The Exploratory recognizes the critical role that teachers play in bringing new and innovative strategies, like making and tinkering, into the classroom. Without adult facilitators who know how activate it, a makerspace is simply a room with fancy tools. Without adequate training and support, strategies become another add-on to teachers’ already fully plate. These are reasons why the Exploratory’s professional development program has multiple parts: (1) hands-on making and tinkering workshops, (2) curriculum design support, and (3) on-site coaching while teachers are in the throes of trying out new approaches in the classroom.
The Exploratory professional development workshops are designed to offer educators a hands-on introduction to making and tinkering pedagogy, tools, and strategies. Workshops are highly participatory and challenge the traditional, didactic model of professional development for teachers. Participants will learn by doing.
At the heart of all workshops is the Tinker. Make. Innovate process. Tinker.Make.Innovate. is a design system that was developed by The Exploratory to provide teachers with concrete and open-ended applications of critical thinking so that students can build the skills they need to identify problems and propose and devise innovative solutions to them. It is flexible enough to integrate with classroom subjects but can also be used as a stand- alone curriculum for developing applied problem solving skills.
Educators quickly perceive Tinker. Make. Innovate. as a concrete tool to deliver project-based instruction. Together with Exploratory staff, teachers engage with the process as a way to understand the making and tinkering approach and as a way to organize the projects they design in the workshops.
Curriculum Design Support
The Exploratory understands that professional development is a layered process. Once teachers are introduced to concepts and create their first Tinker. Make. Innovate. project in a workshop, most still need support to further develop curricula that matches the specific needs of their classroom.
Post-workshop curriculum design support is one crucial bridge to successfully bridging the tinkering and making approach to the classroom. Exploratory staff who have specific expertise in curriculum development and implementation work with teachers one on one or in teams to backwards design lessons and units that integrate tinkering and making projects. Curriculum design support includes Exploratory-created materials that include toolkits, unit templates, and sample projects.
In addition to workshops and curriculum design support, the Exploratory recognizes that there is one more crucial aspect of an professional development program: on-site coaching. Once teachers have Tinker. Make. Innovate-inspired units and lessons, the next step is implementing these in the classroom. This is the where theory meets practice, where plan meets action.
Exploratory coaches who have vast backgrounds working in the classroom visit teachers classroom to observe and provide non-evaluative feedback. Coaches and teachers then meet to debrief to dialogue about what worked, what could be improved, and what goals and next steps. This process creates a systematic, supportive way for teachers to successfully integrate making and tinkering into the classroom in way that produces long term results on instructional practice and student learning.
The professional development workshops that we offer for early childhood educators are based on the work that we do with our preschoolers at PeaPods SchoolHouse, a 2.5 to 5 year old STEAM/Innovation preschool school. Combining the best of Reggio Emilia philosophy with Constructionism (Papert) and Tinker.Make.Innovate., we provide preschool to kindergarten aged children the opportunity to play with science, technology, engineering art and math and invent solutions to their problems.
Our goal is to offer developing brains a wide variety materials and tools that they can experience, build neuron connections and discover as languages of self expression. We help educators introduce to their preschoolers - circuitry, engineering in building, science process, and math in engaging projects that enable social emotional learning, flexible thinking, frustration tolerance and more 21st century mindset skills.
Saturdays 9-12 - Single Class: $45, 2 sessions - $80; All 6 sessions - $210 ($35/class)
All Courses Membership: $500 per educator per year - Includes membership in the maker space which provides you access to the maker space to practice your new skills during membership hours for both the Kids and Adult Maker Spaces. . You can come as often as you like and stay as long as you like.
February 7 2015 - Simple Electronics - how to introduce simple electronics to preschoolers (Cancelled)
February 21 2015 - Embroidering with electronics - focus on using sewing as a story-telling narrative.
March 7 - Woodworking - add woodworking as a language
March 21 - Prototyping tools - cardboard, gaterboard, foam core, recycled materials with a focus on attaching and cutting
April 4 - Simple Machines - how to introduce simple machines into play
April 18 - Stop Motion Animation - telling stories using natural materials, blocks, toys and clay
Educators can come and meet other educators who are either looking to or incorporating making and STEAM into the classroom for support and sharing. Or they can come and play with a particular making tool to better familiarize themselves with that tool.
We will have a maker facilitator available to answer questions about most tools. But this is a self-exploration time for educators to play and immerse themselves in the making experience.
For those who wish to have a focus;
February: Focus on Paper Circuits - play with Circuit Scribes, AGIC, Copper Tape, Conductive Paint, Circuit Stickers
March: Focus on E-Textiles - Conductive Thread, Sewing, Felting,
April: Focus on Rapid Prototyping Techniques - 3D modeling/printing, laser cutting, paper, cardboard
May: Focus on Electronics - simple, complex electronics. Switches and Sensors. How to incorporate electronics into your students projects.
No RSVP necessary.
$10 materials donation fee suggested.