Yesterday I presented a short 40 minute session on Teacher Tinker Time. This is something that I have created in my school as an instructional coach. The goal is to create a fun and very stress less challenge every few weeks to get educators thinking like a kid again. More importantly it is to bring various teachers together in hopes that new ideas grow out of the activities and conversations.
I was moved to the Commons area for my session after they realized I was going to have dough and other hands on materials for the attendees to use and play with. I had a fairly nice size turnout. Actually, I had more than I expected and something to note would be to have more supplies on hand next time.
For my setup I had a few slides to get them going, but the projector was not working. For those interested here are the slides, but they won’t make much sense unless I am present because I hate slides with a lot of words.
Because I did not have these I did a very short introduction explaining Teacher Tinker Time and how I operate the system. I realize that most of the teachers do not have this at the elementary and high school. Hopefully, they saw the value in it and will push to have this implemented in their school. I am a firm believer that as teachers we must remember what it is like to think and be a kid. We should have opportunities during our day to do this and not be expected to do so on our own time.
To get them thinking like a kid again, I brought in 7 sets of Squishy Circuits. I had enough batteries, alligator clips, and LED lights to break them into 7 groups. I had over 40 people in the session so the groups were a bit too large, but it worked.
The only rule I gave them as you can see in the slides(which they did not get to see) was to not put the light on the battery. Like every great class we had a teacher test it out and they were able to witness the POP and exploding power of a LED light!
I challenged the teachers to make the light turn on and once they achieved that to go ahead and make a creature or sculpture to challenge their thinking.
I really enjoyed the conversations, questions, and just good old tinkering taking place. Many probably did not realize how much they were learning. If I had more time I would have made them share their creations and explain what went on with each group. The dynamics of the space was not ideal to do this so I let it be and cut it from the session. Lastly, I would have explained the science of the Squishy Circuits so they could see what they actually created and tinkered with.
My goal of this activity was to remind educators a few key things.
1. Play is learning – we need time to play. We need time away from instructions and an end goal. Just let ourselves go. As teachers we forget to give ourselves permission and time to just play. We want answers, answer keys, and as little to do as possible because we are so busy. Don’t forget to craft this time out of your schedule. The best ideas come when you are not thinking about the actual idea/topic.
2. Different Pathways Lead To Success – we had groups of various levels of accomplishment. It took some longer than others to get the lights on. Some claimed defective parts. Some thought they had it figured out to only learn they really did not. Had I just given them the answer zero learning would have taken place. In the end every group had a light turn on. Don’t forget that we as educators as well as our students can chart our own paths in learning and still reached the desired goal. It is okay to be robots and follow the same scripted path. Go out and explore. Don’t be afraid of being wrong which is a mindset many educators and students struggle with.
3. What is next? With a bit more time I would have challenged the teachers to this question to get them thinking about new ways of tinkering in their own classroom …and then? (beta – may be improved later) http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3214
Here is the handout from the session. I hope that you consider joining our group of amazing people where we are always in discussion about Play and Tinkering in the Classroom. We run weekly chats and Google Hangouts to challenge our minds and thinking.
With everything I do I hope you add to the wiki and connect with me to make things better. I am always open to connect and chat. The best learning is through sharing ideas with others.
Please let me know what you think. Throw me questions, ideas, suggestions, feedback, etc. If you attended the session I would love to know your thoughts so I can improve and make myself better.
Below are images from the teachers making their works of art as well as videos showing how I made the dough using my Google Glass
Created with flickr slideshow.