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BetterLesson Honored at White House Maker Faire

June 18, 2014

On Wednesday, June 18, President Obama will host the first ever  White House Maker Faire and meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch new businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and fuel a grassroot renaissance in American manufacturing.  BetterLesson CEO, Alex Grodd and BetterLesson Master Teacher, Tommy Young,  have been invited join the inaugural White House Faire in recognition of BetterLesson’s commitment to highlighting and scaling the work of  exceptional STEM educators.

As a part of the effort to  create a “nation of makers” and empower America’s Students and Entrepreneurs to Invent the Future, President Obama will announce an initiative to dramatically expand the number of students that have the opportunity to become Makers. BetterLesson joins  the Department of Education and five other agencies; over 150 colleges and universities; more than 130 libraries; and major companies including Intel, Autodesk, Disney, Lego, 3D Systems, and MAKE  in committing to create more Makerspaces, enlist more educators in teaching Making, and launch other programs that allow students access to the tools and mentors that will bring their ideas to life.

BetterLesson is committed to sharing “what works” in classrooms across the country. Our partnerships with the Gates Foundation and the NEA have allowed us to showcase  the exceptional work of Master Teachers across the country. These teachers embrace tactile learning, and engage their students through hands on activities.  As a natural extension of rigorous, Common Core aligned learning, they incorporate making and building into daily lessons.

Tommy Young, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Waitsfield, VT endows his students with the math skills to tackle rigorous challenges.  In his lesson,  Building Towers, his first grade students become architects of towers, in an effort to reinforce number sense.  In Building Monsters, Tommy wraps up a unit on money, by having his students create a budget, develop a plan, and then build their own monsters.

While Tommy is being honored at the White House, many other BetterLesson Master Teachers have incorporated making principles into their lessons. These talented educators enable their students to become “makers” by giving them the mathematical tools necessary to tackle any problem.

In her lessons Build a Bird Nest Box Day and Build a Bird Nest Box Day 2, 3rd Grade Math Teacher, Diane Siekmann (Phoenix, Arizona) features an open-ended task that also builds on other disciplines as students research the needs of bluebirds, and design/build a nest box from cardboard.

In Real Life Measurement,  an integrated math-science lesson, Cathy Skinner, a 5th grade teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, has students design and  build self watering plant containers for their seeds.

In this great lesson (Design with 9s) 3rd Grade Math teacher, Jennifer Valentine of Tuscon, Arizona, challenges her students to create designs inspired by their knowledge of 9 facts. In the follow up lesson, students use household items to create the designs.

BetterLesson’s commitment to the Maker Movement will include future Master Teacher Projects as well. Building off the success of previous Projects, the Science Master Teacher Project and the Blended Master Teacher Project will create a critical body of knowledge around the Next Generation Science Standards and highlight strategies for successful blended learning.

In focusing a project around Science and the NGSS, BetterLesson (in partnership with the NEA) will spotlight science educators who embrace the ethos of the Maker Movement, and employ strategies in their classrooms that unlock the maker spirit in their students. The Next Generation Science Standards place an emphasis on engineering practices. This emphasis on engineering skill-building dovetails perfectly with the Maker Movement.

The Blended Master Teacher Project, created in partnership with the Learning Accelerator, will detail the effective techniques of teachers working in a blended environment. These educators who skillfully flip their classrooms and individualize learning give their students more space and time to be Makers. This project will emphasize this critical element of successful blended learning.

BetterLesson is thrilled to join the White House in celebrating the first ever “Day of Making”.  We will be joining the #NationofMakers in celebrating the the power and ingenuity  of Makers!


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