My students need a variety of different prototyping resources (such as magnet blocks, building sticks, Play-Doh, and Plus-Plus blocks) as well as consumable materials for creating learning landscapes that can displayed in schools and the community.
Our students are eager to engage in new learning opportunities and different ways to represent content, but due to budget cuts, the small size of our district, federal and state restrictions, district funding does not always stretch as far as it is needed.
The student mathematicians, writers, readers, scientists, artists, musicians, athletes and makers in my small district are inquisitive, hands-on learners that love new opportunities for learning and exploring.
As a very diverse district, the majority of the students in my small district (only 2.5 square miles) are English Language Learners and many families are below the poverty line (approximately 95% of our students receive free or reduced lunch). Our very committed and passionate teachers are dedicated to make differentiated learning opportunities as meaningful and relevant as possible so our students not only grow academically, but also gain confidence and build necessary skills such as communicating, collaborating, critical thinking, creativity, and compassion. As the district-wide Technology Integration Specialist, I am always looking for new avenues for supporting the teacher- and student-learners with new methods and resources that are a critical component to the teaching and learning process.
Inspired by the Learning Landscapes Model and in combination with my district’s initiative of human centered design as well as STEAM (Science, Technology/Tinkering, Engineering, Art, Math), the students in our district have the opportunity to create our own Learning Landscapes throughout our community. A Learning Landscape is a selected landscape, location (such as playgrounds, stores, bus stop, etc.), or designated part of a community that provides opportunities for people to connect with one another, communicate, provide physical stimulation, and learn about new ideas and concepts. A Learning Landscape can be something as simple as simple as a hopscotch board painted on the sidewalk next to a bus stop to promote counting to a sign in a grocery store next to the display of apples that tells how many apples the store purchases each year, the pound equivalency, and the number of varieties to stimulate conversation and promote academic skills.
As part of the learning and design process, the 6Cs (Collaboration, Communication, Content, Critical Thinking, Creative Innovation, and Confidence) are embedded in the discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution of the Learning Landscape development.
The hands-on manipulatives (blocks, sticks, Play-Doh, and bricks) selected for this project will be used for prototyping, so students can begin to design and visualize their ideas. They will then be able to use the consumable resources (paper, die cuts, markers, glue, and scissors) to create and publish their Learning Landscape so it can be displayed in schools and community. By having prototyping resources readily available and organized in storage bins, students and teachers can easily incorporate their curriculum into the design and development process.
These resources will provide unique and sustainable learning experiences that are adaptable, engaging, and help students not only make meaning out of content, learn problem solving techniques, and make learning fun.
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