Lab sheets, calculations, essays, debates; so much of what students accomplish during their school day exists on the mental plane. All of these exercises, and their affiliate subjects, are crucial in molding a child’s critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills. These are undeniably valuable when considering the scope of one’s academic career, but how often are students able to appreciate all that they are accomplishing? For developing students, the constant mental focus used to excel can be draining. Pair that with the fact that more and more students are trading in their free time for screen time, and suddenly you have an environment where mental fatigue and burnout thrive.
The study of mathematics involves the balance of procedural skill, fluency, conceptual understanding, and application. Engaging students to make sense of math, rather than teaching them to memorize concepts, helps create mathematical thinkers. An important key to understanding mathematical concepts is a problem-solving approach in the classroom.
Did you know that swinging a hammer in a woodworking shop has a wide range of benefits for students? Woodworking provides the ability to identify a problem, brainstorm the possible solutions, and test your ideas. These skills lend themselves to all aspects of life, both inside the classroom and out. Woodworking classes have recently regained popularity because they build essential life lessons along with reinforcing math, science, and problem-solving skills. In fact, a study from Purdue University showed students benefited from participating in hands-on engineering projects. A woodworking program benefits students in the following ways:
Design Thinking is a teaching approach that incorporates the engineering design process in hands-on, collaborative projects. Students are guided through the design steps to problem solve. The process is meant to be repeated to create the best possible solution. Project-based and problem-based learning engages students while providing essential Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills that inspire innovation.
Elementary school is the perfect age to teach coding. Learning to code is fun, empowering, and provides essential 21st century skills. According to the US Department of Commerce, within the last ten years STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) employment opportunities have grown by 24.4% vs. only 4% in non-STEM fields, and STEM-focused employees make an average of 29% more than non-STEM workers. It is important that we provide our children with the computer science skills necessary to be successful.
Engage your kids in learning throughout the summer with a variety of experiences to help them to continue their growth and prevent learning loss. If you have a phone or tablet, apps can do more than keep them busy. It is important to select apps that engage your child, strengthen their skills, and promote learning. In addition, make sure to balance screen time with playtime to help your child to create a healthy relationship with technology.
Authentic learning is messy, loud, and somewhat chaotic as students grapple with application of their ideas and classroom learning to solve a problem. Authentic learning is active, creative, and fun.
What Does Authentic Learning Look LIke?
Student teams discuss their thinking, develop and implement a plan of action, and get to work. Some plans fail, and students learn to quickly adapt their thinking and craft new solutions as they work within time constraints.
This ebb and flow of successes and failures is part of authentic learning, and students learn more from failures than successes.
“What do you do in a makerspace?
The simple answer is you make things.
- Things that you are curious about.
- Things that spring from your imagination.
- Things that inspire you and things that you admire.
Macs…PCs…Chromebooks…iPads…tablets. Which of these devices is the best technology option for your child?
The answer to that question depends on several factors including:
- Your child’s needs
- Your child’s interests
- Your budget
Your child’s needs
If you’re purchasing the equipment for your child to use in school and at home, check with the school to make sure that whatever you buy is suitable and permissible for use in the school. While some academic institutions which offer 1-to-1 programs require that all students use the same model computer or device, many schools allow students to bring the device of their choice to school. Keep in mind that student-owned devices may need to meet minimum mandatory requirements such as installation of a current operating system. Talk with your child’s teacher or someone from the information technology department before choosing a computer to help ensure that whatever device you purchase can be used on campus.
Your child’s interests
Is your child interested in using the device to play games, watch movies, listen to music, and engage in activities beyond academics? Or, will she use the computer for completing school assignments, surfing the Internet and checking email? Students whose computers will serve as media players and gaming stations will need faster and more powerful machines than children who use their devices solely for completing school work, sending and receiving email, and browsing the Internet.
Digital citizenship is a way to teach students how to use technology responsibly and respectfully—and it’s an important aspect of developing good character in our students. Because using digital media is a part of our everyday lives, we teach them how to manage their school Gmail accounts and Google Apps for Education for their learning. We also talk with them about how to manage themselves online, especially when using social media.
As educators, we think a lot about social media and how to use it effectively and responsibly. We work with our students to make sure they know how important it is for them, too. The guidelines our school uses for our own posts are designed to create a positive atmosphere online. We teach appropriate technology use to develop good digital citizens.