Mid-Western PA Future of Learning Meetup: Follow-up

Ani Martinez
Mar 1, 2018 · 9 min read

Hello, and thank you for attending the first Mid-Western PA Future of Learning Meetup!

Sending huge love bombs to Patty Kardambikis for all her help and support. Also, thank you to everyone that took time out of their day to join us for the first of (I hope) many conversations.

In Case You Missed It

This is a brief summary of what happened. You’ll find the full and unedited notes below my signature.

We began by sharing some words about what we hear in our heads when we think about the future. Perhaps surprisingly, “Technology” was lower on the list. This is a very reassuring sign, right?

Then, the Slippery Rock Fab Five shared some of what’s been happening throughout the district to integrate technology, making, and 21st century learning practices into their classrooms. While a lot was shared, “at the end of the day,” said one teacher, “we’re doing anything we can think of to get these kids to express themselves creatively.” THAT is a future I can get behind!

We were then able to ignite a pretty organic conversation around questions. For example, we discussed the critical importance of getting teachers on-board, and that starting this work slowly and organically is key. It was also great to hear about working within the assets of one’s own community. It got me thinking about how we might better understand the assets of ALL our communities.

Interested in reading everything I wrote down? Look below my signature!

Don’t Miss Out

Due to some mischievous buses, we didn’t quite get to our last bit of sharing resources, BUT here’s what was sent to me after the meetup:

Opportunities for Students and Teachers at Chatham Eden Hall:

Mentoring Partnership is always at the ready to partner, collaborate, and offer trainings. See more and get involved at http://www.mentoringpittsburgh.org/

Didn’t see your resource? PLEASE send it to me and post it to remakelearning.org/add/opportunity

Upcoming Remake Learning Events

Great Remake Micro-Grants Info Session

Want to learn more and apply for a Remake Learning Micro-Grant? Come to this helpful session at Everyday Cafe in Homewood to get help. Register here: https://grmginfosession2.eventbrite.com

Remake Learning Days

Get ready for FREE hands-on learning fun! Remake Learning Days is here again, May 17–25. Find events, host events, attend events. remakelearningdays.org

Upcoming Meetups and Lunch & Learns for the rest of 2018 will be posted via the Remake Learning Network’s weekly e-blast and calendar.

Appalachian Makerspaces Meetup II March 15 More information and registration opening soon. Please email Ani with interest.

School Spaces Learning Tour: Duquesne Elementary March 20 Learn more from districts doing the work and see it in action. More information and register here: https://remakelearning.org/opportunity/2018/03/20/remake-learning-school-spaces-learning-tour-duquesne-elementary-school/

Bring, Bag, Borrow for Women’s History Month March 22 Come learn and share with other mentors for Girls in STEM/STEAM. More information and register here: https://remakelearning.org/opportunity/2018/03/22/bring-brag-borrow-for-womens-history-month/

Feminine Gender Norms in STEM with Riki Wilchens February 27 More information and register here: https://rikiwilchinsrml.eventbrite.com

Get Involved

If this was your first Remake Learning event, please reply to this email because I would love to learn more about what is relevant, engaging, and equitable to you!

Add yourself or your organization to the Remake Learning Network Directory.

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Thank you for coming and I hope to see you soon!

Ani Martinez

Community Manager

Remake Learning Network



Slippery Rock Area Middle School


What do you think of when you think of the FUTURE?

  • Diversity
  • Technology
  • Competency
  • Hope
  • 1:1
  • My daughter
  • ALign schools to business and industry what they need from schools (A-B)
  • Environmental Issues
  • Innovation
  • Uncertainty
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Independence
  • Flexibility
  • Hands-on Skills
  • Adaptability
  • Prepare
  • Joy of Learning
  • Advancement
  • Excitement
  • Change
  • Adapt to Change
  • Opportunity
  • Technology for the Future
  • Life Long Learning
  • Creativity
  • 4Cs
  • Transformative
  • Growth
  • Connectivity
  • STEAM (hands-on CT)
  • Hope & Endless Possibilities
  • Learner Ownership
  • Scary
  • Inconceivable
  • Adaptable

How does this work?

Don Quixote of Silo Fighting

The Slippery Rock Fab 5

  • Doug P: Came from Indiana PA where he taught STEAM, and teaches woodshop at Slippery Rock
  • Working with other district members to come up with a plan to take traditional woodshop to an exploration of different types of technology
  • They’ve been using snap circuits
  • The curriculum is helping students build on sense-making as they go
  • They have VexRobotics IQ
  • They start with problem solving as a base and work with Scratch
  • Then they move to C-programming to see what it looks like in the field
  • And then they write a program in straight-C programming
  • They also use autodesk (they used to use autocad) to help with a “low-to-high” software approach
  • This helps students understand the math elements of CAD, but the 3D modeling helps keep the work engaging
  • Brian and Dirk share a computer science course; they have the whole grade level so it moves pretty slowly.
  • Dirk also teaches a code.org 9th grade level
  • He’s also teaching microsoft, business, and entrepreneurship
  • Brian — he’s using the language of STEAM ; it’s all project based learning .
  • He’s building space for students to feel comfortable with making mistakes and failing
  • The 9th graders from an engineering perspective, he sees his work as the hardware to compliment the software that Dirk is providing instruction around
  • He’s trying to “hit every branch” of engineering (he used to be an engineer), so he’s able to bring in contacts from his work in the field (this is a senior-based class after they take physics)
  • Final project will be a motorized car
  • Erik- he works with highschool, which includes an intro to woodshop that have a cnc printer and some other tech tools
  • They also have a materials processing 3–4 which uses a CNC programming, laser engraving, and vinyl cutting. They also have an entire cabinet shop
  • There’s also a robotics program
  • The team is also writing a Great Remake Micro-Grant for a “digital media zone” in the high school library, this will work as a graphic design and a web design studio
  • Some things they’ve been thinking about as outcomes for their students include original compositions, slam poetry, audiobooks, lab spaces with filmmaking, how-to youtube videos, slideshows of original photography, any graphic arts, TONS OF ART , 3D modeling projects , imac that can run garageband
  • In terms of video lab, they’re thinking of a video camera and a tripod, with cases, lenses, etc.
  • Anything we can think of to help these kids express themselves creatively


  • Who will run this grant project?
  • They are thinking the library staff, and they can get kids to run the facility
  • Who’s qualified?
  • Well, it’s not a class, right now we’re looking at the space
  • The library is open everyday afterschool so if kids want to do something afterschool, it’s a space that’s available.
  • And if interest takes off, we can take entry-level classes to help kids better understand how to use the space
  • And initially the honus will be on the classroom teachers to utilize the space as a team effort to introduce it to students
  • And we need to make sure we are getting teachers on board
  • I’m not sure how we’re going to advertise yet
  • We’re thinking of just an idea, a crew that’s passionate and then let the kids do the work for us — if they get excited about it, then we plan to have that spread through requests to their teachers
  • Of course there will be some that just don’t want to deal with it, so our plan is to let it happen organically
  • “I’m actually one of those teachers that wouldn’t be able to jump right in. But I’ve seen the change over time to help people like me come on board. “
  • We can also easily start a club to start talking to teachers
  • Organic and small are the key
  • I think another thing we need to understand is to help teachers realize they don’t need to be experts in the equipment
  • Part of our plan is to change the assessment — a tool for differentiating the assessment
  • The students want to share, they want to teach
  • Things are becoming less vertical and more sharing based
  • What does it mean to differentiate assessment?
  • Let’s say you need to express your understanding of Romeo & Juliet, maybe they can produce a video, or they need to propose a project to you as a teacher
  • And when you provide more choice for students, they are better able to take ownership of it
  • Do you guys (Slippery Rock) partner teachers across subject?
  • As a physics teacher, I would partner up with our pre-calc teacher and history teacher to think about nuclear bombs and by chance we were able to work with our art teacher more than once. I think this also happens organically
  • And we have a staff that can work fluidly
  • How many … well you were all standing up there, so how many kids in your school do you see in your school? Is it more an elective?
  • Doug: In the middle school I see every kid. I need to be as efficient as possible
  • In the high school there are a few that every student is required to teach
  • I’m not hearing a lot of jargon…
  • We don’t know enough of it
  • I don’t like jargon, it prevents people from really communicating. If you’re not an educator, it prevents others from communicating effectively and from participating

Transitioning the content you teach

  • At slippery rock this was a multi-person decision; we believe you start with the people. If they’re on board they can sell it
  • It seemed like all the STEAM programs we visited, it all seemed like the ones that are working started this way
  • What about districts that don’t start this way ? What support do they need?
  • Connecting with experts in the field
  • Reaching out to other districts
  • And I don’t know what to tell teachers all the time
  • We have great resources for a small community (Slippery Rock)
  • I didn’t need to be a programmer to teach programming, but the skills I’ve been gaining through teaching it blows my mind. Code.org has a curriculum that runs all the way through kindergarten

I’m curious how we interface with kids about real careers?

  • I know at our schools (Butler Vo-Tech) we strive to have the kids college and career ready with as many certifications as possible
  • We do some resumes to rely on partnerships in the industry within the community
  • We talk as a staff how we can help students make life decisions beyond lawyer, doctor, astronaut
  • As a parent, we know what we do for work, but we also know we dont want to corner our kid into what we do. So we send them to school. But the problem is, all those teachers are teachers (which is great! BUT…) how do we all truly learn what it means to diversify the pool of options?

I’d like to share a different side to this, since I’m only dealing with the University level. I didn’t know how stupid I was until I had kids.

  • It’s almost like when, as a parent, my kids pass me, that’s when the support stops. And I’m seven minutes away from the school district. So, we have amazing technology …. And we might be coming from different fields and different practices, but at the end of the day it’s about solving problems.
  • “So what I did, I started taking my robots and helped kids shape the way they are looking at robots. And I was thinking about what I can do support this from their every day to their state exams. “
  • Computer science to me is art. The beauty of this mix of science and art is the key. And if STEM helps us get there, that’s great.

What about other districts and organizations that are here?

  • Mars: We have a rotation of specials in a five-day rotation
  • It’s an exposure to robotics, making, and it’s important to us not to only expose them to one thing or another
  • We have a similar program as we heard about in Slippery Rock
  • Our kids love it, they can’t wait for STEAM day
  • What we try to focus on is how we prepare kids since the programs existed in the middle school, but now we’re seeing kids come up more prepared than before, so how do we scaffold down to the lower grades

Do we think non urban districts are doing this industry-school partnerships better?

My Questions/Comments

How many people thought of technology straight off the bat?

We see libraries in transition- anyone else?

I’m not seeing a lot of jargon

What about the culture of your school as a mean of sustaining these new spaces? How do we cultivate leadership to support the use of these spaces both for students and for staff/teachers

What do people want?

  • Get content ideas for students

Ani Martinez

Written by

Field Director, Remake Learning Network