• Fair Chance Learning

Discovering Learning Opportunities with the HP Learning Studio

Fair Chance Learning spoke with one of the newly announced Canadian HP Teaching Fellows, John Remus-Everitt. We asked him to share some advice for teachers new to maker and challenge based learning on how to incorporate it into their practice and to collaborate with their colleagues:

"Inquiry-based learning opportunities start with teachers needing to be open to trying something new and and letting go of the controls to allow students to explore the possibilities, and to apply knowledge/skills towards developing a product in the end. The best piece advice that I can give to teachers who are on the fence with PBL/Maker-related activities would be to incorporate the engineering design process which encourages prototyping, testing and reflecting on their learning. This shift in the way we approach Engineering Design Challenges has made the biggest impact on my practice.

In regards to getting others in your organization to buy into this change, we recently hosted 30 to 35 teachers, administrators, and divisional learning specialists in our Academy space to see what kind of work our students are doing. They were able to interact with our students, who were more than happy to show off their skills and knowledge. Everyone who participated in the tour (which was part of a larger PL day), went back to their schools with some morsel or take-away that they could apply to their own teaching practices. The more we can make the learning visible to the public through tours and social media, the more others can see how engaging and effective this kind of learning can be.

John's colleague Heather Racz frames the opportunity this way:

"For me - it's a matter of mindset. If you're willing to take some risks in your teaching, and trust your students to take the lead, maker-learning, or PBL can be super-effective. Student autonomy and choice, and a high level of teacher comfort with their curriculum is integral to successful application of these practices. Teachers who are new to maker practices can start small. Little tweaks to existing activities can make a big difference.

"Getting others on board needs to happen by example. If we can show that these practices work to engage and enhance the learning for students, we can mentor and encourage system change at a grassroots level. Mentorship is not top-down, and makes s shift in practice less frightening or intimidating for those wanting to change up their practice. We can build professional capacity through collaboration and baby-steps."

Recently, HP Canada, Microsoft and Fair Chance Learning worked with John and Heather and eleven students from the W.H. Croxford Mechatronics Academy to help facilitate and activate the HP Learning Studios booth at the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC) innovation summit.

The students led demonstration of the HP Learning Studios and as groups presented demos and mini-workshop of a maker skill that the Learning Studios equipment can be used to complete. Many of these activities we're being dry-run prior to a mini-maker fair for over 200 Girl Guides that upcoming weekend.

Liam Neufeld (Student and Outreach Coordinator for the Academy of Mechatronics at W.H Croxford in Airdrie) shares this about the experience:

"As you know this Makers Faire has been long awaited and for me personally is the culmination of many hours of work. I feel as though it is necessary to highlight our strengths and weaknesses going into the event and how we can improve in further iterations of the Faire.

"The basic structure of the Event was based around the lockbox (As seen at the EdTech Conference). We were able to source a keypad and modify the box to accept a ten digit code. With the numbers provided by the Girl Guides(Attendees) we were able to both organize the number of stations and the number of Girl Guides per station. In the end we came up with ten unique stations and between 9-10 girls per station. The stations were designed to have two difficulty levels one that was more accommodating to the younger girls and one that was a bit more advanced to engage the older girls.

"The stations that were show cased are as follows: Soldering, Spheros, Morse code, Arduino, Makey bots, VEX robotics, Coding in JSFiddle, 3D printing, Speakers Corner, and last but not least Air Rockets.

"It was especially exciting to see how accepting and entertained the girls were and how they chose to interact with the materials given to them.

"The materials provided by both Fair Chance Learning and HP Canada greatly contributed to our ability to inspire and encourage the girls in STEAM. I am sure that I am speaking for the majority of the Academy when saying that the makers faire was a huge success"

For educators that are interested in bringing the Learning Studios and problem/challenge based learning into their classroom you can contact us for more information.