District Administration December2017 - 36

SPONSORED WEB SEMINAR DIGEST

Creating Project-Based
Learning Environments
Through Makerspaces
Transforming learning with technology
A District Administration Web Seminar Digest * Originally presented on September 27, 2017

In the Ventura USD in California, one low-achieving middle school at risk of closure was instead transformed
into the De Anza Academy ofTechnology and the Arts (DATA), a high-achieving magnet school. A significant
component in DATA's dramatic turnaround has been its innovative project-based and collaborative learning
environments and makerspaces, which employ technology as a central component.
In this web seminar, an educator from DATA discussed how the school's leadership is using technology
in innovative ways to create project-based learning environments through makerspaces, as well as some
strategies for doing the same in any school or district.

Alex Wulff: DATA Middle School was down to about
450 students, with a 100 percent poverty population,
and based on No Child Left Behind, was failing pretty
horribly. It looked as though the school was going to
be shut down. Then our district did something pretty
incredible. Instead of shutting the school down and
busing kids to high-achieving schools, they elected
to put in place a 1-to-1 technology initiative, bringing
innovative, project-based instruction. As a result, in the
past six years we've grown to close to 1,000 students
with a waiting list.
Thirty percent of our students come from outside of
the boundary, and those students are primarily from
middle- and upper-middle-class families. That creates
a dilemma for us, which is how do we meet the needs
of these super high-achieving students who are busing
in? How do we meet the needs of our unidentified
high-achievers who are in the neighborhood? And
then how do we also meet the needs of kids who are
struggling due to poverty, due to English language
challenges, etc.?
I reached the conclusion that the 1-to-1 initiative
and the ability to create custom learning experiences

for each of these sub groups is a huge advantage. We
have a STEM classroom, which is a giant makerspace
full of all kinds of goodies like CNC routers, 3D printers,
laser engravers, and drones that kids build and
program and fly. I also get the privilege of teaching
math and science project-based, and because of
the fact that DATA is on a block schedule-which is
another important aspect to integrating technology-I
get to see these kids for 100 minutes every day. That
means that we have these huge, meaningful chunks
of time in which we can implement PBL at a deep
level. It means that we can very quickly get kids up
to speed with technology proficiencies, how to access
and communicate through blogs, how to access all
kinds of open-source CAD and CAM programs, etc.
Obviously, having 1-to-1 has been instrumental in
allowing us to innovate.
The students are given lots of different choices,
are given lots of opportunities to fail early on and
to hopefully learn from those failures-but there's
a constant eye on specific standards and specific
outcomes that we're looking for. With 1-to-1, you have
incredible flexibility, not only to pinpoint where these

View, comment, share this story online at DAmag.me/acerdata
36 December 2017

District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration December2017

District Administration December2017 - Cover1
District Administration December2017 - Cover2
District Administration December2017 - 1
District Administration December2017 - 2
District Administration December2017 - 3
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District Administration December2017 - Cover3
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