Making Meaningful Connections To Learning

Digital Innovator Program // Maker Educator Highlight

At the beginning of the 2016–17 school year, NapaLearns and the Napa County Office of Education launched the Digital Innovator Program, a series of free hands-on teacher workshops designed to cultivate innovative teaching and learning in Napa County classrooms.

Since launching in August we have offered over 10 workshops and provided over 150 hours of professional development to educators. Our most popular series has been our Maker Educator workshops. These workshops provide teachers with the opportunity to understand how engineering and design can inspire creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration in their classrooms. Our Maker Educator workshops are led by Julie Lovie, the Napa County Office of Education 2015 Teacher of the Year.

Julie has inspired teachers to think outside of the box and understand that it’s okay for students to FAIL. She explains that, “to FAIL is our First Attempt In Learning.”

Many of Julie’s workshops are so popular that we have had to develop wait lists for people who are interested in attending. Attendees not only provided highly-favorable feedback of Julie’s workshops, but we are actually seeing that many of the tools, activities and methodologies that Julie’s workshops explore are being introduced in classrooms across Napa County. The Maker Movement is not only exposing students to engineering and science, it’s allowing students to become persistent problem solvers who are better equipped to tackle all of life’s challenges.

Students at the Napa Court and Community School building a paper tower and learning about structures.

With all of this excitement around the Maker Movement, NapaLearns is proud to announce that applications have been received for our Maker Educator Grant. Awarded participants will receive additional hands-on training and over $1,500 in equipment and supplies to bring the engineering design process and making to life at their school sites. Selected applicants will also receive specialized support and materials to execute a project aimed at solving a problem in their school or community. This component of our program is called “Making For Good.”

Moments of learning and engagement captured during Julie Lovie’s Maker workshops.

As we continue to make this movement a reality, we are ensuring that our students and teachers understand that the Maker Movement is a catalyst for change in our schools and communities. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!