Sunday, November 2, 2014

Education: A Step Up from Potato Salad?

Recently, was asked if I would be willing to submit a proposal to come do a creative workshop at a national convention. Initially, I was super psyched! Yay! Love to do hands-on workshops!!! Fun fun fun!!!

The workshop was supposed to be hands-on and thematic and something that participants could take back and use within their schools or homeschool programs.

Even though this was at the eleventh hour, as they were short on presenters, my husband and I went ahead and started to see what we could do here to make this a reality. Even though I was the one to be asked to submit the proposal, we both would go, as he does the robotics portion of our program. We also would have to bring our sons, as #1: Since we technically are a homeschool family, the learning goes where we all go. Plus, #2: If this is supposed to truly be something that teachers and homeschool families could do with children, then kids should be there to do the activities and make the materials. Our boys are an integral part of all of this, as they would be the ones who would show what they came up with on their own related to the theme of sea life.

We put together an awesome sea life themed workshop with several choices for participants to choose from, to create their own thing based on the theme of sea life, as well as a proposal sheet for the participants to come up with their own marine life project ideas. MARINE LIFE MAKER FAIR 2014!!! Yay!!!

Authentic, hands-on learning with a theme that ties in with the Baltimore's Inner Harbor location of the convention.

Perfect, right?

Well, the idea of what we proposed was well received.

We then found out something rather curious:  as presenters, we were supposed to supply our own hands-on materials, not just for demonstration purposes, but also so that the participants can have a shot at doing the activities both at the convention, as well as back at their respective buildings. Getting 100 hands-on materials kits (including scissors and several bottles of glue) would not be simple if we flew.
My hubby and I then realized that in order for us to attend, that we would have to drive, as it is highly unlikely that we could get through TSA with loads of scissors and huge bottles of glue.We also wanted to bring an awesome LEGO EV3 Mindstorms robotics kit that we use in our program, as it ties in great with what we actually do here at Sunrise Learning Lab™ , as well as what the theme is for the workshop.
We would also love to feature either Lego Story Starter or else Apple iMovie as part of our program.
There is a natural tie-in with Disney Youth's great Y.E.S. Program, Discovering Marine Life Conservation, and Disney Youth was extraordinarily generous by saying they would supply a cool sea-themed gifted basket for this convention as a tie-in with our MARINE MAKER FAIR 2014 theme, but that they will be there with their own table so our presentation cannot come off as an infomercial for them or their programs, even though their marine themed programs tie in beautifully with our MARINE MAKER FAIR 2014 theme.
Our workshop would not be an infomercial, let me assure anyone reading this...we get authentic education.
It is what we are doing here and have been doing here each and every day.

We researched the cost of the hands-on materials, along with our hotel room, travel expenses and such and it came to $2700. which may sound steep for a workshop but for 100 people to get hands-on materials plus our accommodations and travel, it really was not much at all...if we were a big company or if we were a school system with a big budget.

I inquired to see what expenses would be comped and what the stipend would be and was told that there isn't a stipend and that none of our expenses would be comped and on top of that, I would have to pay to attend the convention.

While that might not be cost prohibitive for some, it is for us, unless we land a sponsor or sponsors at this late of a date.
We spoke with many others who have given presentations (including homeschool parents, teachers, and others who have given presentations both in the for-profit and the non-profit sectors).
Out of everyone we spoke to, they all agreed to forgo speaking unless all of our expenses could be comped or unless another organization can pay the expenses via a sponsorship.
I have always been offered to have fees waived to attend or have had our way paid for in exchange for doing a workshop. Generally, a stipend is usually offered as well...

Dear Hubby and I have paid everything to get our Sunrise Learning Lab™ up and running. It has been a labor of love and while it has been very well received, and we are even listed in the Davidson Institute's Database for Gifted, we are only taking in money at this point to help pay for materials.

We are not making money at all on this Sunrise Learning Lab™ venture, although we still really feel that it has been and continues to be very educationally worthwhile for both our two sons as well as the other nine children. We hope to file for nonprofit status within the year, or else come up with some sort of partnership arrangement as part of a consortium of alternative school programs, but in the meantime, we are essentially not for profit without any of the benefits of being not for profit.

When we called the organization to see about financial support, we were told is that doing such a presentation really would help to bolster my resume and that most people only have to spend a couple hundred dollars of their own money to bring the materials to do the presentation.
I am not trying to bolster my resume, thank you very kindly.
We were willing to do this cool Marine Life Maker Fair as we have a passion for learning and for working with and for children, especially gifted children.
We wanted to be able to share how a micro-school  / gifted enrichment program like our Sunrise Learning Lab™ really works. I have already proved myself within educational and social media circles. My husband is well respected at work and is starting to get known for how well he does with working with children as they learn about robotics and science.
We are not just talking the talk about doing a program for gifted,we are walking the walk as a whole family.

Then, it got me thinking about how this is the expectation for other presenters to foot their own way, all in the name of getting their names out there and doing it to have something to put on a resume.
Maybe that is the issue...

Shouldn't the real focus be on getting the most-passionate-about-education people to come and to share?

Shouldn't the focus be on relaying to newbie  teachers how they can create their own programs, so if in the event that what they want to do for children and their learning is not happening that these newbie, passionate teachers can go ahead and do their own thing?

What about veteran teachers who are excited about learning more about how to integrate technology and project based learning in a Maker Fair format? Shouldn't they have a workshop presenter who respects that they are veterans but yet, gives them new Maker Fair tools and ideas to take back to use in their classrooms?

What about other teachers who have made the trek to a national convention and plan to attend a creativity workshop in the hopes that they can bring something back that is not all about test scores? 

Shouldn't there be someone out there who would love to make this a reality so that a group of over 100 educators and parents will leave with a better understanding of how a themed maker fair could work within their communities? Not just for gifted students, but for all students so that every child would have the chance to develop their critical thinking skills, their creativity, and their ability to work independently as well as collaboratively?

More and more programs are being eliminated for gifted students as many school systems view those programs as nice to have but not a necessity to have. Many of the programs meant for gifted students actually helped to enhance higher order thinking and hands-on learning for the entire student body, but now, many schools have done away with these in lieu of spending money on test prep materials.
Since many schools' funds are tight, the money is going to help get kids prepped for standardized testing, not for them to get to build bridges out of marshmallows and toothpicks.
But again, that is the problem...
People see neat, hands-on, gifted programs and think that they look too fun for children to actually learn anything.

Some don't get that hands on  / higher order / out of the box / challenging project-based learning is great for everyone, but it is a necessity for gifted students!

My thoughts then turn to Zach Danger Brown, you probably know him as "Potato Salad Guy".
He was super creative to come up with the idea of setting up a Kickstarter as he wanted to learn about Potato Salad. His Kickstarter Potato Salad netted him $55,000.
That is quite a bowl of potato salad!!!

Maybe if instead of asking people to help us bring an awesome, hands-on educational experience to this upcoming national convention's participants or perhaps instead of my hubby and I continually trying to stretch our budget so that we can add something to what we hope is a world-class, hands-on approach to learning at our Sunrise Learning Lab™ experiences,  maybe we should just show a big bowl of creative potato salad with some photos of our boys and some of our learning materials in the bowl...

Martha Stewart (love her for all things delicious, creative, and crafty) crafted real  Creative Potato Salad.It even features a great video clip showing how you can take a basic recipe and then, make it your own by choosing from a variety of ingredients.
If anyone can figure out how to make Creative Potato Salad, it is Martha and her team!
So how about if we take her cool creative potato salad recipe and sub in kids?

Instead of choosing from a variety of ingredients, how about if students get to choose a project from a variety of hands on materials?

Hope that Dear Martha and the entire Martha Stewart Living team will be okay that we have Photoshopped their Creative Potato Salad bowl for ours...

Would that work for people to see that education is a step up from potato salad?!?

 The original potato salad photo was Martha Stewart's from her neat Martha Stewart Creative Potato Salad Video clip. We only Photoshopped our sons on her nice bowl to make a point about education. We mean no harm or disrespect. We use loads of Martha Stewart arts and crafts as well as recipes and pin various Martha Stewart recipes and crafts on Pinterest all the time! 
This is just for educational purposes to show that although potato salad is amazing, isn't education (especially education geared at higher order thinking and hands on learning that is perfect for gifted students and others) worth as much? 

 If you read this and you agree, hope that you will figure a way to help us to bring this MARINE MAKER FAIR 2014 to a national educational convention!

Hope that if you have loads of money and you would love to support our Sunrise Learning Lab™ and other programs like ours, that you will come forward!

If you are an alternative educational program that focuses on authentic, hands on learning and higher thinking  and you would want to share in our MARINE MAKER FAIR 2014, please contact us!

ALTSchool, we are hoping to hear from you, as we could collaborate with you and you could get the word out to people about what you have brought to CA and NY. We could be your next micro-school project here in Florida!!!

If you are a company with cool educational materials related to sea life and you want to help out, please contact us!

#DisneyYouth #Gifted #gtchat #kickstarter #altschool #NAGC #gifted #LEGOeducation #LEGO #MarthaStewart #ZachDangerBrown #PotatoSalad

1 comment:

Honey Rowland said...

I hope someone with a Lotta money finds this and donates. You always have great ideas to share and I bet those other folks at the conference would learn a lot!


We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
***This program is for residents of Florida only...

More Gifted Program Details!

More Gifted Program Details!
Sunrise Learning Lab™ and its Gifted Pilot Program belong to Colleen Murray Bowers. © 2014 Colleen Murray Bowers.

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