My Visit to Parkland Village’s Tinker Lab

My mind is racing as I take in and try to process everything that I saw this afternoon at Parkland Village School’s Tinker Lab. The lead teacher, Kyla Moore, went into a class of which was comprised of two actual classes and laid out the plan for what the students could choose to work on that day. Before students were allowed to choose which area that they wanted to work on, Kyla reviewed the Design Thinking process with them. Kyla’s ultimate goal for the students is to have them create their own challenges; some students are ready to do this at this point in the year however, Kyla is providing some with STEM challenges that she has found in various places. Kyla took the time to explain what choices the students had for their hour with her; there was a paper airplane challenge, a rocket challenge, Dash robots, Blue Bots, Saving Sam, Cubelets, Marble Mazes, WeDo (Lego), Osmos, Stacking Cups, Roominate and various coding apps such as Hopscotch, code.org and Scratch.

How is TinkerLab set-up?

Currently, TinkerLab is mobile and Kyla goes to each of the grade groups for 1 hour each week. Next year, she is hoping that she will be able to have a dedicated space that the students will be able to come to her and that there will be areas for the students longer term projects to be stored. While Kyla is with the grade groups, the grade teachers are at PLC meetings. Due to the number of students that Kyla is working with at any given time, the librarian, Mrs. Wolf is assisting her as is an EA.

What challenges has TinkerLab encountered?

Space but of course everyone in Spruce Grove is hoping that this issue will be elevated to some extent next year with Prescott Learning Centre opening up.

What could this mean for GREYSTONE?

My ultimate dream is to have a dedicated space that could be for both French and a MakerLab. It would allow us a space to store materials and an area for teachers to bring their classes in to do challenges. I would LOVE the opportunity to work along side the teachers in this space to do the Design Thinking model with the students and to show the teachers the natural tie-ins that there are in our regular curriculum rather than it being an add-on. I would also love to invite Kyla to come in for a day and set-up stations in the gym so hat we could have each class or grade level come and work through. She has done this at Blueberry and it was a huge success; so much so that Blueberry has hired someone to be a MakerLab coordinator next year. I want to do that here! I want to help teachers discover the value of MakerLab and the Design Thinking model so that it becomes a part of their regular teaching; not just during Innovation Week.

My mind is reeling…how can I make this happen? How can we make this happen at our school? The level of engagement from all of the students was incredible. I walked around and struggled to identify any one student who might be on an IPP because they were so engaged in their learning task. That is what we want for all of our students…how can we make it happen? How can I be the agent for change to make it happen for next year? Having a Maker Club is great but we need to take it that one step further. It needs to become a part of our everyday teaching and learning. Teachers and students learning side-by-side. Students being teachers and teachers being the students. How can we make this happen? How can I make this happen?

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