Year in Review: Lessons from the Innovation Lab

techedupteacherI came up with the Innovation Lab, our take on the makerspace, when I first got to Fair Haven eighteen months ago. The goal was to make an engaging technology “special” to replace our more traditional computer class which we pushed down toward the elementary school. I spent the bulk of this year’s afternoons working in the Innovation Lab with Ms. Smith and her 5th and 6th grade students. In the Innovation Lab, students learned about Design & Engineering, Computer Science, the Digital Arts, and, for a few months, Entrepreneurship. After our first full year in the Lab, I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned.

Lesson Learned: Blended Learning is best, but not without a learning curve. I blended my high school English class for the last five years I was there. My sophomores received little direct instruction. Instead when they came into class, student work and the resources they needed to be successful were already online in our Learning Management System waiting for them. This worked incredibly well for my Sophomores, so I decided to bring blending to the Innovation Lab.

 

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#GEGNJ Power Hour 5

GEGNJ

Another Power Hour is in the books!

In this episode, we talk to the Isaacs family and how they came to get involved in the Slides Q&A commercial, Google’s newest additions to #GAFE, and what’s the right age to roll out Gmail for a school district.

Below is the video of the show and here is the agenda which includes links to the things we discussed.

We start crowdsourcing the agenda two weeks before the show and you can join #GEGNJ here even if you aren’t from New Jersey because not everyone can be perfect. This is our last episode for the school year. The Power Hour team will see all Jersey’s finest in late August!

 

 

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Year In Review: Lessons on Gamification

techedupteacherI’ve learned a lot after a year of working with fifth and sixth graders in our blended, gamified makerspace. Our makerspace, called The Innovation Lab, is built on four pillars: Comp Sci, Design & Engineering, Digital Arts, and Entrepreneurship. It also uses game-mechanics to help deliver content and engage students. I started the year with my gamification basics: Epic Meaning, Leaderboards, Achievements, and Item Shop system I’ve been developing for years. Then things changed.

Our Innovation Lab was a whirlwind of making all year. Students were motivated and engaged from start to finish. I learned a ton about designing and running a makerspace, but I also learned more than I thought I would about Gamification:

Lesson learned: Motivated students Don’t Need the “Basic” Gamification Techniques. For most of my career, I’ve taught reluctant learners. I came into the Innovation Lab with that mindset, but my kids were anything but reluctant. So, about halfway through the year, I got rid of the Leaderboards, Achievements, and Item Shop. Students didn’t need them. Our time could be better spent developing the more engaging and empowering aspects of Gamification.

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