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)
*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.