Constructing Modern Knowledge; where teachers learn by learning

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K-12 educators from around the world gathered for the 10th annual Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute (CMK). These educators took off their teacher hats and became learners for a couple of days. CMK founder Gary Stager shares the highlights.

The 10th annual Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute gave educators the chance to work on personally meaningful project-development by combining code, cutting-edge technology, and traditional crafts. Since its inception, CMK has highlighted the creativity and competence of educators while challenging their notions of what is possible in classrooms today.

Participating educators program microcontrollers, design their own software, invent fanciful contraptions, 3D-print their creations, embed Raspberry Pi computers into machines, and more. Teachers with little to no computing or engineering experience create projects that two years earlier might have garnered them a TED Talk. When you liberate the learner lurking inside of teachers, they create the conditions to amplify the potential of each student.

Sylvia Martinez and I created Constructing Modern Knowledge to build a bridge between the learner-centered ideals of progressive educators and modern knowledge construction afforded by new technology. An accomplished faculty supports CMK participants, but CMK first and foremost models the Piagetian adage, “Knowledge is a consequence of experience.” Participants take off their teacher hats and put on their learner hats to experience what learning is in 2017.

CMK is about action, not lectures. Each day includes a conversation with an accomplished expert or thought-leader. The past institutes have featured a impressive repertoire of guest speakers, and we pride ourselves in offering educators opportunities to spend time with their heroes. Participants this year heard from MacArthur Genius Award-winning educator Deborah Meier, MIT Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Makey Makey co-inventor Eric Rosenbaum, and littleBits Founder and CEO, Ayah Bdeir.

In addition to our guest speakers and visit to the MIT Media Lab, CMK’s 10th anniversary was celebrated by a visit from authors Alfie Kohn and Peter Reynolds. Our participants were inspired by Ayah’s presentation and delighted in sharing their work with her. Participants in our pre-institute Introduction to Learning with Electronics workshop began the day playing with the new littleBits Code Kit!

To learn more about Constructing Modern Knowledge:

Gary Stager

Veteran teacher educator, speaker, and journalist Gary Stager, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Constructing Modern Knowledge. He is the co-author of Invent To Learn – Making Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools.”


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