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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Playing to Learn-- Launching my Digital Makers Playground for educators

Last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting at the CUE NV Silver State Conference in Las Vegas. The CUE NV team did a fantastic job of organizing an diverse event that gave educators in attendance the opportunity to learn a variety of tech skills and teaching strategies from educators/presenters both local and international.

As a frequent presenter, I am continually looking for ways to differentiate content for my audience, who, just like our students, always come to my sessions with varying levels of experience with the content being presented. My session for the Silver State Conference was on digital making and I wanted to find a way to expose people to a selection of resources and tools appropriate for all levels of experience.

My solution-- the Digital Makers Playground!

It was the first time that I'd planned a session of this kind for a conference and I had no idea how it would all work out (especially me traveling to another state with all the equipment that I'd need), but the playground turned out to be a huge success!

I opened with a short overview of what digital making is and what types of tools are out there for digital making. Then I provided a quick description of the tools that I brought along for the playground (Scratch, Makey Makey, Micro:bit, Raspberry Pi) and set participants free to explore at their own pace. I set up my presentation in a hyperslides format, so that those interested could look at lesson examples and read about/watch videos on specific tools. I also brought along activity cards that I've created to help teachers and students get to know a new tool at their own pace. While teachers, played, I had a chance to walk around and answer questions or provide personalized instruction to attendees.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive! Especially because the thing about learning digital making is that the best way to learn the tools is to just sit down and play. Teachers in my session said that even that little bit of playtime (my session was only an hour long) helped them get a better sense of the possibilities. And hopefully teachers also saw the possibilities in the learning format itself, and how we can use the "playground" structure to better differentiate or personalize instruction in our classrooms.

Session Resources 

(task cards are also found on the "STEAM &CS Resources" page of my blog)

Intro to MaKey MaKey task cards

Intro to Micro:bit with Javascript blocks or Python 3 task cards

Physical Computing on Raspberry Pi with Scratch or Python 3 task cards

*Yes, the CUE NV Silver State Tech Conference in Las Vegas did take place the same weekend as the tragic mass shooting on the Strip. I am thankful to report that all of our CUE NV friends, presenters and attendees made it home safe.

1 comment:

  1. November 9, 2017

    RE: Request for Copyright Permission, Educational Use, District-Wide

    Amanda Haughs
    ToSA Digital Innovation Coach, Campbell Union School District

    Dear Ms. Haughs:

    Anne Arundel County Public Schools would like copyright permission to use an image of from your blog, Fraction Mind Maps, found at This image would be available to elementary teachers for classroom use as a part of the AACPS mathematics e-curriculum.

    Our e- curriculum provides an instructional framework for classroom learning activities. Resources like yours enhance our curriculum and benefit our students and are made available to our faculty through our controlled, password protected Intranet site. If you do not manage the copyright on all of the above mentioned material, I would appreciate any contact information you may have regarding the proper rights holder(s). Otherwise, your permission confirms that you hold the right to grant the permission requested here. Thank you very much for considering my request. If you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please indicate by email, your agreement with the terms as described above.

    Thank you.


    Laury Lear, Ph.D.
    Digital Media Teacher Specialist
    Anne Arundel County Public Schools
    Phone: 443-440-7737
    Fax: 443-770-5181