought possible a few years ago. I still use Google to search for information but now I can find trends, maps, and even literature reviews. Social networks connect me to friends, work contacts, and friends of friends. I can see what they are doing in Twitter, updates on their conversations and links to new information. Facebook not only updates the status of each of my connections, I can join groups set up by friends and learn from wall posts. Here’s a diagram of some of my PLN:

Personal Learning Network

Use a mindmapping program such as Inspiration or Mindmeister to diagram your own PLN.

So how can your PLN help you build your Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

Your PLN can help you meet your personal and/or professional learning goals. A PLC is where you focus on student learning. Your PLC focuses on a specific problem area of the students in your school. Richard DuFour shares three critical questions that drive the work of the PLC:

  • What do we want each student to learn?
  • How will we know when each student has learned it?
  • How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?

We know a teacher can make a difference to the children in their classroom. However, a school may find many of the children in the entire school are falling through the cracks. The teachers in the school as a PLC can collaborate to improve or restructure how they reach at-risk students. They can analyze student data reviewing patterns and trends. Each teacher can use their PLN to research background information about specific issues brought to light from the data analysis, to ask questions of others in similar situations, to connect with other classrooms for global collaborations, and to share the findings from their PLC.

The PLC becomes a Community of Practice (CoP)

The CoP is where you take what you learned in the PLC and transfer it to practice where teachers can work together to do action research and/or lesson study. The teacher can ask “What does it take for me to change my practice to include this new learning?” This is deep, thoughtful work involving modeling new methodologies, observations from another teacher or coach, reflections on the results and process by asking what worked, what didn’t work.

Your PLN connects you to other professionals and to the information that will help you with your work in your PLC and CoP. Not only will the PLN help you, you can use your PLN to share best practices, blog reflections, and post examples of student work.