The New Classroom Must Have

Make Your List and Check It Twice!

It’s no secret that teachers spend hours planning and accumulating supplies for their classroom–many purchased with their own money.  In the 21st century, the supply wish list continues to grow in order to address the growing needs and interests of our digital age.

  • pens
  • notebooks
  • crayons
  • grade book
  • planner
  • stickers
  • chalk
  • folders
  • posters
  • paper
  • drone

Drone?!? Yes, drones are making their ways into schools and shaking up lessons across the globe.  No longer limited to police or military use, drones are becoming a common, yet still hotly debated, part of everyday life.

An Up and Coming Classroom Staple

Even thought they are common, what does a drone have to do with learning ABC’s and studying Algebra? More than you realize!

Drones not only provide a new and innovative way to express creativity, hone engineering and design skills, and inspire innovation; they also lend themselves to imaginative play and changed perspective.

When Am I Going to Need Math, Anyway?

Equations, proportions, fractions, geometry…students often groan over the “uselessness” of such arduous learning.  Projects like drones bring math to life. No longer are math lessons simply problems on a page, but a mission, an opportunity, an adventure.

Designing, planning, and using drones all require computations that give mathematics a real world, hands-on approach.  Need a little spice for your math class, consider adding a drone!

The Language and Rhetoric of High Tech Tools

Drones are not only for the science or math wings of the school, language arts can get a boost from some high flying antics, as well.  As drones allow for photography from angles never experienced before, these images can be used as writing prompts.  What a way to spice up your writing task arsenal!

In addition, drones are as controversial as they are fascinating.  Even enthusiasts have reservations of how and by whom they should be used.  Hosting a classroom debate or assigning written position papers will integrate the subjects and lead to critical thinking.

*Gasp* Sheer Brilliance! 

Another Masterpiece from Drone’s Blue Period

Art and STEM may seem to have nothing in common but as any supporter of arts education will tell you, the world need art!  Innovation and invention thrive on creativity.  Did you know art could use technology as well?

By attaching various tools, such as paint brushes, students can use a drone to create a new masterpiece.  This process will also require development of hand-eye coordination–a true cross-curricular activity.

STEM + New Technology = Lots of Money Spent

Drones, like all new technology, are expensive. With ever increasing demands on teachers’ generosity and school budgets, it may seem impossible for the average classroom to have its own drone.

Here is where Maker’s Stations shine in the darkness.  Creating your own drone is not only economical but an incredible learning opportunity.  If you have access to a 3D printer, your class could build a drone start to finish by their own design.  However, even low-tech school can add drones to the supply closet with low cost kits that use Legos to build functional but resilient drones for less than $200!

Good or bad, like it or not, drones are a growing part of the everyday landscape. Integrating them into the classroom not only provides new opportunities but provides tools for students to understand this rapidly advancing world of the information age.

How would you use a drone in your classroom?

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Fractions Are a Piece of Cake

Mathematics and the Arts

Hands up for Hands-on

Education circles have made great strides in creating hands-on learning experiences for kids.  STEM challenges, math manipulatives, and makers stations are just some ways our schools have transformed to embrace different learning styles. At the same time, though, the practical and fine arts have lost their footing in priority, sometimes being cut all together.

However, these labor intensive fields are the true core to hands-on learning.  Science, mathematics, problem solving, and engineering are all practiced through the traditional arts courses.  The key really is to incorporate the disciplines.  A true liberal arts education has the benefit of covering every discipline so that connection can be made and all parts of the brain exercised.

How Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Do you know how to cook or bake?  How did you learn? Cooking is a science and an art.  It incorporates the principles of STEM while lending itself to creative exploration.  A life skill, cooking also teaches self confidence and independence. Let’s look at three reasons why cooking may be the perfect addition to your STEM project repertoire.

Struggling with Fractions? Bake a Cake!

Fractions are one of those “Why do we have to learn this?” topics for many children. It can be hard to grasp that the bigger the bottom number the small the fraction.  However, knowledge of fraction is essential to baking. Not only that, but using measuring spoons and cups give a hands-on, visual lesson in what each fraction actually means.

Once your students have mastered reading the fractions and choosing the correct tool to measure them, up the anty.  What if you double the recipe? How about cut in half?  What if you convert all the measurements into 16ths?  A simple cake recipe becomes a lesson in multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction of fractions without the endless stacks of worksheets.  Best yet, at the end of the lesson, there is sweet victory to share if the calculations are correct. Now that is motivation to learn!

Order Operations Pizzas

Can you follow a recipe? Doing things in the correct order and quantities is essential for recipes to work.  The first time I made chocolate chip cookies, I just dumped all the ingredients in the mixer and baked. What came out of the oven tasted good, but was nothing like cookies. Order and procedure are important.

If you are trying to teach order of operations and getting moans and groans that it shouldn’t matter, make a pizza together as a class.  First give the students ingredients and measurements but no written recipe and ask them to make pizza dough. This can be done in small groups.  A recipe can easily be cut down to not waste so many ingredients and reduce the risk of huge messes from flour.

After their “dough” has been created ask them what they think about how well it would make a pizza.  Segue to reason to follow order.  Demonstrate how the same ingredients when combined in the correct order and procedure create a perfect crust.

Once the dough is ready; stretch, top, and bake. Serve up some lunch with a side of lessons.

Master Chef and the Secret Ingredient

As much as baking is a science, cooking is a scientific art.  While there are certain procedures and rules to follow, there is also more room for creativity.  Have you ever held a cook off?  What would students do if they were given 5 secret ingredients and had to make snack?

Cooking experiments are part hypothesis and part ingenious creativity. Have an easy recipe to make in class–what if one of the ingredients is missing and five other choices are in their place?  There’s garlic powder, all spice, black pepper, paprika, and sage on the shelf, what to do?  If you are making banana bread, all spice is the best option, but for chili it may be paprika.

How will they choose which one to pick.  Why does that one fit what is being made?  Hypothesis, experimentation, conclusion! Creatively solving problems in cooking can lead to better building of bridges later.  Life skills and STEM go hand in hand.

What kind of lesson can you cook up today?

 

 

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Arts are Important

What is STEM?

There is so much talk about STEM in education circles these days.

It is the buzzword of the decade.  But what is it?  STEM is simply an acronym for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  The sudden focus on STEM education derives from the arising need to compete in the global economy and be at the forefront of innovation.

The modern world is a rapidly changing place.

Technology is developing at record breaking speed. This is not only making what was once impossible commonplace, it is changing the way we live and look to the future.  A race to the top of new ideas and capabilities has become the hallmark of the tech industry.  So, the educational system has sought ways to supply capable individuals to this phenomenon. Hence, the creation and focus of STEM education.

 

Building A Modern School–Science over Here, Math Down the Hall

With the intense focus on STEM, schools have been building up their science and math programs in an effort to provide a better education. Science lab rooms are under construction, course catalogs overflow with new courses in Engineering, Chemistry, higher level Math, and technology applications.

 

The desire for more and more has turned the liberal arts approach to education upside down.  The requirements for graduation include more science and math courses than ever before.  A new wing of the education system, technology education, has spread beyond just typing or using software to teaching coding and digital citizenship.  Classes upon classes, room upon room, the push for an innovative education has remade the face of schooling around the world.

 

What About the Arts?

Science, Mathematics, anything technology related, these are all children need to know–right? Wrong, just as a bridge cannot stand without a foundation, innovation cannot happen without creativity.  The bedrock of every good education is the arts and humanities.

 

Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing–the four Language Arts–are every bit as critical to engineers as to journalists.  These are the skills that build up a culture and bind us together.  The first two are necessary for collaboration and cohesive team work.  The last two essential to learning and documenting discoveries.

Along with Language Arts, the Visual Arts of design and creativity bring the sciences to life.  Engineering innovates the materials and methods, but art supplies the inspiration and beauty to architecture.  Coding synthesizes the blueprint of an app but visual creativity make it appealing and user friendly. The arts and the sciences need each other.  Without the arts, sciences create a gray, garish world of sci-fi horror stories.  Without sciences, artistic pursuits never get off the page and into history.

 

Welcome to the Real World

Just as the arts are integral to scientific advancement, so is the integration of education.  STEM education was never meant to mean a few more lab rooms and a list of mathematics requirements.  Like eliminating arts, this is missing the overarching goal of the STEM approach.  By integrating the subjects together in real world applications, students are given the roots and wings to soar in the current climate of global, rapid, technology advancement.

The opportunity to learn these skill sets and disciplines is vital to a good education, but should not mean simply tacking on more.  In the world of innovation, working together with people of all disciplines, using the knowledge learned from all coursework is what fuels the advancements of tomorrow. One People, One Planet

How do you build a bridge?  With mutual respect, understanding, and firm foundations of education.

How can you bring the world of education together to lead to a brighter future?

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