Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Abstract Concept to Concrete Awareness: 3DPrinting to Teach Growth Mindset

Abstract Concept to Concrete Awareness: 3DPrinting to Teach Growth Mindset

By on February 16, 2017

One of the things I like about 3d Printing in middle school is that it makes the abstract more concrete. Middle schoolers need that because of where their brain is at developmentally. They straddle the threshold from concrete thinking to more abstract concepts, and hands-on learning really helps to push this development along.

Growth mindset also has a way of being very abstract as a concept. It’s almost too amorphous to believe for many students. An informal survey of my honors classes revealed that while they could define a growth mindset, only half of them felt they had one. Of those who didn’t, many said they believed in the concept but were pretty sure they “didn’t have it.” The others were skeptical about its existence at all. I wonder how much of that has to do with the pressure we (parents and teachers) put on our kids to learn it all and learn it quickly.

Nevertheless, embracing growth mindset is vital when we’re talking about teaching our tweens, all of whom are, after all, Works In Progress. 3D printing goes great with growth mindset because it helps our middle schoolers learn that they also often need multiple drafts before they get it right.

In one project, a student has to challenge their concepts of failure and embrace what they learn from each 3D-printing attempt.

Check out the image below of a student’s attempt to 3D-print badges that he designed for his table group’s superhero league. We were talking about symbolism at the time and designing badges that represent the causes our leagues would fight for. As you can see, this student’s comments reflect a growth from blame to ownership and finally success:

 

Here’s another series of prints. This one is of an invention that required some design tweaks before it could successfully print:

Making, and more specifically, 3D-Printing, can be made into a metaphor for other subjects and skills. In the poster below, I asked students to post the challenges they are having with anything they are making, whether it is a 3D print, a CAD design, or a more traditional essay.

Writing IS Making.

Along those same lines, Thinking, therefore, is also a form of Creation.

Use the tools at your disposal so that they can be metaphors for more complex concepts. Help those middle schoolers bridge the worlds on which they stand, both the concrete world of childhood and the more abstract world of young adults.

The Ultimate Screencasting Guide for Teachers and Students

The Ultimate Screencasting Guide for Teachers and Students

By on November 11, 2016

Lately, I’ve been getting really deep into Screencasting, in particular for my English Language Learners and special ed students. I know it’s been around, and we’ve all heard about it, but finding resources out there that make it concrete can

The Internet Research Game & 3D Printing: No Whammies!

The Internet Research Game & 3D Printing: No Whammies!

By on October 25, 2016

So in an attempt to broaden the use of the 3D printers in my room, beyond that of my Maker-themed ELA class, I thought I’d leverage the curiosity for the devices as an incentive for my additional classes. That way,

7 Steps to Help Students Succeed on Assessments

By on October 9, 2016

This year, I was given a class of LTELs (long-term English Language Learners) and recently exited SPED students with the goal of focusing my lesson implementation on engagement and more social-emotional learning. So we’re leading up to our first grade-level

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Using Pokemon Go in my 3D Printing/ELA Class

By on August 21, 2016

I’ve written before about the power of using pop culture in the classroom, and this fall will be no different in Room 1. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m a huge Pokemon fan. It’s one of the cartoons I limit in my

Lessons to Share: 3D Printing and Design to Learn Reading & Writing

By on June 17, 2016

So I just finished my first week with my Make Writing class.  This class, as I’ve written about in the past, is intended to help those long-term EL students who have become disengaged with school and with learning.  These kids

The Argh Wall! Celebrating Failure in the Classroom: A Lesson For Writing & Making

By on May 15, 2016

So, I’ve been writing lately about my new class that I’m developing for next year called Make Writing.  I’ve been writing curriculum for this class that leverages 3D printing in order to teach Literacy and Writing.  The class itself is

Past, Present, Future: Assessments and Technology

By on April 2, 2016

“Grading, in kids’ brains, parents’ brains, administrators’ brains, and even teachers’ brains, is a final snapshot after which there is no beyond.  But if we can start thinking about assessments as a means to drive feedback, NOW you’re on to something.”

Alternative Strategies for Assessing Learning: Larry Ferlazzo Classroom Q & A Podcast

By on March 30, 2016

“Whether they’re doing a portfolio or a performance task, they still want to see How do I stack up?” I had a lot of fun being interviewed for Larry Ferlazzo’s podcast about alternatives to grading and traditional assessments.  The follow-up

Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

By on March 10, 2016

Hey, middle school and high school teachers and parents!  Can you do me a favor? I am polling thousands of kids nationwide on what engages them the most in how they learn.  This is based on a survey of 500

Pencils to 3D-Printers: A New Kind of Language Arts Class

By on February 7, 2016

  “The printers have been ordered.  Fingers crossed.  Here we go…..” This was the email I received two weeks ago from my principal who is working with me to develop a whole new kind of Language Arts class.  The plan

Eeny, Meeny, Mino, Moe: Which 3D Printer Should We Own?

By on January 27, 2016

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the start of my journey to create a Language Arts and ELD class that leveraged 3D printing as a means to initiate a more purposeful curriculum for reading and writing.  I will be

5 Nonfiction Articles + Novels Series: Middle School Edition (Jan.)

By on January 20, 2016

Mutually Beneficial Animal Relationships (Photos) Written by: Huffington Post Staff Published On: The Huffington Post “The ostrich isn’t very good at smelling, while the zebra can smell pretty well. The zebra though, doesn’t have good eyesight, but the ostrich does.

Making, Writing, & Leaving My Wheelhouse: How This Relates to ELD Students (UPDATED)

By on January 10, 2016

I first began blogging to reflect on what I was learning during my summer with the Writing Project. After each day, I returned home, head spinning, needing to simply process. Finally, my husband said, “Why don’t you try starting one

5 Non-Fiction Articles to Pair with High School Literature (December)

By on December 23, 2015

    1. Dumb Kids’ Class Written by: Mark Bowden Published on: The Atlantic “My bet is that when a comprehensive inventory is made of my generation, it will be found that not one person from a smart kids’ class

5 Nonfiction + Novels Series: The Middle School Edition for Dec. 2015

By on December 22, 2015

My newest post is the first in a series  in which I’m collaborating with Talks with Teachers podcaster and blogger, Brian Sztabnik. Brian not only moderates the #aplitchat on Twitter but also writes the 5 Nonfiction + Novels series for

Celebrating the Refugees Already in Our Classrooms: Memories and Advice From a Student

By on December 1, 2015

In June 2001, a family of four escaped from the slaughter of Nepal and made their way across the world to safety. They arrived, not in boats dragged up on shore, but in the arms of families who helped them

The Invisible Strategies of Teaching: #whatpeopledontsee

By on November 23, 2015

hen you walk onto a middle school campus and even into the rooms themselves, it can look like chaos. After all, middle schoolers are wired to be active and wired to be loud. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t learning

Who Was I In Middle School? A Reflection + Free Downloadable

By on November 10, 2015

t times, seeing the diversity in my own students, I’ve wondered who I was when I was in middle school and what really drove my tween’s brain.  So I created a Tip 10 list of memories to help me reflect

Boy Talk at Recess: Pokemon, Light Sabers, and Things That Go Boom!

By on October 11, 2015

y most recent post for The Huffington Post just went live.  It chronicles my embarrassment when my 9-year-old son chose his classroom’s parent-led art session to voice his recent interest in bloody talk.  It also chronicles my son’s frustration at