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Apprenticing students in the art of learning

I’m of the opinion that the apprenticeship model should be the basis for education.  This is one of the cornerstones of Anastasis philosophy, that we apprentice students in the art of learning.  The goal then, is to teach students how to be learners by modelling what it means to be a learner.  I’m not sure how one can be a teacher and not be a learner. As a young child, I was apprenticed as a learner.  My parents were masters at encouraging curiosity.  They themselves are inquirers.  They showed me what it meant to passionately pursue understanding of the world around me.  It never felt like school.  As long as I can remember, my parents have owned their own businesses.  When I was growing up, they owned and operated a kitchen remodel business.  I spent summers “playing” at work.  This was my first interaction with using a computer.  I spent hours pretending to talk on the phone to a client and then designing their kitchen using the office Apple IIe.  It was really exciting when I got to use the blue print machine in the insanely scary basement of the office.  Later, my dad started a model rocket company.  He made model rocket kits completely out of wood.  This led to an excitement about physics, making, and entrepreneurship.  My parents involved my brother and I in each part of the process.  I spent many hours sewing bags for the rockets to be packaged in.  When my brother decided that skateboarding was life, my parents started a skateboard company.  This time I learned about screen printing, graphic design, and skate culture.  My families most recent pursuit of passion is at Koostik.  My dad started this company after discovering that he could amplify sound by putting his iPhone in a Styrofoam cup.  He immediately began to tinker in the garage, using his passion for woodworking to create speakers for the iPhone that worked 100% through acoustics. This was learning at its absolute best.  It gave purpose to all of the things that I learned in school.  My parents taught me how to pursue curiosity, passion and crazy ideas.  They showed me that learning is a life long adventure. I often get dropped-jaw stares when I tell people that I started a school.  The immediate follow-up questions begin: how did you do it, what classes did you take to prepare you, what professional development on starting a school did you get, where did you find the money?  My answer is always the same, I was raised to do this.  My parents taught me how to do this by demonstrating what it means to be a learner.  They taught me how to do this by showing me how passions and ideas are pursued.  Many that I talk to consider starting a school risky or scary.  For me the scarier thing would be to sit by and watch kids go through an education system that isn’t in their best interest.  The scarier thing is to do what every one else is doing. I was raised to do this. My hope for students everywhere: that they would have teachers in their lives who would apprentice them in the art of learning. Thank you mom and dad for showing me what passionate learning looks like!   P.S.  If you haven’t seen the gorgeous work that my dad does, check out Koostik.  Each of the products is made by hand.  My dad is constantly sending me photos of new ideas he is tinkering with.  LOVE that!  Koostik has a contest that ends TONIGHT where you can enter to win product.  I saw the prize pack in person today.  The photos don’t do it justice.  Everything is gorgeous!  My dad is pretty much the master at choosing just the right piece of wood and working with the grain to really make each piece stand out as a masterpiece.  It is truly (functional) art.  Details for how to enter here.    

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Piktochart: Create your own infographics

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Technology, web tools, Websites | Posted on 09-10-2012

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What it is:  Piktochart is a great web app that makes it easy to create your own infographics.  Piktochart has free and premium options.  With the free version, there are a handful of themes to choose from.  Premium themes are also available, if you are so inclined.  After you choose a theme, the next job is to change the mood and edit the information on the chart.  Students can add shapes, graphics (uploaded), theme graphics, and text to the infographic.  Students can add a chart where they manually input data or upload a cvc file.  This is especially helpful if they have been data collecting in another program.   There are some features that are only available to pro users.  Not to worry, there are enough available for free that you can make a pretty rockin’ infographic that gets the point (or data) across.

How to integrate Piktochart into the classroom: Piktochart is a superb way for students to work on those statistics/probability standards.  Being a visual learner myself, I love the way that infographics seem to make data easier to digest.  Piktochart can be used to display any type of statistical or mathematical data in new ways.  Students can show what they are learning in history, about the world population (miniature earth), science, in the book they are reading, geography statistics, etc.

The way that infographics allow students to blend learning across the subject areas is fantastic.  It isn’t just math; it is math, and art, and science/social studies/history/geography/technology.  Any time we can help students recognize the overlaps that exist in learning and subject area, it is a win!

A few weeks ago, students at Anastasis discovered that America’s biggest export is trash. They started digging and found statistics about the amount of trash Americans throw away each day (7lbs/person) and how much was recycled vs. what ended up in a landfill.  They also looked at statistics of what receiving countries like China and India did with the waste being imported.  It was fascinating!  Students created infographics showing what they had discovered in their research.  It was eye-opening when they translated that trash per person into a year’s worth of trash and figured out how many football stadiums that it would fill.  When they could see it graphically, it had an impact on their thinking.  The result was: “it is up to us to change this…”

Pretty amazing when the conclusion to learning is transformation…change.

Tips: In the free version:  Basic themes, 5 image uploads, Piktochart’s watermark. Pro version ($29.00/mo): 80 themes (and growing), additional customization, more image uploads, no watermark.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Piktochart in your classroom.

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