Agency by Design Highlights Maker-Centered Learning at Grass Valley

Previously published by AbD Oakland, October 19, 2017 see original article here

“Maker-centered learning means that there’s choice, freedom for students to explore what they’re really interested in, to develop a passion for something, to really get engaged and light up their minds.”
Paula Mitchell, Teacher on Special Assignment for Maker Ed and Blended Learning
Grass Valley Elementary School

Boys&Brian

Click to view Agency by Design and Grass Valley Elementary School Video

In the fall of 2014 Grass Valley teacher Paula Mitchell attended the conference: Project Zero Perspectives: Making, Thinking, and Understanding, in San Francisco. When she returned back to her classroom she brought new ideas, thinking routines, and making. Her principal at the time, Dr. Brandee Stewart, recognized that she was onto something: “I’ve always been on the search for this engaging culturally relevant way of engaging kids. And when I went into Paula’s classroom and saw and heard what she was talking about around maker education…I felt like this was the missing piece throughout my career.

Since then, in order to create a sense of agency and empowerment in their learners, Grass Valley has made the shift to maker-centered learning, placing it at the center of the school curriculum and culture. With the guidance of Paula Mitchell, who was hired as a Teacher on Special Assignment with Project Based Learning & Maker Education, the school prioritized hands-on experiences, with the goal of getting students excited and empowered about learning.

“What can kids notice about their place in the world? And then how can they push against that? And how can they demand more for themselves?”
Roxanne Martinez, Resource Specialist, Grass Valley Elementary School

boysmakingplanters

Click to view Agency by Design and Grass Valley Elementary School Video Pt.2

The overall shift toward maker-centered learning was implemented by first creating a long term vision then adjusting resources and schedules along the way to support that vision. Cohorts of teachers were created to collaborate on maker projects and share strategies within their Professional Learning Communities. Teachers in both special and general education collaborate alongside each other to share approaches and ideas, ensuring that the special education curriculum mirrors that of the general student population.

“Students who traditionally may not show up as the successful student can actually exhibit a set of skills and knowledge and talents that often surpass students in general education classes.”
Dr. Brandee Stewart, Principal, Grass Valley Elementary School

In November 2016, the school opened their maker space, called the “Wonder Workshop,” a classroom dedicated to maker-centered learning during the school day. This space has also served as a space for teacher collaboration, family making night events, and professional development workshops.

DesignThinkCh

The success of the maker-centered learning program at Grass Valley Elementary is due to collaborations across multiple individuals and organizations. Within the school, Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, provide dedicated weekly meeting time for teachers to come together and share curriculum ideas and professional development tools. In addition to the PLCs, community partners such as Agency by Design have and continue to play a key role in providing professional development, support, supplies, and funding along the way. Not only did Grass Valley teachers Paula Mitchell and Diana Culmer participate in the 2016 – 2017 Agency by Design Oakland fellowship, they, along with two other colleagues, took the online Agency by Design course Thinking and Learning in the Maker-Centered Classroom, which was funded by a grant from the Light Awards. In addition, Grass Valley has partnered with Maker Ed to receive Maker Vistas, and has collaborated with numerous community makers.

Three times during the course of the 2016-2017 school year teachers brought their students together to share and celebrate their learning. The year-long curriculum focus on Health and Wellness was centered on these driving questions:

  • How can we as students take control of our food sources?
  • How can we, as food scientists, investigate ways to interact with food?
  • How do we share our knowledge of health and wellness with others by producing, packaging, and marketing a product for a farmer’s market?

In Expo One students demonstrated what they were learning through visualizations of healthy food, maps of local food sources, and planter boxes they had built for seedling vegetable plants. In Expo Two students became food scientists, which was visible in their re-constructions of the human digestion system, cookbooks with their own recipes, and a variety of food offerings they had made. In Expo Three, the culminating event of the year, students produced a farmer’s market, showcasing products they had made, packaged, and marketed themselves.

HealthyTreats

Click to view Grass Valley Student Expos Video

Grass Valley teachers’ energy and dedication to pursue maker-centered learning continues to grow. This year there were seven Grass Valley applicants to the 2017 – 2018 Agency by Design Oakland fellowship! We are excited to announce that Monique Parish and Roxy Martinez will be joining us this year, and Paula Mitchell will be joining the Agency by Design Oakland coaching team as a Senior Fellow.

Lastly, we celebrate and appreciate the leadership of the Grass Valley educators! Three years after Paula Mitchell attended the Project Zero Perspectives conference in SF, she and and Diana Culmer share what they’ve learned through a workshop of their own, “Authentic Inclusion and Hands-on Engagement,” at the May 2017 Project Zero Perspectives Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

PZConference.jpg          PZ_Goals.jpg

Grass Valley is a small elementary school in the Oakland Unified Public School District serving just under 300 students, mostly students of color, in kindergarten through fifth grade. Over 70% of the student population is socioeconomically disadvantaged, 25% is served by the special education program and approximately 17% of the students are classified as English language learners. 

“Book knowledge is just one piece of a larger education. What you learn must be applied in your everyday life. They’re the next scientists, they’re the next inventors, they’re the next presidents. And all of that starts here.”
Dr. Brandee Stewart, Principal, Grass Valley Elementary School

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Press Start: Useful Websites for Game Design

Is your child at the age where all they want to do is play digital games? As educators or parents, we want to restrict this type of game-play, but that should not always be the case.  What if I told you that playing and creating digital games is a productive and educating moment for the child? Well, it is–and we want to talk to you about it.

Here at the Wonder Workshop, we want to inspire children to make their own digital games. It is a valuable outlet for them to learn more about coding, mathematics, design, planning, and creativity.

How can my child and I  create a game?

Doing so is easier nowadays with all the free resources available online (a heads-up that you might have to download some software). Below is a list of our 3 favorite websites for game making.

Sploder 

Lets you create different types of games from 8-bit arcade games and flash games such as puzzles, 3D adventures, and classic creator.  It is a drag-and drop interface, where you can drag pre-designed graphics and add pre-written coding.  It is a super easy–I created this game within 20 mins.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 5.47.32 PM

 

 

 

If they are more confident, they can create their own graphics through the graphic editor.

The best part is that child can share their work with friends and loved ones. The platform is free on computers and laptops. However, there is a fee of $1.99 for those downloading through the App Store and Google Play Store.

TIP: There are several Youtube tutorials videos for this game creator. For example: Jaction Rowe, a kid, created this video for the Retro arcade game creator. It is easy to follow and shows how child-friendly this game creator is.

Construct 2

This HTML game creator is an easy program that lets anyone design 2D games. Here is a mini preview:

It is super easy. The drag and drop design makes it child-friendly, which makes it perfect for users who are not familiar with creating graphics for the games. You can purchase add-on graphic packages for a small fee.

The limited Construct 2 is available for Free for Windows here. If you want to create applications for Android and Apple products, you will need to purchase the download for about $129.99. Of course they have also an Education discount for educators and schools (prices vary).

If you do not know what version of the program to get, check out the Compare Features section here.

Stencyl

This drag and drop interface makes it easy for anyone to make their own 2 dimensional game. Stencyl Starter download is free for Macs, Windows and Linux computers, and laptops. If your child is very invested, you can upgrade to Indie for $99.99 per year. Here is a preview and tutorial of how to make your own game.

You can build your own apps on multiple platforms such as Android and iOS. Download Stencyl Studio for a fee of $199.99 per year.

With these tools, you and your child have an opportunity to not only create, but build confidence. It’s also an opportunity to brag about your child genius and show off their digital creations to loved ones. Of course, you can show off on this blog post, too! Please feel free to comment below with a link to your child’s creations. And don’t feel like it’s only limited to your child–we’d love for you to share your work as well! Remember, Everyone is a Maker, so even adults can create their own games and learn.


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 

 

Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

Part Two of Summer Making Events

Maker events are popping up left to right this summer–there was simply too much to fit in the five-page document we posted earlier this month! We’ve expanded it to include other cities in the Bay Area. Without further ado, here is “Part Two of  Free Summer Maker Events”:

Alameda

  • We Love Legos! at the Alameda Main Library on July 8, 2017, from 2:00 pm
  • Thursday Craft at the West End Library on July 13, 2017, from 3:30 pm  (Ages 4-8)
  • We Love Legos! at the Bay Farm Island Library on July 20, 2017, from 3:30 pm
  • Playdough Play at the West End Library on July 20, 2017, from 3:30 pm 
  • Thursday Craft at the Bay Farm Island Library on August 3, 2017, from 3:30 pm

Berkeley

  • Makerspace at the North Branch Berkeley Public Library on the following dates from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    • July 1, 2017
    • August 5, 2017
  • Legos at the Library at the Central Berkeley Public Library on the following dates from  3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
    • July 7, 2017
    • August 1, 2017 
  • Family Fare: Enter the Otherworldly at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on July 8, 2017, from 11:30 am
  • Legos at the Library at the Claremont Berkeley Public Library on July 14, 2017, from 10:15 am – 10:45 am
  • PlayWell TEKnologies at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 17, 2017, from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Ages 5-9, registration needed)
  • STEM Workshops: Think, Make, Try  at the West Berkeley Public Library on July 18, 2017, from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Ages 3-9, registration needed)
  • KEVA Open Play Day at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 22, 2017, from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm 
  • Experience VR at the Central Berkeley Public Library on July 24, 2017, from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm (Registration limited to 30 people)
  • PlayWell TEKnologies at the North Berkeley Public Library on August 9, 2017, from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Ages 5-9, registration needed)
  • STEM Workshops: Nature Studio at the Central Berkeley Public Library on August 11, 2017, from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm 

Oakland

  • Jack of All Trades Oakland at Jack London Square from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm (kids’ activities and DIY workshops available)

    • July 8
    • August 12

San Francisco

San Francisco Main Library can be easily accessible by BART (exit at Civic Center Station)

  • Zine Workshop at the San Francisco Main Library on the following dates from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm:
    • July 7, 2017
    • July 21, 2017
  • Lights Up Your World with Lightbots! at the San Francisco Main Library on July 8, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Art All Around at the San Francisco Main Library on the following dates from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm:
    • July 9, 2017
    • August 13, 2017
  • Knit Happens at the San Francisco Main Library on July 15, 2017, from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm 
  • Scribble Bots at the San Francisco Main Library on July 15, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (Ages 8 and up, registration needed)
  • Lego Simple Machines at the San Francisco Main Library on July 22, 2017, from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Ages 8 and up, registration needed)
  • The Exploratorium: Naturebots at the San Francisco Main Library on July 28, 2017, from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm 

San Leandro

  • READ – IMAGINE – DESIGN with Legos at the San Leandro History Museum on the following dates (All films start at 1:30 pm):
    • July 5, 2017 – “Lego: The Adventures of Clutch” (NR, 1:18)
    • July 12, 2017 – “Lego: Scobby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood” (NR, 1:15)
    • July 19, 2017 – “Lego Justice League: Gotham City Breakout” (NR, 1:15)
    • July 26, 2017 – “Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash” (NR, 1:16)
    • August 2, 2017 -“Lego Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom” (NR, 1:12)
  • Design Lab: Drop-In Crafts for Kids at the San Leandro Main Library on the following dates from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm:
    • July 11, 2017
    • July 18, 2017
    • July 25, 2017
    • August 1, 2017
  • Tinker Tots at the San Leandro Main Library (for ages 2-5) on the following dates and from 10:30 am -11:30 am (Caregiver needs to be present):
    • July 10, 2017 – Everything goes by Sea! Build a sea-worthy vessel of your own imagination. Will it sink or float? Listen to a book then try for yourself.
    • July 24, 2017 – Toddler Runway! Design an outfit for a cut-out doll that is totally you. From high-art fashion to practical stand-bys, show us your fashion chops.
  • Library Explorers at the San Leandro Main Library (grades 1-5) on the following dates and from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm (Call to register one week in advance of each date):
    • July 27, 2017 – Build! Legos, Kevas Planks, Straws and More!
    • August 3, 2017– Hands-on Chemistry
  • Lego Club at the San Leandro Main Library on the following dates from 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm (Ages 5 and up):
    • July 27, 2017
    • August 24, 2017
  • Girls Who Code at the San Leandro Public Library (Application open in August 2017)

 


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

 

 

Apps for Makers

Taking making to another level or to your home has never been so easy. Today’s technology makes it easier for parents and educators to provide another mode of making that doesn’t need a makerspace.

We encourage you to introduce technology such as your smartphone or tablet to your child or student to start making.  These mobile devices have made software practically free and in abundance and are a great resource for creative education.

So what apps do I encourage to download?

The Foos Coding

the-foos-app

Does your child ever wonder how games are made? Now, your child gets the insight by making their own game using The Foos. This app lets them learn simple coding to make their game the way they like it. The animation is cute and bright that it will definitely catch their eyes. Plus your child can get a certification of completion for “The Hour of Code.”

 Ideally for ages 4 and up 

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FREE (In-app purchases available) 

Hopscotch

hopscotch-app

Do you want your children to make their own game, website, animation or app? Those things are now possible with this app.  Children will learn through color and simple commands that will set their foundation in the language of coding for the future.

 

 

Ideally for Ages 9 and up

Only Available on the App Store, FREE (In-app purchases available)

Lego Creator Islands

lego-creator-islands-on-the-app-storeDo not want to carry a bag of Legos everywhere you go with your child. Well, let me introduce you to this app that lets your child build their own island using digital Legos.  Your child will learn what he/she need to build an environment and let his creativity run wild with his own type of world.

 

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FREE

DIY  App- Creative Community for Kids

diy-app-creative-community-for-kids-on-the-app-store

Go beyond the coding apps, this app shows and help develops manual making. The app explains different types of making such as leatherworks, homebuilding, film, and the list goes on. Children learn by watching videos, gathering experience points, doing challenges and getting encouragement from fellow app users. Children gain online patches for each type of making completed.

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store, FREE

Robot School Programming for Kids

robot-school-programming-for-kids-free-on-the-app-storeKids love robots. This app lets your kid use coding to guide the robot to complete the task. There are multiple levels with each one getting more complicated by the time they complete the app they will be experts in coding. Sounds a bit complicated, no worries the app teaches the student how to use the app and the different coding commands.

 

Ideally for Ages 9-11

Available on the App Store, FREE or for extended version $3.99.

Also available on Google Play, $2.68.

There you have it, 5 great STEAM Making apps, that any parent, educator or maker enthusiasts can download. Remember,  Everyone is a Maker, so even adults can download these apps to learn.


Featured Image is Designed by Freepik

About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

Summer Maker Events near Oakland

It is the time of year again, children attend their last day of school year and embarked on a summer of fun. Making can be part of their summer plans and we, Wonder Wondershop, highly encourage it.

To make it even easier for you, we created a list of free events near Oakland, CA where your child can make, build knowledge and have fun. (Click to download the Summer Events document.) Check back next week for Summer Events List 2 for more listings of events near the Bay Area. Till then, Remember:

Our world is what we make it

Summer Events-Page 1

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Summer Events-Page 5


Document design by Maria Esmeralda Renteria and Summer vector created by Freepik


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

Farmer’s Market

Flyer for Farmer's MarketIt is the last expo of the year and to cap off all the making, we will throw our first Farmer’s Market.

Grass Valley Elementary Farmer’s Market will feature handmade items by our student makers such as:

  • Healthy Rice Krispies Treats
  • Fruit Popsicles
  • Trail Mix
  • Meditative Tealight Candles
  • Quinoa Pizza Bites, and more

All items are $3 or less, and proceeds go to each class’s non-profit of choice.

 

Don’t forget to RSVP  to our event and to bring a reusable bag.

 

 

 

 

Finding Resources

Making does not have to be expensive for the educator to incorporate it into the classroom or for a parent to bring it into the home. It can be relatively cheap–you just have to know where to look for.

You can basically make a makerspace at no cost at all.  Below are some great places to look for free or cheap materials to bring making to your classroom or home.

Unconventional Resources- Creative Capacity Building Handout_To Pass out after talk

Download the Unconventional Resources document.

Don’t just stop with the places above, here are more great places to visit in the Bay Area:

  • Building REsource
    • This San Francisco non-profit usually carries all different types of wood, tools, tumbled glass and ceramics
  • FabMo’s
    • A creative reuse center in Mountain View, CA that rescues design fabric, wood, tiles, wallpapers, leathers and trim

For smaller scale projects these are some great places and tips to great free or cheap materials:

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other hardware stores

  • Look for scrap piles of  wood, usually located by the cutting area.
  • If you ask them nicely and tell them it’s for a kid’s project or you are an educator, they can cut the pieces of wood.
  • Ask to speak to the manager so you can setup a date to stop by and collect as much as you can from the scrap pile (of course, flash your educator badge).

Local Stores

  • Ask if you can collect some of the cardboard. They usually are willing to work with you to get rid of cardboard. I recommend setting up a specific day you will stop by (for example, the second Monday of the month).
  • Stop by after the holidays during their clearance sales and ask if you can have any of their leftover holiday theme items. Again, flash your educator badge, and most of the time they will give you items for free.

These are just a few places and tips to help you get into making without breaking your budget, and it is a great way to start exercising your creativity by looking for supplies in random places.

Remember,

Our world is what we make it

 


About the Author

12994313_10153754492989398_3332096439278684403_n

Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 
Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

 

 

 

 

Wonder Workshop debuts at Maker Faire

Wonder Workshop will be attending its first Bay Area Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm.

We will be a featured Maker copartnering with The Creativity Lab. Our booth will feature information and video about our makerspace and a small hands-on activity.

Our student buttons will be on available for a donation.