Sunday, November 9, 2014

Inspiring New Learning (30 Day Blogging Challenge #7)

Today's prompt:

What new learning has inspired you in your career?

"It's not the vision at's the groping."                                              (Unexpected wisdom from a Northern Exposure episode)

While working to complete the requirements for an endorsement as a Technology Integration Specialist, I've found a great deal of inspiration through the tinkering that I've been able to do as I follow passions ignited by the Maker Movement.  Although I am currently between teaching jobs, I am grateful for the opportunity to be pursuing a self-designed, personalized learning plan that allows me to focus on a variety of things that captivate my interest.  While I have a clear vision for the credentials I am working toward, I am pleasantly groping along a meandering path, inspired by the detours that the Maker Movement has brought my way.

Since attending the Create Make and Learn summer institute this past summer, I have been slowly learning how to code my Lilypad Arduino and Arduino Uno. Although my progress has been incremental, and my devotion has admittedly waxed and waned, it's been the grappling, and the support of others who know more about electronics than I do, that have urged me to keep plugging along.  I've enjoyed participating in communities of learning, such as the one I experienced at Vermont Fest this past week.

While there, I attended an evening workshop called Practical Magic:  Arduinos and Practical Computing with Bryant Patten and a small group of educators.  Within that setting, I figured out ways to apply what I've been learning, whereas before I had been working in isolation, clueless about practical applications of my tooling around.  For example, I learned that I can use an Arduino board to test out a circuit, before soldering the real thing together in a project.  This would have been extremely useful to me a couple of weeks ago when I was attempting my first Make magazine project.

During this workshop, I also discovered that the code for one type of Arduino board can run on just about any Arduino compatible board.  In other words,  I finally figured out that the coding I've done on my LilyPad Arduino can run on my Arduino Uno. While my breakthroughs probably seem insignificant (and less than riveting to read about), I am curious to see just where all of this meandering leads.

What does it mean for me as an educator?  Having these experiences has solidified my commitment to supporting STEAM programs within schools.