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Experts share strategies on room design, curriculum development and identifying funding sources

Makerspaces reinforce STEM skills and enable more authentic learning. While there are a variety of ways to design and build makerspaces, there are some key strategies administrators can employ to ensure their program is successful.

Designing rooms that facilitate access and choice

One day in May 2016, while browsing Twitter, Eric Langhorst stumbled upon a call for participants for the Dremel Idea Builder Ambassador program. Dremel Education, a manufacturer of 3D printers, was looking for 10 educators to use the Idea Builder 3D40 printer in innovative ways in their classrooms.

When STEM3 Academy built its first innovation lab in 2014, one of the first pieces of equipment installed in the space was a 3D printer.

“We saw that it could be a very useful tool to integrate into the curriculum,” says Dr. Ellis Crasnow, director of STEM3 Academy. “We began immediately teaching 3D modeling and using the printer to prototype student designs.”

In the Madison Metropolitan School District, the Research & Program Evaluation Office provides rigorous and high-quality research and analysis to support district priorities. By using data dashboards to create accessible, easy-to-understand visualizations of a wide variety of district information, the office has helped administrators understand what's working, what's not working and why, improving strategic decision making.

The world of work is quickly redefining what it means to be ready—a broader set of goals that reflect fast-paced, complex and diverse workplaces. Students need to be great communicators, collaborators and critical thinkers who can tackle novel problems. To prepare students to be really ready for their futures, we must define what that means for them now—not just once they graduate from high school.

While administrators can face a variety of challenges when it comes to mobile device deployments and BYOD environments, using mobile technologies effectively can provide new opportunities for learning, including rethinking the age-old institution of homework.

Many district leaders are challenged with developing whole-school, data-driven, prevention-based frameworks for improving learning outcomes for every student. Under the new provisions of ESSA, district leaders are also mandated to build curriculum capacity using a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems, to improve outcomes for students in Tiers 2-3 and special education.

Learning through problem-solving promotes deep, coherent mathematics understanding. It is a critical tool for creating a highly effective learning environment for students. Through the use of strong routines, students learn how to take an active role in reasoning and sensemaking. Active learning will help students understand new mathematical concepts and relationships as they progress in their school careers.

Now more than ever, education leaders are being asked to develop assessment systems that support a huge variety of needs—student learning, system accountability, program evaluation and more—while providing the most value in the least amount of time. To meet this challenge, there are several principles that can guide administrators in creating the most effective assessment systems that meet their district’s needs.

In this web seminar, the vice president of education research at the NWEA discussed some of the keys to creating coherent assessment systems.

Anthony Kim,  CEO and founder,  Education Elements

The amount of access to information we have today is at times wonderful, empowering and overwhelming. In these conditions, it’s upon leaders to help teams organize and synthesize information so that they can move together toward the same goals. And it is crucial for teachers to do the same for their students.

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